Saturday, November 7, 2009

Jordan Times Editorial: Clear signal...
Clear signal

With Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president and head of the PLO, announcing that he will not seek another term in power, the clearest possible signal has been sent that the possibility for any peace process between Palestinians and Israelis is moribund.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has now reached a critical impasse, and only something dramatic can break the stalemate. Without anything suitably dramatic, the current artificial state of affairs can limp on for a few years until Palestinians yet again reach a breaking point and there is another serious round of violence.

Israeli provocations in Jerusalem, especially in the absence of the international attention that usually comes with a negotiations process, could easily provide such a trigger. Any such new round of violence will not achieve anything for anybody, except destabilise the region and further entrench the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians.

In order to avoid this depressing consequence, there are two options. First, the international community can decide to get involved in earnest and insist on the implementation of international law at pain of sanctions. That could mean that the US decides to give up its monopoly on mediation and agrees to comply with the will of something like the Quartet.

This would also necessitate the EU, in particular, to give up its current cosy role of simply giving economic aid to the Palestinians, which only relieves Israel of fulfilling its responsibilities as an occupying power.

It could also mean that the US throws away its reservations about pressuring Israel and applies some real muscle to its diplomacy. Everyone knows, or ought to know, that the obstacle to peace is Israel. Israel can end the occupation, but it is clearly not willing to do so. It needs to be persuaded. The US is best placed to do this, but the Obama administration has, disappointingly, failed to live up to its early promise.

Should the international community shy away from such a role, only one viable option remains open to the Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority needs to be dismantled, with the minimum of consequence for its many employees, and Palestinians must publicly proclaim an end to their quest for an independent Palestinian state and instead ask for their civil and social rights in Israel, with all that this entails.

Palestinians, like any other people, have the right to freedom. That can only be fulfilled in a state of their own, an option currently off the table, or with full rights on their land.

In such an endeavour, Palestinians will need to reject violence in order to comprehensively alter the rules of the game. They will also need to trust that Arab states are prepared to support them by not giving Israel the option to repeat the mass expulsions of 1948.

Politically, Arab states can collectively add to the Arab League’s peace plan an addendum that states that the Arab world will recognise an Israel, on all historic Palestine, that gives equal rights to all the peoples living there, as well as allows the right of return to Palestinian refugees, by then, strictly speaking, Israeli refugees.

8 November 2009

Ibish, what is this Palestinian state you are talking about anyway?

Hussein Ibish on Palestine

" I think anyone who embraces the prospect of the one-state outcome needs to be honest about the process that will be required to produce it. In my view, such a process would be much more likely lead to many less palatable (to say the least) outcomes than a one-state reality that is just, fair and equitable. More importantly, the kind of mutual depletion, exhaustion and perhaps even decimation that would be required simply doesn't bear thinking about at the human level.

In my view, anyone who embraces the one-state outcome in the full knowledge of the bloodbath that would undoubtedly be required to produce it has not only given up on peace, they've given up on humanity as well. I respect the ethical fervor and moral impulse of those who want the Israelis and Palestinians to voluntarily agree to live in a single, democratic, post-national state that is fair and equitable. If I thought it were remotely possible, I would be agitating for it as well. But I think I've been able to explain why I don't think it is achievable as a solution and why it's extremely undesirable, because of its necessary process (which is unlikely to produce this result anyway), as an outcome.

All of this is what leads me to continue to work for the only viable way out of the present untenable, unacceptable, evil and outrageous circumstance and for peace based on ending the occupation by creating a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel."

The weblog of Hussein Ibish

Palestinian mosaic restoration project

PA tourism minister surveys mosaic restoration project

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khouloud Daibes visited the Riwayah museum in the Bethlehem Peace Center on Saturday to check on the progress of a mosaic restoration project set to launch next month.

The mosaics, set chronologically, will narrate the history of Palestine through the lens of Bethlehem from its development under the Byzantine empire through to the Mamluk period. The project will become a permanent fixture of the museum.

The museum is a continuing project under the wing of UNESCO in cooperation with Minister Daibes, the Municipality of Bethlehem and the Peace Center. The mosaic exhibition is funded by Norway, as part of the mandate of the museum to offer long term-exhibitions of historical and scientific interest.

The museum one day hopes to hold comprehensive archives of the ancient, medieval and modern history of Bethlehem, offering interactive audio-visual aides for researchers, students and visitors to learn more about the rich past of the city, its people and their culture.

“In a time when Palestinian heritage is being threatened by the Israeli occupation and the Jeudization of Palestine's historic sites, particularly in Jerusalem, the Riwayah museum is one essential element in connecting and maintaining our Palestinian past with our Palestinian future," Daibes said.

Its location in Bethlehem's Manger Square, Daibes stressed, gives the museum the unique ability to highlight the millenia of history all around the square, from Byzantine to Mamluk and Ayyubid, with the Nativity church on its right, and the Mosque of Omar on its left, overlooking hills of full of historic homes and monuments. "The museum will be a testament to the diversity of Bethlehem's past, and will contribute to the preservation of that past and its place in our global and human heritage."

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights Annual al-Awda Award 2010


BADIL Resource Center
for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights
Member of the Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition

Is Proud to announce the launch of the

Annual al-Awda Award 2010

We are from there...We are Alive and Will Continue to Live...
and the dream Lives On

Badil Launches the 4th Annual Al-Awda Award: Call for Submissions

4th Annual Al-Awda Award (2010)
Call for Submissions

We are from there...We are Alive and Will Continue to Live...
and the Dream Lives On

Bethlehem, Palestine, 13 October 2009 – The Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights has announced the launch of the 2010 Annual Al-Awda Awards competition, now in its fourth consecutive year. The Award is an initiative of Badil which aims to provide a platform for the use of creative expression to promote Palestinian cultural identity and Palestinian refugee rights, foremost among them the right to return.

The categories of the 2010 al-Awda Award are:

1) Al-Awda Award for Best Caricature (depicting an aspect of the Ongoing Palestinian Nakba);
2) Best Nakba Commemoration Poster
3) Best Research Essay
4) Best Article (Written Journalism)
5) Best Photograph (Photographer under 18)

details on how to submit your participation below

Rules and Regulations: General

  1. Participants must adhere to the rules and regulations for the competition category in which they wish to participate;
  2. Submissions must be original and previously unpublished;
  3. Participants can only participate with only ONE SUBMISSION PER COMPETITION CATEGORY, but may participate in more than one competition category;
  4. Prizes will be awarded to the inners in each competition category at the Awards Ceremony to be held in My 2010;
  5. Badil commits to publishing the winning submissions as separate publications or as part of Badil's regular publications as specified for each competition category;
  6. Winners are selected by independent juries which include specialists in each field. Badil adheres to the decisions of these juries;
  7. Badil reserves the right to use, edit and publish all submissions at its discretion, while respecting the participants' intellectual property rights;
  8. The May 2010 Awards Ceremony will include exhibits of the top submissions from the caricature, poster, and photograph categories;
  9. Members of Badil's staff, board of directors, oversight committee, or juries are excluded from participation;
  10. The deadline for participants to send their submissions to Badil is 15 March 2010.

Rules and Regulations: Competition Categories

1. Al-Awda Award for Best Caricature (depicting an aspect of the Ongoing Palestinian Nakba)

The caricature is to deal with an aspect of the Palestinian refugee experience, the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians, and/or Palestinian refugee rights. It can also deal with the official and/or popular, Palestinian and/or non-Palestinian political positions and attitudes with regards to the Palestinian right of return.

Specific Rules and Regulations
1.The competition is open to all cartoonists/caricature artists regardless of nationality, place of residence or age;
2.The submission must be on A4 canvas size (210mm X 297mm); submitted as a JPEG file; quality 300 DPI;
3.Use of computers and image editing software is permitted;
4.Hand drawn submissions (ink/water-colors/oil on paper, etc. - i.e. Those not prepared digitally), we prefer that the originals be mailed to Badil to ensure the highest quality for scanning and storing;
5.Submissions may be black and white or in color;
6.The jury will place special emphasis on two elements: the quality, clarity and significance of the caricature's message, and the quality of the artistic execution;
7.Participants should also submit a separate document that includes a brief description of the artist, postal address, phone number, and email address.

The top three winners will receive:
First prize: $1000 US
Second Prize: $600 US
Third Prize: $400 US

Badil will also:
Award up to ten honorable mentions based on the decisions of the jury, and which will also be distributed at the May 2010 Awards Ceremony.
Organize an exhibit of the best caricatures chosen by the jury

Jury members
Imad Hajjaj, Nehad Boqai', Umaya Juha, Mohammed Sabaneh, Nasser al-Ja'fari

2. Best Nakba Commemoration Poster

The poster is to deal with the commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. In this vein, the artwork is to draw on the themes of the 1948 Nakba, the ongoing nature of the Nakba, forced displacement, the resistance to ongoing forced displacement, and Palestinians' connection to the land.

Specific Rules and Regulations
1.The competition is open to all poster artists regardless of nationality, place of residence or age;
2.The poster is not required to include written text, if the poster design does include written text, the Arabic language is to be the main language used;
3.The poster must be original and previously unpublished, with a clear and original message;
4.Posters submitted in previous Al-Awda award contests will not be accepted;
5.For submissions prepared with the use of computers and image editing software, please use CMYK 6 for color printing settings. Submissions will not be returned to the artists;
6.The submission must be on A3 canvas size (300mm X 420mm) in high resolution (at least 250-300 DPI) and saved as a .gif or a .jpg file.
7.Participants should also submit a separate document that includes a brief description of the artist, postal address, phone number, and email address.

The top three winners will receive:
First prize: $1000 US
Second Prize: $600 US
Third Prize: $400 US

Badil will also:
Print 40,000 copies of the poster that wins the first prize, which will be distributed throughout historic Palestine and to all countries participating in the Nakba-62 commemorations;
Award up to ten honorable mentions based on the decisions of the jury, and which will also be distributed at the May 2010 Awards Ceremony.
Organize an exhibit of the best caricatures chosen by the jury

Jury members
Suleiman Mansour, Yusif Katalo, Makbula Nassar, Mohammad Elayan, Omar Assaf

3. Best Research Paper

The privatization and sale of Palestinian refugee property and the right of return

Submissions should look at all or some of the following aspects of the topic:
Types of property; estimates of size and value of refugee property; the fate of 'absentee property', the legal aspects of privatization, the legality of Israel's privatization under international law, the effect of the property privatization on the right of return, what action can be taken by Palestinians in response to the privatization.

Specific Rules and Regulations
1.The length of the research paper must be between 4000 and 5000 words;
2.The submission must be in Modern Standard Arabic;
3.Participants must follow sound academic practices, with proper referencing of source material;
4.Submissions must be original pieces of research that exhibit creativity, independent thought and academic rigor. Previously published papers will not be accepted;
5.Participants should avoid sloganeering and bravado;
6.Participants from previous Al-Awda Award contests have the right to participate;
7.Winning submissions are subject to an editorial process by experts at Badil before their publication.
8.Participants should submit their research papers as Word files (.doc) including a brief description of themselves, their contact information, and an abstract of no more than 500 words.

The top three winners will receive:
First prize: $1000 US
Second Prize: $600 US
Third Prize: $400 US

Badil will also:
Publish the winning submissions in separate publications or as part of Badil's regular publications;
Provide the winning participants with 100 free copies of the publication in which their submission is published;
Award up to ten honorable mentions based on the decisions of the jury, and which will also be distributed at the May 2010 Awards Ceremony.

Jury members
Dr. Aziz Haidar, Dr. As'ad Ghanem, Dr. Norma Masriyeh, Dr. Islah Jad, Shawqi al-Ayassa

4. Best Article (Written Journalism)

Articles should cover an aspect of the Palestinian refugee experience and/or that of ongoing forced displacement. The subject of the article must be non-fictional and current, but writers have the full freedom to recall and refer to older events.

Specific Rules and Regulations
1.The length of the research paper must be between 1000 and 1500 words;
2.The submission must be in Modern Standard Arabic, while the use of colloquial dialects is permitted as the writer sees fit;
3.Submissions must be original pieces of writing, previously published articles will not be accepted;
4.It is recommended that writers attach an appropriate photograph (in .jpg format) to accompany the article, while citing the source of the photograph;
5.Winners in this category from previous Al-Awda Award contests will be excluded from the contest.
6.Participants should submit their articles as Word files (.doc) including a brief description of themselves and their contact information.

The top three winners will receive:
First prize: $1000 US
Second Prize: $600 US
Third Prize: $400 US

Badil will also:
Publish the winning submissions as part of Badil's regular publications, or as Badil and the jury members see fit;
Award up to ten honorable mentions based on the decisions of the jury, and which will also be distributed at the May 2010 Awards Ceremony.

Jury members
Abedlnasser al-Najar, Shireen Abu Aqleh, Qasem Khatib, Naser al-Lahham, Najeeb Freij, Khalil Shaheen

5. Best Photograph (Photographer under 18)

Note: This competition category aims to engage youth under the age of 18 in the Awda Award, especially as their chances of success in other categories may be limited.

The photograph is to deal with effects and consequences of the Palestinian Nakba, ways of confronting the challenges created by the Nakba, and/or the Palestinian refugee experience.

Specific Rules and Regulations
1.Participants must be under 18 years of age;
2.Each participant can only submit ONE photograph;
3.Photographs can be in color or black and white;
4.Photographs must be in their original state, i.e. They should not be edited through image manipulation programs. If an edited photo is submitted, it must be accompanied by the original unedited photo;
5.Participants should not place any text on the photos (including the name of the photographer);
6.Submissions must be in high resolution (300 DPI) and sent as a .jpg file;
7.Photographs must innovative, original and of a current subject. Previously published Photographs and those submitted to other contests will not be accepted;
8.While Badil will make every effort to disqualify plagiarized submissions, Badil is not legally responsible for any error relating to photographers' intellectual property rights;
9.Badil reserves the right to use all submissions in this category while respecting photographers' intellectual property rights;
10.Photographs should be sent by email as separate attachments. Participants should also attach a Word document with a brief description of themselves, their contact information, and a brief caption (no more than 50 words) describing the photograph (time, place, people, description, etc. As appropriate). Participants should also attach proof of their age (a scanned copy of their ID card or birth certificate).

The top three winners will receive a 10 Mega-pixel digital camera, as well as:
First prize: $400 US
Second Prize: $300 US
Third Prize: $200 US

Badil will also:
Print the winning photographs in Badil's regular publications;
Award up to ten honorable mentions based on the decisions of the jury, and which will also be distributed at the May 2010 Awards Ceremony.
Organize an exhibit of the best caricatures chosen by the jury

Jury members
Ibrahim Melhem, Alaa Badarnah, Louay Sababa, Rula Halawani, Mahfouth Abu-Turk

How to Participate

Submissions should be:

  1. Sent by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  2. Hand delivered to the Badil offices in Bethlehem (al-Majd Building, beside Behtlehem Hotel, Karkafeh Street, Bethlehem)
  3. Sent by post to

Badil Resource Center
PO Box 728
Bethlehem, Palestine
Badil commits to confirming receipt of each submission in writing.

To learn more about the Award and the conditions for submissions in each category, please visit:
The Badil website, at:
The Al-Awda Award website, at:

For inquiries and communication contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone: +972-2-277-7086
Fax: +972-2-274-7346

My comment posted online RE Boston Globe's At Brandeis, Israel's guilt and innocence on display by Jeff Jacoby 11-07-09

RE: At Brandeis, Israel's guilt and innocence on display

Dear Editor,

Jeff Jacoby wants America to believe that Israel is a law-abiding country. America needs to know that Israel stands in long term and flagrant violation of international law on multiple counts. The recent Gaza War is only a small part of a much larger scheme to harass, displace, and impoverish Palestinian men, women and children:

Look at Jerusalem: ""The Israeli government is depriving Palestinians of the right to live in their own homes, in neighborhoods where many have lived for generations," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Basing this cruel destruction of people's homes on unfairly applied building regulations is a thinly veiled legal façade to force them to move out."" Israel: Stop East Jerusalem home demolitions

Look at religious tolerance: "Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.

The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected." U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society

Look at that monstrous Apartheid "security" wall: ""On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall came crumbling down in two days that inspired hope for a world in which walls could no longer keep people apart," a statement from the Popular Committee in Bil'in read. "Today, a wall twice as high and five times as long is being built by Israel in the West Bank, in blunt contempt of international law, to separate Palestinians from their lands."" Bil'in protesters mark anniversary of Berlin wall fall

Look at the longest running refugee crisis in the world today- and the very real plight of the Palestinians as Israel continues to violate their basic human rights, including but not limited to the refugees inalienable, legal, moral, and natural right to return to original homes and lands as clearly affirmed by international law since 1948.

We need to be looking for non-violent viable and just solutions to the multiple crises created by Israel. Ignoring or whitewashing Israel's sovereign crimes only makes matters worse as extremists, bigotry, contempt and terrorism world wide are all empowered by the current status quo.

Anne Selden Annab

A Palestinian demonstrator waves a Palestinian flag during a protest against the separation barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Israel: Stop East Jerusalem home demolitions

Israel: Stop East Jerusalem home demolitions

57 Palestinians Forced From Their Homes in One Week

(Jerusalem, November 6, 2009) – Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem should immediately stop demolishing Palestinian homes in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said today.

In the week beginning October 27, 2009, Jerusalem municipal authorities used bulldozers to demolish five residences, while thousands more Palestinians are threatened with demolition of their homes. In the demolitions of the five buildings from October 27 to November 2, Israeli authorities displaced 57 Palestinian residents, including many children. Three other buildings were partly demolished. Israeli authorities justified destroying the homes primarily on the grounds that the owners lacked building permits, which are extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain.

"The Israeli government is depriving Palestinians of the right to live in their own homes, in neighborhoods where many have lived for generations," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Basing this cruel destruction of people's homes on unfairly applied building regulations is a thinly veiled legal façade to force them to move out."

Israel has forcibly evicted or demolished the homes of more than 600 Palestinians, half of them children, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, according to the United Nations. Israel's imposition of its building laws on Palestinians in occupied territory violates international humanitarian law protections for private property. Its application of the building permits law is discriminatory and is an arbitrary and unlawful interference in the home under international human rights law.

Jerusalem municipal authorities demolished three Palestinian-owned buildings on November 2, displacing 31 people. Residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor told Human Rights Watch that at 8 a.m., two bulldozers demolished the homes of the al-Shwaike and al-Qawasmi families, displacing 14 people. The buildings, joined by a common wall, were built in 1982.

"We didn't even know the building was going to be destroyed before it happened," said Haroun al-Qawasmi, who lived in one of the buildings with his wife and four adult children. "There were scores of soldiers there, and they told us that we had built the house without a permit."

Tareq al-Shwaike said that he was not informed of any demolition order before his family's adjoining building was destroyed, displacing him, his wife and three children, his mother, his sister and her husband. "The municipality told me I have to clean up the ruins of what they destroyed or else I'll have to pay when they do it," al-Shwaike said.

The third home, in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem, was destroyed at around 2 p.m. Human Rights Watch was unable to contact residents of the building, but according to initial reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and by Al Maqdese, a Palestinian nongovernmental organization based in East Jerusalem, the demolition displaced approximately 17 members of the Rajaby family.

On October 27, Israeli authorities demolished two homes in East Jerusalem, and partly destroyed three others. Residents of a two-story building in the Sur Baher neighborhood of East Jerusalem told Human Rights Watch that scores of Israeli soldiers and police officers surrounded the building at 5:15 a.m. and ordered the residents to leave immediately. The authorities did not allow the residents time to remove their furniture or other belongings before three bulldozers demolished the building, which housed 17 members of an extended family, including five children.

"Soldiers entered our house without asking and detained my daughters and sons," said one resident who did not want his name used. "We only had time to get our clothes."

He said the building's first floor was built 11 years ago, and a second floor was added later to accommodate the owner's married children. A second resident said that his family had owned the land on which the house was built for at least three generations. The residents said the family had spent 150,000 shekels (US$37,500) over the years in failed attempts to obtain a permit for their home.

At 9 a.m. on the same day, Israeli authorities demolished the East Jerusalem home of a 73-year-old Palestinian woman and her 32-year-old son, who did not want to be named. The son said he had constructed the building from pieces of wood and metal sheeting after Israeli authorities demolished their initial home on the site in 2006.

"We have been living on this site for 40 years," he said. "They destroyed our first house because we didn't have a permit. So I put up the zinco (sheet metal) building. It wasn't a permanent building, just a hut."

He received a first demolition order in May and a second one in September. "I can't afford a lawyer so I went to the court myself, but they told me, 'You don't have a file here.'" He was afraid the authorities would punish him further by fining him for the demolition.

East Jerusalem includes more than 70 square kilometers of the West Bank that Israel annexed to its territory in 1967, and remains occupied territory under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 regarding occupied territories prohibits the occupying power from destroying private property unless such destruction is "rendered absolutely necessary by military operations."

Israeli authorities state that house demolitions are carried out against homes that have been built illegally without official building permits. However, a UN report published in April found that it is extremely difficult for Palestinian residents to obtain such permits under Israeli law, which Israel applies to annexed parts of the West Bank in violation of international law.

The UN estimated that roughly 60,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem currently live in buildings that the Israeli government has designated illegal. A December 2008 report by the European Union (EU) found that Israel was "actively pursuing the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem" by means including the construction of Jewish-only settlements and demolitions of Palestinian houses.

The European Union report concluded that Israel's housing policies in East Jerusalem unlawfully discriminate against Palestinian residents. Like Israeli citizens, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem may obtain building permits only for buildings in areas zoned for construction. The Palestinian population makes up over 60 percent of East Jerusalem's population, but the Israeli government has zoned only 12 percent for Palestinian construction, according to the EU report. Even in this small zoned area, many Palestinians could not afford to complete the application process for building permits, which is complicated and expensive.

In contrast, Israel unlawfully expropriated 35 percent of East Jerusalem for the construction of Jewish settlements, for which building permits are much easier to obtain. Since November 2007, Israel approved building permits for 3,000 housing units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, as opposed to fewer than 400 building permits for Palestinian residents, according to the EU report. Government policy, as stated in the Local Outline Plan for Jerusalem 2000, approved by Jerusalem's Local Committee for Planning and Building in 2006, calls for a ratio of 70 percent Jews to 30 percent Arabs in the Jerusalem municipality, including annexed parts of the West Bank.

The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the occupying power from transferring its own population to the occupied territory.

"The Israeli government is destroying the homes of Palestinian families and causing unnecessary suffering so that it can expand illegal Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem," Whitson said. "Israel needs to respect the basic rights of Palestinian families to property and housing."

Human Rights Watch interviewed other East Jerusalem residents whose homes were partly or completely demolished in three separate incidents on October 27. Israeli authorities may impose heavy fines for illegal construction on Palestinians whose homes they bulldoze, so some East Jerusalem residents have "self-demolished" their homes to avoid financial penalties. One resident had begun but not completed "self-demolishing" his building when it was bulldozed, and was afraid of being fined by Israeli authorities. Another family whose home was demolished was still paying a fine of 60,000 shekels (US$15,000) for illegal construction.

The Jerusalem municipality spokesperson's office did not immediately respond to Human Rights Watch's request for comment on the demolitions. According to the municipality's website, "The Municipality of Jerusalem demolishes buildings or parts of buildings for reasons of urban planning, not for security matters . . . Municipal policy is to issue demolition orders only where illegal buildings are not yet occupied and where they interfere with plans for public facilities such as schools or roads, or with the city's historical heritage."

Israel's policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians in East Jerusalem on the basis of difficult-to-obtain building permits, while facilitating the construction and growth of nearby Jewish settlements, is also discriminatory under international law. The prohibition against discrimination is spelled out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and codified in the major human rights treaties that Israel has ratified, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Ongoing and repeated home demolitions prevent residents of East Jerusalem from enjoying the right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful state interference with one's home and the right to adequate housing. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the compliance of states with the ICESCR, has stated that "the right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow or restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one's head or views shelter exclusively as a commodity. Rather it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity."

© Copyright, Human Rights Watch 350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor New York, NY 10118-3299 USA

Friday, November 6, 2009

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society

Akiva Eldar
November 6, 2009 - 12:00am

Israel dismally fails the requirements of a tolerant pluralistic society, according to a new report from the U.S. State Department.

Despite boasting religious freedom and protection of all holy sites, Israel falls short in tolerance toward minorities, equal treatment of ethnic groups, openness toward various streams within society, and respect for holy and other sites.

The comprehensive report, written by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, says Israel discriminates against groups including Muslims, Jehova's Witnesses, Reform Jews, Christians, women and Bedouin.

The report says that the 1967 law on the protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but "the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites."

At the end of 2008, for example, all of the 137 officially recognized holy sites were Jewish. Moreover, Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.

The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected.

Among other examples, the report notes that more than 300,000 immigrants who are not considered Jewish under rabbinical law are not allowed to marry and divorce in Israel or be buried in Jewish cemeteries.

Palestinians mark the anniversary of the Berlin wall fall

The West Bank separation wall [MaanImages]
Bil'in protesters mark anniversary of Berlin wall fall
Published today 14:52

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, demonstrators in Bil'in once again gathered in the village center and marched toward the site of the separation wall, which cuts the village from its agricultural, for a weekly protest.

"On 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall came crumbling down in two days that inspired hope for a world in which walls could no longer keep people apart," a statement from the Popular Committee in Bil'in read. "Today, a wall twice as high and five times as long is being built by Israel in the West Bank, in blunt contempt of international law, to separate Palestinians from their lands."

As the group of Palestinian, Israeli and international protesters marched toward the wall, they were met with tear gas canisters and rubber bullets fired by Israeli soldiers in an attempt to keep the group away from the wall.

Demonstrators carried banners and yelled slogans reminding soldiers that despite the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion from 2004 that pronounced Israel's wall illegal and called for its removal, no significant changes on the ground have been made.

Several demonstrators suffered tear gas inhalation, and were treated on site for respiratory difficulties.

My letter to the IHT RE Jimmy Carter's Goldstone and Gaza

A Palestinian demonstrator places a Palestinian flag atop the controversial Israeli barrier during a protest marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the West Bank village of Nilin November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (WEST BANK POLITICS CONFLICT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

RE: Jimmy Carter's Goldstone and Gaza

Dear Sir,

Thank you for publishing Jimmy Carter's plea for Gaza, and I quite agree that "it is imperative that the United States and the international community take steps to assure that the rebuilding of Gaza be commenced, and without delay. The cries of homeless and freezing people demand relief."

.... However, I object to the fact that his call for compassion includes "Without ascribing blame to either of the disputing parties". Both Hamas and Israel should be blamed- and a firm and clear call for non-violence and a negotiated, fully secular end to the Israel/Palestine conflict should be a big priority for any and all who care about the future of Palestine.

The American Task Force on Palestine recently reported that support for Hamas is dropping. I think that is a very positive trend that should be empowered- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

A Palestinian demonstrator gestures atop the separation barrier, moments after knocking down a segment of the concrete wall, during a protest against the barrier in the West Bank village of Nilin, near Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday he does not want to run for another term in the January elections, blaming a stalemate in Mideast peace talks on Israel and the United States. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

My comment posted online RE Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab's New York Times Room for Debate blog "Abbas Has Not Resigned"

Photo of the Day April 9 Washington Post: Palestinian farmer Abu Mohammed, 75, uses a donkey to pull a plow as he cultivates his field in the West Bank village of Lubban on the outskirts of Nablus. Muhammed Muheisen-AP

RE: Daoud Kuttab: Abbas Has Not Resigned

Dear Editor,

I very much appreciated Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab's Room for Debate blog "Abbas Has Not Resigned". Keeping his eye on the ball, Kuttab adeptly brings up many relevant points and explains crucially important factors, such as the fact that "Mr. Abbas laid out his own red lines: an independent state on the 67 borders including East Jerusalem and a fair solution to the refugee problem."

Kuttab also states that "The Palestinian leader has also been kicked around by radical Palestinians and the Islamic Hamas movement for his unwavering faith in a peace process that seems to be politics as usual in yet another spineless U.S. administration." I know that radicals do tend to perceive the U.S. as spineless, but I think they are very wrong. I also think they are wrong to ridicule and reject the current push to settle the Palestine/Israel conflict with negotiations now, based on the Arab Peace Initiative's clear and very easy to understand goals.

Keeping things in perspective, we need to be noticing that, as Dr. Hussein Ibish summed up so succinctly in The Atlantic's recent Jeffrey Goldberg Interview: Hussein Ibish on the Fantasy World of One-Staters): "Twenty-one years ago, there was no contact ever between the U.S. and the PLO. No contact, zero, and no Palestinian statehood is the consensus American foreign policy and it is a national security priority under Obama. People in the House, key positions like the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, Gary Ackerman, Nita Lowey on Appropriations - all of them Jewish American members of Congress, stalwart supporters of Israel, and all of them committed to peace based on two states."

I'd say a Harvest moon is glowing- and it is time to glean.

Anne Selden Annab

The sun sets over the West Bank city of Bethlehem in August 2009. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Thursday he will not seek re-election as he voiced frustration with the US position on Israeli settlements and delivered a major blow to Washington's Middle East peace efforts. (AFP/File/Abbas Momani)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Press Release: ADC Appalled by Attack on Fort Hood, Community Urged to Take Safety Precautions

Press Release:
ADC Appalled by Attack on Fort Hood, Community Urged to Take Safety Precautions

Washington, DC | November 5, 2009 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is appalled by the attack that took place earlier today against soldiers and others at Fort Hood, Texas. Preliminary news reports have indicated that a rogue Army Major Malik Hasan and two others shot and killed at least 12 people and injured numerous others.

ADC President Mary Rose Oakar said, "This attack is absolutely deplorable. ADC has been consistent and on record in condemning any attacks aimed at innocents, no matter who the victims or the perpetrators may be. Such violence is morally reprehensible and has nothing to do with any religion, race, ethnicity, or national origin. ADC urges the FBI and law enforcement agencies to make every effort to see that justice is served." Oakar continued, "ADC also calls upon law enforcement agencies to provide immediate protection for all Mosques, community centers, schools, and any locations that may be identified or misidentified with being Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Sikh as a clear backlash has already started. The actions of a few should not invite a backlash on innocent members of any community and we urge law enforcement and others to keep that in mind.

Additionally, due to these tragic developments, ADC is releasing the following advisory statement to members of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh American communities. ADC feels it prudent to issue this advisory statement due to the potential of a backlash against these communities and given the historically documented acts of hate-motivated violence including vandalism against these communities.

ADC would like to emphasize that it is issuing this advisory based on experiences in the community in recent years, and purely as a precautionary measure. ADC presents these suggestions for the consideration of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh American communities, to be evaluated by each family and individual according to their own best judgment and in the context of their own situation and relationship with their local community. ADC urges everyone to exercise common sense and rely on their own best judgment, but offers the following as suggestions should the need arise:


Call the police (dial 911 in most communities)

Contact the local FBI office, It is the FBI's job to investigate hate-motivated crimes and specific threats of violence. A list of FBI field offices is included on our website, please see:

If the threat is imminent, go to a safe location such as a police station or church.

If you feel threatened in your home or community, move to a friend's house, or a hotel for as long as necessary.

Contact ADC to file a complaint by emailing the ADC Legal Department at< > or by calling (202) 244-2990.


Make sure the location has an open line of communication with law enforcement.

Make sure you know all the exits to your building.

Make sure the location has a current emergency plan that is defined and can be implemented should the need arise.


Make sure you discuss the events with your children and that they feel comfortable speaking with an adult if they face harassment by others.

Make sure your children know what steps to take to avoid confrontation with other students.

Work with your children's school to implement an anti-discriminatory policy.

Click on the following link for a list of the FBI Field Offices across the country:

ADC would like to emphasize that it is issuing this advisory based on experiences in the community in recent years, and purely as a precautionary measure. ADC presents these suggestions for the consideration of the Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh American communities, to be evaluated by each family and individual according to their own best judgment and in the context of their own situation and relationship with their local community.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.

Contact: ADC Legal Department,

My letter to the Wash Post 11-5-9 The Mideast impasse, Is the Obama administration focused on the right 'opportunity' with Israelis and Palestinians?

RE: The Mideast impasse, Is the Obama administration focused on the right 'opportunity' with Israelis and Palestinians?

Dear Editor,

I totally agree that the Obama administration should support Mr. Fayyad who has vowed to build the institutions of a Palestinian state within the next two years, with or without peace talks. But I do not think this should be a matter of "refocus", or shifting energy away from the dire need to stop the violence, injustice, despair and cynicism inspired by Israel's anti-Palestinian policies.

Anne Selden Annab

Is Palestine Worth Fighting For...a poem by Anne Selden Annab

Is Palestine Worth Fighting For

As in the inner jihad-
the struggle to see
and think clearly
to speak honestly

To know horror- and betrayal
but to speak of hope

To shape revenge
into living well
being kind
to all you encounter

To find borders
for words and ideas
so that our quest for decency
dignity, and peace
might be known
as Palestine

poem copyright ©2009 Anne Selden Annab

The Writing on the Wall By Britain Eakin for MIFTAH

Date posted: November 04, 2009
By Britain Eakin for MIFTAH

As the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, I find it appropriate to reflect on what lessons its fall has to teach us about the Wall being built here in Palestine, what is known to Israelis as the “Security Fence” and what is known to many Palestinians as the “Apartheid Wall.” In order to deepen my understanding of its significance and the various meanings it holds, I wanted to see the Wall up close and in person. I decided to travel with a Palestinian friend to Qalqilya, a town in the northern West Bank that is completely surrounded by the Wall.

The drive to Qalqilya from Ramallah is nothing less than stunning. The landscape of the West Bank and its terraced hills dotted with olive trees mesmerized me with its beauty. The Palestinian villages along the way seemed to blend into the landscape seamlessly and timelessly. Yet it wasn’t long before I was pulled out of this dreamscape and back into reality. I began to notice Israeli military jeeps, watch towers and checkpoints. Then came the gas stations with Hebrew-only signs, along with the Jewish settlements and outposts; many of the settlers stood on the side of the road trying to hitch rides into Israel.

The settlements are unmistakable with their red-tiled roofs and their symmetric design. In contrast to the Palestinian villages, the settlements and outposts look very out of place and in disharmony with the landscape. They sit perched on hilltops, towering ominously over Palestinian areas like cordoned off fortresses surrounded by barbed wire and electric fences. They are guarded heavily by Israeli soldiers, evidence that the Israeli government is facilitating the entire settlement enterprise. The closer we got to Qalqilya, the more numerous the settlements grew, along with my understanding of how problematic they are for the viability of any future Palestinian state.

When we arrived in Qalqilya, my friend and I headed for the Wall walking to the Western edge of the town, until we reached what is now the outskirts of Qalqilya and its remaining farmland. In this particular area, the Wall is a massive and obtrusive structure reaching eight meters in height. I felt quite small standing next to it – not only in comparison to the Wall itself, but also in the face of the powers that allow it to exist.

Many parts of the Wall cut deep into Palestinian territory. However, this part of the Wall happens to fall along the Green Line, and I could hear the buzzing of cars whizzing by on the Israeli freeway on the other side. As I listened to the cars, I couldn’t help but think that one of the main functions of the Wall is the separation and exclusion of Palestinians from Israel, who have always been considered a “demographic threat” to the Jewish character of the state.

After observing the Wall in Qalqilya, we took a taxi to a village just outside of the town where part of my friend’s family lives. We walked through their land and approached the Wall again, which in this particular location consisted of two giant electrified fences separated by a dirt road for Israeli military patrols. I noticed that its appearance closely resembles Israel’s border with Lebanon, although Israel has always denied that the Wall serves as a border. Yet as I observed the landscape, I could see very clearly how the Wall snaked through the land in order to incorporate the settlements into the Israeli side of the Wall. When you see it with your own eyes, there is no doubt that one of the primary functions of the Wall is to annex Palestinian land and resources to Israel.

As we surveyed our surroundings, my friend pointed to a hilltop in the near distance. There I could see the familiar red-tiled roofs; however my friend informed me that this particular hilltop falls just outside of the Green Line, and the community there is not considered a settlement because of this. I noticed the landscape differed vastly from the land on the side of the Wall where we stood. I stared at the pine trees and vegetation on the other side, thinking that it looked rather artificial, especially in comparison to the much less developed Palestinian side. It seems Israel is trying to create a landscape that is totally foreign to anything Palestinian.

As I stood there taking it all in, my friend pointed to some barely visible ruins on the hillside next to the Israeli homes. He informed me that these ruins are remnants of a house that prior to 1948 belonged to his family. They were forced to flee when Israel was established, and they rebuilt in the area we were now standing on. However, they were forced to move and rebuild yet again a few years later. Apparently they had rebuilt too close to the Green Line for Israel’s liking the first time around.

As we continued walking towards his family’s home, I could see the distinct outline of downtown Tel Aviv in the distance, which was highlighted against the pinkish-orange backdrop of the setting sun. I marveled at how small Israel/Palestine is, and thought about how often we forget that many of the people living on the Palestinian side of the Wall once lived in what is now Israel. The Wall to me represents another Israeli manifestation of its desire to separate and exclude those who are non-Jewish.

The West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza consist of only 22% of historic Palestine. Of that, approximately 40% of the West Bank has been effectively annexed by the Wall, the settlements and the settler bypass roads. This alone should reveal the writing on the wall – there is no possibility of a two-state solution if these facts on the ground continue to exist. If there’s anything we can and should learn from the fall of the Berlin Wall, it’s that walls and separation are not solutions, particularly when they inflict severe injustice onto an entire group of people.

Britain Eakin is a Writer for the Media and Information Program at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at

Archbishop asks U.N. for lasting solution to ‘tragic reality’ of Palestinian refugees

Archbishop asks U.N. for lasting solution to ‘tragic reality’ of Palestinian refugees

Archbishop Celestino Migliore

.- Commenting on a report about the refugee situation in Palestine, the apostolic nuncio to the U.N. lamented the “tragic reality” that the situation is “unresolved.” He called for a “lasting solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes religious freedom and guarantees access to holy sites for the residents of Jerusalem.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, on Tuesday delivered a statement to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee on the matter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The annual UNRWA report, he said, speaks of the difficulties Palestinian refugees have endured for six decades.

“The Holy See understands precisely how the current situation has impacted the lives of millions with great adversity,” the archbishop declared, noting the relief work of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.

Archbishop Migliore advised a “balanced approach” to peace negotiations that avoids imposing preconditions on either side.

“A lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem,” he added.

The Holy See reiterated its support for internationally guaranteed provisions for freedom of religion for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The archbishop also called for residents’ “permanent, free and unhindered access” to the holy sites of their religions.

“We repeat our call to the international community to facilitate significant negotiations between the conflicting parties,” his address concluded. “Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise – will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bill Clinton warns of 'dire consequences' in Mideast

Bill Clinton warns of 'dire consequences' in Mideast

DUBAI (AFP) – Former US president Bill Clinton warned of "dire consequences" if Palestinians do not believe that change is possible, in a speech to students at the American University of Dubai (AUD) on Wednesday.

"What leads to suicide bombings?" he asked. "The belief that change is not possible... the belief that in the absence of a cataclysmic event, tomorrow is going to be like yesterday.

"If we keep going on where the Palestinians think tomorrow will be like yesterday, there will be dire consequences," he told a packed hall at the university.

The former president's speech came as his wife Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Cairo for hastily arranged talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to clarify remarks widely interpreted as a U-turn on US policy of demanding a freeze on all Jewish settlements.

The top US diplomat insisted that Washington was determined to push for a Palestinian state and said that the future of Jerusalem must be on the agenda of any peace talks.

Palestinian Center for Public Opinion:
Poll No. 168
Nov 03, 2009

The most recent poll prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali revealed that:

(81.9 %) of the Palestinians miss the departed Palestinian President Yassir Arafat.
(60.7 %) believe that the economic situation in the West Bank has improved under the government of Salam Fayyad.
(43.7 %) demand an amendment to Oslo Accord.
(62.5 %) support the presidential decree calling on holding presidential and parliamentary elections on January 25th, 2010.
(49.9 %) support the Egyptian Reconciliation Paper.
(59.7 %) are in favor of deploying Arab military forces in Gaza Strip.
(60.5 %) support at different extents the document of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Salam Fayyad.
(59.1 %) believe that Fateh has a better chance to win in the coming elections.
(37.2 %) believe that there is a positive change in the US-American policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mahmoud Darwish: The Tragedy of Narcissus The Comedy of Silver

Mahmoud Darwish The Tragedy of Narcissus The Comedy of Silver

Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah

They returned…
from the end of the long tunnel to their mirrors…they returned
when they recovered their brothers’ salt, single or in groups, they returned
from the myths of defending citadels to what is simple in speech.
They won’t need to raise their hands or banners to miracles anymore, if they choose.
They returned to celebrate the water of their existence, to organize this air
and wed their sons to their daughters; to make a body hidden in marble dance
and to hang from their ceilings onions, okra, and garlic for winter,
to milk their goats and the clouds that flow from the pigeons’ feathers.
They returned on the tips of their obsession to the geography of divine magic
and to the banana leaf mat in the land of ancient topography:
a mountain upon a sea;
two lakes behind the memories,
a coast for the prophets –
and a street for the scent of lemon. No harm befell the land.
The horse winds blew, the Hyksos blew, and the Tatars blew, masked
or unveiled. All immortalized their names with spear or mangonel . . . and departed.
None of them deprived April of its habits: the flowering out of stones
or the bells of lemon blossoms; no harm befell the sand—
no harm, not a harm after they left. And land, like language, is inherited.
The horse winds blew in and blew out, and the wheat burst from the wheat.
It was their choice to return and recover the fire in their flute,
so the far came from afar, bloodied with their clothes
and the fragile crystal, and the anthem rose—
above distance and absence. What kind of weapon impedes the soul
from its soaring? In each of their exiles there’s a land that wasn’t harmed . . .
They made their myth as they wished and pitched for the pebbles
the radiance of birds. And whenever they passed a river . . . they tore it,
burned it with longing . . . whenever they passed a lily
they cried and wondered: Are we a people or a wine for the new altar?

Anthem! Take all the elements
and take us higher
slope by slope
then descend to the valleys—
Come anthem
you know the place better
you know the time better
and how strong the things within us are . . .

They never went and never arrived; their hearts are almond seeds in the streets. The plazas were more spacious than a sky that couldn’t cover them. The sea used to forget them. And they used to know their north and south, send the pigeons of memory to their first towers, and hunt, out of their martyrs, stars that march them to the beast of childhood. Whenever they said: We arrived . . . the first of them fell at the arch of beginning: O hero, stay far from us so we can walk in you toward another ending, the beginning is damned. Hero, bloodied with long beginnings, tell us: how many times will our journey be the beginning? Shrouded hero, above wheat bread and almond wool, we will mummify the wound that absorbs your soul: with dew; with a sleepless night’s milk; with the lemon blossom and the bloodied stone; with anthem—our anthem; with a feather plucked from the phoenix—

And land, like language, is inherited!

Their anthem is a stone scratching the sun.
They were kind and full of satire and
didn’t know dancing or the mizmar
except in the funerals of immigrant friends.
They used to love women the way they loved fruit and cats and principles.
They used to count the years by the ages of their dead, and migrate
to their obsessions: What did we do with the carnation to become its distance?
What did we make of the seagulls to become the residents
of wharves and of the saltiness of dry air: welcoming as we bid farewell?
They used to be the proclivity of each river not looking for a constant.
They used to dash in life hoping for a path that saves them from scattering . . .
and because they knew from life only life as it gave
itself, they didn’t ask what is after their fates and their graves.
And why should they be concerned with Resurrection?
Why should they care whether Ishmael or Isaac was a ram to the Lord?
This hell is the Hell. They became used to planting their mint in their shirts
and learned to plant lablab ivy around their tents; used
to memorizing the violets in their songs and in the flower pots of their dead . . .
but no harm befell the plants, no harm, when longing embodied the plants.
And they returned before their sunset; to their names
and to the clarity of time in the swallow’s travel.

As for places of exile, they are places and times that change their kin
they are the evenings that dangle from windows that look upon no one
they are the arrivals to coasts aboard a ship that has lost its horses
they are the birds that exceed the eulogy of their songs . . . and the land
that belongs to the throne, and abbreviates nature in a body.
But they returned from exile, and if they had left their horses behind
it’s because they broke their myths with their hands, to leak out and liberate
themselves and think with their hearts. They returned
from the grand myth to remember their days and their speech.
They returned to the familiar among them as it walks
on the pavement, aimlessly chewing sweet laziness and time,
seeing flowers the way people see them . . . without story
the lemon blossom is born out of the lemon blossom, and in the dark it opens
the windows of ancient houses to the vastness . . . and to the family salaam.
And it seems they have returned.
Because there’s enough time for the caravan to return from India’s
distant journey. They repaired their carriages and stepped ahead of speech,
and lit up the star of memory in the windows of middle Asia, they returned,
it seems they have returned.
They returned from Syria’s north, they returned
from small islands in the generous ocean, returned
from countless conquests and countless captivities, returned
like a minaret to the muezzin’s voice at sunset.
The roads didn’t mock them as a stranger mocks a stranger.
The river became their obsession, if it stuttered or advanced, receded or flooded.
And a fortune-teller hung the willow banner on what gold flows from the moon.
And they have their story. Adam, their migration’s grandfather, cried
in regret, and emigrated to the desert. The prophets were dispersed in every land,
and civilization and palm trees emigrated
but they returned
as caravans
or vision
or idea
or memory
and saw in the old images enough sedition or affliction to describe the end.
Was the desert enough for the Adamic wandering? Adam poured the honey
of the first desire in the uterus, and the apple witnessed. Adam resisted
his death. He lived to worship his high lord, and he worshiped his high lord to live.
Was Cain—the first murderer—aware his brother’s sleep was death?
Was he aware Abel hadn’t yet learned the names or language?
Was the first woman, the one covered with the berry shirt, a map?
There is no sun under the sun other than the light of these hearts piercing
the shadows. How many epochs have passed to find the answer to the question?
And what is the question if not an answer that has no question?
Those were the questions of sand to sand. A prophecy of what is seen or unseen.
An ignorance claiming prophecy. And the sand is the sand. And the Sufi
sneaks away from a woman to weave the wool
of his darkness with his beard, then ascends as a crystal body and asks:
Does the soul have buttocks and a waist and a shadow?
In captivity, there is room for the sun of doubt
they are drunkards at the door—their freedom
is what has fallen out of the absolute broken space around their tents:
helmets, tin, blueness, a pitcher of water, weapons,
human remains, a crow, a sand hourglass, and grass covering a massacre.
Can we build our temple on a meter of this earth . . . to worship
the creator of insects, names, enemies, and the secret concealed in a fly?
Can we bring back the past to our present’s periphery, to kneel
on our rock to those who have written time in the book without a writing?
Can we sing a song on a heavenly stone to withstand
the myths that we could alter only by interpreting clouds?
Can our aquatic mail reach us on a hoopoe’s beak
and bring back our letter from Sheba, to believe in the strange and the legendary?
In wandering there is room for horses to blaze from the slopes to the heights
then drop from the slopes to the bottom; room for horsemen who prod the night
and the night is all night. And death at night is murder.
Anthem! Take all the elements
and take us higher
one era at a time
to see of man’s narrative what would bring us back
from absurdity’s long journey to the place—our place,
take us higher on the spearheads to overlook the city—
you know the place better
and how strong the things within us are,
and you know the time better . . .

Take me to a stone—
to sit near the distant guitar
take me to a moon—
to know what remains of my wandering
take me to a string—
that pulls the sea to the fugitive land
take me to a journey—
whose death is small in the artery of oud
take me to a rain—
on the roof tiles of our lonely house
take me to me so I can belong to my funeral on my festival day
take me to my festival like a martyr in the violet of the martyr . . .
they returned, but I did not . . .
take me there, to there, from the jugular to the jugular.

They returned to what was in them of homes, and they recovered
the silken foot upon the luminous lakes, recovered
what was lost of their dictionary: the olives of Rome in the imagination of soldiers,
the buried Torah of Canaan under the temple ruins between Jerusalem and Tyre,
the incense road to Quraish blowing from the Syria of roses,
the gazelle of eternity paraded for the Nile’s northerly ascension,
paraded for the virility of the savage Tigris that parades Sumer to immortality.
They were together.
They were warring with one another, conquering and conquered.
They were together.
Marrying and begetting the progeny of antithesis or of madness.
They were together.
Allies against the north, building across hell
the crossing bridge out of hell to the victory of the soul in each of them.
And they recurred in the battle over the mind:
Whoever has no mind in his faith has no soul . . .
Are we able to incarnate creativity from Gilgamesh
who was the dispossessed of immortality herbs,
and from Athena after him? Where are we now!
The Romans must locate my existence
in marble, return to Rome the point of the world, and give
birth to my ancestors out of their superior swords.
But there is that of Athena within us which makes the ancient sea our anthem.
Our anthem is a stone scratching the sun within us,
a stone radiating our mystery. Extreme clarity is a mystery.
How can we realize what we have forgotten?
Christ returned to supper, as we had wished, and Mary returned to him
on her long braids to blanket the Roman theater within us.
Was there enough meaning in the olives . . . to fill Christ’s palms
with serenity, his wounds with basil, and pour our souls over him as radiance?

Anthem, take all the elements
and take us higher wound by wound.
Bandage forgetfulness
and take us as high as you can to the human
around his first tent
he shines the dome of the copper horizon
to see
what he does not see
of his heart.
And take us higher before you descend
with us to the place,
you know the place better
and the time.

And in the passageways they prepared for the siege.
Their camels were thirsty as they milked the mirage
to drink the milk of prophecy from the imagination of the south.
And in every exile, and for their sage plants, there was a citadel with broken gates,
and for every gate a desert completing the narrative
of the long journey from war to war.
And for each boxthorn in the desert there was a Hagar migrating south.
They passed by their chiseled names over the metals and pebbles
but didn’t recognize their names . . . victims don’t believe their intuition . . .
they didn’t recognize their names . . .
names that were erased by sand at times, or covered by the foliage of sunset.
Our history is their history.
And aside from the differences between the birds in the banners,
the nations would have united
the roads of their thoughts. Our beginning is our end . . .
and land
like language
is inherited . . .
and if the two-horned king had one horn,
and if the world were larger, the easterner
would have become easterly in his tablets,
the westerner more estranged.
And if Caesar had been a philosopher
the little earth would have become Caesar’s home.
Our history is our history . . .
and the bedouin may extend his palm tree toward the Atlantic
on the Damascus Road so we can heal from the fatal thirst for a cloud.
Our history is their history.
Their history is our history
had it not been for the conflict over the timing of Resurrection!
Who united the stubborn land without a sword adorned with valor?
No one . . .
Who returned from the journey to the basil of childhood?
No one . . .
Who fashioned his narrative far from the rise of its antithesis and heroism?
No one . . .
There must be an exile to lay the eggs of memory and abridge eternity
in a moment that encompasses time . . .
perhaps all they did was to rewrite their names
and recall, in the silver of olives, the first poet who shrouded their sky:
Aegean Sea! bring us back . . . our family dogs have barked
to lead us back to where our wind once blew . . . because victory is a death.
And death is a victory in Hercules . . . and the martyr’s stride is a home.
We are the ones who have come to become victorious . . . the oracles cast us
in the north of our estrangement without asking about our wives.
Those who died are dead,
and those who remember their homes kill more of the elderly and the young girls
and toss the city’s children from their beds
into the steep valley to return, before time could, from the Troy of the devil;
or did we betray the government of our conscience
for our wives to betray us?
The solid conscience was our crossing bridge,
it was a ship that carried incense to our women, and beautiful perfume to Helen.
And victory, like defeat, is a death, and crime might lead to virtue.
Ancient Sea! adorn the murdered with their murderer, and return us
to the barking of our dogs in our first land. But proceed without us
to the adventures of searching for what was lost of our fleet . . . the ancient
fishing boats, and the men who have become coral trees in the depths,
we want to return, from the wars of defending the bed’s throne,
to our women’s sheets, and to the poplar fabric
that is green in the ashes and in our poets’ visions . . .
There must be a land where we can dock our steps and the hazelnut of our houses—
the light, this light, is not enough for us to pluck the berries of our home.

They used to be in dialogue with the waves to mimic those who are coming
back from the battles beneath the arch of triumph. Our exile was not in vain at
all, and we didn’t go into exile in vain. Their dead will die without regretting a
thing. And the living can bequeath the calm wind, learn to open the windows, see
what the past makes of their present, and weep slowly and patiently lest the enemies hear the broken ceramics within them. Martyrs, you were right, the road to
the house is more beautiful than the house, despite the flowers’ betrayal, but the
windows don’t look out on the sky of the heart . . . and exile is exile, here or there.
We did not go into exile in vain at all, and our exile wasn’t in vain.

And land
like language
is inherited!

And they didn’t resemble the captives, and didn’t impersonate the freedom
of martyrs. They weren’t rid of the summer of their desolation. Yet they flamed
the faraway mountain with their desolation, then turned absent when they
couldn’t find roads out of their slopes that dispersed them among the wadis. The
first shepherds might reach the echo. They might discover the remnants of their
clothes and voices, discover the time of their weapon: their winding flute. From
each people they intimated a legend to mimic its heroes, and in each war one
of their gallant horsemen died, but the rivers have their directions. And yesterday is no longer a yesterday for them to inhabit a place a little higher than the
riverhead . . .

Their guitars are a mare and an Andalus upon my foot
girl of the wind tap us upon needles of pine
and we will love our lives
tap the air with sandalwood
tap us to soften the soul within
and we will leave
the harbor to itself
tap us with the cadence of wine
on the blackness of secret amid
the two whites rid us now of the corals
of your big wadi teach us
the work of joy armed with gypsy blood
tap us with your high heels tap what looks out
of the hearts and the nations
will turn around and notice
the beginning of their wars: a man
searching the prairie for his serenity
resides in a woman.

And on desert and sea waves, they raised an island for their existence.
They returned, and their poet said:
I defend my journey to my destiny as I defend my anthem
among the palm trees and their punctured shadow. Out of my void I will walk
toward being anew, and I will walk away from the bridge—abandon it
to the faraway and to the lemon blossom—the bridge
of the blue that is broken with rain.
So, chanters, cross, if you are able to return
the neighing to the horses, cross.
The horses pant after my heart as it leaps out of my hands toward the dams.
We are who we are, so who will change us? We return and don’t return
and march within ourselves,
and when a single morning without death
and a night without dream come,
we will reach the harbor, scorched by the final roses . . .
And it seems they have returned.
The sea descends from their fingers and from the edge of the bed . . .
they used to see their houses behind the clouds
and hear their goats bleat, they used
to palpate the antlers of the gazelles of narrative
and kindle the fire on the hill. They used
to exchange cardamom. Bake the pies of the happy feast.
Do you remember
our estrangement’s days over there? They used to dance on the suitcases mocking
the narrative of exile and the countries longing will abandon:
Do you remember the last siege of Carthage?
Do you remember the fall of Tyre
and of the kingdom of the Franks on the Syrian coast, the grand death
in Tigris when ashes flooded the city and the ages?
“Behold, Saladin, we have returned . . .”
so look now for new children.
They used to repeat the story from its end to the age of comedy.
Tragedy might enter comedy one day
and comedy might enter tragedy one day . . .
and in the narcissus of tragedy they mocked
the silver of comedy, and they used to ask and ask:
Of what will we dream when we realize Mary was a woman?
They used to smell the herbs in the walls that commenced their spring
and their wounds, the herbs that brought them back from every exile.
The honeycomb sting resembles a snakebite, and the basil scent
is the coffee of exile . . . a walkway for emotions in their homes . . .
We have arrived!
They clapped for their dogs, for the houses of their return, the grandfathers
of the story, the ancient plows, and the friction of the sea with the onions
that hang on antique weapons. Bygones are bygones.
And the husbands teased the wives of funerals:
We are through with the tears of dancing, lamenting, and weeping,
let’s narrate the hearts that gallop with horses to the rising wind of memories,
let’s narrate the steadfast Hercules in his final blood and in the mothers’ madness,
and let’s be him, the Ulysses
of paradox if the sea wished it so, dear women,
let’s narrate and narrate, when we narrate, the calling of the Kurd commander
to the hesitant Arab: Give me a sword
and take from me the blessings upon the prophet, his disciples and women,
and keep the alms . . .
They laughed a lot:
Perhaps prison is prettier than the gardens of exile.
And they saw their windows looking out on their humor
and firing up the roses around the riverbanks.
Bygones are bygones. They will leap unto ladders;
they will open the safes of memories
the chests of clothes
polish the door handles
and count their rings;
their fingers had grown bigger with the days and their eye sockets had swelled.
They couldn’t find their faces on the rust of mirrors or glass.
That’s fine!
The garden will expand when they arrive in a little while before the anthem.
And they will look back:
We are still who we are, who will send us back to the desert?

We will teach our enemies a lesson in agriculture and in the bursting of water from stone . . . we will plant peppers in the soldier’s helmet . . . plant wheat on
every slope, wheat is larger than the borders of the reckless empire of any age. We
will follow the habits of our dead and wash off the rust of the years from the silver
of trees . . .

Our country is that it becomes our country
our country is that we become its country
its vegetation, its birds, and its inanimate things
and our country is our birth
our grandfathers
our grandchildren
our livers walking upon intaba or grouse feathers
and our country is that we make a fence of violets for its fire and ashes
it is that it becomes our country
it is that we become its country
a paradise
or an affliction
one and the same—

We will teach our enemies the homing of pigeons, if we can teach them.
And we will sleep in the afternoon under the shade of a grapevine trellis, while
the cats around us sleep on the drizzle of light. And the horses sleep on their fugitive bending. And the cows sleep and chew grass. Though the rooster is sleepless
because of chickens in his life. We will sleep in the afternoon under the shade of
a grapevine trellis. We have had enough . . . we have tired of the sea air and of the

They used to return
and dream they had arrived
because the sea was descending from their fingers and from the shoulders
of their dead. They used to witness things suddenly:
the sweet basil upon the shrouded hero’s final step:
Does he die here with his gun and silk brocade and his final threshold?

Does he die here? Here and now under the noon sun?
It was just now his victory fingers shook
the gate of the old house, and the walls of the island.
Just now he guided the last steps toward the target . . . and concluded the journey
with the return of our dead. Then the sea slept under the windows of small homes.
O Sea! we weren’t often wrong . . .
don’t give us more than the others . . . we know
the victims within you are countless. And water is a cloud.
They used to be as they used to be.
They used to return and ask the gloom of destiny: Must there be a hero who dies
to enlarge the vision and add one more star to our banner?
They weren’t able to add a rose to the ending,
to change the path of ancient myths:
the anthem is the anthem:
there must be a hero who falls on the victory fence
in the height of anthem.
O hero within us . . . don’t rush!
Live one more night for us to reach the end of a life adorned
with incomplete beginning; another night
for us to complete the journey of the bloodied dream,
O crown of our thorns; twilight of the myth that is crowned
with an endless beginning. O hero within us . . . don’t rush!
Live another hour
for us to begin the dance of divine victory.
We are not victorious yet, so wait, hero, wait.
Why do you depart
an hour before arrival?
O hero
within us

There remains of the exile in them the autumn of confession
there remains in them a street that leads to exile . . .
and rivers that flow without banks
there remains in them a soft narcissus that fears the drought
there remains in them what changes them if they return and do not find:
the same anemones
the same stubborn quince fuzz
the same daisy
the same loquat
the same long ears of wheat
the same elderberry
the same dried garlic braids
the same holm oak
the same alphabet
. . . they were on the verge of descent to the air of their houses . . .
but from which dream should they dream?
With what thing should they enter the garden of doors
while exile remains exile?
And they used to know the road to its end and to dream.
They came from tomorrow to their present . . . and they used to know
what would happen to the songs in their throats . . . they used to dream

of the carnation of their new exile on the house’s fence, they used to know
what would happen to the hawks if they settled in palaces, they used to dream
of the conflict of their narcissus with paradise when paradise becomes their exile,
and they used to know what would happen to the swallow
when spring burns it, they used to dream of the spring
of their obsession, whether it came or not, they used to know
what would happen when the dream arrives from a dream
and knows it was dreaming;

they used to know, and dream, and return, and dream, and know, and return,
and return, and dream, and dream, and return.

Excerpted from If I Were Another by Mahmoud Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah, to be published in November by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. English language translation copyright 2009 by Fady Joudah. All rights reserved.