Friday, November 12, 2010

Sting - Desert Rose

Internet Tourism... in Growing Gardens for Palestine

Growing Gardens for Palestine

Al-Diwan - Old Nablus by Afaf Arafat

Afaf Arafat is a Palestinian artist who was attracted to art as a young child, when she would try to draw the jasmine tree which climbed all the way from her father's Diwan to the first floor of the house.... As evident in her pictures the Palestinian countryside figures prominently in her work. So does the old city of Nablus. Other pictures display the splendor of Palestinian heritage whether in costume or architecture.

I discovered Afaf Arafat's beautiful artwork while poking around the Internet yesterday- looking for beauty. I have This Week in Palestine bookmarked on my computer, easy to click on and from there I often discover unique and interesting ideas and web sites to explore.

Building a Positive Brand Identity for Palestine in the Media
It is good to see so many different people taking positive media efforts for Palestine seriously. We all have a part to play- each in our own way. Each link we click helps make it more popular- and more likely to be noticed by others.

Different pictures, different tones, different colors- different types of stories and art and adventure appeal to different types of people. There is no one size fits all. There is however a mainstream, a very large middle where more people are more likely to hear and be influenced by what you have to say. It is as simple as that.

The Golden Rule [Do unto others as you would have them do unto you] really is a good rule of thumb for navigating the mainstream if you want more competent and capable people to become interested in Palestine and peace...

"A walk in the wondrous Old City of Jerusalem with all of its fragrances and colourful shops, or a short trip to any Palestinian city can expose a lot of the demographic mix to the discerning eye. I personally see this as strength and an added value to the Palestinian fabric. We are able to offer a diverse and varied culture in such a small country like Palestine." Raed Saadeh

The Dome on the Rock from a 19th century print

An 19th century impression of the land around Hebron

A view of ancient Tyre from a 19th century print

"Imagine cycling from Jenin to Hebron- passing Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the way. Immersed in the breathtaking Biblical landscape, taking the ancient roads of pilgrims and warriors- from the quiet of the Jerusalem Wilderness desert to the majesty of the Dead Sea." BIKE PALESTINE

"Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Explorations of the Holy Land 2011
Participants in this tour will explore the religious diversity and cultural richness of Israel and Palestine. We will investigate holy sites, listen to devotees, observe religious practices, delve into group beliefs and values, and ponder the religious experiences of the peoples of Israel and Palestine. Special attention will be given to the diversity of Jewish life, the vibrancy of Islam, and a selection of the indigenous Christian communities of Israel and Palestine. How have such lusciously flowered religions survived, adapted, and blossomed in the ‘desert’? Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies"

"Reconnect the Human Family - Step by Step Abraham's Path is a cultural itinerary that inspires and engages travelers to journey on the national and local trails of each nation of the region. Some of these national and local trails we have directly helped design and open — others are purely in the domain of national governments. Abraham's Path honors the laws, traveler-related directives, and nomenclature of all government partners."
Or, for the more secular and scientifically inclined arm chair tourist, who is seeking a more global perspective there are fascinating self guided tours through The World At Night (TWAN) where one can star gaze....

Night of an Ancient Library
Stars of Leo, the Lion, and planet Saturn shine above the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, a city of ancient Anatolia. Ephesus hosted one of the seven churches of Asia, addressed in the Book of Revelation of The Bible. It is also the site of a large gladiator graveyard. Pictured here under the moonlight, the Library of Celsus, whose façade has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built in AD 125 and once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. Today's archaeological site of Ephesus lies 3 kilometers south of the Selçuk district of Izmir Province, Turkey. Tunc Tezel.

The World At Night
(TWAN) is a program to produce and present a collection of stunning photographs and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against the celestial attractions.

Last month my husband and I got all dressed up and went down to a glorious Gala at the Ritiz Carlton in Washington DC. Dr. Ziad Asali of the American Task Force on Palestine emailed me a picture taken there.

ATFP's Dr. Ziad Asali with Annie & Jaffar

The ATFP Gala was very well organized and very well attended. It was VERY impressive!

BUT what has really awed me the most has been the subsequent followup...

ATFP's Fifth Annual Gala 2010: Building Palestine, the Indispensable State for Peace

A beautifully written quick summary is filled with links one can explore in full- watch videos of great speeches or read the riveting transcripts. One can scroll through photos of the Gala, or stroll through the inspiring art work at the silent auction, or read the program and experience the entire program in full from afar- savoring every perfect word. The introductions are as good as the formal speeches. There is also a collection of articles in the media covering the Gala.

Take your time- enjoy the journey. Times are changing- and we citizens of the world, (regardless of supposed race, religion or nationality) are all part of that change.

This past summer, in training for my own empty nest, I was obsessed with a webcam watching an osprey nest on the Chester River (thanks to Chestertown Spy and everyone involved in supporting that project.) The osprey parents were attentive and dedicated. At first the baby birds were pretty darn ugly- but the scenery there was lovely. I'd often watch the sunrise there on the Chester River.... the river where my oldest son rows.

The webcam showed the nest and the river beyond, with a wide enough angle that sometimes you could see one of the osprey swoop down to fish- a small dark silhouette splashing the surface of the water and then winging its way back in a circle- rising up to land, looming large in the nest to feed.

Time passed and as the baby birds grew their elegant parents changed tactics. Early on one parent or the other would position themselves in the nest so as to cast a cooling shadow on the sleeping chicks, to protect them from the full glare of the hot summer sun. Eventually, as the chicks leaned to move the chicks learned to move into protective shade cast by a parent: Each took ownership of their own well-being... and responsibility for themselves.

Relationships change every day- and we adapt. We go from being a dependent child to a teen to an adult. We age- some more gracefully than others. But no matter what our age, or our state of grace, we tend to keep in contact with people we want to hear from, and we avoid people we don't want to hear from- for whatever reason. Our own behavior helps shape the marketplace of ideas.

In growing a garden for Palestine today- on my blog, there are hundreds of potentially worthy projects to point out- and thousands of worthy pictures and photos that I am tempted to post... plus millions of worthy quotes to quote....

Another day perhaps.

The sun sets over Palestinian fishermen in their boat in the Mediterranean sea, near the beach on the outskirts of Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) Yahoo! news photos


Jericho Mosiac- Leaping Gazelle

Thursday, November 11, 2010

WEST BANK: Abbas tells Israelis peace more important than settlements

WEST BANK: Abbas tells Israelis peace more important than settlements

UNRWA chief presents UN Secretary-General with world record certificates

UNRWA Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, has presented UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, with two Guinness Book of World Record certificates, won by the children of Gaza.

The records, broken three months ago as part of UNRWA’s summer games programme, were for the largest number of basketballs bounced and the highest number of kites flown simultaneously.

“I wanted to come all the way to New York and remind the highest levels of world diplomacy of the children of Gaza, their wonderful achievements and to say again that they can attain world greatness if given the chance,” said Grandi. “I am so proud of them and delighted that UNRWA has given them the chance to be double world champions.”

Mr Ban, clearly proud of the achievement, which he had supported with a video message from UN headquarters in New York, indicated that he would display the certificates prominently.

My letter to the LATimes 11-10-10 RE Editorial: If Israel wants peace, it must stop building in the occupied territories.

RE: Editorial: If Israel wants peace, it must stop building in the occupied territories.,0,727949.story

Dear Editor,

Thank you for writing your editorial today "If Israel wants peace, it must stop building in the occupied territories."... and thank you for writing one 35 years ago, calling the settlements an "obstacle to peace."

All who sincerely care about humanity, justice and peace- and real progress for the Middle East, should do what ever one can to help empower the best arguments and the wisest advice regarding how best to end the Israel/Palestine conflict once and for all- for every one's sake.

Anne Selden Annab
My letter sent via Please do all you can to help end the Israel/Palestine conflict- and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Condemns Israel's East Jerusalem Settlement Expansion Plan, Calls on US to Act

Interactive Map, 9 Nov 2010 West Bank: Israeli settlement construction


Core Issues

The Arab Peace Initiative

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My letter sent via Please do all you can to help end the Israel/Palestine conflict- and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Heritage

To: President Barack Obama
Sen. Arlen Specter
Sen. Robert Casey
Rep. Todd Platts

Please do all you can to help end the Israel/Palestine conflict- and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Right now a fully secular two state solution based on FULLY respecting international law and universal basic human rights would go a long way towards bringing justice, peace and progress to the region.

Are the settlements really that important? "People don't understand the impact of these settlements and settlers. To us these are people who are there to uproot us and to take our places. It is an existential threat for us because they are some of the most hard-line Israelis in the world. They don't believe in coexistence." Maen Rashid Areikat, Palestine Liberation Organization representative to the United States

I think it is obvious to any who dare examine the evidence that Israel is (and has been) intentionally trying to impoverish and antagonize Palestinians- to demoralize and/or radicalize increasingly vulnerable people in order to sabotage the emergence of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Please do all you can to help end the Israel/Palestine conflict- and Israel's continuing harassment and displacement of the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land.

Anne Selden Annab

Interactive Map, 9 Nov 2010 West Bank: Israeli settlement construction

"Housing" is code for Israel's _____ [fill in the blank]

JERUSALEM: The Weight of a City By Michael Khaled for MIFTAH

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Condemns Israel's East Jerusalem Settlement Expansion Plan, Calls on US to Act


Refugee Returns Possible 'Doorway' to Resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict...

Racism plagues every society – UN expert

Braving Iraq ~ Full Episode | Nature

"I never could have imagined what an impact she would have" Marjorie Ransom THANKS the American Task Force for Palestine & introduces Naomi Shihab Nye

Rachel Corrie in the New York Times 11-08-2010

Israel artists boycott new theater in settlement

Artifacts of exile

Betty Shamieh: "We are devoting our lives to telling our stories, because we know that if we do not, others will tell our stories for us...."

This Week in Palestine... Promoting Palestine

Israel raided thousands of homes in October

"Together We Build and Change" ... Defence for Children International - Palestine Section

For a better world
additional NOTES
Growing Gardens for Palestine
The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Condemns Israel's East Jerusalem Settlement Expansion Plan, Calls on US to Act

Press Release
Contact Information: Ghaith al-Omari
November 9, 2010 - 12:00am

Washington DC, Nov. 9 -- The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) strongly criticized plans announced by the Israeli government to build over 900 new settlement housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and hundreds of additional units elsewhere in the West Bank. The plans were announced during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu current visit to the United States, during which he is meeting with senior Administration officials.

Almost 1000 new housing units are planned for the Har Homa settlement in the Jabal Abu Ghneim area. This settlement has been controversial from its outset in the late 1990s during the first Netanyahu Cabinet. After the Annapolis meeting in 2007, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning." Another 320 housing units are planned for the Ramot settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. A further 800 housing units have been announced for the settlement of Ariel, which juts deeply into the West Bank, threatening the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state.

The Obama administration has consistently emphasized its opposition to continued settlement activity, including in occupied East Jerusalem. In his speech before the UN General Assembly in 2009, Pres. Barack Obama clearly stated that, “we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

ATFP urged the US government to operationalize this position and to send a clear message to all who are involved in settlement activity that their actions run counter to US policy and national interests. This includes those authorizing, promoting and funding such projects, including banks and other lending institutions, and, of course, the individual settlers, their organizations, and the construction companies engaged in creating realities on the ground.

ATFP President Ziad J. Asali said, “We urge the Administration to act firmly to prevent these plans from proceeding. A strong, clear US position on this matter will send an unmistakable signal to regional leaders about the need to preserve the integrity of the two-state solution, and can give them the margin to start acting in ways conducive to reaching a conflict-ending peace agreement. Ultimately, the two-state solution is too important for US, Israeli and Palestinian national interest to be jeopardized by narrow political considerations.”

JERUSALEM: The Weight of a City By Michael Khaled for MIFTAH

When I decided years ago to leave my home in America after graduating to come to Palestine and start my career here, my family was less than thrilled. Not only was I moving too far away, but to a place torn apart by generations of conflict. When one of my uncles heard the news, he asked me where I wanted to live, and I have to admit, I hadn’t given it much thought at the time so I just blurted the first city that came to mind: Jerusalem.

He smiled and told me that was a courageous idea, and though I knew about the tense and sometimes violent situation in the holy city, all I was thinking about was its central role in the conflict. The next time I saw him, he gave me a present, a framed picture of a Palestinian man carrying Jerusalem on his back symbolizing the difficulty of staying in Jerusalem for Palestinians. It’s a common painting and many Palestinians here and abroad hang it or similar ones up in their homes.

The image is very fitting since the role of Jerusalem in the conflict is similarly symbolic. Physically there is nothing particularly extraordinary about the city; it’s not more beautiful, resource rich, or strategic than many others. Yet, as the holy city of the three great Western religions, literally billions of people around the world have a stake in its future. With so much attention paid to such a small area, the lives of the city’s population are under the microscope and every action has consequences.

Within the ancient walls of the Old City, the status quo is rigidly maintained between the different sects which if violated, can cause even the humblest of priests to raise hell. Supposedly a feud broke out between neighboring priests over using a ladder to clean the Church of the Holy Sepulcher’s walls claiming the ladder trespassed on their neighbor’s grounds. The ladder has remained in place for the past century to serve as a reminder for priests to watch their tempers, yet I heard of a recent attempt to move it disintegrate to fisticuffs.

Outside the Old City, the stakes are much higher than fuming priests and an occasional fistfight. Israelis regularly announce new construction in east Jerusalem, which did not stop for the so-called settlement freeze. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that it did not pertain to east Jerusalem, which Israel illegally annexed after conquering it in 1967. All sides affirm the special status of Jerusalem: Jews who see it as their holiest temple site, Christians whose messianic story culminates here, and Muslims who believe it to be the site of Prophet Muhammad’s ascent to heaven.

Yet Israel’s policies have been towards Judaizing the city and cutting off its ties to the rest of the Palestinians who have been almost entirely barred from visiting the city since the placement of checkpoints and especially the separation wall. Only with a special permit can a Palestinian with a West Bank ID card pass through, including children.

Politically, Israel seeks to separate Jerusalem from the West Bank where the settlement project has been most frenzied around the holy city. A string of settlements surround Jerusalem separating it from the rest of Palestinian population centers – settlements which Israel has invested billions to develop and subsidize and assumes it will retain in any final agreement with Palestinians.

Within the city though is where Palestinians face the brunt of Israeli attempts to erase Palestinian ties. Land confiscations, housing demolitions, revoked residency status, inflated cost of living, unresponsive municipal authorities, abusive police, and funding disparities are only some of the ways Israel’s stranglehold on Jerusalem attempts to make life so difficult for Palestinians they don’t want to stay.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel recently published a report, titled "Unsafe space: The Israeli authorities' failure to protect human rights amid settlements in East Jerusalem," detailing the lawlessness, and insecurity Jerusalemite Palestinians face daily at the hands of Israel’s often imposing and often violent Jerusalem settlers. Just last month a man was shot and killed by an Israeli private security guard, and two young boys under 15 were run over by a settler and subsequently arrested for throwing stones.

While today the efforts are usually under the guise of benignly serving the “public good”, the policies used to be more blatant; in 1973 a decision issued by the Israeli inter-ministerial committee on Jerusalem affairs set a goal to push the Palestinian population to below 22 percent. Today it still stands at about 30 percent according to Israeli census numbers. Combined Israeli efforts to Judiaze Jerusalem have deprived Palestinians of 86 percent of their private land according to the Civic Coalition for Defending Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem.

Palestinians are determined to hold on to their claim to Jerusalem, no matter the price. Jerusalemite Palestinians have told me of how revered they feel abroad when they tell other Middle Easterners where they are from. Most Muslims, especially Middle Eastern ones, never get the opportunity to see the holy city, yet hear constantly about it and the oppression facing its mostly Muslim Palestinians. My uncle was one of them, even though at the time I was still living in the States.

Now that I’m here, I see just how unique the city really is. Shaped by so many powerful forces throughout history, it seems like an act of hubris for any one people to lay exclusive claim to it. To the Muslims abroad who may never get the chance to come to Jerusalem, that picture my uncle gave me serves as a reminder of the weight the Palestinians who remain here carry so that some day the city may once again earn its original nickname: The city of peace.

Michael Khaled is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). He can be contacted at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Interactive Map: West Bank: Israeli settlement construction | World news |

Obama leads world chorus against Israel plan for Jerusalem

Obama leads world chorus against Israel plan for Jerusalem

JAKARTA (AFP) – US President Barack Obama led world powers on Tuesday in criticising Israel's decision to build 1,300 settler homes in east Jerusalem, warning it risks wrecking an already fragile peace process with the Palestinians.

"This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations," Obama told reporters during a visit to Indonesia.

"I'm concerned that we're not seeing each side make the extra effort to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with a sovereign Palestine," the US leader said.

But he said he would continue working on the process despite the deepening impasse. "We're going to keep on working it though because it is in the world's interests," he said.

The foreign ministry in Russia, a member of the Middle East peace Quartet along with the United States, United Nations and European Union, said: "Moscow treats this decision with the most serious concern.

"We find it essential that the Israeli party refrained from the declared construction and on the whole kept to a moratorium on settler activity on the west bank of the Jordan river and in east Jerusalem."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Israeli announcement on Monday of the east Jerusalem plan was "extremely disappointing and unhelpful."

In the face of the criticism, Israel insisted it would never limit construction in its "capital," having annexed east Jerusalem to reunite the Holy City in a move not recognised by the international community....READ MORE


November 8, 2010 Previous CSMonitor cartoons

"Housing" is code for Israel's _____ [fill in the blank]

The Economist

"Housing" is code for Israel's ________ [fill in the blank]

Israel Plans 1,000 Housing Units in East Jerusalem

Boston Globe Israel to go ahead with East Jerusalem housing

The move will likely complicate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's current visit to the United States for talks about reviving stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Israel Advances Housing Plan

Wall Street Journal: Israel has advanced plans for nearly 1,300 new housing units in predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem, dealing yet another setback to American-led peace efforts as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in the U.S.

Netanyahu is heckled in U.S.; new housing plan announced - 2:04am By Cain Burdeau, Associated Press

Israel to build more homes in East Jerusalem

Setting the stage for another potential clash with the Obama administration, Israel said Monday that it would build an additional 1,300...

Settlers got sweet land deals in east Jerusalem

... Some of the properties passed on to the settler groups once belonged to Jews but fell into state hands. Arab families had since built on the land but were evicted from the properties when settler groups seized control.

Other properties belonged to Arab residents whom the state deemed to be "absentee owners."

In one case, a 40,000 square feet (3,660 square meter) building just outside the Old City was sold to Jewish settlers in October 2006 for $190,000 - a tiny fraction of its market price. Also that year, an 11,000 square feet (1,057 square meter) building in the Old City was sold for of $69,000, less than the cost of a tiny one-bedroom apartment elsewhere in the city. Other deals featured similar low prices.

Encouraging Jews to live all over Jerusalem has been a common policy of Israeli governments for decades. Jewish neighborhoods built around the outskirts of east Jerusalem are home to more than 180,000 Israelis today.

But the purchase of property in the heart of Palestinian sections raises tough questions.

"This has tremendous implications on both the political future and also on (Jerusalem's) current stability," said Orly Noy of Ir Amim, an Israeli group that supports coexistence in Jerusalem. Ir Amim was not involved in the court battle to obtain the documents but closely followed developments.

"The Israeli government is officially obligated to resolve the (Mideast) conflict through negotiations, but we find out at the same time - left-wing and right-wing governments alike have been cooperating with organizations whose sole goal is to prevent those very same negotiations from succeeding," she said.

On the other hand, if borders are agreed on, a small number of Israelis in a few dozen buildings on the Palestinian side would not likely scuttle implementation of a peace accord. Israel removed 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 when it withdrew.

The documents were released to anti-settlement activist Dror Etkes after a three-year court battle with the Israel Land Administration, which oversees almost all the country's land.

Etkes wanted the government agency to detail its deals with two shadowy settler groups, Elad and Ateret Cohanim, which have helped move Jews into Arab sections areas of east Jerusalem.

The documents refer to 11 properties that were leased or sold from 2003 to 2008 - by Israeli governments who were, at some points, negotiating with Palestinians to strike a Mideast peace deal.

Etkes said he believed the state was withholding information on other deals because nearly two decades ago, a government-appointed commission identified 68 land transactions involving the state and the two settler groups.

All the properties referred to in the court documents lie in the Old City, and the nearby valley of Silwan, where some 2,000 Jewish settlers are wedged in among about 30,000 Palestinian residents. Violence is common. In September Palestinians rioted for days in east Jerusalem after an armed guard working for Jewish settlers shot dead an Arab man in unclear circumstances.