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April-May 2011

Volume 1 | Issue 4 The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


In this ISSUE Note from the editor / 3 Are Palestinians & Israelis still fighting? / 6 Tough Times, Tougher Choices / 10 The Media and The Middle East: Part I / 14 The Media and The Middle East: Part II / 18 Peter King’s Radicalization Hearings Deaf to Reality/ 22 Praising at the High Altar of Hubris / 26 Further Reading & Viewing / 28 Support The ISSUE / 29

Cover photo by Asmaa Waguih/REUTERS © Reuters via TotallyCoolPix []

The ISSUE would like to thank: David Pillinger of Thomson Reuters and TotallyCoolPix Team Dr. Kai Hildebrandt, Department of Communication Studies, UWindsor Dr. Paul Boin, Department of Communication Studies, UWindsor Institute for Global Leadership, Tufts University

The ISSUE Editorial Team Editor in Chief | Rahul Radhakrishnan Managing Editor | Uriel Marantz Editor | Jaclyn Ducharme Contributors | Greg Witt | Amarnath Amarasingam | Mark Rafferty

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Note from the editor. In recent times, the objectivity of reporting has seemingly become a double standard with journalism as public service becoming outmoded by market interests. However, with the ubiquity of the Internet and its auxiliary platforms today, a new phase of journalism that empowers the people has become prevalent. This popular phenomenon was a prime facilitator in the recent wave of revolutions across the Arab World. The manifestation of citizen journalism was reaffirmed yet again on the night of Osama Bin Laden’s death, when the discussion and consequent celebrations in American cities soared across the Twitterverse. I dwell on participatory journalism as it has brought a resonating change to the world today, democratizing countries and the media alike. The feasibility of such phenomena overrides the muddling conceptions of other parts of the world. Al-Jazeera English’s chief political analyst, Marwan Bishara stated how the revolutions have powerfully challenged the pre-conceived notions that have been steadfastly associated with the Arab World since 2001. He writes that in “the Muslim world, Bin Laden has already been made irrelevant by the Arab Spring that underlined the meaning of people’s power through peaceful means.” The democracy movements in the Middle East and North Africa have challenged governments, the media and partisan ideologies while setting an example for the rest of the world. The inspiring risings have duly attained extensive media coverage internationally. Yet, this ISSUE combines several vectors that are influenced by these uprisings – by examining the volatile relationship between Palestine and Israel, to the effects on the economy, the media and press freedoms, and religion. I wish to extend my sincere appreciation to Reuters Group and for helping us accentuate the purpose of this publication by granting us permission to republish their photographs in this issue. The ISSUE has become a forum for international issues at the University of Windsor since its inception nine months ago. My sincere gratitude to all our readers for your ardent support in helping us create an international dialogue. The ISSUE will continue to bring you comprehensive commentary on global affairs after taking a brief hiatus till fall. Once again, on behalf of The ISSUE Editorial Team, thank you for your support. Wishing you the best, and I hope you enjoy reading this ISSUE.

- Rahul Radhakrishnan Founder & Editor in Chief

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Are Palestinians and Israelis Still Fighting? by Uriel Marantz While much of the international media’s limited attention span has focused almost exclusively on the popular uprisings in the Middle East and the prodemocracy protests on the Arab street, another longstanding problem in the region has been overshadowed and overlooked. With roots going arguably as far back as the First World War, the nearly century-long conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has typically dominated the discourse on security and stability in the Middle East. Recent developments on the Palestinian-Israeli front have made it increasingly likely that a fresh wave of conflict is likely to erupt in the near future, an eventuality that needs to be considered seriously and addressed responsibly if needless bloodshed is to be spared and a long-sought peace is to be achieved. What follows is a brief analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, along with its main actors and central issues. The purpose of this exposition is to inform and educate, not to persuade or proselytize. Naturally, a piece of this length will neglect some salient aspects of the conflict, but a brief introduction to the topic is necessarily truncated. While recognizing that human beings are fallible creatures whose written works are naturally hampered by their uniquely subjective perspectives, this article still strives to be as objective, unbiased and neutral as possible. With those caveats in mind, the problem of peace between Palestinians and Israelis can be explored and the possibilities for progress between these two intransigent protagonists can be examined. Perhaps it is best to begin in the present day and with the main actors on the Palestinian side. As it stands, the Palestinians are largely divided between two opposing camps: Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah in the West Bank. While dozens of peripheral players are involved, these two are paramount. Hamas won legislative elections in the Palestinian Territories in 2006, but international donors withdrew funding for the Palestinian Authority (the government) because of Hamas’ refusal to renounce violence and recognize Is-

rael. In a bloody 5-day civil war the following year, Hamas seized Gaza and expelled Fatah forces to the West Bank where they remain today. Hamas and other Islamic radical movements in Gaza adhere to a religious fundamentalist worldview while Fatah and other secular nationalist groups in the West Bank have adopted a more Western-friendly policy orientation. Since 2007, Fatah has regained control of the Palestinian Authority and wavered between engaging in peace talks with Israel and reconciliation talks with Hamas but to no avail on either front. Divisions in Israeli society are no less pronounced than with the Palestinians. While Israel is a thriving democracy, the most recent configuration in its steady stream of coalition governments can explain much of its recent behaviour. In 2009, the Likud Party returned to power after a decade in the opposition by courting right-wing political parties. With its hawkish, messianic and jingoistic worldview, the settler movement has found ample support on the ideological right of the Israeli political spectrum. When the Israeli government is dependent on courting favour from prosettler political parties for its survival, peace overtures to the Palestinians become increasingly complex and convoluted. Israel has been forced to choose either domestic political stability or progress in peace talks with Palestinians. Palestinians, for their part, have elevated the issue of settlements to one of primary importance in setting preconditions for further talks, an equally detrimental move towards peace which neglects other critical issues like borders, refugees, Jerusalem, water rights, economic arrangements, and so on. In addition, the role of external actors cannot realistically be ignored. The United States, the principal benefactor for both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, exercises influence for better or worse disproportionate to its direct involvement in the conflict. Other great powers like Great Britain, France and Russia, and international organizations like the United Nations, the European Union and the QuarThe ISSUE April-May 2011 |


tet on the Middle East, have also weighed in on the conflict’s dynamics with pomp and circumstance unheard of in any other ongoing conflict anywhere else in the world. Even regional powers have begun to play bigger and more relevant roles, with Egypt being central ever since it signed the first Arab-Israeli peace treaty in 1979, Turkey maintaining elite-level military and diplomatic ties, and Iran cultivating ever more strategic relationships with fellow rejectionists Hamas, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian state. While these actors fall outside the scope of this brief overview, they are nevertheless extremely important since any sustainable peace process needs their involvement.

have been waging for international recognition. With several Latin American countries recognizing Palestinian statehood in the past few months, and President Obama expressing his hopes to the United Nations in September of 2010 that an independent Palestine would emerge in a year’s time, the political pressure is building for concerted diplomatic action. By September of 2011, political and economic institutions gradually assembled by the Palestinian Authority over the past few years with the help of international donors will be complete, and an opportunity for international legitimacy of the Palestinian cause will present itself. Unfortunately, peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis show no signs of resuming. If Palestinians achieve international recognition without a simultaneous reconciliation with Hamas and resolution of the conflict with Israel, the consequences may not be self-determination and statehood, but a resumption of conflict with a high probability of violence, bloodshed, and possibly all-out war.

With President Obama coming to office in January 2009, renewed emphasis was placed on resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Although the Palestinian Authority and Israel began talks shortly thereafter aimed at establishing a viable Palestinian state living in peaceful coexistence beside a secure Israel, both sides made excruciatingly little progress. The Israeli government remains unable to compromise on the conflicting demands of Palestinian negotiators and Jewish settlers, Uriel Marantz is the Managing Editor of and Hamas continues to use violence against Israeli civilians and delay reconciliation with Fatah, both of The ISSUE. He has a MA in Public Policy from the which remain inimical to the faltering peace process. University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MA in Problems internal to the political processes of both ac- Political Science from the University of Windsor. tors are unavoidable issues that will only increase in difficulty and complexity as time goes on, whether it be among Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, or even among Israelis living within the state’s June 1967 borders or in East Jerusalem and the settlements in the West Bank. The sooner this problem is resolved, the better. Recent events have only served to heighten tension and mistrust between Palestinians and Israelis. A Palestinian terrorist’s cold-blooded murder of a Jewish family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, increased rocket and mortar salvos from Gaza landing in southern Israeli cities accompanied by retaliatory missile strikes by the Israeli Air Force, and an explosive device detonated at a busy bus stop in Jerusalem that killed at least one person and injured dozens more. These localized events have only added more intensity to the increasingly globalized diplomatic contest that Palestinians The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


#TUNISIA Protesters demonstrate against Tunisian President Zine alAbidine Ben Ali in Tunis January 14, 2011. Tunisian President Ben Ali stepped aside after failing to quell the worst antigovernment unrest in his two decades in power. As the prime minister stepped in until promised elections can be held, Ben Ali's whereabouts were unclear. Al Jazeera television said he had left the country. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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#EGYPT A protester holds up an Egyptian flag during clashes in Cairo January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo in unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

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Tough Times, Tougher Choices: The European Debt Crisis and its Potential Impact on Foreign Aid Commitments to The Middle East and North Africa. by Greg Witt As the dominos in the Middle East and North Africa continue to fall, many war-torn nations will be looking for foreign aid to rescue them from a sea of pestilence, poverty and pennilessness. Traditionally, North American and European nations have acted as the world’s insurance policy, stepping in with much-needed aid in the most troubled of times. With debt ceilings rising and economies slowing, the adherence to stringent fiscal discipline based on tough choices in North America and Europe may exacerbate the damage caused by rebellion and instability in the Middle East.

raised sales taxes and added 5 years to the mandatory retirement age in order to attempt to increase government revenues. On March 24th 2011, Standard & Poor’s (a global credit rating agency) lowered Portugal’s credit rating to BBB, an embarrassing level for an EU member state. Worse yet, Portugal’s problem is structural and is known as ‘A Nation of Dropouts’ with a massive structural (un)education problem where just 28% of the Portuguese population between 25 and 64 has completed high school. Their government revenue problem is only exacerbated by an uneducated population which does little to entice foreign inThe ‘Great Recession’ has had profound im- vestment and little to assure hope in alleviating pacts on the global economy and has surprisingly Portugal’s almost 90% debt-to-GDP ratio. placed a tremendous strain on the European Union. The once-proud 27 state organization has now Why is this significant? seen three member states default on debt commitments. Ireland, Greece and most recently, Portugal In the EU, member countries are bound by have received or are in the process of receiving treaty to act with joint economic interests in hand, bailouts from the EU and IMF. so fiscal mismanagement in one corner of the unGreece, the worst of the worst-case scenar- ion impacts well-being in another. According to io is insolvent and is on the verge of complete and the most recent data, 7 of the 10 top global foreign utter failure. The Greek government simply over- aid donors are members of the European Union, borrowed, and its debt-to-GDP ratio now sits the others being the United States, Canada and Jaaround 140% (Canada’s is approximately 35%) as pan. Together, those EU countries contribute it pays government bond yields at over 12%. Ire- around $25 billion exclusively in direct foreign aid land’s case is much like the United States, but with assistance, much of which currently goes directly a much less diversified and much smaller econoto Middle Eastern and North African developing my, it cannot withstand the same levels of recesnations. sion. Ireland experienced a massive property bubWith the ongoing debt crisis, there is sure ble, which burst in 2008. This led to a collapse in the construction and real estate sectors, which re- to be a continuing strain on national budgets. In February 2011, the United Kingdom, the world’s sulted in a steep, sudden decline in government revenue. Along with a simultaneous collapse of the 5th largest aid donor, began undertaking a fullscale review of foreign aid commitments under banking system, due to overleveraged balance sheets, Ireland was forced to nationalize each one new Conservative Prime Minister David Camerof its major banks, following a series of attempted on’s government. Early reports indicate a massive overhaul has begun, in which the UK has "bailouts". Portugal’s GDP growth has slowed to ‘streamlined’ its aid budget and focused only on the lowest in the EU at 1.3%. Governments have The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


‘select’ countries with the highest levels of poverty. An example of reform, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will most likely be a victim of a £12m cut due to ‘restructuring’ in the 2011 UK aid budget. While Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to meet the UN target of spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid by 2013, many European countries will face similar difficult choices given the climate exiting the global economic recovery.

discretionary funding on foreign aid, rather than be held accountable for domestic spending cuts by a disgruntled citizenry. And while many omnipresent problems remain in Europe as a result of fiscal mismanagement and the ‘Great Recession’, the true effect of the debt crisis may be felt the strongest in the streets and villages of Middle Eastern and North African nations who simply will not receive the proportion of aid they are used to due to the increasing interconnectedness of the European and global economies.

It is clear that spending choices are going to be limited in the now insolvent economies of PorGreg Witt has an MA in Public Policy from tugal, Ireland and Greece. As horrible as their dothe University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MA mestic economic situations remain, each have the in Political Science from the University of Windsupport of their fellow European member nations sor. and, truth be told, these nations only amount to a small drop in the bucket of global foreign aid contributions. The significance of the European debt crisis is that due to the nature of the economic agreement struck by the EU member nations, solvent and vibrant European nations, like the UK, France and Germany will be bound to assist its struggling member states and may be faced with a ubiquitous dichotomy of either cutting domestic spending programs or cutting portions of international aid and development budgets. Countries like the UK have already begun to make these difficult choices. France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and others will be sure to follow as typically when debt-to-GDP ratios rise, Politicians are quick to cut

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#SYRIA Boys hold a banner during a demonstration in the the Syrian port city of Banias April 17, 2011. Thousands of Syrians chanted slogans calling for greater freedom at independence day rallies, a day after President Bashar al-Assad promised to lift emergency law. REUTERS/Stringer

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The Media and The Middle East Part I: Disproving the Oxymoron of Arab Democracy by Uriel Marantz When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in the provincial Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid on December 28, 2010, to protest his inability as a fruit vendor to obtain a simple license to sell his wares at the local market from the government, nobody could have predicted the chain of events that has since led to revolutions in Tunisia and the wider Arab World. Only ten days after Bouazizi died from his self-inflicted wounds on January 4, 2011, anti-regime protests forced the Tunisian President of 23 years, Zine el-Abidine ben-Ali, to flee the country with his family and inner circle. By January 14, 2011, the Tunisian case had set the trend for the rest of the region, with popular pressure forcing the Egyptian President of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, to hand power over to the much-respected military and retire to the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on February 11, 2011, only 18 days after massive demonstrations began! In both of these cases, the Tunisian and Egyptian governments and militaries refused to crack down violently on protestors, and the message that peaceful revolution was possible spread to neighbouring Arab states. But how did these revolutions succeed in the first place, and how have they managed to inspire populist uprisings elsewhere without any central planning or organization? Without the modern media in the form of privately-owned newspapers, satellite television stations, smartphone-enabled citizen journalism, Internet-based blogging sites, and social media networks, these modern revolutions would have been impossible. Take, for example, the fact that Al Jazeera – the Qatari-based satellite TV network

with journalists reporting on the ground in practically every Arab state undergoing some type of civil unrest – was temporarily banned from Egyptian households by Mubarak’s supporters, their government-issued accreditation was revoked by the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain, and they have had reporters harassed and a cameraman even killed by pro-regime forces in Libya. While these state-sponsored acts targeted Al Jazeera directly, they represent an attack by the region’s fundamentally unrepresentative and increasingly threatened authoritarian regimes on all democratically-motivated and transnationally-oriented revolutionary movements in the Middle East. In other words, as the principles of democracy, transparency, accountability, empowerment, and social justice are championed locally by the international media, the traditional autocrats inimical to these modern qualities react with gradually more erratic, barbaric and unacceptable measures. Ever since the apparent successes of Tunisia and Egypt, similar anti-government revolutionary movements have taken place in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain, each with varying degrees of effectiveness in achieving their goals. Part of the problem is that state-owned media networks often compete directly with the private and international media to feed the public their version of reality. When government-run media stations lose control of the dominant narrative, they cut off access to foreign news sources by blocking satellite signals, revoking licences, disconnecting service providers, censoring the Internet, shutThe ISSUE April-May 2011 |


ting down offices and physically deporting journalistic staff. Until the very last days of Mubarak’s rule in Egypt, local media virtually ignored the millions of people protesting in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Throughout Muammar Qaddafi’s struggle to militarily defeat the rebellion in Libya and Bashar al-Assad’s repressive crackdown on prodemocracy demonstrations in Syria, for instance, ordinary citizens consuming local radio, newspaper and television broadcasts are bombarded by government lies, propaganda and misinformation on a daily basis.

pausing for a moment and reflecting on why the ruling families refrained from turning their powerful security, military and paramilitary forces on their own people in the way that other Arab dictators have done. Although Egypt and Tunisia represent more homogeneous societies than those in Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, popular discontent remains a constant feature of the region. What these demonstrators have recognized and capitalized upon is the power of the media to mobilize the message of the revolution and deliver it to the rest of the world instantaneously. Whereas mere decades ago the government could control the message, massacre its own population and continue on with business as usual, international public opinion pressures these regimes to substantially modify their behaviour. Not only are these individual Arab revolutions national in nature, they collectively represent a much broader media revolution in international politics. Power is rapidly diffusing from governments to populations, aided by transnational networks and encouraged by international awareness. If these changes usher in more democratic and representative governments, the longsuppressed peoples of the Middle East may finally be able to determine their own destinies and participate in creating a more modern world.

Even more interestingly, local media networks controlled by national governments can construct diametrically-opposed realities on stories of international significance. The regional tug-of-war pitting Saudi Arabia and Iran against each other with Bahrain in the middle demonstrates this effect perfectly. Bahrain is a majority-Shiite but Sunniled Gulf state in which the Shiite opposition’s popular demands for better treatment in employment, housing and infrastructure have been received by the al-Khalifa ruling family with heavy-handed crackdowns. Under the guise of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional security alliance, friendly Sunni monarchies responded to the King of Bahrain’s request for assistance by dispatching their militaries to the Bahraini capital of Manama and Uriel Marantz is the Managing Editor of forcefully pacifying the protesters. This is where fact and fiction collide: while the Sunni and Saudi- The ISSUE. owned al-Arabiya satellite television station reported this event as a cooperative military intervention necessary for territorial integrity and regional stability, the Shiite and Iranian-owned alAlam (Arabic) station decried it as an imperial military invasion that interfered in Bahrain’s sovereign affairs. However events unfold in Bahrain, the point is that without truly independent media, governments are still able to create and control the narratives. For the two North African Arab states which precipitated the so-called Arab Spring, it is worth

[Part II of The Media and The Middle East on Page 18]

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#YEMEN Anti-government protesters (back to the camera) and government backers throw rocks at each others during clashes in Sanaa February 17, 2011. Hundreds of Yemen government loyalists wielding batons and daggers chased off a small group of protesters trying to kick off a seventh day of rallies to demand their president end his 32-year rule. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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The Media and The Middle East Part II: The Hashtag Revolution by Rahul Radhakrishnan The fundamentals of citizen journalism lie in the radicalization and democratization of the press in order to garner more attention to underreported stories. The recent uprisings in the Arab World catches the propensity with which newer forms of media empower the people in countries which disallow press freedom. We are currently witness to a new kind of mutiny, which sprouted from the ubiquity of new media and its platforms. Journalism as a craft is changing, if not already changed. The threat that new media and citizen journalism poses to occupational journalism is trivial as it builds upon the fundamentals of the discipline. Citizen journalism formulates a sense of mutualism between trained journalists and the people who are distraught by offering each other the value of truly identifying the need for proper journalism and in-depth news. As the world and its dynamics become increasingly arduous, the silver lining of such cooperation allows an authenticated amplification of the global voices, and notably differentiates between truth and falsehood. The amateur footage of the death of Neda Agha Soltan, received attention from the international media only after the video was circulated over the Internet. Not only did this case spark a global outcry against the actions of the Iranian government during the 2009 Iranian election protests, but also displayed the efficacy of citizen journalism. The circulation of similar videos exposing the government response to protests have been, and continuous to be, somewhat of a norm in the recent uprisings. In Judith Nicholson’s essay, she examines how a Filipino professor of Sociolo-

gy, Alex Magno, recounted that communication technologies were used to facilitate popular mobilization with previous socio-political acts: The Iranian Revolution’s close link with the audio cassette; the Philippine Revolution of 1986 being dubbed as the Xerox Revolution because of its association to the photocopy machine, and Tiananmen as the Fax Revolution. This year’s uprisings and the extensive usage of social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etcetera, as a congregational tool, provides evidence how social media memes such as Hashtags [#] – used on Twitter with concatenated words to start, or contribute toward a categorical thread – empowers social demonstrations and protests. The Hashtag Revolution that started on the internet brought the irate people of these countries to protest on their streets in solidarity. The 2011 uprisings which started in Tunisia were initially undermined by the mainstream news agencies but it gained significant popularity amongst social media circles so that it had gained a global audience before news agencies even started covering the story. Nonetheless, international news agencies such as Al Jazeera have recognized this nexus between social media on the Internet and civil mobilization and taken the initiative to become a part of this online discourse by launching new programs such as The Stream, which premieres in May of 2011. Utilizing the extraordinary potential of social media to disseminate news, this show intends to be “an aggregator of online sources and discussion, seeking out unheard voices, news perspectives from people on the ground and untold angles related to the most The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


compelling stories of the day.” Ahmed ShihabEldin, journalist and co-host of The Stream aptly states that the “democratization of the Arab World is directly related to the democratization of the media.” The prevalent state-operated media of these countries often times only spewing out the propaganda set forth by dictatorial regimes; the strategies being strikingly similar – blaming the state of affairs in their respective countries on foreign media outlets. On January 25th, the former Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, appeared on state-owned television to address the people of Egypt, only fuelling the anger that brought the Egyptians to the street – eventually ending in his resignation. Once the wave spread to Libya, Muammar Gaddafi appeared on Libyan state owned television on the 22nd of February, with an address to the people that had a similar schema. This trend is also evident in other countries with decadent governments such as Cote D’Ivoire, when the Ivorian dictator, Laurent Gbagbo, addressed the people of his country. However, as an byproduct of the uprisings, the restraints on the media, along with several other dogmas, were overturned.

Social media and social movements are pertinent to these areas where the media is derided as the antagonist. Civil resistance and citizen journalism are now in flux, pioneered by the sheer need of having an uncensored outlet for expression, without being castigated. The face of the media is undoubtedly changing, and the role of the Good Samaritan is effectively undertaken in anonymity – recognizable only by a Guy Fawkes mask.

Rahul Radhakrishnan is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The ISSUE.

The imperious nature of the Internet gave birth to platforms such as the now infamous WikiLeaks to release classified documents that provide an insight into the perils and fallacies of American decision makers and global political figures. Due to the nature of these leaks, the WikiLeaks front man, Julian Assange has been subjected to high criticism, as well as considerable praise. Yet, amidst the couture of this phenomenon, arise counter-societies such as the Internet group Anonymous, which adamantly seeks to ensure no attacks on such organizations or on freedom of expression itself. Anonymous’ operations have channeled support to the masses by overriding internet blackouts and essentially expressing their domination of the web sphere.

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#BAHRAIN Anti government protestors march into Pearl roundabout after the military and police left in Manama February 19, 2011. Bahraini riot police retreated from Pearl Square on Saturday and thousands of anti-government protesters streamed back into their former stronghold in Manama. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

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#LIBYA Protesters against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attend Friday prayers in Benghazi February 25, 2011. Libya's rebellious city of Benghazi has filled a political void with a coalition which is cleaning up, providing food, building defences, reassuring foreign oil firms and telling Tripoli it believes in one nation. The city paid a high price for the revolt with up to 250 dead. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

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Peter King’s Radicalization Hearings Deaf to Reality by Amarnath Amarasingam & Rory Dickson [previously published in The Huffington Post] With faint echoes of Senator Joseph McCarthy's House Committee on un-American Activities of the early 1950s, Republican congressman Peter King begins hearings on radicalization among American Muslims this week. To be sure, there is a statistically tiny number of American Muslims who take inspiration from figures like Osama bin Laden and now Anwar al-Awlaki. An even smaller number make contact with jihadist organizations overseas or "self-radicalize" and plan attacks within the United States. As King correctly realizes, this group of individuals, though small, does pose a real threat to Americans (including Muslims). While there is no accurate count of the number of Muslims in America, the Pew Research Center estimates the population to be about 2.5 million. As Charles Kurzman's recent research pointed out, from 2001 to 2010, the total number of MuslimAmerican terrorism suspects and perpetrators rests at a remarkably underwhelming 161 individuals (or 0.00006 percent). It is also important to remember that there have been about 15,000 murders in the United States every year since 9/11. In 2010, there were actually more terrorist plots carried out by non-Muslims in the United States. It should be noted, however, that Muslims comprise about 1 percent of the U.S. population and, as such, are engaging in higher rates of terrorism proportionate to their population. The question remains, then, will congressman King's public commissions help or hinder the work of American law enforcement in preventing terrorist attacks? According to congressman King, his FBI contacts report receiving an inadequate amount of cooperation from some Muslim communities. According to recent evidence, this appears contestable. According to Kurzman, of the 161 terrorism cases since 2001, the initial source of information for 25 of them is not known. For

another 16, law enforcement only learned about them after the attacks were carried out. As Kurzman points out, "for the remaining 120 individuals, the largest single source of initial information (48 of 120 cases) involved tips from the MuslimAmerican community." The remaining 43 cases saw their initial information come from U.S. government investigations. If King wants to help the FBI and other agencies get more help from Muslim-Americans than they have already been receiving, he would be better served by making American Muslims feel more at home in the United States, not less. Public hearings on radicalization among Muslims are very likely going to be counter-productive in encouraging increased cooperation with law enforcement. Such public commissions will only reinforce a sense among many Muslim Americans that they, as a community, are under scrutiny because of the actions of a few. Those Muslims who have cooperated with law enforcement in countering extremist ideology are not likely to feel encouraged by these hearings, and those Muslims previously unwilling to work with law enforcement are unlikely to develop an increased comfort with the idea of doing so. These commissions, though ostensibly undertaken for the sake of improving cooperation, only perpetuate a sense of tension and conflict. For those Americans prone to seeing Muslims in America as a fifth column of fanaticism and hatred, these commissions will only add fuel to the fire of anti-Islamic sentiment, a sentiment that appears to be growing in the United States. Will Herberg, in his classic work Protestant, Catholic, Jew (1955), notes that, though Americans have historically struggled to acknowledge and legitimate racial diversity, they have had a much The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


easier time recognizing religious diversity. This is not to say that the recognition of religious plurality in America has been without struggle. The persistence of anti-Semitic organizations and antiCatholic parties in American history bespeaks this fact. It was only in the 1950s and 60s that Judaism and Catholicism became respectable religions in American public life. However, in the latter half of the 20th century Americans developed a consciousness of their country as a "triple melting pot," wherein Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism became accepted as religions integral to American life. While the circle of respectability in America has grown to include Catholics and Jews, Muslims still remain largely outside of it. As Americans are in many ways predisposed to acknowledging identities based on religious community, there is great potential for Muslims to eventually establish themselves as fully recognized and integral members of

American public life. These commissions, however, are unlikely to assist in this process. Amarnath Amarasingam is a doctoral candidate in the Laurier-Waterloo PhD in Religious Studies. He is a regular contributor to various news agencies across Canada and the US and has authored a book titled, “Religion and the New Atheism.� Rory Dickson is a doctoral candidate at Wilfrid Laurier University.

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Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah via

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Praying at the High Altar of Hubris by Mark Rafferty

May 2, 2011. America, we just learned of a passing that occurred. A death. The death of what? Contrary to what Twitter and Facebook would have us believe, it is not the death of America's gravest enemy. Yes, we do mark the killing of the son of a Yemeni building contractor, a man who has spurred countless other men to acts of despicable inhumanity. But this man is not, or was not, our gravest enemy. The biggest threat to our country is not a bearded corpse lying in a mansion in a Pakistani suburb. No, in fact, there is an immense danger that we face that can bring our country to its knees and destroy its way of life, and that threat is far more real and far closer to home. This threat is called Hubris.

When those scars were open, we had the chance to look back and try to heal them, but that would have been painful. Instead, Hubris came along and told us we were only victims. Hubris told us that we could get healing by revenge instead of seeking reconciliation. We got the revenge, but we surprised ourselves when the healing didn't come. Hubris led the charge to Kabul. A few years later, Hubris rode on a tank, all the way to a labyrinth called Baghdad. Much to his surprise, Hubris still finds himself lost in both places, trying desperately to find his way out. When Hubris got tired of walking the deserts and mountaintops wearing combat boots, Hubris sat down behind a computer and began to fly drones. It is Hubris who has killed hundreds of daughters, wives, and little boys, and wondered afterwards why those corpses' families don't like the letters U.S.A.. Hubris can't understand why a mother grieving the death of her five year old boy can't understand the word 'accident'.

We all know Hubris in some way or another. He was there at the founding of our country, and he was there in Obama's speech tonight. He has pervaded our national history, though we have not yet allowed him to define it. But let me tell you some times when Hubris has come into the story Over a decade, as Osama released tape after of Osama Bin Laden. tape decrying the American Way and hurling hateHubris was there when the US decided to ful death threats at a nation of peaceful people, wage a secret war on the USSR in the 1980s by Hubris whispered in our ears and told us to ignore aiding guerillas in Afghanistan. Hubris told the US them. Hubris told us that the only proper response that all that mattered was the destruction of Soviet to the tirades was to kill the man who spoke them. forces, and that Afghanistan was an arena that Kill the voicebox. The mouthpiece. Hubris told us could be destroyed in the process at no cost. It was that that was all there is. Hubris told us that there Hubris that encouraged the CIA to go on a giving was no movement or support behind the threats, spree, handing out money and weapons indiscrim- and that they were baseless. Hubris told us that inately, and to stand idly by as the tools of death except for this one lunatic, we were loved like a fell into the hands of a young Arab warlord named benevolent white father. Osama. It was Hubris that made the US leave AfHubris told us that America had one eneghanistan and forget about the monsters it had my, and that it was a man in a turban in the mouncreated. tains of Pakistan. When the United States was brutally attacked on a September morning, Hubris was there, providing a shoulder to lean on. The planes that hit the Twin Towers tore open scarred tissue and exposed some wounds, old wounds, that our country had exchanged with another world to the East.

When US forces and ISI agents killed Osama Bin Laden, they did a service to the world. They removed from a position of influence a man who had encouraged other people to murder. They removed a piece of fuel from a spreading fire of haThe ISSUE April-May 2011 |


tred, and in so doing they stopped hundreds of fu- our White House, and worst of all, in our hearts. He ture murders before they occurred. There is not will tell us not to worry. He will tell us we are the one country or nation in the world that would not best. And he will tell us to trust him through it all. call this a good thing. He smiles and laughs, because he has done But after the justice was found, our nation this before. He has destroyed every empire the went straight to its altar to Hubris to pay its re- world has ever seen. And he has his claws around spects. We thanked Hubris for giving us the ability this one. He laid the seeds at its founding, and he's to kill Bin Laden, forgetting that it had taken a dec- tightened his grip as history has gone on. Now, he ade for the most powerful nation on earth to find has our empire in a stranglehold. one man, and forgetting that it would not have And strangle it, he will, just so long as we been possible without the help of Pakistani intelli- smile at him lovingly and say, gence. We ran into the roads and honked our "Yes, we are the best." horns, and played the national anthem out of our windows, as if we had won a football match. We celebrated on Facebook that "Obama", “Chuck NorMark Rafferty is studying International ris� and "Jack Bauer" had killed the enemy, and we Relations and Arabic at Tufts University in Medforgot that thousands of US servicemen and women have died on this mission. In our rejoicing, we grov- ford, MA. eled at the feet of Hubris and sacrificed to it our ideals. Whereas we once preached that human life is precious, we traded that to Hubris in exchange for the satisfaction of dancing on a grave. We took those words, so nobly inscribed in one of the greatest moments of human history: "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL" and shattered them on the street, just to watch Hubris smile in approval. We made ourselves into barbarians, flashing photographs of our dead corpse, our war trophy, while Hubris told us, "You are better than the truths your nation was founded upon. You have risen above them. You are not bound by human decency any more." Now, Hubris is happy, because the American people have agreed to let him handle their troubles for the next decade. Any time another nation gives them trouble, they will tell him to use a rifle or a fighter jet and teach those countries a lesson. Diplomats are not needed in the room when Hubris is there to fight the country's battles. Hubris has told America that their one enemy was dead, and they have believed him. And they will continue stomping upon that corpse, believing that a new era of prosperity is coming, for a long time. To the storm clouds gathering abroad, they will once again close their eyes, and to the voices of hatred that continue even without their leader, they will close their ears. All the while, Hubris will not sleep. He will be here. In our classrooms, in our newspapers, in The ISSUE April-May 2011 |


Further Reading & Viewing

Judith A. Nicholson - Disc/connect: Histories of mobile Communication. < >

Cizek, Katerina & Peter Wintonick. 2002. Seeing is Believing: Handicams, Human Rights and the News. 58 min. Canada: Necessary Illusions.

Al-Jazeera English. Empire—The Network Revolution: < >

TotallyCoolPix Politics: < >

PEJ Principles of Journalism < >

Foreign Policy Magazine eBook: Revolution in the Arab World < >

Brookings Institute. Revolution in the Arab World— Political and Financial Implications: < events/2011/0325_arab_revolutions/0325_arab_revolutions.pdf >

Al-Jazeera’s The Stream: < >

ELI. Citizen Journalism: < >

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