After Arafat: refracted reflections

We piled into four shiny, new Mercedes, and headed into a foggy night in Tunisia, speeding up and down hills until we came to an office in a suburb. Armed young guards lounged at the front door. They were smiling broadly and looked like they wanted to high-five us rather than do any security checks. Our delegation filed into the main room. A burgundy sofa-set curved around half of the room, in the middle of which was an office chair on wheels. In it sat Yasser Arafat, devoid of his trademark kaffiyeh. He was in high spirits, despite the late hour, and welcomed those he’d met before with kisses and hugs, and then shook hands with the rest of us. He looked at me and asked, out of the blue: “Are you Irish?” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani reflects on Arafat’s legacy and failings. 

Escaping what entraps us: reflections from Jerusalem

“Not only Palestinians are desperately trapped now in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Jews are, too. Fear and anxiety are unshakeable daily companions. The outward manifestation of this mental landscape is the many infrastructural projects erupting everywhere along the seam between East and West Jerusalem. These public works projects are not about the ‘public’; they will not improve or enhance common spaces, but rather, will only further constrict shared spaces by diverting traffic, housing, commerce, and socializing according to racial distinctions. Walls and barricades are omnipresent, marring Jerusalem’s beauty and cutting into its soul, wounding all who see it, Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, locals and foreigners.” EI co-founder Laurie King-Irani reports on a recent visit to Jerusalem. 

Letter from Canada

What has happened is so horrible I cannot find the words to express my reactions. I don’t have a television, so it was not until this morning when the Toronto Globe and Mail landed on our front porch that I saw the images—the huge buildings now gone, the body parts in the streets, the people with faces of absolute fear and shock. 

'The best lack all conviction...'

Lately, we watch the news with one eye shut, the other wincing in anticipation of anguish. Though we mumble to ourselves: “It can’t possibly get worse” as the newscaster reports another dozen Israelis or Palestinians are dead, we dare not say it out loud for fear of tempting fate with such presumption. 

An Intifada against intellectual terrorism

Well, I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused. It’s hard to say which has done more damage to my stomach lining this week: the reports and images of yet another Sharon-instigated massacre - adding to what a BBC interviewer today referred to as ‘General Sharon’s rather impressive tally of blood-letting’ - or my repeated run-ins with the thought police, who come in all shapes and sizes and no know borders. 

The surreal and circus-like situation in the West Bank

Not even the great Italian cinematic genius Fellini could have choreographed a more surreal and circus-like situation in the West Bank—the absurd siege of Arafat’s compound and the doubly absurd calls from Ariel Sharon and George Bush, Jr., that Arafat—confined to an office lacking electricity, running water, or a spare cell phone battery— ‘do more to stop the violence.’