Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Articles from Vol. 32, No. 1, January/February

113th Congress May Do Slightly Less Harm to U.S. Interests in the Middle East
With an increased Democratic margin in the Senate and a slightly lower Republican margin in the House, as well as changes to key congressional committees, the 113th Congress may see somewhat less Republican obstructionism to President Barack Obama's...
Activists Discuss Post-Assad Syria
On Oct. 4, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted a team of seven scholars at its Washington, DC headquarters to present the findings of its "The Day After" project, which outlines the challenges facing a post-Bashar Assad Syria. The recommendations...
Americans Must Demand Details of Their Government's Drone War
During a recent visit to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, this writer overheard a father eagerly directing his young son to the nearby drone exhibit. Pointing to the drones hanging from the ceiling, the father proudly...
Annual Palestine Center Conference Examines Post-Election U.S., Mideast
The Palestine Center's annual conference on Nov. 9 looked at "Where are we headed? The U.S. and Middle East after Elections." Panelists discussed the impact of the recent election on U.S. policy in the region. Hrair Balian, director of the conflict resolution...
Arab Cinema Engages Viewers with Films on Modern Dilemmas, Ongoing Struggles
The wealth of creative filmmaking from the Arab world was celebrated once again at the annual Arab Film Festival (AFF) which debuted Oct. 11 at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. The 16th season opened with the screening of Sameh Zoabi's "Man Without a...
Arab Movies Enthrall Washington, DC Audiences
The 17th Annual Arabian Sights Film Festival returned to Washington, DC, from Oct. 25 to Nov. 4, with 10 new riveting and vibrant films from today's Arab world. Co-hosted by National Geographic, the films addressed a broad range of themes, from the contemporary...
Assassination Drones: A New Type of Warfare
"Death, destruction, disease, horror. That's what war is all about, Anon. That's what makes it a thing to be avoided. [But] you've made it neat and painless. So neat and painless, you've had no reason to stop it." -Captain Kirk, "Star Trek"Warfare used...
Chicagoans Rally for Peace in Gaza
More than 400 people gathered in front of President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign headquarters in Chicago on Nov. 15 to rally against Israel's most recent assault on Gaza known as Operation "Pillar of Cloud." Less than 36 hours after Israel launched its...
Christian Zionism and Islamophobia
The connection between Christian Zionism and Islamophobia was examined at an Oct. 24 panel discussion co-hosted by the Council for the National Interest (CNI) and the International Council for Middle East Studies, Inc. (ICMES) and held at the House of...
Conference Assesses the Maghreb
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) held an Oct. 12 conference at its Washington, DC offices to address the topic of "The Maghreb in Transition: Seeking Stability in an Era of Uncertainty." The conference featured panel discussions...
Culmination of a Long Campaign
Faced with a landslide vote for Palestinian statehood on Nov. 29, Israel settled itself firmly into the sour grape-pressing business by declaring that the resolution they had fought so tenaciously against and wagged the American dog so hard to oppose,...
Dennis Kucinich Holds First Congressional Briefing on Drones
More than a decade after the U.S. launched its secret drone program, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) hosted Congress' first briefing on the matter on Nov. 16 at the Rayburn House Office Building.Kucinich opened the hearing by questioning the strategic and...
Education Is Key to Afghanistan
On Oct. 19, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program, Asia Program and Global Women's Leadership Initiative co-hosted a discussion on "When America Leaves: Protecting Women and Girls in Afghanistan through Education" with Hassina Sherjan, founder...
Egypt's New Coptic Pope Tawadros Faces Religious Tension, Uncertain Future
In early November, less than a week after Egypt's new Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros had taken over as the newest pontiffin the world's oldest Christian sect, he lashed out on television, accusing the ultra-conservative Salafists of "destroying" the...
European Union Condemns Israeli Settlements-But Buys from Them
Whereas the U.S. government's position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank has been significantly diluted since 1967, European Union (EU) states have remained part of the overwhelming global majority that considers them to be illegal. In one of many...
Feminist's "I Rise" Exhibit Offers Insight into Syrian Revolution, Life in Exile
Fadia Afashe epitomizes the new Syrian woman: she's beautiful, highly educated and multi-talented. On Oct. 27 she opened an exhibition at the Levantine Cultural Center in Los Angeles of more than 20 of her acrylic-on-canvas works dealing with the ongoing...
Former Egyptian Presidential Candidate Speaks at Georgetown
Dr. Abdel-Moneim Abol Fotouh, a longtime Egyptian political activist and 2011 presidential candidate, discussed "The Challenges Facing Post-Revolutionary Egypt" at a Nov. 28 event sponsored by Georgetown University's Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian...
Friends of Sabeel Examine a Path to Peace in Albuquerque, NM
More than 300 people from around the world attended the Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) Sept. 28-29 conference on "The Path to Peace in Palestine and Israel" in Albuquerque, NM. Sabeel, an international peace movement started by Palestinian Christians...
Gaza, October 2012: The "Calm" before the Storm
The Washington Report asked Gaza correspondent Mohammed Omer to keep a diary of a typical month in Gaza under Israel's nearly seven-year-long siege:Oct. 1, 2012: One person is killed and four injured in a traffic accident in Khan Younis, just north of...
"Homeland" Says More about Israelis and Americans Than about the Middle East
My fondest memories from my time in Beirut are of Hamra Street. I remember walking up to the newspaper stand and buying Al-Hayat and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat on the weekends. I remember the conversations I had with the newspaper vendor about life in Beirut....
How Muslim and Arab Americans "Rocked the Vote" in 2012
How many times did you hear about the big impact in key states of Latino and female voters on the 2012 elections? Or the black/white voting divide? There was little mention of Muslim- and Arab-American voters in this election-nor, come to think of it,...
In Gaza, There's Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide
Wednesday, Nov. 14, started out as a normal day in Gaza City, with the usual traffic, and the same traffic policeman at the Al Sarayya junction-a common sight when the traffic lights go dark due to electrical outages. Families rushed about collecting...
Iowans Protest Israeli Attack on Gaza
Led by Kathleen McQuillen of the Des Moines office of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Iowa activists gathered in front of the Federal Building in Des Moines on Nov. 15 to protest Israel's deadly attack on the captive civilian population...
Is There a Political Solution to the Afghan Conflict?
The Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted an Oct. 9 event titled "Is There a Political Solution to the Afghan Conflict?" at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) building in Washington, DC. MEI scholar Marvin Weinbaum moderated.Ambassador Omar...
Jewish Groups Abandon Inter-Faith Dialogue after Christian Leaders Seek Review of U.S. Aid to Israel
The Oct. 5 letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches called on Congress to reconsider giving military aid to Israel because of its human rights violations. The Christian leaders said their intention was to put the Palestinians' plight and the...
L.A. Gaza Demo Turns Violent
Stand With Us, the latest reincarnation of the hard-line Jewish Defense League, was the first group to ask to demonstrate on Nov. 18 in front of the West Los Angeles Federal Building. It e-mailed its intention to rally for Israel's latest aerial bombardment...
Landmark Court Ruling for Democracy in Pakistan
1989 was a strange time for political friendships in Pakistan."Sworn enemies who until a few days before were shooting each other's workers" coalesced to force a collapse of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government. From...
MEI Conference Examines New Challenges in the Middle East
The Middle East Institute (MEI) held its 66th annual conference Nov. 13 and 14 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC. The conference was titled "New Horizons, New Challenges: The Middle East in 2013."Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Hanan Ashrawi Speak...
More Agony Ahead for Syria
Might the Western powers and their allies be making a mistake in Syria? Several of them-Britain and France, together with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar-have recognized the new Coalition of Syrian opposition forces formed in Doha on Nov. 11. They will...
Muslim Legal Fund Calls for Donors
The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) held a benefit banquet at the Westin Tysons Corner Hotel in Falls Church, VA on Nov. 3.Marwan Ahmad, head of MLFA's Washington, DC office, welcomed attendees and described the MLFA as a national civil liberties...
NCUSAR Policymakers Discuss Arab and American Interests
The National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations held its 21st annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference Oct.25 and 26 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. Bahrain's Ambassador Houda Ezra Nonoo hosted a pre-conference...
New Media on the Rise in Indonesia
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup released the findings of their "Media Use in Indonesia 2012" survey at Gallup's Washington, DC headquarters on Oct. 16. Covering media consumption in Indonesia, the results highlight that while traditional...
New York Times Flacks for Jewish Groups against 15 Major Christian Leaders
You have to know American Jewish leaders are really riled up when they call on The New York Times to flack for them against 15 leaders of Christian churches who had the audacity to send a letter to the U.S. Congress, which said, with proper Christian...
Obituaries
Maideh Mazda Magee, 90, author of the popular cookbook In a Persian Kitchen, linguist, art history lecturer, and wife of a U.S. diplomat, died Aug. 7, 2012 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC.Born in Baku, Azerbaijan to Persian parents, Maideh...
Other People's Mail
Israel's Stranglehold on GazaTo The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer, Dec. 2, 2012Charles Krauthammer tries to deny that Israel is an occupying force in the Gaza Strip. He uses the fact that, in 2005, Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza to thus...
Palestinians and Their Friends Unite to Show Solidarity
Palestinians and their supporters attended a commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People on Nov. 16 hosted by Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat and his wife, Jumana, at their Virginia residence. It was a somber gathering,...
Publishers' Page
Happy Birthday, Palestine!Our hearts rejoiced as we watched the landslide U.N. General Assembly vote to upgrade Palestine to non-member observer state status on Nov. 29-exactly 65 years ago to the day when the General Assembly voted to partition mandatory...
"Roads of Arabia": Treasures from Saudi Arabia's Ancient and More Recent Past
Most Americans associate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the vast amounts of oil and gas that have been extracted from under its desert sands. They will be surprised and delighted, however, to discover new treasures that also have been preserved for...
Russell Tribunal on Palestine Examines Roles of U.N. and U.S
The first Russell Tribunal, chaired by Jean-Paul Sartre, met in Stockholm, Sweden in 1967 to investigate and adjudicate, on the basis of international law, U.S. military intervention in Vietnam. Further tribunals were held in the 1970s to address human...
Sabra Zoo
Sabra Zoo By Mischa Hiller, Telegram Books, 2012, paperback, 231 pp. List: $13.95; AET: $11.The Sabra and Shatila massacres of 1982 were a gross assault against the human rights of Palestinians. It is estimated that between 800 and 3,000 innocent people...
Second Annual Envision Arabia Summit
Some 500 students and young professionals convened at New York University's Kimmel Center Oct. 6 to 8 for the second annual "Envision Arabia Summit," where they heard 12 renowned speakers in the fields of science, technology, culture and society, human...
Syrian Journalist, Novelist and Exile Samar Yazbek Discusses Events in Her Native Country
Novelist and journalist Samar Yazbek witnessed the growing violence in her native Syria until she was forced to flee in the summer of 2011. She has since returned several times undercover, and has recorded what she has seen and experienced in A Woman...
Talking to the Taliban
The New America Foundation (NAF) hosted an Oct. 15 discussion entitled "Talking to the Taliban" which focused on the possible contours of a peace settlement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Based on talks NAF research fellow Anitol Lieven had with the Taliban...
The Time That Remains
The Time That Remains Directed by Elia Suleiman, MPI Home Video, 2012, DVD, 109 mins., Arabic with English and Hebrew subtitles. List: $24.98; AET: $20.Through short autobiographical vignettes, Elia Suleiman's latest film, "The Time that Remains," tells...
The World Has Spoken
The U.N. General Assembly has now voted, by 138 votes to 9, with 41 abstentions and 5 no-shows, to recognize the existence as a state "of the State of Palestine on the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967."The "no" votes were cast by Israel, the...
This Time Israel's Assault on Gaza Took Place in a New Middle East
"This has not been a very good morning for Netanyahu," Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai said the day after the American election. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took a major gamble and lost when he intervened in the U.S. presidential campaign...
Waiting for Obama
Now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected for a second term and the Syrian opposition has been restructured along U.S. conditions to include other opposition factions and elected a former preacher at Omayyad Mosque in Damascus to lead their...
Walling in the Christian Narrative
The Christians in the Holy Land are a small yet, in the eyes of the world, very significant community. So much so, in fact, that it has become an important part of Israeli strategy to attempt to surround their voice with a wall of silence, working to...
Why All Americans Should Care about the Holy Land Foundation Case
In 2008, five directors of the Holy Land Foundation, formerly the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., were convicted on charges of material support for terrorism-essentially for feeding the poor and for building schools and hospitals in Palestine. Although...
Will the Zionist Organization of America Regain Its Revoked Tax-Exempt Status?
On Oct. 17, 2012 the National Archives and Records Administration released long-secret U.S. Justice Department files concerning a decade-long battle to regulate the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) as a foreign agent of Israel. The declassified...
Yemeni Silversmith Hopes to Preserve Culture
Kamal Rubaih, a jewelry-maker and purveyor of silver crafts from Sana'a, Yemen, brought his collection of new and antique pieces to retired foreign service officer, writer and jewelry collector Marjorie Ransom's District of Columbia home on Nov. 13,...
Yemen's Path Forward
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) and the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East co-hosted an Oct. 25 event titled "Looking Forward in Yemen: Challenges, Opportunities, and the International Community's Role" at the Atlantic...
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