Joshka Wessels - Fahmi Manasra walks to the spring he remembers from his childhood. He was a young boy when he moved from Dheisheh refugee camp to the paradise of Wadi Fukin some 30 years ago. At the time, he felt like he was in heaven. He had wished to share this same feeling with his children but the spring is empty. Today, the spring and its reservoir are completely dried up. Nothing is left of the spring. Fahmi’s paradise is lost. The cause ? Construction of an expanding illegal Israeli settlement that is taking up land, drying up the springs and contaminating the soil.
Continue reading “Wadi Fukin, a Valley of Hope and Despair” »
The following is a Palestine Note exclusive story of one journalist’s descent into Gaza’s notorious smuggling tunnels.
Alexandra Robinson - “Complimentary tour of the Rafah tunnels.” I received this offer a few weeks after arriving in Gaza. In a conversation I was having with my colleague, Joe Catron, it came up that a friend of ours from Gaza City had given an open invitation for us to tour the tunnels. For the purpose of this article we’ll refer to her as “X.”
After reading about much of the controversy of the tunnels and the political obstacles they have posed for Hamas since officially taking over the operations in 2007, I jumped at the proposition.
Actually managing to get into the tunnels was not such an easy task and ended up taking Joe and I two separate attempts. Our first venture to Rafah was with X, who had initially invited us. Our other colleague from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) joined us and brought a friend of hers who was visiting Gaza from Egypt but was not officially affiliated with ISM.
Continue reading “Despite thriving "tunnel economy", Gaza still a "prison"” »
Maybe one day I’ll have a quote someone will like well enough to recite at the beginning and end of almost everything they have to say about a topic. Take this Abba Eban quote from almost 40 years ago, as relayed to us by American Jewish Congress Executive Director David Harris: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
That quote serves as the belt and suspenders to Harris’s overall argument about where to lay the blame for the lack of Middle East progress.
As Harris tells it (and I liberally paraphrase), first there was Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Prime Minister of Terrorism, Corruption and Strategic Myopia, rejecting a “novel” two state plan offered by Israeli leader Ehud Barak, and enthusiastically endorsed by Monica Lewinsky’s President and sometimes meal snack. Then in 2005, there was new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in a brilliant bit of misdirection, refusing to coordinate Israel’s Gaza withdrawal with Israeli leader Ariel Sharon.
That forced the Israelis — who force so easily after all — to abandon their Gaza administrative albatross (or so they thought), which then led the Palestinians to create something more closely “resembling Somalia” instead of the “Middle East’s Singapore.”
Continue reading “Enough With The Historical Narratives! It’s Time For Leaders To Focus On Writing The Rest of The Story” »
Foreign Policy - The Palestinian leadership seems determined to bring its case for statehood to the U.N. in September. The details remain unknown, but that hasn’t stopped pundits and groups from staking out hard-line positions opposing the effort. These reactions consist of a lot of hype and some measure of hysteria. It’s time for a dose of clear thinking and common sense. The reality is that some Palestinian initiative is almost certain to come before the U.N. in September. Palestinians have lost faith in the negotiated approach to the peace process, and have settled on this new strategy without asking for American or Israeli approval. Indeed, the hysteria they are provoking only makes the strategy more attractive given their inability to get a meaningful response to anything else they propose.
Those who are truly concerned about what that could mean for Israel should be pressing for bold U.S. action to avert a collision at the U.N., rather than simply criticizing the Palestinians and demanding that they desist. The bold action, for example, could be in the form of a serious initiative to re-accredit peace efforts and give the Palestinians a real reason — not just a thin pretext — to change course, or a U.S.-backed initiative to transform the proposed U.N. action on Palestine into something broader, like a Security Council resolution embracing key peace parameters. Absent such an effort, the Palestinians will have a hard time backing off their U.N. strategy, even if they want to.
Continue reading “No choice but the UN for Palestinians” »