Laurie King

Give law a chance

Suspended between life and death in a permanent coma, Ariel Sharon cannot undo, acknowledge, or apologize for all the blood he shed. All conscious (and conscientious) Israelis still have, however, an opportunity to make amends, affirm justice, and redeem the message of Judaism, rather than remaining oppressors of a people possessing nothing but their threadbare dignity. Maybe it is time to give law a chance. If Israelis wish to remain the inheritors of Judaism’s rich legacy, rather than increasingly shrill and unconvincing defenders of the worst excesses of Zionism, they should speak up now, before the Israeli elections next month. 

The Hamas victory: democratization – but not what the US expected

“A time of testing and challenge awaits Hamas. The West — especially the EU — ought to welcome and assist the democratically elected members of the new Palestinian legislative council for the sake of stability in an already volatile region. No matter how it is viewed, Hamas’ victory marks a crucial intersection of new opportunities and persistent dangers, not only for Palestinians or the Middle East as a whole, but also for the US, the EU, and the UN.” EI’s Laurie King-Irani assesses the political landscape in the wake of Hamas’ victory and Ariel Sharon’s demise. 

Of transplants and transcendence: Questioning social and symbolic categories in Israel

“What is more perplexing and amazing? Four dehumanized individuals blowing themselves and sixty other people to bits, or the wondrous lesson in humanity shown by a family that would not have been blamed for seeking revenge, but who instead repaid murder with magnanimity by donating the organs of their son, a non-Jew, to Israelis? The minds of murderers, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim; American, Israeli or Arab, are much easier to understand than the actions of Ahmed Khatib’s family. Unlike suicide bombers or IDF snipers, Ahmed’s family violated the grammar of the conflict and exposed the arbitrariness and barbarity of erecting walls, whether actual or metaphorical, between human beings.” 

The passionate minority and the silenced majority

“It’s a safe bet that not even a fraction of those who recognize Terri Schiavo’s name and vacant face would know who Rachel Corrie is, what she stood for, or how she was mowed down by a US-supplied armored D9 Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza while she and others bravely confronted the Israeli army. Unarmed with anything but a megaphone and her convictions, Rachel was crushed with all the impunity and inhumanity that her killers could muster. Rachel Corrie’s story - shocking, stirring, incredible - is just as heartbreaking as Schiavo’s.” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani examines troubling deficiencies in the Republican party’s “culture of life” campaign. 

Single minds, double standards, and plural societies: One month on in Lebanon

Once again, it seems that US President George W. Bush has declared victory and “mission accomplished” far too early: The heralded Lebanese Spring, which Washington’s PR experts quickly dubbed the “Cedar Revolution,” has not been a slam-dunk validation of US Middle East policies after all. Just ten days after stepping down from the position of prime minister in President Emile Lahoud’s government, Omar Karameh is about to step back into place again. EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani, who lived in Beirut from 1993-98, reviews the last month’s tumultuous events and considers what they might mean for the future of Lebanon and its neighbors. 

Where is the bride?

Yesterday’s presidential poll, like a stilted, shotgun wedding, had a strange energy — drained, anemic, and hesitant. No one seemed genuinely enthusiastic. The bride was not there, after all, and big issues and concerns were also missing. Universal human rights and international humanitarian law were not honored guests at this celebration. Inviting them might have elicited passions. Had that happened, Abu Mazen might have lost his title of “moderate candidate.” Yesterday’s elections did not choose a president so much as they formalized a rite of passage in the upper ranks of Fatah, passing the mantle of leadership of the Palestinian Authority from the late Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a., Abu Mazen. 

International Human Rights: One day out of 365 is not enough

“To understand human rights, human rights violations, and human rights enforcement, one must begin at the ground level, with the social and cultural setting of the abuse situation. This is not simply a legal requirement, but even more so a moral and political imperative. Whoever endeavors to protect human rights takes on the commitment to be fully human: to think, critique, imagine, argue, envision, cooperate, and take risks in concrete social contexts fraught with political consequences. Foremost among the risks of taking human rights seriously is reaching out to communicate. EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani offers some reflections on International Human Rights Day. 

After Arafat: refracted reflections

We piled into four shiny, new Mercedes, and headed into a foggy night in Tunisia, speeding up and down hills until we came to an office in a suburb. Armed young guards lounged at the front door. They were smiling broadly and looked like they wanted to high-five us rather than do any security checks. Our delegation filed into the main room. A burgundy sofa-set curved around half of the room, in the middle of which was an office chair on wheels. In it sat Yasser Arafat, devoid of his trademark kaffiyeh. He was in high spirits, despite the late hour, and welcomed those he’d met before with kisses and hugs, and then shook hands with the rest of us. He looked at me and asked, out of the blue: “Are you Irish?” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani reflects on Arafat’s legacy and failings. 


“This week, as the survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacre remember their dead, Ariel Sharon, the man deemed ‘personally responsible’ for the massacre by Israel’s 1983 Kahane Commission, is planning an official visit to Holland. When Ariel Sharon steps off the plane, he will be treading not only on Dutch soil, but also on the bodies of the dead of Sabra and Shatila. Legally, the massacre and its victims remain unburied. It is Holland’s shame to assume that rolling out a red carpet of welcome can cover the corpses of Mr. Sharon’s victims, whose number continues to climb with each passing day.” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani remembers a massacre that many prefer to forget. 

"It's a small world after all"

“Because it represents a failure to be just, fair, forward-looking and charitable, US treatment of the Palestinian people represents a failure to be American. Palestine is not a sideshow in the current frightening uproar of political events in the world. It is the main event for Americans and for America. Palestine can and should be the proving grounds for all the values and principles — freedom, dignity, prosperity, justice, and fairness — that set the United States apart from other countries for decades.” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani ponders the connections between America and Palestine by remembering the summer of 1964.