On the Importance of Thugs

The Moral Economy of a Checkpoint

by Rema Hammami
published in MER231

From late 2000 to 2004, the most common form of Palestinian resistance to occupation has simply been getting there -- refusing to allow Israeli checkpoints and sieges to shut down daily life. The unlikely symbols of that resistance are checkpoint workers -- van drivers and porters -- whose impromptu services allow other Palestinians to get there.

Acts of Refusal

An Interview with Rela Mazali

by Joel Beinin
published in MER231

Rela Mazali, an Israeli writer and feminist peace activist, is a founder of New Profile, a group challenging the militarization of Israeli society and opposing the occupation. Joel Beinin, an editor of Middle East Report, spoke with her in Herzliya, Israel on January 6, 2004 and continued the conversation by e-mail in May 2004.

Your work with New Profile has focused on the relationship between gender and militarism in the context of the occupation. Can you tell us about the status of this relationship, and the historical evolution of feminist anti-occupation activism?

Transportational Contiguity

by Robert Blecher
published in MER234

Israel seems to have gotten the message that Palestinian land, in any final resolution to the conflict, cannot simply be divided into isolated cantons. But Prime Minister Ariel Sharon still intends to hold onto large chunks of the West Bank. How can Israel link Palestinian enclaves and dampen criticism of its closure policy while maintaining its hold on the Occupied Territories?

The Targeted and the Untargeted of Nablus

by Amahl Bishara
published in MER235

On April 14, 2005, Ibrahim Isneiri, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was shot dead by Israeli forces in the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus, a town located between two mountains in the northern West Bank. Palestinian eyewitnesses said Israeli forces opened fire first, while the Israeli military claimed that they were returning the Palestinian’s fire. Israeli soldiers had entered the camp looking for Isneiri because, Israeli security sources alleged, he was planning an armed operation to be carried out inside Israel.

Hamas Risen

by Graham Usher
published in MER238

On January 27, 2006, Fatah activists and Palestinian security personnel converged on the Palestinian Authority’s parliament building in Gaza City. Within minutes, cars were torched, tires set aflame and stones thrown at election banners displaying the visages of victorious Hamas candidates. The cry was for vengeance, particularly against a leadership that had just presided over Palestine’s premier nationalist movement’s worst political defeat in its 47-year history.

The Only Place Where There's Hope

An Interview with Muhammad Khatib, Jonathan Pollak and Elad Orian

by Robert Blecher
published in MER240

Beginning in December 2004, and then every Friday since February 2005, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have converged on the West Bank village of Bil‘in to demonstrate against the barrier that Israel is building there, as part of the chain of walls and fences (the Wall) that the Israeli government hopes will be Israel’s unilaterally declared eastern border. The protests in Bil‘in have been among the most effective and sustained of any in the Occupied Territories.

From the Editor

published in MER248

It’s easy to forget, but the United States has a pressing year-end deadline to meet in Israel-Palestine as well as in Iraq. At Annapolis in November 2007, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to “make every effort” to hammer out a comprehensive peace accord “before the end of 2008.” For Bush, the joint statement underlined a previous vow, uttered soon after the 2004 election, “to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States” on creating a Palestinian state.

Locked In, Locked Out of Work

by Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER253

Article VI, Item 2 of the 1993 Oslo accords concluded between Israel and the Palestinians states, “After the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, with the view to promoting economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, authority will be transferred to the Palestinians in the following spheres: education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism.”