Saturday, February 13, 2010

Middle East Peace: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for the prompt resumption of political talks and the swift delivery of concrete results

Roadblocks remain in quest to achieve Middle East peace, says Ban

12 February 2010 – Daunting challenges remain in the search for lasting peace in the Middle East, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling for the prompt resumption of political talks and the swift delivery of concrete results.

“Permanent status issues, including Jerusalem, borders, refugees, security, settlements and water will be resolved only through negotiations,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the UN-backed International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, which kicked off today in Qawra, Malta.

While Israel’s efforts and willingness to resume talks are welcome, he said, returning to negotiations is hampered by developments on the ground, including continued settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory.

“At this crucial juncture, Israel should refrain from taking steps which have the potential to prejudge negotiations and create tensions,” especially in East Jerusalem, where settlements are expanding and Palestinians are being evicted, the Secretary-General’s message – read out by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco – stressed.

Mr. Ban also welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s reform efforts to set up the economic, social and institutional basis of statehood, but it must also meet its other obligations under the Roadmap in full, “including an end to incitement against Israel.”

That plan, endorsed by the so-called Quartet, comprising the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States, is for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He noted that the “protracted suffering” by Gazans is a source of great concern, calling the continued blockade in the area “unacceptable and counter-productive” for obstructing United Nations and others’ efforts to spur civilian reconstruction.

By the same token, the Secretary-General also condemned renewed rocket fire from Gaza, “which indiscriminately targets Israeli civilians.”

The UN, he said, will continue to “try to bring relief to Gazans, to promote dialogue and to rally international support for a strategy that can deliver calm for Gazans and Israelis alike.”

Political will by both sides, along with “creative support” by third parties, is essential to clinch a lasting peace in the region, Mr. Ban stressed.

“Confidence begets confidence; stability begets stability; security begets security; peace begets peace,” he said. “Let us, together, help the parties to resolve their decades-old conflict and forge a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”

The two-day gathering in Qawra, held under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), will focus on the theme, “The urgency of addressing the permanent status issues – Borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water.”

Last month, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco warned the Security Council that a climate of mistrust between Israel and Palestinians over settlement expansion, forced evictions, military incursions, rocket fire and the closure of border crossings remains at the heart of the stalled peace process in the Middle East.

“We remain deeply concerned at the current stalemate,” he said during an open debate on the Middle East. “If we cannot move forward decisively towards a final status agreement, we risk sliding backwards, with potentially profound and negative implications.”

My letter PUBLISHED Daily Star 13/02/2010 RE Hussein Ibish “A Palestinian state must be secular”
Reader's feedback published on 13/02/2010

Hussein Ibish
A Palestinian state must be secular
February 8, 2010

It was excellent to read Hussein Ibish’s commentary. I very much admire the American Task Force on Palestine as they steadfastly inspire interest in a real Palestine – a sovereign Palestine, a peaceful Palestine, a reasonable Palestine where real Palestinians can live and work free of Israeli occupation.

Anne Selden Annab
Pennsylvania, United States
Growing Gardens for Palestine

To Palestine with Love - Najwa Kawar Farah; Paperback Book Available for Pre-order

To Palestine with Love - Najwa Kawar Farah; Paperback
Condition: New
Available for Pre-order

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Author and illustrator Najwa Kawar Farah, who is 86 years old in 2009, relates emotions of love, grief and longing in this moving collection of poetry. Najwa's life experience in Palestine and the Middle East provided her with the political, historical, and socio-cultural milieu from which she draws and develops her characters.

Most of her protagonists are Palestinians, mainly 'ordinary' people especially refugees uprooted from their homes and homeland, who seek answers to their individual and collective historical predicament. Many of these protagonists are resilient women, who in addition to their political oppression encounter social discrimination. Her stories and novels come in eleven collections in Arabic. A number of them have been translated into English, Hebrew, Danish and Finnish.

About the Author

Najwa Kawar Farah is a Palestinian writer who has been contributing to the Palestinian and Arabic literature for several decades. The bulk of her publications are short stories, novels and poems. Najwa was born in Nazareth and lived in Haifa until 1965, and then in two West Bank cities, Jerusalem and Ramallah. Najwa also lived in Lebanon, the UK and presently resides in Canada. Her collection of entertaining folktales came directly from people that Najwa met in Palestine in the 1940's.

Najwa Kawar Farah - A Personal Voyage

Ali Sarsour: At home in two cultures

" "People abroad believe Americans think only of money, and I know this is not true. When I go home, I tell stories of the real Americans I know, and I'm thinking of writing a book, telling those stories. It will be called 'The Beautiful American'."

Ali Sarsour was born in Palestine, but has lived in Chico for 40 years. He considers both places home, yet the cultures are vastly different.

He thinks of such a book in contrast to "The Ugly American," a 1958 political novel. "I thought of it at my retirement party — I know some beautiful Americans."

Sarsour celebrated his retirement from a Chico electronics store and his 63rd birthday Feb. 6 with 150 friends during a party and roast at Trinity United Methodist Church Hadley Hall.

He admits he has always been known for being outspoken.

"I have this addiction," Sarsour said Wednesday at a coffee shop. "I need to change things. I love to talk. But I'm learning to calm down and not say everything I want."

Albireh, the town were Sarsour grew up in Palestine, was damaged during the 1967 war with Israel. But he remembers a lovely place. "It was a town with a lot of trees, vegetables, different plants. Loved the fig trees and the daily farmers market. In many ways, it was a lot like Chico.

"I was a kid who wanted to be in politics. In my home town, there was no public library," he said, adding it was 1966 and he brought the need to the city's attention.

"So we got a library. It was a rented house with donated books, and homemade tables and chairs. I went back recently and my young cousin took me to see the library. It's four stories and beautiful. There is satisfaction in starting something, and seeing it grow." " ...READ MORE

Ali Sarsour: At home in two cultures

By MARY NUGENT - Staff Writer

Are the Israelis ready to apply the same principles to the Palestinian refugees that they demand for their own people?

"The complexity of applying a single standard of law and morality to both sides - the critical foundation on which any successful diplomacy must proceed in the Palestine-Israel and wider Arab-Israeli conflict - was raised in the second development that caught my eye this week: a draft bill in the Israeli parliament to compensate Jews who were forced out of or fled Arab countries after the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Among the arguments for the bill before the Immigration and Absorption Committee last Tuesday were references to a February 2008 US House of Representatives resolution saying that the United States should demand that Jewish refugees be acknowledged and treated in the same way as Palestinian refugees. The Israeli bill also demands compensation for Jewish communal properties, like synagogues and cemeteries.

The prevalent Israeli aim in this bill is not to resolve all refugeehood cases fairly, but to claim that a “population exchange” between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis occurred in 1948 and therefore the Palestinians have no more claims, and there is nothing to be resolved anymore.

The reality is more complex for two reasons: the circumstances under which Palestinians and Arab Jews left their homes and moved or were forced elsewhere are very different and cannot be lumped into a single dynamic of population exchanges. Nevertheless, the resolution of these and other claims by refugees or displaced persons must reflect application of a single standard of refugee law, whether pertaining to restitution, repatriation, compensation or other mechanisms of conflict resolution.

Are the Israelis ready to apply the same principles to the Palestinian refugees that they demand for their own people? Similarly, are the Israelis prepared to allow an impartial international investigation of their conduct in the Gaza war, alongside a similar investigation in Gaza?

Try as people may, we simply cannot escape the principle that adjudicating conflicts through the equal application of the law to both sides is the inescapable bottom line of any successful negotiation that sees both feuding parties directly involved in the process.

The UN secretary general and the Israeli parliament this week remind us how to evade this reality, when in fact we need to discover how to embrace it." Rami G. Khouri

Peace making requires application of the law

Urgency of Addressing Permanent Status Issues Central to International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Urgency of Addressing Permanent Status Issues Central to International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Under Way in Malta

Full_Report (pdf* format - 126.6 Kbytes)

Secretary-General Underlines Serious Challenges To Quest for Palestinian Statehood, Security for Israel

(Received from a UN Information Officer.)

QAWRA, Malta, 12 February ‑‑ "Confidence begets confidence; stability begets stability; security begets security; peace begets peace," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in a message to the International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace, urging solid support for a resolution of the decades-old conflict.

Convinced that permanent status issues, including Jerusalem, borders, refugees, security, settlements and water, would be resolved only through negotiations, the Secretary-General beseeched the parties to respond positively to calls for a resumption of political talks and then work concertedly for quick, meaningful results, in a message delivered by his representative, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.

Setting a realistic tone for the two-day Meeting, organized jointly by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), the Secretary-General acknowledged the persistence of daunting challenges in the shared quest for Palestinian statehood and self-determination, security and recognition for Israel, and lasting peace in the region.

He welcomed Israel's efforts to resume talks, but said a return to negotiations was seriously hampered by developments on the ground. He cited, in particular, continued settlement expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially significant in East Jerusalem, where settlement infrastructure was being expanded and consolidated while Palestinians were being subjected to evictions, demolitions and revocations of residency rights.

"A way should be found, through negotiations, for Jerusalem to emerge as the capital of two States, with arrangements for the holy sites acceptable to all," he said. He reviewed the Palestinian Authority's reforms, deemed unacceptable the ongoing blockade of Gaza, and condemned renewed rocket fire from the enclave into Israel.

Pedro Núñez Mosquera, Chairman of the Delegation of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, emphasized the urgency of addressing the five permanent status issues ‑‑ borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and water ‑‑ as part of a renewed negotiation process. On borders, any changes to the 1967 lines could only occur by mutual agreement. Concerning Jerusalem, a sustainable settlement must include East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian State, he said.

According to the Committee, the announced 10-month settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank was "at best, partial and temporary", and all settlements in occupied territory were illegal and seriously impeded efforts to relaunch the peace talks. A durable solution to the refugee problem could only be achieved in the context of Palestinians' inalienable right of return to the homes and property from which they had been displaced. Finally, he stressed the importance of an early agreement on water, which respected the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to their own natural resources.

In another opening statement, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta and Representative of the host country, Tonio Borg, said that the continuing impasse and prevailing low confidence between the parties, compounded by the continued dramatic developments on the ground, were a source of major concern to all. Intense diplomatic activity had been directed at resumption of negotiations, but the desired breakthrough remained elusive. He urged the international community to continue to actively engage with the parties directly and with regional partners, and within the Quartet, in support of initiating a meaningful process leading to a "clear endgame".

He said that parliamentarians had a role in supporting Israeli-Palestinian peace and stability. That was where the added value of meetings such as this one lay. Not only were they an opportunity for Governments and institutions, but for representatives of legislators of Mediterranean States to discuss peace in the region. The conflict in the Middle East concerned the entire Mediterranean region. "We cannot simply pay lip service to the idea of a two-State solution without looking for opportunities to tangibly intensify contacts and creating the right climate for frank and constructive exchanges," he said.

In a high-level segment this morning, the President of the Egyptian People's Assembly, Ahmed Fathi Sorour, said the peace process was based on international legitimacy and grounded in past resolutions, agreements and principles. But despite the various proposals and negotiations throughout the decades, the Israeli vision of the peace process had reflected a great deal of vagueness and intransigence. Years of procrastination had ruined the efforts of many Governments. Today, the Israeli Government wanted to start the negotiations from zero and sought to suppress agreements on issues negotiated by its previous Governments.

Offering a recipe to break the impasse, he said that negotiations should be held within a binding time limit, under the Quartet's authority and in the framework of existing United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements and initiatives. Settlement activities must be discontinued and confidence-building measures must commence. Priority should be given to the borders issue; the refugee problem should be resolved as per the relevant General Assembly resolution. Continued killing and homelessness resulting from a continuation of this crisis would only beget more violence, instability and terror on both sides of the Mediterranean.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State of Turkey, Cemil Çiçek, said the framework for the peace process was clear ‑‑ embodied in relevant resolutions. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict lay at the centre of all interrelated and complex problems of the Middle East, and at the very core of the conflict, lay the issue of Jerusalem. A permanent solution required not only intergovernmental agreements, but mutual tolerance among the city's different communities. Without secure peace in Jerusalem, the chances of achieving sustainable stability in the region were "next to none".

He said that the ongoing settlement activities, both in Jerusalem and the West Bank, constituted serious obstacles for peace. And, thus, for negotiations to be relaunched, those activities must be totally halted. As Palestinians continued to emphasize, cessation of settlement activity was not a precondition, but an obligation of the Israeli side, emanating from the Road Map. A 10-month freeze fell short of meeting the expectations of the Palestinian side, as well as that of the international community and of Israeli obligations.

Opening statements this morning were also made by Rudy Salles, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean; and Tayseer Quba'a, Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian National Council.

Plenary I, on the state of the peace process, heard first from Sa'eb Erakat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He asserted that the Palestinian side had not put a single condition on negotiations. It did not demand any condition when it said Israel must stop settlement activities; that was an obligation emanating from the Road Map, and not a Palestinian condition. "To Netanyahu we say: there is a difference between dictation and negotiation," he stressed.

Now, he said, proximity talks looked to be the most advanced tools of decision-making since the Palestinians and Israelis had exhausted negotiations. It was indeed time for decisions, and those could not be made by negotiators. But he wondered whether the talks would be open-ended or sealed with a time frame, whether they would begin with borders, and what he would do if he found out in four months that the Israeli Government was not willing to engage on borders. "There will never be a Palestinian State without Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem being a single territorial unit," he said.

A lecturer from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former negotiator, Alon Liel, said that many in Israel felt that the peace process had crashed to the extent that the two-State solution looked impossible at the moment. Even if the Americans managed to arrange proximity talks and enter a hotel and sit in one room, with the existing political map in Israel, "the gap is unbridgeable", he added. He acknowledged that with a broken heart, but did not see the possibility of a Palestinian State being created in the foreseeable future. And he was not even speaking of Jerusalem or refugees, but about borders only, he said.

As for the situation on the ground, he said it was unacceptable, both in Gaza and the West Bank. In fact, it was immoral and would only lead to more violence. At the same time, for Israel, the creation of one State with Palestinians ‑‑ where they had voting rights and so forth ‑‑ was an even bigger nightmare than the two-State solution. So he proffered to the conference that perhaps the Palestinians should propose that to the Israeli leadership today, adding: "They'll start shivering, I'm telling you."

Also speaking today was Hesham Youssef, on behalf of Amre Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League of States.

A brief discussion included a speaker on behalf of the United Arab Emirates and from the Egyptian Parliament.

The Meeting was scheduled to resume at 3 p.m.

Full_Report (pdf* format - 126.6 Kbytes)

Friday, February 12, 2010

My letter to the LATimes RE A Museum of Tolerance we don't need by Saree Makdisi

RE: A Museum of Tolerance we don't need, The Simon Wiesenthal Center should abandon its plan to build a facility on the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.,0,1055476.story

Dear Editor,

Excellent to see "A Museum of Tolerance we don't need, The Simon Wiesenthal Center should abandon its plan to build a facility on the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem."

I totally agree with him that "Peace will come to Palestine/Israel only when the blind insistence on displacement ends and both peoples are allowed to belong to the same land."... but I think that land really does need two different sovereign names and two different futures- two different identities side by side: Israel and Palestine shaping a peaceful transition to a better way forward using partition as a firm step up away from Zionist land grabs and home demolitions.

Both Israel and Palestine need to be free and both need to be focused in on being the best that they can be- two nation states, Israel AND Palestine side by side, fully respecting international laws, borders and basic human rights.... fully respecting the dire need for peace and progress for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

My letter to CSM RE Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off, Forget rock-throwing teens. Growing peaceful Palestinian resistance could tip the c

Protesters dressed as characters from the movie "Avatar" to draw attention to their campaign against the controversial Israeli barrier during a protest by Palestinians, Israelis and foreign activists in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah February 12, 2010. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ENTERTAINMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY)

RE: Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off, Forget rock-throwing teens. Growing peaceful Palestinian resistance could tip the conflict.

Dear Editor,

DELIGHTED to see the headline "Peaceful Palestinian resistance is paying off, Forget rock-throwing teens. Growing peaceful Palestinian resistance could tip the conflict."

Peaceful Palestinian resistance is an often overlooked everyday reality. One could do a whole series on the topic. It is certainly a subject worth pursuing and a positive life style philosophy worth respecting for Palestine's sake. There are many different ways to peacefully but firmly resist Jews-preferred Israel's ongoing efforts to divide and destroy all of Palestine.... For instance there are Fayyad's state building projects "Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State", aimed at empowering Palestinian institutions and infrastructures.... Palestine: Moving Forward, Priority Interventions for 2010

And within Israel-proper another example are the courageous Palestinians explaining to the United Nations their concerns regarding t
he Simon Wiesenthal Center's insulting plan to construct an outpost of Los Angeles' Museum of Tolerance atop the most important Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem. ( A Museum of Tolerance we don't need)

And of course there is every artist- every dreamer- every reporter and every child developing their natural gifts and talents for Palestine's sake- that too is peaceful resistance.

Anne Selden Annab

Palestinians and foreign activists dressed as characters from the movie "Avatar" to draw attention to their campaign against the controversial Israeli barrier hold Palestinian flags during a protest in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah February 12, 2010. Israel started rerouting the barrier on Thursday in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling two years ago that said a section of the barrier set to cut through the village's farmland should circumvent it instead. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST ENTERTAINMENT)

A Museum of Tolerance we don't need- The Simon Wiesenthal Center should abandon its plan to build a facility on the site of a Muslim cemetery

"In wanting to lay the dead to rest, however, we should think also of the living.

Displacing living people -- something Israel does every single day -- is hardly any better than displacing dead ones. And this disgraceful episode is only part of a much longer history of displacement and dispossession dating to 1948.

The real lesson of Ma'man Allah and the museum project is this: Peace will come to Palestine/Israel only when the blind insistence on displacement ends and both peoples are allowed to belong to the same land."


A Museum of Tolerance we don't need

The Simon Wiesenthal Center should abandon its plan to build a facility on the site of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

American Task Force on Palestine Senior Fellow gives MIT seminar

Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
February 12, 2010 - 12:00am

Ibish at MITATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish addressed the Wednesday seminar series held by MIT's Security Studies Program on February 10, 2010. His talk focused on evaluating different scenarios for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the occupation that began in 1967. Ibish told the group of about 30 faculty and graduate students" I think we have to start an evaluation of these suggestions with two fairly obvious points which I think are not disputed by any serious commentator: first, that a military victory which resolves the conflict is not available to either party; and second, that the status quo is untenable and unacceptable to both. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are going to go away or capitulate and abandon their national identities or projects. Therefore, in the absence of a resolution, or a process leading towards resolution, conflict will continue and there will be a generalized relationship of violence and indeed warfare."

He continued, "It strikes me that anyone who chooses to argue that a two state peace agreement is either unachievable or undesirable has a political, and indeed a moral, obligation to propose a workable alternative. Everyone must always be asked at every stage: what is your alternative, what is your vision? And let me stress that any alternative scenario must be acceptable to both parties, which is to say it must meet the minimum national requirements of both Israel and the Palestinians, and any other relevant parties. For reasons I've outlined in my book, while I think the one-state agenda might be acceptable to many, and possibly even to most, Palestinians, at least in theory, I am absolutely convinced that there is no way and no one has been able to demonstrate any plausible way to make it appealing to all but a tiny fringe of Jewish Israelis. They will not accept it, and they will fight vigorously and virtually unanimously against it."

Ibish said the same problems apply to the so-called "Jordanian option," that remains a favorite of the Israeli right-wing, noting that " Much the same applies to ideas on the Israeli right about somehow forcing Egypt to resume responsibility for Gaza and passing parts of the West Bank which Israel does not wish to retain back into Jordanian control, thereby obviating the need for any agreement with the Palestinians. This may be very appealing to many Israelis, but it is absolutely unacceptable to the Palestinians, the Egyptians and the Jordanians, and they too will not accept it and will fight vigorously and virtually unanimously against it. So these ideas are not plausible alternatives, because at best they only speak to the interests of one side, are excuses for not having a plausible workable alternative while rejecting the two state solution."

Ibish agreed that many obstacles face the achievement of a two-state agreement, but insisted it was still a possibility and pointed to the new PA state and institution building program as a new means to gain momentum in that direction. He said, " While it is essential for all parties to continue to pursue the top-down diplomatic agenda that will shape the terms of peace, it is just as important for the international community to move quickly to support this bottom-up state and institution building plan that will complement, reinforce and protect the diplomatic track, and ensure that the Palestinian state, when it is established, will be functional and successful. It can also serve as an alternative source of momentum in the direction of peace if diplomacy is at an impasse or yielding too few results too slowly." He urged the greatest possible international aid, technical support and political protection for the program, and described as "the best idea anyone has had in at least 15 years for dealing with this conflict constructively."

A Palestinian man and the Damascus gate are silhouetted during an early morning light in Jerusalem's old city, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

My letter to IHT RE Hard Mideast Truths By ROGER COHEN

Palestinian Mahmoud Samar, who claims to own land in Bilin that he cannot access due to Israel's West Bank separation barrier, sits near the adjacent West Bank Jewish settlement of Modiin Ilit, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. Opponents of Israel's contentious separation barrier in the West Bank scored a long-awaited victory Thursday when the government began rerouting the enclosure to eat up less of a Palestinian village that has become a symbol of anti-wall protests and the site of frequent clashes. (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)

RE: Hard Mideast Truths By ROGER COHEN

Dear Editor,

Cohen's "Hard Mideast Truths" obviously speaks to Jewish Americans. I think you should find another columnist whose background and sensibility is more in tune with Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans as well as American-Americans to help explain hard truths in more relevant ways.

You are already very much helping pro-Israel readers deal with what Israel will become- please also help pro-Palestine readers deal with what Palestine will become, so that we can all move forward in more positive definitive two separate state directions working side by side in peace.

Might I suggest you contact ATFP (The American Task Force on Palestine) for they are quite serious about both Palestine and peace... and I think they could help you find some wonderful writers and thinkers who understand how to speak truth to power.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

A Palestinian man takes his horse into the water of the Mediterranean Sea, in Gaza City, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Unforgotten Land of Storytellers By Hajr Al-Ali for MIFTAH

Date posted: February 11, 2010
By Hajr Al-Ali for MIFTAH

“We won’t be forgotten. We’re the world’s shiver. It’s cold out there and whether you like it or not, we’re coming in.” With the anger, passion, and rightfully brutal honesty so characteristic of his poetry, Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi performed these words before a packed house at Ramallah’s Café La Vie. It was an exciting event to be a part of, especially in the context of a country which possesses a rich oral history. I’ve been catapulted into such creative spaces since being here in Palestine; into the vibrant world of its artist community. Besides this most recent poetry night, I’ve been mesmerized by the intricate and strikingly elegant flow of dabke, jammed out with local musicians on percussion, and been blown away by the photography of young Palestinians. Dance, Music, Poetry, Photography… Art. Through these diverse forms of self-expression, Palestinians continue to exemplify their prowess for storytelling; keeping their cultural landscape fertile through traditions of oral narration.

Abu ‘Ajab knows something about this. He is the oldest storyteller of his kind in Palestine. With the help of his Sunduq Al-‘Ajab (the Wonder Box), Abu ‘Ajab has been telling stories to children across Palestine for the last 16 years; recounting traditional Arab folklores about epic heroes such as Antar, Abla, and Abu Zayd Al-Hilali. He adjusts these ancient stories to appeal to kids today, hoping to pass on important life-lessons and the wisdom of their ancestors. “These stories are meant to instill the values and principals of humanity; to make them smile and learn in an entertaining way and engage them in analyzing the world around them.”

Abu ‘Ajab is a legend around these parts. Better known to his family and friends as Mr. Adil Tartir, Abu ‘Ajab is a kind, welcoming man, with a gentle smile that lights up his eyes and colors his cheeks; his face is framed by his wavy, silver, shoulder length hair and a brilliant bicycle mustache. I first met him on my way home one afternoon. “Ahlan, Ahlan, tafadali” (Welcome, welcome, come in), he said to me, guiding me into his magnificent underground fortress of storytelling. I found myself engulfed by large, exaggerated costumes, colorful masks, musical trinkets, and an interesting apparatus that looked like a puppet box, but that I had ultimately never seen before. Beaming, he told me that it was the “Sunduq Al-‘Ajab.” “Look inside!”, he invited. I leaned in and cupped my hands around the sides of my face, staring into illuminated windows. As Abu ‘Ajab turned the handles of his magic sunduq, I watched in awe as colorful, hand-made illustrations passed through, transporting me to another time and place.

Mr. Tartir has built his life’s work around invoking such reactions from audiences such as myself. For over four decades, he has been connecting the past to the present through his work in theater. He was only 18 when he and a group of friends established the theater group “Ballaleen” (Balloons) in 1967. When I asked him if the ’67 war propelled its creation, he said, “Sure, it was one of the factors. But it was also simply because of our individual talent and interest in the performing arts. And, it was also a way for us to express ourselves and share what we wanted with the world about our challenges, concerns, and dreams.”

Years later, the group created a new company in 1975 called “Sunduq Al-‘Ajab.” It was the first theater group of its kind since the 1920s and spurred a new era for theater in Palestine, especially since it was the first time actors worked solely in theater as professionals. Through its performances on a wide array of socio-political ideas, the group transformed the field. “The theater was a way for people to rebel, to resist, to express themselves and the struggle (against the Israeli occupation).” Over time the group’s members eventually moved on, but Mr. Tartir remained, continuing to enhance the field of theater in the country.

It was in 1994, through his own vision, conversations with several elders, and after a number of attempts, that Mr. Tartir – also a skilled carpenter – constructed the actual Sunduq Al-‘Ajab. His move to create this age-old storytelling device and perform especially for children stems not only from his passion for theater, but for his desire to protect the history and traditions that shape his identity as a Palestinian. “The occupation has stolen many things from us,” he told me one evening as we sipped on ginger tea. “(It stole) our food, our history, our culture. We can not let them steal our stories too. We must preserve and protect our stories, because they belong to us, to our people, to our society, who have been around for thousands of years.”

Since its formation, Israel has attempted to trample on these stories through their denial of the existence of the Palestinian people. In the June 15th, 1969 edition of the Sunday Times, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir is quoted as saying, “There was no such things as Palestinians… It was not as though there was a Palestinians people in Palestine considering itself as Palestinian and we threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” Israel continues to espouse this belief; that Palestinians had no national identity prior to Israel. Not only does it continue to oppress the Palestinian population through state violence, but its robbery and systematic denial of Palestinians’ cultural landscape defines its socio-political claims to the land.

In 2001, poet Zeinab Habash wrote, “With music, we transform into butterflies/With drawing, we color life/With poetry, we embody fantasy/ With persistence, we entice the impossible.” Whether through poetry, dance, music, or theater; whether through contemporary spoken word pieces, or through theater performances dating back centuries, Palestinian artists continue to share stories which tell the world that they “will not be forgotten,” and remind their own people, “Persist Palestine. Persist.”

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

Arab Shorts - Independent Arab Film - Goethe-Institut
It's all about the independent Arab cinema! On you find independent feature films and documentaries, animations as well as experimental films and video art from the Arab World.
A network of nine film curators from nine Arab countries has selected a wide range of exciting young Arab film productions in order to make the versatility and quality of independent Arab film-making visible.

Najla Said performing “Palestine” at the Fourth Street Theater ... NYTimes "Identity Found: On West Side via West Bank "

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times: Najla Said performing “Palestine” at the Fourth Street Theater.

"...Indeed, while Ms. Said’s theatrical cocktail might be viewed as personal and political, she said she made efforts not to offend any group. She felt the pain of being misunderstood all too keenly after 9/11, she said, because she realized that her heritage made her an outsider, at best, to people who knew nothing about her or about Arab-Americans.

But Ms. Said also finds a danger in group identification, which can mean the loss of the details of real personal history, which are needed for people to see and hear each other fully, she said after a recent rehearsal. “We’ve all got stories,” she said.... READ MORE"

Identity Found: On West Side via West Bank

Palestinian Christian priests call for non-violent resistance By Daoud Kuttab

Jordan Time Sponsor

Palestinian Christian priests call for non-violent resistance

By Daoud Kuttab

The voice of Father Jamal Khader coming over the waves of Radio Mawwal in Bethlehem was soothing and confident. A caller asked him to explain the words of Jesus, “to love your enemy”, in light of the occupation and walls built by Israel and the injustice against Palestinians.

Father Khader, who was being interviewed along with Rifaat Kassis, the coordinator of a new initiative by 16 Jerusalem-based Christian leaders, said that Christians are committed to these words without reservation.

“All the people of the world are God’s children and we are obliged to follow the words of our Lord,” he said with confidence, knowing full well that most of his listeners will have a hard-time digesting that reply. The Catholic priest, who also teaches theology at Bethlehem University, said that Christ was also a champion of the oppressed. He said that Palestinians are oppressed today and Jesus clearly stands by Palestinians, and that was what led him and other Christian leaders to sign the Kairos Palestine document.

Another caller asked the Christian leaders if they supported the concept of resistance. The radio guests answered said that the group does indeed support resistance, albeit in its non-violent forms. Still another caller wanted the Christian leaders to detail the forms of non-violent resistance they will support.

“Boycotts and divestments are among some forms of resistance we support,” said Kassis, noting that already some Christian churches in the US have begun divestment campaigns.

It is true that the issue of divestment has been discussed by Presbyterians and Methodists, and in some cases the followers of these denominations began a divestment campaign à la South Africa. But for leading Catholics to call from the Holy Land for worldwide divestment is rather new. Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. On the website, the 16 Christian leaders whose names are listed insist that this the moment of truth. They state boldly: “We Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity.”

The call foran end to the occupation of Palestine by Israel was issued during a December 11 meeting in Bethlehem. It questions the international community, political leaders in the region and the churches worldwide about their contribution to the Palestinian people's pursuit of freedom.

The Kairos Palestine Document echoes a summons similar issued by South African churches in the mid-1980s, at the height of repression under the apartheid regime. Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu is featured on the website as publicly endorsing the call in a letter sent to the organisers and read during the launching event. Tutu declares total support for Palestinian Christians.

“Despite your suffering under the illegal occupation, you are coming together to say, quite tremendously, that your faith, hope and love, compels you to know that the God of the Bible is on your side and will bring you the freedom and justice you long for.”

Peaceful resistance is as much a right as it is a duty, and it has the potential to hasten the time of reconciliation. Asserting that this is a moment demanding repentance for past actions, either for using hatred as an instrument of resistance or being indifferent and absorbed by faulty theological positions, the group calls on the international community and Palestinians to be steadfast in this time of trial.

"Come and see [so we can make known to you] the truth of our reality," they appeal.

Another passage in the document argues: "God created us not to engage in strife and conflict but together build up the land in love and mutual respect. Our land has a universal mission, and the promise of the land has never been a political programme, but rather the prelude to complete universal salvation. Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an ideological or a theological question only."

The authors of the Kairos Palestine document also reject any use of the Bible to legitimise or support political options and positions that are based upon injustice. The document concludes: "In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God's goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persists in our land. We will see here 'a new land' and 'a new human being', capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters."

11 February 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ismail Khalidi : Debunking the Palestinian stereotype  |

"....The current situation, where Israeli teenagers are sent to Palestinian “homelands” to militarily control millions of Palestinians and their land is not only unsustainable, but is morally corrosive to both Israeli and Palestinian society. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. told us: “This madness must cease.”

In fact, there is a growing nonviolent movement against the occupation and the illegal “separation wall” that Israel has erected. This wall rises higher and stretches farther than the Berlin Wall ever did.

The protests against the wall are led by villagers who have been cut off from their land and their relatives by the omnipresent concrete and barbed wire barrier. In the villages of Bil’in and Na’alin, weekly protests are regularly met with rubber bullets, tear gas and handcuffs.

Visitors, Israelis and locals alike are subject to such repression, and over the past several years dozens of marchers have been killed and injured.

In the past five months, four grass-roots leaders of the nonviolent protest movement have been arrested by the Israeli army and held for weeks, even months, often without charge or trial...."


Debunking the Palestinian stereotype |

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa- good book review by Robin Yassin-Kassab

Palestinian women collect their olives.

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

This is the first English-language novel to express fully the human dimension of the Palestinian tragedy

The Zionist story has Palestine before the state of Israel as “a land without a people awaiting a people without a land”. Writers from Mark Twain to Leon Uris, as well as Hollywood studios and certain church pulpits, retell the tale. But Palestinians, in the West at least, lack a popular counter-narrative. Palestinians are reported on, met only on the news.

Perhaps this is changing. As the land disappears from under their feet Palestinians have been investing in culture, and Mornings in Jenin is the first English-language novel to express fully the human dimension of the Palestinian tragedy.

The story begins with the Abulheja family at home in the village of Ein Hod, near Haifa, marrying, squabbling, trading and harvesting olives. It’s a touching and sometimes funny portrait of rural life.

Then comes the nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948. Driven from their shelled village, the family suffers loss, separation and humiliation, ending up in a camp in Jenin, where “the refugees rose from their agitation to the realisation that they were slowly being erased from the world”. By now we care very much about the key characters, and through them we experience ...READ MORE

Jordan's King warns of fading opportunity for peace, urges immediate talks

Jordan Time Sponsor
King warns of fading opportunity for peace, urges immediate talks

His Majesty King Abdullah speaks during a conversation held during the World Economic Forum in Davos late January (Photo by Yousef Allan)
His Majesty King Abdullah speaks during a conversation held during the World Economic Forum in Davos late January (Photo by Yousef Allan)

AMMAN (JT) –– His Majesty King Abdullah has warned that chances of peace will fade if serious negotiations do not start immediately to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict according to the two-state solution.

He added that a “continuation of the status quo and a failure to establish an independent and viable Palestinian state will send the Middle East into many decades of instability”.

His Majesty made the remarks during a conversation session moderated by Newsweek Editor Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos late last month.

“Actually this is probably the first time where I am somewhat pessimistic. As we all know, the core issue in the region is the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And as you said, it has been going on for many decades: so much suffering, so much frustration, and it can only get worse if we don’t solve the problem,” the Monarch stated, adding that the entire international community will be paying the price for not solving the Palestinian issue.

The King stressed that Jordan will not have any role in the West Bank, indicating that the only credible, viable way of solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the two-state solution that enables the Israelis and Palestinians to live together.

His Majesty stressed that the injustice towards the Palestinian people allows other state and non-state actors to assume the role of the defenders of the Palestinians.

During the session, King Abdullah underlined the need for a peaceful solution to solve the issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, saying that Jordan refuses any military solution against Iran because it is an important and significant country in the region.

Emphasising that every country has a right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, the King stressed the need for transparency in nuclear programmes throughout the region, including Israel.

“The argument that I sometimes hear in circles is the Iranians are pursuing a military programme and therefore this is a threat to Israel. But if we solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, why would Iranians want to spend so much money on a military programme?”

Regarding terror and extremism, the Monarch said that Muslims stand for tolerance, acceptance and humanity, and that those who pretend to be Muslims but desecrate the name of Islam through terrorist acts are trying to hijack the religion.

He expressed pride in the Jordan Armed Forces and security services for being able to combat terror groups, who, he stressed, have nothing to do with Islam.

“Our role is to protect our citizens, to protect our country, but equally important is to protect our faith,” he said, adding: “If we felt that people are going to target Jordan, we would target them. And my message is clear: As long as you continue to try and hurt the citizens of my country we have the right to protect ourselves.”

The King underlined Jordan’s efforts to reflect the real image of Islam including the Amman Message, which he called an effort at outreach among faiths, in addition to the Common Word, a Jordanian-inspired initiative to bring Muslim and Christian communities together.

King Abdullah stressed that Jordan is determined to move forward in its reform and development process, pointing to the decentralisation plan, which he said will allow Jordanians to move democracy in the right direction and lead to political reforms.

“It is a partnership between me and the people of being able to move society so that they are capable of moving democracy forward and I know that Jordanians have it in them and have the capability, and I hope that as we start with decentralisation that is going to move Jordan strongly forward,” the King added.

9 February 2010

Prime Minister of Japan, and Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President visit Hiroshima & call for a world without nuclear weapons

Joint Press Release on the Meeting between Dr. Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan, and Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President

February 8, 2010
  1. Dr. Yukio Hatoyama, Prime Minister of Japan, and Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, had an official meeting in Tokyo on February 8, 2010. They discussed the Middle East Peace Process and the relationship between Japan and the Palestinian National Authority.

  2. Prime Minister Hatoyama reaffirmed Japan’s position that it supports President Abbas’ efforts to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations. Prime Minister Hatoyama, expressing his concerns over the present stagnation of the peace process, stressed that a comprehensive peace must be achieved at the earliest possible date, based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative. Prime Minister Hatoyama called upon the Palestinians to continue its measures for cessation of violence. He also stressed the need for Israel to freeze all settlement activities. He assured that Japan would not recognize any act by Israel that would prejudge the final status of Jerusalem and territories in the pre-1967 borders. He also expressed his support for the current efforts by the US, Arab countries and the rest of the international community for the resumption of negotiations. President Abbas expressed his appreciation for Japan’s support for his peace efforts.

  3. President Abbas explained the current situation of the peace process, and elaborated his position regarding various issues on the peace process and reaffirmed his unequivocal commitment to a two-state solution. He stressed that the Roadmap should be the basis for the progress of the Middle East peace process, and reiterated his position that, while Palestinians continue to abide by the cessation of all act of violence against Israelis, Israel should freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank including East Jerusalem. He also expressed his determination to further expedite efforts to build a basis for a future independent Palestinian State, through implementing the present Government Program of the Palestinian Authority for institution and capacity building.

  4. Both sides recognized that the resumption of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel is urgently needed at the earliest possible time. In this context, President Abbas explained his current stance that negotiations should be resumed based on the Roadmap and the aforementioned internationally agreed terms of reference, and that such negotiations should deal with, among others, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security and water.

  5. Prime Minister Hatoyama stressed the importance of the national reconciliation of the Palestinians under the leadership of President Abbas.

  6. Both sides stressed the necessity to urgently address the present humanitarian and reconstruction needs in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Hatoyama explained Japan’s efforts to extend its assistance to the citizens in Gaza Strip.

  7. Prime Minister Hatoyama, welcoming the recent Palestinian Authority’s efforts in institutional reforms, expressed Japan’s readiness to help the Palestinians further build a viable economy and develop capable governing institutions for a future Palestinian State. In this context, both sides shared the view that the development of the Palestinian private sector is essential to realize a viable economy in the Palestinian territories. Both sides thus decided to take steps to implement the following “Japanese-Palestinian Program of Work to Build a Viable Palestinian State”:

    (1) The Japanese side will dispatch a mission to study the need for Japan’s assistance in the area of institution and capacity building.

    (2) The Japanese side and the Palestinian side will work together on a regional initiative of “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity/an Agro-Industrial Park in Jericho,” and hold a working-level technical meeting with the other two players of this project, namely Israel and Jordan, in March this year. Furthermore, as a boost for the regional initiative of Corridor for Peace and Prosperity, President Abbas explained the vision developed by the Palestinian Investment Fund to develop Jericho and the Jordanian Valley in the areas of establishing a new city in northern Jericho and touristic projects, and both sides recognized the importance of consulting on this matter.

    (3) Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) and Palestinian counterpart organizations will enhance their efforts to promote trade and investment in the Palestinian territories. The Japanese side will send Chairman of JETRO to the West Bank upon request from the Palestinian side. In this regard, from the point of view of increasing mutual contacts and relations between private sectors in Japan and the Palestinian territories, the Palestinian side expressed its appreciation for “Jordan, Iraq and Palestine Exhibition” held by JETRO in Tokyo in November 2009.

  8. In order to further enhance bilateral relations, both sides recognized the importance of continuing the Japan-Palestinian Ministerial Political Consultation Meeting. Furthermore, to achieve the goal mentioned in Paragraph 7, both sides shared the plan to hold a high-level consultative meeting in the Palestinian territories on the building of an independent and viable Palestinian State.

  9. Prime Minister Hatoyama told President Abbas that while acknowledging that East Asian countries have already been cooperating actively with the Palestinian Authority in its efforts for social and economic development, he is of the view that countries in East Asia can further enhance their role, commensurate with their increasing economic and political standing in the international arena, and that he wished to work together with East Asian countries to contribute to peace in the Middle East. For this purpose, he further explained that Japan would strengthen cooperation with those countries to support state-building efforts being made by the Palestinians, including institution and capacity building, thereby complementing the already existing efforts and contributing to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security. He also mentioned that this proposal would be developed through working-level meetings. President Abbas welcomed this initiative.

  10. Prime Minister Hatoyama expressed his appreciation for President Abbas’ visit to Hiroshima, and both sides jointly called for a world without nuclear weapons.
Source: Government of Japan

unrwa Response to the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post

Response to the New York Daily News and the Huffington Post

Dear Huffington Post Editor,

The recent article on US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) recycles baseless and damaging allegations which belie the co-operative and supportive relationship between UNRWA and the US Government, our single largest donor. The State Department is well aware of UNRWA’s pro-active, zero-tolerance policies towards political or militant activities among its staff and in its installations. This is a matter of public record.

The State Department is also aware of the contents of our school books having commissioned two independent reviews, both of which conclude that the curriculum does not incite hatred. It is these very text books which were reviewed in the State Department studies that are used by the State of Israel in Israeli administered schools in East Jerusalem, a fact that puts any criticisms into their proper context.

In addition, UNRWA has implemented a US funded human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance programme in all of its schools since 2002. Given the particularly difficult situation in Gaza, human rights is taught as a core subject in all grades with a dedicated human rights curriculum and specialized human rights teachers in every school.

Our track record in education is something of which we are justly proud. The statement made by by US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, at a meeting in the United Nations last September to mark the 60th anniversary of UNRWA speaks for itself:

“The United States notes with deep appreciation and gratitude the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. ….. We acknowledge the critical role UNRWA plays in providing core services and humanitarian assistance for over 4.6 million Palestinian refugees. I am proud that the United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor and take this opportunity to note the work of the almost 30,000 UNRWA employees, both national and international staff. UNRWA’s staff members, many of whom are Palestinian refugees themselves, often confront difficult and challenging circumstances, yet work tirelessly to provide quality education, health, and relief assistance programs to ensure the dignity and human development of those they serve.”

Yours sincerely,
Christopher Gunness,
UNRWA Spokesperson.

Human faces of Al-Nakba

Al-Nakba,the catastrophe of the Palestinian people who were ethnically cleansed from their homes, lands, and villages by the Zionists before and after the creation of the State of Israel on May 15th 1948! More than 750,000 Palestinians were made homeless refugees, forced to live in inhumane conditions and squalid refugee camps that were set up by the UN. These refugee camps were only supposed to serve as a "temporary" solution until the refugees were permitted to go back home according to UN Resolution 194 (The Right of Return), The Geneva Conventions regarding refugees, and other Internationally Recognized Laws! Now after more than 57 years, the Refugees are still living in camps while Israel continues to ignore countless UN Resolutions. In fact, till this very day, Israel continues to create yet more homeless refugees in Palestine, some for the 3rd and 4th time in their lives...

My letter to the New York Times RE An ‘Israeli Remix’ of a Palestinian Scarf A promotional image of a scarf in the style of a Palestinian keffiyeh with Jewish symbols.

RE: An ‘Israeli Remix’ of a Palestinian Scarf

Dear Editor,

My immediate reaction to the headline "An ‘Israeli Remix’ of a Palestinian Scarf" is anger and frustration. I am torn between growing rage and deepening sorrow for all that has already been taken from the persecuted and oppressed Palestinians, the natives of the land.... but I pushed myself to remain calm, to read as impartially and compassionately as possible, to think as clearly and as honestly as I can- and then to dare think outside the box:

Old photos of Palestinian life before 1948 reveal many secular Palestinian Arabs- beautiful women and children in fashionable clothes.

There are also many enchanting pastoral photos and prints of Palestinians in an ancient storied land wearing traditional everyday ethnic outfits. Shepherds and farmers and barefoot children who gently blend into the landscape of their ancestors. Plus there are the more formal hand made thob dresses with various Palestinian villages and cities having different cross stitched color schemes and embroidery patterns for each woman's dress.

In sharp contrast, today many news photos show more and more mass produced, big black garments that totally obscure faces and forms. Seems obvious to me that modern Islamist religious extremism completely enveloping and erasing individual expression and connection is doing much more to usurp and destroy Palestinian identity and potential then an Israeli remix of a Palestinian scarf.

Anne Selden Annab
Growing Gardens for Palestine

Shepherd outside Jerusalem

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS: Arab women grinding coffee in Palestine. Original caption: “The native mode of grinding coffee, Palestine” — Library of Congress Published as a stereoscope in September 29, 1905 by Meadville, Pa. : Keystone View Company

YAHOO PHOTOS In this picture taken Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010, a Palestinian woman takes a class in Islam at the Salafi charity 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)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My letter to the Daily Star RE A Palestinian state must be secular By Hussein Ibish of ATFP

RE: A Palestinian state must be secular By Hussein Ibish

Dear Editor,

Excellent to see Hussein Ibish's
"A Palestinian state must be secular". I very much admire the American Task Force on Palestine as they steadfastly inspire interest in a real Palestine- a sovereign Palestine- a peaceful Palestine.... a reasonable Palestine where real Palestinians can live and work free of Israel.

Anne Selden Annab
Growing Gardens for Palestine