From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER146

The fate of Palestine seems strangely linked to years ending in seven. Theodore Herzl’s new Zionist movement held its first congress in Basel in 1897. In November 1917, the Balfour Declaration tried to define the Palestinians into oblivion as the country’s “non-Jewish inhabitants.” In July 1937, the Peel Commission recommended, for the first time officially, partition of Palestine. In November 1947, the United Nations proclaimed partition as an international consensus. 1957 seemed to mark a reversal of Arab defeat, as this consensus compelled Israel, France and Britain to withdraw from Egypt and Sinai following the Suez aggression of late 1956.

Human Rights and the Politics of Computer Software

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER150

Once the exclusive province of supranational bodies like the UN and small independent watchdog organizations like Amnesty International, concern for human rights has blossomed. Existing institutions have grown, expanding their scope and stepping up their activities, while a new generation of human rights organizations, often quite specialized in narrow areas of concern like censorship, or explicitly political in their aims, has seen the light of day.

Economic Dimensions of the Uprising

by Sheila Ryan
published in MER155

Beyond the cameras, outside the glare of the kleig lights of television talk shows, a quiet but potentially very significant campaign for economic disengagement is developing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

From the Boston Tea Party to Gandhi’s Salt March, struggles over economic issues have historically had great importance in anticolonial movements. It is too soon to quantify the actual economic impact or to assess the long-term political significance of this campaign, but clearly it has already eroded the profitability of the occupation for the Israeli government and various economic sectors.

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Arafat Goes to Strasbourg

by Diana Johnstone
published in MER155

Europe’s attitude could influence the decisions of the next Palestine National Council, Yasir Arafat told members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on September 14, 1988. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairperson urged Europeans to assume their share of “international responsibility” for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The prospect of European recognition of a Palestinian state and provisional government, he said, would powerfully support Palestinian moves to abandon armed struggle for diplomacy.

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The Routine of Repression

by Penny Johnson
published in MER150

By the end of summer, almost all the journalists were gone. They had descended en masse around June 5, the twentieth anniversary of the Israeli military occupation, crowding the streets of the West Bank and Gaza in quest of photogenic unrest. The preceding winter and spring had been tumultuous. Seven young Palestinians were dead and scores injured, with many more detained in clashes with the Israeli army. Now, in June, the towns seemed calm. Only a merchants’ strike and scattered demonstrations marked two decades of occupation. In Ramallah, television crews clustered around shuttered shops to photograph the locks.

The Cost of Living Crisis in the West Bank

by Nu'man Kanafani
published in MER265

In September 2012, declining living standards ignited a firestorm of street protests and strikes in the West Bank. The immediate spark was a sharp increase in fuel prices, alongside an increase in the value-added tax (VAT) rate. It seems that the protesters had a message for Palestinian Authority (PA) policymakers: It is no longer acceptable to blame all of Palestine’s economic woes on Israeli occupation. Demonstrators were demanding that the PA manage the economy better, the occupation notwithstanding.

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Four More Years

by Mouin Rabbani , Chris Toensing | published December 5, 2012

The 2012 US presidential election elicited less interest among Palestinians than any such contest in living memory. While most Israelis, and their government in particular, expressed a clear preference for a Republican victory, Palestinians seemed resigned to continuity in US foreign policy irrespective of which party won the White House. The main reason was that President Barack Obama, self-proclaimed apostle of change and widely hailed as such in the region when he assumed office four years ago, has yet to demonstrate a meaningful inconsistency with his predecessor George W. Bush when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Events since the election have only confirmed this policy direction and thus the validity of Palestinians’ indifference.

"Something Was in the Air All of 1987"

by Beshara Doumani
published in MER152

Mahmoud and Naji, both in their early twenties, are full-time participants in the uprising. Both were politically active before the uprising and, in addition to joining demonstrations, they play leading roles in local neighborhood committees. Both are college students. Mahmoud majors in civil engineering and Naji in economics. They spoke with Beshara Doumani in Ramallah on March 1, 1988.

When did you realize that this was indeed an uprising?

Mosque and Church in the Uprising

by Dale Bishop
published in MER152

It was only one of the hundreds of incidents that cumulatively have come to be known as “the uprising.” Here there were no beatings or shootings, no bloodshed, and, as far as I know, no one was arrested. In fact, compared with the dramatic events we have been witnessing nightly on the evening news, this was such a tame one-act drama that even the participants may have by now forgotten that it took place. But on a Sunday morning in early January, when the uprising was about a month old, an incident took place just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City that imparted a certain clarity to me about the nature and significance of the events of the past months.

Two Poems About Palestine

by Sharif Elmusa
published in MER152

In the Refugee Camp

The huts were of mud and hay,
their thin roofs feared the rain,
and walls slouched like humbled men.
The streets were laid out in a grid,
as in New York,
but without the dignity of names
or asphalt. Dust reigned.
Women grew pale
chickens and children
feeding them fables from the lost land.
And a madman sawed the minaret
where a melodious voice
cried for help on behalf of the believers.

Of course he gazed at the sky
on clear nights,
at stars drizzling
soft grains of light,
at the moon's deliberate face,
at the good angel wrapped in purple air.
     He had no ladder

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