CHANGE COMES TO KUWAIT:
As six years of turmoil in Iraq have clearly demonstrated, the transition to democracy in the Persian Gulf can be painfully slow. The
United Arab Emirates
, home to the Gulf’s financial capital, Dubai, limits women’s suffrage to a few hundred state-nominated electors, while US ally
still denies women the right to vote. Until four years ago the same was true of Kuwait, where men have had the right to vote since shortly after the nation was granted independence from Britain nearly half a century ago.
Universal suffrage came to Kuwait in 2005, and after three contests in which no women were elected, four were voted into the Gulf’s oldest elected parliament on May 17.
, who had previously been appointed Kuwait’s first female cabinet member, and
, both university lecturers, join women’s rights activist
in the fifty-member National Assembly. All four hold doctorates from US universities, and two, Awadhi and Dashti, do not wear Islamic headscarves.
The election results included a further bit of good news for the million women who live in Kuwait: the Islamic fundamentalist bloc, which opposes women’s suffrage and right to run for office, saw its share of seats in parliament decrease. Indeed, the day after the voting Secretary of State
, in her commencement address at Barnard College, described the historic elections as “a major step forward for Kuwait, the region and, I would argue, the world.” CORBIN HIAR
The world of letters lost an inimitable voice on May 25, when journalist and historian
died in Italy, at 82. For decades, Elon’s stylish essays graced the pages of The New York Review of Books, where he wrote about a wide range of subjects, most notably Israel/Palestine, to which his Viennese parents fled in 1933, when he was a child. Elon went on to become the leading journalist of his generation, the Washington correspondent for Ha’aretz and the author of numerous acclaimed books, including the superb The Israelis: Founders and Sons. Yet he grew increasingly estranged from Israel in the decades after the 1967 Six-Day War, bitterly disappointed by his country’s rightward turn toward religiosity, militarism and jingoistic nationalism.
Elon eventually packed up his belongings and moved to Tuscany in 2004. He expressed some of this bitterness (along with a sense of battle fatigue) in an interview that year with Ha’aretz‘s columnist
. “Nothing has changed here in the last 40 years,” he complained. “The problems are exactly the same as they always were. The solutions were already known back then. But no one paid attention to them.”
And yet, into his 80s, Elon continued to write about those problems with a depth and seriousness that was rarely matched by less critical (and less informed) observers. His voice will be missed. His work and the high standard he set remain to be appreciated and emulated. EYAL PRESS