Saturday, August 7, 2010

My letter to Al-Ahram RE Direct to where? In the face of US pressure, direct talks between Israel and the PA look inevitable.

RE: Direct to where? In the face of US pressure, direct talks between Israel and the PA look inevitable. But what will the results be, asks Dina Ezzat

Dear Editor,

Direct to where? That is an excellent question concerning Israel and Palestine, and a captivating headline.... "Direct to where?" makes me think of freedom- and open roads. A whole world of opportunities.

I very much hope that Abbas starts talks soon- for everyone's sake. Talks themselves are only the beginning of the process- only the first stirrings of real progress, real peace and a real state for Palestine. I look at all the many talented Zionist letter writers who are so eager and able to promote and defend Israel in every forum they can reach all through out America, and I can not help but hope that Palestine is eventually able to inspire the same fierce loyalty and creativity among its best and brightest citizens.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

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.

Palestinian State and Institution Building Resources

The Art Miles Mural Project TO Advocate Art rather than Violence, Cooperation instead of War, the Continuation of Life rather than Death mile by mile

Friday, August 6, 2010

ATFP Launches New Online Palestinian State and Institution Building Resources

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) is pleased to announce the launching of a new section of its website devoted to compiling resources on the Palestinian state and institution building program. As far as we are aware this is the first effort to compile comprehensive set of resources on the Palestinian state building program. The compilation presently contains 277 separate resource documents, including the core founding documents of the program, documents detailing or analyzing progress, and some important precursor documents setting the stage for the adoption of the plan in August 2009. The state and institution building resource section of the ATFP website can be accessed directly.

ATFP is committed to continue to build this collection of important resources on Palestinian state and institution building as an ongoing and open-ended project, and welcomes input from any of its friends or supporters. If any important resource for document exists that is not presently in our collection, we welcome all suggestions at the bottom of the main resource page or directly. ATFP hopes these resources will help our fellow Americans and people around the world better understand the scope, progress and importance of state and institution building by the Palestinian people.

Please allow a few extra moments for the documents to load when accessing state and institution building resource section.

Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State
Palestinian National Authority - August 31, 2009

The Palestinian State and Institution Building Program: Documents detailing the state and institution building program of the 13th Palestinian Government., available in English and Arabic.

Read More

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hussein Ibish: The bottom line....

"The bottom line is that Abbas is going to have to go back into direct negotiations because the United States is insisting on them and the only real leverage the Palestinians have available at the moment at the highest diplomatic levels vis-à-vis Israel is to leverage the American national security priority in ending the conflict to their own advantage. At some fundamental level, the Obama administration and the PLO share a core goal of ending the conflict through a negotiated agreement that also ends the occupation and establishes a Palestinian state. It's not at all clear that this is something the present Israeli government either wants or could agree to, and they haven't been tested yet because of the lack of direct negotiations. Netanyahu has been able to maintain a degree of ambiguity on his attitude towards a real two state solution that has minimally satisfied both his right-wing coalition partners and the Obama administration, but this will be much more difficult as direct talks proceed if the Palestinians play their cards right. So while many people warn that direct talks can be a trap for the Palestinians, and they certainly could be, they can also be a trap for Netanyahu, or at least a real test of his willingness to go along with an agenda the United States considers imperative for its own national interest." Hussein Ibish

The weblog of Hussein Ibish

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed "Abbas: Either Fight or Negotiate!"

Abbas: Either Fight or Negotiate!


No one ever tells the whole truth, even in simple cases such as negotiations, and here is a story to illustrate that. Of all the American Presidents, Barack Obama is actually the most enthusiastic to establish a Palestinian state and liberate the West Bank and Gaza. This is something that the Arabs and their supporters have failed to achieve through war, bombings, demonstrations or zealous speeches over the past 40 years. It is natural to regard negotiations as an alternative to defeat, and even the "Oslo Accords" that were criticized by many achieved more than empty rhetoric. It's thanks to those negotiations that [late Palestinian President] Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization [PLO] returned home from exile in Tunisia, together with over 100,000 Palestinians, to live in the West Bank and Gaza rather than the Tunisian town of Hammamet, or the Beirut district of al-Fakhani. They returned to Palestine; and as a result of this the Israeli process of capturing [Palestinian] land and expelling its Palestinian citizens came to an end.

Today, Arafat's successor has been in a state of limbo ever since Obama sent him his first message immediately after he assumed power, nearly one and a half years ago; inviting him to negotiate. Although Abbas has always negotiated with the Israelis directly, he decided this time to add a new condition; aimed at stopping settlement construction. Though his intentions were correct, his condition served the interests of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who does not wish to enter into negotiations, and is searching for an excuse to evade Obama's pressure. Therefore as a result of this, the Palestinian leadership missed out on the most important 18 months [of Obama's presidential term].

What people may not know is that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is also subject to intense Arab pressure warning him against direct negotiations, despite the fact that the Arabs were silent about this issue, and about settlement construction, during the Arafat era... READ MORE

My letter to IHT RE Palestinians and the Arab World

RE: Palestinians and the Arab World letter by Samih Sherif, Montreux, Switzerland

Dear Sir,

Excellent to see the letter Palestinians and the Arab World by Samih Sherif, pointing out the Arab Peace Initiative... and the fact that Palestinians on their own can not achieve peace with Israel.

Global support for the establishment of a state called Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital will never again be as enthusiastic as it is right now.

Direct talks to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict with a two state solution in line with international law and all relevant UN Resolutions are the only way to create a just and lasting peace- and an end to the hostilities that have been fueling hate and cynicism on both sides. Let Israel be Israel- and Palestine be Palestine.... two sovereign nations willing to work with the rest of the world on making this world of ours a better place for all our children- regardless of supposed race, religion or nationality.

Anne Selden Annab

Growing Gardens for Palestine

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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Preserving Palestine: The Environmental Politics of the Green Intifada By Leah Hunt-Hendrix for MIFTAH

When you think of Palestine, “permaculture” is not the first association that comes to mind, but it is a concept with striking relevance. Not far from Bethlehem, tucked away in the valley below Shepherd’s Field, is a little community called Bustan Qaraaqa (Tortoise Garden). Given the difficulty of access to services and resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, this experimental project takes its departure from the idea that, through community farming and sustainable living, we can find creative ways to use the things around us to fill our needs. In a context where you are cut off from large portions of your land and prohibited from consistent access to water, self-sufficiency and permaculture (permanent culture) make sense as guiding ideals.

Bustan Qaraaqa is part of the wave of grassroots activism around the world, which identifies a connection between politics and lifestyle, between developing a healthy relationship with the environment and social empowerment. Living simply and sustainably can become a method of getting beyond a dependency on party politics, delinking oneself from the interest-driven system of money and power that dominates official political programs. Bustan Qaraaqa identifies itself as part of a Green Intifada, a grassroots democratic movement based on an ethic of caring for the environment and community. Founded in 2008 by four young British ecologists, the project works closely with the community to promote creative ways to use water efficiently, both in the household and for irrigation, and an array of composting techniques which serve the dual purpose of increasing soil fertility and dealing with waste management. In addition, they have a tree nursery, reuse waste in green building, and will soon be embarking on fish farming.

When sitting on the porch at Bustan Qaraaqa, the conversation often returns to that most precious of resources: water. It is hard to imagine living in a situation where you turn on the tap and find that nothing, not a drop, emerges. But that is the reality in many parts of the West Bank, where water is often, without warning, redirected to the nearby Jewish settlements. In these conditions, this group is trying to find ways to create resilience and self-reliance. Pursuing constructive ways to cope with the difficulties of living under occupation, the guesthouse attached to the farm serves the secondary function of educating young people who are travelling through about the hardships of life under occupation, the injustices that are too rarely reported.

For example - Israelis and Palestinians share two interrelated water systems, but while a significant amount of this water is located within the territory of the West Bank, the majority of it is used by Israelis. Three aquifers are located on the border between Israel and the OPT. Israel uses 95% of the water in the western aquifer, 67% of that in the north, and though the eastern one is located entirely in the West Bank, 40% of its water is used by Israel and settlers (See Passia and Palestine Monitor for detailed fact sheets). According to the World Health Organization, the minimum amount of water intake per person per day should not be below 100 litres. But in the West Bank, only 16% of the population has access to this amount. Settlers, meanwhile, have access to about 600 litres a day. The problem with water in this region is not a lack of resources; there is enough to go around. The problem is inequitable distribution.

In addition to limited access to clean water, the classification of land within the West Bank makes building infrastructure, wells, and waste management systems, a highly laborious and bureaucratic process. The distinctions between Areas A, B and C is an affront to the newcomer’s imagination. The outsider might assume that Palestinians have control over the land on their side of the Green Line. But in reality, the West Bank is divided into areas in which the Palestinian Authority can and cannot operate. The PA has full administrative authority only over Area A, which is generally made up of urban areas and population centers. Meanwhile, over 60% of land in the OPT is classified as Area C, land on which the PA is not allowed to build or do maintenance. This essentially turns the West Bank into an archipelago of separated and isolated islands, which are unable to make use of the space and resources outside their strictly defined perimeters. Without that land, it is impossible to deal adequately with waste and sewage, or to build the structures required to provide consistent access to resources. Palestinians are, then, essentially barred from the freedom to construct a healthy, safe, and sustainable relationship with their environment – in the usual ways.

But the unusual ideas advocated by Bustan Qaraaqa may supply an alternative. While their compost toilet and the mulch created out of household trash may seem far fetched, this community is offering a model, an ethic, and a spirit, that is not atypical in this region. And though external funders and big donors try to promote grand projects and bring in well-paid private contractors, the Bustan exemplifies the ethos that emerges time and time again in Palestine: in ensuring the permanence of Palestinian culture on this land, the way forward must be one of community-based empowerment, which preserves a healthy relationship with the environment, and a fundamental hope in people, not politics.

Leah Hunt-Hendrix 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

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Oasis of security

Oasis of security

Subhi Alawneh’s three children will no longer be anxiously waiting to see their father coming home from work.

The 50-year-old’s life was ended abruptly on Monday by a rocket - believed to be fired from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula - which landed on a street in the peaceful resort city of Aqaba where he was working as a driver.

The city itself might not have been the target of the rocket, one of five that were presumably fired at the neighbouring Israeli town of Eilat on the opposite side of the gulf. But Aqaba did receive a hit - and a painful one at that - which killed the hardworking driver and injured three other persons, in addition to causing material and moral damage.

This brings to attention the issue of blind terror targeting civilians all over the world. Regardless of who the perpetrators are, the greatest damage is usually inflicted on Arabs and Muslims. They pay twice since they get killed in such incidents and because the perpetrators kill in their name.

The victims in Monday’s attack were ordinary Jordanian citizens.

Israelis on the other side of the Aqaba Gulf might have been targeted, but to target civilians of any nationality, creed or race is against all religious principles and norms, during war or peacetime.

It is obvious that the aim of these rockets was neither to win a war nor to liberate Palestine, but to inflame an already tense situation and to trigger further escalation in the Arab-Israeli conflict, thus threatening regional stability and security.

This is totally rejected and all parties to the conflict should be aware of the dangers inherent in any escalation.

Countries of the region have to coordinate efforts to prevent any future attempts to inflame the situation. As peace is certainly not the current right-wing Israeli government’s priority, the least that we can work for now is to avoid war, until a time comes when the Israeli public votes for a government that might want to make peace.

In the meantime, Jordan cannot stand idle as its security, stability and the lives of its citizens are threatened by any party.

The Kingdom will certainly do its utmost on all fronts to ensure that such incidents do not happen again and to keep Aqaba a peaceful resort that continues to attract tourists from all over the world.

The authorities will definitely do their best to ensure that people in Aqaba and elsewhere in Jordan will not be terrorised by the fear of a rocket falling over their heads.

Jordan has been an oasis of peace and security and will continue to be one.

4 August 2010

Sari Hanafi elected as a member of the executive committee of the International Sociological Association (ISA) the first Arab to hold such a post
AUB professor elected member of ISA’s executive committee
By The Daily Star

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

BEIRUT: Sari Hanafi, associate professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut (AUB), was elected in July as a member of the executive committee of the International Sociological Association (ISA) the first Arab to hold such a post since the association’s foundation in 1948, a university statement said on Tuesday.

Prior to his election, attention was drawn to Hanafi’s work by the association’s president, Michael Burawoy, when he cited at the World Sociology Congress an article by Hanafi entitled “University Systems in the Arab East:Publish Globally and Perish Locally Vs. Publish Locally and Perish Globally.”

“I think that played in my favor,” Hanafi said of the votes he had received from association members.

After switching from a civil-engineering degree to sociology, “because you can’t change the world with civil engineering,” Hanafi set off on his mission to make a difference for society.

“Through sociology, we can better understand the world and maybe change it,” he said.

From a young age, Hanafi has been committed to his community. Born into refugee status as the son of a Palestinian, Hanafi has worked tirelessly on issues of political and economic sociology with regard to the Palestinian diaspora and refugees, the sociology of migration, transnationalism, the politics of scientific research, elite formation and transitional justice.

Hanafi holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and served as a visiting professor at the University of Poitiers and Migrintern in France, the University of Bologna and Ravenna in Italy, and has been a visiting fellow at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway.

His election to the International Sociological Association comes with mixed feelings.

“I’m glad to have a way of mixing between professional and public research that allows me to do something good for my discipline, not only for my community; but there’s also a sadness that the Arab world is really absent from this association,” Hanafi said.

“It’s sad Arab countries are absent from such events. We are very local and need to become more communicative with our colleagues globally,” he said.

“This makes Hanafi’s election to the association even more of a feat, as his votes were received from delegates outside of Arab states,” the AUB statement said.

Hanafi sees Lebanon as an open society that offers a conducive environment in which to reflect on social issues, carry out research, and be critical of mainstream discourse without ending up in prison.

However, Hanafi feels that too many people here are terribly localized. “It’s not just about Palestineology or Lebanonology. Our knowledge should serve humanity – not just our community,” he said.

Hanafi has been teaching at AUB since 2005. In 2008 he began offering a minor that he created specifically for the university: Human Rights and Transitional Justice, which is specifically compelling for the conflict-ridden region to address how society should confront the legacies of past human-rights abuses or atrocities.

Hanafi has served as a consultant to the UN and World Bank, is a member of the executive bureau of the Arab Association of Sociology and a former director of the Palestinian Refugee and Diaspora Center in Ramallah. Hanafi is the author/editor of “State of Exception and Resistance in The Arab World; The Emergence of A Palestinian Globalized Elite: Donors, International Organizations and Local NGOs; Pouvoir et Associations dans le Monde Arabe,” as well as other books and articles. – The Daily Star

American University Professor Akbar Ahmed believes the founding fathers meant to integrate Muslims into American society.

Thomas Jefferson Monument: Thomas Jefferson is standing atop the Liberty Bell holding the Declaration of Independence. Surrounding the bell are figures representing Liberty, in front; Justice, in back; Human Freedom, on the right; and Religious Freedom, on the left.


Proclaim Liberty throughtout the land unto the inhabitants thereof —Leviticus XXIV.

This monument to Thomas Jefferson was presented to the people to perpetuate the teachings and examples of the Founders of the Republic.

Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.

Religious Freedom of 1776. —God, Jehovah, Brahma, Atman, Ra, Allah, Zeus.

Thomas Jefferson Monument at the Rotunda of the University of Virginia

"A statue at Jefferson's University of Virginia carries a tablet which reads 'Religious Freedom 1786: God, Jehovah, Brahma, Allah... '" he says. "Just think of it, Jefferson owned a Koran and welcomes the believers of Allah (Arabic for God)." Professor Akbar Ahmed quoted in

How America Looks Through Muslim Eyes

Documentary 'Journey into America' explores freedom, justice and tolerance in US

Monday, August 2, 2010

It is a matter of deep concern that Palestinians remain subject to the humiliation of the kind inflicted by forced evictions and home demolitions

Statement by filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General

Jerusalem, 2 August 2010

Today marks the first anniversary of the eviction of 11 Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. On this sad occasion, I met with representatives of the families affected by what was – and continues to be - an example of the grave invasion of fundamental rights that occurs all too frequently in the occupied Palestinian territory. I listened to the representatives as they described the emotional distress and the virtually irreversible damage done to their livelihoods and to their ability to sustain themselves and their families. I expressed UNRWA’s solidarity for their plight and our commitment to continue to do everything in our power to address this.

It is a matter of deep concern that Palestinians, who have already endured extreme suffering of various kinds, including multiple episodes of large-scale displacement, should remain subject to the humiliation of the kind inflicted by forced evictions and home demolitions. I reiterate my call to the Israeli authorities to allow affected families to return to their homes and to ensure that the rights and freedoms of Palestinians - refugees and non-refugees alike – are defended, protected and promoted in accordance with Israel’s international law obligations. I remind the international community that they too have responsibilities to ensure that Israel meets its international obligations.

It is also a matter of grave concern that the treatment meted out to the 11 families in Sheikh Jarrah reflects the experience of Palestinians and Palestine refugees in other areas of occupied East Jerusalem, including Silwan, Beit Hanina, the Old City and in Sheikh Jarrah itself where many live in constant fear of demolitions and evictions.

I refer in particular to a recent instance in the Old City, where armed Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli police took over the majority of rooms in a building while its Palestinian residents were away attending a wedding. I condemn this action and fully support the UN Special Coordinator’s call for the re-instatement of the Palestinian residents in the building which has been their home for decades.

Under an emergency programme funded by ECHO, UNRWA has already provided emergency assistance to the families from the Old City, including cash assistance. To the families of Sheikh Jarrah we have provided cash assistance and other services. UNRWA will continue to support these displaced families as appropriate and will continue to advocate for their protection under international law.

Abe Foxman is wrong: suffering does not justify hatred

"No amount of victimization provides immunity or impunity from irresponsible words and deeds."
Hussein Ibish

My letter to the New York Times RE The Palestinians, Alone by Efraim Karsh

RE: The Palestinians, Alone by Efraim Karsh

Dear Editor,

Yes, a negotiated settlement to end the Israel/Palestine conflict is crucially important for everyone's sake- but it is utterly ridiculous to be blaming the very real plight of the Palestinians on neighboring Arab countries. Israel created the Palestinian refugee crisis- and Israel continues to persecute and impoverish Palestinians individually and collectively... The Arab Peace Initiative, asking " Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well" is proof positive that Arab leadership has been actively engaged in supporting Palestinian efforts to get Israel to respect international law and all relevant UN Resolutions.

The Arab Peace Initiative

2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:

I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.

III- 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.

3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:

I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

March 7, 2007 Washington, DC Jordan's King Abdullah addressed a joint session of Congress hoping to gain American support for the Arab Peace Initiative: "We must work together to restore Palestine, a nation in despair and without hope. We must work together to restore peace, hope and opportunity to the Palestinian people. And in so doing, we will begin a process of building peace, not only throughout the region, but throughout the world."

Perhaps if the New York Times published the entire text of the Arab Peace Initiative, more columnists (and our fourth estate) would be inspired to support genuine efforts to help shape a just and lasting peace for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab