Photo: The TWA terminal at JFK, reconstructed in acorns and moss, at the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show.
I realize I’m supposed to post a message like this before disappearing. I’m back, after a month-odd publishing holiday (like a teacher workday, it only sounds like a break, especially if it’s your class). Suffice it to say, there were holidays, a preliminary book deadline, and a four-year-old who suddenly decided he no longer was interested in sleeping.
This evening I’m off to Egypt for 10 days, in time for the first session of the new parliament, as well as the January 25 anniversary (a time to reflect or an event in its own right, we’ll soon find out).
Lots of reporting coming right up.
Warren Olney did a long segment yesterday on Egypt, talking with Mona Eltahawy and me. You can listen here.
Lots of good copy out of Cairo on the opening day of Mubarak’s trial. What a sight! The indispensible leader on a hospital bed, in a cage, flanked by his sons and six of his top cops. Anthony Shadid captures the scene gracefully (and his set-up piece is also worth reading).
WNYC’s The Takeaway had me on this morning to talk about the trial; you can listen here.
Terry Gross interviewed me on Fresh Air today about the events in Egypt and their potential to create new space in Arab politics. From the Fresh Air website:
All of our assumptions about the Arab world have been turned on their heads in the past month, says veteran Middle East correspondent Thanassis Cambanis.
“Everything that the experts say and everything that the activists and politicians have taken for granted for a generation, at least, is really off the table,” he tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “What’s been happening, first in Lebanon and then in Tunisia and now in Egypt and who knows further afield, suggests that new forces have been unleashed and we have no idea where they might lead and what new dynamics they might create.”
On Wednesday’s Fresh Air, Cambanis puts what has been going on in Egypt in a historical context — and explains the rising influence of the political party Hezbollah in the region. He says the recent explosion of popular anger and activism in Egypt opens up the possibility for a new political movement — one not endorsed by autocratic regimes or rooted in Hezbollah’s Islamist ideology.
“There are a lot of people, both dispossessed and powerful, who want dignity but they don’t necessarily want endless war — which is what the Hezbollah school of thought advocates,” he says. “I think they would be hungry for, and very receptive to, an Egypt-centered political movement that talks about Arab empowerment but not endless war.”
This coming Saturday, April 17, a group of new generation Iranian activists is gathering at Columbia University for a public forum that intends, ambitiously, to reinvigorate the Iranian Green movement. One of the organizers, a Columbia SIPA graduate student named Mehdi Jalali, told me that he and several other young exiled Iranians want to assert a leading role in the opposition to Iran’s theocracy.
“We are a different generation. We do not have the same ideologies of our parents,” Jalali said. “And because we live abroad, we are free to organize without interference from the regime.”
Jalali’s father is a cleric, but he became a critic of the ayatollahs and an advocate for secular rule. He also embraced the use of television and new media; once forced into exile, he hosted a political talk show in Farsi on satellite television.
Entitled “New Generation, New Perspectives, New Media,” the forum will include a lot of prominent and articulate Iranian voices. It’s bound to be interesting.
Here’s the invitation:
As a unique historic event bringing together a unique set of young thought leaders on Iran, this event should be of significant value to all those with an active academic or strategic interest in the future of social change, media and the young generation in Iran.
What sets this forum apart from traditional conferences is the active role of the audience in shaping the discourse. In the morning sessions, panelists will provide discussion openers on critical issues related to various aspects of social change in Iran and engage the audience (both present and online) in an in-depth collaborative discussion on these topics during the afternoon sessions. Leveraging the power of Tweets, live blogging, and real-time videocasting technologies, the final product of the forum will be a set of collaborative artifacts generated by the speakers and the participants throughout the day.
· Ali Afshari (Former Head, DaftarTahkimVahdat, Largest Iranian Pro-reform student group)
· Masih Alinejad (Journalist and Blogger)
· Maziar Bahari (Newsweek Correspondent and Filmmaker)
· Nazila Fathi (New York Times Reporter)
· Mehdi Jalali (Political Commentator)
· Omid Memarian (Journalist and Blogger)
· Roozbeh Mirebrahimi (Journalist, Author and Blogger)
· Ali Mostashari (Academic)
· Kelly Niknejad (Founder Tehran Bureau News Website)
· Trita Parsi (President, NIAC)
· Karim Sadjadpour (Associate, Carnegie Endowment for Peace)
· Mehdi Yahyanejad (Founder, Balatarin.com)
. Austin Heap (Haystack- campaign against Iranian government’s web filtering mechanisms)
. Davar Ardalan (Former Senior Supervisory Producer at NPR)
To Register Please Visit the Forum Website at: http://www.newgenerationforum.org