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Sari Hanafi, a sociology professor at the American University of Beirut, has done an incredibly brave or stupid act (depending on your perspective) co-editing a book with Israeli academics. This is particularly perplexing considering that Hanafi has put his name to the Lebanese Campaign for the boycott of Zionism in solidarity with the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. This includes boycotting Israeli academics and their institutions, as the statement reads:

Specifically, we ask our colleagues worldwide to support the call by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to comprehensively and consistently boycott and disinvest from all Israeli academic and cultural institutions, and to refrain from participation in any form of academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joining projects with Israeli institutions as a contribution to the struggle to end Israel’s occupation, colonization and system of apartheid.

The book is called The Power of Inclusive Exclusion and looks fascinating. The website details that the book is about:

The Power of Inclusive Exclusion analyzes the Israeli occupation as a rationalized system of political rule. With essays by leading Palestinian and Israeli scholars, a comprehensive chronology, photographs, and original documents, this groundbreaking book calls into question prevalent views of the occupation as a skewed form of brutal colonization, a type of Jewish apartheid, or an inevitable response to terrorism…. The Power of Inclusive Exclusion uncovers the structural logic that sustains and reproduces the occupation regime.

I imagine that Hanafi would take the argument that this project does not contribute to the continued occupation.

The Israeli co-editors of the book are Adi Ophir is Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University and Michal Givoni is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.

The move by Hanafi has caused a quite a stir at the AUB campus and a petition has been created against normalisation of relations.

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After declaring Mitchell Mid East Peace envoy was Missing In Action he turns up at my door….well Beirut.

Watching Mitchell talk about the peace process is almost as painful when members of the Bush administration used to come to town (I say almost). Of course you don’t feel the vile hatred that a member of the Bush corporation would bring up deep inside of you. Instead I think of the buzz that Mitchell created and to see it all dissolve to the sorry state that the peace process is today. When Mitchell talks the emptiness of what he says it is deeply depressing, we are back to where we started. Although, thinking about it we never actually went anywhere. The same old chasm has appeared between political rhetoric and actions on the ground. Stuck, fed up, frustrated, angered, feeling duped, lied to….  There must be a plan of action? But where the hell is it!!?

As Khoury states in a great editorial:

We still have no idea of how Obama hopes to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in particular, because he has not articulated the US view on core issues like refugees, the ultimate status of the settlements, and Jerusalem.

Obama is allowing a moral vacuum to appear. Of course Israel is a difficult customer if you are a US President. The Israel lobby is not after all pissing around like most Arab regimes. Israel knows who its Daddy is but more importantly knows that it is Mum (i.e. the lobby groups and media) that is the neck that turns Daddy’s head. Khoury meanwhile articulates devistatingly what Arab activism is going on to change this:

The total absence of serious Arab diplomacy or initiatives is one of the profound shortcomings of our contemporary Arab political system, in which regimes are largely immobilized on the international scene because of their near total preoccupation with maintaining power at home.

After peaceful and successful election, violence returned to the streets of Lebanon. In the area of Aisha Bakkar fighting between supporters of Amal and Mustaqbal (or future)  left a 30 year old woman dead and several injured. The violence was sparked reportedly over celebrations for the election of Hariri and Berri. Harri the leader of al-Mustaqbul and Berri the head of Amal clashed firing RPGs and machine guns, scenes Beirut has not seen in over a year.

The reason for this sudden spark of violence is unclear. Was it because the negotiations between the two main coalitions of March 14 and the opposition did not agree smoothly over the election of Berri and Hariri? There does not seem to be a need to resort to the street fighting.

This was unregulated violence that occurred without the direction of the big men of Lebanon in this case Berri or Hariri. “Reconciliation” is still in the air but it is very much at the top and not at the level of the street. This may also articulate how shallow the reconcillation is. The general peace in Lebanon is occurring mainly because of a détente between Syria and Saudi the extent to how much reconciliation that is going on internally away from power plays is little to nothing.