Saturday, February 6, 2010

Doesn’t Salam Fayyad deserve more national protection?

Hamada Faraneh
Al-Ayyam (Opinion)
February 3, 2010 - 12:00am

ATFP original translation

In the 2/1/2010 issue of Yediot Ahronot, Alex Fishman, known for his close ties to the Israel national security apparatus and often represents their point of view, articulated an emerging Israeli opinion. In an article entitled “Salam Fayyad: The quince turns into a bitter lemon,” Fishman writes:
“Through the years the security apparatus in Israel has dealt with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as though he is a delicate quince. He is an educated, moderate man and, like a quince, not particularly charismatic but suddenly he has become a lemon, bitter as a curse. What a disappointment and a slap in the face for the Israelis. This man has been gaining in stature. He operates independently of our Israeli plans since he is both willful and powerful. Together with Abu Mazen, they have succeeded in eliminating chaos and providing personal security for the Palestinian people by putting an end to the threats of lawless, masked men. For these reasons, Europe and The United States have been giving money to the Palestinian Authority as he provides them with a sense of transparency, cleanliness and accountability. He has started building governing institutions. In cooperation with Abu Mazen, he has damaged Hamas’ propaganda machine in the West Bank and some of its military network. He has started to develop the economy. He also has started to annoy us globally. He is actually going ahead with his plans despite us. He wants to build more cities in the West Bank and is asking us to give the Palestinian Authority more of areas B and C. He is also asking for land in the Jordan Valley to establish villages and farms for the Palestinians. And he has more such plans up his sleeve. And the world seems to get it. All sorts of countries are asking Israel to give the Palestinians more goodwill gestures and more concessions. And all this is happening outside the framework of the peace negotiations. This ability of his to convince the world is driving us crazy.”

Fishman concludes his article, “In Israel, the fear is that at this rate Fayyad will be able to extract from the United Nations a resolution to establish a State of Palestine along the 1967 borders with its capital in Jerusalem without any negotiations with Israel.”

This is Salam Fayyad: independent and nationalistic, capable of imposing his presence and accomplishments. There are several reasons for this.

First is the confidence and trust that President Mahmoud Abbas has in him. Without this confidence, Abu Mazen would not have chosen him over other independents and party members to form the government. When Hamas launched a successful coup in Gaza, it seemed like the PA could not hold its own against the Hamas militias. Abu Mazen’s choice has proven wise and correct. Thanks to Salam Fayyad’s management and governing program all the fears about Hamas coming to power in the West Bank as they did in Gaza have been put to rest.

Second, Fayyad has been able to put together a coalition government composed of most of the active political forces in the West Bank. This provided for a stable government as it is the government of the Palestine Liberation Organization and is its instrument and executive branch on the ground. This government is composed of Fatah at the level of the Central Committee and the Revolutionary Council. It also has a wide representation of the progressive forces, the Democratic Front, Fida, the Nidhal Front, a robust representation from the Palestinian people and many qualified independents. The representation of all those political forces in Fayyad’s government is very important and cannot be underestimated for it is the legitimizing principle for this government. That, together with the trust of the President, make up for the absence of parliamentary legitimacy, which is lacking due to the unilateral coup by Hams and the inability to convene the Legislative Council due to obstruction by both Israel and Hamas.

Third, the international community has great respect for the Prime Minister and for the performance of his government. The clarity, transparency and the absence of cronyism and corruption in the government have solidified the trust that they have in him. They are always willing to consider his requests and to find ways to implement them.

Fourth, consider the achievements of the Prime Minister on the ground. He managed to end the financial boycott that was imposed on the PA and to cover its needs without liquidating any of its national assets or abandoning the rights of its people. Fayyad’s three main achievements have been solving financial problems by generating needed jobs and services, providing for the security of the citizens by putting an end to lawlessness, and developing the economic infrastructure. These accomplishments have realized their guiding principle, which is respect for the citizens and their persons, choices and needs, while keeping intact their political and national rights and their aspirations for freedom. This is a tough proposition under occupation. In other words Fayyad has made practical and national strides without making a single mistake that either Fatah or Hamas could hold against him.

Therefore, the government of Salam Fayyad has earned the respect of its people and the trust of its political forces. It has also caused Israel to worry without being able to condemn his efforts. It is pushing the Palestinian position forward under the correct policies of President Abbas. Over time, this approach is guaranteed to catch up with Israel.

Palestine Alongside Israel: Liberty, Security, Prosperity

My letter to the Independent RE The presence of the Palestinian in the Israeli painter's eye & In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly ...

Maurycy Minkowski's Refugees

RE: Robert Fisk’s World: The presence of the Palestinian in the Israeli painter's eye : Many of the Tel Aviv paintings show an emergent Israel with fewer Arabs & In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying: In the richest of the Occupied lands, Israeli bureaucracy is driving Palestinians out of their homes. Robert Fisk reports from Jiftlik

Dear Sir,

Last week it was
In the West Bank's stony hills, Palestine is slowly dying : In the richest of the Occupied lands, Israeli bureaucracy is driving Palestinians out of their homes. Robert Fisk reports from Jiftlik

This week it is Robert Fisk’s World: The presence of the Palestinian in the Israeli painter's eye: Many of the Tel Aviv paintings show an emergent Israel with fewer Arabs

Two articles a week apart giving a mere glimpse of how, for one hundred years, Palestinians have been consistently pushed aside and impoverished as Zionist immigrants and now sovereign Israel itself gains more and more power and land.
Bigotry and guns started the problem and perpetuate the problem: Modern militancy and religious extremism are a dangerous mix which only makes the situation worse.

Nothing is inevitable but one thing is for sure- the longer the Israel/Palestine conflict is allowed to continue the less real Palestinians will have to call home... and the harder it will be for everyone to adjust to a just and lasting peace.

The Arab Peace Initiative with its firm focus on the sacred trinity of (1) ending Israel's illegal occupation (2) finding "a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194"
, and (3) "the acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital", is the last best chance to begin the process of redeeming both Israel and Palestine.

Furthermore Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has a plan- a very good plan: The Palestinian State and Institution Building Program.

Anne Selden Annab

Made in Palestine : Emily Jacir's Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages Which Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948

Friday, February 5, 2010

MIFTAH interviews media expert and women's activist Amal Juma' on MIFTAH's role in broadening her career and professional horizons.

Date posted: February 04, 2010

MIFTAH interviews media expert and women's activist Amal Juma' on MIFTAH's role in broadening her career and professional horizons.

First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work? What brought you to MIFTAH?

My name is Amal Juma' from Jenin and I am the audio and visual media coordinator for the Women's Affairs Team. I first got involved with MIFTAH when I participated with the organization as an intern in one of its projects on training women on how to run election campaigns. My relationship with the organization can be traced back to MIFTAH's beginnings when it used to give training on how to develop the work of local radio and television stations. This is of course, over and above my personal relationships with colleagues at MIFTAH. I started then to work in screening and distributing documentary films after the film festival carried out by MIFTAH in conjunction with Al Najah University in Nablus. This was all part of their ongoing project, Gender Peace and Security funded by UNFPA. At the time, MIFTAH asked me to train a group of broadcasting students from Al Najah and who participated in the 2008 Documentary Film Festival. MIFTAH contracted me to show the films that were part of the festival to interested organizations and parties. The idea to work with the students was in order to raise their awareness of gender-related issues when choosing and producing films. I gave them a three-day training course in conjunction with director Juliano Khamees, who worked with them on technical issues. The difference among the students was noticeable, even if only slightly, in that it was reflected in the choice of topics the students picked for their films. There were three films about women's issues.

Why did MIFTAH approach you?

I think MIFTAH approached me because of my experience in women's issues, which has spanned over the past 15 years. I currently work with the audio-visual department in the Women's Affairs Team. This is in addition to my presenting the radio program "Against the Silence" on the Voice of Palestine, prepared and produced by the Women's Affairs Team and which addresses women's issues in depth. My work in women's affairs has helped me a lot to work with marginalized and oppressed sectors; I am also a member of the media forum for women. I also participated in a course on monitoring the image of women in the press as part of MIFTAH's Gender, Women and Security Project, which has allowed me to maintain continuous contact with the organization.

Could you tell us a little bit about your work, especially in regards to screening the documentary films?

As part of the Gender, Women and Security Project, MIFTAH contracted me to show the films produced at the 2008 documentary film festival in various institutions and organizations. Keep in mind that the films shown at the 2007 and 2008 festivals were not shown except during the festival itself even though they were quality films that took a lot of effort from the students to produce.

As for the films from the 2009 festival, we began on June 15, 2009 with a series of screenings. They were distributed throughout various areas and women's and educational institutions and universities. We also had private screenings of the films. In all, there were about 20 screenings among the different sectors and at various venues.

What types of films were shown?

Our first screening was of a film entitled "Khirbet Um Touba" about the hardships faced by children on their way to school in between Jewish settlements in the Hebron area. It was very emotional, especially since it was shown to a group of children. The second film was entitled "Blood Relations", which is about a child from the Jenin refugee camp who suffers from Thalassemia. This was also shown to an audience of 24 children. For 12 of these children, this was the first time they had ever heard of the disease. The others had an idea about the disease's link to marriage but had no details.

Later, we showed the film "Black and White" which addresses the issue of obliterating illiteracy. The film talks about an elderly woman who is insistent on learning to read and write. We then showed "A Print of Hope" which revolves around a child with cancer. "Iman" is primarily a women's film because it deals with the suffering of the wife of a martyr who struggles to get her inheritance rights. This film offered an opportunity to speak about women's legal rights, especially since it is still not high on the agenda of women's issues. The Women's Affairs Team adopted this film and showed it during its own workshops. We also screened the film "Zawaya (corners)" which is about a group of Sufis, an Islamic sect in Nablus.

How would you assess the interaction of the audience with the films?

I think the films touched on very important aspects of various sectors of the public. Most of the films stirred up discussions after they were done. Given this, I believe it is very important to raise an issue that affects so many sectors of society, especially the women and youth sectors who are often excluded from most community activities. This is what makes these films so special – they reached out to various sectors in society - youth, children, the elderly and women.

Did you feel that your participation in MIFTAH's workshops have helped you to develop your other skills.

No doubt. I think that any positive experience a person is subjected to, no matter how simple, leaves an impact on them and adds to their overall experience. For example, I learned to ask people how they feel after the screening of a film rather than only what they learned. Even during the film's screening, I watch the facial expressions of the people to detect their reactions. Now, I am also working hard to network with the interested organizations to show these films, which will benefit their own work and the sectors which they target.

Has working with MIFTAH opened up new opportunities for you in your professional life?

Yes, of course. While I was showing the films, I was contacted by many directors and producers asking me to show their films. I became a reference point for a large group of the best documentary films around. Of course, this opened doors for me in this field. Once, I was approached by a woman who asked me if I had a film about early marriage. She assumed I had my own office for these documentary films. This gave me the idea to start an office of this sort, which would include films produced by various organizations because there is a desperate need to benefit from and show these films to the public.

How would you assess MIFTAH's place among other civil society institutions in Palestine?

I believe that the more the projects involve average people, the more the institution's name becomes known in society and among a wider platform of sectors. This is what happened in my experience of screening the documentary films through MIFTAH because the films involved a number of different sectors of society: youth, children, the elderly and women.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope there will be more productions of documentary films, which address women and gender issues. I would also suggest an expansion of the film festival, so it would include the various universities in the West Bank and not just Al Najah University. This way the festival could be held at a different university each year. Finally, I would like to thank MIFTAH for its important ongoing work in this field and in others.

OPT: Gaza schoolchildren struggling to learn

humanitarian news and analysis
a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OPT: Gaza schoolchildren struggling to learn

Photo: Suhair Karam/IRIN
Mohammed al-Khouli, 9, in a technology class at al-Mu'tasem Elementary School in Gaza City
GAZA, 5 February 2010 (IRIN) - Nearly half a million children in Gaza returned to overcrowded and dilapidated schools on 1 February, many attending in a shift system, with missing textbooks, stationery or uniforms.

“I don’t have a school uniform because my Dad doesn’t have a job and said he doesn’t have enough money to buy me one,” said Mohammed al-Khouli, a nine-year-old at the government-run al-Mu'tasem primary school in Gaza City. “I have to borrow pens and pencils from other kids in my class because I don’t have any.”

Israel’s 23-day military offensive on Gaza which ended on 18 January 2009 had “devastating consequences for the education system”, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Some 440,000 students attend 640 schools in Gaza; 383 are government schools, 221 are run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and 36 are private schools, according to the ministry of education and UNRWA.

The OCHA report said at least 280 schools were damaged in the conflict, including 18 that were completely destroyed.

Photo: Suhair Karam/IRIN
Nuha Abed Rabbo, 9, on her way to an UNRWA elementary school in Jabalia town, eastern Gaza
No rebuilding

The education ministry said none have been rebuilt or repaired because of the Israeli ban on the entry into Gaza of construction materials, which Israel says could be used for military purposes.

The ministry reckons it needs some 25,000 tons of iron bars and 40,000 tons of cement to build 105 new schools to cater for the annual rise in the number of schoolchildren.

“The war had and continues to have a severely negative impact on the entire education system,” Yousef Ibrahim, deputy education minister in Gaza, told IRIN, adding that about 15,000 children from damaged schools had been transferred to other schools for second shifts, thus “significantly shortening class time”.

Ibrahim said many damaged schools in use lacked functioning toilets, water and electricity; classrooms were overcrowded and there were shortages of basic items such as desks, doors, chairs and ink. He said half all students in government schools lacked at least one textbook for coursework this term.

UNRWA began distributing textbooks to all its students on 4 February, according to Khalil al-Halabi, UNRWA’s education chief in Gaza. But he said rising unemployment and poverty were leading to more hungry students in classrooms.

According to the education ministry, 164 students and 12 teachers in its schools were killed in the conflict. UNRWA said 86 children and three teachers were killed in its schools.

“Schoolchildren, thousands of whom lost family members and/or their homes, are still suffering from trauma and anxiety and are in need of psycho-social support and recreational play activities,” said the OCHA report.

Khalid Salim 43, a science teacher at Abu Ja’far al-Mansour preparatory school in north Gaza said it was a struggle to teach children.

“Most of them don’t understand the lessons; they don’t concentrate at all... They forget everything explained in the class. When I give them exams, 80 percent fail. Before the war, just 3 percent failed,” he said. “When they hear Israeli jet planes, the children scream and cry loudly out of fear.”


Bomb Detonated near ICRC Convoy in Northern Gaza Strip- This latest attack is part of the state of security chaos and proliferation of weapons

In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, Sheikh Hussam al-Gazar, deputy director of the Salafi charity, looks at his Islamic books in his office, in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip. They look like Afghan warriors, preach global jihad and are too radical even for Hamas. They're becoming an increasing headache for the Palestinian Islamic militant group ruling Gaza. Jihadi Salafis, followers of a violent strain of ultra-conservative Islam, have organized into small, shadowy armed groups that have clashed with Hamas forces and fired rockets at Israel in defiance of Hamas' informal truce. Perhaps even more worrisome for Hamas, Salafis also claim a growing appeal among Gazans in the territory's pressure cooker of isolation and poverty, raising fears they could serve as a bridgehead for their ideological twin, al-Qaida. (AP Photo/ Eyad Baba)

Bomb Detonated near ICRC Convoy in Northern Gaza Strip

Today afternoon, unknown persons detonated a bomb near a convoy of vehicles belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) near Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip. A vehicle was damaged, but no casualties were reported. This latest attack is part of the state of security chaos and proliferation of weapons plaguing the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 14:15 on Thursday, 04 February 2010, a bomb planted by unknown persons exploded near a convoy of 4 vehicles belonging to the ICRC while traveling on Saladin Road opposite to al-Shawa fuel station near Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip. The explosion of the bomb, which had been planted two meters to the east of the road, resulted in smashing the front and side windows and damaging the front of the last vehicle in the convoy, which holds a plate number (900441-13759). No casulaties were reported. Mr. Eyad Nasser, Spokesman of the ICRC in Gaza, stated that the vhicles were transporting 8 international staff members of the ICRC towards Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing.

The Palestinian police arrived at the area immediately and opened an investigation into the attack. An officer in the expolsives engineering unit in the Palestinian police, Midhat Ebrash, stated that the bomb was planted two meters away from the tract on which the convoy was traveling, and that shrapnel from the bomb spread over the area. He added that his unit was still checking the shrapnel to identify the kind of the bomb.

PCHR strongly condemns this attack on the ICRC's convoy by unknown persons, and calls upon the Attorney-General's office to genuinely investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Public Document


For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893

PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage

In Herzliya, I Founded Palestine by Ben Caspit

Foreign and Israeli left-wing activists participate in a demonstration in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Friday, Feb. 5, 2010. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The following is an excerpt of a translation of an article by Ma'ariv's veteran reporter and editor Ben Caspit about Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's speech at the Herzliya conference in Israel.

In Herzliya, I Founded Palestine

Ben Caspit
Ma'ariv (Opinion)
February 2, 2010 - 12:00am

[The title refers to a journal entry by Theodor Herzl in 1897, "In Basel I founded the Jewish state"] Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad came to Herzliya on Tuesday. Thinking that he would be participating in a panel discussion, he did not prepare a speech. Suddenly he found himself making the Palestinian "Herzliya speech." Fayyad did not become confused. He is no sucker. In fluent if nearly unintelligible English (Fayyad has a heavy accent), he laid out his doctrine: a Palestinian state within two years. On all the territory. Including East Jerusalem. That is all. In Herzliya, several meters from where the large statue of the visionary of the Jewish state overlooks the coastal highway, Fayyad founded Palestine.

Several years ago, when he appeared in the skies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, no one took him seriously. But Fayyad, a gray, stubborn man, worked seriously, against all the chances and all the gangs, and succeeded. Today, he is seen as the most significant threat against the continuation of the current situation. His plan was presented and gathered momentum, the Americans see him as a kind of messiah, the Europeans pin their hope on him, and most important: the situation on the ground has changed dramatically. In two years, he hopes, the reforms will be completed and he will declare a state on the 1967 borders.

Because there is consensus throughout the world on the two-state solution, and also regarding the Green Line, Israel is liable to find itself facing a Security Council decision that adopts the Palestinian declaration, and without an American veto. What will we do then?

Between Two Leaders

The next day, the Israeli prime minister came to Herzliya. His speech was also good. After all, he knows how to give speeches (that very morning, in the Knesset, he gave a wonderful speech to Berlusconi). Bibi talked about education and about vision, and almost did not mention diplomatic trifles, except for the news that there may be, perhaps, a chance that within a month, or two, or maybe three, it may be possible, under certain conditions, to resume negotiations. And it may be that this actually refers to indirect negotiations with American mediation. Applause. Indeed, an historical accomplishment.

The main difference between Fayyad and Netanyahu, except for the fact that one has a state and the other still does not, is that Fayyad knows exactly what he wants. We see from the way Netanyahu handles things that he does not. All Bibi wants is to keep on surviving. To get to the weekend in peace, without some new scandal. He sells Shimon Peres one vision while marketing another to Benny, Bugi and Ruby. With the Americans he is here, and with the settlers he is there. He uproots with one hand and plants with the other. There is no goal, no management, no courage to do one thing or the other.

By definition, Netanyahu is the leader of the right wing. This definition holds until election day. The next morning, he is already a centrist. He glances leftward, feels his way, but is afraid. The feeling is that all that he wants is for nothing to happen. That he be left in peace. The thing is that quiet is detestable [a phrase from the anthem composed by Revisionist Zionist Vladimir Jabotinsky]. Anyone who thinks that the vacuum will remain empty is mistaken. Salam Fayyad is the one who is proving that now. He came bravely to Herzliya despite the ridiculous internal criticism of the Palestinians who screamed that the conference was for the sake of Israel's strength and security. Fayyad knows that this is an open academic symposium, and during it he made, in English, the same statements that he makes in Arabic in Ramallah and in Nablus. He speaks in only one language, Fayyad. With everyone, in every place. The exact opposite of Netanyahu.

The Coalition Is the Main Thing

Near the courageous one (Fayyad) and the fearful one (Netanyahu) stands another player-namely, the commentator. He serves as the defense minister of the State of Israel. He gives a speech here, speaks there, cautions and warns. Not to divide the land, Barak warns, is an existential threat. Not reaching a peace agreement with Syria, he warns, means all-out war. And afterwards, we will return to the negotiating table and talk about the same things, the same conditions, exactly.

The question is asked: for what purpose is Barak there? In any case, he is incapable of producing anything regarding the Palestinian question or even regarding the Syrian question, which is so critical. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said two days ago that the next war will reach all the cities of Israel. He is right. No more dull sounds of explosions from the edge of the Golan Heights. All of Israel will be barraged with heavy and precise rockets. After Muallem, President Assad spoke in his own voice, called Israel the bully of the region and warned of war. History teaches us that every time the leaders of the Arab countries have warned us of war, it broke out. Every time there was a stalemate, an explosion followed. So why wait for the explosion? The Netanyahu government is doing nothing, marking time.

Incidentally, this is in the best case. There is always good old Avigdor Lieberman, who will breathe life into the hissing embers and light a big fire, as he did yesterday with the follow-up about Assad: "If war breaks out, your family will fall from power," Lieberman warned loudly. Wow. What a man. And if Assad's family falls from power, Mr. Yvet, what will happen? Could it be that Syria will also become (after Iraq) an extremist Islamic state? Could it be that the Iranians will take it over? Might the Shiites penetrate even more deeply? Might it be that we will miss Assad, like we miss many things today that we invested infinite energy to get rid of?


provided by

Dear Arab Voices...

RE: Damuni, Shabib, Altahhan & Al Ameri on Arab Voices Wed, Feb 3

Dear Arab Voices,

Thank you for covering the Palestinian refugee issue in your Feb 3 2010 program.... but I found it troubling that in your promos leading up to it you lauded Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada efforts to stop support for a separate and real Palestinian state.

I very much support the Palestinian refugees right to return to original homes and lands.

But I also think Palestinian refugees must be free not to be Israeli- which is what a one state outcome would be.

The right of return is firmly based in a two state formula. Currently there is a huge international push for peace and Palestine: The Arab Peace Initiatives needs to be supported- and so does the idea of a separate sovereign viable Palestine and an end to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

I think it is important to notice that UN 194 follows the call for partition ..."Resolutions 181 and 194, which called for the partition of Palestine in 1947 and then addressed the Palestinian refugees’ rights in 1948." ( Peace urgently needs the radically new By Rami G. Khouri

Struggling with the struggle I have come to realize that the phrase pro-Israel really should apply to all who endorse a one state solution... and the phrase pro-Palestine can only apply to those who support a separate sovereign Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

As a pubic service I think you should take care to balance promos for one-state efforts with mention of real pro-Palestine efforts and initiatives.

I know that many activists like to diss ATFP- but I think ATFP (The American Task Force on Palestine) needs to be taken seriously for they understand the crucial importance of supporting and respecting both America and Palestine... and they understand the political process necessary to help make Palestine a real place for real people rather than just a rally cry for dissidents and religious extremists and cynics who are invested in being proven right.

Palestine- a real Palestine- needs all our best efforts and positive support... and so do the Palestinian refugees. Kudos to all the many organizations and individuals and governments (including the USA) who have stepped up to help.

Anne Selden Annab

Thursday, February 4, 2010

U.S. Government Contributes $40 Million to UNRWA

U.S. Government Contributes $40 Million to UNRWA
Date : 4/2/2010 Time : 16:02

BETHLEHEM, February 4, 2010 (WAFA)- At a signing ceremony in Dheisheh refugee camp today, U.S. Consul General Daniel Rubinstein announced a U.S. contribution of $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

This contribution will support UNRWA's regular budget and emergency programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

The $40 million contribution will provide critical health, education, and humanitarian services to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees across the region. Of the total amount, $30 million will support UNRWA's core services, while $10 million will support UNRWA’s emergency appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, including emergency food assistance, job creation, and special health and education programs designed to help children deal with the trauma of conflict.

The Consul General noted the importance of providing robust and early contributions to UNRWA in light of the agency's anticipated funding deficit for 2010. He also congratulated UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi of Italy and UNRWA Deputy Commissioner General Margot Ellis of the United States on their recent appointments.

Commissioner General Grandi thanked the U.S. Government for its $40 million contribution, saying: “We are very grateful to the United States government for its generous contribution. It is a fine example of the American commitment to supporting UNRWA and improving the daily lives of Palestine refugees throughout the region.”

The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2009, the United States provided over $267 million to UNRWA, including $116.2 million to its General Fund, $119.5 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $30 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $2.2 million to assist other Palestinians in the region.

My letter to The International Herald Tribune RE Toward a Secure Middle East By Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League

RE: Toward a Secure Middle East By Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League... This article is adapted from his address at a forum held by the Académie Diplomatique Internationale and the International Herald Tribune.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for publishing "Toward a Secure Middle East" by Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League explaining his "
vision of a Middle East that links up with the world as a stakeholder in the establishment of global peace, security and prosperity".... and concluding with the importance of The Arab Peace Initiative and the fact that "The Arab-Israeli conflict needs to be resolved through the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza strip with East Jerusalem as its capital."

It is good to see so many very important people stepping up to make it clear that global peace, security, prosperity- and a real Palestinian state are high priorities.

Anne Selden Annab

Palestinian villagers collect sea water from the Mediterranean in a central Gaza beach January 24, 2010. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (GAZA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

Palestinian children play soccer in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 31, 2010. Soccer has always been popular in the Gaza Strip but is overshadowed by intense focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA - Tags: POLITICS SPORT SOCCER)

A UN flag near where Palestinian Bedouin children stand outside their home, after floodwaters destroyed huts and agriculture in the Al Mughraka area, central Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa)

A Palestinian woman works in a field in the West Bank village of Al-Aqaba, near Jenin, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

A Palestinian farmer prepares food for farm animals near his house in the West Bank village of Al-Aqaba near Jenin city, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

A Palestinian youth waits for customers during a cloudy day next a road near the West Bank town of Hebron, Thursday, Feb. 4 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A Palestinian heats glass with a blowpipe in a glass and ceramics factory in the West Bank town of Hebron, Thursday, Feb. 4 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A Palestinian man blows a piece of glass in a glass and ceramics factory in the West Bank town of Hebron, Thursday, Feb. 4 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Palestinian men paint pottery in a glass and ceramics factory in the West Bank town of Hebron, Thursday, Feb. 4 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

A Palestinian man paints pottery in a glass and ceramics factory in the West Bank town of Hebron, Thursday, Feb. 4 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Palestinians and left-wing Israeli activists take part in a protest against Jewish settlement activity in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Arab East Jerusalem January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

Build a Partnership for Peace, Right Here in America by Ziad Asali of ATFP

Ziad Asali
The Jewish Daily Forward (Opinion)
February 3, 2010 - 12:00am

With the turbulence surrounding diplomacy and the Middle East peace process, it is more urgent than ever for civil society to unite around the obvious reality that a conflict-ending solution can only be attained through the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

The two-state solution became official U.S. policy under President George W. Bush, and it is today seen as a national security priority under President Barack Obama. It has been adopted internationally by the United Nations, the Middle East Quartet, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Arab League and by successive Israeli governments. It has also now come to define all mainstream American thinking about this issue, including the positions of the majority of both Arab- and Jewish-American organizations.

In the region, this policy is only opposed by radicals, such as the Iranian government, Hamas and Hezbollah, and by ideological extremists on the Israeli far right. In the West, opposition is restricted to activists on the extreme left and right political fringes.

However, too much of our politics has not yet come into harmony with this policy consensus.

On the positive side, recent months have witnessed an unprecedented consensus between the Obama administration and Congress. Longstanding supporters of Israel in Congress have clearly stated that the two-state solution serves American and Israeli strategic interests, and have accordingly supported the administration’s early efforts to lay the foundations for renewed peace talks and to build the institutions of a Palestinian state.

On the other hand, the old zero-sum attitudes — in which a gain for one side is seen as an inevitable loss for the other, and more energy is spent on scoring debating points than on reaching solutions — continue to dominate the relationship between the Palestinian and Israeli governments, and also between Arab and Jewish communities and organizations in America.

This dissonance between stated goals and actual behavior is at the heart of the difficulties facing the administration’s effort to resolve this conflict, and it must be overcome.

While professing a common objective, America’s Arab and Jewish communities have thus far avoided creating a cooperative dynamic. Cross-community cooperation has only been established among a fraction of organizations, while the center of gravity remains largely adversarial. The language of delegitimization and the constant search for “proof” of the other’s bad faith still define most rhetoric about the Arab-Israeli conflict, to the detriment of accomplishing what both communities say they want.

This might be an understandable (albeit profoundly destructive) dynamic between two foreign parties that are struggling to find a way out of a painful, active conflict. But it has no place in the American domestic political scene, in which the national interest in resolving this conflict must be paramount.

As the Obama administration forges ahead with building an international coalition for peace, a domestic coalition for a two-state solution needs to be created in this country. Its core purpose must be to communicate to political leaders, especially in Congress, the breadth of the coalition in favor of peace based on two states and the depth of commitment that it embodies. Members of Congress and other public figures need to be provided with sufficient support to truly embrace this approach, and to be confident that it comes at a political benefit and not a cost.

Such a coalition needs to crystallize around a nucleus of Arab and Jewish organizations. These two communities have the highest emotional and political stakes in the resolution of this conflict and the most detailed knowledge of the Middle East. Other Americans naturally look to them for leadership.

In addition, because of their deep personal and political relationships with Palestinians and Israelis respectively, these two communities are best positioned to support the administration’s efforts to bring the parties together for peace talks to ultimately end both the conflict and the occupation. A Jewish- and Arab-led coalition for peace can also demonstrate the commitment of the closest friends of the parties in the region to achieving a two-state agreement and show that these two communities — both here and in the Middle East — can work together to further their mutual interests.

Differences in nuance and emphasis — both within and between these two communities — are natural and healthy, as they foster debate and encourage new, creative ideas. The aim should not be to stifle such diversity, but rather to create the largest possible constituency for a peace agreement.

Such a coalition needs to be wide enough to encompass all organizations advocating a two-state solution, even if they have differences over why they support it, how to best reach this goal or even how to define it with precision. What is needed is a vehicle through which Arabs, Jews and other interested Americans can ensure that the sum-total of their efforts supports the overriding national security issue at stake.

All of us who want to end this conflict must now band together in common cause, shed outmoded and counterproductive attitudes, and give the necessary political support to leaders on all sides who are serious about achieving a solution. The time has come for our politics to finally be aligned with our shared policy goals.

The Palestinian State and Institution Building Program
Documents detailing the state and institution building program of the 13th Palestinian Government, including the overall plan and priority interventions for 2010.

My letter to Daily Iowan 3-4-2010 RE "Martin Luther King’s dream on Palestine" by Patrick Hitchon

RE: Martin Luther King’s dream on Palestine by Patrick Hitchon

Dear Editor,

Excellent to see the guest opinion "Martin Luther King’s dream on Palestine" by Patrick Hitchon. YES, Israel must be held accountable and YES Israel must respect international law and ALL basic human rights ASAP, however divestment is only one tactic and it should not be the end goal. The end goal needs to be a fully sovereign, viable, non-violent, secular Palestinian state living along side Israel. There is an initiative right now to put positive energy into exactly that:

"Two weeks ago the Palestinian Authority issued a detailed budget for the state and institution-building programme it adopted last August. The programme calls for Palestinians to unilaterally build the administrative, economic and institutional framework of an independent state in spite of the Israeli occupation and as a peaceful, constructive means of countering it." Hussein Ibish

62 years of immense suffering, frustration and loss will be hard to overcome- and there will be many legal battles ahead, but I have every confidence that the people of historic Palestine (and the people of Israel) have the strength of character, the intelligence, the compassion, the patience, and the empathy necessary to overcome every challenge- including the challenge of ending the Israel/Palestine conflict. Where there is a will- there is a way.

Anne Selden Annab... Growing Gardens for Palestine

Jerusalem's Old City with the Dome of the Rock Mosque, right, is seen from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010. Jerusalem's mayor has grudgingly agreed to evacuate a house Jewish settlers built illegally in the heart of the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. But Mayor Nir Barkat says he'll also demolish dozens of Palestinian-owned structures erected illegally in the volatile holy city. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
"Jerusalem and a Palestinian grandma, from a postcard in the 1930s.. Each time I see this image I enter it and walk up the hill with the old woman -- she's just finished selling the figs and pears in Bab El-Amoud and is walking home.. How much I am walking with her and love it!" -- Ibtisam Barakat 2010.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad vowing to establish a Palestinian state and calling for an end to the occupation

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference

Yesterday Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad addressed the annual Herzliya Conference in Israel, vowing to establish a Palestinian state and calling for an end to the occupation. ATFP provides the following summary of information:

Watch the speech in four parts:
PM Salam Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference - Part I
PM Salam Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference – Part 2
PM Salam Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference – Part 3
PM Salam Fayyad at the Herzliya Conference – Part 4

Press coverage of the speech:
Palestinian premier speaks at Israeli conference
Washington Post

Fayyad vows to establish Palestinian state

Israel must "roll back" and end occupation: Fayyad

Fayyad: Palestinian statehood must be accepted

Salam Fayyad: Occupation must end
Jerusalem Post

Fayyad to Barak: Israel must show that it is rolling back occupation

Fayyad: Israel building inside our state

Fayyad: No peace without accepting Palestinian state

Palestinian PM attends Israel forum
Al Jazeera

Fayyad sounds conciliatory towards Israel
Press TV

Hamas raps Fayyad over attending Israeli conference
Press TV’

Fayyad criticized for attending Israeli conference on security

Peres: Fayyad – Palestinians' 1st 'Ben-Gurionist'

Yesha Chief: Peres "Disgraced" Ben-Gurion's Memory


My online comment to The Guardian RE Palestine's impossible dream by Yousef Munayyer

Artists’ sketches of the proposed new city, Rawabi, which is six miles north of Ramallah and hopes to attract young professionals. It includes apartment blocks, olive trees and shaded walkways. Photograph: Public Domain

RE: Palestine's impossible dream by Yousef Munayyer

comment posted online


3 Feb 2010, 6:05PM

Israel has been freely building settlements all through out the illegally occupied territories for decades & Palestinian American activists heading supposedly pro-Palestine organizations here in America are inspired to diss a Palestinian effort to build a Palestinian community in Palestine for Palestinians?!!

Knocking support away from Palestine is easy as can be, and apparently many 'academics' find it entertaining to do so... but I find such an approach horrifying because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the children of Palestine need real hope- and a real Palestine.

My letter to the Washington Post RE Palestinian premier speaks at Israeli conference

A Palestinian school girl walks by a mural at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

RE: Palestinian premier speaks at Israeli conference

Dear Editor,

Excellent to see these efforts at building a real Palestinian state publicized and empowered by people who take Palestine and peace and progress seriously.

In PAVING THE WAY FOR PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD Ziad Asali, president & founder, American Task Force on Palestine wisely states: "I think in general, the Palestinian and Israeli political leadership have to be convinced, regardless of the package that needs to be put together, of this: don’t do anybody any favors, do your own country a favor, it is in your interest to negotiate"

The Arab Peace Initiative is an amazing and unprecedented opportunity for all to move forward in a more positive and progressive direction... for everyone's sake.

The children of historic Palestine need freedom- and a future: "Part of a line of generations experiencing the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world, Palestinian refugee youth play in the leftovers of ineffectual UN Resolutions. Resolution 194 affirms that, “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” This was stated in 1948. It’s been 62 years, and the “earliest practicable date” for people to rightfully return to their homes has not been determined" Refugee Youth: Living in Israel’s Punch Line b
y Hajr Al-Ali for MIFTAH

Left unresolved the Israel/Palestine conflict is already on its way to becoming a cruel "religious struggle between bearded fanatics on both sides about the will of God and holy places" Hussein Ibish on the Fantasy World of One-Staters

Naysayers, cynics, hate mongers and useful idiots on both sides seek to sabotage the idea of Palestine and peace.

I'd rather notice and celebrate the beautiful voices for Palestine, honest voices and poetic voices- and visionaries & realists who understand the crucial importance of ending the Israel/Palestine conflict.... people with open minds and open hearts and the ability to see the big picture- and the importance of work:
"When I came to America, I realized that there was a big picture, and I needed to study it, so I studied journalism and focused on the Middle East. I kept reading until I finally could see things from a much larger perspective. That was so freeing, and suddenly things started to make sense. A more whole and meaningful picture emerged about the situation of the Palestinians and what was happening to us. And then I could see what had happened to the Jews and how that led to the situation in Palestine. "
'Tasting the Sky': An Interview With Ibtisam Barakat

"We have suffered a lot and have been forced to leave with no document in hand after living 60 years in Iraq. We just want a place that welcomes us and recognizes us as human beings."" Abu Mohanned, a Palestinian refugee quoted in End of long ordeal for Palestinian refugees as desert camp closes

Anne Selden Annab

A Palestinian school girl walks by a Mural at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010. Arabic script reads 'Palestine' (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Refugee Youth: Living in Israel’s Punch Line By Hajr Al-Ali for MIFTAH

Date posted: February 03, 2010
By Hajr Al-Ali for MIFTAH

“We wish to study in high school, to study all over the world; we wish to be queens, to be princesses; We wish to live in a free Palestine, to dream of freedom in Palestine; and (we wish) to have a house under the sea!” Plastered on poster paper with a black sharpie in the Palestinian Children’s Center, these wishes are the second thing that struck me upon entering the Jalazone refugee camp. The first, was the number of kids roaming around. They’re everywhere - playing football in the streets, chasing each other with sticks through narrow alleyways in a game of cops and robbers, people watching from doorways and stone steps leading onto dirt roads, or following visitors such as myself around with a keen curiosity.

I first came across Jalazone’s children as a volunteer for Inspire Dreams Inc, a small NGO which holds a summer and afterschool program called Camp “I Have a Dream” for Palestinian youth living in refugee camps across the West Bank. For two days I participated as a camp counselor, engaging children between the ages of 6-12 in a range of activities from fitness to art. Yet, in those two days it was the theater activity that was the most powerful. Divided into groups, given a scenario, and instructed to create a story, Jalazone’s kids weaved an intricate array of narratives which illustrated their everyday struggles and exposed their most intrinsic dreams for themselves and their community.

It was the children’s performance of the “checkpoint” scene that left its mark on me. It was unsettling for me to watch; young children acting out such a painfully normal part of their everyday lives. I watched, mortified, as an older child played the part of an Israeli soldier, forcing his younger peer to the ground with a stick, yelling at him as a young girl draped with a kuffiyeh over her head wailed. Her female friends held her back, as the older boys dragged the younger one out the door, leaving me breathless. Yet, as I held my stomach in horror, the kids held theirs in mirth. The sentiment of the room was caught in a dichotomy between my distress and the sound of children’s laughter. Perhaps, though, their response was more appropriate than my own. As disturbing as such facets of the Palestinian struggle are, they are ultimately ridiculously farcical; the whole occupation is among mankind’s sickest and longest running hoaxes.

Refugee youth are among those most drastically affected by this sadistic sense of humor, growing up in the punch line Israel has been delivering since its creation when it first displaced around 800,000 Palestinians in 1948. Due to the economic paralysis experienced by most of their families, they suffer from malnutrition, the inability to finish their education, and are often forced into early marriages. Additionally, many refugee youth revealed that they frequently experience humiliation and harassment. Their status as exiled persons leaves them vulnerable to violence by Israeli soldiers, as well as internal pressures from within the Palestinian community; a consequence of the stigmas associated with the camps they have been forced to call home.

Perhaps the greatest hindrance for refugee youth in the West Bank, though, is the lack of space. They live cramped within the crevices of UNRWA-established housing, in which an average of five families share one roof. Amany lives like this. A 15-year old girl I met in Jalazone, Amany lives with her parents, her many siblings, her siblings’ spouses, and their children in a small home with only a few rooms. In addition to the lack of privacy and personal space, such overcrowded living conditions can make it difficult for her to study.

The pressure cooker of home life might be eased for youth such as Amany if there were more recreational activities to get involved in. However, for Jalazone’s 5,000 youth under the age of 15, there is only one center and one park. On a recent visit back to the camp, the director of the Children’s Center, Mushira, told me, “It’s not enough. These kids need a place to go, to play, to grow, and we don’t have enough space for them all.” Wandering through the playground and the basketball court, this may not be immediately apparent. The kids make room for one another, and Jalazone is considered to be in relatively better condition than other camps by simply having such facilities to begin with. Yet, the problem became more clear as I watched a group of teens struggle to play a game of football. They were restricted to a corner of the playground the size of a storage closet, where broken toddler equipment and the fear of hitting a younger child close by, were silent participants in the game. If they weren’t on the playground, they would be forced to resort to the streets where they would be interrupted by vehicles edging their way through the camp’s constricted pathways. All of these issues render these young men incapable of “spreading their wings,” whether in the narrow terms of football or the broader sense of having space to explore and develop their individual gifts.

As I was leaving the children’s center, I noticed a young girl smiling at me curiously and invited her over and asked her name. She shyly shook my outstretched hand and told me her name was “Yamama” (dove) and then flittered off to a rusty swing set. Whether it was the relevance of her name in that moment, or the cautiously hopeful way in which she looked at me, Yamama’s image has left an imprint in my memory which will undoubtedly insist I return to Jalazone.

Part of a line of generations experiencing the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world, Palestinian refugee youth play in the leftovers of ineffectual UN Resolutions. Resolution 194 affirms that, “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.” This was stated in 1948. It’s been 62 years, and the “earliest practicable date” for people to rightfully return to their homes has not been determined. These outdated, wasted promises only reinforce the wish list of refugee youth, much like the one hanging up in Jalazone’s Children’s Center. They only affirm that perhaps the dream of living in a free Palestine does indeed belong next to the dream of having a house under the sea. In the meantime, though, Palestinians continue to live as they have since well before Israel’s punch line in ’48; in the laugh lines of their children.

Hajr Al-Ali is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at