Links – 2008-01-19

Complied by Latoya Peterson and Fatemeh Fakhraie

Sarah Jaffe writes for Global Comment about our Superhero President: The Commodification of Barack Obama

Obama has become something you have to have a piece of–a commodity for sale, sometimes on eBay to the highest bidder, other times for the bargain price of way too much for whichever tacky design was slapped on some material that will last long enough for your kids to sell it back on eBay twenty years from now.

Middle East News reports Israel bans Arab political parties:

Arab Israeli politicians warned of rising anti-Arab sentiment in Jewish public opinion, vowing Wednesday to appeal a majority decision by the Knesset Monday to disqualify Arab political parties in Israel’s from running in the Jewish state’s upcoming elections.

The Yahoo Group NatNews provides an action alert – “Native Americans Outraged Over Twilight Fraud”

With the commercial success of Twilight, Hollywood is abuzz with agents molding, fitting, and pushing their celebrity actors to pass as Native Americans.

“The Twilight Series is one of few commercial films, a script, and a story with Native American roles.” said Lydia Ponce. “It is a sad day to see that the big power agents are marketing Filipino and Asian celebrity actors to play Native Americans. These are such rare opportunities. When films like Twilight knowingly and willfully select non-Native American actors to play Native roles, it sends the message that we’re not good enough to represent ourselves.”

CNN posts a commentary: Race is still an issue in America

Sherrilyn Ifill offers the most useful characterization of successful solutions in race relations in her book “On the Courthouse Lawn.” Ifill argues that conversations on race are often stymied because they attempt to include the whole of racial history in one conversation.

Thus we try to discuss the Middle Passage, Jim Crow segregation, and Don Imus’ comments simultaneously and therefore end up solving nothing. The most productive conversations — and the ones that occur the least, Ifill suggests — are local ones.

The need for such locally focused, community-based conversations is tied to a basic principle of social change: effective social change occurs by focusing on local issues, using grassroots, nonviolent strategies.

KABOBfest continues wading into the Israel/Palestine issue by discussing The One State Solution:

The one state solution has been gaining credence among intellectuals and the general populations in Israel/Palestine (especially Palestinians) because the two-state solution looks increasingly impossible to implement. Dividing Jerusalem, dismantling Jewish settlements in the West Bank, establishing a Palestinian state bisected by Israel are all insurmountable obstacles to a two-state solution that immediately disappear in a one-state solution.

In a one-state solution reconciliation can truly begin and Jew and gentile Israeli, Muslim and Christian Palestinian, Arab, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi can all coexist. Jews don’t have to be evacuated from Hebron and other holy cities in the West Bank, Palestinians can live in Tel Aviv, Yaffa, or Nazareth. The Holy Land will finally retain its sacred status once more.

The Washington Post reports on how DC’s social segregation is being challenged by an Obama presidency:

With a black first family in the White House and a diverse group of appointees and Cabinet nominees, the all-white dinner party feels all wrong. Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends. Overnight, black politicians, lawyers and journalists are hot properties, receiving engraved invitations from people they never got invitations from before.

Blacks have gone from barely being on the list to being in charge of the list.

The International Herald Tribune reports that the “Gaza Crisis may be fomenting violence against Jews in Europe:”

Signs are mounting that the conflict in Gaza is starting to spill over into violence in Europe’s towns and cities, with assaults against Jews and arson attacks on Jewish congregations in France, Sweden and Britain.

Assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse, in southwest France, on Monday night. A Jewish congregation in Helsingborg, in southern Sweden, also was attacked Monday night by someone who “broke a window and threw in something that was burning,” said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold.

The Detroit News notes that “Dearborn Schools urged to ban Arabic:”

A recommendation to bar Arabic speech in the city’s most heavily Arab public high school unless it is absolutely necessary has sparked a sharp debate between those who say it’s necessary to help students perform better and those who say it only helps alienate them.

Frank Rich reflects on being “White Like Me” in the New York Times:

Our new neighborhood included the Sidwell Friends School. My mother, a public school teacher, decreed that her children would instead enroll in the public system that had been desegregated a half-dozen years earlier, after Brown v. Board of Education. In reality de facto segregation remained in place. Though a few African-Americans and embassy Africans provided the window dressing of “integration,” my mostly white elementary, junior high and high schools had roughly the same diversity as, say, today’s G.O.P.

I wish I could say we were all outraged at this apartheid. But we were kids — privileged kids at that — and out of sight was out of mind. Except as household help, black Washington was generally as invisible to us as it was to the tourists who were rigidly segregated from the real Washington while visiting its many ivory marble shrines to democratic ideals.

(Thanks to readers Rob Schmidt, zazel, shygirlj, and ignoblus for submitting links.)

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Fatemeh is currently finishing her master's degree. She currently runs a website dedicated to critiquing how Muslim women are portrayed in both Eastern and Western media.