Redesigning Cities Could Solve Our Biggest Problems. But We’re Hardly Talking About Them.

Cities are the biggest thing we create. But when we talk about sustainability, there is still surprisingly little discussion about how our cities are designed as a whole.
This is a clip from 2012: Time For Change (2010). Watch the full film for free online here or via Hulu. You can buy the DVD here.

For more info on eco-cities, we highly recommend checking out Richard Register’s website: http://www.ecocitybuilders.org/

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Joseph Sassoon Semah – On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam

Binnenkort, maart 2019, verschijnt de Engelstalige, rijk geïllustreerde publicatie: Joseph Sassoon Semah – On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam.

Stichting Metropool Internationale Kunstprojecten. 220 pag, A4 formaat,  ISBN 978 90 361 0601 6, Euro 34,95

On Friendship/(Collateral Damage) III – The Third GaLUT: Baghdad, Jerusalem, Amsterdam is een poëtische en kritische zoektocht van kunstenaar Joseph Sassoon Semah naar de steden Amsterdam, Bagdad en Jerusalem. Deze steden waren van oudsher gastvrije en tolerante toevluchtsoorden. Zijn ze dat vandaag nog? Wat is de plek voor ‘De Gast’, degene die in een vreemde context leeft en werkt en zijn omgeving toetst op het moment dat hij zijn specifieke positie als ’Gast’ in ballingschap zonder enig voorbehoud toont en zijn plaats opeist? De Gast wordt Gastheer. Deze bijzondere kunstmanifestatie gaat over twee onlosmakelijke grootheden: de dynamiek van de derde ballingschap en de evolutie van Gast naar Gastheer.

Het boek bevat een uitgebreid overzicht van de kunstmanifestatie.

Met bijdragen van:
Prof. Dr. Emile Schrijver (algemeen directeur Joods Cultureel Kwartier Amsterdam) – Oreach Natah Lalun: Reflections on the concept of the Jewish artist as Guest
Joseph Sassoon Semah – THE THIRD גלות GaLUT. Remapping the Memory of the Guest
Dr. Arie Hartog (directeur Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, Bremen) The Third Exile: recovering the traditions of asymmetry
Dr. Margriet Schavemaker (artistiek directeur Amsterdam Museum) Compelling footnotes Joseph Semah and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Professor dr. Ella Shohat (New York University) Remainders Revisited: An Exilic Journey from Hakham Sasson Khdhuri to Joseph Sassoon Semah
Rick Vercauteren (publicist en historicus) From deliberate destruction to concise reconstructions
Mati Shemoelof (dichter en auteur Berlijn) How to Explain Hair hunting to a Dead German Artist
Dr. Yael Almog (Durham University) Ritual Judaism: Ages of Diaspora
Linda Bouws (Metropool Internationale Kunstprojecten) Joseph Sassoon Semah: Re-thinking the concept of the GaLUT, re-claiming the lost culture

Het boek is te bestellen bij Stichting Metropool Internationale Kunstprojecten, € 34,95 en €5 verzendkosten, rek.nr. NL 42 INGB 0006 9281 68 o.v.v. On Friendship III, naam en adres.

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To Members Of Congress

January 7, 2020.
The unlawful and provocative assassination of Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani, has already given rise to an escalating spiral of lethal events. The greatest risks are to stumble escalating into a devastating war in the Middle East with grave consequences for the peoples of Iran and Iraq and likely across the region. Such a war would have disastrous effects for this country, for the region and the world. It is certain to do further harm to the reputation of the United States, which already is perceived in much of the world as an irresponsible and criminal political actor in the region, using military force in ways that have made already difficult situations catastrophic by taking various dangerous military, economic and quasi-diplomatic initiatives misleadingly presented as “maximum pressure”

It is imperative for the well-being of our country, and indeed the world, that the Congress of the United States fulfill its most solemn constitutional responsibility, and impose effective restraints on the war-making actions of this impeached president. This is a moment when partisan politics should be put aside, not only for the sake of national interests but for the benefit of humanity – -we should realize that these unilateral actions by the United States have
put the entire world at risk. It is also a moment when Republicans as well as Democrats must stand up for a sane foreign policy, and for diplomacy and peace instead of aggression and war, and fulfill their duties as Members of Congress.

The Iranian people have endured decades of economic warfare waged by the US and its allies. Since the revolution of 1979 in Iran and the end of a mutually beneficial relationship between the US and Iran’s autocratic leader, the Shah, the US has imposed numerous sanctions on Iran under various guises, threatened it with war and inflicted pain and suffering on its people.
What is desperately needed with respect to Iran is not any further recourse to coercive diplomacy based on escalating threats, crippling sanctions, and tit-for-tat military actions. What is urgently needed is an immediate shift to restorative diplomacy based on mutual respect for international and domestic law, with the objective of peace, stability, and cooperation.

From all that we now know, General Soleimani had come to Iraq without stealth on a commercial plane. He came to Iraq on a diplomatic peacemaking mission at the invitation of the Baghdad Government, and with a meeting scheduled on the following day with the Prime Minister that was part of an ongoing effort to seek a lessening of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In reaction to major violations of its sovereignty, the Iraqi Parliament has voted to expel U.S. troops from their country. In place of what seemed a promising regional initiative the assassination of General Soleimani has resulted in an intensification of conflict, further massive suffering, and the likelihood of dangerous escalation.

We call on Congress to act with urgency to stem this slide toward war and regional chaos.

We urge you to consider imposing ironclad restraints on the authority of the President to make any further use of international force without a clear and definite authorization by the U.S. Congress, which itself should respect the relevant prohibitions of international law and the provisions and procedures of the UN Charter.

Respectfully yours,
Noam Chomsky
Richard Falk
Daniel Ellsberg

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Noam Chomsky: US Is A Rogue State And Suleimani’s Assassination Confirms It

Noam Chomsky

Trump’s decision to assassinate one of Iran’s most prominent and highly respected military leaders, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, has added yet another name to the list of people killed by the U.S. — which many rightly see as the world’s biggest rogue state.

The assassination has escalated hostilities between Tehran and Washington and created an even more explosive situation in the politically volatile Middle East. As was to be expected, Iran has vowed to retaliate on its own terms for the killing of its general, while also announcing that it will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Iraq’s parliament, in turn, has voted to expel all U.S. troops, but Trump has responded with threats of sanctions if the U.S. is forced to remove its troops from the country.

As world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky points out in this exclusive interview for Truthout, the primary aim of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been to control the region’s energy resources. Here Chomsky — a university professor emeritus at MIT and laureate professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona who has published more than 120 books on linguistics, global affairs, U.S. foreign policy, media studies, politics and philosophy — offers his analysis of Trump’s reckless act and its possible effects.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, the U.S. assassination of Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassim Suleimani has reaffirmed Washington’s long-held obsession with Tehran and its clerical regime, which goes all the way back to the late 1970s. What is the conflict between U.S. and Iran all about, and does the assassination of Suleimani constitute an act of war?

Noam Chomsky: Act of war? Perhaps we can settle on reckless international terrorism. It seems that Trump’s decision, on a whim, appalled high Pentagon officials who briefed him on options, on pragmatic grounds. If we wish to look beyond, we might ask how we would react in comparable circumstances.

Suppose that Iran were to murder the second-highest U.S. official, its top general, in the Mexico City international airport, along with the commander of a large part of the U.S.-supported army of an allied nation. Would that be an act of war? Others can decide. It is enough for us to recognize that the analogy is fair enough, and that the pretexts put forth by Washington collapse so quickly on examination that it would be embarrassing to run through them.

Suleimani was greatly respected — not only in Iran, where he was a kind of cult figure. This is recognized by U.S. experts on Iran. One of the most prominent experts, Vali Nasr (no dove, and who detests Suleimani), says that Iraqis, including Iraqi Kurds, “don’t see him as the nefarious figure that the West does, but they see him through the prism of defeating ISIS.” They have not forgotten that when the huge, heavily armed U.S.-trained Iraqi army quickly collapsed, and the Kurdish capital of Erbil, then Baghdad and all of Iraq were about to fall in the hands of ISIS [also known as Daesh], it was Suleimani and the Iraqi Shia militias he organized that saved the country. Not a small matter.

As for what the conflict is all about, the background reasons are not obscure. It has long been a primary principle of U.S. foreign policy to control the vast energy resources of the Middle East: to control, not necessarily to use. Iran has been central to this objective during the post-World War II period, and its escape from the U.S. orbit in 1979 has accordingly been intolerable.

The “obsession” can be traced to 1953, when Britain — the overlord of Iran since oil was discovered there — was unable to prevent the government from taking over its own resources and called on the global superpower to manage the operation. There is no space to review the course of the obsession since in detail, but some highlights are instructive. Read more

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From A Dysfunctional World Order To A Sustainable Future

Em. Prof. dr. Richard Falk

In the interview that follows, Richard Falk, an internationally-renowned scholar of Global Politics and International Law, offers his insights on the contemporary state of world politics and shares his radical vision of the future world order. Richard Falk is Alfred G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law and Practice at Princeton University, where he taught for more than forty years, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Occupied Palestine and Advisor of the POMEAS Project, Istanbul Policy Center, Sabanci University. He has served on scores of Commissions on International Law and Justice and is author and editor of more than fifty books, including (Re)Imagining Humane Global Governance, Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope and Chaos and Counterrevolution: After the Arab Spring.

C. J. Polychroniou is scholar, author and journalist. He has taught at numerous Universities in Europe and the United States, was founder and director of the now defunct Centre for the Study of Globalization in Athens, Greece, and author and editor of scores of books, academic articles and popular essays. His latest books Optimism Over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change (conversations with Noam Chomsky) and The Political Economy of Climate Change and the Global New Deal (conversations with Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin; forthcoming).

C. J. Polychroniou: Richard, I want to start this interview on the state of global affairs near the end of the second decade of the 21st century by moving from the abstract to the concrete. To begin with, it’s regarded as axiomatic that the postwar international liberal order is fracturing and that we are at the same time in the midst of a geopolitical transition where the most prominent characteristic seems to be the decline of the United States as a global superpower. With that in mind, can you offer us a panoramic perspective on the contemporary state of global affairs? In that context, what do you consider to be the primary changes under way, and the emerging challenges and threats to global peace and stability?

Richard Falk: There are many crosscutting tendencies now evident at the global level. At the very time when globalizing challenges are intensifying, the mechanisms available for regional and global cooperation are becoming dangerously less effective. The failure to address climate change, so clearly in the global public interest, is emblematic of a dysfunctional world order system. This failure can be further delineated by reference to two distinct, yet interrelated developments. The first characterized by a vacuum in global leadership, which reflects both the overall decline of the United States as well as its explicit renunciation of such a role by the Trump presidency. Trump proudly proclaims that his only political agenda is shaped by American national interests, declaring he was elected president of the United States, and not the world. The second broader development is the rise of autocrats in almost every important sovereign state, whether by popular will or through imposed rule, resulting in the affirmation of an ultra-nationalist approach to foreign policy, given ideological intensity by chauvinistic and ethnic hostility toward migrants and internal minorities. This kind of exclusionary statism contributes to the emergence of what might be called ‘global Trumpism’ further obstructing global problem-solving, shared solutions to common problems. A discernable effect of these two dimensions of world order is to diminish the relevance and authority of the United Nations and international law, as well as a declining respect for standards of international human rights and a disturbing indifference to global warming and other global scale challenges, including to biodiversity and the stability of major global rainforests.

Overall, what has been emerging globally is a reinvigoration of the seventeenth century Westphalian regional system of sovereign states that arose in Europe after more than a century of devastating religious wars, but under vastly different conditions that now pose dire threats to stability of international relations and the wellbeing of peoples throughout the world. Among these differences are the dependence upon responsible internal behavior by states in an era of growing ecological interdependence. The tolerance of fires in the Amazon rainforest by the Brazilian government for the sake of economic growth, via agrobusiness and logging, endangers a vital global source of biodiversity as well as depletes essential carbon capturing capabilities of the vast forest area, yet there is no way under existing international norms to challenge Brazil’s sovereign prerogative to set its own policy agenda, however irresponsible with respect to the ecological future. Read more

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Nieuwjaar

‘Gelukkig nieuwjaar.’
Het buurmeisje is terug van vakantie.
We lopen naar buiten. Ze vertelt dat ze veel plezier heeft gehad in Brussel.
‘En nu mag je morgen weer naar school.’
‘Daar heb ik zin in”, zegt ze, ‘niet in die toetsen en dat huiswerk, hoor. Maar ik zie mijn klas weer.’
‘Dat is mooi om te horen”, zeg ik.
‘Maar ook verdrietig’, zegt ze, ‘want over een half jaar gaan we uit elkaar. Allemaal naar andere scholen.’

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