Law and Disorder Radio – Ali Abunimah and Zachary Lockman on Uprisings in the Middle East, the US and Israel/Palestine – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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 Middle East Protests – Israel/Palestine

Uprisings have continued to sweep through the Middle East from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and China. Economic hardships and desperate living conditions are partly the cause for some of the mass protests. In one article describing the Wisconsin protests, a journalist wrote, “There were many voices this last month that raised the cry, ‘We are all Egyptians!’”

Governments are said to be scrambling to squelch popular dissent. How will these protests begin to reshape countries in the middle east and and what government structures are standing by to replace decadent tyrannies and corrupt monarchies? How are Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank responding to the massive dissent in nearby Arab countries?

Ali Abunimah:

  • The events over the past weeks have been historic and we still don’t know how they’re all going to play out.
  • The aspirations of Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Jordanians, Palestinians are very clear.
  • What remains to be seen is if they succeed in completing the revolutions. There is a strong counter-revolutionary push, not just from old regime elements but also from the United States.
  • The mass uprising was sudden, but its important to know that there were Egyptian activists risking their lives for many many years to lay the ground for the uprising.
  • The upper echelons of the Army are fully implicated in the old regime.
  • You have a parade of Americans going to Egypt trying to minimize any shift in the region away from the Israeli-American axis and more into an independent orbit.
  • The only guarantee is the continued mobilization of Egyptian people, of Egyptian workers.
  • One of the myths in the American media is that this uprising is entirely about internal domestic issues.
  • The Rafah crossing into Palestine needs to be open permanently, the situation at the border normalized.
  • Egypt’s revolution and Israel: “Bad for the Jews” Ilan Pappe, The Electronic Intifada, 14 February 2011
  • The view from Israel is that if they indeed succeed, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are very bad. They make the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies in Palestine look like the acts of a typical “Arab” regime.
  • The war in Gaza probably could not have been carried out without Egyptian complicity.
  • In Palestine, the complete death of the peace process. The Palestine Papers – revealed by Al Jazeera.
  • You can’t have functioning democracy and normal politics under Israel’s occupation.
  • Your rights are not given to you from above, you have to fight for them.

Guest – Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian-American journalist and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and a co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, a not-for-profit, independent online publication about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Born in Washington D.C., he spent his early years in the United Kingdom and Belgium before returning to the United States to attend college.

 Cracks in the Neoliberal Empire

Political unrest in North Africa continue to ripple through the Middle East, with some of the biggest anti-government demonstration yet in Bahrain.  Meanwhile, the protests in Libya have turned deadly as the regime’s military has killed hundreds of demonstrators. New York Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History Zachary Lockman joins us with an analysis on the mass protests. In Egypt, Lockman says the old political parties in Egypt have no credibility.





Professor Zachary Lockman:

  • Egypt: There were huge labor strikes going back to 2008. One of the groups that launched on January 25 called itself the April 6 youth movement – called itself that because there was supposed to be a big general strike of textile workers in 2008.
  • The tremendous demand from Egyptians which help fuel the uprising, for some kind of change to the neoliberal economic policies that Mubarak regime implemented 20 years ago.
  • Egypt back in the ’50s and ’60s under the Nasser government carried through a series of social reforms.
  • The largest estates held by the largest land owners were broken up, and millions of landless peasants even if they didn’t get land, they could farm some land and have reasonable security.
  • Those kinds of things were rolled back in the 1990s under pressure from the IMF and the World Bank and with the approval of US government.
  • Which means these farmers were kicked off the land in large number and ended up having to move to the cities in search of work for meager wages.
  • Much of the public sector was privatized at fire sale prices to cronies of Mubarak.
  • This is an opportunity when millions of Egyptian workers see an opportunity to create their own independent trade union movement. One doesn’t want to downplay the heroism of the young people who took to the streets on January 25.
  • Mubarak was told to go by the generals who were told to preserve as much of the regime as possible in the face of this popular uprising. The generals now running Egypt are products of the Mubarak regime. The danger is that we’ll have the Mubarak regime without Mubarak.
  • There is a new independent federation trade union being established in different industries in Egypt.
  • If there is something that approaches a more representative, democratic government, that government will be less likely to take orders from Washington in the way that Mubarak was very happy to.
  • We’ve been waiting for something like this for decades, and in Egypt’s case for 30 years.
  • It opens up dramatic new possibilities on a world scale. That boogieman of Islamic threat used to justify autocratic regimes which has been used across the region, is still there but as we’ve seen in Egypt and elsewhere, it’s time to put it aside.
  • Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia which has been on the defensive of more nationalist pan-Arab forces, asserted it’s influence to buy friends and intimidate enemies, and has been the bulwark of this conservative autocratic origin in the region.

Guest – Professor Zachary Lockman, New York University professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History. He is the author of many books including Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism and Explorations in the Field: Lost Voices and Emerging Practices in Egypt, 1882-1914. His main research and teaching field is the socioeconomic, cultural and political history of the modern Middle East, particularly the Mashriq. Under the influence of the “new social history” and “history from below” movements of the 1960s and 1970s, he did his doctoral dissertation on the emergence and evolution of a working class and labor movement in Egypt from the late nineteenth century until the Second World War; it was published in 1987 in the book Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam, and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954, co-authored with Joel Beinin.