Our ‘Story/Backstory’ project produced great new discourse-expanding resources

Just World Admin Algeria, Antiwar, Blog, Gaza, International law, Iran, JWE news, Palestine

One of Just World Ed’s major projects in Spring 2019 was the “Story/Backstory” project, in which– over a 13-week period– JWE President Helena Cobban produced weekly packages providing richly informed background to key aspects of current U.S. policy in the Middle East, and developments within the region itself.

Each package was launched via a column that Ms. Cobban published in collaboration with the always-informative Mondoweiss website. Twelve of the columns were then complemented by episodes in the Just World Podcasts series. These episodes each ran between 25 and 40 minutes; many of them featured information-packed interviews that Ms, Cobban conducted with experts like former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas W. Freeman, Jr., long-time Yemen analyst Dr. Sheila Carapico, Algerian poet and social activist Amin Khan, and Middle East/North Africa specialist William B. Quandt. (See the whole list of interviewees below.)

Topics covered in the project included:

  • the prospect of a US war with Iran,
  • Golan,
  • the ongoing popular uprising in Algeria,
  • Gaza and other aspects of the Palestine Question,
  • the Saudi-Emirati war in Yemen,
  • the large investments Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have made in buying influence in Washington,

… and more. (See the whole list below.)

For this project Ms. Cobban drew on a 45-year career as a writer, researcher, and thinker that has involved her spending considerable amounts of time in the Middle East. For 17 years through the late 2000’s, she contributed regular columns on Middle Eastern and global issues to both The Christian Science Monitor (Boston) and the London-based Arabic daily, Al-Hayat.

While preparing each of the weekly packages for this project, Ms. Cobban pulled together a broad range of new resources from, mainly, online sources. We are now planning to compile as much as possible of this trove of background resources into either dedicated new posts on the Just World Ed blog, or new pages in our website’s “Resources” section.

Another set of user-friendly resources produced in this project has been the transcripts of the podcasts. These can be found (and re-used if you wish, under a Creative Commons license) via the “Transcript” tab on the web-page of each of the podcast episodes linked to below.

Here’s your guide to the text and the podcast portions of each of the weekly packages, in reverse-chronological order:

  • IRAN: Bolton pushes United States to over-reach in Iran: Text (May 15) | Podcast (interview with Amb. Chas W. Freeman, Jr, May 17)
  • MEDIA: Thinking fast and slow in reporting Israel-Gaza fighting: Text (May 8) | Podcast (May 10)
  • YEMEN: A crucial US Senate vote on Yemen, aka ‘Saudi Arabia’s Gaza’: Text (May 1) | Podcast (Interview with Dr. Sheila Carapico, May 3)
  • LOBBYING: The UAE’s seedy influence operations, a footnote to the Mueller Report: Text (April 25) | Podcast (Interview with Ben Freeman, April 26)
  • PRISONERS: Palestinian prisoners win a notable battle: Text (April 17) | Related blog-posts, with input from Yousef Aljamal: 1, 2, 3
  • ALGERIA: Algeria’s popular movement making waves: Text (Interview with William B. Quandt, April 12) | Podcast (Interview with Amin Khan, April 12) | Bonus Blogpost with key documents (April 11)
  • JERUSALEM: Palestinian Jerusalem under attack: Text (April 3) | Podcast (with guest Nora Lester Murad)
  • GOLAN: Trump’s support of Israel’s annexation of the Golan: Text (March 26) | Podcast (contains interview with Amb. Peter Ford)
  • HAMAS: Beating Israel’s ‘But Khamas!” ploy: Text (March 20, 2019) | Podcast (contains material from Ahmed Abu Artema)
  • GAZA: Gaza the crucible: Text (March 13, 2019) | Podcast (contains interview with Dr. Azzam Tamimi)
  • PALESTINE: The two-state solution is dead. Let’s plan for the one state: Text (March 6) | Podcast (contains interview with Dr. William B. Quandt)
  • DIPLOMACY: The curious case of US domination of Palestine-Israel peacemaking: Text  (Feb. 27, 2019) | Podcast
  • U.S. POLITICS: The longer arc of US-Palestine relations: Text (Feb. 20, 2019) | Podcast