Posted by: r.m. | December 17, 2008

contextualizing the shoe

I received this commentary from a dear friend and brilliant analyst – Abedelrahman Zahzah. He entitled it ‘Al Sobbat.’ I entitle it ‘contextualizing the shoe’

This is a commentary to be read – slowly – and more than once.

Thank you Abed. (if you want to contact abed, email me)



Of course, I am delighted to look at that shoe flying in the Green Zone at the head of Bush…
But at the same time, i never once doubted the reactions of the people facing occupation all over the world, not just in the Arab World…
I never doubted their will to fight the power structures, and their courage to do so…  that people, will engage in their own individual initiative to say NO, in the absence of a group project…
But what we need is more than personal/individual experiences, we need a collective approach to advance…
The entire world watched the Shoe thrown by a Iraqi journalist, just like we remember the Chinese guy in the Suit over in Tinamen Square…  Muntather Zaidi is synonymous to Tommie Smith from the 68 Olympics who lost the Gold Medal because of the Black Power Salute…  These are all examples of how individuals can challenge the status quo, and there are millions of these examples everyday everywhere, but these particular people were caught on tape or by the lens of a camera…
The only difference is that, today, only individuals are ready for sacrifice and have the courage and creativity for such actions while groups/parties/new possible progressive systems are dormant/non existant…  while in the past (Tinamen & Mexico city), the people were inspired by a collective action happening & taking place (Student movement, & civil rights movement)…
Dont get me wrong, it is a beautiful action, but it was always there in Iraq everyday, it was just not on camera…  and what we need is way more than what individuals can offer to save Iraq, Palestine, Sudan…
Muntather should not be turned into a hero because turnig him into a hero will make him lose his humanity, nationalism & common sense which were the reasons for his actions…  Making a hero out of him is isolating his action, while we need to multiply this kind of actions on camera while waiting for the collective project to wake up…
The excess of happiness over the shoe is our incapacity for actions at the Arab collective level…




  1. i really like abed’s analysis, but i think that many of us who admire muntather’s actions do so because we hope it will lead to more actions–not individual actions, but wider, larger collective forms of resistance. i think it is important for people to see such actions on camera as it emboldens others–we hope–to use those images to further the same causes. this is not to lessen the actions of those not caught on camera, but rather to give hope and empower those who feel debilitated from the effects of brutal occupation.

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