Bookmarks 09/07/2011

  • Here he comes. Captain Israel is out and he means business: saving brand Israel from the “venemous BDS movement,” presenting us with a comically revisionist and racist history. Mark Levine’s review:

    tags: publishtoblog anti-BDS captain israel superhero opinion english Al Jazeera Mark levine

    • What Captain Israel is really here to tell us is, in his words, that:

      “For almost 2,000 years no other state or unique national group developed in Palestine; instead different empires and peoples came, colonised, ruled and disappeared … for 400 years before World War I, Palestine was an unimportant backwater of the Ottoman Empire, sparsely populated, barren, impoverished … Until, in the latter half of the 19th century new Jewish immigrants from Europe and Russia … began to repopulate the desolate land, buying it legally from absentee Palestinian landlords.”
    • Captain Israel could use his super brain power to help educate Israelis – actually, American Jews, since I can’t imagine any Israeli wasting her time reading the comic – about the realities of decades of brutal occupation, the same way the great Jewish superheroes of old, the Prophets, took on the People of Israel when their actions contradicted biblical injunctions against oppression and exploitation.
    • Captain Israel could even show up at the next demonstration in Bil’in or Sheikh Jarrah and defend the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who are routinely attacked by Israeli forces and settlers. (In fact, in working together non-violently against occupation, they are the true superheroes of today.)
    • The more I think about it, the more I’m not too sure that Captain Israel is up to the task of defending Israel, especially against his fellow Jews. Call me old-fashioned, but I’ll take Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea over a muscle-headed know-it-all with delusions of immortality and questionable fashion sense who fantasises about leading the IDF into its next battle while spouting discredited 50-year-old propaganda.

  • Interesting piece from the Daily Beast on the “enigmatic” King of Morocco and how he seems to have tamed public anger–for now at least.

    The author talks to some key observers of the Moroccan scene like journalists Ali Amar and Aboubakr Jamaï, the King’s personal adviser Andrey Azoulay, businessman Karim Tazi, writer Tahar Ben Jelloun (who, like many other Moroccan so-called intellectuals- don’t seem to get it, suggesting that reforms are genuine and that people need to be patient and get some education (sic)) and Malika Oufkir.

    tags: publishtoblog

    • “At some point, the king just shrank back into the makhzen system,” says Tazi, the businessman, who likens the layers of advisers, friends, and assorted opportunists around the king to a large octopus with enough tentacles to reach into the pockets of all Moroccans.
    • Seven months after Arabs across the region began rising up against their leaders, the regimes touched by the upheaval can be divided into two groups: those that crumbled quickly (Tunisia, Egypt) and those still fighting back (Libya, Yemen, Syria). Morocco represents a third category, a regime that promised to embrace the demands of the protesters, bought time by forming a committee, and ultimately withheld real democracy. For now, at least, the strategy is working.
    • Tahar Ben Jelloun, the country’s most celebrated poet and writer, believes the protests have left an indelible mark on Morocco. He also thinks the king is committed to changing the system. “People are impatient. It’s normal they would want the kind of reforms that will rapidly change their lives. But democracy is a culture that needs time and education.”
    • Mohammed is neither a gifted orator nor a political strategist, two areas in which his father excelled. Instead, he’s focused on expanding the crown’s investments and his own personal wealth. Though precise figures are hard to come by, his holding companies are known to have large stakes in nearly every sector of the Moroccan economy from the food and banking industries to real estate, mining, and manufacturing, according to analysts who study Morocco’s financial structures.
    • At the center of it all is a figure who remains largely an enigma at home and abroad, who gives almost no interviews (he turned down Newsweek’s repeated requests), and whose lifestyle, as depicted in the pages of Morocco’s small but feisty independent press, seems like an imperial rendering of the American television show Entourage.
    • “If only a few people are better off as a result of economic growth, then strong GDP figures don’t make a country stable,” says Shadi Hamid, a Mideast expert with the Brookings Institution. “On the contrary, they can actually contribute to a revolutionary situation.”
    • Many prefer to avoid investing in areas where the royal palace already has holdings, fearing the king’s power and influence would put them at a disadvantage. As a result, companies owned by the crown are often monopolies or near monopolies, says Aboubakr Jamai, who published the weekly Le Journal Hebdomadaire until it folded last year. “So even if you set aside the political aspect, the moral aspect, the ethical aspect, it’s not optimal economically,” he says.
    • To Mohammed, he was an abusive son of a bitch, Amar the biographer told me during a recent walk through the Rabat royal palace, where the prince was raised. When the son acted out, the king had him beaten in front of his harem at the palace, a walled compound with arched gateways and rows of bronze cannons. When, as a teenager, he crashed one of his father’s cars, Hassan threw him in the royal jail for 40 days.

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