Podcast • November 19, 2012

Elias Khoury: an upheaval in “souls, bodies, imaginations…”

Click to listen to novelist Elias Khoury in conversation with Chris Lydon on the Arab unpheaval. (27 min, 12 meg) This revolution is mainly a cultural event, not a political event. It was an explosion ...

Click to listen to novelist Elias Khoury in conversation with Chris Lydon on the Arab unpheaval. (27 min, 12 meg)

This revolution is mainly a cultural event, not a political event. It was an explosion — against the madness, irrationality and brutality of the situation. It happened with no mediation by intellectuals, no strategy, no “idea.” It came from the depths of the society, spontaneously. Even the participants were totally astonished, even the “heroes” were taken by surprise…

Elias Khoury with Chris Lydon in Cairo, November 15, 2012

Elias Khoury on a visit to Cairo
Photo Credit: Mosa’b Elshamy

CAIRO — Elias Khoury is the sort of novelist we rely on to tell us what is going on. Himself of Lebanese and Christian antecedents, he wrote Gate of the Sun (1998), a stylized and much-admired fictional account of the Palestinian naqbah or “catastrophe” from 1948 to the infamous Sabra and Shatillah massacres in Lebanon in 1982. Writing, he remarks, is his means of discovering his ignorance and overcoming it. When we meet, almost by chance, in Cairo, he jumps to extend the cultural and emotional frame around the Arab upheaval:

We crossed the bridge of fear. Go back to the dialectics of the slave and the master, of Hegel, the German philosopher. I mean, there is a master because you are a slave. He will continue to be a master because you accept to be a slave. If you don’t accept being a slave, he is no more the master. These regimes created an era of terror, which made people believe that the people itself as an entity is the problem… Society is afraid of itself. So once a bunch of kids decided not be afraid, everything collapsed.

I feel when I come to Cairo, people are still poor; they are even more poor. The economic problems are still there, and even more complicated. But you feel freedom. You feel people are at ease with their bodies. Even the women who are covered are so sexy! Here the veil is not an Islamic sign; it’s a mode; it’s a social sign. Not every woman who has a veil is an Islamist — on the contrary! So you feel their body language has totally changed. And you feel people feeling their power. Which means that no one can repeat dictatorship. So this is a profound change. Now how to create from this change a real victory of the revolution? It still a long way… In world history, most revolutions failed, by the way. But this process itself is liberating our souls, liberating our bodies, liberating our imaginations. Now it is the big challenge for Arab societies to prove their reconciliation with history. The Arab people were totally kicked out of history — by these dictators, by their failures, and by their defeats. Now we have to prove that we deserved this reconciliation, that we can build upon it.

Elias Khoury with Chris Lydon in Cairo, November 15, 2012

“This is a very precious, very rich moment in Arab life,” Elias Khoury is telling me through the din and dread of cruel news from Gaza. “I am not pessimistic at all. We are in a process of rebuilding the concept of democracy, and putting it together with social justice, and reestablishing the idea of security in the region.” It has been an “empty region,” he says, since Egypt went its separate way to peace with Israel at Camp David in the 1970s… It will be a long and interesting and difficult task.”

The Muslim Brotherhood prevailed in Egypt’s presidential election “because there was nobody else, not because people wanted them.” But the Brotherhood is part of the old regime and time past, when it was cast as the outlaw opposition. To Elias Khoury today the Muslim Brotherhood looks unprepared to govern — not least, he says, because political Islsam is a machine without a culture. “In 80 years political Islam has not produced any writers — not one poet, not one playwright, not one novelist, not one philosopher. People who do not produce culture cannot run a country. For what Gramsci calls ‘hegemony,’ you need culture.”

Arabic cultural production and Islamic religious life have been separate spheres since the time of the Prophet, Elias Khoury tells me. “Cultural production will continue in the secular frame of everyday life, not the sacred. Daily life is more powerful than sacred texts… What’s sacred is life, not texts about life.. Life will win.”

Podcast • November 17, 2012

Khaled Fahmy: a baseline “biography” of the revolution in Egypt

CAIRO — Khaled Fahmy came home to Egypt just months before the uprising in Tahrir Square. He was leaving a big university career in Oxford and New York, drawn by intuition and maybe destiny to ...

Photo Credit: Mosa’ab Elshamy

CAIRO — Khaled Fahmy came home to Egypt just months before the uprising in Tahrir Square. He was leaving a big university career in Oxford and New York, drawn by intuition and maybe destiny to be the historian of a great event. In an hour’s conversation he will recharge your sense of the Arab Revolution of 2011. It was just what we half-guessed at the time: a watershed more cultural and psycho-social than it was political. It was a young people’s uprising with grand dimensions of gender as well as generation. And it was an irreversible turn in which a vast and confident crowd made a flash decision together that they would no longer be treated as guests in their own land.

This is a very big bump, Khaled Fahmy is saying, in the modern history of the Arabs — an old society living in an odd quilt of mostly made-up nations. Their map and their last century were shaped by World War I, by the erosion of empires, then by Oil, by the Arab-Israeli conflict and the rise of Islam. Their political regimes were tuned more to Paris and London, later Moscow and Washington, than to anything resembling a popular consensus at home.

Modern Egypt, since Napoleon’s short-lived conquest in 1798, has been the story of an “essentially tyrannical state.” It was contrived by the renegade Ottoman officer Mohammed Ali after 1805, and it was extended by his many heirs and into the 20th Century by British force against an unbroken succession of failed popular protests and rebellions. Native strongmen Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak had their turns personifiying the Leviathan. And then suddenly in Tahrir Square “the people,” speaking for themselves, came on stage as a main player.

“Finally in 2011 we cracked it,” Fahmy says. “We managed to bring down an Egyptian ruler and put him on trial and send him to prison. This had never happened in 5000 years of Egyptian history.” In a city without public parks and benches, the yawning emptiness of Tahrir Square, once headquarters of the British army of occupation, became the spot where Egyptians took over their capital city, up-ended a regime and started a conversation with themselves.

In the Fahmy version, Mubarak was the last of a long line of rulers whose Father-Knows-Best game was to hold his people in arrested childhood. Mubarak was 80 years old in a nation that is mostly under-30; he was in fact two generations removed from his people — a brittle grandfather figure, out of touch, out of sync and quickly out of power.

At some level he was suffering the comeuppance that Nasser escaped after the ignominious failure of Egypt’s military in the 1967 war with Israel. “It was not a six-day war,” Fahmy cracks. “It was a 20-minute war,” in the instant destruction of Egypt’s air force. But an infantilized nation was not ready to hold Nasser to account. “We buried Nasser — we finally killed Nasser — in 2011,” in Fahmy’s telling. “We did on January 28 last year what we should have done in June ’67. It took us 40 years. This is what it was all about: doing away with these charismatic leaders, having trust in ourselves — as messy as this can be. And, you know, we are living in a mess…”

We have a long way to go… This is not a revolution that will be over anytime soon… It’s deeper than a political revolution. It’s a cultural revolution, so deep in Egyptian history and Egyptian psyche that I cannot use any other term. It’s a reversal of how Egyptians thought of themselves and thought of their government. It’s not over in the sense that we don’t have a political system that mirrors this new sentiment. We still don’t have it. We don’t have a constitution. We don’t have people in power who reflect this. What we have is an outburst of energies, not all of them creative or positive, but energies that have been bottled up in the country for the past 200 years.

The amazing thing is that this outburst happened in such a huge country, with so many deep problems, in such a peaceful way. That is what I think is most impressive. If I were a journalist that would be the story — the story of what did not happen. What did not happen is a civil war. Egypt could very well have ended up in a civil war. It’s a big country with serious fault-lines and very strong counter-revolutionary forces who don’t want to see the culmination of this effort. And despite this we managed to do away with much of the former regime and to do this in a peaceful way… I still call it a revolution because… it is indigenous, it is authentic, it has deep roots.

The conservative counter-revolutionary forces are very very strong, most important the Muslim Brotherhood… They are a well-greased, well-knit, well-financed political machine. When election time comes they are the first to know how to turn out the vote. Their rhetoric is not that sophisticated. What they have to promise is very meagre. I don’t think they are the solution. But they know how to do things, and they do it. So that is what we now have. And in that sense it looks like the revolution has failed. But I personally think that having a president who was behind bars only 20 months ago is an amazing achievement. To have a president who had been ruling for 30 years behind bars is an amazing achievement. To do this not in a kangaroo trial but in a legal way, without lynching him, without hanging him from a tree, is a significant achievement. To put all heads of the political establishment — many important figures of the former regime — behind bars is very important. And to start, bit by bit, dismantling this apparatus of tyranny will take a long time. The other option would have been blood — with revolutionary trials, with guillotines or gallows in Tahrir. We didn’t see this. But the underlying currents are still there, and they still run deep. There’s a high level of anxiety now because we still don’t know which way the revolution will go, especially with writing the constitution and in the translation of the revolution into new institutional structures. But in the overall scheme of things, this is a huge reversal of the trajectory of Egyptian history.

Khaled Fahmy with Chris Lydon in Cairo, November 14, 2012

Podcast • November 13, 2012

Coffee Hour: on A Week in Tunisia

Click to listen to Chris and Mark in a wrap-up exchange on the less-than-revolution in Tunisia (30 min, 12 meg) We’re lifting a ritual from the Cairo novels of the late great Naguib Mahfouz. Almost ...

Photo credit: Malek Khadhraoui

Click to listen to Chris and Mark in a wrap-up exchange on the less-than-revolution in Tunisia (30 min, 12 meg)

We’re lifting a ritual from the Cairo novels of the late great Naguib Mahfouz. Almost every day in the home of the patriarch Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, there was a gathering of sons, daughters, cousins and strays for gossip, score-keeping, reflection, sometimes an argument. So my fellow traveler and co-podcaster Mark Fonseca Rendeiro (from Newark, N.J. and now Amsterdam) are mulling impressions out loud of a week Tunisia coming up on the second birthday of the revolt that began the “Arab Spring.” What came of that breathtaking blaze of human solidarity for, as they said, “freedom, dignity and work”? A parliament dominated by Islamists, eventually. And along the way: an explosion of palpable popular pleasure in free expression — in music, satire, film-making, and liberated political debate. Tunisia will vote again on the “Islamist tendency” in presidential elections next year. In the meantime, Mark is observing that in every argument we heard about religious activism in Tunisian politics, there was never a peep about “the rise of a religion that hates the West.” There was deference rather to the recovery of observant Muslims from 30 years and more of cruel persecution. We met Tunisians waiting hungrily for the “real revolution” yet to come, but they can’t be typical even of the left. I asked the acerbic political cartoonist Nadia Kiari if she’d ever felt Tunisians were reenacting 1789 in Paris. “I hope not!” she roared. To her the French Revolution called to mind Robespierre, the Terror, probably Napoleon’s manhandling of Egypt, “and Sarkozy,” she exclaimed — of the French president who stood with Ben Ali two years ago against the burst of freedom in Tunisia. What if Tunisians wanted something less than a revolution, and got it?

Podcast • November 11, 2012

Farida Ayari’s Short Form on “the Spring” : “What Revolution?”

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Farida Ayari (41 min, 28 meg) TUNIS (the North African capital formerly known as Carthage) — Farida Ayari is giving us an assertive reporter’s first-draft history of the ...

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Farida Ayari (41 min, 28 meg)

Farida Ayari, journalist. Photo by Sophia Baraket

TUNIS (the North African capital formerly known as Carthage) — Farida Ayari is giving us an assertive reporter’s first-draft history of the great Arab event that began in Tunisia two years ago — the “Arab Spring” of fond memory, or the “revolt,” or the “upheaval,” as Amin Maalouf calls it. “What revolution?” Farida Ayari responded when we first met. “The revolution is still to come.”

I am hearing three big themes in her story:

(1) It was a workers’ revolt, as usual in Tunisian politics over the past century, before it was a middle-class cause. It began deep in the hinterland when the abused street vendor Mohamed Bouazizzi set himself afire in the town of Sidi Bouzid. Then and ever, unrest ran deepest in the farming and phosphate mining regions far from Tunis and the coastal resorts.

(2) Islamic activists, who’d been victims of the equal-opportunity oppressor Ben Ali, captured the parliamentary elections on the strength of organization, sympathy for past suffering, and assumptions of moral purity now compromised by cronyism and incompetence in office. The presidential election next year is up for grabs, but liberal democrats (who learned their head-over-heart politics in Europe) have still to find a resonant language in local politics.

(3) Ethnically diverse, relatively modern, moderate and prosperous Tunisia is not a “miniature” of the Arab world, “but maybe we are a laboratory.”

If we succeed to set up a genuine democracy which will be reconciled with a moderate Islam (considered as a personal thing for each person, with the liberty to worship or not worship) and if we install democratic values and an economic system that will be distributing wealth equally among people in the region, then I will say: yes! If we succeed then the whole Arab world will succeed. If we fail, it is finished for the Arab world for many many years. You will have a fundamentalist wave from Tangier to Tehran, and forget democracy. If fundamentalism takes root, it will be a dark age for the region for many, many decades.

Farid Ayari in conversation with Chris Lydon in Tunis, November 10, 2012.

Podcast • November 7, 2012

Nadia Khiari’s “Willis in Tunis”: Born Again in Revolution

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Nadia Khiari (7 min, 5.1 meg) TUNIS — Nadia Khiari is considering my question: what’s the artist’s job in a revolution? She was a successful French-schooled painter when ...

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Nadia Khiari (7 min, 5.1 meg)

TUNIS — Nadia Khiari is considering my question: what’s the artist’s job in a revolution? She was a successful French-schooled painter when the “Jasmin Revolution” caught fire in Tunisia in January last year. Her graffiti and political cartoons have gone viral on the Web since then, in the voice of her cat, “Willis in Tunis.” She has stopped painting altogether.

“For me it’s not a job. It’s a freedom. Like I’m being born. Before the revolution, I was a zombie. I think, but I cannot express myself. So I didn’t feel like I was alive. With the revolution I was born, like a baby. My first screaming was my drawing. And now for me its a revolution in my art, totally. I can finally express myself and say what I think and criticize the government. For me I can finally do my passion: cartoons.”

Nadia Khiari “Willis in Tunis” – Born Again in Revolution from BicycleMark on Vimeo.

“Willis in Tunis” claws at the Islamist Ennahdhu party that dominates the new parliament elected last fall. Nadia doubts the government’s sincerity and its competence, but not that the revolution is still moving. “It’s not finished, it’s the beginning… We all have to learn what is democracy, how to have democracy in our own families — the father, the mother, the children, and then in the country. We lived 50 years in a dictatorship, so we will not learn in one year what is freedom of speech, what is freedom of mind, what is freedom of women. We are building it. It will take time. I am optimistic.”

Nadia is making connections (as Amin Maalouf did) between families and nations in the inner life of this “Arab Spring,” coming up on its second anniversary. “I know in my family, I had restrictions. My education was strict, but I knew that my family loved me. In this situation now the government wants to put restrictions, but I don’t think they love me…”

Will Tunisians fight for their freedom if it’s tested? “Yes, sure. You know, freedom is something so incredible. We all discover it. From one day to the other we were totally free and we could speak in the streets, in the cafe, of political things, and criticize the government and everything. And it is so good. So it will be very, very difficult to take it back. I don’t think — if they want — they could close our mouth…”

We thank her, and she shouts “Banzai!” as if to say, Hurrah for the Revolution.

Podcast • October 20, 2012

Roger Owen on the Arab Revolution: Year Two… of Ten

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with Roger Owen(25 min, 15 meg) Roger Owen is giving us a framework for our conversational plunge next month into North Africa and the “Arab Spring,” coming up on ...

Click to listen to Chris’ conversation with
Roger Owen(25 min, 15 meg)

Roger Owen is giving us a framework for our conversational plunge next month into North Africa and the “Arab Spring,” coming up on its second birthday. Better to speak of the “Arab revolution,” he begins. Tahrir Square marked an historic surge of people power led by the young, to transform a whole society “root and branch,” as well as a way of government.

“We’re in Year 2,” he says, with 5 or 10 more to resolve contradictions and colossal tensions between kids who started the revolt and Muslim Brothers who rode it into power. It’s not been a bloody convulsion to compare with 1789 in France, but neither was it mere springtime effervescence like the student revolts in Paris, 1968. Tough tyrants have fallen, but in Egypt notably, it’s history still in the making — a devilishly complicated struggle among the “deep state,” the Army and government bureaucracies, the Islamic tendency and the cosmopolitan elite in a massively poor country.

Roger Owen is the Harvard eminence on Middle East history and politics. He speaks with the Oxford accent of an old British hand in the Arab Mediterranean. His new book details The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life. Think Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya and Assad next, presumably, in Syria. And still the new patterns of Arab politics and culture are in formation and in doubt.

I am asking him if we’re looking broadly at a second anti-colonial wave against the West — a revolt in Egypt particularly against U. S. overlordship. “You could say that the Tahrir Revolution (February 2011) is a kind of completion of the 1952 (Nasser) Revolution,” he had remarked earlier. But there’s no simple cycle at work. 1952 was a colonels’ revolt to liberate Egypt from King Farouk and British domination. Tahrir Square was supposed to liberate the Egyptians to choose their own constitution and be involved in their own politics. The wider world has changed meantime. The Soviet Union, which befriended Nasser, is gone — and with it the appeal of Big Projects and heavy industry. Egypt is tuned to other ideas of modernization.

“Egypt is a wonderful place,” Professor Owen is saying, “very confident in its Egyptian-ness. But they’re also aware they’ve never really sat down and worked out their place in the world. They’ve always said ‘no’ to certain kinds of things: ‘we don’t want to be ruled.’ But what is Egypt for? That’s up for grabs.”

We leave in 2 weeks for a listening tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Beirut on a project we’re calling Arab Artists in the Revolution, with thanks to our Kickstarter backers. We’ll be blogging and podcasting as we go, and gathering conversations for material for a broadcast series this winter. If you have leads, comments, suggestions or introductions, please post them here.

Podcast • May 12, 2011

Steven Heydemann on the “Family Business” in Syria

Steven Heydemann is picking apart my metaphor of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as Michael Corleone – the Godfather’s gentler son from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic mob film, who took a sudden turn towards violence and thuggery ...

Steven Heydemann at the “Engaging Afghanistan” conference at Brown

Steven Heydemann is picking apart my metaphor of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as Michael Corleone – the Godfather’s gentler son from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic mob film, who took a sudden turn towards violence and thuggery when confronted with the pressures of a kingdom under siege. In Michael’s line from the movie: “If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone.” Bashar al-Assad is an eye doctor by training – in London, no less – who came home to pick up the reins when his father passed away in 2000. Ten years later, his security forces are cracking down Gotti-style on a small but spirited group of pro-democracy protestors, and no one on our side seems to want to do much about it. I’m asking: will the democratic wave that seems to be sweeping the region finally run aground in Syria?

Now a vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Steven Heydemann is the original Syria expert. He started studying the country in the eighties, he says, when all his colleagues were preoccupied with Egypt and Lebanon. His book, Authoritarianism in Syria, Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946 – 1960, is a classic guide to the ways of non-democratic governments, not just the family rule but the state- and service-building too, the ways in which despots build constituencies. In Syria it’s a story, in short of how the Assad family built a ruthless state, and made a lot of people like it.

The last few weeks in Syria has been a story of how conditions endemic to the Arab world – youth unemployment, corruption, distrust – mingle with the freedom aspirations blowing in from Egypt and a whole lot of malaise about what comes after Assad if the regime should fall. We should hope for the best, Steven Heydemann says – democracy, secularism, maybe even peace with Israel – but not rule out the worst.

Let’s also be aware that what happens when we think about politics in Syria through the lens of this Mafia metaphor is that we imagine that what we’re dealing with is not an authoritarian system of rule, with institutions and processes and procedures, and a ruling party, and an infrastructure that extends across the entire country, and the capacity to manage problems of governance in ways that are bureaucratic, not simply patronage-based; it’s not simply as if he sits in his office and gives orders to his Consigliere and they get carried out. There’s an enormously simplifying effect that happens when we think about Syria in terms of the Corleones that I think does a disservice. Why? Because it suggests on one hand that if we got rid of this family we could solve Syria’s problems. We ran into that in Iraq. Getting rid of the guy at the top did not solve Iraq’s problems. When we dismantled one of the critical institutions in Iraq, the Baath party and the military, we found ourselves facing a power vacuum and had to reconstruct a system of governance that was, as it turns out, both sectarian and extraordinarily violent in its own right.

Steven Heydemann with Chris Lydon at the Watson Institute, May 7, 2011.

Podcast • May 10, 2011

Juan Cole: Through the Fog of the Arab Spring

Juan Cole‘s Informed Comment on the Iraq war made him, in my view, the Thucydides of our time — and one of the marvels of the age. That a Michigan historian of the Middle East ...

Juan Cole‘s Informed Comment on the Iraq war made him, in my view, the Thucydides of our time — and one of the marvels of the age. That a Michigan historian of the Middle East could become an inescapable, provocatively independent daily commentator and critic of the war policy owes a lot to the freedom and ubiquity of the Web. It reflects still more Cole’s own classical standard and relentless drive to give us, as Thucydides did in The History of the Peloponnesian War, a gritty black-and-white account of events, drawn from a great variety of sources, not “to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.”

I’m asking him in conversation to take the killing of Osama bin Laden and this mid-Spring in the Arab revolt as a fresh starting point: are we looking at the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, as Churchill said; or an intermission in a permanent war?

It surprises me that Professor Cole approves the drone war (and says it’s popular) in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, even while he believes the US counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan is doomed. He sounds troubled that the democratic wave (which he anticipated in Egypt) could be broken, maybe stopped in Syria. He is certain — having advocated the Western intervention and defended even the drones in Lybia — that the Qaddafi family will be brought down, even if it takes a while.

I am wondering how many double standards we Americans can juggle in our heads when the US is too-prudently late to the people’s party in Tunisia and Egypt; uncritical of nasty repression by Saudis, Bahreinis and Israelis; cautiously displeased with variations on the crackdown theme in Yemen and Syria; and committed militarily to the rebels in Libya. Juan Cole is saying it’s allright to admit feeling dizzy in the circumstances; but we should be noticing that Barack Obama has risen to the occasion as a Realist of the traditional foreign-policy school; and that Cole has confirmed his own best instincts as those of a “progressive internationalist,” not simply an anti-imperialist liberal.

I would argue that the Obama administration harkens back to Bush senior’s foreign policy ideals, which were those of the Realist school. I think Obama is not a classical Realist: he does have a sense of morality in a way that I think Henry Kissinger does not. But the Realist school posits that great powers act according to their interests, not according to namby-pamby ideals, and that, moreover, they ought to act according to their interests; if they don’t, it messes up the world. In every instance, the Obama administration stance has been what would be in the interest of the United States. It hasn’t been an idealistic or moralistic stance. I think it’s a reaction against the muscular Wilsonianism of the George W. Bush administration, which was very gung-ho to democratize the Middle East at the point of a gun…

I’m a progressive internationalist. I think one of the things that’s wrong with the world is that we have laws inside nations, but when it comes to international affairs, we have a jungle: the strong kill the weak and eat them. What the United Nations was about, from 1945 forward, was supposed to be the attempt to craft an international order that was founded on law. Qaddafi is not allowed to roll up forty tanks and fire live shells into the midst of a peaceful demonstration. That’s a crime against humanity and there ought to be sanctions for it. When the Arab League asked for a UN resolution, and when the UN Security Council asked that there be an international intervention, I thought that was a great good thing. It is in exact contrast to the Iraq war.

“One sympathizes with the Israelis” in this whirlwind, Professor Cole added. They’re “a floating fortress on the fringes of the Middle East.” Their natural instinct in the storm is to avoid any compromise in a changing neighborhood, but the “it will serve them poorly with the new Middle East democracies.” Juan Cole’s more urgent sympathy is with the Palestinians. “At the moment Israeli settlements on the West Bank are being expanded, and there’s no prospect that the Egyptians will be able to stop that process. I think the new Egypt will support the Palestinians’ bid for recognition as a state at the U.N. General Assembly in September. And once the Palestinians are widely recognized as a state — by the Europeans and Latin America — they’ll begin to have standing to sue” against the usurpation of property and human rights.

So I think over time international law and order which, again, is my hope for the future, will be deployed in the interest of the Palestinians. The real problem with the Palestinians is that, contrary to the intent of the League of Nations, have been denied statehood — have been denied in many cases citizenship. So they’re Flying Dutchmen. They have no citizenship rights, and a person in the modern world without citizenship in a state is vulnerable, open to predatory practices, and if their property is usurped they have no law court to seek justice in. So the whole Palestinian nation is stateless, therefore without basic rights or basic human dignity. It’s a crime. It’s a blot on humanity for the situation to go on like this.

Juan Cole in Ann Arbor, with Chris Lydon in Providence, May 9, 2011.