Friday, November 23, 2012

Sojourn in Jerusalem: An Absent Enemy

Sojourn in Jerusalem: An Absent Enemy: Yesterday, the first day of the ceasefire from 8 days of intensive fighting, I went to the Educational Bookshop (see upcoming post) to sur...

An Absent Enemy

Yesterday, the first day of the ceasefire from 8 days of intensive fighting, I went to the Educational Bookshop (see upcoming post) to survey the news coverage. The International Herald Tribune had already been sold out, "because of the hudna (ceasefire)." So, I bought the Jerusalem Post, which I often do to get a feel for how conservative Israelis view the news.

As expected the front page was packed with stories about the conflict and ceasefire, including 5 articles whose extensions occupied most of page 10 as well. Using the word "terrorist" instead of Palestinian is common in the JP during times of confrontation, and thus it was not surprising to see the repeated use of the T word, and virtually no use of the P word in the articles. What was unexpected, however, was the complete absence of any mention of casualties among the enemy in Gaza - except for noting that the army succeeded in killing 30 of Hamas' leaders.

Plenty of other tallies were given:

- 1,500 targets hit in Gaza
- 1,500 rockets fired at Israel from Gaza; 84% intercepted by Iron Dome
- 5 Israelis killed, 240 injured

Absent from the tallies: any mention - in any article - of the 160+ deaths and hundreds of injuries among Palestinians.


Indeed, the only real reference to "Palestinians" was the front page advertisement of the upcoming election, soliciting votes for candidates for the Likud party. Of two qualifications readers were to consider when voting, one was a documented record of opposing a Palestinian State. To aid in decision making, the ad quantifies the candidates' record of opposing the Palestinian State, evidence of which could be found in "bills passed, settlements authorized, etc.)."

Sunday, November 18, 2012



It was a mixed feeling yesterday to encounter the new graffiti on the sidewalk and wall near my apartment: on the one hand, nice to be able to read it (the training is paying off); on the other, deeply sad to be reminded of the trouble in Gaza. That is a place where I've spent much of my life; where I learned real lessons on life and humanity, and where I have many dear friends.

Long Live Gaza

Long Live Gaza

Now is not the time to go to Gaza. There is no need to take the risk. Fortunately, I've been able to reach many of my friends by phone.

I reached Mohammed on Friday; he, the patriarch of the family I live most with in those years in the late 1990s, between the two intifadas. His voice was strong and resolute as always, but he confirmed that bombs had fallen that day nearby the Maghazi Camp where his home is, in the middle portion of the Strip.

Later I reached Ahmed, his nephew, who I befriended back then when he was a teen and have become like a father to him. His fear is always more apparent, and he kept repeating how bad things were. He clarified that the bombing was much closer than I thought. I learned later from the news that 3 had been targeted and killed in that bombing. Later that night, while messaging on Facebook, more bombs were falling.

Yesterday, Mahmoud's phone was dead all morning. I finally reached him in the afternoon, just as he was approaching his home north of Gaza City to inspect the damage. Mahmoud, a NGO official, dear friend, and key advisor to our research project, proudly toured me through that home two years ago. He had saved the resources to finally move his family of 9 out of the urban cramp of Gaza City to this very nice home on the north side of the Sha'ti refugee camp that abuts Gaza City to the north. Likely in an attempt to destroy any rocket launching pads, the empty field next to his home had been bombed, pulverizing all of the windows and doors of the home. He lives now with the in-laws of his daughter.

I reached Hammam in Khan Yunis, the southern part of the Strip, and was able to talk to most of his family. They were the first family I lived with back in 1998. The call was interrupted by bomb blasts. Hani, his next youngest brother, got on the line as said he witnessed the blast just as he was coming home. None knew how long the assault would last, or if and when the IDF would bring in ground troops.

The variety of predictions of the timing or reach of any escalation reveals just how precarious and unpredictable the situation is. This is made all the more onerous, when, as Mohammed said, "We still haven't recovered from the last war." - referring to the punishing assault on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.

Lastly, yesterday, Khalil returned my call. He'd just finished a meeting with other human rights leaders who met to determine ways to let the outside world know of the utter gravity of their situation.

I've not been able to reach Hussam or Eyad.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chapter 2

Such a pleasure to back in Jerusalem for some weeks to headquarter to manage the two research projects and continue the Arabic training. I'll complete some drafted messages from last year and post some new ones. Grimly, the first will be of the nightmare in Gaza.