Thanks to ridiculous & ill-conscious rappers, we are discussing rape culture more openly. That's the good news. Check out this article by Ebony News & Lifestyle Editor, Jamila Lemieux for some of that incisive analysis.
The not so good news: this is hardly just about how idolized celebrities glorify gendered violence- it's that there is an entire rap industry dedicated to the worship of cash, racing to the top on everyone else's broken back, lavishing in luxury and joining the few who have distinguished and distanced themselves from the salt of this earth. The whole point is to escape destitution by achieving singular achievement. Kanye West and Jay-Z sang this tune for 16 tracks on "Watch The Throne." Beyonce, an avid supporter of women's empowerment joined this self-exaltation nonsense in her newest track, "Bow Down." Music, diamonds, Bentleys, and Maybachs all reproduce images of luxury that don't disgust us for their excess but instead illicit envy. And its so pervasive because its good music that we want to jam to.
But hip-hop- the source of those infectious beats, is an urban creation and an act of self-expression not limited to music. Its original purpose is no less than emancipatory- it challenges norms, it engenders consciousness, and subverts mainstream ethos. American hip-hop has been so powerful as to inspire new generations in global contexts of oppression to similarly use hip-hop culture to resist and inspire.
In contrast, commercial hip-hop doesn't challenge these neoliberal norms, they endorse them. They don't condemn
its exclusionary model, they just want to be a part of it. They want to be a part of the 1% rather than deal with the structure that made them part of the 99% and made their story an exception to it. In this context, women, and often girls, are commodified like cars, they are objectified like things. They are to be owned, enjoyed, traded, and compared to one another. They can be enhanced with surgeries like adding new rims- and all the while we all- women and men - condone and celebrate it. It's not a male affliction, it's a societal one that accepts neoliberal ideals and endorses patriarchal norms. So it should be no surprise that rappers talk over women to other men about women like objects, rather than as active subjects who must consent to sex before engaging in it. Otherwise, it's rape.
Today, Jadaliyya launched a new page adding to its rich coverage of the Middle East and bringing the total number of thematic and country pages to 17.
Daily Acts of Resistance And Subversion or DARS is led by Bassam, Haddad, Nada Ghandour-Demri, Isis Nusair, Loulouwa Al Rachid, and Rafeef Ziadeh. This powerhouse team explains the meaning of resistance and subversion as well as the logic for highlighting them where it writes:
The DARS Page chronicles daily acts of resistance and subversion (DARS) in contemporary Arab societies and beyond. All forms of resistance and subversion to political, economic, social, or cultural forms of exploitation will be of interest. This includes resistance to authoritarianism, occupation, imperialism, and social norms, and the many ways these are subverted.
The launch includes 9 inaugural articles:
I co-authored The Infrastructure of Israeli Settler Colonialism (Part 1): The Jordan Valley along with Bassam Haddad and Jack Saba. The piece is part of a forthcoming series examining Israel's practices in the Occupied West Bank aimed at the forced population transfer of Palestinians. As I explain in the introduction:
Since its establishment, Israel has distinguished the persons under its civil and military jurisdiction based on religion. Throughout Israel Proper and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), comprised of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, Israel applies a different set of laws to its Jewish and non-Jewish inhabitants respectively. By bifurcating Jewish nationality from Israeli citizenship, the State is able to afford demonstrable and significant privilege to Jewish persons even beyond Israel's undeclared borders (hence the reference to Israel Proper) at the expense of the political and socio-economic wellbeing of its non-Jewish citizens. Within the OPT, the brunt of Israel's policies are more severe as they are applied under a military occupation regime for which no oversight or legal redress exists. The impact of these policies is to diminish the number of Palestinians, to remove them from their original lands, and to concentrate them geographically. Within the OPT, they are concentrated into Area A; into no-man's land within the Seam Zone between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line; and into isolated communities surrounded by Israeli settlements and their associated military apparatus. Within Israel Proper, they are concentrated in urban townships, in unrecognized villages, and other ghettoized communities.
Each installment features pictures and video testimony from those activists on the ground engaged in daily acts of resistance and subversion. In this first video, Ibrahim Sawafta, who helps lead the work of the Friends' Solidarity Committee in the Jordan Valley, breaks down Israel's policies aimed at removing the Palestinian population into Area A and to transfer Israeli settlers into the Valley. Watch his interview here.
The Human Rights Council (HRC) just concluded its 22nd Session in Geneva and the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) has issued a statement expressing concern over the HRC's missed opportunity to hold Israel to account for its settlement-expansion project.
The HRC , which convenes three times a year, is "an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them." It is the body responsible for overseeing the Universal Periodic Review, a state-driven mechanism intended to review the compliance of all UN member states with international law and human rights norms. Notably, Israel boycotted its second UPR review earlier this year, claiming that the HRC is biased. The HRC was also responsible for the UN Fact-Finding Mission to Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's 22-day assault on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which produced the "Goldstone Report." During this Session, the HRC discussed its most recent mission to the OPT on Israeli Settlements.
On 18 March 2013, the Council held an Interactive Dialogue with the Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements. During the Dialogue, several countries expressed grave concern over Israel's ongoing settlement practices. Israel was not present to take the floor as the concerned country. While the controversy over the HRC's adopted resolution is quite discreet in content, its impact is profound.
The PHROC urged the HRC to endorse the resolution, rather than simply recommend states to implement it. The difference is that endorsement would have created an obligation on behalf of all states to hold Israel to account for its settlement-expansion project.
In his post about the topic on 21 March 2013, Ali Abunimah explains :
Subtle but important changeWhile the changes may appear subtle to the those of us not versed in the arcana of UN technical language, the difference is important as my source explained, especially about who has responsibility for moving the report forward. My source told me:
The failure to include more robust language belongs to the Palestinian leadership in part, perhaps even in full. As indicated above, a more robust resolution would have been welcomed by many state delegations. However, at the intense pressure of a few strong European states, the Palestine delegation did not insist on the more meaningful language. It did so as part of an ongoing strategy to build political support at the expense of international law and human rights norms. This option has put the Palestinian leadership at odds with the Palestinian human rights community for several years; I detail this divergence in a 2011 Al-Shabaka Policy Brief: Unmet Potential: The UN Committee on Palestine.
Today the PHROC issued a joint statement expressing their disappointment at this missed opportunity to advance the rights of the Palestinian people. The full text of the statement is posted below and on Jadaliyya: Joint PHROC Statement: UN Resolutions on Settlements, Another Missed Opportunity.
President Obama's speech makes clear that whether or not Palestinians enjoy freedom is a choice for Israelis to make. He offers that they should do that based on either their empathy for Palestinians, and if not, for strategic and self-interested reasons.
Only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. But remember that as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the Palestinians – you will define the future of Israel as well. As Ariel Sharon said, “It is impossible to have a Jewish, democratic state and at the same time to control all of Eretz Israel. If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.” Or, from a different perspective, think of what David Grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace – “a peace of no choice” he said, “must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.
Rather than reaffirm the equality and dignity of both peoples, President Obama signals that Palestinian freedom is secondary to Israeli concerns and contingent upon their preferences.
This is quite a disappointing message when Israel's behavior for the past two decades has destroyed the possibility of the two-state solution. Due to a lack of any accountability to human rights norms and international law, in the past two decades of the Oslo Peace Process:
Moving beyond this devastating reality requires the US to step up its role as global superpower and Israel's most significant ally by applying pressure upon it to conform with international law and human rights norms. Its inability and unwillingness to do so thus far signals to the Palestinians as well as to the international community, that US-brokered bilateral negotiations are a train heading straight to deeper Apartheid.
A day to acknowledge women's power, contribution, and wisdom the world over. I celebrate daily but today I can call out some names & things. Women's work is the most invisible - mamas raising generations & sisters healing & holding communities. No market value to that work so it is forgotten. A woman who transcends gendered boundaries & leads in public spaces is dismissed, harassed, & disdained before she is appreciated. She is called by profanities or reduced to her appearance before she is embraced. Often that violence continues even while she is embraced. Worse, if a woman is fully engaged in public, folks begin to question her fulfillment i& scrutinize her family life based on hetero-normative assumptions. Even those who push through & persevere are still marginalized alongside the mythical image of a male superhero who will "save" us all. So today I pause to celebrate some of those women who fight this fight as they fight so many other ones for a better world possible. I can't name all my sheroes but send them abundant light and strength wherever they may be!
Like their Syrian counterparts, Palestinian refugees are fleeing the country to neighboring states. The difference however, is two-fold: 1) this constitutes secondary forced displacement for Palestinians who have already been removed from their original homes; and 2) because they are not afforded their right to return or any other durable solutions, several Arab countries treat them like stateless persons. As a result, they receive less protection and endure greater discrimination. Human Rights Watch reports that Jordan has distinguished the refugees at its borders in an effort to exclude Palestinians, for example. While Lebanon has recently granted entry to 600 Palestinians, it is not clear that this policy will continue. This is similar to the displacement of Palestinians from Iraq since 2003. As attacks on refugee camps continue (see here and here), this is a definitely story to watch.