The Fire These Times

The Fire These Times

By Joey Ayoub
The Fire These Times is a podcast hosted by Joey Ayoub focusing on building mutual aid connections for the 21st century through conversations with protesters, organisers, activists, writers, academics and artists. It is focused on the MENA region but globally oriented.

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The Legacy of Samir Kassir 15 Years On
This is an in-depth conversation with Ziad Majed, a Lebanese writer and Program Coordinator for Middle East Pluralities at the American University of Paris. Ziad was one of the founders of the Democratic Left Movement (DLM) in Lebanon, one of the few independent and leftwing groups that came out of the anti-Assad mobilisation that followed the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005. The DLM soon found two of its prominent figures assassinated: George Hawi, former secretary general of the Lebanese Communist Party, and Samir Kassir, the man we'll be talking about in this episode. Samir Kassir was assassinated on this day 15 years ago, June 2nd 2005, with a car bomb just outside of his house in Beirut. Born to a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, Kassir brought together his multiple identities with his principled opposition against both Israeli and Syrian occupations of Lebanon to create a unique persona. I wanted to have Ziad on because he was 'there'. He saw first-hand some of the major events that defined Lebanon in the past three decades, and he saw his friends pay the ultimate price for their principled stances. He himself also had to pay a price due to the increasing threats made against him. Naturally, we also spoke about what Samir represented, about Syria, Lebanon and Palestine and how and why they are interrelated, and about why it's two prominent anti-Assad leftist intellectuals, Samir Kassir and, later, George Hawi who were assassinated first after Hariri's assassination. We spoke about the Syrian revolution, the role of the Assad regime in Syria and Lebanon, the intsrumentalisation of the Palestinian cause by authoritarian regimes and groups, the difficulties in dealing with Hezbollah and the recent October uprising in Lebanon. There was a particular focus on the Syrian occupation of Lebanon since it is linked to the assassination of Samir Kassir and George Hawi. We spoke about how Hezbollah took over the Assad regime's role in Lebanon and its relationship with the Iranian regime's foreign policy. We also spoke about how the sectarian groups within March 14 preferred to deal with Hezbollah and Amal rather than deal with independent Shia voices, as that would have meant dealing with independent Christian, Druze and Sunni voices, and thus feeling threatened 'from within'. This is a long conversation but one which I think will stand the test of time. I wanted us to do justice to Samir Kassir's legacy and I hope we succeeded. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. If you cannot donate you can still help by reviewing this podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Music by Tarabeat. Photo by Syrian Banksy in Idlib.
1:46:34
June 2, 2020
Intervention: Street Action #BlackLivesMatter
This is a PSA from the Channel Zero Network. I'm posting it here in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. Justice for the murder of George Floyd and for all of those brutalised and murdered by the police everywhere in the world. As protests heat up, the Channel Zero Network has some reminders on how to stay safe while out in the streets. Bring buddies and don’t let them out of the range of your voice. Write a legal aid number on your body so you can get help if you get  arrested. Be sure to know your buddies legal names and birthdays. You’ll  need these to help find them if they’re arrested. When moving around, walk don’t run. Stick together. Turn off your phone while out in the street to avoid surveillance of  your location and so as not to have your unlocked phone taken by the  authorities or other bad actors. Try your best not to stick out in a crowd. Cover up tattoos with clothing or body paint. Cops will use footage from the protest to try to  identify you. Wear clothes that are good for moving quickly. Avoid wearing jewelry and wear closed toe shoes. Wear your mask at all times, even if you’re talking to someone in order to guard yourself against surveillance, covid 19, pepper spray,  and tear gas. Avoid wearing contact lenses. Bring goggles of some kind in case of tear gas or pepper spray. Consider wearing bike helmets as police often cause head injuries with batons and other weapons. Don’t take photos or video of people doing anything illegal or with their face uncovered. Whenever possible, film the cops, not the protesters. ONLY PUT WATER IN YOUR EYES. Don’t use milk or baking soda or anything else. Clean water is the safest thing to use at a protest. If possible, bring a water bottle to drink from and a water bottle to flush  out eyes of any comrades who are maced or tear-gassed. And white comrades are encouraged to follow the lead of black and brown comrades, as they bear the brunt of state brutality. Follow Unicorn Riot and Channel Zero Network member It’s Going Down for ongoing updates. The Channel Zero Network sends y’all solidarity.  Stay safe out there and never stop fighting for a better world.
01:46
June 2, 2020
Resistance, Rescue and Waging Non-Violence
This is a conversation with Bryan Farell, one of the founders of Waging Nonviolence. He also hosts the podcast City of Refuge, the topic of this episode. City of Refuge is a 10-part series from Waging Nonviolence which explores a little-known WWII rescue story, showing what happens when ordinary people won’t ignore the horrors surrounding them. It is the story of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a small village which sits on a 3,000-foot high plateau in South-Central France. During World War II, Le Chambon's people — along with those of several surrounding villages — sheltered, fed and protected around 5,000 refugees, including 3,500 Jews. Even more incredibly, they did this while openly rejecting Nazism, as well as its collaborators in the French Vichy government. We spoke about the story of Le Chambon and its people and what it meant to be waging non-violence. We argued that non-violence should be seen as a set of actions rather than the widespread misconception portraying it as akin to 'doing nothing'. Non-violence is active, not passive. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. If you cannot donate you can still help by reviewing this podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Music by Tarabeat. 
48:19
May 31, 2020
Bellingcat: Fact-Checking in a Post-Truth World
This is a conversation with Eliot Higgins, founder and executive director of Bellingcat, an online open-source investigation collective. Bellingcat rose to prominence over its team's investigation of the  downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July of 2014 by Russian-backed  separatists in eastern Ukraine, which killed all 298 passengers on  board. The evidence, which linked that group to the Russian army's 53rd  Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade, was later confirmed by the joint investigation team (JIT) which includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, Australia, and Malaysia. So I spoke to Eliot about that case and about some of the many  investigations that Bellingcat has done in the past six years. Among the  cases mentioned are: the Latamneh and Ghouta chemical attacks by the Assad regime in Syria in 2017 and 2013 respectively; ISIS' oil  refineries and the environmental and humanitarian catastrophes they've  caused; the US bombing of Al-Jineh Mosque in Aleppo in 2017; the Skripal  Affair in the UK; the Saudi bombings in Yemen; and Europol's #StopChildAbuse campaigns. One thing I wanted to focus on is how Bellingcat's investigative  techniques can be used in both human rights and journalism worlds. So  while this episode features a lot of concrete examples, we also spoke  about how anyone listening to this podcast can take part in these  investigations following well-established and always-developing tools  and techniques. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. If you cannot donate you can still help by reviewing this podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
46:00
May 25, 2020
Syria, Performativity, and Being Rooted in the Local
This is a conversation with Shiyam Galyon. She's a Syrian-American feminist writer who currently leads communications at War Resisters League, the oldest secular antiwar organization in the United States. Shiyam has been thinking a lot about topics that I felt were important for us to discuss further for a wider audience. She's able to skillfully tie in her support of the Syrian revolution with her support for LGBTQ rights everywhere, as well as explore the tensions around the right to narrate in both homeland and diaspora communities. We also spoke about my relationship to Beirut and the very idea of being rooted in the local, and we even touched upon recognising the importance of time and the fact that it should be okay to say that you don't know something in activist circles. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Music by Tarabeat. Photo via the UN on Unsplash, modified for this blog post. Original by Adam Niklewicz.
1:01:47
May 22, 2020
Building Mutual Aid in Lebanon
This is a conversation with Ayman Makarem. He’s a Lebanon-based writer and filmmaker who recently wrote essays on mutual aid in Lebanon for The Public Source. One of the themes of The Fire These Times is to promote  mutual aid for the 21st century so I was really looking forward to speaking with Ayman about this. In addition to reading his essay, this  has been a topic that we’ve been discussing since Lebanon’s October 2019  uprising. We both found that there were structures that were lacking within  revolutionary settings in Lebanon that could allow for a much longer-lasting movement, and the same could be said for most of the rest  of the world. Mutual Aid is simply voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Most of us already practice it with family, friends and/or our communities without really feeling  the need to label it anyway. The problem starts with the fact that Mutual Aid is seen as something  that arises out of a state of exception. For example, as we go through  an ongoing pandemic more people everywhere around the world have been  reported to be willing to adopt ‘exceptional’ societal measures such as a  guaranteed temporary monthly income, temporarily canceling rent or forgiving debt, depending on the country and situation. But what those of us arguing for Mutual Aid argue for is that we shouldn’t need a state of exception to think of ways to build a fairer  society, and we obviously believe that Mutual Aid is one way of doing  that. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Music by Tarabeat. Relevant links: Izraa Facebook Group Habaq Facebook Group Leila Al Shami on Syrian Anarchist thinker Omar Aziz
56:12
May 19, 2020
Taiwan Since the 2014 Sunflower Movement
This is a conversation with Brian Hioe, one of the founding editors of New Bloom Magazine which came out of Taiwan's 2014 Sunflower Movement, in which Brian also participated. The topics covered in this episode are numerous which is why I really wanted to have Brian on and use his encyclopedic knowledge of Taiwan and the region to give us an overview of the complicated history and recent political developments of Taiwan - and why they matter. This is the second episode in The Fire These Times' series focusing on Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. The first episode was with JP of the Hong Kong leftwing collective Lausan. By the end of this episode you would have hopefully gained a better idea of Taiwan's political history and more recent developments. Brian spoke about: The 2014 Sunflower Movement and its significance, including the impact that Occupy Wall Street had on it; The role of independent media including New Bloom and its associated Day Break project; The subsequent elections (2016 and 2020) and their significance; Taiwan's generational shift, with younger generations increasingly identifying as Taiwanese and not Chinese; The multi-faceted relationship between Hongkongers and Taiwanese, especially the younger generations involved in protest movements in both countries; Taiwan's very complicated relationship to the 'international community', here referring to the United Nations and its various bodies as well as other nation states; The role of UN agencies including the World Health Organisation in erasing Taiwanese identity, recently highlighted by Taiwan's succesful handling of the COVID19 Pandemic; China's role in trying to de-facto annex Taiwan including the possibility of a military invasion; The failures of China's stated 'one country, two systems' policy'; Taiwan's indigenous history as well as its past under Japanese occupation; The waves of Chinese migrations to Taiwan including the KMT-lead one in December 1949 - following the Communist Party of China's victory in the Chinese Civil War - which produced a sort of 'sub-ethnic' group of people that include Brian himself; The KMT's decades-long one-party rule of Taiwan as a right-wing dictatorship backed by the United States and other countries; The 1970s UN resolution recognizing the People's Republic of China (PRC) as "the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations", hence unrecognizing Taiwan; and I also spoke a bit about some of the similarities between Taiwan and Lebanon. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Music by Tarabeat. 
47:21
May 18, 2020
On Primo Levi, the Lebanese Revolution and Life in the Midst of History
This is a conversation with Lina Mounzer. She's a Beirut-based writer and translator who, like me, took part in the October and post-October protests. I wanted to catch up with her to talk about how she started preparing for the worst yet to come very early on. This anticipation - of economic hardship, of violence - is a widespread phenomenon in Lebanon but not a lot of people are able to express it so accurately like Lina does. I know I've struggled to do so. Lina experienced the ups and downs of the revolution. She wrote the moods and experiences and facts in her diaries as it was happening, and she has clearly deeply thought about what the past several months in Lebanon have meant, and even the past few decades. We talked about Lebanon, about revolution as a 'feeling greater than love' (which is also the title of a Lebanese film), and why many people actually miss the civil war, or rather are so tired of the present's uncertainty that the past's certainties, however horrible, were easier to digest. And we even talked about the impact that the Italian Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi's writings have had on her. This is why I was really looking forward to having this chat with her, and I hope you also enjoy it. The first part of this convo is roughly around this essay of hers for LitHub: Letter from Beirut: From Revolution to Pandemic. You can find the remaining articles on the website. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Music by Tarabeat. The featured photo is a modified version of the featured photo on the LitHub article.
53:35
May 15, 2020
Our Women on the Ground
This is a conversation with Lebanese-British journalist and editor Zahra Hankir. She's the editor of the award-winning, best-selling anthology Our Women on the Ground which features 19 women reporters from the Middle East and North Africa. The book includes essay by Donna Abu-Nasr, Aida Alami, Hannah Allam,  Jane Arraf, Lina Attalah, Nada Bakri, Shamael Elnoor, Zaina Erhaim,  Asmaa al-Ghoul, Hind Hassan, Eman Helal, Zeina Karam, Roula Khalaf, Nour  Malas, Hwaida Saad, Amira Al-Sharif, Heba Shibani, Lina Sinjab, and  Natacha Yazbeck. Zahra spoke to me about the formation of this book and how she started  following some of these reporters in the context of the 2011 uprisings  throughout the region. I also asked her about how women reporters in the  region navigate gender-based discrimination to get the stories they  want told as well as her reflections on the politics of representation  in the Western world. This advertisement at the beginning of the episode is by the Ethiopian group Egna Legna,  which The Fire These Times supports. Please consider visiting their  website, checking out their crucial work and seeing how you can help  them fight the racist Kafala system and patriarchy in Lebanon. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Music by Tarabeat. 
46:56
May 13, 2020
Guapa, Marco and living Fernando Pessoa’s dreamlife in Lisbon
This is a conversation with writer Saleem Haddad, author of the novel Guapa and the director of the short film Marco, now available for free online. We spoke about both Guapa and Marco as well as his contribution to the science fiction anthology Palestine+100. We also spoke about his connection to Fernando Pessoa’s the Book of Disquiet while living in Pessoa’s city, Lisbon. We spoke about identity and its relationship to languages, the circumstances around his move to Lisbon  from London, his struggle with his own Queer Arab identity and our complicated relationship to what we call ‘home’. Saleem also asked me about my passion for James Baldwin which I was happy to answer. Quick disclaimer: our conversation on Marco contains spoilers so I’d  urge you all to first watch it on YouTube. It’s around 20 minutes long  and I promise you that you’ll enjoy it. Another disclaimer is that the  Pessoa essay that Saleem wrote contains mention of suicide so please  take your mindset into consideration when reading it, which you  definitely also should! You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Marco on Youtube (21:58) Saleem Haddad’s interview on BBC Arabic Saleem’s essay on Fernando Pessoa The 2020 ‘The Amazing James Baldwin‘ course James Baldwin’s interview in Amsterdam My review of Palestine+100 which includes Saleem’s short story
1:06:45
May 8, 2020
What the Lebanese should know about Ethiopia
This is a conversation with Zecharias Zelalem. He's an Ethiopian journalist with Addis Standard as well as a freelance journalist focusing on the Horn of Africa region. More recently, Zelalem has also been investigating widespread abuses of Ethiopian migrant domestic workers in the Middle East, and in particular Lebanon. This is why I wanted to have this conversation with Zecharias. The conversation around the abusive Kafala system in Lebanon rarely includes the stories of the people who leave their homes to go work in a stranger's house in another country. This episode is the third on the Kafala system in Lebanon focusing on Ethiopian migrant domestic workers, who constitute the majority of those working in Lebanon. Migrant Domestic Workers are, alongside the rest of the labor force, the primary force keeping Lebanon running. And yet, despite their central role, they are regularly ignored alongside the widespread abuses affecting them. In a previous episode, I spoke with Banchi Yimer, founder of Egna Legna who define themselves as “community-based feminist activists working on migrant domestic workers’ issues and general women’s issues in Lebanon and Ethiopia.” You can find it here. And in an earlier episode I spoke with Sami, a Beirut-based Ethiopian activist with, Mesewat, a solidarity network that supports migrant workers in Lebanon and the Middle East, and Ali, an activist with the Anti-Racism Movement. It was recorded at one of the Migrant Community Centers in Beirut. You can find it here. You can find these episodes on your podcast app or on the website - they are at number 2 and 5. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.
48:24
May 2, 2020
The second wave of the Lebanon protests
This is a conversation with Nadim El Kak. He’s a researcher at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies with a background in sociology and political science. I wanted to have Nadim on after reading his Twitter thread on the second wave of the Lebanon protests, which you can find here. Is Lebanon undergoing a second wave of protests? And how do they differ from the October 2019 ones? You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.
32:39
May 1, 2020
The legacy of Yiddish Bundism
Molly Crabapple and I have been chatting about this topic for a long time so this was a really fun episode to do. Although it was (roughly) my MA thesis in 2016, Molly has a much more personal connection to the Jewish Labor Bund and Bundism as her great-grandfather, Sam Rothbort, was a Bundist. She wrote a moving piece about this for the New York Review of Books which you can read here. She's now writing a book about the Bund. So who are these Bundists? How does Molly view the legacy of Bundism? What can we learn from the concept of 'Doikayt' (here-ness) that they believed in? This is what this conversation is about. I also tried to - and, hopefully, succesfully - to convey why I, as someone of Lebanese and Palestinian origins with no direct ties to Judaism or the Yiddish language, was so interested in this movement.  You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.
1:09:31
April 30, 2020
Revolution, disenchantment and the Lebanese New Left
This is a conversation with Dr Fadi Bardawil, Assistant Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University and the author of the book "Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation". I wanted to have this conversation with Dr Bardawil because his study of the 1960s 'Arab New Left', and especially the 'Lebanese New Left' of that period, evoked curious comparisons to what protesters in Lebanon are having to face today as well. The experience of the 1960s Lebanese New Left offers insights into how intellectuals struggled with the questions of theory and practice and of how to transform societies despite all their contradictions. As you'll hear in the conversation, Dr Bardawil, who is of the civil war generation, is very much in conversation with the generation that came before his. At the same time, and for different reasons, I, as someone from the postwar generation, am in conversation with the war generation. As such we managed, hopefully succesfully, to have three generations of Lebanese briefly conversing with one another. I hope you'll enjoy this conversation as much as I did. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options. Here's the abstract of his book: "The Arab Revolutions that began in 2011 reignited interest in the question of theory and practice, imbuing it with a burning political urgency. In Revolution and Disenchantment Fadi A. Bardawil redescribes for our present how an earlier generation of revolutionaries, the 1960s Arab New Left, addressed this question. Bardawil excavates the long-lost archive of the Marxist organization Socialist Lebanon and its main theorist, Waddah Charara, who articulated answers in their political practice to fundamental issues confronting revolutionaries worldwide: intellectuals as vectors of revolutionary theory; political organizations as mediators of theory and praxis; and nonemancipatory attachments as impediments to revolutionary practice. Drawing on historical and ethnographic methods and moving beyond familiar reception narratives of Marxist thought in the postcolony, Bardawil engages in "fieldwork in theory" that analyzes how theory seduces intellectuals, cultivates sensibilities, and authorizes political practice. Throughout, Bardawil underscores the resonances and tensions between Arab intellectual traditions and Western critical theory and postcolonial theory, deftly placing intellectuals from those traditions into a much-needed conversation."
54:57
April 29, 2020
Being the good immigrant in an ungrateful country
I spoke with Berlin-based British writer, poet, broadcaster and musician Musa Okwonga, who also co-hosts the popular football podcast Stadio. Musa frequently writes for The Bylines Times and for The Guardian, among others. Musa was a guest of my previous podcast, Hummus For Thought, and I wanted to have him on here to hear his reflections of these past several weeks now under social distancing. We spoke about his experience growing up black in the UK, his move to Germany and how both countries have dealth with the Covid-19 pandemic. We also spoke about the treatment of refugees trying to reach Fortress Europe's borders, how the world failed Syria and about the importance of acknowledging how widespread the dehumanisation of racialised groups of people has become. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon or on BuyMeACoffee.com. You can also do so directly on PayPal if you prefer. Patreon is for monthly, PayPal is for one-offs and BuyMeACoffee has both options.
1:07:10
April 26, 2020
Independent media versus the Lebanese oligarchy
This is a conversation with Julia Choucair Vizoso, an independent scholar trained as a political scientist as well as an editor and translator at The Public Source, a Beirut-based independent media organization which describes itself as such: "dedicated to reporting on socioeconomic and environmental crises afflicting Lebanon since the onset of neoliberal governance in the 90s, and providing political commentary on events unfolding since October 17." She is also is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Arab Reform Initiative, collaborating on the Programme on Sustainable and Inclusive Environmental Policy in the MENA Region. I wanted to talk to Julia because she's well-placed to explain how the Lebanese oligarchy operates and how or if the October 17th revolution has threatened it. You can read part one and part two of her essay on The Public Source. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. This episode supports Egna Legna. You can support them here and listen to my interview with their founder Banchi Yimer here.
36:12
April 25, 2020
COVID-19, Travel and Building Solidarity
This is part two of my chat with Matt Dagher-Margosian, a Taiwan-based Lebanese-Armenian American who founded Asia Art Tours, an art and activism-oriented organisation, and who is also the host of the highly recommended The Arts of Travel podcast. Part one is the episode entitled '‘Whiteness’, Migration and Identity'. This is one of those episodes that are difficult to describe because the topic is one of those currently 'frozen' by the Covid-19 pandemic: travel. I wanted Matt to reflect on what traveling actually means now that most of us cannot do so anymore. How do we differenciate between travelers and migrants? Can travel be used to build solidarity instead of reproducing oppressive power structures? I've found Matt to be a deep thinker, one who takes the time to read about as many places as possible and be able to engage critically with questions surrounding liberatory politics in Asia and beyond. His own experience, I believe, might be able to inform yours and I would be curious as to some of your reflections to this episode. You can send them on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes (DMs are open if you don't want to do it publicly). You can also support this podcast on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub (and you can leave messages there as well). Music by Tarabeat.  This episode supports Egna Legna. You can support them here and listen to my interview podcast with their founder in the episode entitled 'Lebanon’s Migrant Domestic Workers: Between the Coronavirus and Slavery'.
1:09:48
April 21, 2020
Syria, Journalism and the Cost of Indifference
This is a conversation with Kareem Shaheen, former Beirut- and Istanbul-based The Guardian correspondent for Turkey and the Middle East, current analyst on the region as well as a writer for satirical Arabic news publication Al-Hudood. He is currently based in Montreal, Canada. We spoke about the importance of journalism given the lack of justice and accountability in Syria, the Middle East and beyond that should, in more ideal settings, come out of the kind of investigative and critical journalism that he does. We also spoke about his visit to Khan Sheykoun two days after the Assad regime's 2017 chemical attack on the town as well as his reflections on this 'nightmare decare' for the Arab and Muslim worlds. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. Image by The Syrian People Know Their Way, modified by myself. Music by Tarabeat. Logo design by Carl Farra.
57:45
April 17, 2020
‘Whiteness’, Migration and Identity
This is a conversation with Matt Dagher-Margosian, a Taiwan-based Lebanese-Armenian American who founded Asia Art Tours, an art and activism-oriented organisation, and is also the host of the highly recommended The Arts of Travel podcast. Matt first had me on his podcast in November of 2019 to talk about the then-ongoing uprising in Lebanon. Since then, we’ve  become good friends and have tried together to find answers to some of  the difficult questions around identity and the left (and its failures). In this first of a two-parts conversation, we spoke about the  limitations of the ‘whiteness’ category in an American context and in  particular with regards to his own background as a Lebanese-Armenian  American. Given that Matt is based in Taiwan, speaks Mandarin Chinese  and regularly talks to interesting guests from around Asia and beyond on  his podcast, we also spoke about Taiwan, Hong Kong and their struggles  for recognition in the shadow of China’s massive influence on the world  stage. We also spoke about how Taiwan has dealt with the Covid-19  pandemic despite being excluded, at China’s request, from the World  Health Organisation. Associated Blog Post: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/04/15/09-whiteness-migration-and-identity/ You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. Featured photo was taken by Mariam Grigoryan on Unsplash, modified by myself. Music by Tarabeat. Logo design by Carl Farra. This episode is in solidarity with Mangal Media. Check out their work at mangalmedia.net
1:12:52
April 15, 2020
Lebanon’s October Uprising, Six Months Later
This is a conversation with Lebanese journalist Timour Azhari of Al  Jazeera (previously The Daily Star) about the legacy of the October 17  uprising six months since it began. We spoke about the current state of  Lebanese politics, the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, the  country’s most vulnerable groups and what protesters might be expected  to face once the pandemic is over. You can read Azhari’s work on Al Jazeera here as well as his archives at The Daily Star here. He is also very active on Twitter with regular updates on Lebanese affairs. Associated blog post: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/04/13/08-lebanons-october-uprising-six-months-later/ You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. This episode is dedicated to the work of Syrian Eyes. Please check out their fundraising to help prevent a large-scale escalation of the Covid-19 outbreak in refugee settlements in Lebanon.
52:22
April 13, 2020
Denying Genocide, from Halabja to Ghouta
This is a conversation with Sabrîna Azad. She's a writer who published a moving piece for Mangal Media entitled 'From Halabja to Ghouta' in which she looked at how deniers of Assad's war crimes in Syria were evoking painful memories for survivors of Saddam Hussein's genocidal campaigns against Kurds. She spoke about the legacy of the Halabja massacre, part of the Anfal genocide of the late 80s, as well as the 1991 uprisings against Saddam and why they offer better insight into the world's reaction to Syria since 2011 than the more frequently mentioned 2003 invasion of Iraq does. You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes. You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. Associated blog Post available on TheFireTheseTi.Me https://thefirethisti.me/2020/04/11/07-genocide-denialism-from-halabja-to-ghouta/
45:25
April 11, 2020
Lebanon's October 17 Revolution/ A Country in Fragments
This is a repost of an episode I did with Dr Andrew Arsan, British-Lebanese scholar and author of the book Lebanon: A Country in Fragments, and which was originally released on the Hummus For Thought podcast. I'm releasing it here as an introduction to a series of upcoming episodes on Lebanon that will deal with the October 17th Uprising and its meanings. The Uprising will serve as a framework through which my guests and I will try to understand the post-war era of Lebanese history, from 1990 to the present moment, as well as some topics dating further back.  We will highlight groups of people that are usually ignored in discussions around Lebanon, including by the Lebanese themselves, such as refugees and migrant workers in Lebanon, including migrant domestic workers (check out the Kafala series), the LGBTQ community, as well as Lebanese Jews, Lebanese Kurds and Lebanese of part African or Asian origins.  We will also be looking at Lebanon's relationship with Palestinians, Syrians, Israelis, Iranians, the Arab world and the West as well as dive into such light topics as Lebanese identity and the diaspora, Hezbollah's role in the region and at home and the environmental threats facing the country. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Spotify, Castro, Pocket Casts, and RSS. More to come! You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes.  You can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee.com @joeyayoub. You can support Egna Legna's campaign to bring food and aid to victims of the Kafala system in Lebanon by clicking here. Featured photo is from the cover of Lebanon: A Country in Fragments. Associated Blog Post: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/04/08/06-lebanons-october-17-revolution-a-country-in-fragments/
54:52
April 8, 2020
Lebanon’s Migrant Domestic Workers: Between the Coronavirus and Slavery
I spoke with Banchi Yimer, founder of Egna Legna who define themselves as “community-based feminist activists working on  migrant domestic workers’ issues and general women’s issues in Lebanon and Ethiopia.” She spoke to me about the Kafala System, the impacts of the economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic on migrant domestic workers in Lebanon as well as her ongoing trauma after working in Lebanon for seven years. Yimer recently wrote a piece for The Public Source entitled “The Lebanese Revolution: A New Chapter of Kafala Misery“.  Among their activities are various workshops teaching various skills to  domestic workers in Lebanon, financial assistant, educational videos, establishing shelters, legal assistance as well as a brochure of  Lebanon’s bus map in Amharic, Ethiopia’s dominant language. They also  take part in the relevant demonstrations, such as the yearly Labor Day organised with the Alliance of Migrant Domestic Workers in Lebanon.   They seek to, among other things, have the Lebanese government  include domestic workers in the country’s labor laws (they currently are  excluded), as well as fight gender-based violence and racism. To put it  mildly, their work is very difficult, so I urge you all to check out  their work and support what they do. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The associated blog post: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/03/27/05-lebanons-migrant-domestic-workers-between-the-coronavirus-and-slavery/ If you like what I do, please consider supporting this project with only 1$ a month on Patreon.com/firethesetimes or on BuyMeACoffee.com/joeyayoub
40:09
March 27, 2020
Against the Logic of the Guillotine: Why the Paris Commune Burned the Guillotine—and We Should Too
In this episode, I spoke with one of the authors of the Crimethinc piece of the same name about the 'logic of the guillotine' on how it is used in online left-wing meme culture, why it is problematic and why we need to have a better logic than that of the guillotine if we truly believe in liberatory politics.  "On April 6, 1871, armed participants in the revolutionary Paris Commune seized the guillotine that was stored near the prison in Paris. They brought it to the foot of the statue of Voltaire, where they smashed it into pieces and burned it in a bonfire, to the applause of an immense crowd [...] In these conditions, burning the guillotine was a brave gesture repudiating the Reign of Terror and the idea that positive social change can be achieved by slaughtering people. [...] The guillotine has come to occupy our collective imagination. In a time when the rifts in our society are widening towards civil war, it  represents uncompromising bloody revenge. It represents the idea that  the violence of the state could be a good thing if only the right people were in charge. Those who take their own powerlessness for granted assume that they can promote gruesome revenge fantasies without consequences. But if we are serious about changing the world, we owe it to ourselves to make sure that our proposals are not equally gruesome." For more information and links click here: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/03/25/againstguillotine/ You can also follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes and you can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes or BuyMeACoffee @joeyayoub. Music by Tarabeat. 
43:05
March 25, 2020
Venezuela and the Right to Narrate
What does it mean to have, to demand, the right to narrate? Usually associated with Edward Said and the Palestinian experience, this concept  ultimately speaks to a widespread feeling among those who are racialized, those who are gendered, those who are displaced. It reflects  a more generalised need to reclaim something that feels stolen. In this episode, I sat down with Laura Vidal, a Paris-based Venezuelan writer and researcher. Laura recently wrote an essay in Spanish entitled "¿Quién tiene derecho a contar nuestras historias?"  ("Who has the right to narrate our stories?") With our respective  experiences as former regional editors for Latin America and the Middle  East and North Africa respectively for Global Voices, as well as our  mutual engagement on this question throughout the years, Laura and I  explore the interrelated topics of identity, displacement, trauma - and  the right to narrate. Why do those who are displaced regularly get deprived of the right to  narrate their own experiences? What is 'Venezuelan-splaining'? Is it a  form of gaslighting to downplay the experiences of those who are seen as  having 'made it', by which I mean those who now live in relatively  'stable' cities/countries? How do those who are displaced deal with  survivor's guilt? Laura and I are good friends so don't be surprised if the tone of conversation is informal :) For more information and links click here: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/03/21/venezuelaandtheighttonarrate/ You can also follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes and you can also support it on Patreon @firethesetimes.  It is available on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Spotify, Pocket Casts, and RSS. More to come! Music by Tarabeat https://soundcloud.com/tarabeat/
1:04:50
March 22, 2020
Lebanon's Kafala System is 'Civilized' Slavery
This is part one of a two-parts series on the Kafala system in Lebanon. Under Lebanon's Kafala (or sponsorship) system, the legal status of migrant domestic workers is in the hands of their employers, making workers vulnerable to abuse. If the employer terminates their contract, the sponsorship gets automatically cancelled, turning these workers into illegal aliens and putting them at risk of arrest and/or deportation. In this first episode, we go back to the summer of 2018 when I sat down with Sami, a Beirut-based Ethiopian activist with, Mesewat, a solidarity network that supports migrant workers in Lebanon and the Middle East, and Ali, an activist with the Anti-Racism Movement. It was recorded at one of the Migrant Community Centers in Beirut. If you like this podcast, please review us wherever you get your podcasts and share it with your social networks. It is currently available on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Radio Public, Spotify, Pocket Casts, and RSS. More to come! The second episode is being recorded in the next few days so you should find it wherever you get your podcasts by the end of March. You can already read the show notes for the Kafala series here: https://thefirethisti.me/2020/03/10/kafalasystem/ You can also follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes Music by Tarabeat https://soundcloud.com/tarabeat/
49:50
March 19, 2020
Hong Kong's Existential Crisis
This is a conversation with JP, a Hong Kong activist with Lausan, a left-wing and decolonial group based out of Hong Kong and its diaspora which proposes numerous fascinating analyses of Hong Kong’s ongoing situation. In our conversation, JP and I spoke about the meaning behind the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. What are they about? What are some of their achievements? Some of their weaknesses? Are the recent pro-democracy gains in the elections significant? What is the significance of time in the Hong Kong protests? How has the Coronavirus epidemic contributed to rising xenophobia towards mainland Chinese people? What are some differences and similarities between the protests in Hong Kong and those in Lebanon? You can find the show notes with the added links here: https://bit.ly/2QgiL3j  You can follow the podcast on Twitter @FireTheseTimes and Instagram @thefirethesetimes Music by Tarabeat https://soundcloud.com/tarabeat/
54:56
March 14, 2020