7iber Recommends: Palestinian Hunger Strike, Refugee Assimilation, and Sisi’s Hypocrisy

April 20, 2017

By Hani Barghouthi

More than 1000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons launched a hunger strike on April 17, which marks Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, to protest Israel’s “inhumane system of colonial and military occupation” that “aims to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong”, in the words of Marwan Barghouthi in an op-ed he published in the New York Times the day before the strike.

“Instead, though, Israel’s prisons have become the cradle of a lasting movement for Palestinian self-determination. This new hunger strike will demonstrate once more that the prisoners’ movement is the compass that guides our struggle, the struggle for Freedom and Dignity, the name we have chosen for this new step in our long walk to freedom.”

Barghouthi, who has been imprisoned since 2002 after being sentenced to five life sentences and 40 years in prison by an Israeli court, was moved to solitary confinement when the strike began on Monday.

The op-ed sparked an uproar among members of the Occupation government and their supporters, who sent letters of protest to the New York Times. The paper responded by adding a note to Barghouthi’s op-ed to include “the offenses for which he was convicted.”

When it comes to accepting refugees, the intrinsic question being contentiously debated in Europe is whether or not refugees are able to “assimilate” into their host countries, adapting to the new culture and foregoing their own. With the first round of the presidential elections in France right around the corner, this article on The Nation features a school for refugees in Paris which has been successfully implementing a solution to this question for years, and which may be the key to finding a middle ground between the arguments presented by the Left and the Right on this matter.

“Eight years ago, before Europe’s migrant crisis and before the populist shock that today surges through Western politics, a French philosopher named Ayyam Sureau began to envision a different way to welcome a refugee. She wondered if it would be possible to create a model for integration based neither on uncompromising French Republicanism nor strident multiculturalism, a model which might, in today’s polarized politics, seem impossible: accept refugees as they are, but make them French, too.”

In this insightful piece on Mada Masr, Pesha Magid and Neal Hussein highlight the relationship and similarities between Donald Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on which the spotlight has been shed in light of the Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt. They also discuss the apparent hypocrisy in Sisi’s response to the attacks when examined against the history of Egypt’s treatment of Copts.

“Sisi was careful to condemn the Palm Sunday attacks as being against “all Egyptians,” without acknowledgement that Christians in Egypt have suffered from state policies that have discriminated against them for years. He also didn’t acknowledge that the state’s heavy crackdown on dissent and militant activity in Sinai has provided a space in which extremist ideas have been able to flourish.”

On Sunday, 85% of eligible Turks voted “yes” on the referendum which replaces the current parliamentary system with an executive presidency for Erdogan, possibly allowing him to continue his presidency until 2029. This article on The Guardian does a good job of explaining the referendum, analysing the historical context that led to this outcome, and discussing its different possible effects, both short- and long-term.

“For yes supporters, the failures of past sclerotic coalition governments and threats against national security were at the forefront. The No camp, on the other hand, were concerned with the separation of powers, checks and balances, and threats to democracy. What this stiff competition and close result show is that a significant portion of Turkish society is seriously concerned about the state and future of Turkish democracy. Socio-economic stability, peace and the normalisation of Turkish politics cannot be achieved unless these concerns are addressed by President Erdoğan.”