The Winter of Arab Discontent

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arab-winter-january-2012

This map premiered on the pages of the Weekend edition of the Guardian newspaper on February 28th.

It’s the sequel to my Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Arab Spring. It’s a rather cynical glitch in my otherwise cheerful Mapping Stereotype project. If you’re over 30, try to recall the sound when you used to abruptly stop your parents LP player, tapping with your little hand over it.

Depending on the pressure you are able to exert, the LP will either screech and stop immediately (the Libyan ending) or distort the sound and slowly moan until you finally manage to rip it off the player (the Egyptian one).

Seeing Gaddafi’s lifeless, bloody corpse on TV spoiled all the sympathy I had for the rebel movement. Suddenly I remembered that oppressive dictators are never alone in their job, their commitment to oppression and taste for violence are cultivated by the environment that created them. In most cases, they are children of their own people. Whether or not the Libyan people will overcome those traits is a question I am not competent to answer but more importantly – I don’t care. I was lead to believe by the media that this revolution meant something that it didn’t. I was convinced that there were guys out there who were tired of the backward tribalism and wanted just to push it out of the country and make way for something more civilized.

The Egyptian ending was even worse because it seems everything was just a storm that passed leaving all the old trees unaffected. Nobody even talks about Facebook revolutions anymore. People on the social network moved on and returned to their favorite activity: playing Farmville.

4 comments on “The Winter of Arab Discontent

  • I find it enlightening that you can write this:
    “I was lead to believe by the media that this revolution meant something that it didn’t. I was convinced that there were guys out there who were tired of the backward tribalism and wanted just to push it out of the country and make way for something more civilized.”

    but then draw a map of Israel, saying that you truly really believe that a handful of Israelis (just the politicians, as you said) see the world that way.
    In any other country, you spoke of it’s people.

    In Israel, without any benefit of doubt, you drew what supposedly represents 120 members of Israeli Knesset (parliament).

    I hope you see that the Palestinian Intifidas aren’t that far from what’s going on elsewhere in the Arab world and that Israel isn’t 120 people, most of whom don’t view Israel as the center of the world (if ANY of them view it that way at all).

    Give us (Israel) the same benefit of doubt you would give ANY other country and give Israel’s citizens the same voice you gave any other country’s citizens.
    Thank you.

    • It’s interesting that you take what I said about Israel as a blanket statement. You’re not the only one who feels his own people are neglected. I’ve heard the same complaint from Arabs, I’ve been even sent threats and warnings because I – allegedly – am “insensitive” to Islam and so on. So why the hell don’t you people just chill out and face criticism with an open mind, especially when it comes in the form of humor. All of you, Palestinians, Israelis, Martians… I don’t care who you are, what you are complaining about, how many of your taboos got busted or whether or not my words are Kosher enough for you. Smile and reflect a little bit. Stop automatically pointing the finger at the other every time you feel uncomfortable and left out.

    • Not intentionally. It’s just that there aren’t many reports about Kuwait in Western media. One has to be personally connected with someone from the country to know more about what’s really going on.

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