Category Archives: This Week’s Reads

An aggregate of the week’s selected readings; generally op-ed articles, think pieces, or important bits of information I feel should be read, regardless of my opinion on the content or the author(s); ideally updated on a weekly basis at the end of each week.

Readings: Weeks of October 30, November 6, and November 13 (2016)

This post consists of some of my selected readings from the week before the 2016 presidential election, the week of the election, and the week after the election. Because of the sheer number and magnitude of events that took place during this short yet tumultuous period, I don’t have the time to share all of my thoughts on the individual readings. However, I am sharing them here nonetheless as a reference.

Week of October 30 – November 5 (Pre-Election Week)

Week of November 6 – November 12 (Election Week)

Week of November 13 – November 19 (Post-Election Week)

This is it for now.

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Readings: Week of October 23, 2016

This week’s readings are divided into three topics: U.S. politics leading up to the historic 2016 election which is right around the corner; the Middle East; and some miscellaneous thought-provoking pieces that I think were worth reading. Enjoy!

U.S. politics leading up to the 2016 election

The Middle East 

Thought-provoking 

Readings: Week of October 16, 2016

The first reading delves into what’s colloquially known as ‘secret law,’ which are essentially laws and procedures that allow the government to bypass traditional checks and balances to expand its jurisdiction in order to protect national security interests. These procedures, signed off by the Executive branch of government, are not open to scrutiny because they are shrouded in secrecy, which sets a dangerous precedent signaling to future administrations that accountability plays no role in creating and enacting laws. This piece argues for more accountability through mechanisms such as inter-agency decisions as to what should be made secret, the creation of more specific standards for secrecy, limitations on length of secrecy, and Congressional public oversight. The two readings right after it talk about these ‘secret laws’ in practice; the first one is about the CIA’s torture program, and the second is about secretive military campaigns in Somalia.

There couldn’t have been a more timelier moment for their publication, considering that President Obama will be leaving office soon, and it will be up to his successor to inherit the responsibility of addressing (or redressing) the precedents that the Obama administration has standardized.

The next two readings focus on two Muslim-majority countries that have found themselves — tragically — at the center of foreign policy discussions. The first is about the campaign to retake the ISIS-occupied Iraqi city of Mosul, which was taken by ISIS in the summer of 2014 and has remained under its control since then. The piece discusses the local implications of the battle, which parties are involved, and the benefits and harms of different approaches to the battle. It’s a starter for anyone seeking to closely follow what will be one of the most decisive — and difficult — battles against ISIS.

The reading right after it is about Aleppo and the perpetual atrocities that it continues to endure. The criminal silence and indifference that humanity has collectively displayed in the face of our century’s worst humanitarian disaster is damning; so damning that the consequences of our inaction (or, arguably, or counter-intuitive action)  will be felt for the next half-century. It is a moralistic piece that interrogates our very sense of shared humanity, asking us to be true to it, and demanding of us to do better. To that effect, it asks a discomforting rhetorical question explaining perhaps why the world has done nothing: Is it because the people of Aleppo are Muslim?

The piece right after it is just as important, as it highlights the parties primarily responsible for an overwhelming majority of not only the atrocities in Aleppo, but of the Syrian Civil War as a whole. It then proposes policy initiatives that the United States and the international community can — or rather, must — take to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The last piece is written by someone who survived the siege on Sarajevo, and it is written against the backdrop of the siege happening today in Aleppo. This piece goes in-depth as to what factors in Sarajevo (like local and foreign journalists highlighting what was taking place) mobilized the international community to act.

The next two readings are about Israel and Palestine. The first one is a short read on the recent UNESCO resolution relating to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, a holy site revered by all three Abrahamic faiths (the holiest in Judaism and third holiest in Islam). The original resolution referred to the site exclusively by its Muslim name, leading many to read it as a rejection of any Jewish connection it has, despite the fact that it made a general affirmation of the site’s importance to all three Abrahamic faiths. The article speaks about the resolution itself, which was intended as a political resolution and not a religious one, and discusses how despite the politics, the historical context and religious sensitivities of the site demand precise language. It argues that there is too much at stake for there to be anything but precise, inclusive naming of the site, because for whatever little pragmatic stability exists there, anything other than a precise naming can be read as a “final allocation” of the site and result in further conflict.

The second piece is a bit more uplifting: It talks about Israeli and Palestinian women from all spectra coming together and marching for peace and justice, all the way up to the Prime Minister’s house. At the culmination of the march was a rally with speeches from women on both sides, who spoke of a shared future based on mutual association, understanding, solidarity, empathy, and hope.

This piece is about a group of Muslim women in India who’ve taken on the role of Islamic judges as a means of empowering themselves. Female judges thrived in Islamic antiquity but modern-day patriarchal norms have resulted in a monopolization of knowledge and its production as a realm exclusive to men.

These two pieces discuss masculinity in the backdrop of a Trump campaign and the fragility of the male ego.

A sociological explanation as to how Trump and the GOP as a whole are losing whatever hold they had of white college graduates.

A well-written article by Bret Stephens which reminds American conservative Jews about the history of right-wing antisemitism and how it has begun to resurface thanks to Donald Trump

An important reading on the psychology of victim-blaming and the culture surrounding it.

An opinion piece written by a disabled man making the case for why he and others with disabilities are more than just their disabilities and that they should not be boxed into this one category.

An uplifting piece about a synagogue that asks its congregation to remember that they too were once refugees during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

An explanation as to how liberals and progressives from the South and the Midwest have all slowly moved into eastern coastal states and clustered into environments with like-minded people, thereby imperiling the swing-state status of their former residential states and leaving large swaths of the country as conservative strongholds.

Readings: Week of October 9, 2016

(Note: Late post, but an important one nonetheless)

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A lot happened during this week, so I’ve split the readings into categories. I think they each contain vital information and knowledge critical to today’s discourse, but there are a few in particular that really stuck out to me, and I hope to write about them in a separate post soon.

Section I: The 2016 U.S. Election Cycle

Section II: Civil Rights, Racial (In)justice, Social (In)justice

Section III: The Middle East

Section IV: General History

Readings: Week of October 2, 2016

This week’s readings were heavily focused on moral philosophy and law. One particular short reading from this list that stood out to me was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s essay, written when she was only 13. It was inspiring to me because it demonstrated her palpable cognizance of the debilitating effects of a World War, her apt awareness of a disintegrating social order, and her incredible foresight in acknowledging the obstacles that lie ahead, but most importantly, it illustrated her indefatigable resolve to face all of these challenges head-on. For Ginsburg, this writing was a preamble. After Bergen-Belsen is liberated, she urges her readers not to fall into forgetfulness and complacency, in a manner that highlights both a sense of urgency that humanity must come together, and an unwavering hope that such togetherness is indeed possible. Every nation must “meet together in good faith,” she states, because we are bound together as one human family. When the purveyors of justice and compassion meet in mutual association, then, and only then, can the world be fully repaired. All of this at the tender age of 13.

Readings: Week of September 25, 2016

This is my first post in this category, and I’m writing it well into the next week, but since it’s the first post, it’ll be an exception. Here are some important reads from last week: