We are publishing All the Missing Souls, Amb. Scheffer’s personal history of the war crime tribunals of the 90s and the creation of the International Criminal court. Read more about the book here: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9520.html.
After running across this dual review of Stalin’s Genocides and Bloodlands at The National Review’s site, I found a terrific video of Norman Naimark discussing his book. This video was prepared by Stanford University and they wrote a companion article that is definitely a must-read for anyone interested in how we define genocide.
If you would like to sample this book, try this free excerpt available on our web site: http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9278.pdf
Every Friday afternoon for more than a year, hundreds of Israeli Jews have gathered on a dusty little square in the middle of Arab East Jerusalem. There are some Palestinians there, too, including a couple of boys selling fresh orange juice. The people gather there, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, to protest the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers.
These evictions are humiliating, sometimes violent, and frightening to other Palestinian families – who are in danger of losing their homes as well. Israeli students were the first to organize a protest, known as the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement. They were followed by distinguished professors, famous novelists, and a former attorney general, among others.
At first, the Israeli police used force against the protesters, even though such demonstrations are perfectly legal in Israel. This provoked such bad publicity that the police backed off, while still blocking the road to the new settlements. All the demonstrators can do is hold up signs, bang drums, chant slogans, and show solidarity just by turning up.
Ian Buruma is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College. His latest book is Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (Princeton). He is a regular contributor to many publications, including the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, the Guardian, and the Financial Times.
“Diamonds have an image of purity and light. They are given as a pledge of love and worn as a symbol of commitment. Yet diamonds have led to gruesome murders, as well as widespread rapes and amputations.
Charles Taylor, a former president of Liberia currently facing war crimes charges at a special court in The Hague, is alleged to have used diamonds to fund rebels in Sierra Leone’s civil war. The case against Taylor represents only one of several examples in which diamonds have facilitated widespread human rights violations.
When diamonds’ role in fueling violent conflict in Africa gained worldwide attention, the diamond industry established the Kimberley Process in order to keep ‘blood diamonds’ out of international trade. The initiative has met with some success, although it has not completely halted trade in diamonds from conflict-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Read more at Project Syndicate.
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is also the author of The Expanding Circle: Ethics, Evolution, and Moral Progress. A new edition of this book, with an afterword by Singer, will be available from PUP in June 2011.
Can the French legally ban the burqa?
John R Bowen
France has just passed a law that its prestigious State Council said has no clear legal basis, that may soon be declared unconstitutional, and that would in any case be challenged before the European Court of Human Rights. The general ban on covering the face in public space will lead to fines and ‘education’ for Muslim women wearing what is called the burqa, the niqab or the ‘full veil.’ The measure easily passed the lower house on July 13th, and now goes to the Senate for the expected approval.
It is easy to ridicule the French law: why set the police out to track down the miniscule number of women wearing burqas, who tend to be French-born, not Afghan imports? Why not allow them their religious freedom? Does the law reflect anything more than general Islamophobia and calculated electioneering?
Well, certainly French politicians listened to polls showing strong support for the law, and voting for it may undercut support for the far-right National Front, so simple electoral politics might explain the vote. But politicians could have opted for a more narrowly-tailored ban, one limited to government offices and shops and that would have likely been judged constitutional. They argue that a broad law sends the right message, and that it is constitutional. They make three arguments for its legality, only one of these claims has a chance of being accepted—and it might seem the oddest of the three to those outside France.
The first argument is that the burqa stands for the oppression or the inequality of women. This claim is too abstract to be of legal use—what is it for an item of clothing to have an objective meaning? Moreover, no women are coming forward to complain about having to wear the garment in question. In the absence of a clear harm, the law must tread very lightly.
Others argue that wearing the burqa violates the dignity of the individual. Although the idea of individual dignity is held high in France, it is difficult to translate into law, particularly when it conflicts with individual rights. After a debate in the 1990s over whether “dwarf tossing” violated individual dignity—the State Council ruled that it did but was roundly criticized—France’s courts have given this notion a wide berth, except in the sphere of bioethics and human reproduction.
This leaves a third claim, that covering the face in public violates basic ideas of how French people should live together, and thus offends public moral order, or ordre public. Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie based her argument for the law on this principle, saying that the law would protect French rules of living together, with people able to speak with each other “faces uncovered”.
Such a claim might make little sense in America, but French political ideas give the state a large role in creating a ‘community of citizens’. The state school system is supposed to create a sense of shared citizenship; marriage is supposed to take place only at city hall; the state retains a strong role in everyday life.
But what about individual rights? Does not the French Constitution, itself drawing on the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizens, protect religious beliefs? Indeed it does, but France considers religious practices to be protected only when they are part of religious requirements, as in the case of worship or eating appropriate foods. France routinely limits behavior that in the United States would enjoy First Amendment protections, such as distributing religious materials on the street or dressing in a religious way. And thus the government thinks that it might be able to successfully argue that because burqa-wearing is not required in Islam, and because it violates French ‘public moral order’, the ban does not unduly infringe on the liberty of its citizens.
The next months will see whether France’s Constitutional Council (and perhaps the European Court of Human Rights) sees things in the same way.
When I arrived in Dili, capital of the new nation of Timor Leste (East Timor), in early 2006, much of the town still looked like a war had just ended…That Timor had not yet recovered was hardly surprising. Seven years earlier, in 1999, after the former Portuguese colony occupied by Indonesia since 1975 had voted in a referendum for its independence, pro-Indonesia militias razed the tiny half island. The campaign of slaughter would not have been out of place in the Rwandan genocide or the brutal West African wars…Thousands died, 70 percent of Timor’s infrastructure was destroyed, and nearly half the population of East Timor fled their homes and wound up as refugees.
We are excited to publish Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work later this year. The book is based on a lecture given here at Princeton as part of the Toni Morrison Lecture Series. You can watch Edwidge’s moving presentation here: http://www.princeton.edu/WebMedia/podcast/20080325_danticat.mp4
Read up on her book here: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9262.html
C-SPAN taped the panel: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/293144-4&showFullAbstract=1
From their site: Authors talked about their books about battling oppression. They responded to questions from members of the audience. Marla Stone moderated. The panelists were: Phillip Kearney, Under the Blue Flag: My Mission in Kosovo (Phoenix Books; March 30, 2010); Richard Reeves, Daring Young Men: The Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift – June 1948 – May 1949 (Simon & Schuster; January 5, 2010); and Geoffrey Robinson, “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die”: How Genocide Was Stopped in East Timor (Princeton University Press; November 16, 2009). “Rising Above Oppression” was an 11:00 a.m. PT history panel of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in Haines 39 on the UCLA campus on Saturday, April 24, 2010.
Geoff Robinson, author of “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die” is participating in the LA Festival of Books this week (details of his panel below). Meantime, for those of us who are not in Los Angeles and can’t attend the panel, this video interview from UCLA is fantastic.
Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Saturday, April 24, 11 a.m.
Geoff’s panel is being held on campus at UCLA in Haines 39.
This week is the anniversary of the flare in violence in East Timor following the vote for independence from Indonesia. Kresta in the Afternoon invited Geoff Robinson, author of “If You Leave Us Here, We Will Die” on to discuss his experiences in East Timor during this period of violence and the internationalinterventions required to prevent genocide. What lessons does East Timor offer for the rest of the world?
Two ways to listen in:
Or if you prefer the interview without the visuals, listen here.