Author Archives: Vomena

VOMENA: July 29, 2015

Osman Sahin on Turkey’s Foreign Policy Shift

Photo: Al-Moniter

Photo: Al-Moniter

In the last week, Turkey has joined the fight against the so called  Islamic State of Iraq, after the group it carried out a suicide bombing close to the Syrian border, killing 32 young socialist activists and students and injuring many more. Following that  horrific tragedy, the Turkish government came under pressure to stop the free movement of ISIS fighters and operatives over the Syrian border. The AKP  government has been often accused of active collaboration with ISIS fighters; allowing money, and munitions to move from one side of the border to the other.

Despite the bombing of a few ISIS targets, most of Turkey’s fire power has been directed toward the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). According to Al- Monitor “The attack on IS was a single sortie against limited targets and closer to the Turkish border, while the one against the PKK was much different… Some 300 smart bombs were dropped in 185 sorties against approximately 400 PKK targets.” This week, we have a conversation with Dr Osman Sahin, a political scientist and a lecturer at Koc University, about  the Turkish government’s decided to start what has been presented as a concurrent two-pronged confrontation against PKK and Daesh (IS) and its effect on the future of Turkish politics.


Sally El Hosaini: My Brother The Devil

MBTD_1Sheet_sml1Welsh-Egyptian writer-director Sally El Hosaini’s  debut feature film,  My Brother the Devil, tells the story of two immigrant brothers growing up in the Hackney housing estate in East London. Mo  is a bright young student living with his  Egyptian family, and  his older brother Rashid is a high ranking member of a small-time local gang. The film’s setting reflects the multi ethnic makeup of London’s housing blocks, where young immigrant kids are linked by poverty, alienation and gang culture. The film won the Best Cinematography award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. We speak with Sally El Hosaini about her experience entering this world to make the film.



Al-Moniter on Turkey’s Foreign Policy shift

Jadaliyya’s Turkey Page

 My Brother the Devil Trailer





VOMENA: July 22, 2015


Nabil Al-Raee and  Alia Alrosan on the Freedom Theatre

Freedom-Theatre-0013Theater and artistic expression take on a special role  within zones of violence and conflict. For more than a decade, The Freedom Theatre, located in Jenin Refugee camp in the north of the occupied West Bank, has empowered Palestinian youth and fostered a community of artists committed to  social and political change.

This week, Artistic Director of the Freedom Theater Nabil Al-Raee and theater student Alia Alrosan discuss the unique role of art and theater in confronting the difficult realities of life under occupation for Palestinians living in Jenin Refugee Camp and beyond.

Khaled Jarrar on his  award-winning documentary, “Infiltrators”

infiltratorsThe Palestinian people of the occupied West Bank face extreme danger and hardship just to live their daily lives. Khaled Jarrar’s  award-winning documentary film, “Infiltrators” is an hard look into that world. Shot over the course of 4 years, the film documents the crossing of Palestinians over Israel’s 20-foot apartheid wall. Palestinians who cross in search of work, a short visit with loved ones or medical treatment they cannot receive in the West Bank, risk arrest or worse. We spoke with Khaled Jarrar about his film and life in the occupied west bank.


The Freedom Theatre Facebook page

Review of  “Infiltrators” in Middle East Monitor

Khaled Jarrar in Jadaliyya


VOMENA: July 15, 2015

Ilan Pappe: On Palestine

chompappe_cover Renowned Israeli historian Illan Pappe’s new book On Palestine, coauthored with Noam Chomsky,  frames the debate about the future of Palestine between the old and new positions on the left . Professors Pappe and Chomsky discuss a wide variety of topics, from the one state solution to the BDS movement and its call for an academic boycott.

This week, we spend the hour with professor Pappe discussing his new book and the political theory he presents in On Palestine.

VOMENA: July 8, 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Deal and the Day After

s200_kamran.matinFor more than a week, diplomats from Iran and six world powers have gathered in Vienna’s Coburg Palace to finalize a historic deal on Iran’s nuclear program.   The officials from Iran and the US have told reporters  “we are making good progress on almost all of the issues..But there are a few issues which … remain to be resolved” as a result, the self imposed deadline of June 30th is now extend to Friday July 10th.

This week, we spend the hour with Kamran Matin, Assistant Professor in International Relations at Sussex University about the sticking points of the negotiations, the impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy and polity, and what we may expect in the country if the issue of Iran’s nuclear program is resolved peacefully.


July 9th is the 10th anniversary of Palestinian civil society’s call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; and the 11th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling against the Wall.

On Thursday, July 9th Palestinian physician, activist, and politician, Mustafa Barghouti who serves as General Secretary of the Palestine National Initiative Will be speaking about the BDS movement, ICJ’s ruling against the apartheid wall, his trip to Gaza, the settlement expansion and future strategies. After returning from Gaza in September 2014 following Israel’s brutal 51-day assault, Dr. Barghouti said, “This inhumanity can’t continue. There’s only one way out – to establish boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel in order to dismantle this occupation and this apartheid.”

This event will take place on Thursday, July 9th from 7-10 pm at the First Congregational Church, located at 2345 Channing way in Berkeley. The Event is a Benefit for Middle East Children’s Alliance projects for Palestinian children


The Guardian’s coverage of the negotiations

Kamran Matin’s book Recasting Iranian Modernity: International Relations and Social Change

Mustafa Barghouti in Berkeley July 9th

Arab Film Festival Facebook


VOMENA: July 1, 2015

Max Blumenthal on the 2014 Assault on Gaza

51daywarJuly 8th marks the first anniversary of last year’s Israel’s military assault on Gaza, a fifty-one day attack that left over 2,000 people dead, at least 10,000 homes destroyed and nearly 300,000 Palestinians displaced. In his new book , “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza,” award-winning journalist and author  Max Blumenthal reveals the cynical deceptions that led to the brutal, genocidal operation.

This week, we have a conversation with Max Blumenthal about his new book “The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” and the BDS movement. Max Blumenthal was on the ground during this onslaught, which he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe.

Delinda Hanely on Receiving the Racheal Corrie Award

Delinda-Hanley-Ed.Delinda Hanley of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is this year’s recipient of Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s “Rachel Corrie Award.” She has been recognized for her tireless work to educate Americans and the public about the Middle East and issues such as the Israeli killing of Rachel Corrie. This week, we speak with Delinda about her work and receiving this illustrious award.


Max Blumenthal Speaking at First Congregational Church in Berkeley July 1st

“The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza” Verso Books

Delinda Hanely Receives  the Rachel Corrie Award


VOMENA: June 24, 2015

Omar Dahi on the Syrian War and  Humanitarian Crisis

dahi-omarThe war on Syria has taken over 200,000 lives and 11 million people have either been internally displaced or have fled the country as refugees. Although the situation is the worst for those who are displaced inside Syria, the multifaceted conflict has created huge humanitarian crises in  Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.  This week we spend the hour with Omar Dahi, He is an associate professor of economics at Hampshire College, a member of editorial board  at the Middle East Report , and co -editor Syria Page for Jadaliyya e-zine.


Omar Dahi in The Middle East Report

Jadaliyya’s Syria Page

UN Report on Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis

VOMENA: June 17, 2015

Salar Abdoh on Tehran Noir

abdoh2The literary genre of Noir captures the shortcomings and self-destruction of characters involved in violent stories. But what is the significance behind the use this particular literary genre to illustrate the character of a city? In his new anthology, Tehran Noir, Iranian-American novelist and essayist Salar Abodoh  has compiled and translated the work of 16 Iranian authors whose short stories reveal a darker side to the sprawling metropolitan capital of Iran. In his introduction he writes “Most writers around the world are inclined to think that their own sprawling metropolis is the capital of every imaginable vice and crime, of impossible love and tenderness and cruelty and malice in measures that seldom exist anywhere else. For me, Tehran’s case is no different—except that there really is a difference here. The city may be a hothouse of decadence, a den of inequity, all of that. But it still exists under the watchful eye of a very unique entity, the Islamic Republic”.

On this episode, we have an extended conversation with Salar Abdoh about the anthology, the noir genre, and life under the Islamic Republic. Salar Abdoh is an Iranian-American novelist and essayist, and the recipient of the New York Foundation for the  Arts Prize and the National Endowment for the Arts award. He is the author of the novel Tehran at Twilight and the editor of the new anthology Tehran Noir.

Kate Rafael on Resisting the Pinkwashing of the Israeli Apartheid

outsideThe  LGBTQ  annual film festival, Frameline, widely regarded as the largest queer community institution in the world, has been criticised and confronted for pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid. In response to Frameline Festival’s sponsorship by the Israeli government, Queers for Palestine activists organized the alternative Outside The Frame: Queers for Palestine Film Festival. The festival’s website, “calls on all queers to join in questioning what has become the dominant narrative of assimilation rather than liberation. Part of that narrative is that Israel is a “friend” of queers simply because it gives money to a queer cultural event, or supports the production of a queer film that will be used as propaganda for Israel.”

We speak with anti-apartheid activist Kate Rafael about the festival and Frameline’s continuing relationship with the Israeli government. Kate Rafael is a writer journalist and anti-war and anti-occupation activist.  She is one of the founding members of  Outside The Frame: Queers for Palestine Film Festival. The Festival will be June 19th-21st at the Brava Theater in San Francisco.


Excerpt from Tehran Noir

VOMENA: June 10, 2015

Erdem Yörük on Turkey’s Parliamentary Elections

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

A rally for the HDP. Photo: Middle East Institute

Sunday’s parliamentary election in Turkey was supposed to be an affirmation for the leadership of President Erdogan.Since 2002, The ruling Justice and Development Part AK Party had always won a majority in every Turkish election. On Sunday June 6, however, the party lost its parliamentary majority and was handed their first decline in support in over a decade falling from 49% of the vote to 41%.Meanwhile, The leftist People’s  Democratic Party (HDP) won a major victory, with 13% of the popular vote. HDP crossed the country’s unusually high 10 percent electoral threshold that affected the distribution of seats and, consequently, the power of the ruling party.

This week, we speak with  Professor Erdem Yörük to discuss the underlying reasons for the shift of popular support away from the ruling party.  Erdem Yörük is an assistant professor of sociology at Koç University in Turkey. (Photo: Middle East Institute)

Lindsey Hilsum on the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis



Everyday thousands of people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and a host of other African countries attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to the shores of southern Europe. According the European Union border control agency, Frontex, the death toll of the immigrants is on the rise. At least 1,770 people have died traversing the Mediterranean so far this year, compared to only  56 at this time last year. The International Organization for Migration warns that the migrant death toll could reach upwards of 30,000 in 2015. On this program, we hear from award winning journalist Lindsay Hilsum about her reporting trip to the Libyan port city of Misrata, where she spoke to detained refugees.

Lindsey Hilsum is an award winning journalist and  the international editor  of Channel 4 News in London. She has reported extensively on the Middle East and North Africa. She is the author of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution.


The Guardian’s coverage of the June 7 elections in Turkey.

Death Toll of Mediterranean Refugees

Review of Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution


VOMENA: June 3, 2015

Sandy Tolan on Children of the Stone

stolanThe constant struggle for Palestinians to lead anything resembling  normal lives  in the occupied territories is expressed in many forms. In the case of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, normalcy means being able to play the viola. This week, we speak with Sandy Tolan about his new book Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land, which tells the story of Ramzi, a child of the first Palestinian Intifada, whose Al Kamandjati music center serves hundreds of Palestinian Children in the west bank and refugee camps in lebanon. The book examines the transformative power of music to help inspire children dealing with military occupation.

Sandy Tolan is a journalist, teacher, and documentary radio producer. He is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC. He has written three books, including two dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the acclaimed work The Lemon Tree and his latest, Children of the Stone: The Power of music in a Hard Land . He is speaking at the Bay Area Book Festival this Saturday, June 6th.

Also in the program, veteran war journalist Anna Bakhen  speaks with us about her  book The World is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village. Through a close observation of the ancient tradition of carpet weaving, Anna Badkhen chronicles the daily lives of the 240 residents of the isolated and unmapped village of Oqa in all it complexities and simplicity. Anna Badkhen writes about people in extremis. She has written five books about war and peace in the Global South, including Walking with Abel.


LA Times review of Children of the Stone

Bay Area Book Festival

“The World is a Carpet” Pulitzer Center review







VOMENA: May 27th, 2015

Marnia Lazreg on the May 8, 1945 French Massacre of Algerians.

may81945On May 8, 1945, as France celebrated its victory against Nazi Germany, simultaneously,  its colonial army was busy massacring tens of thousands of Algerian civilians in Sétif, Guelma and Kherrata. The tragic events provided the spark for Algeria’s war for independence nine years later.

Le Monde Diplomatique writes of the massacre, “The army’s actions caused a military historian, Jean-Charles Jauffret, to say that its conduct “resembled a European wartime operation rather than a traditional colonial war” …The final toll is speculative, as the French government closed the commission of inquiry directed by General Tubert and the killers were never tried. We know all about the judicial measures that were taken and the number of Europeans who died, but the number of Algerian victims is a mystery and is still debated among Algerian historians (5). The figures released by the French authorities are not reliable. Pending impartial investigations (6), we must agree with Rey-Goldzeiguer that, for 102 European dead, thousands of Algerians paid with their lives.

There were many repercussions: any hopes of a deal between the Algerian people and the European colony were off. In France the political forces of the wartime resistance movement failed their first test on decolonisation, allowing themselves to be taken over by the pro-colonial party.”

This week, to mark the 70th anniversary of the May 8 massacres, we speak with Hunter College Sociologist Marnia Lazreg about the gruesome events of that fateful day and its continuing moral and political implications for non-european victims of genocide. Marnia Lazreg is Professor of Sociology at Hunter College. She is the author of several books, including her most recent, titled Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad.

Read more from Le Monde Diplomatique

Marnia Lazreg’s latest book

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