Women, the Hijab and the Intifada

by Rema Hammami
published in MER164

Many accounts have suggested that the intifada has enabled Palestinian women to make great strides toward their social as well as political liberation. While some positive developments have occurred, it is also true that the intifada has been the context for a vicious campaign in Gaza to impose the hijab (headscarf) on all women. The campaign included the threat and use of violence and developed into a comprehensive social offensive. Social acquiescence, political inaction, family pressure and a concurrent ideological transformation created a situation in which only a few committed women in Gaza, one year into the intifada, continued not to wear a headscarf.

"The PLO Is Still Waging a Struggle for Recognition Rather Than for a Solution"

An Interview with 'Ali Jarbawi

by Penny Johnson
published in MER164

‘Ali Jarbawi, an associate professor of political science at Birzeit University, is the author of The Intifada and Political Leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Beirut: Dar al-Tali‘a, in Arabic). MERIP contributing editor Penny Johnson interviewed him in Ramallah in late February 1990.

You have criticized the “Western analysis” of the uprising which posits that a new, youthful leadership here has changed the balance of power with the PLO outside. This line of thinking views the uprising as a massive social rebellion that has transformed the roles of youth, women, workers and camp dwellers. Do you think such fundamental change is underway?

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The Intifada in Israel

Portents and Precarious Balance

by Stanley Cohen
published in MER164

Our visitors -- activists coming to express solidarity with the Palestinians, human rights workers documenting the latest atrocities, itinerant journalists doing the definitive intifada story -- sometimes see things clearer than we do. Here, in the eye of the storm, it is easy to be misled. The signs are confused, the omens change from week to week. For a moment, a mood of optimism sweeps through. Peace Now appears radicalized. More than half the population agrees with talking to the PLO. Masha Lubelsky (the secretary of Na‘amat, the establishment Histadrut women’s organization) pays a public visit to Faisal Husseini. A thousand new peace activists (not old lefties) sign up for a “peace bus” to Cairo to meet Arafat.

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The Uprising's Dilemma

Limited Rebellion and Civil Society

by Salim Tamari
published in MER164

As the Palestinian uprising enters its thirtieth month, it faces a crisis of direction. Its main achievement seems to lie behind: a spectacular ability to mobilize whole sectors of a civilian population, through networks of underground civilian resistance and communal self-help projects, challenging Israel’s ability to continue ruling the West Bank and Gaza. The pattern of daily street confrontations has dealt a moral, if not logistic, blow to the might of the Israeli army. Above all, the intifada has placed relations with the Palestinians and the future of the Occupied Territories at the top of the agenda of all Israeli political parties.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER164

The Palestinian uprising, along with its other achievements, has enabled Palestinian voices finally to reach the United States. Among the most eloquent of these voices are the many different expressions of Palestinian culture. In theater, film, music, art and literature, Palestinian cultural productions have achieved new and revealing syntheses of politics and aesthetics, and many artists in the United States have responded by inscribing the question of Palestine on their own agendas.

An All-Consuming Occupation

by Rebecca L. Stein | published June 26, 2012

On June 6, 2012, the Jerusalem Development Authority launched its fourth annual Jerusalem Festival of Light in the Old City. The previous year’s show had been a resounding success, according to sponsors quoted in the Jerusalem Post, with over 250,000 visitors enjoying “art installations bursting with light and 3-D movies splayed across the city’s ancient walls and buildings.” In 2011, the Muslim Quarter of the Old City was included within the festival’s purview for the first time, with Damascus Gate retooled as the backdrop for a massive video projection.

Why Does the Occupation Continue?

by Max Ajl
published in MER262

Shir Hever, The Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation (Pluto, 2010).

There is a latter-day tendency to see the 44-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories as the organic outward growth of the Zionist idea -- as though the aspiration to hold the entirety of the land, embedded in Labor Zionist doctrine, was in fact a certainty, simply waiting for time to catch up. With the occupation deepened since the 1993 Oslo accord, and the remainder of the Palestinian populace crowded into a scattering of bantustans in the West Bank and one big one in Gaza, one can understand the diffusion of this way of thinking. It appears that the Zionist drive to dominion has neared completion.

Gaza's Tunnel Complex

by Nicolas Pelham
published in MER261

For an informal smuggling route, the tunnel complex underneath Gaza’s border with Egypt is remarkably formal. A security cordon of chicken-wire fencing surrounds the Gazan side of the site, barring entrance from Rafah town a few hundred meters away. At each exit a squad in military fatigues monitors the round-the-clock traffic for blacklisted goods. At one checkpoint, Hamas security men frisked a youth in jeans and a baggy T-shirt, discovering a colored paper bag taped to his waist. Inside were 16 packets of tramadol, an opioid painkiller that can be purchased over the counter in Egypt but is sold by the pill in Gaza. The young man’s stash would have fetched 6,000 shekels (over $1,600) on the streets.

Human Rights Briefing

by Nabeel Abraham
published in MER166

What has been the performance of human rights organizations during the first two years of the intifada? A fresh look at eight organizations surveyed prior to the uprising (MER 150) shows that overall coverage has increased, as one might expect based on the intensity and duration of the uprising, but coverage remains uneven. Some organizations that had been reporting on the Occupied Territories prior to November 1987 improved their coverage; others did not. Among those organizations that had in the past ignored Palestinian rights abuses, some saw the intifada as an opportunity to take up the issue. A notable few, however, have remained silent.

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Blocking Palestinian Statehood

by Chris Toensing | published September 26, 2011

When President Barack Obama addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2010, he sounded hopeful that by the following year there would be “an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.” Sure enough, in September 2011, the Palestinians asked the UN Security Council to recognize a state of Palestine -- but Obama ordered the US delegate to veto the request. What gives?