Book Review Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology, and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East by Nir T. Boms (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2016), 246 pages
Reviewed by Patrycja Sasnal Director, Middle East and North Africa Project, Polish Institute of International Affairs, Warsaw
Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 2017
Looking at events around the world, one can not escape the impression that despite the monumental leap forward in communications technology and its availability, politically, we have taken a step into the unknown: the world of post-truth politics where information may no longer hold the central place of importance it once did. Disseminators of “alternative facts” meddling in elections; auto-censorship in private, yet government-friendly media; ideological wars fought via social media—these are phenomena whose political consequences we must face without fully understanding them. Meanwhile, since the 2011 upheavals in the Arab world, counterrevolutionary forces have reconquered most states in the region (but for the bright exception of Tunisia), with terrifying results in war torn Syria, Libya, and Yemen.
Continue reading “Book Review Expat-ing Democracy: Dissidents, Technology, and Democratic Discourse in the Middle East”
Israel Journal of foreign Affairs VII : 1 (2013) Pp. 174 – 176
Everyday Arab Identity: The Daily Reproduction of the Arab World
by Christopher Phillips
(London: Routledge, 2012), 224 pages
Reviewed by Nir Boms
Much has already been written about the “Arab Spring” that erupted some two years ago following the dramatic self-immolation of the unemployed Tunisian university graduate Mohammad Bouazizi. That action sparked a wave of protests throughout the region. Indeed, there is much to say about these protests and revolutions that have wrought significant political changes in the region and is expected to bring even more. The “Arab Spring,” a name coined at the beginning of these events, was accompanied by genuine hopes that this Middle Eastern wave would follow earlier “springs” such as the Spring of Nations in Europe, the Prague Spring of 1968, or the Seoul Spring of 1979. Continue reading “Everyday Arab Identity: The Daily Reproduction of the Arab World by Christopher Phillips”
by David Hirst
(New York: Nation Books, 2010), 489 pages
Reviewed by Nir Boms
In choosing the title of his book Beware of Small States, David Hirst harks back to the words of Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian anarchist who in 1870 wrote to a friend about the European wars. Small states, Bakunin wrote, are “particularly vulnerable to the machinations of greater ones,” but “they are also a source of trouble to their tormentors” (p. 2). This is, in a nutshell, the tragic story of Lebanon, the “small state of the Middle East” that is described elsewhere as “other people’s battle ground” (p. 117).
This is an impressive work that showcases its author’s well-honed journalistic skills. Hirst, a former Middle East Correspondent for The Guardian, lived in Lebanon for almost fifty years and reported extensively on the region. He was kidnapped twice, and expelled from half a dozen Arab countries because of his work. In this thick and thorough account—that he boldly calls a “definitive history of Lebanon”—Hirst offers a detailed narrative of this battleground that is arranged in chronological order and supported by copious footnotes. It is both a good read for the general public as well as a sourcebook for serious students of the Middle East. Continue reading “Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East”