shoe intifada

bush-boot-campapparently someone has called for a shoe intifada, but i would prefer to give tamara credit for this as i believe she posted this on my facebook wall before it appeared in the media. there is also a new video game you can play (there is a screen shot of it above); the independent newspaper has the game online if you’d like to play “bush’s boot camp.” and there is a new game that ziad sent me called “sock and awe” that you can play online. also in the independent is this important comment, which is not seeming: it is!

The throwing of the shoes at Mr Bush may turn out to have marked a crucial turning point in the five-and-a-half-year-old American occupation of Iraq, provoking an outpouring of nationalist sentiment in opposition to the US presence, with support for Mr Zaidi seeming to cross sectarian boundaries. Demonstrations backing the journalist were held in the Shia holy city of Najaf, but also in the Sunni city of Tikrit demanding his release.

the gulf news, although repeating ridiculous english-language media about muntathar al-zaydi’s act of resisting with his shoe as somehow being specifically iraqi, shows how admiration of him quickly spread:

“Al Zaidi did what Arab leaders failed to do.” Gazi Abu Baker, a 55-year-old shopkeeper in the West Bank town of Jenin said, “This journalist should be elected president of Iraq for what he has done.”

as one of the many sources for creative resistance is gaza you can imagine that they had a rally today in support of muntathar al-zaydi (there is a video of the gaza rally on the link below):

“In his act he expressed what each and every person in the Arab world thinks and wishes to do. There are people who have made the pages of history in their heroic acts by sacrificing their body in suicide bombings or through scientific inventions.

“This hero Iraqi journalist has made the pages of history by throwing shoes in Bush’s face. This is undoubtedly the most outstanding event to take place in 2008, and there’s nothing better than this shoe to summarize what the Arab world thinks about this foolish president.”

A petition calling for al-Zeidi’s release has been distributed on the internet on behalf of the Hadash party.


meanwhile raed jarrar confirms reports of al-zaydi’s condition in prison, which should embolden our demands for his release:

Albaghdadia, the TV channel where the Iraqi Journalist Montather Al-Zeidi works, reports that an Iraqi MP (Ms. Zainab Al-Kanani) informed them that Montather’s hand was broken in jail.

This confirms a lot of reports and rumors about Montather being subject to torture while the Iraqi authorities are interrogating and detaining him in some unspecified location.

the guardian also reports further evidence of torture:

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush has been beaten in custody, his brother said today.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC.

one of my students today told me that her father had read or seen a news report that al-zaydi’s family’s has been evicted from their home; i cannot confirm this as i cannot seem to find anything online supporting this claim (in english anyway), but her point was given how much americans and israelis behave in similar ways it would not be at all inconceivable to imagine that this happened. i posted two petitions yesterday, one from jarrar, and one from another source and i will post them again here for you to sign:

In Support of the Iraqi Shoe-Throwing Journalist

Free Montather

it is important for us to support montazir. but it is also important for us to consider the power of his action. the joy and creativity of resistance that it reminds us of. last night as i was watching condoleeza rice speak before the united nations i couldn’t help but fantasize about the joy i would have experienced if i had thrown a pair of stilettos at her (thanks to matt and hala for reminding me that resistance can be fun and sexy at the same time! ). this made me think of the power of women in resistance, which is depicted with such power in gillo pontecorvo’s masterpiece of a film, the battle of algiers. the scene to which i am referring is this one where we see algerian women passing as french women in order to make it through checkpoints and place bombs in strategic sites where french colonists are located (you can watch the entire film on youtube it seems):

i remember hearing that the u.s. military was using this film to learn about how to fight in iraq.

but this issue of gender and resistance is interesting for a number of reasons. for one, if a woman in stilettos–or high heels more generally–had been the one to throw a shoe it would have been a better resistance tool. the young turks had a clip today showing that arabs/iraqis/muslims are not the only ones to throw shoes (though its host cenk uygur resorted to the circulated orientalist rhetoric about the shoes). they showed this clip from the movie austin powers:

in the clip we see austin telling the waiter that he “fights like a girl” because he throws a shoe at him. but of course in the end we see that it is the “girl” who takes down the waiter.

of course in palestine it is still the stone that is the emblematic symbol and tool of resistance. and my colleague today reminded me that in 2000 when french prime minister lionel jospin visited birzeit university shortly after hezbollah liberated south lebanon from most of israeli occupation, he was pelted with stones and his car was kicked (with shoes! of course) by students:

Palestinian students have pelted the French prime minister with stones because of his condemnation of Hezbollah attacks against Israeli targets in southern Lebanon.

As he entered the auditorium, some students chanted: “Go away, you are a traitor.”

During the speech – which went largely uninterrupted – Mr Jospin tried to clarify statements he made two days earlier.

He said on Thursday: “France condemns Hezbollah’s attacks, and all types of terrorist attacks which may be carried out against soldiers or possibly Israel’s civilian population.”

The comments angered Lebanon, the Arab world, and even his own president, Jacques Chirac, who has summoned him to a meeting when he returns home.

But at the Bir Zeit University, Mr Jospin told the students: “We condemn Israeli attacks against civilians in Lebanon.”

He also repeated France’s support for a Palestinian state.

“A Palestinian state is necessary for peace,” he declared.

But his measured statements did little to calm the angry students who hurled stones at him after the speech.

Even inside the armour-plated car Mr Jospin was not spared the anger of the students.

They kicked the back and sides of the car, and one student was seen trying to force open the door nearest to the French prime minister, as others rained more stones on the vehicle.

Some of the students jumped on top of the car.

Palestinian security officials and Mr Jospin’s bodyguards shouted and tried frantically to protect Mr Jospin.

Mr Jospin’s getaway car The students called Mr Jospin ‘a traitor’

The prime minister was reported to be lightly injured but not hurt.

The university authorities condemned the incident and closed the university until Tuesday, in an attempt to restore calm.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, later spoke to Mr Jospin by telephone and expressed regret over the students’ behaviour.

“I apologise to you sir, and I hope that you can accept this apology from me and the Palestinian people,” he said.

unfortunately, like the iraqi journalists yesterday, arafat apologized to jospin. but one american journalist, dave lindorff, commiserated with al-zaydi and offers some important lessons for american journalists from his courageous gesture (thanks rania) :

I’ll admit, listening to Bush lie his way through eight years of press conferences, while pre-selected reporters played along and pretended to get his attention so they could ask questions which had been submitted and vetted in advance, I have felt like throwing my shoes at the television set.

Al-Zaidi, who paid for his courageous act of protest by being brutally beaten by security guards, is a hero of the profession. He stopped taking the president’s BS and called him what he is: a murderer and a criminal, with the blood of perhaps upwards of a million Iraqis on his hands. Al-Zaidi used what was supposed to be a staged photo-op for the president as an opportunity to speak up for those whose lives have been ruined by this president-the ones our suck-up journalists routinely ignore.

I’m not suggesting that journalists should routinely leave presidential press conferences in their stocking feet. We have different ways of expressing our sentiments to people we feel have insulted our intelligence than throwing shoes at them, but it would be nice to see a journalist or two flip the president the bird when he lies so blatantly to them. Or they could all get up and just walk out, leaving him standing alone at the presidential lectern.

It’s time for the press corps to stop treating presidents like royalty. If he accomplished anything at all in eight years in office, President Bush has demonstrated that, to the contrary, the president is a very ordinary-and in his case a rather less than ordinary-man. The office of president deserves no more respect than that of the mayor of Detroit, or of Wasilla.

My suggestion is that the press corps use the remaining five weeks of the Bush administration to develop a new relationship with the presidency-one in which they drop all the phony propriety and tradition and start acting like boisterous newshounds of old, barking questions, laughing cruelly at inane answers, demanding follow-ups when they are given the run-around, and, where necessary, walking out, or perhaps tossing the occasional shoe.

The journalism profession was a full-blown disaster and an utter disgrace during the Bush administration, and with all the crises facing the country and the world, in part because of that failure on their part, we cannot afford to have them continue that failure into the Obama administration.

certainly this episode has important lessons for journalists, but also for those who resist colonial, foreign occupation. there are many examples of things to protest with shoes and stones alike in palestine. take, for instance, today’s ethnic cleansing project done by the zionist regime:

Two hundred Israeli police raided the Bedouin village of Abdallah Al-Atrash in the Negev desert in Israel at 5:00am on Tuesday, demolished the entire community and forcibly expelled all 20 families living there.

After over six hours, no structures were left standing and all inhabitants were pushed off their land.

Some residents told the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in Negev that they plan to sleep amongst the rubble of their demolished homes until new tents can be erected on their land. Others will go live with relatives in another Israeli unrecognized village near Hura.

and here is another example from al quds today–regarding the al kurd family who i visited last week:

Israeli forces began to demolish on Monday morning a protest tent established in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem in support of the evicted Al-Kurd family and 500 other Palestinians currently facing eviction.

Dozens of Israeli officers detained and confiscated the phones of two international solidarity activists, one Danish and one Swedish, who had been sleeping in the tent at 8:30am Tuesday.

An Israeli bulldozer is currently at the site and will start the demolition shortly.

The Al-Kurd family were made refugees from Jaffa and West Jerusalem before being evicted from their home of 52 years in East Jerusalem on 9 November. The family was removed at gunpoint and accused by the Israeli government of neglecting to obtain proper building permits.

but who is the only arab or muslim leader in the entire region who speaks out against this? sayyed hassan nasrallah, of course. he is the only one speaking about unity, about right of return, about ending the siege of gaza, and against tzipi livni’s call to further ethnically cleanse palestinians living in 1948 palestine–and to connect all of the above in one speech:

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by noting that Palestinians in Gaza were witnessing, since a few weeks, a non-human siege that didn’t leave for them any open window or door, ruling out the possibility of breaking the siege given the Israeli escalation taking place at all levels.

His eminence called on everyone in this world to express solidarity with the Palestinian people but also to stand and look attentively at the situation, requesting everyone to assume their responsibilities towards this human catastrophe.

“We are witnessing a new stage in which the Zionist entity and the United States are exerting efforts to end the Palestinian cause,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, noting that the Palestinian refugees’ cause wasn’t present in Israel and the US “where no one recognizes the Right of Return.”

Hezbollah Secretary General said that the threat was embracing all Palestinians with no exception, stressing that the Israeli Foreign Minister Tssipi Livni comments on Arab Israeli were not a mere slip of the tongue. “Livni actually expressed a position that all Zionist leaders agree unanimously on,” his eminence emphasized, recalling that the Israeli ultimate goal was to establish a Zionist state, pointing out to the misery witnessed by thousands of Gaza people and detainees.

“The aim behind the Gaza siege is to break the Palestinian people’s will in order for the Zionists to impose their conditions,” Sayyed Nasrallah asserted. His eminence explained that we were witnessing a complete dissolution of the fundamentals of the Palestinian cause, stating that the major headline in this stage was the Gaza blockade.

Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say that the essential goal should be to break the siege and put an end to the humanitarian tragedy of the people who stood steady despite the world’s collusion and the Arabs’ silence. “We ask for the responsibilities in this cause to be shared,” Sayyed Nasrallah stressed, noting that “if the leadership of this nation and the people shouldered their responsibilities sixty years ago then this cruel entity would not have been established.”…

Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah called everyone, on behalf of Hezbollah, for the widest participation in all popular movements and demonstrations against the non-human siege, stressing that the background would be merely humanitarian. “Let’s forget our political differences and be unified over a humanitarian issue such as the siege against Gaza,” Sayyed Nasrallah pointed out.

and there is one more hopeful sign of resistance from lebanon through the international criminal court (the full text of the complaint may be read here) where by a lebanese lawyer has filed charges against prime minister ehud olmert, defense minister ehud barak, deupty defense minister matan vilnai, minister of internal security avraham dichter, and armed forces chief of staff gabi ashkenzi:

ICAI HOKOK, the Beirut based International Coalition against Impunity, is filing today with the Office of the Prosecution of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Holland a Complaint and Communication charging Israel and five of its leaders with egregious violations of International law and the Rome Statute stemming from Israel’s actions its continuing blockade of Gaza.

Lebanese lawyer, May el Khansa arrived in The Hague on Tuesday December 9, leading an International delegation of Lawyers to complete the filing formalities and to meet with ICC Court officials.


6 thoughts on “shoe intifada

  1. al Zaidi’s use of a shoe as political protest is a dramatic improvement over the other most notorioususe of a shoe by a Muslim man in recent years.

    Who knows, maybe in a few years hence people throughout the Middle East, rather than planting explosives in shoes, or throwing them at politicians they revile, may simply wear them back and forth from work, the market, etc., just like people in many other parts of the world.

    One can only hope. . .

    1. well i do hope. but what i hope for is that the u.s. stops invading other countries, massacring its people, stealing its natural resources, and selling/giving weapons in order to maintain its proxy wars here in the middle east as well in the rest of the world. maybe then americans can have normal jobs and just take care of their families and normal things like the rest of the world does. like the people here would like to do if the u.s. and israel would stop killing its people with american-made weapons.

  2. Oh, I think everyone thinks invading other countries is a bad idea these days in the US, the world has at least a three decade buffer before anyone thinks twice about such folly. If you live in an authoritarian country where you have no rights and a boot on your neck, it’s on you now. Either lead the revolution yourself or depart for greener pastures (probably here, in the ever-lovin’ world-repressin’ USA!)

    I am hopeful too that the incoming Obama administration really follows through on its promises to move away from a petroleum-based economy; not only would we have no national interests to pursue in the region, which would solve your massacre/steal meme, but the entire region would lose its primary source of revenue, be forced to reform and develop human capital, etc.

    We might even see the number of patents coming out of the region (when you take Israel out of the mix) rival that of the intellectual powerhouse of Greece. . .

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