| November 10, 2010 |
UPDATE: International Children's Conference ''Protective Environment - Active Participation''
Under the auspices of the Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, Defence for Children International - Palestine Section, in cooperation with DCI International Executive Council and DCI - International Secretariat - Geneva, is conducting its international child conference:
Under the Motto
Child participation is one of the four basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Planning in the field of child rights stems from the importance of treating children not as objects of interest, as a target for intervention in the area of welfare, or as a group in need of help, but rather as bearers of rights: thus, caregivers must abide by moral and legal obligations to ensure the realization of those rights.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Jordanians, like the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims all over the world, reacted with shock and anger to the news about the unfolding wave of terror in Iraq.
The most shocking, heinous crime was committed last Sunday in a Baghdad church and resulted in dozens killed, including clergymen.
Jordan went beyond the expressions of condemnation. It extended a helping hand, offering to treat the injured in its hospitals.
Such monstrous attacks are not strange to Jordan. A few years ago, our country was targeted by the same brand of terrorists who claim to represent Islam and Muslims, when Muslims and the world at large would be a better place without them.
On November 9, 2005, such terrorists targeted three hotels in Amman, killing dozens, injuring many others and, for a short period of time, shattering the sense of peace and security that Jordanians used to enjoy. That faith was restored, but at a cost: now metal detectors, a very uncommon scene in Amman before, stand at the entrance of malls, hotels and other buildings.
Security authorities took the fight against terror to a new level, targeting terrorists wherever they are in collaboration with friendly countries of the world, including Iraq, the scene of the church attack and the stage of uncontrolled terror that regularly takes innocent lives.
This Tuesday, on November 9, as Jordanians mark the fifth anniversary of the Amman blasts, they will head to the polls to vote for a new Parliament. The fact that the elections and the anniversary fall on the same day should be a reminder that five years ago, some misguided individuals chose destruction over construction, death over life, in the process killing the very Islamic values they claim to defend.
The images of the carnage coming from Iraq are a grim reminder of the 2005 Amman attacks. But they should also serve as a reminder to Jordanians that on election day, they should vote for the country’s peace, security, stability and better future.
Venus, the brightest planet in the Earth sky is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.....
Venus, the brightest planet in the Earth sky is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. In some other ancient cultures Venus represents the of Goddess of love, as Aphrodite in Greek, Anahita (or Anahid) in Persian and Lakshmi in Hindu. After the Moon, Venus is the brightest natural object in the night sky. Because Venus is an inferior planet (closer to the sun than the Earth) it never appears far from the Sun. As photographed here during its greatest elongation it reaches a maximum of about 48 degrees away from the sun.
One People, One Sky!
My letter to The New York Times RE Yousef Munayyer's PUBLISHED letter regarding Bill Clinton's ode to Rabin
RE: Recalling Rabin, and a Mideast Quest
Good to see Yousef Munayyer's letter regarding Bill Clinton's ode to Rabin. I am grateful that Munayyer, whose family was ethnically cleansed from the Palestinian towns of Lydda and Ramla by then Lieutenant Colonel Rabin, stepped up to gently remind Americans of what the Palestinians must endure due to Israeli policy:
"Darker, underdiscussed work" politely sums up quite well what Zionism has been for generations as the people of historic Palestine continue to be harassed, impoverished and displaced from their homes and land. (Maps http://www.passia.org/palestine_facts/MAPS/0_pal_facts_MAPS.htm)
This week Israel, with the assistance of several international companies (Russia's government-owned Moscow Metrostroy construction company and the private Italian firm Pizzarotti are involved in building the line, along with Israeli firms), is quietly and officially usurping even more Palestinian land in the West Bank for a $2 billion high speed rail from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_railway_wrangle
Meanwhile Palestinians living under a punitive Israeli occupation are prevented from freely traveling anywhere. Israel's pervasive crimes against the people of historic Palestine- Israel's ongoing violations of international law- Israel's institutionalized bigotry and Israel's cruel refusal to respect the Palestinians basic human rights, are enough to convince many reasonable people that no peace should ever be made with Israel.
DCI-Palestine released a new report on settler violence directed against Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The report - Under Attack: Settler Violence against Palestinian Children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, documents 38 incidents of settler violence against children during a two year period, in which three children were killed, and 42 injured. http://www.dci-pal.org/english/home.cfm
The Israel/Palestine conflict needs to end- for everyone's sake.
Anne Selden Annab
Henry Siegman: Peace Will Not Be Achieved By Deception
"I can see the path to the state of Palestine. And education is an integral part..." Daoud Kuttab: Education is Palestinian’s path to independence
"A Japanese poet once wrote “The world grows stronger as each story is told"....."
Study reveals psychological toll of Middle East conflict on children
Ramallah is Great, but it's Not Jerusalem By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
Jordan's Queen Noor on MSNBC's Morning Joe discussing the plight of the Palestinians, nonviolence & the film Budrus
1958 oil painting by Ismail Shammout ... Palestine, a land crucified
A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of the Palestinian suffering... KAIROS PALESTINE
"I am from there and I have memories": Fayeq Oweis completes his "Mualaqaat Darwish" series...
Fady Joudah's translation of "If I Were Another" book of poems by Mahmoud Darwish WINS the PEN USA Literary Award for Translation 2010
UNRWA New York Director apologises and retracts comments on right of return
Regarding the Palestinian Refugees Right of Return
The Elders: The changing character of East Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace
VOAvideo: Christian Exodus From Holy Land Fueled by Israeli Occupation
Palestine is not Israels promised land: Archbishop
Vatican body urges UN to end Israeli occupation
ATFP's Fifth Annual Gala 2010: Building Palestine, the Indispensable State for Peace..."It's late, but everything comes next."
Children attend a class at a school run by UNRWA in Amman JORDAN
Friday, November 5, 2010
President, U.S./Middle East Project
Posted: November 5, 2010 11:49 AM
This piece originally published in Arabic translation by Al-Hayat
The sloppiness -- not to say outright misrepresentations -- that characterize the punditry of too many Israeli journalists is striking.
I was reminded of that reading Ari Shavit's claim in his Ha'aretz column of October 7 that in President George W. Bush's letter of April 2004 to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the American president promised that "the settlement blocs [will] remain in Israeli hands and the Palestinian refugees will not return to Israel."
That is a fabrication. In his letter to Sharon, Bush promised only that when Israeli-Palestinian negotiations get under way, these are Israeli demands that the U.S. will support. But he also noted in his letter that these demands must be negotiated with the Palestinians, and cannot be imposed by Israel or the United States.
Indeed, to make sure that Bush's letter would not be misrepresented the way Shavit and most other Israeli columnists -- not to speak of Israeli politicians -- have, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on February 8, 2006, following a meeting with the then Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, "No one should try and unilaterally predetermine the outcome of a final status agreement." She emphasized that Bush's letter to Sharon endorsing the need to take into consideration "new population centers" in the West Bank does not provide a license for anyone to "try and do that in a preemptive or pre-determined way, because these are issues for negotiation at final status."
It is not only Israeli columnists who have played fast and loose with the history of this conflict. So have Israel's leaders. This past week (October 6), during a visit to the city of Lod, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "Palestinians waited 9 months and more out of 10 months, and set a precondition right off the bat even though they committed to no preconditions." There is no other way of describing this statement than as a lie. The Palestinian insistence that the negotiations' starting point should be the existing agreements to which both Israel and the Palestinians signed onto is not a "condition." Israel's insistence that these agreements be ignored is a condition. It is therefore Israel that imposed conditions for the negotiations, not the Palestinians.
Netanyahu and his Likud Party have popularized a slogan that Palestinians only "take and take" while Israel's many "concessions" go unacknowledged. It is a myth that has become deeply ingrained in Israel's national narrative. The truth is the precise opposite. Palestinians have made a concession to Israel that is entirely unprecedented. In 1988, the PLO agreed formally to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli sovereignty within the 1967 armistice border, an area that includes fully half the territory that had been recognized as the legitimate patrimony of Palestinian Arabs in the UN Partition Plan. This reduced the Palestinians' territory from 43 to 22 percent of Palestine while enlarging Israel's territory from 56 to 78 percent.... READ MORE
"I can see the path to the state of Palestine. And education is an integral part..." Daoud Kuttab: Education is Palestinian’s path to independence
Palestinians have always prided themselves on being among the highest educated among all Arabs, but if this was true in the past, it is not true anymore, and it is certainly not true for Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Sure the illiteracy rate is very low. And it is true that Palestinians continue to seek basic and higher education, but in the last few decades, the level of Palestinian education has suffered, and local universities had to lower their standards in order to be able to accept the recent high school graduates.
Refocus on education has been a few years in the making. Many senior educators say that some of the problems they had to deal with were due to the repeated closures during the Intifadas, the lack of respect for authority, the occupiers, as well as some of the decisions made by the Hamas-led government in 2007.
Salam Fayyad, who took over as acting prime minister shortly after the split between the West Bank and Gaza, has worked hard at making education one of his government’s top priorities. The Fayyad administration made sure that resources were made available to reduce overcrowdedness, by taking on an ambitious construction programme. Tens of new schools and hundreds of new classrooms were built in a short period of time.
But the emphasis on education was not limited to construction. A concerted effort was made to revise the existing rote-based educational programme, the ministry introduced totally new programmes, new computer labs were added and serious efforts were exerted to digitise the entire educational system.
A five-year well-thought-out educational plan was designed and implemented. The plan looks at education with a more holistic approach, with serious thought given to the need to augment present programmes with preschool education, and the introduction of new methodologies that focus on critical thinking.
The Palestinian version of Sesame Street, funded by USAID, filled the screen of Palestine TV, radio stations will soon air a programme targeting parents and a website for parents, children and early education practitioners will be launched early next year.
While the priority given education is meant first and foremost to benefit the Palestinian people, it has finally put to rest attempts by Israel and its international promoters to paint Palestinians in an anti-educational stereotype. Efforts to label the Palestinian educational effort as promoting hatred and bigotry have become a joke to anyone following the tremendous push for moderation and wholesome learning by the Palestinian leadership.
Not only have Fayyad and his government succeeded in shaking off the falsehoods about what is happening in the Palestinian educational field, now the Israelis are guilty of exactly some of the accusations they were levelling at Palestinians. Israeli intolerance, for example, was crystal clear a month ago when it was revealed that Palestinians are willing to participate in an experiment in which the two historical narratives (the Palestinian and the Israeli) are presented in a straightforward and truthful m?nner. When the organisers of this experiment attempted to get the approval of the Israeli ministry of education, the idea was rejected, without the relevant Israeli officials even looking at the content that made up the parallel narratives.
This week, there was yet another example of Israeli intolerance and opposition to serious educational attempts by Palestinians. The Israeli authorities banned Fayyad from attending a ceremony celebrating the revamping of 15 Palestinian schools, some of which lie within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries. These schools, which have been neglected and abandoned for years by the Israel-run municipality and the Israeli ministry of education, were fixed with Palestinian money in record time.
A former Israeli Knesset member, Yossi Sarid, summed it up in a tongue and cheek article in Haaretz titled “Why is Salam Fayyad Israel’s public enemy number one”, in which he argued that the Palestinian prime minister is killing Israel with his moderation.
The state of Palestine will need a lot of hard work to become a reality. All successful modern states have given priority to education. If the present Palestinian attention to education continues, I am sure that the dream of an independent state will become a reality much sooner than many think.
Task Force Board members
Ladies and gentlemen
I am very humbled to be part of this outstanding group of honorees, their achievements and contributions are unbelievable.
When Dr. Asali informed me of the award, I felt a range of emotions: pride, joy, excitement, and a touch of fear…
Yes a touch of fear.
Six years ago, after 32 years in this country and only after I made Sr. Partner, I finally got the courage to publicly admit that I am Palestinian American. The fear of being labeled of being stereotyped, the fear for my kids, and the fear for my job stopped me from coming out - and for years I was tormented by it.
I want to thank Ziad and the work he and many of you are doing to give people like me the courage to be unafraid, to be proud to be Palestinian American, to be able to openly speak about the suffering of Palestinians, and at the same time be a loyal U.S citizen who cares deeply about this great country.
A Japanese poet once wrote “The world grows stronger as each story is told". And my story is similar to that of many here tonight and other Palestinians in countries around the world who were uprooted and forced to find new homes.
My parents fled Palestine to Lebanon in 1948, my dad lost both his eyes in a tragic accident shortly thereafter. So my Mom suddenly had to become the head of our household, care for four boys, and my father, and take responsibility for our survival. And… Like many other Palestinian refugees, we relied on the United Nations for schooling, and a monthly allotment of food, clothing and other essentials. My Mom also worked as a seamstress doing piecemeal work, and my oldest brother had to quit school at 15 to work full time.
In 1972, and barely 20 I left home and came to the U.S to study. I put myself through college, helped my family immigrate and settle here. And after 38 years of hard work, my old family, and my new family are living the American dream. But the real dream we want to see is for all Palestinians to have a home of their own.
I feel very fortunate, privileged and honored to be receiving this award. I would not have been able to make it without the help and generosity of many people and institutions. As Secretary Clinton has said, it takes a village… it really does take a village. In my case it takes a whole country, this country, to make me who I am today.
I am so thankful and appreciative, and unbelievably proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. I am absolutely certain that there is no other place on earth where someone like me, the son of Palestinian refugees growing up below the poverty line, dependent on the United Nations for food, shelter, education and survival can make it to the top of one of the most prestigious companies in the world, and be honored by you tonight.
And for that I am very grateful.
Study reveals psychological toll of Middle East conflict on children
World Vision MEERO, http://meero.worldvision.org
A recent study by the University of Michigan shows that children are being psychologically damaged by their exposure to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This three-year study involved 1,500 Arab and Israeli youth and measured the psychological toll that the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian resistance has had on both Palestinian and Israeli children.
Funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development and the Fogarty Center for International Studies, the study was conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (M-U ISR), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.
'Like children everywhere, the children we work with on the Gaza Strip have a natural resiliency, only for Gazan children that resiliency is undermined by prolonged exposure to violence and the ominous threat of yet more violence, whether from around the corner or across the waves,' says Siobhan Kimmerle, World Vision Gaza Programme Director.
The study found that almost 50% of Palestinian children aged 11 to 14, have seen other Palestinians grieving over the injury or loss of a loved one as a result of Israeli attacks within the last year, and another 50% had seen other Palestinians injured or killed. Approximately 25% of Israeli children have seen other Israelis grieving and 10% have seen casualties.
Children that had witnessed the most violence exhibited high levels of anxiety, fear, nightmares, and debilitating thoughts. More than 70% of Israeli-Arab children have nightmares on a regular basis.
'It (this exposure) is associated with dramatic increases in post-traumatic stress symptoms and increases in aggressive behaviour directed at peers,' says the Director of the Research Center for Group Dynamis at the M-U ISR and principal investigator of the project, Rowell Huesmann.
This violence has been found to cause a rolling effect, with children who were exposed to more violence at a significantly higher risk to be violent to other members of their own group. Just over half of the children exposed to the lowest levels of violence had committed one act of violence (such as slapping, punching, choking, threatening, etc) in the last year, in comparison to more than 71% of children exposed to the highest levels of violence.
Psychologist Ericx Dubow, a co-principal of the project, says, 'The results show that Palestinian children in particular are seeing extraordinary amounts of very disturbing violence in their daily lives and the more they are exposed to violence, the more anxiety they experience and the more aggressively they behave.'
'We are called to care for the wellbeing of children and, together with communities in the north and the south of the Gaza Strip, we work to counter the effects of violence on children – we are contributing to an improved well-being for nearly 8,000 Gazan children', added Kimmerle.
World Vision is addressing the grave impact that the conflict is having on children's wellbeing through group psychological counseling and support, workshops, and fun days for children. World Vision also conducts art therapy sessions and provides Child Friendly Spaces, where children can play and learn without the threat of violence.
Working with local partners and sector specialists, World Vision has developed a Life Skills Education curriculum which includes an innovative garden-based learning component and age-appropriate learning activities, that is at the core of a psychosocial support project piloted across 13 communities in Gaza for 500 children aged six to15.
World Vision continues to work for the wellbeing of children and advocate for an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which is leading to post-traumatic stress and aggressive behaviour. This conflict threatens the lives of all children, and one of the greatest obstacles to achieving fullness of life for each and every child is the ongoing conflict and the perpetuation of violence.
|Date posted: November 01, 2010 |
By Joharah Baker for MIFTAH
Ramallah is booming. With each new passing day another restaurant, another hotel or another high fashion boutique is opening up in this bustling West Bank city. Road works have plagued motorists and pedestrians alike for months now, with new roads opened while others have been rehabilitated and widened, saplings planted strategically along the islands between the lanes and freshly painted lines designating either side of the dark asphalt streets. There is no doubt, Ramallah is thriving, the urban expansion accelerated at an almost frantic speed. One blink and another building is rising towards the clouds.
This is all good and fancy if it weren't for the sinister implications behind it. All cities expand at the peripheries, spreading out to accommodate a growing population and its equally growing demands. But in Ramallah, the peripheries are all but locked down, with the expansion abnormally swelling in the center. This is because the size and shape of Palestinian cities was defined long ago with the swift stroke of a pen during the Oslo Accords. Areas A, B, and C have become the letters from hell for Palestinians who are now shackled to agreements that bind them in an ever consolidated occupation rather than bring them closer to freedom. So, instead of the urban development expanding horizontally as well as vertically, there is mostly vertical construction, high rise buildings swallowing up the already cramped space, leaving at times mere slivers of sunshine pushing through the shadows of uncharacteristically large edifices.
The expansion is unnatural, not only because of the forced urban planning that prohibits natural growth outwards but because the fear is that, as Ramallah grows and flourishes, it will take the place of Palestine's real capital, Jerusalem. For all practical purposes, this has begun to happen already.
Last month, the first luxury chain hotel opened up in the city, the prestigious Movenpick is huge, with bars, restaurants and a spacious swimming pool. The Swiss chain hotel hardly caters to the Palestinians but rather to the many diplomats, NGO and aid agency workers and businesspeople that have been increasingly flocking to Ramallah for meetings and donor pledges over the past several months. The phenomenal number of new restaurants in Ramallah is also mind boggling given the actual Palestinian population of the city and its suburbs of nearly 300,000. While there is a small sector of Ramallah-residents who do have the means to frequent the city's pricey restaurants, it is the expatriate population that the owners are really looking to.
Again, this is great in any growing economy, except in this case, it indirectly means the exclusion of Jerusalem. As Ramallah blooms, Palestinian east Jerusalem inversely declines and there is not much the Palestinians are or can do about it. It is no secret that Israel has, for years, been systematically isolating Jerusalem from its West Bank surroundings in an attempt to sever ties between what they deem as their united capital and Palestinian aspirations to make it their own. As a result, the city has been physically separated from Ramallah (and Bethlehem) by airtight checkpoints and the separation wall, which keeps West Bankers almost completely out. Then there is the economic exclusion, which entails the ban on most Palestinian goods entering Jerusalem, the high property taxes imposed on Jerusalemites that not only bar them from flourishing but basically keep them struggling just to keep their heads above water. Restrictions imposed on construction, travel, residency rights and businesses not to mention the inextricable dependency of the Palestinian economy on Israel in Jerusalem have made it all but impossible to create a strong, viable and independent economic system in the city. Even small gestures such as Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's efforts to rehabilitate two Palestinian schools in Jerusalem were met with angry opposition by Israel's right wing elements that reject any form of Palestinian Authority involvement in the city.
In an attempt to even further isolate Palestinians from Jerusalem, a bill proposed by a right wing Israeli minister is calling for a ban of Palestinian tour guides in the city, saying they present "anti-Israeli positions" to their tourist groups. If the bill goes through, this would mean official tourists groups would only have the option of state-approved Israeli tour guides churning out the Israeli version of Jerusalem's history. Palestinian history [both Muslim and Christian] would be minimized at best, completely disregarded at worst.
There are plenty more examples as to why Ramallah, as opposed to Jerusalem, is growing so quickly. The political implications are as calculated as they are insidious. The world is in agreement that the Palestinians should have their own state. Ramallah would definitely be a part of it. Jerusalem, on the other hand is the stickiest of sticky issues and Israel will hear nothing of any Palestinian involvement in there. Israel is doing its utmost to exclude Palestinians both physically and politically from the debate on Jerusalem by forcing its way into every nook and cranny of its eastern sector. With no real access to Jerusalem, Ramallah has been chosen, mostly by default, as the next best choice to build Palestine.
Still, the battle is not over. Down the line, Ramallah's growth can be just that – the growth of a major city, in spite of the hurdles it faces in urban expansion. The world, and Israel, can never be allowed to think, even for a moment that Palestinians will accept anything less than Jerusalem at their capital, no matter how much money flows into Ramallah. In these times, vigilance is required so that this is never an option.Joharah Baker 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Ismail’s talent was quite apparent since childhood. In his Palestinian hometown, Lydda, he used to portray the beautiful landscape of Palestine and other subjects that attracted his attention. A year after the calamity that struck the Palestinian people in 1948, Ismail resumed painting while still living in a refugee camp. His topics at that early stage were emanating from the painful reality the Palestinian refugees were living in.
In 1950, Ismail left for Cairo, Egypt, where he commenced his studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts. In 1954, moved to Rome to coninue his artistic studies at the Academy of Fine Arts.
The Palestinian issue, with its tragic images, was his main subject during the fifties of this century...READ MORE
on the web
A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of the Palestinian suffering
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
UNRWA New York Director apologises and retracts comments on right of return
UNRWA New York Director apologises and retracts "inappropriate and wrong" comments on the right of return and again underlines they don't represent the views of UNRWA
3 November 2010
Dear Mr. Gunness,
I am writing following my realisation – from media reports, statements and letters from individuals, organisations and governments – that part of the remarks I delivered at a conference in Washington hosted by the National Council on US – Arab Relations, on 22 October, 2010, were inappropriate and wrong. Those remarks did not represent UNRWA’s views.
I express my sincere regrets and apologies over any harm that my words may have done to the cause of the Palestine refugees and for any offence I may have caused. I have spent much of my long career working for the Palestinian people, and defending their rights, in different professional capacities. It is definitely not my belief that the refugees should give up on their basic rights, including the right of return.
I wish to put this letter on the public record out of concern that what I said in Washington could be interpreted in ways that negatively affect the reputation and work of UNRWA, an organisation I have been proud to serve since July 2002. The Agency is at liberty to use my statement in whatever ways it sees fit. There is no need for a reply.
|24 October 2010|
To mark United Nations Day UNRWA has launched a new multimedia micro-site that invites visitors into the lives of Palestine refugees. The site features a series of short films from UNRWA's five fields of operation.