x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Book on Israel raises controversy

A book entitled The Power of Inclusive Exclusion was published earlier this year and recently raised controversy in Israeli circles as some considered it to be "a publication that aims to strip the Israeli state of its legitimacy", commented Carmen Jaber in a feature carried by the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat.

A book entitled The Power of Inclusive Exclusion was published earlier this year and recently raised controversy in Israeli circles as some considered it to be "a publication that aims to strip the Israeli state of its legitimacy", commented Carmen Jaber in a feature carried by the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat. Co-edited by Adi Ophir, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tel Aviv, Michal Givoni, a political-science professor at Ben-Gurion University, and Sari Hanafi, a sociologist at the American University of Beirut, the book includes studies, photos and documents meant to serve as "an anatomy of Israeli rule in the occupied Palestinian territories", as the book's subtitle has it.

Some of Mr Hanafi's colleagues and students have protested against the mention of the name of their university in the book because the other two co-editors are Israelis. They argue that it is a breach of the boycott policy against Israel and a form of "intellectual and cultural normalisation". They also feared the book was sponsored by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, an allegation which the New York-based publishing house, Zone Books, denies. The Power of Inclusive Exclusion offers insight into the mechanisms and techniques of Israeli occupation and its long-standing strategy that has enabled it to maintain its hegemony over the Palestinian territories.

Libya is getting ready to host the Arab League summit at the end of the month while the oil-rich North African country, rather curiously, still owes some $20 million in cumulative unpaid annual subscriptions to the organisation, the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds stated in its editorial.

The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945. Yet, after so many years, the Arab states have not made a single step towards unifying their ranks or starting to work together. "The European Union came after the formation of the Arab League and it has already taken steps towards unification and the process is ongoing. So much has been achieved despite the wars between European states, the differences in language and the multiplicity of nationalistic backgrounds." Today, Arabs are facing another critical turn in the Palestinian cause, but the outcomes of Arab League summits are sadly no longer heeded by Israel or many other countries "The challenges ahead are decisive but the expectations are on the low side. There have been so many precedents based on which it is hard to hope for any positive upshot."

"When I'm invited to a wedding in Jeddah, the hostess will point her finger at the female band performing at the ceremony and say that all members of the band are Saudi girls with a university education," wrote Zaynab Hifni in the comment pages of the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad. "Every time my jaw drops in disbelief. My friend then says with a laugh: 'Times have changed and singing is no longer a stigma. It has rather become a good source of income for many.'"

Female singers in Saudi Arabia command a handsome pay cheque. Some bands make as much as 30,000 riyals a night (Dh29,300). That is why many Saudi girls have joined this profession, especially since it requires only a sophisticated synthesizer and a handful of drums. Add to that, of course, a sustained training in khaleeji dancing and popular songs. Female singing bands formed by university graduates in Saudi Arabia have grown in number due to female unemployment and, when available, to the limited range of jobs women are allowed to take. "There is nothing wrong with singing, it is an honourable profession. But for university graduates to abandon dreams they have spent many years pursuing must cause a sense of bitterness."

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dealt Washington yet another blow when he apologised to the US vice president Joe Biden for the timing of the decision to build 1,600 more homes in the West Bank, noted the Saudi newspaper Al Watan in its editorial.

The Israeli prime minister's apology did not mention the illegality of the decision. Washington's discomfort was nicely summed up by a senior US official who said that Israel should refrain from repeating the same mistakes if it wants to stay on the "good guy" side of the international community. On the other hand, Mr Biden's remarks regarding the resumption of indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians were ambiguous and inconsistent. And this whole situation now is casting doubt over the ability of the US special envoy, George Mitchell, to exert pressure on Israel to freeze its settlement activities, to start showing some respect for the peace efforts of its allies, and to provide an optimal atmosphere for negotiations.

The European Union, for its part, is growing impatient and is determined to dispatch its foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to Gaza as a sign of discontent with Israel's conduct. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi aelbahi@thenational.ae