[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the eighth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise one-to-three parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
Arab Studies Journal (Volume 27, Issue 1)
Confronting A Colonial Rule of Property: The al-Sakhina Case in Mandate Palestine
By: Munir Fakher Eldin
Abstract: Not available
The Sobky Recipe and the Struggle Over “The Popular” in Egypt
By: Chihab El Khachab
Abstract: Not available
Comic Images and the Art of Witnessing: A Visual Analysis of Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza Nawal
Abstract: Not available
No One to See Here: Genres of Neutralization and the Ongoing Nakba
By: Shir Alon
Abstract: Not available
Resistance into Incitement: Translation, Legislation, “Early Detection,” and the Palestinian Poet’s Intention
By: Liron Mor
Abstract: Not available
Defense and Peace Economics (Volume 30, Issues 2 & 3)
Guns and butter? Military expenditure and health spending on the eve of the Arab Spring
By: Adam Coutts, Adel Daoud, Ali Fakih, Walid Marrouch, Bernhard Reinsberg
Abstract: We examine the validity of the guns-versus-butter hypothesis in the pre-Arab Spring era. Using panel data from 1995 to 2011 – the eve of the Arab uprisings – we find no evidence that increased security needs as measured by the number of domestic terrorist attacks are complemented by increased military spending or more importantly ‘crowd out’ government expenditure on key public goods such as health care. This suggests that both expenditure decisions were determined by other considerations at the government level.
Geopolitical Risks and Movements in Islamic Bond and Equity Markets: A Note
By: Elie Bouri, Riza Demirer, Rangan Gupta, Hardik A. Marfatia
Abstract: This study applies a non-parametric causality-in-quantiles test to examine the causal effect of geopolitical risks on return and volatility dynamics of Islamic equity and bond markets. Geopolitical risks are generally found to impact Islamic equity market volatility measures, rather than returns. However, geopolitical risks tend to predict both returns and volatility measures of Islamic bonds. Interestingly, causality, when it exists for returns and/or volatility of Islamic equities and bonds, is found to hold over entire conditional distributions of returns and volatilities, barring the extreme ends of the same.
Israel Studies (Volume 24, Issue 1)
The Rassco and the Settlement of the Fifth Aliyah: Pre-State and Early State Middle Class Settlement and its Relevance for Public Housing in Eretz-Israel
By: Joachim Trezib, Ines Sonder
Abstract: When the immigration wave of the Fifth Aliyah (1929–39) set in, a new form of rural colonization termed “middle class” settlement gained wide diffusion in Palestine. This “middle class” settlement was financed by private means, but organized by a semi-public company, the so-called Rassco. The process of mobilizing private financial resources was facilitated by the Haavara Agreement, of which the Rassco was an integral part. Between 1934 and 1948 the company established some 30 rural “middle class” settlements and suburbs, contributing to a large extent to the growing building market and settlement activity in Palestine. In comparison to the collective rural colonization in Eretz Israel the “middle class” settlement in general and the Rassco in particular have not been widely covered in the academic literature. The essay seeks to roughly delineate the contours of some of the findings of the first comprehensive research on the Rassco, which is currently being conducted by the authors at the Moses Mendelssohn Centre for European-Jewish Studies, Potsdam (Germany).
“Living Room” and “Family Gaze” in Contemporary Israeli Art: Comparative Perspectives on Cultural-Identity Representations
By: Yael Guilat
Abstract: How do representations of living rooms, domestic artifacts, and family gaze articulate “local home images” in contemporary Israeli art? The article examines comparatively the way artists from different ethnic backgrounds assume the “inside agent” role toward their own cultural identity or the “outside agent” role in the home of the “Other”. Both inside and outside have adopted ethnographic or pseudo-ethnographic strategies in the wake of the “ethnographic turn” of contemporary art and visual culture. These comparative perspectives do not converge into one new type of Israeliness. Images of various and different domestic environments offer a conflicted view of what “feeling at home” means, questioning the role of one who produces the “family gaze”, the homely image itself, and where and to whom these images are exhibited.
Introducing an Israeli Collective Portrait: The Allegoric Figures Series Banknotes
By: Na’ama Sheffi
Abstract: The Allegoric Figures Series was the first Israeli banknotes series carefully designed by a special committee, namely, the Bank of Israel Banknotes and Coinage Planning Committee. Analyzing the committee’s discussions and its discourse with its superiors—the governor of the Bank of Israel, the minister of finance, and the prime minister—this paper reveals a consistent attempt to design the series in the spirit of the desired Zionist-Israeli society. Influenced by the banknotes of the French Revolution, the committee introduced symbols of a pioneering, productive society. Their aim was to create a common denominator during the peak of the Great Aliya and a tool for the benefit of the melting pot ideal—an ideal that Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion himself encouraged to be expressed through the banknote illustrations. This article, based on documents of the Bank of Israel Banknotes and Coinage Planning Committee made public for the first time, examines the deliberations of the committee and the reasons for its choices.
Triumphal Arches in the Public Sphere in Israel—Between Temporary Reality and Fantasy
By: Naomi Meiri-Dann
Abstract: An examination of the place of triumphal arches in the Israeli public sphere leads to an unequivocal conclusion: on the one hand, quite a few triumphal (or honorary) arches were intentionally constructed as temporary structures. On the other hand, over the years the State of Israel witnessed several proposals to build permanent arches, but time and again, these were not realized. It seems that even if the word “triumph” was not officially uttered, the association to triumphal arches is clear, not to say deliberate. Moreover, most of the arches (whatever their title was) sought to evoke (whether explicitly or implicitly) the Arch of Titus as a blatant symbol of defeat and exile, all of which need to be cured. The article investigates the various functional and symbolic facets of both the temporary arches and the not-realized ones. They will be studied as part of a worldwide phenomenon, but at the same time as a local manifestation of the national consciousness and collective memory/ies. Necessarily the discussion will touch different aspects of the Israeli glorification and commemoration discourse as they are represented in the urban public sphere.
Case Closed: Women in the Israel Police, 1948–1958
By: Sharon Geva
Abstract: The article explores trends of change and continuity in the status of women in the Israel Police over the first decade of the State, as manifested in the declared policy of the top police command and in views expressed by women of that time. With the exclusion of 1948, during which women filled various duties and some willingness was noticed to set up a women’s police unit, the Israel Police gradually pushed its female members to the margins. In consequence, the police became less attractive to women, leaving them no room for personal advancement and blocking the general enhancement of women’s status in Israel. Based on new documents that expose the roots of the Israel Police policy on women, and analyzing these documents from a gender perspective, the article joins current research of the status of women in the State of Israel. It adds another layer to research studies that investigate women’s police service in later periods, and commemorates the first chief of the Israel Police women’s force (1948–1951), who seems to have gone into oblivion.
Israeli Policy on the Foreign Consulates in Jerusalem in the Early 1950s
By: Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky
Abstract: From the mid-nineteenth century, consulates of foreign countries and religious institutions operated in Jerusalem. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the consulates continued to operate as independent entities, regardless of the fact that the international political reality in Jerusalem and the country as a whole had changed completely. The status of West Jerusalem under Israeli administration in the early 1950s was complex. The state envisioned it as Israel’s capital city but did not take decisive measures to make this official due to international opposition and the stance of the UN, which recommended a “special international regime” for Jerusalem. The foreign delegates who served in the Jerusalem consulates did not adhere to any of the protocols established by international convention. Perhaps most notable was the fact that these consuls and consular officers did not present their credentials or request an exequatur for engaging in consular activities in keeping with standard diplomatic norms. The State of Israel refrained from hard and fast rules, and policy with regard to the consulates in the city remained vague. The article looks at the consulates that operated in Jerusalem, Israeli policy on Jerusalem consulates in the early 1950s, the attitude of the Israeli public, the interaction between consular officials, Israeli bureaucrats, and the Jerusalem Municipality, and the stance of the Israeli courts.
The Morale of the Israeli Public on the Eve of the Six-Day War as Seen in Public Opinion Polls
By: Oded Heilbronner
Abstract: The article is based on theoretical studies and on-the-spot studies made among Israelis on the eve of the Six-Day War. It claims that the historiographical assertion of an atmosphere of fear, panic, and holocaust needs to be re-examined. It reveals a discrepancy between the results of on-the-spot studies (public opinion polls) and the historiographical images. It appears that this is mainly due to a retroactive reconstruction of events or of a period based on images in the Israeli media on the eve of the war.
“Your Part in the Phantom” American Technology, National Identity, and the War of Attrition
By: Oz Frankel
Abstract: In the late 1960s, during the War of Attrition, the supply of F4E Phantom jets embodied the emerging strategic ties between Israel and the United States. Israel developed great confidence in the Phantom’s power to guarantee the country’s survival. A campaign under the slogan “Your Part in the Phantom”, urged citizens to purchase special bonds to procure the aircraft. The foreign airplane became entangled with national loyalties and public feelings, and its domestication involved both material and symbolic dimensions. The article explores the Israeli encounter with American military hardware, airmen, and know-how. The seeming “Americanization” of the air force sometimes bred ambivalence and even resistance, but along with the state-of-the-art airplane new types of authority, knowledge, and sensibilities entered the force’s daily practice.
Middle East Quarterly (Volume 26, Issue 2)
Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Reformer
By: Cynthia Farahat
Abstract: Not available
Mecca and Medina, Sacred Sites or Development Engines?
By: Atef Alshehri
Abstract: Not available
Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Salafi
By: Ramy Aziz
Abstract: Not available
Cairo and Riyadh, Vying for Leadership
By: Ilias Kouskouvelis, Konstantinos Zarras
Abstract: Not available
Middle Eastern Studies (Volume 55, Issues 3 & 4)
Haseki Women’s Hospital and the female destitute of nineteenth-century Istanbul
By: Gülhan Balsoy
Abstract: This article is on one of the longest-lived medical institutions of the Ottoman Empire, the Haseki Hospital. I will try to glimpse to the daily workings of the Haseki Hospital and the transformations it underwent in terms of the services it offered, its patients, its social functions, and its relevance for the urban lives of the destitute women of the empire for the period between the 1830s and 1893. During that period, the Haseki Women’s Hospital was an institution hosting poor and destitute women as well as pregnant, ill, feeble-minded, convicted women, widows, prostitutes, and orphans. Although it has been called a hospital, it has been used as a women’s hospital, lying-in clinic, madness asylum, widow’s house, orphanage, and a women’s prison. I submit that the Haseki Women’s Hospital fulfilled a dual purpose by combining social relief services with medical care for female patients. Besides being a locus of medicine, the hospital was also a site where women in the margins were confined and isolated, but also received care otherwise denied to them. Along these lines, this article searches the vulnerability of the destitute women of nineteenth century Istanbul.
Urbanizing the Iranian public: text, Tehran and 1922
By: Rasmus Christian Elling
Abstract: By using the heuristic device of transpatialization and the methodology of urban cultural studies, this article argues that the 1922 serialized novel Tehrān-e Makhuf (Dreadful Tehran) by Seyyed Mortaza Moshfeq-e Kazemi (1902–1978), with its distinctly urban modes of imagination and production, at once reflected and propelled a process that can be termed the urbanization of the Iranian public. The article analyses the literary techniques with which Moshfeq contributed to this process; the circumstances and context in which the novel was produced; and the ideological change reflected in the author and his work. The article thus sheds light on a crucial stage in modern Iranian history by unravelling some of the socio-spatial intertwinements that made that history.
A tribe and its states: Yemen’s 1972 Bayḥan massacre revisited
By: Marieke Brandt
Abstract: Across the Middle East, tribes and states have entered into different relationships. In many countries, tribes were confronted with massive attempts at interference by their respective states. The northern Yemeni Republic, in contrast, remained a weak state with little coercive instruments at its disposal. Its rule was rather based on indirect means: the politics of patronage, the politicization of development efforts, and the exploitation of tribal conflict. This article aims to look closer into state-tribe relations in Yemen by reviewing the power struggle between the Khawlan al-Tiyal tribe and the republican government. In 1972, the regional ramifications of this struggle culminated in the so-called ‘Bayhan massacre’ whose legacy continues to resonate across tribal Yemen today. The Khawlan case gives evidence of how power and legitimacy in republican Yemen remained, and still remain, largely contingent on the politics of co-optation and patronage, an endemic feature that comes at the expense of real institution building.
‘To Recognise, or not to Recognise’: Macmillan’s Yemen Arab Republic question
By: Tia Culley, Steve Marsh
Abstract: The Macmillan government’s dilemma over whether to grant diplomatic recognition to the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) following a coup in 1962 was finely balanced. Hitherto, though, the literature on this specific issue has neither reflected the complexity of issues with which the British government was confronted nor offered a satisfactory explanation of its ultimate non-recognition of the YAR. Some scholars suggest that London was immediately and consistently opposed to granting recognition; others attribute the decision to fear of Nasserism and a determination to maintain Britain’s colonial interests in the Persian Gulf. This article contends differently. Drawing upon newly declassified information it first reveals in fuller detail the array of issues and interests that the Macmillan government was confronted by and sought to balance. It then proceeds to demonstrate that the Macmillan government was not unwaveringly against according recognition to the YAR and that whilst important, the influence of the Aden Group and its sympathisers in government was not decisive. Instead, irresolution within the government resulted in an event-driven policy that arrived ultimately at non-recognition of the YAR by default rather than by design.
Turning ex-combatants into Sadris: explaining the emergence of the Mahdi Army
By: Amir Taha
Abstract: This article sets out to explain how the Sadrist movement targeted ex-combatant communities in their communication strategy to mobilize the Mahdi Army. The Mahdi Army was established by the Sadrist movement under the guidance of Muqtada al-Sadr in 2003. This article proposes that post-2003 Iraq experienced a demobilisation crisis, fostering segments of ex-combatant communities whose ingrained repertoires were prone to paramilitarisation. Contrary to many other paramilitary organisations around the world, the Mahdi Army was formalized through a bottom-up process by non-state actors, and only at a later stage was the Mahdi Army explicitly co-opted by the Iraqi state in 2005. The overarching argument of this article is that social networks with specific assets, skills and history are more vulnerable to paramilitarisation by entrepreneurs of violence than various other networks.
Feminist voices in Saudi folk tales: analysis of three folk tales retold by Abdulkareem al-Juhayman
By: Hailah Abdullah Al-Khalaf
Abstract: This article explores whether Saudi Arabian society has propagated feminism through folk tales. Unregulated by societal standards, folk tales are an alternative structure. Since folk tales are children’s entertainment and passed along orally, they are not as regulated as written literature. Academic feminists have brought folk tales to light, but this field is relatively unexplored. Female narrators mostly told such folk tales to young and/or female audiences. Additionally, folk tales have highlighted certain social issues; Saudi tales are no exception. This work studies the seeds of feminism in Saudi folk tales with strong female protagonists. This article uses feminist content analysis and focuses on three folk tales from the Arabian Peninsula, first assessing their effectiveness as vehicles of complex ideas by assessing children’s reactions to them. Next, the study analyzes instances of patriarchal dominance, gender and sex concepts, and feminist coding.
Youth, politics and republicanism in the formative years of the state of Israel
By: Anat Kidron
Abstract: The article focuses on the political establishment’s attitude toward Israeli youth during the early years of statehood, viewing it from a new angle: regarding young people as a political force reflecting the effects of contemporary social development. I focus on those described as hegemonic youth, members of Israel’s social and economic elites. This approach sees the attitude of the political establishment toward the youth as a political expression and suggests an instrumental approach toward youth and the youth ethos in Israeli society as a tool to construct republicanism. Hence, despite publicly having declared the need to strengthen the Zionist youth movements and young national activism, the state’s financial and organizational efforts were mainly invested in generating alternatives to the pioneering youth movements, along with the effort to change their ideological and organizational base. These alternatives included ‘good citizenship’ education in schools and informal settings, which were disconnected from the Labor Movement’s values and were suited to urban adolescents; the attempts to narrow the dominant position of the parties and the settler movements in pioneering missions, favoring state mechanisms instead; an increase in the state’s investments in supplementary education; and the establishment of settings for youth and student clubs.
The Baha’i minority in the State of Israel, 1948–1957
By: Randall S. Geller
Abstract: This article examines the virtually unexplored topic of the Baha’i religious minority in Israel’s early statehood period based mainly on primary source documentation. It will be argued that while the number of Persian Baha’is in Israel after 1948 was minuscule — even smaller than the similarly minuscule Circassian and Armenian populations — the non-Arab and non-Muslim identity of the Baha’is, the lack of any historical antagonism between the Baha’is and the Jews, a shared history of marginalization in the modern Middle East, the Baha’is’ principled commitment to non-violence as a basic tenet of their religious faith, their complete neutrality leading up to and including the 1948 War, (and their support for Jewish statehood after it), their lack of proselytizing in the state of Israel, and the fact that nearly all of their high-ranking administrators in post-independence Israel hailed from the United States — whose support Israel sought — led the state to cultivate this minority to a degree few other minorities experienced in post 1948 Israel.
The fate of the Assyrian minority in early independent Iraq: a test case of political violence based on rational primordialism
By: Alexander Bligh, Gadi Hitman
Abstract: Analyzing ethno-national conflicts is usually not easy in that not all quantitative scientific tools are useful to the student of a conflict based on primordial elements. The burden of studying the outcome of a conflict is all the more complex given that the two conflicting groups might be at two different stages of their political development at any given time during the course of the conflict. In the case of the fate of the [Eastern Christian] Assyrian community in early independent Iraq, the political rationale for decisions taken by each party was drawn from different sociological, historical and political realms. Decisions in times of conflict and their political and historical ramifications are not always rational, since they draw upon primordial/communal considerations rather than the accurate reading of the overall true strategic scene. The violence was an outcome of a combination of primordial differences and rational choice. The Iraqis sought to establish a new sovereign state with minimal disturbances from its Christian minority that they perceived as not belonging to the new nation. As for the Assyrians, they chose violence believing that at least some superpowers would support them. Historically, this rational decision based upon a primordial dispute turned out to be a mistake primarily because of lack of external support, weak internal cohesion of the group, and feeble leadership.
Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Israel: the national security imperatives
By: Jacob Abadi
Abstract: The purpose of this article is to examine the evolution of Israel’s relations with Saudi Arabia since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. The author explains how the major events in the Middle East affected Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy orientation. It shows how Saudi Arabia’s policy toward Israel was affected by the deterioration in Saudi-Egyptian relations, by its quest for security in the Arabian Gulf region and by its aspiration to hegemony in the Middle East. The author argues that Saudi Arabia’s policy toward Israel remained far less hostile than that of the Arab states surrounding Israel. In addition, it argues that it was not until 1973 that Saudi Arabia became seriously involved in the attempt to pressure Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in the Six-Day War. The author concludes by showing that neither Saudi Arabia’s acquisition of the intelligence-gathering AWACS aircraft, nor Israel’s invasion of Lebanon or the massacre of Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila had a serious impact on the bilateral relations, and that it was not until the emergence of the Iranian nuclear threat that Saudi Arabia’s relations with Israel began to improve.
Refik Halid Karay and his memoirs of exile
By: Syed Tanvir Wasti
Abstract: Refik Halid Karay was a prominent late Ottoman Turkish novelist and journalist, who felt at odds with the political environment of his time and did not hesitate to attack it with his humorous and satirical pen. In consequence, he was twice exiled from Istanbul, firstly for five years within Turkey, and secondly, when he was not allowed to enter Turkey for sixteen years as one of the so-called 150ers who were deprived of their citizenship. The life and times of this quick-witted writer of elegant Turkish prose are presented around the broad framework of his two memoirs of exile. The 150ers were later granted a pardon and Refik Halid Karay returned to Turkey in 1938.
The Young Turk revolution: comparisons and connections
By: Erik Jan Zürcher
Abstract: This article consists of a comparative analysis on the one hand, and an attempt to trace influences and connections, on the other. In the comparative part, it seeks to determine the place of the Ottoman constitutional revolution of July 1908 in the global wave of revolutions in the decade before the First World War. It accepts that there is a high degree of similarity in the liberal constitutionalist ideology of the revolutionary movements, but emphasizes the differences in the social bases of the revolutionary movements. In the part on connections, the influences on the Young Turks’ ideology, organisation and revolutionary methodology are traced, as well as the influence they exerted on other revolutionary movements.
Turkifying Poverty, or: the Phantom Pain of Izmir’s Lost Christian Working Class, 1924–26
By: Ellinor Morack
Abstract: This article shows that ‘Turkification’, a term widely used by historians of modern Turkey to refer to the forced transfer of property from Christian into Muslim hands, ought to be conceptualized not only in the sense of ‘enrichment’ but also, with regard to the working classes, as a process in which Muslim people inherited the poverty of their Christian predecessors. Taking İzmir as a case in point, the article first describes the plight of the overwhelmingly Christian working class prior to 1922. It then studies reports and editorials that discussed the economic and social situation in İzmir in the years 1923 to 1926, after the Turkish victory and forced migration of her Christian population. Over the course of these years, İzmir experienced a serious economic crisis, and bread prices reached levels that led to widespread undernourishment and hunger among the cityʼs poor. Agricultural production was lagging behind pre-war levels, and positive effects of ‘Turkificationʼ policies were failing to materialize. By analyzing the contemporary journalistsʼ attempts at explaining the crisis, but also pointing out national and transnational factors that they were probably unaware of, the article makes an original contribution to the economic and social history of early republican Turkey.
Resistance to centralisation in the Ottoman periphery: the Kurdish Baban and Bohtan emirates
By: Metin Atmaca
Abstract: Modern Kurdish historiography, which examines resistance to provincial centralisation in Ottoman Kurdistan, focuses largely on Bedir Khan’s Bohtan emirate and his revolt in the 1840s, while ignoring the rest of the other Kurdish emirates such as Baban emirate. While both states, Qajar Iran and Ottoman Empire, were endeavouring to solve their conflicts in the 1840s (a process which culminated in the treaty of Erzurum in 1847) the future of the Baban emirate and its territories emerged as one of the major issues during the course of negotiations. The Baban emirate was the last emirate to give up its struggle against the Sublime Porte’s centralisation reforms. The legacy of the Kurdish emirates is important to understand better the relations between the centre of the Ottoman Empire and its eastern periphery, a much less studied subject in Ottoman historiography. This article will highlight the impact of the centralisation policies in Kurdistan, more specifically on territories of the Bohtan and Baban emirates. It will be demonstrated that the changes wrought by the Tanzimat reforms were partially successful in transforming the Kurdish notables, who later became a part of the state bureaucracy. However, the reform-minded officials, who were appointed after the Kurdish emirs were removed from the region, failed to persuade the locals in favour of the new administration thus transforming their lives.
A fissure in ‘unanimous democracy’: parliamentary contestations over property rights on land in early Republican Turkey
By: Yelda Kaya
Abstract: The parliamentary politics of Turkey’s one-party regime (1925–1946) has been described as a ‘unanimous democracy’, particularly on account of the absence of a voting opposition. Many scholars consider the Law for Providing Land to Farmers of 1945 as the first instance of parliamentary opposition in the one-party legislature. The current article challenges this widespread view and argues that property rights on land tended to provoke backlashes even before 1945. It examines the making of the deportation, land distribution and settlement laws of the 1920s and 1930s, all of which sanctioned intervention into property relations on land in the form of the expropriation of landowners. Going beyond an exclusive focus on voting patterns, this article traces parliamentary resistance by examining how government bills changed as they proceeded through both the reviewing committees and the general assembly. It links the birth of a full-fledged parliamentary opposition in 1945 to the previous waves of discontent and shows that property rights on land was a constant fissure in the early Republic’s unanimous democracy.
Constitutionalism as a solution to despotism and imperialism: the Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the Ottoman-Turkish press
By: Serpil Atamaz
Abstract: This article contributes to the growing scholarship on the connections between the Ottoman and Iranian revolutions by exploring Ottomans’ reactions to and portrayal of the constitutional struggle in Iran. Based on an examination of primary sources that have not been utilized before, it reveals how an ideologically diverse group of intellectuals tried to link the two revolutions together in the Ottoman-Turkish press, focusing on shared problems and ideals. It demonstrates that undergoing a revolutionary process themselves, these intellectuals interpreted the events in Iran through the prism of their own experiences and used them to garner support for the constitutional regime at home. Through their depictions of the Iranian revolution, they not only portrayed the 1908 Revolution as part of a broader struggle against despotism and imperialism with significant implications for the Islamic world, but also conveyed the message that the Ottoman constitution needed to be supported and protected so that it did not fail like the one in Iran.
The star of David in a cedar tree: Jewish students and Zionism at the American University of Beirut (1908–1948)
By: Caroline Kahlenberg
Abstract: The American University of Beirut’s emergence as a hub of Arab national and cultural identity in the first half of the twentieth century has been well documented by historians. The simultaneous Zionist presence on campus has been largely overlooked. Zionist ideas were predominantly promoted by Palestinian Jewish students who formed a small but vocal minority at AUB prior to 1948. Faculty and non-Jewish students also regularly collaborated with and traveled to Zionist institutions in Palestine for academic, athletic, and leisure purposes. For Arab students on campus, therefore, Zionism was not an abstract concept, but rather a national identity embodied by fellow classmates and friends on campus. As the conflict in Palestine increased in the 1930s and 1940s, so too did political activism and tensions on campus between Zionist and Arab nationalist students. This article analyzes this unique period of exchange, collaboration, and friction at AUB, which came to a swift end with the outbreak of the 1948 War. By focusing on the interactions between Arab and Zionist Jewish students at AUB, I seek to extend the ‘relational’ approach towards Jewish-Arab contact beyond Palestine’s borders.
On collective assertiveness and activism during the immigration process: a case study of Yemenite immigrants who founded Kiryat Shmona – 1949–1953
By: Amir Goldstein
Abstract: This article focuses on the ways in which over 200 families of Yemenite immigrants, who founded the city of Kiryat Shmona, the development town situated at the edge of Israel’s Northern District, functioned as a group during the immigration process. This case study coincides with the trend – within research of mass immigration to Israel – that relates the historical narrative through the perspective of the immigrant and settler groups, rather than from the vantage point of the establishment in charge of their absorption. The affair could have gone down in the annals of history as a story of weakness and victimhood: hundreds of immigrants were sent off to settle in an outlying peripheral region and were compelled to integrate into an environment where the financially and political-powerful kibbutzim were preponderant. Yet the Yemenite immigrants of Kiryat Shmona turned out to be a consolidated, opinionated, fighting and stubborn force that succeeded, in trying conditions, to assert their voice, struggle for their values and identity, affect major changes within the immigration–absorption system.
Israel: ethnocracy or multicracy?
By: Michael V. Shterenshis
Abstract: Much of the recent academic literature that assesses democracy in Israel labels it either as incomplete or flawed, yet such literature employs minimal systematic analysis of how the state is actually governed. Since the 1990s, there has been a tendency to describe the Israeli political regime as an ethnocracy. This article argues that the term ‘ethnocracy’, when applied to Israel, has certain weaknesses and instead proposes the concept of ‘multicracy’ (multiformocracy) as a more appropriate term by which to describe Israel’s political organization. It will demonstrate that existing Israeli democratic institutions do not control the state’s policymaking in full and that several politically important processes are controlled or at least influenced by various other politically active forces. Whilst these forces can influence, stimulate, inhibit, and otherwise change governmental decisions and actions, they can be labeled as kratiae. While the capacity of Israel’s democracy to govern is weak, these other kratiae can intervene in policymaking and the state’s regime acts as democracy-dominated multicracy.
Supporting political debate while building patterns of trust: the role of the German political foundations in Tunisia (1989–2017)
By: Pietro Marzo
Abstract: This article focuses on a specific aspect of the international context surrounding the Tunisian transition to democracy. Through the case of the German political foundations in Tunisia, this study argues that the country’s journey to democracy has not been an exclusively domestic affair, but has also been the product of the engagement of international actors and their interplay with domestic groups. Building on evidence from semi-structured interviews and data triangulation the article shows that since the late 1980s four German political foundations operating in Tunisia created platforms for ‘political debate’ – alternative to the regime’s but not subversive – and encouraged political training. The article posits that initially the German political foundations helped Ben Ali’s regime in the making of a ‘façade liberalisation’, while in the long run their activities generated unintended consequences that in part undermined its ‘authoritarianism upgraded’. The article demonstrates that their longstanding presence on the ground allowed the German political foundations to develop patterns of trust with and between political and civil groups, ultimately improving the capacity of their action after the revolution.
Defending the Egyptian nation: national unity and Muslim attitudes toward the Coptic minority
By: Bosmat Yefet
Abstract: This article discusses the Muslim discourse concerning the Coptic Christian minority since the 2000s in Egypt. Emphasizing the effects of the January 2011 uprising, the paper analyzes the role of nationalism and the national unity discourse in suppressing the debate regarding discrimination against the Copts. Despite the fissures that were created in the discourse, which rejects any reference to discrimination against the Copts, the Coptic issue remains trapped among the contested interpretations of national unity. All narratives of national unity and Egyptian essence, whether the official one pursued by the regime or the one promoted by pro-democracy activists, require the Copts to suppress their demand for rights for the sake of national unity. Adherence to the national unity discourse by all forces precludes the possibility of developing a form of nationalism or a national culture which embodies pluralism of identities and cultures and reinforces the role of nationalism as a tool for stifling pluralism and democracy for all Egyptians, whether Muslim majority or minorities.
The Middle East Journal (Volume 73, Issue 1)
Co-optation, Counter-Narratives, and Repression: Protesting Lebanon’s Sectarian Power-Sharing Regime
By: Carmen Geha
Abstract: This article focuses on how the Lebanese government and political establishment reacted to two waves of protest movements that used slogans decrying the country’s sectarian system of government. Much of the literature on Lebanon’s power-sharing regime has focused on internal schisms and the challenges of mobilization against it, but little has been done to understand how it responds to anti-sectarian mobilization. I argue that the government and sectarian establishment employ co-optation, counter-narratives, and repression to demobilize protests that challenge the core pillars of sectarian representation.
The End of the Battle for Bahrain and the Securitization of Bahraini Shi’a
By: Simon Mabon
Abstract: Since protests shook Bahrain in 2011, the Saudi-backed regime there has embarked on a series of strategic moves, crushing dissent both at home and abroad. This article explores the methods the regime used to ensure its survival. It argues that by framing Bahrain’s Shi’i majority as a security threat within broader regional challenges, the regime was able to solidify its core bases of support.
Sectarianized Securitization in Turkey in the Wake of the 2011 Arab Uprisings
By: Ceren Lord
Abstract: This article examines the growth of sectarianism in Turkish politics since the 2011 Arab uprisings, particularly when it comes to the government’s portrayal of the Alevi community as a security threat. Comparable to elsewhere in the Middle East, this “sectarianized securitization” of domestic politics was catalyzed by the overlap of external geopolitical competition and internal challenges to the government. These dynamics are situated within the context of longer-term processes of nation-building, the nature of Islamic authority, and the increasing prominence of Islamists.
Republican People’s Party People: Partisan Polarization in the Republic of Turkey, 1950-1953
By: Reuben Silverman
Abstract: Though it was the Democrat Party that governed Turkey from 1950 to 1960, and whose successes and excesses shaped the conditions of democratization, the previously ruling Republican People’s Party played a crucial role as well. Drawing on newspapers, memoirs, and parliamentary debates, this article considers how the party’s leaders and its young cohort of future leaders reacted to defeat, redefined themselves as members of the opposition, and contributed to a polarized political culture that persists today.
Iraq under UN Embargo, 1990–2003: Food Security, Agriculture, and Regime Survival
By: Eckart Woertz
Abstract: Using Iraqi archival resources and newspapers, this article analyzes strategic perceptions of the multilateral United Nations embargo (1990–2003) by Saddam Husayn and his Ba’th Party. It shows how the regime prioritized agricultural self-sufficiency to break the embargo, used food rationing to avert famine, and instrumentalized food trade to reward cronies and punish opponents. Food security, hydropolitics, and agriculture ranked prominently in regime discussions as they were regarded as crucial to safeguard political legitimacy and assure regime survival.