ISIS is America’s grotesque Middle Eastern legacy | Salon

Whatever your politics, you’re not likely to feel great about America right now.  After all, there’s Ferguson (the whole world was watching!), an increasingly unpopular president, a Congress whose approval ratings make the president look like a rock star, rising poverty, weakening wages, and a growing inequality gap just to start what could be a long list.  Abroad, from Libya and Ukraine to Iraq and the South China Sea, nothing has been coming up roses for the U.S.  Polls reflect a general American gloom, with 71% of the public claiming the country is “on the wrong track.”  We have the look of a superpower down on our luck.

What Americans have needed is a little pick-me-up to make us feel better, to make us, in fact, feel distinctly good.  Certainly, what official Washington has needed in tough times is a bona fide enemy so darn evil, so brutal, so barbaric, so inhuman that, by contrast, we might know just how exceptional, how truly necessary to this planet we really are. [Read more]

The Arab World’s Version of the Ice Bucket Challenge: Burning ISIS Flags | Mother Jones

On Saturday, three Lebanese young men in Beirut protested the Islamic State by burning the extremist group’s flag, a black banner emblazoned with the Muslim tenet “there is no god but God and Muhammed is his prophet.” The teens then posted a video of the flag-burning online, exhorting others to do the same to demonstrate their opposition to the movement led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In recent weeks, the Islamic State has allegedly beheaded a Lebanese army sergeant and kidnapped about 20 Lebanese soldiers. The flag-burning campaign, modeled on the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge,” quickly took off on social media under the hashtag #BurnISISFlagChallenge. “I nominate the whole world to #Burn_ISIS_Flag_Challenge. You have 24 hours. GO!!” wrote one Lebanese YouTube user. [Read more]

Owl of Minerva’s View: ISIS and Our Times | truthout

It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.

The era opened almost 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, through Phoenicia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley, and from there to Greece and beyond. What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend. [Read more]

Towards a Gaza Cease-Fire: Talking and Shooting in Cairo | War on the Rocks

Intended or not, Israelis and Palestinians have been talking and shooting at the same time. After 29 days of inconclusive blows of force between opponents and claims by both sides of victory, Israelis and Palestinians gathered in Cairo for Egyptian mediated proximity talks. After an additional 21 days of talks, frequently interrupted by exchanges of rockets and aerial strikes, negotiations came full circle: to a general ceasefire.

These three weeks, the last of the recent flare-up in Gaza, highlight the linkages between armed force and negotiations, as well as the need to better understand them. Examining this conflict in the context of broader negotiation frameworks makes apparent the unique ways in which combat and negotiation overlay on one another. [Read more]

Jewish reporters in Arab world keep heritage off the record | Times of Israel

Don’t bring it up. If it comes up, change the subject. If you can’t change the subject, consider an outright denial.

Those are some of the strategies used by Jewish reporters working in the Arab and Muslim Middle East to conceal their religious heritage.

The dangers facing Jewish journalists in the region became evident this week after the beheading of a dual American-Israeli citizen, Steven Sotloff, by the jihadist group Islamic State, or ISIS. [Read more]

 

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