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Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, respected Middle East commentator, goes in-depth on the Israeli war on Hamas, and talks about his fascinating new book, The New Arabs: How the Millenial Generation is Changing the Middle East.
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We open with discussion of the now 3-week-old Israeli assault on Hamas and Gaza, on the first of August as a hastily-announced cease-fire collapsed, for which Hamas is blamed by Israel and the US. Cole comments on the shifting pretexts that Israel has used for its “defensive” attacks on Gaza, its deadly hits on UN refuge sites. He also remarks on the minimal threat posed by Palestinian rockets, and the maximum spin applied to justify the killing of hundreds of civilians, including many children. And we talk about the outlandish claims by the Israeli government that its Iron Dome missile defense system is 80% or 90% effective.
We turn to the subject of his new book, which is based on Cole’s observations from visits to Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He details the young activists and the methods in each of these “Arab Spring” countries, and notes that there are some similarities among them. We focus mostly on Egypt’s uneven, unpredictable path since Tahrir Square and the continuing role of young activists until this year’s crackdown on protests by new military dictator al-Sisi.
Near the end of the hour, we talk briefly about Libya, where the Professor disagrees with your humble host’s view that it was a mistake to take down the Qaddafi regime under the limited authority of the UN non-fly zone.