Category Archives: Middle East

Reporting on Sabra and Shatila

Sheila on the roots of terrorism:

Were some diabolical social engineer to design an environment to provide the perfect growth conditions for terrorism, the result would be something very like Sabra and Shatila.

— From “No Place To Call Home“, by Sheila Ryan, New Internationalist, July 1986.

Amusingly, this report was quoted positively in a report sponsored by the Israel Resource News Agency which was critical of UNRWA:

With prescience, Sheila Ryan wrote, in 1986, “Is it any wonder…these dispossessed people listen to the shadowy figures who preach the efficacy of bloodshed…when all else seems to have failed?”

 — From “UNRWA: A Report“, by Arlene Kushner, July 2003. (Alternate Draft)

Defending the L.A. Eight

In 1987, the Reagan Administration charged seven Palestinian immigrants and one Kenyan with being associated with a group which published material that advocated international communism, using provisions of the McCarthy-era McCarran-Walter Act.

Sheila travelled to Los Angeles for a time to help with the case.

She wrote an article about the case for a journal published by the Association of Arab American University Graduates: “Palestinian Deportation Case Continues,” by Sheila Ryan, Mideast Monitor, IV, 2 (1987).

In 2007, after twenty years of legal battles, the McCarran-Walter Act was ruled unconstitutional and all of the charges were dropped.

You can read more about the “LA 8” case in a NY Times article during the case, one after the case was dismissedand an editorial decrying the prosecution. Afterwards, defendant Michel Shehadeh talked about the case with Democracy Now and Alternate Focus.

1972–1989: Writing for MERIP

Sheila wrote numerous articles about the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s, including these for MERIP:


1989-1991: Co-hosting “Medium Hot” on WBAI

From some time in 1989 through about 1991, Sheila was a co-producer for a weekly radio program named “Medium Hot” on WBAI, along with Adele Oltman.

The show had an hour-long slot on Fridays at 3:30 pm and then moved to 1:30 pm in February 1990.

It was described in the WBAI “Folio” as:

3:30 MEDIUM HOT. International affairs with an emphasis on how the different media present the issues. Produced by Adele Oltman and Sheila Ryan.

— From “WBAI Folio” for December 1989; similar listings found in listings for February 1990 and February 1991.

Later in 1991 she worked on another international affairs program:

8:30 … the Morning Show continues with reports firom the Middle East and Africa; produced by Sheila Ryan and Zenzile Khoisan.

— From “WBAI Folio” for November 1991.

1990: “Legal Systems of Settler Domination”

In 1990, Sheila co-authored a book about legal structures used in settler societies:

Israel and South Africa

Israel and South Africa: Legal Systems of Settler Domination, by Sheila Ryan and Donald Will, Africa World Press (May 1990)

(At Amazon)

A number of people have commented on the importance of this book, despite the relative obscurity of the specialty press that distributed it:IsraelSouthAfrica(Cited in Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma, by Kalí Tal.)

1991: “Power Projection in the Middle East”

In 1991, a book was published containing a chapter by Sheila:

Mobilizing Democracy: Changing the U. S. Role in the Middle East

“Power Projection in the Middle East”, by Sheila Ryan, in Greg Bates, ed., Mobilizing Democracy: Changing the U. S. Role in the Middle East (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1991).

According to Publishers Weekly,

Sheila Ryan concludes that after 45 years of a Middle East policy based on anti-Soviet “containment,” the U.S. is now guided by its determination to control Europe’s and Japan’s source of oil.

(Available at Amazon)

1991: “The U.S. Build-Up for War in the Gulf”

In 1991, a book was published about the Gulf War that included a chapter by Sheila about US preparation for force projection in the middle east prior to the 1991 Gulf War.

Here’s the opening paragraph:

One of the aspects of the Gulf War of 1991 which seemed to amaze many Americans was the efficiency with which the U.S. military carried out the enterprise. Within six months of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United States had deployed half a million military personnel to the region, and had all of their supplies and equipment on hand: television viewers in the United States watched the process transfixed, for many of them experienced great difficulty in being deployed about their daily routines over bridges rusting out for lack of maintenance, pothole scarred roads and public transportation systems characterized by delay and discomfort. People marveled as targets were sought out and destroyed by smart bombs produced by the very country whose declining educational system sees to be producing a dumb generation.

Beyond The Storm

— From “Countdown for a Decade: The U.S. Build-Up for War in the Gulf”, by Sheila Ryan, in Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader, edited by Phyllis Bennis, Michel Moushabeck, Interlink Pub Group, 1991, pp 91 – 102.

(At Google Books) (Available at Amazon)

Letter to the Editor: “Israeli use of Cobra and Apache helicopters against Jenin”

Here’s a letter to the editor of the New York Times that Sheila wrote in 2002:

To the Editor:

Jimmy Carter reminds us that American weapons supplied to the Israeli government are to be used for defensive purposes only, “a legal requirement,” he observes, “certainly being violated in the recent destruction in Jenin and other towns of the West Bank” (Op-Ed, April 21).

Media accounts abound of Israeli use of Cobra and Apache helicopters against Jenin: indeed, in an April 18 news article you reported finding debris with English stenciling near the body of an elderly woman apparently killed in an Apache missile attack on the refugee camp there. The United Nations is investigating the catastrophic events in Jenin. Congress will be shamefully shirking responsibility if it fails to inquire into the use of American weapons in Israel’s recent attacks on West Bank cities, villages and refugee camps.

New York, April 21, 2002

— From “Peace, Morality and the Mideast“, New York Times, April 23, 2002