Politics and Conflict in the Middle East



Politics and Conflict in the Middle East
Politics and Conflict
in the Middle East
Also in this issue:
Perspectives of Youth in Egypt
Rema Hammami on the State of Palestine
Lebanon as a Failed State?
From the Editorial Board
The Middle East is now, as it has always been, at the centre of international scrutiny. Noam Chomsky, who published extensively
on the region, once said when invited to a conference on the Middle East, that he would entitle his lecture ‘The Current Crisis
in the Middle East’ because there has always been a crisis in the Middle East. Whether or not this is true is debatable, but 2006
certainly has been a conflict year, with ongoing bloodshed in Iraq, a regional war in Lebanon, and an almost total destruction
of the peace process in the holy land. These conflicts are ignited by inter-state conflicts and by clashes between the diverse
cultures and religions of the area. This DevISSues, addressing Politics and Conflict in the Middle East, reflects and analyses the
current internal and inter-state conflicts in the region.
Linda Herrera’s article illustrates the impact of political turbulence in Egypt on the personal lives of tomorrow’s adults. Rather
than questioning politics itself, the piece illustrates what ramifications the politics has on the perceptions and values of
Egyptian youth. Karim Knio addresses the stability of Lebanon in light of the recent bombings by Israel over the summer.
Looking at the ongoing struggle in Lebanese power politics, he questions whether Lebanon could be perceived as either a
failed, or a captured, state. Rema Hammami - Prince Claus Chair holder of 2006 - speaks extensively on both her experience as
an academic during the ongoing conflict with Israel, as well as the Western reaction to the recent elections in Palestine, and the
concomitant effects this has for the future of Palestine. Mansoob Murshed looks back into the history of the region, and how
its borders have been shaped, to better understand today’s conflicts in the area. And Clare Louis Ducker, a prize-winning MA
participant of ’04-’05, gives deeper insight into the forced socio-cultural repression of Arabs living in Israel.
In addition to our main theme, we also take a look at new types of learning through virtual simulation, as well as virtual
searching through social book-marking, both innovative techniques that ISS has adopted for better learning.
The Editorial Board
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Lebanon, Tyre (Sur). A boy saves a few books from the
rubble of his home, a six storey apartment building
which was bombed by the Israeli air force during the
most recent bombings. The building was in the middle
of a densely populated area in the city of Tyre.
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4 / Theorising the State of Affairs in the Lebanese
State: Is Lebanon a Failed State?
Karim Knio
7 / When Does Life Begin?
Youth Perspectives from Egypt
Linda Herrera
Page 10 / Being There... Well, Virtually
Helen Hintjens
Page 14 / Education in the Struggle For Palestine
An interview with Rema Hammami
Page 18 / The Middle East:
Cradle of Civilization or a Cauldron for Conflict
Syed Mansoob Murshed
Page 22 / Complex Realities & Self-Serving Illusions
in the Middle East Conflict
Clare Louis Ducker
Theorising the s t at e of af fair s in the Lebanese St at e:
Is Lebanon a Failed State?
Karim Knio
This piece aims to explore how to
conceptualise the Lebanese State in
light of Hezbollah’s increasing influence
in Lebanese politics especially during
the recent war with Israel in July 2006.
The ports of Lebanon welcomed their
first big cargo ships on 9 September
2006, ending an eight week Israeli
blockade on Lebanese territorial
waters and air space. Although the
surprisingly ongoing ceasefire took
effect on 14 August (UN Resolution
1701), Israel has kept a firm blockade
on its northern neighbour in fear of
a possible Hezbollah rearmament
normally supplied by its regional allies.
Many issues have been associated
with this devastating war that has
thrown Lebanon back into the heart
of the Arab-Israeli conflict as it once
was twenty years ago. The focus of
this piece delimits itself to the context
of Lebanon wherein the significance
of Hezbollah’s recent manoeuvre and
its impact on Lebanese politics and
society is analysed. Have the recent
developments rendered Lebanon
as the epitome of a ‘Failed State’,
or can it more appropriately be
labelled as a ‘Captured State’? Both
conceptualisations in fact fit well with
the Lebanese context as they add more
complexity into the understanding of
this small Middle Eastern state.
Like any other concept in Political
Science, ‘Failed States’ have never
been identified in a monolithic
fashion. Indeed, definitions often
reflect the basic understanding of
the institution or the organisation
that is actually dealing with the term.
For example, the UK Department for
International Development considers
that a considerable lack of security
defines one of the most important
features of this concept. From this
perspective, 900 million people today
live in Failed States. The World Bank,
on the other hand, draws up a narrower
understanding since it associates the
concept with low income countries
that are under stress. Nevertheless,
an accepted general definition refers
to Failed States as countries that are
unable, unwilling (or more often, both)
to provide their people with the core
functions of the State. These functions
comprise individual and collective
security, protection of property,
basic public services and essential
Applying this general definition to the
Lebanese context, we find that all the
description’s embedded features are
vividly present. Many observers hold
that Hezbollah has today formed a
‘State within the State’ in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, or the party of God, was
formed as a response to the Israeli
invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Sponsored
financially by Iran, the party initially
proposed the formation of an Iranianstyle Islamic state which was later
abandoned in favour of a policy that
proclaimed Jihad against the Israeli
invader. During the 1980s and early
1990s, the party refused to partake
in the atrocities of the Lebanese civil
war, and allocated much of its capacity
to liberate the occupied southern
Lebanese territories. After the end
of the civil war in 1991, the party had
an implicit understanding with the
government, which was completely
dominated by Syria, whereby the central
authority refrained from sending its
army into the South, and allowed the
party to have the upper hand in these
specific areas. In 2000, the guerrilla
warfare approach endorsed by the
party was largely credited for forcing
the Israeli army to end eighteen long
years of occupation. Despite this
military success, the party has continued
its bombarding of Northern Israel
in order to force the Jewish State to
hand over the Shebaa Farms, claimed
by Hezbollah to be Lebanese, and to
exchange prisoners’ releases between
the two sides. On 12 July 2006, the
party’s unilateral and unprecedented
abduction of two Israeli soldiers inside
Israel triggered the recent conflict in the
Middle East.
From a socio-economic point of view,
the party has built up broad support,
drawn from the Shiite community in
Lebanon, by providing various social
services, educational institutions and
healthcare. In this ambit, Hezbollah’s
investments filled a vacuum generated
by a historical marginalisation and
deprivation of the Shiite community
by the Lebanese State. Moustashfa Al
Rassul Al A’ azam (hospital), Al Kouliah
Al Islamiah (university), Al Manar (TV
station) and Iza’ at Al Nour (radio
station) are just a few examples of
the provisions delivered by the party.
After the cessation of bombardments
during the recent conflict, the party
has spent massively (ironically in US
Dollars) in order to rebuild homes and
get basic services restored. For all of
these reasons, it is quite clear why some
scholars would brand Lebanon as a
classical example of a Failed State.
The capture of the State as a notion
refers to the ability of a powerful political
group, or an alliance of certain political
groups, to set the policy-making agenda
in a way that effectively reflects and consolidates its firm grip of power over the
State and its institutions. Once the objective is achieved, the group’s strategy
aims to institutionally block any potential
source of reform or any major drive to
reverse the status quo. A major prerequisite for this notion entails the acceptance by this powerful group of the rules
of the game. In other words, the group
is definitely systematically represented,
and should fully accept the governance
structure where it is operating. If we
assume that Lebanon is a Failing State,
then the inability and/or unwillingness
of the central government in providing
some basic provisions for its citizens
means that it is challenged by a political
force or a movement alien to its apparatus and machinery. In other words,
the notion of Failed States necessitates
the existence of another force operating
fully independently from its inner circle
but located within its own territory. Is this
the case in Lebanon? A quick answer for
this question is simply no.
Although the party has successfully
transformed itself into a ‘ State within
the State’, it remains essentially
embedded in the Lebanese political
configuration, and represents
an important fabric of its social
structure. The party has contested
of Sunni, Druze and Maronite leaders
that possess a simple majority in the
parliament, from directing the country
in the way they politically desire. After
the Syrian disengagement from the
country in 2005, the 14th of March
Group has relentlessly tried to table
a proposal that envisions a complete
recovery of sovereignty. This sovereignty
is envisioned through the deployment
of the Lebanese army to the southern
border with Israel and the confiscation
of arms held by Hezbollah warriors, in
line with UN Resolution 1559. Yet the
weight occupied by Hezbollah and its
between all Lebanese political forces
operating in the country including
Hezbollah. These series, which started a
few months before the outbreak of the
war, aimed at forging a consensus on
various sensitive issues that still divide
the various Lebanese communities
today. These issues included the identity
of the Shebaa Farms, the future of
Hezbollah as a resistance force and
its weapons, Palestinian refugees in
Lebanon, the Presidency of the Republic
as an institution, and the redrawing of
borders with Israel and Syria. Apart from
agreeing on the Lebanese identity of
Residents return to find large areas of southern Beirut reduced to rubble by Israeli bombardment. Sean Sutton / MAG / Panos Pictures
every parliamentary and municipality
elections in the country since 1992.
Currently, it has 23 seats in the Lebanese
parliament (out of 128) and has three
ministers in the cabinet (out of 30).
It is officially in alliance with Hizb Al
Tayar Al Watani (Orange movement)
headed by Michel Aoun, a former
head of the Lebanese army and one
of the major two Christian leaders
represented in the parliament today.
Together they form a blocking minority
that has prevented the 14th of March
political movement, a conglomeration
allies has meant that the 14th of March
does not have the two thirds majority
of the parliamentary house to pass such
a resolution. Moreover, the president
of the republic, who can be considered
as a relic from the outgoing pro Syrian
regime, is also a firm ally of Hezbollah.
To move beyond this potential
institutional impasse, the house speaker
(Nabih Berri), who is a major Shiite
leader and another ally to Hezbollah
and Syria, called for consecutive
National Dialogue series to be held
the previously mentioned farms, nothing
concrete emerged after four months
of intense deliberation, with Hezbollah
firmly rejecting any attempt to deploy
the Lebanese army into the South or to
relinquish its weapons. For all of these
reasons, many observers conclude that
Hezbollah’s strategies have successfully
captured the Lebanese State.
Given these short explanations, both
conceptualisations fit well the Lebanese
situation. It is clear that Hezbollah has
managed to create a unique position
fully independent from the State, and
it appeals to a large segment of the
population that has been historically
suffering from the lack of essential
provisions. Yet the party has built a
certain political leverage where it is
firmly represented in the Lebanese
system, and can strategically block any
political manoeuvre that seeks to reduce
its power. Clearly the two concepts
do overlap in certain cases, but the
nuance between the two needs to be
carefully examined, for a Captured State
need not necessarily be a Failed one,
or vice versa. In the Lebanese context
however, the Failed State has paved the
way for the other one to emerge, with
Syria being the main exogenous factor
that has facilitated such a transition.
In order to solve these problems in
the future, the Lebanese government
must monopolise the process of
reconstruction in the country. It must
also minimise the financial contribution
of the party as much as possible if
it is serious in addressing the real
roots of this chronic problem. Despite
the human and physical devastation
inflicted on Lebanon during this recent
war, the process of reconstruction
is an ideal occasion for the State to
re-establish primarily its authority and
most importantly the trust of its citizens;
a concept easy to describe, but very
difficult to implement.
Karim Knio is a lecturer in Politics at ISS.
He can be reached at [email protected]
ISS News
Prince Claus Chair holder
Professor Nasira Jabeen is appointed as chair holder for 2006
– 2007. Professor Nasira Jabeen (1959) is attached to the
Institute of Administrative Science, University of Punjab,
Lahore – Pakistan. She has authored publications in different
areas including Administrative Science and Human
Resources, as well as on the issue of the position of women
in Pakistan. Coming from a Pakistani background, Professor
Jabeen will focus her teaching and research on the
possibilities and constraints of Good Governance as a
concept in the world of development.
ISS qualified for Erasmus Mundus
progamme of European Commission
In a consortium with three other leading European
institutions, ISS will offer the Erasmus Mundus Masters
Program in Public Policy (Mundus MAPP). This is a 2-year
international Masters course that provides a thorough
understanding of how political institutions, processes and
public policies operate and interact from the global political
economy through to national and local levels. There is a
direct focus on European engagements at these levels of
Philippines Alumni and short course
Graduation of ISS’ last
refresher course on
“Mainstreaming Human
Rights in Development and
Governance through a
Rights Based Approach” in
September 2006 in The
Philippines. Convenor was
Philippines graduating group
dr. Karin Arts while the
Hosting Organisation was the Commission on Human Rights
of the Philippines (CHRP) and the Philippine Association of
Extension Program Implementers (PAEPI).
The programme is run by the following institutes; the
Central European University in Budapest (Hungary), the
Barcelona Institute of International Studies in Spain, the
University of York in UK and ISS. Students start with a
foundation year in policy studies and research methods at
either ISS or York, followed by a Summer School and an
internship at a relevant policy institution while they are
going to specialise in the second year in either Budapest or
Spain and finish the program with an applied research or
policy paper. When at ISS, the Mundus MAPP students will
be enrolled in the Governance & Democracy programme.
Over 20 ISS alumni have
met in Manila, The
Philippines, on 2 October
2006 were dr. Karin Arts of
ISS hosted the meeting,
with dr. Des Gasper in
attendance. The informal
Des Gasper (with beard) with Alumni
meeting in Manila, Philippines
gathering was also attended
by representatives of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the
Netherlands Fellows Foundation of the Philippines.
Ms Els Mulder is not retiring, as was announced in the June
edition of DevISSues, but is leaving her position as ORPAS
project Officer.
The European Commission will provide 15 fellowships a year
for the next five years. For more information please visit the
website www.mundusmapp.org or contact ISS’ dr. Wil Hout
at [email protected]
Staff Changes
Anirban Dasgupta joined the staff group in Rural
Development. He is a lecturer in Poverty Studies.
Alumni Assassination
Ketesh Loganathan, an alumnus of ISS (MA Agriculture and
Rural Development specialisation, 1983-84) and a committed
peace activist in Sri Lanka, was killed on Saturday August 15,
2006. Ketesh was a lively and engaging personality. Softspoken, he had a sharp, critical mind, and a fine sense of
humour. He was much appreciated by fellow students and
staff while at ISS and he will be missed.
W h e n D o e s L i fe Begin?
Youth Perspectives from Egypt
Linda Herrara
In Egypt, as in other countries of the Muslim Middle East, there has been intensified
international focus on the ‘youth question.’ Within a climate of deteriorating
economies, rising employment, growing radicalization and an escalation of regional
conflicts, development interventions attempt to steer youth on a path that favours
economic and political liberalization. Yet young people themselves are rarely
consulted about their personal desires and priorities for reform. The following
captions (next page) taken from twelve in-depth interviews with Egyptian urban
youths will attempt to provide insights into youth lives and aspirations.
Certain conditions of the contemporary
period are bringing to the fore a new
politics of development in which
today’s young people, “the most highly
educated generation in human history,”
as described in the UN World Youth
Report 2005, are recognized as critical
actors. Whether in policies dealing
with employment, education, social
equity, citizenship or security, the youth
question is penetrating development
debates. Despite some efforts by
local and international NGOs to foster
participatory policy approaches, youth
perspectives are generally lacking, and
the lives and desires of young people
little understood.
What follows are expressions of young
people based on excerpts taken from
twelve in-depth interviews conducted in
the summer of 2006 with youths between
the ages of 16 to 25 from the cities
of Alexandria, Aswan and Damietta.
Each interview took between one and
three hours spaced over one to two
sessions. A set of questions guided the
process, meaning the interviews were
semi-structured and open-ended, and
categorised around four general areas:
family background and peer and family
relationships, attitudes about social
- particularly educational - institutions,
views on globalization and the politics
of development, and outlooks on
geopolitics and regional politics.
Research is perennially difficult in Egypt
due to the restrictive political climate,
suspicion of research in general, and
the modern nation. In other words, it has
been incumbent upon the burgeoning
middle class, with its participation
in education, urban and globalized
lifestyles, media and other institutions,
to support and propel the project of
development. Yet in actuality the middle
class in Egypt, as in much of the region
and Third World, has scant access to
economic resources and in many ways
“They are saying there are opportunities. Where are these
opportunities? Where is the starting point, the beginning?
If only I could start I could continue my life? But where is the
starting point? Tell me, where can I begin?”
Ahmed, 22 years, Alexandria
foreign funded research in particular.
To ensure a level of trust among
researcher and researched, participants
went through a hand-picked process
of selection. All respondents were
deliberately selected from the lower
to middle strata of the urban middle
classes, for it is this social class that
theoretically constitutes the backbone of
is denied meaningful participation in
political institutions. In a society which
is also ageist and hierarchical, young
people are at an added disadvantage.
What follows are glimpses into youth
lives and fragments of their thoughts
around issues of politics, justice,
development and the future.
You n g L ive s a n d Yo uth’s Words
On injustice, corruption and the root causes of terrorism…
These young people overwhelmingly point to the fact that lack of justice stands at
the root of society’s problems. They understand injustice as a lack of democracy
and accountability, corruption, and a social system that runs not on merit, but on
favours, bribes, nepotism and connections. They view oppression as the root cause of
radicalism and terrorism.
Marwa, a 21 year old student at
the faculty of veterinarian science:
“The Egyptian political system is
stable in a negative way. It does not
change. It doesn’t make room for
expressing opinions or changing
the status quo. Security is the most
important thing. It’s run as if it were
a kingdom from the time of Kings.
Even kingdoms don’t connect the
president’s name with the name
of the State like we do here in
Egypt. We have the expression,
‘Misr Mubarak’[Egypt is Mubarak]
Why do people feel the president
deserves his name to be connected
with the country when he doesn’t
work towards developing the
country? Egypt has been changing
for the worse.”
Samir, a 22 year old unemployed
male, explains the lack of freedom
and rights as the root cause of
terrorism: “Terrorism starts from
oppression, from a lack of rights.
The terrorist sees his life as a closed
path. It is closed in its past, future,
material aspect and moral aspect.
He needs someone to help him but
doesn’t find anyone. He doesn’t
belong to a strong family that can
protect him from unjust and failed
laws. He is angry about the failures
of his life, his work, love. He doesn’t
believe in the social structure since
it’s neither just nor legitimate. He
considers this system responsible
for his failures and the destiny of
society. He expresses his anger
by attacking Israel and the United
States. He knows that nothing
he does will affect his own life or
society. He has nothing to do but to
Sarah, an 18 year old first
year student at the Faculty
of Commerce: “What’s good
about the Egyptian system is its
stability, but the government is
not interested in a dialogue with
the people. They don’t give us
freedom to express ourselves.
People don’t trust the government
because of the system of ‘wasta’
(favours through connections) and
oppression. The worst thing is
when they make decisions without
asking people their opinion.”
Sherif, a 22 year old university
graduate working in his father’s
vegetable stand says: “The
government should start trying to
listen to the problems of youth.
There should be social justice
and an honorable life for every
citizen. No group should feel like a
neglected body. The government
does what it can to make foreigners
comfortable but neglects its own
Ahmed, a 17 year old highschool student notes: “There is
no democracy and justice. The
President has absolute power and
makes all the decisions and the
people go along with it. It’s like that
saying, ‘If the father plays the drum
(tabla) his sons and daughters will
dance.’ If the big one is a thief then
everyone else will be a thief.”
On lack o f f re e d o m … .
Young people are enormously frustrated by what they describe as a lack of freedom.
They complain about an absence of outlets to express opinions, and feel that adult
society ignores them. They do nevertheless find solace in the sense of freedom that
exists among them.
Mona, a senior in high school,
states: “So many young people
suffer from depression because of
a lack of freedom. The government
is not interested in a dialogue with
the people. They don’t give them
freedom to express themselves.
The worst thing is when they make
decisions without asking people
their opinion. They just make
decisions and it’s final.”
Mohamed, 20 year old engineering
students: “Young people are
suffering from many problems
in every domain of life: political,
economic, personal since they
can’t get married due to the other
problems. The Egyptian people
take it for granted that these
problems will be neglected and
don’t do anything about it. Young
people do not trust the justice of
Egyptian society and the evidence
is that they leave the country at
the first opportunity. Egyptian
youth don’t trust that the society
will satisfy his needs or allow him a
O n the role of the US in regional d e v e l o p m e n t …
The role of the US in regional politics and political economy is a major subject of
public debate. Young people express vigorous opinions about the imperial policies of
the US and harbour suspicions about the motivations of US development aid in their
country. They see the US interference in national politics as a central cause of their
government’s corruption.
Zeibab, a 22 female university
graduate explains: “Egyptian
society has been dominated by
greed. I suspect that the Egyptian
government frankly is influenced
by a bigger power. To tell you the
truth I do not respect the Egyptian
rulers. We know very well this great
power (US) is ruling over us, but
God is greater, subhan wa ta’ala.”
Amjad, a 17 year old student in
his third year at a technical highschool where he’s studying to be
an electrician, says: “I want to be a
successful man, to get married and
have my own company. But for now
I can’t even replace my old shoes.
My parents make me wait.”
Ahmed: “I need to succeed in
something but I can’t find what
it is. I feel that something big
will happen. What is it? When?
Sometimes I believe something
good will happen and I find my
heart secure. But the truth is I
don’t have anything to guarantee
“Young people are deeply
tired (ta`aban).
We need to feel there’s
some justice.”
Soraya, 18 years
In posing the question in the title, “when
does life begin?” the aim has been to
probe into youth attitudes about basic
conditions they feel are necessary to live
a meaningful, productive and dignified
Ahmed: “If there actually was
something called American aid
in Egypt it should be benefiting
Egypt. But where is it? This aid
divides us, it doesn’t help us. If our
leaders have a consciousness they
should see that we have the Suez
Canal; the money from this alone
can let people live as Pashas. We
have power through our work force.
We have agricultural land and we
have an enormous desert. We have
good resources but nothing works
out because of economics. The
United States could be the reason
for this bad economic situation.”
An 18 year old male states: “The
US needs Arab systems that are
weak and submissive. The US does
not give Egypt aid for nothing.
American aid is a bribe for the price
of peace with Israel and the silence
of the political system in Egypt
about the existence of Israel and its
crime towards Arabs. US aid is not
just for controlling the economy
but also for controlling our thinking.
Our dept is 40 billion, most of it
to the US. If the US continues to
control us we will reach the point
when they take our country.”
On in d i v i d u a l d e s i re s a n d t h e f u t u re …
To an overwhelming extent these young people express similar desires for their
lives. They want to feel useful, to earn a livelihood, find love, have a home and
build a family. While seemingly simple desires, these goals for the most part are
hopelessly out of reach. There is an overwhelming sentiment of “being stuck,” of not
knowing how to get to the future, of facing insurmountable obstacles. This sentiment
sometimes gives way to a kind of fatalism.
Mahmoud: “I hardly know how
to dream anymore. I need to fulfil
myself and be a useful human
being. I want a job, an apartment,
to get married. I want stability and
self assurance.”
life. Many respondents allude to the fact
that, although they are alive, they do not
feel they are living; they do not possess
what they consider a life. Living would
require certain conditions of freedom,
justice, opportunity and respect which
they find largely absent in their lives.
These young people express simple
desires for individual fulfilment: those
of stability, love, family, employment,
and housing and, to a lesser extent
professional satisfaction. Life then
begins with justice and the ability to
live a dignified present that can lead
18 year old Mohamed says: “My
future is in the hands of God, but
still, I want to be able to see it. How
do I see it? I want to see a good
Ramadan: “My future has no light.
It’s dark. What I need is to feel that
I’m a useful human being.”
to a stable future. For from justice will
follow opportunities and the genesis of
Linda Herrera is a lecturer on Development Studies
at the ISS. This research was conducted with Kamal
Naguib from the University of Alexandria as part
of a larger comparative research project of ICCYS
(International Center of Child and Youth Studies),
entitled Newly Emerging Needs of Children and
Youth II. For more information please email to
[email protected] or visit www.iss.nl/iccys
Teaching News
Being There… Well, Virtually
Helen Hintjens
In May of this year over twenty ISS students took part in an online role play Simulation (ORPS) on Venezuela which formed
part of the Realising Rights and Social Justice course. Each
participant took on a role from a real-world contemporary
individual from Venezuela. By the end of two weeks many of
the participants had gained great insight from the experience
students to be much more creative than they themselves
think possible; “I think I did relatively well in combining
fact and fabrication to simulate a human rights climate
through an ‘oppositional’ lens”, said one actor. “Overall
I was flexible, reactive and creative”, she notes, “but in
retrospect could have been more aggressive and sneaky!”
“It was a good idea”, noted another student, “not to give
too much input or too structured a plot within which to
work, as it forced the players to find out what is actually
happening in Venezuela and then see how they can apply
the facts to the game, while at the same time being creative
and giving their own input”.
because of the emotional, narrative and imaginative impulses
the simulation generated.
Stories and games can be deadly serious because of their
ability to capture the imagination. They are powerful,
symbolically, and as tools for (de)mobilising publics and
other actors. Diplomatic and international relations are full
of stories that highlight how important the ‘not-so-serious’
issues can be. The so-called cartoon wars are one example,
[wherein there were mass demonstrations following the
cartoon impression of Muhammad in Danish newspapers].
I first came across this teaching method through virtualsimulation, when visiting the Department of Politics at
the University of Melbourne in 2002, where it was wellreceived by students. The Venezuela Role Play Simulation
was designed jointly with Roni Linser of Fablusi, a small
educational games company based in Melbourne, and with
support from ISS Staff Group ‘States, Societies and World
Development’ as a pilot. Students were thrown into their
roles with relatively little guidance as to what they should
do. This is deliberate as, after all, creativity requires ‘spaces’
in which to create. Participants gathered information for
themselves, and as Roni Linser explains, it is precisely the
empty, awkward bits in the simulation that are most useful,
pedagogically speaking. In the words of one ISS participant;
“overall, the most useful part of the entire exercise was the
interaction – the spaces between each character’s position.
It was very different from engagement with texts for
example, in that you could virtually, and later physically,
move from private into public space to consider your
positions and issues, weighing them against others, which
then forced you to strengthen your own ideas, or in some
cases change your mind.”
Letting your imagination go can be difficult when you are
used to being focused on specific assignments and ‘learning
outcomes’ in class and outside. The ORPS method stimulates
Emotions are also part of the learning experience, as
characters feel guilt, anger, amusement and enjoyment
playing their roles. Perhaps the most important point here
is how the spaces within the simulation opens up players
to the intricacy of achieving social justice whilst also
protecting human rights, such as the Venezuela simulation
did. To take on the roles, students were obliged to do a lot of
background work, as one participant, who played a human
rights lawyer noted; “this allowed us to think from the
assigned role, not from our own perspective…it forced the
participants to learn [about human rights in Venezeula]…it
encouraged us to know about the relevant provisions of
human rights instruments…and through this process the
acquired knowledge is retained for longer [than through
other learning methods]”.
Being motivated to read and reflect is part of the beauty
of the role play on-line as a teaching method. On the
other hand, relating the simulation to reality is not
straightforward. One player considered that the exercise
“allowed me to see the traditional way I considered a state,
and how it addresses human rights and social justice issues,
was a rather simplistic one; in reality, it is in fact a complex
‘game’, much like this simulation”. As players invent,
they can paradoxically get a better grasp of reality than
by uncovering ‘facts’ presented for example in academic
research or the media.
Narratives and game-type scenarios can often convey very
complex logics in a digestible way. More conventional forms
of academic research and teaching struggle with this aspect
of the dynamics of power, change and the interplay of ideas
and actions. This year’s Venezuela Simulation exercise was
a pilot for ISS, with an aim to integrate on-line role play
simulation teaching in more courses.
Evaluations of the Venezuela ORPS for this year included
some positive suggestions for improvement, including the
Teaching News
request to focus on more specific aspects of human rights in
Venezuela. In reflexive mode, one participant commented
that overall in the simulation: “As if with x-ray vision, we
saw how information circulates in a political Human Rights
climate. The mobility of power – like iridescent traces of
light – was more visible from the ‘inside’ perspective than it
would have been through conventional methods – literature,
film or lectures”. This comment suggests that the on-line
role play method can reach parts of the memory and
stimulate learning processes in ways that is not possible (or
much harder) with other, more conventional and face-toface, teaching methods.
Helen Hintjens is a lecturer at the ISS in Development and Social Justice. For
questions or a demo please email her at [email protected] The ORPS was part
of the Realising Rights and Social Justice course, a component of the Human
Rights, Development and Social Justice MA specialisation that began at ISS
in 2005.
To learn more about virtual learning, please visit www.simplay.net
Many thanks to ISS IT staff for helping enable this project.
Helen Hintjens (far left, sitting) with virtual learning class
Focuss provides a high quality search engine for practitioners, researchers and students in
the area of global development studies. Other than generic search engines, such as Google
and Yahoo, Focuss indexes a specific choice of electronic resources, selected by librarians,
researchers and practitioners working in participating institutions. The resources are selected
based on their relevance for the development studies and the quality of the information.
Focuss is an initiative of ISS Library and IT Services; currently librarians from institutes such as
the African Study Centre, the Chr. Michelsen Institute, GDI,
InWent, IUED, KIT and NIAS have made their selection of web resources available.
Individual researchers, students and practitioners can contribute their resources by adding them to the Development_Matters group
in the social book mark space www.citeulike.org. The entries in this group are indexed on a regular basis.
The current Focuss initiative is based on the personal activities of a limited number of individuals. We believe that with the help
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This is why we are looking for people who wish to join the initiative and contribute their e-resource links to the search engine. And
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New Staff Publications
International Criminal Accountability and the Rights of Children
Karin Arts and Vesselin Popovski.
International crimes and other forms of violence and the abuse of children are disturbing
daily realities in today’s world. Children and young persons are increasingly and routinely
targeted for the purposes of murder, rape, abduction, mutilation, recruitment as child
soldiers, trafficking, sexual exploitation and other abuses. Particularly in situations of armed
conflict children prove to be vulnerable and at risk. The situations in Darfur, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, the Philippines, Nepal, Colombia, and many others tragically illustrate
this. This book is among the very first academic publications that are solely devoted to the
topic of international criminal accountability and the rights of children. A rich combination
of practitioners (including ICC, ICTY and SCSL prosecutors) and academics present a wealth
of relevant material in this field. They explore to what extent international law instruments
and international criminal accountability mechanisms are potentially useful for countering
violations of children’s rights in and after armed conflict. Likewise, they analyze to what
extent the tendency of profiling children’s rights much more strongly than before - mainly
under the umbrella of the 1989 kTW Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the form
of child rights-based approaches - converges with the features of international criminal
accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court, the Yugoslavia and
Rwanda Tribunals, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. Next to academics interested in the
fields of international criminal law and human rights law, practitioners, policy makers and
representatives of the military will benefit from reading this book.
Cultures of Arab Schooling:
Critical Ethnographies from Egypt
Linda Herrera and Carlos Alberto Torres, eds.
Little is known regarding the inner workings of the educational systems of most Arab
countries. Cultures of Arab Schooling fills this void using critical social theory to offer a
rare glimpse into schools in contemporary Egypt. Giving voice to the educators and students
through personal testimonies, the book sheds new light on issues of educational quality, the
impact of social movements--particularly Islamist—on school cultures, the growing cultures
of resistance to authoritarianism, and the gap between official policies and the realities of
schooling. In a political climate that demonstrates increasing change in the Arab world,
this critical ethnography of Arab education will aid in providing a better understanding of
issues relating to social justice, participation, and democracy in this part of the world.
Engendering Human Security:
Feminist Perspectives
Thanh-Dam Truong, Saskia Wieringa and Amrita Chhachi, eds.
This book engages with current debates on human security, offering a variety of feminist
perspectives on the gender reconfigurations of the state, power/knowledge systems, sexuality,
care, labour and the implications of globalisation on people’s quotidian security. A key
thematic area concerns the intersection between gender - as a domain of power - and human
security as a new policy framework. The contributions in this book present an integration of
a feminist materialist analysis of gender relations with post-modern approaches to gender
representation and cultural constructions, linking culture with politics and economics, and
integrating analysis of class, ethnicity and other dimensions of gender identity. The book calls
for new modes of imagination that counter the dominance of the andro-centric ontology of
neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism.
New Staff Publications
Science and Technology Policy for Development:
Dialogues at the Interface
Louk Box and Rutger Engelhard, eds.
What social relations make for successful science and technology policies? In particular, the
contributions focus on what happens at the social interfaces between policy makers and
researchers, or users and producers of knowledge. Knowledge networks are the real subject
of this book, as they emerge between the many different actors involved in the development
of science and technology. The effects of epistemic communities on successful research and
technologies are shown.
Scholars from the Global South (Brazil, India, Kenya, South Africa) and the North (Canada,
France, Netherlands, UK, USA) reflect on research policy and policy research. Their linkages are
studied, and policy implications for donors, NGOs and host countries are drawn. This is one
of the first books on the subject which is published at the same time in hardback and on the
internet for open access.
For online access go to http://knowledge.cta.int/en/content/view/full/3613
on New Public
Implications for
Human Resource
Governance and
M.A. Mohamed Salih, ed.
Nicholas Awortwi and
Eduardo Sitoe, eds.
Desarrollo y
Transición en
Seán Golden y Max Spoor,
Cities in
The Theory and
Practice of Urban
Meine Pieter van Dijk.
Education in the Struggle For Palestine
An i n t e r v i e w w i t h Rema Hammami
Rema Hammami has been professor at the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit University, Ramallah since its founding in 1994.
The university has had to develop and adapt its curriculum rapidly under the circumstances of the Palestinian occupation. The
struggle of life under the occupation has forced changes in the daily experiences and mentality of all Palestinians. Following the
elections of Hamas at the beginning of 2006, and the critical response by the international community, it is now a question of how
life must continue. The following is an abbreviated version of an interview with Rema Hammami. The full version can be found at
What is the role of academia in
As in most of the third world, especially
in the context of anti-colonial struggles
and state-building projects, academics
in Palestine often have a role and
influence far beyond the university. This
is both a privilege and a burden. On the
one hand, academics in the occupied
territories are often thrust into the role
of being public intellectuals – in ways
that their colleagues in the West might
find enviable. At the same time there is
a price; by having to engage in the daily
society and politics means losing the
critical distance and space to work at a
more abstract and conceptual level. In
addition, when we are at international
forums most people expect a
Palestinian speaker - no matter their
academic discipline - to talk directly
about the latest situation on the ground.
But I think the most complex part of
the dilemma is the ways in which our
academic priorities are always being
shaped by the social and political
imperatives of the day. During the
period of the peace process, for
instance, at Birzeit we were suddenly
called upon by the political leadership
and donors to develop research and
programmes to meet the emerging
state building process. Overnight
we were having to contend with
providing answers to a whole array
of development and public policy
agendas. Few of us had any formal
training in development studies and,
having been stateless, had very little
experience of policy making at that
level… but these were the priorities
of the times, and if the universities
didn’t provide them, there was no
one else who could. So our research
and teaching priorities changed
The phy s i c a l
dismem b e r m e n t o f t h e
West Ba n k a n d t o t a l
imprison m e n t a n d s o c i a l
destruct i o n o f G a z a
are no l o n g e r f e l t a s
moment a r y e ff e c t s b u t
have ed g e d u s t o w a rd s
a sense o f f i n a l i t y, t h e
closing o f a d o o r o n w h a t
we had a l w a y s t h o u g h t
would b e o u r f u t u re
dramatically as we all had to suddenly
meet the urgent challenges of the new
environment. I’m just one example;
whereas before the peace process I was
researching aspects of the social history
of Palestinian women and issues related
to modernity and religiosity generally,
in the new environment I wrote about
women in the contemporary labor
market, Palestinian fertility trends, the
problem of NGOs and civil society, and
moved from teaching Anthropology
into building a cross-disciplinary M.A.
in gender development and law. My
whole intellectual frame shifted to
contend with the new need to be
‘policy relevant’. This was a universal
experience among my colleagues
and was definitely something that we
critically reflected on once the peace
process so dramatically collapsed a
few years later. But the other thing this
experience suggests is how academics
in our context have to be extremely
flexible and multi-disciplinary, which I
suppose is really a strength, although it
often feels as if we’re unable to steadily
develop a more consistent domain of
The other dimension of being an
academic in Palestine is that, like
the rest of the society, we have to
contend with the routine nastiness of
the occupation and how it increasingly
engulfs almost all aspects of our
existence. Checkpoints; the wall; the
inability to move freely; a growing policy
of deportation that has affected faculty
members without residency permits – it
goes on and on. At the same time, like
teachers anywhere we are responsible
for the well-being of our students - be
it through trying to cope with their
everyday traumas, trying to intervene
when soldiers are harassing them or just
trying to get them this week’s reading
material when they’re stuck under
curfew and can’t reach the university.
Birzeit has a human rights unit whose
function is to provide arrested students
with a lawyer, and under circumstances
when the occupation permits, delivering
course material to students to continue
their study while in prison. We tend to
forget that none of this should be part
of normal academic life, but here it’s
been ‘the norm’ for now almost forty
How was the MA in Gender and
Development set up, and how does
this resonate in the Palestinian
The Institute of Women’s Studies was
founded in 1994 by a cross-disciplinary
group of women faculty from
different departments across Birzeit.
When the peace process ‘tsunami’ I
mentioned earlier happened ‘gender
mainstreaming’ also suddenly appeared
on the agendas of the newly developed
Palestinian Authority ministries and in
donor and NGO projects. All of us had
been women’s movement activists,
but now we were confronted with
the new state-building reality. This
meant a shift from a more grassroots
women’s organizing to a government
and policy level environment. As
academics we saw both a responsibility
and an opportunity to try and shape
the way that governmental and nongovernmental policy and activity dealt
with the issue of gender rights in all its
local complexity. And the best way to do
that in the long term was to design an
academic program for activists working
in NGOs and government. Luckily the
international Gender and Development
Rema Hammami
literature was very developed by then
– so we were able to build a lot from
existing knowledge and practical
My wh o l e i n t e l l e c t u a l
frame s h i f t e d t o c o n t e n d
with t h e n e w n e e d t o b e
‘polic y re l e v a n t ’
experience, and conceptually translate
them into a relevant context for our
needs and issues. What was interesting
was how much of the global Gender
and Development literature really
resonated with the Palestinian context.
A lot of the issues raised by South Asian,
Latin American and African Gender
and Development experiences were
extremely relevant, and really spoke
to the students. However, our peculiar
circumstance of state building under
occupation – the bizarre situation of
national liberation, colonization and
attempted development all happening
at once and in interaction with each
other was something that none of the
existing development literature had
addressed – most likely because it was
Birzeit University students study on campus
what was so confusing and singular
about the Oslo peace process.
In light of the Hamas elections, how
do you view the relationship between
Palestine and the international
The international community has been
criminally negligent in its approach to
the conflict for years. Instead of using
their leverage to deal with the core
cause of the conflict, namely Israel’s
colonization of the occupied territories,
they routinely use their leverage on
the occupied population to ensure
malleability and little resistance. Thus
this most recent decision to impose
sanctions is just a continuation down
that path, in which the victims are
punished for not acting as they should
while the occupier is given free reign.
The Israeli Knesset (Israeli legislature)
is full of parties whose platform is
against a Palestinian state – i.e. against
a two-state solution. While Netenyahu
was in power, the Likud (a centre-right
political party), openly said they were
out to destroy the peace process,
which was also the case later among
people in Sharon’s government. In those
The Wor l d B a n k
consiste n t l y a rg u e d i n t h e
past tha t t h e i n v e s t m e n t s
by the i n t e r n a t i o n a l
commun i t y i n t h e
Palestin i a n e c o n o m y
barely c o v e re d t h e l o s s e s
created b y I s r a e l i c l o s u re
measure s
cases it was never in the international
community’s imaginary to conceive of
undertaking sanctions against Israel.
But Palestinians are treated by another,
extremely unfair set of rules.
The recent decision by the international
community [to enforce sanctions] is
perhaps more catastrophic than in the
past – because it has been undertaken
when Palestinian society is already
on the edge of social, political and
economic collapse. For the past six
years Palestinians have been living in
a war-torn economy, under the most
extreme form of sanctions imposed
by the Israeli military. During that
period, Israel’s longstanding control
over the ability to move goods and
people across the international borders
was extended to controlling human
movement between Palestinian areas
– with devastating consequences.
The World Bank consistently argued
in the past that the investments by
the international community in the
Palestinian economy barely covered
the losses created by Israeli closure
measures. However, in the past, rather
than challenging how Israel’s control
precluded the possibility for a normal
Palestinian economy and society to
function, the international community
deployed aid in an attempt to mitigate
its effects. The only way that basic
services and some level of livelihoods
could continue was due to the injections
of aid by the international community.
But now they neither challenge Israel’s
destructive control of the Palestinian
economy, while at the same time cutting
off the remaining the life-line of aid.
Joblessness was already very high
and coping strategies were already
stretched to the limit, but the way that
aid injected money into the economy
cushioned the effects of Israeli closure.
Now you have more than a million family
members who depend on the wages
of the 180,000 public sector workers
whose survival strategies have collapsed
due to the international sanctions.
That’s a third of the population – and
this was one of the only sectors fairing
relatively well [prior to the sanctions].
This has knock-on effects throughout
society; many families could only get by
because their local food vendor would
give them credit, knowing a relative
was on the government pay roll. Now
everywhere you go, shops display “no
credit” signs. The impact on health
has been devastating, in a sector that
could only offer limited health coverage,
now families can’t even afford this. For
education it’s the same; the start of the
school year is always difficult, but now
families will struggle to even afford
the basic school kit necessary for their
children to attend. It is ironic that for all
the social and developmental problems
that international agencies and NGOs
have been working to eradicate, they
have now taken a step that actively
propagates them; malnutrition, school
drop-outs, poor sanitation, deep
poverty, the list goes on and on.
What is often forgotten is how the
international community has already
fallen so short of their responsibilities
towards the Palestinians of the occupied
territories as enshrined in international
law; they have failed to implement their
own resolutions that call for the end of
Israel’s illegal occupation. They have
failed to undertake their responsibility
to protect the occupied population
and ensure its social and economic
well-being. And they have failed to
ensure that Israel does not change the
demographic character or exploit for
its own uses the natural resources of
the land it illegally occupies. This is the
context through which the population
sees this latest failure of international
responsibility. In short, sanctions are not
going to lead to an overthrow of Hamas
by a disgruntled population; instead it is
much more likely that it will lead to civil
society paralysis and social and political
What do you see for the future of
Palestine in the long run?
Many of us are talking about the end of
Palestine these days. Not as a society;
any Palestinian will tell you that as a
society we will always be here. The
end is about the Palestinian national
project as we, and three generations
of Palestinians, knew it. The idea of
an independent Palestinian state
that animated Palestinian politics,
culture and identity for fifty years, has
It is iro n i c t h a t f o r
all the s o c i a l a n d
devel o p m e n t a l p ro b l e m s
that i n t e r n a t i o n a l
agenc i e s a n d N G O s
have b e e n w o r k i n g t o
eradic a t e , t h e y h a v e n o w
taken a s t e p t h a t a c t i v e l y
propa g a t e s t h e m
been eclipsed by a reality that was in
gestation since the 1970s but that has
now been dramatically concretized
by Israel over the past six years. The
physical dismemberment of the West
Bank and total imprisonment and social
destruction of Gaza are no longer felt as
momentary effects but have edged us
towards a sense of finality, the closing of
a door on what we had always thought
would be our future. This is Ariel
Sharon’s legacy; five years of actions
that make the basis of the only just and
practical solution – a two state solution
- impossible. Any foreign diplomat,
journalist or aid worker based in the
occupied territories will tell you this
off-the-record. It’s just so very obvious
on the ground. What it means for the
long run no one knows. But in the here
and now, it has produced an immense
sense of despair -- not only among
Palestinians, but also among Israeli
and international peace activists. In this
context, finding hope seems as likely
as finding snow in a desert. So the only
hope there is, is what one always looks
to when governments and politicians
fail so badly – the hope offered by
people of conscience who try and
make a difference. There are the brave
Israelis who refuse to be part of their
government’s policies; the refusniks who
would rather go to prison than serve in
the occupying army, the women who
stand at checkpoints and try and calm
the brutality of their soldiers, the peace
activists who stand with Palestinian
villagers in front of military bulldozers
toppling olive trees to build another
section of the wall and many others.
Internationally as well you find people
of all ages and backgrounds organizing
and trying to make a difference,
small voices and gestures that have a
powerful resonance at times like this.
And among Palestinians, there is hope
in the way that people against all odds
continue to make life, make jokes, get
married and celebrate birthdays and
ultimately hold on to their humanity.
What strikes me so often, is how despite
the hatred that is being sown by Israel
and the US – how when Israelis and
Westerners come to visit as people
and stand with Palestinians – they are
greeted with such open hearts and
gratitude. While all of this may not be
powerful enough to stop the destruction
that is taking place – the role of people
of conscience is profoundly important
in keeping hope alive in times of such
Rema Hammami was appointed the Prince-Claus
chair holder of 2006 because of her impressive
academic contribution to peace and co-existence
in Palestine. Her permanent position is Professor
at the Institute for Women’s Studies at Birzeit
University, Ramallah, Palestine.
Photos used courtesy of Rema Hammami and
Birzeit University. http://home.birzet.edu
The M i d d l e E a s t :
Cradle of Civilization
or a Cauldron for Conflict
Syed Mansoob Murshed
Most wars nowadays are civil wars. The
world has witnessed 118 conflicts in
80 locations since the end of the cold
war in 1989, but the good news is that
the number of countries embroiled
in civil war is declining. Development
economists are right to focus on the
poverty enhancing and growth stunting
nature of civil wars in low-income
countries. Despite the preponderance
of civil wars, inter-state wars (or wars
between a state or coalitions thereof)
and non-state armed groups in another
country are not uncommon, and
nowhere is this more prevalent than in
the Middle East. Interestingly, the UK
tops the league table in the number of
inter-state wars (21) it has been involved
in since 1946, ahead of France (19) and
the USA (16). Not surprisingly, former
colonial masters and the world’s only
remaining superpower have the greatest
Conflict in the Middle East seems to attract “clash of civilizations” type justifications,
as opposed to the rational choice category of argument put forward to explain
civil wars in other parts of the world. This “clash of civilizations” reasoning is a
disingenuous device to disguise and rationalize the perpetuation of the palpable
injustices that underlie conflict in that region. Ever since its inception, Islam has
continually striven to achieve acceptance on terms of parity by the Christian West.
Rational choice theory, by contrast, advances two possible hypotheses for conflict:
collective historical grievances or the desire to control valuable resources (greed),
that are far closer to the truth. The prevalence of an invaluable natural resource
(petroleum), combined with extremely unfair post-colonial dispensations fuel conflict
in the Middle East. Unlike what some (including Bush and Blair) say, the violence by
the oppressed in the region is a reaction to injustice, and not born of some primordial
T h e West rushes to
c o n d e mn Iran, based on
th e o ff-chance that it will
a c q u i re nuclear weapons,
w h i l e ignoring Israel’s
l o n g - s tanding capability
i n t h e same area
proclivity to go to war against other
nations (or groups therein as in Iraq and
Afghanistan); this is after all what makes
them great powers.
Much of the Middle East (except Iran)
was part of the Ottoman Empire prior
to the conclusion of the First World
desire to supplant “Western civilization”.
War, an empire that had sided with
the defeated Central powers during
that great conflagration. The allied
powers, principally Britain and France,
entered into a clandestine agreement
(the Sykes-Picot pact) to carve up
the Ottoman dominions, prior to the
defeat of Turks in the Great War of
1914-18. They were dividing up what
was, at the time, not quite theirs. The
British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour,
declared support for the establishment
of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1917,
again before His Majesty’s Government’s
writ ran through that piece of real
estate. Nor were the inhabitants of that
territory consulted in the proposed
handover by a distant European power,
although the inhabitants of peninsular
Arabia, blissfully unaware of the SykesPicot pact, were encouraged to revolt
against their Turkish co-religionists by
the indomitable T E Lawrence. In the
words of the novelist Arthur Koestler,
by the Balfour declaration “one nation
solemnly promised to a second nation
the country of a third.” What followed,
after the First World War, shaped the
contemporary map of the region. The
British and French directly controlled
Palestine and Syria respectively, latterly
through League of Nations mandates.
The importance of the Holy Lands
to western powers is evinced by two
statements; when Field Marshall Allenby
entered Jerusalem he declared the
Crusades finally over, and when a French
general visited the tomb in Damascus of
Saladin (who had expelled 12th century
Crusaders) he triumphantly uttered
words to the effect that “we are back
Saladin”. The kingdom of Iraq was
created by the British, ruled by a Sunni
king (whose father had cooperated
closely with Lawrence of Arabia)
imported from the Arabian Peninsula to
rule over a land with a Shia majority and
a sizeable non-Arab Kurdish minority.
Rebellions by the Kurds were brutally
suppressed with the aid of the Royal Air
Force, including the innovative use of
mustard gas from the air by “Bomber”
Harris, who later became chief of the
RAF’s Bomber Command, and was
responsible for trashing Dresden in
February 1945. The brother of the
British nominee for the kingship of Iraq
was given modern day Jordan, and it
is said that the zigzagged nature of
the Jordanian-Saudi Arabian border is
partially attributable to the after effects
of a good lunch that the British Colonial
Secretary, Winston Churchill, had before
deciding on the fate of the peoples
of that region. The French proceeded
to partition Syria by separating what
we now know as Lebanon from it. The
experience of the French was far from
happy in Syria, and they withdrew
shortly after the Second World War.
A tenuous power sharing construction
was fashioned for Lebanon, and small
wonder that she later descended
into civil war. At that time an Arab
intellectual renaissance (Ba’ath) took
place, leading to the removal of the
pro-Western monarchies in Egypt
(1952) and Iraq (1958). Another great
game, between Britain and Russia, was
played over Iran. It had its democratic
1906 constitution suspended, and an
unenlightened despot restored in 1953
largely due to the machinations of
the USA and the UK. These historical
facts indicate that the post Cold War
era since the first Gulf War represents
a turnaround to the “old” days of
European control, as the leadership
of most Middle Eastern states are not
only undemocratically appointed, but
are also incapable of conducting truly
independent foreign policy (except Iran
and Syria).
All of these injustices pale into
insignificance when compared to the
Palestinian predicament. I do not wish to
belabour the unfairness of that situation,
as it is all too evident, except to stress
that the excessive acts of collective
punishment meted out on civilians
and the wanton destruction of civilian
infrastructure by Israel in the Palestinian
territories and Lebanon are tantamount
to state terrorism. Israel is also not
above abducting people and making
arbitrary arrests. It is worth reminding
ourselves of the fact that in the recent
The zigzagged nature
of the Jordanian-Saudi
Arabian border is partially
attributable to the after
effects of a good lunch that
Winston Churchill had before
deciding on the fate of the
peoples of that region
war in Lebanon, most casualties on
the Lebanese side were civilian, while
at the Israeli end most fatalities were
military. Central to the solution is not
only a creation of a viable Palestinian
state (not some feeble Bantustan), the
rights of refugees (many Palestinian
refugees reside in Syria, Lebanon and
Jordan), and joint access to Jerusalem.
The economic disparities between Israel
and Palestine also need addressing.
Most importantly, a just settlement in
Palestine is central to achieving peace in
the region, international security and an
end to global “Islamist” terrorism.
A great obstacle to peace are
Western double standards in the
region, mainly centring around the
unswerving diplomatic support that
the United States affords Israel’s acts
of impunity, and its tacit acceptance
by many European countries. The
West seems unconcerned that the
price of peace, over the years, has
entailed ever increasing unrequited
concessions by the Palestinians in
favour of Israel. The West refuses to
deal with a democratically elected party
(Hamas) in the Palestinian territories.
Israel remains the largest recipient of
American aid, despite having average
incomes comparable to a European
country. The West rushes to condemn
Iran, based on the off-chance that it
will acquire nuclear weapons, while
ignoring Israel’s long-standing capability
in the same area. And the invasion
and Western occupation of Iraq has
helped the country slide into civil war,
due to the imperfect credibility of a
local leadership who collaborate with
occupying forces, and long delays in
commencing post-war re-construction.
The lessons from elsewhere in the world
suggest that the failure of the state to
provide minimal personal and economic
security, as well as services, leads its
citizens to search for these elsewhere,
including amongst kinship groups and
armed militias. This raises the risk of civil
war as the legitimate use of violence
becomes privatised. Nor can humanity
live without dignity. That is why respect
for Hizbollah, bloodied but unbowed
as they are in an unequal struggle, may
be growing in the Arab and Muslim
world. Its reputation and credibility
amongst ordinary Lebanese as a
provider of services, and as an agent
for reconstruction, seems enhanced.
Let us also not forget that the origins
of Hizbollah are in resistance to the
Israeli occupation of South Lebanon
(1982-2000). Also, the huge cost of a
second reconstruction in a country
already deep in debt is worrying. It is
time that the United States acted more
fairly, and instead of supporting ‘wars
of the New Middle East’ started living
up to the spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s
1863 Gettysburg address and help
to establish true ‘government of the
people, by the people and for the
people’ in the region, in the same way
Lincoln was concerned that it ‘shall not
perish from the earth’.
Mansoob Murshed is Professor in Economics of
Conflict and Peace at ISS, Professor of International
Economics at the Birmingham Business School and
Honorary Professor of Development Economics at
the University of Utrecht.
Complex Realities & Self-Serving
Illusions in the Middle East Conflict
Clare Louis Ducker
The constructed Western identity of the Israeli state stems from its very creation,
wherein Israel’s founding members (all European) asserted from the outset the
European character the Jewish state would take: Theodore Herzl, the founder of
political Zionism, wrote that the Jewish state would serve as “the portion of the
rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to oriental
barbarism”. Conceptions of East versus West, of the modern and civilized world
against the backward and barbaric “other”, are a recurrent theme in Zionist literature
and directly associated with the colonial Europe Zionism emerged from. These
ideas are still very relevant to the way Israel perceives itself today and to the way it is
perceived by the wider world.
Though situated in the Middle East,
Israel has continuously represented
itself as a Western entity; Ella Shohat
writes that Israel sees itself as ‘in but
not of the Middle East’ – with a clear
East/West dichotomy between itself,
the Palestinians and the wider Arab
world. This rejection of the East,
and more specifically of the Arab,
runs deep into Israeli society with
endemic discrimination faced not
only by Palestinian citizens of Israel,
but also by Jews of African and Asian
origin, sometimes known as Mizrahi
(Oriental) Jews. If the 1.3 million
Palestinian citizens of Israel (19.3%
of the population) are added to the
proportion of Mizrahi Jews, the total
non-European population of Israel adds
up to just under 70%; this means the
majority of Israeli citizens are actually
of Arab descent (and if the Palestinians
who live in the Occupied Territories are
included this proportion rises to 90%),
though few in and outside of the Middle
East would be familiar with this fact. As
despite their demographic minority,
Ella Shohat writes that European-Israelis
(Ashkenazim) are visibly dominant in
every sector – in politics, education,
the economy and culture – the result
of years of biased resource allocation
and political, economic and social
marginalization toward Israel’s nonEuropean and non-Jewish citizenry. It is
for this reason that she terms the state
Reuven Abarjel and Smadar Lavie,
both Mizrahi academics and activists,
have written that the Ashkenazi Israeli
leadership has repeatedly evoked the
The total non-European
population of Israel adds
up to just under 70%; this
means the majority of
Israeli citizens are actually
of Arab descent
image that Israel is a European villa,
planted in the midst of a regional
jungle. It is this image that plays such
an important part in Israel’s public
relations strategy, and which serves to
demonize the rest of the people in its
surrounding region. The newly elected
Hamas legislative has been demonized
and isolated across the Western world,
as the demands that it recognise the
state of Israel and denounce the use of
violence have become a prerequisite
for any financial and diplomatic
support from the West. Though these
same demands are not pressed upon
Israel (namely to recognise the right
of Palestine to exist and to denounce
the use of violence), it would be a
crucial step forward on the roadmap
to peace given it’s disproportionately
powerful and violent role in the conflict;
the continued illegal occupation of
Palestinian (and Lebanese and Syrian)
land, the continued illegal construction
of settlements on land supposedly
earmarked for a Palestinian state, and
its continued use of violence against
the civilian Palestinian population. In
addition it continues to be the largest
recipient of US aid in the world, as
well as maintaining highly profitable
open trade relations with the EU.
One would think that by any fair and
rational standards such declarations
should be urgently sought from Israel.
But presented with the narrative of the
civilized and modern versus the violent,
barbaric ‘other’, where only one party’s
violence matters, few seem prepared
to press the matter. As a result even the
mass arrests and execution by air strikes
of the democratically-elected Gazan
leadership has occurred with little, if
any, criticism from the self-appointed
champions of democracy in North
America and Europe.
Defence for Children International
(DCI) reports that there are currently
around 350 Palestinian children in
Israeli prisons; approximately 100 of
these are under 16 years of age. DCI
states that the majority of children
are taken from their homes at night
and that almost all children who are
arrested suffer some form of torture,
including beatings, sleep deprivation,
isolation, position abuse and verbal
abuse. DCI states that this fact is
widely acknowledged and thoroughly
documented by local and international
human rights organizations, though
the arrest, detention and torture of
Palestinian children is rarely discussed
in international political spheres and is
little known by the wider public.
of “modernisation” – a euphemism
for the erasure of their Arabic identity
and their assimilation into Euro-Israeli
life. The Orientalist discourse has thus
also served to erase links with the
largely Arab past of the Mizrahim. This
But the legacy of European
Imperialistic/Orientalist discourse in
the Israeli context penetrates deeper
than the Zionist nationalist project
vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Mizrahi Jews
have been the victim of this powerful
political tool to exclude them from
basic social infrastructures of political,
economic, academic and cultural life,
ensuring control of political institutions,
universities and principal economic
hubs by the Ashkenazi elites. It is within
this hegemonic Orientalist framework
that the largely Arabic heritage of
Mizrahi Jews was also ridiculed and
rejected. While the Jews from Europe
were perceived as simply having to
be “absorbed” into Israeli society,
those from Asia and Africa could only
be “absorbed” through the process
were perceived as simply
While the Jews from Europe
having to be ‘absorbed’
into Israeli society, those
from Asia and Africa
could only be ‘absorbed’
through the process of
suppression of identity has meant the
rejection of Arabic language, music and
customs, and the Arabic communities to
which they once belonged.
Mizrahi Jews have also borne the brunt
of Palestinian and Hizbollah guerrilla
attacks as they were channelled into
Israel’s peripheral border towns,
now overwhelmingly populated with
Israel’s poor and marginalised; the
immigrants from Arab countries and
their descendants, and more recently
the immigrants from Russia and
Ethiopia. Abarjel and Lavie write that
“most of the Palestinian suicide attacks
have occurred in the public spaces of
the economically deprived and legally
disenfranchised Mizrahi communities:
bus rides taken by people who can’t
afford to have a private car, markets
frequented by those who can’t afford
to shop in air conditioned malls and
supermarkets, and ‘hoods too poor to
afford to purchase the patrol services
of private security companies...” It is
this rarely acknowledged relationship
between ethnicity, poverty and class
within Israel’s Jewish population that
also demands serious attention, if we
are to fully comprehend the complex
realities on the ground and therefore
take some meaningful steps on the road
to peace.
During this Summer’s crisis, the
occasional interview aired on CNN or
BBC news, with inhabitants of Kiryat
Shemona – an Israeli town on the border
with Lebanon that has been a frequent
target of Hezbollah’s katyusha rockets
– hinted at a neglected history when
identities and borders across the Middle
East region were defined very differently:
the Iranian-born shopkeeper lamenting
his mounting debts and then the Iraqiborn restaurant owner defiantly keeping
his empty restaurant open despite the
threat of more rocket attacks, reminded
the world for a brief moment of the
tragic upheavals, displacements and
divisions that have occurred out of
the colonial experience. Indeed it very
often seems that we are still trapped in
its divisive language and dangerously
simplistic ideas that obscure the
complexities of the Middle East region
and the wider world around us.
Clare Louis Ducker is MA participant ’04-’05 and
one of three prize winners of the 2005 MA research
The paper can be found through www.iss.nl/library
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An Israeli-Arab girl who was lightly wounded in a missile attack on Nazareth, Israel. Ahikam Seri / Panos Pictures
Development and Change
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Volume 37 / Number 4 / July 2006
Christian Lund
Christian Lund
David Pratten
Lars Buur
Simon Turner
Sten Hagberg
Giorgio Blundo
Kristine Juul
Lars Buur and
Helene Maria Kyed
Pierre-Yves Le Meur
Carola Lentz
Jeremy Gould
Twilight Institutions: Public Authority and Local Politics in Africa
Guest Editor: Christian Lund
Twilight Institutions: An Introduction
Twilight Institutions: Public Authority and Local Politics in Africa
The Politics of Vigilance in Southeastern Nigeria
Reordering Society: Vigilantism and Expressions of Sovereignty in Port Elizabeth’s
Negotiating Authority between UNHCR and ‘The People’
‘It was Satan that Took the People’: The Making of Public Authority in Burkina Faso
Dealing with the Local State: The Informal Privatization of Street-Level Bureaucracies in
Decentralization, Local Taxation and Citizenship in Senegal
Contested Sources of Authority: Re-Claiming State
Sovereignty by Formalizing Traditional Authority in Mozambique
State Making and the Politics of the Frontier in Central Benin
Decentralization, the State and Conflicts over Local Boundaries in Northern Ghana
Strong Bar, Weak State? Lawyers, Liberalism and State Formation in Zambia
Volume 37 / Number 5 / September 2006
Eric Helleiner
Peter Lloyd-Sherlock
A. Krishna et al.
Annelies Zoomers
Valentina Mazzucato et al.
Esther Wiegers te al.
Linda Norgrove and
David Hulme
Hong Meen-Chee and
Suresh Narayanan
Reinterpreting Bretton Woods: International Development and the Neglected Origins of
Embedded Liberalism
Simple Transfers, Complex Outcomes: The Impacts of Pensions on Poor Households in
Fixing the Hole in the Bucket: Household Poverty Dynamics in the Peruvian Andes
Pro-Indigenous Reforms in Bolivia: Is there an Andean Way to Escape Poverty?
Transnational Migration and the Economy of Funerals: Changing Practices in Ghana
Patterns of Vulnerability to AIDS Impacts in Zambian Households
Confronting Conservation at Mount Elgon, Uganda
Restoring the Shine to a Pearl: Recycling Behaviour in
Penang, Malaysia
Development and Change Forum 2006
Volume 37 / Number 6 / November 2006
Guest Editors: Amrita Chhachhi and Howard Nicholas
Ashwani Saith
Michael Bourdillon
Des Gasper
Jan Nederveen Pieterse
Thanh-Dam Truong
John Cameron
Ananta Kumar Giri
Craig N. Murphy
Deirdre McCloskey
Martha Nussbaum
Amrita Chhachhi
Amrita Chhachhi
Rema Hammami
Wicky Meynen
Rhoda Reddock
Louis Emmerij
Cristóbal Kay
Craig Calhoun
Jayati Ghosh
Linda Herrera
Hilde van Dijkhorst and
Dorothea Hilhorst
From Universal Values to Millennium Development Goals: Lost in Translation
Children and Work: A Review of Current Literature and Debates
Cosmopolitanisms: A Discussion of the Frontiers of Justice
Cosmopolitan Presumptions? On Martha Nussbaum and her Commentators
Emancipatory Cosmopolitanism: Towards an Agenda
One Humanity, Many Consciousnesses: Unresolved Issues on Nussbaum’s New Frontiers
of Justice
Reflections on Cosmopolitanism and Capabilities
Cosmopolitanism and Beyond: Towards a Multiverse of Transformations
International Relations and Responsibility in an Increasingly Unequal World
Hobbes, Nussbaum, and All Seven of the Virtues
Reply: In Defence of Global Political Liberalism
Postscript: Tensions and Absences in the Debate on Global Justice and Cosmopolitanism
Interview with Kumari Jayawardena
Interview with Deniz Kandiyoti
Interview with Carmen Diana Deere
Interview with Peggy Antrobus
Hans Singer: The Gentle Breeze of Development Economics
Solon L. Barraclough: Leading Agrarian Reform Researcher and Advocate
Pierre Bourdieu and Social Transformation: Lessons from Algeria
Making Sense of the World Economy
What’s New about Youth? A Review Essay
Reviewing the World
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Exchange rate uncertainty and monetary transmission in the Philippines / Veronica B. Bayangos – 2006
‘Regional varieties of capitalism’: inter-firm relations and access to finance in Satun (Thailand) and Perlis (Malaysia) /
Edo Andriesse – 2006
Human security and the governmentality of neo-liberal mobility: a feminist perspective / Thanh-Dam Truong – 2006
Complex emergencies, food security and the quest for appropriate institutional capacity / Martin Doornbos – 2006
Uncounted or illusory blessings? Competing responses to the Easterlin, Easterbrook and Schwartz paradoxes of
well-being / Des Gasper – 2006
Domestic violence and dowry: evidence from a south Indian village / Sharada Srinivasan and Arjun S. Bedi – 2006
What is the capability approach?: its core, rationale, partners and dangers / Des Gasper – 2006
Children, childhood and migration / Roy Huijsmans – 2006
IDS, freedom and the moral community of citizens in Southern Africa / Bridget O’Laughlin – 2006
Entry, survival, and growth of manufacturing firms in Ethiopia / Admasu Shiferaw – 2006
Physical public infrastructure and private sector output/productivity in Uganda: a firm level analysis /
Albert A. Musisi – 2006
Young single motherhood : contested notions of motherhood and sexuality in policy discourses/program
interventions / Elizabeth Mulewa Ngutuku Mulongo – 2006
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