But if the fabulous events unfolding in Lebanon are to prove truly marvelous, if a new baby is indeed being born, it will have to be the offspring of an indigenous womb and the result of a passionate and beautifully messy conception unorchestrated by external parties seen or unseen. Lebanon, that fabulous “house of many mansions,” might be a good home for a miraculous baby with many and diverse parents.
What is happening now in the media and political spheres of the Arab world cannot be understood through conventional political science approaches alone. A more ethnographic, fine-grained, and qualitative approach is required, one that views communications technology and political action as cultural practices situated in particular historical contexts.
About a year ago, I had a vivid dream. Somewhere in the West Bank, on a hot and dusty day, I was standing with a news team filming a story at the Separation Wall. A correspondent with a microphone in his hand was watching in astonishment as a long line of young Palestinian men ran up and forcefully threw their bodies against the towering concrete barrier, followed by dull thud after dull thud.
This week marks the 26th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, one of the bloodiest events of the second half of the twentieth century. A Google search for recent news reports on this year’s commemoration of the atrocity, however, brought up very little. Yes, there were some emotional blog posts, as well as a link to the BBC’s “On this Day” page, featuring quick facts and figures about the massacre, alongside an archival, and iconic, photograph of twisted corpses lying in a heap next to a cinderblock wall, the victims of an execution-style killing.
Although I am now officially middle-aged, only once have I felt the excitement of waking up to the joyous news that my candidate won the US presidential elections. That was way back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was first elected.I was living in Nazareth, conducting my dissertation research. When I found out Clinton had been elected, I let out a whoop of joy and believed that a new era of sanity, justice and decency had dawned. Several months later, I began to wonder.
Finally, an international tribunal will be tasked with investigating and prosecuting murder and mayhem in an Arab country. For human rights activists who have railed against continuing impunity for grave crimes in the Middle East, whether committed by Israelis or Arabs, whether orchestrated by states or non-state actors, this should be an occasion for unalloyed celebration, or at least relief. After all, mass murderers such as Ariel Sharon and Saddam Hussein escaped international justice for their crimes, the former by narrowly avoiding prosecution in Belgium under that country’s now-rescinded universal jurisdiction law, the latter being tried in an improvised court devoid of international oversight that could have revealed past American support for Hussein in the late 1980s, when he was gassing Kurdish villagers with chemical weapons he probably obtained from the United States.