Am Johal

The End of the Arafat Era

So now, as the Occupied Territories prepares for a Palestinian power struggle and a power shift from within between the Tunis old guard, the young Fatah activists, the Communists represented by the Palestine People’s Party, the more militant Hamas and other splinter groups, the Palestinian desire for self-determination will suffer in the short term. It will be up to people like Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qureia, Saeb Arakat and others to fashion a responsible leadership that will take the Palestinians to the place they aspire to be. 

Breaking the impasse

The left is dead in Israel. And if you hold to the observation that social change related to human rights in Israel will be initiated by the left, this is a worrisome trend. In the land of home demolitions, military assassinations, movement restrictions, settlement construction, religious and secular strife, collective punishment, military incursions and legal and socio-economic discrimination, and all the psychological and physical damage associated with the Occupation there is a growing chorus of those who believe that the situation will deteriorate before it gets better. Am Johal shows the failure of leadership at every level in this conflict. 

Culture and dissent: Khalil Sakakini Center looks towards creative resistance

Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center Director Adila Laidi explains that the role of culture evolves over time and raises to the public questions like the normalcy of the Israeli Occupation. If Edward Said and Noam Chomsky argue that the role of the intellectual is to speak truth to power and Bill Moyers says the same of journalism, then what Laidi is arguing is much the same for art and culture in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Laidi says that since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, there has been no normal life. And that as the role of art and culture develop as a means of expression in the context of the Occupation and the current intifada, the Sakakini Cultural Center has a duty to reach beyond the middle, educated classes. 

It's the occupation, stupid !

Four years ago on September 28, 2000, when Ariel Sharon made his operatic visit to the Temple Mount, no one could have predicted how dire the situation would become so quickly: close to 6,000 dead, many thousands more injured, the construction of the Separation Wall, mass movement restrictions, detention and torture and other forms of violence and racism. What is one of the worst things perhaps in this new reality, which is quite similar to the old reality, is the level of normalization this political climate has taken on in Palestinian and Israeli society. After four years, Am Johal takes stock. 

The Vanunu Epilogue

If East Jerusalem had an unofficial mayor, it would be nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu. When the church bell rings at noon at the Anglican cathedral of St. George’s in East Jerusalem not far from Damascus Gate in the Old City, chances are it’s Mordechai Vanunu ringing the bell. From that vantage point, he looks down on the Jerusalem court house where he was originally sentenced to eighteen years in prison for divulging Israel’s nuclear secrets. Am Johal reports on Vanunu’s experience since prison. 

Building Peace: Demolished Home Rebuilt in Anata Village

Salim Shawamreh, the Palestinian coordinator of the camp has had his home demolished four times and has rebuilt it for the fifth time as Beit Arabiya, the House of Peace. It is named after his wife who was the head chef at the work camp and is dedicated to American activist Rachel Corrie and Palestinian Nuha Sweidan, two women who died during home demolitions in Gaza last year. In his eyes, it is not a home demolition, but a life demolition. “When they come to demolish our homes, they are planting the hatred inside our kids,” says Shawamreh. 

The State Cannot Legislate On Matters Of Love

Recently Israeli President Moshe Katsav publicly stated that human rights are basic rights and cannot be based on obligations set by the state — in other words, these rights are inherent to being human and cannot be taken away or limited by the state. In Israel where the desire for the security of the state and its citizens is used as a pretext to limit the advancement of human and civil rights both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, this is enlightened thinking coming from the head of state. Am Johal reports. 

Anatomy of a Home Demolition

Arriving in al-Bea’neh the next day, I saw the old man whose home had been torn down beginning to replant new olive trees. Despite the beatings, there was this sense of optimism, regeneration and a sense of the community coming together to respond in a productive way. In the village council office, they discussed the brutal Israeli policy of home demolitions over Arabic coffee and Gauloise cigarettes before setting off on a 2,000 person demonstration with the residents. On the table were tear gas canisters used by the police the day before which were clearly marked that they had been manufactured in the United States.