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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"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?

Editor's Bookshelf

by Joel Beinin
published in MER157

The Palestinian human rights monitoring organization, Al-Haq/Law in the Service of Man, the West Bank affiliate of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, marked the first anniversary of the intifada with a comprehensive report on Israel’s violations of human rights in its effort to quell the Palestinian uprising. Punishing a Nation: Human Rights Violations During the Palestinian Uprising, December 1987-December 1988 (Ramallah, PO Box 1413, West Bank, via Israel: Al-Haq, 1988; 355 pages) is a meticulously documented compendium based mostly on sworn affidavits collected by al-Haq’s field workers, five of whom were under administrative detention at the time of publication.

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Cossali and Robson, Stateless in Gaza

by Rania Atalla
published in MER157

Paul Cossali and Clive Robson, Stateless in Gaza (London: Zed Press, 1986).

Stateless in Gaza comprises interviews with 60 Gazans -- from women activists to housewives, from resistance writers to laborers in Israel -- who talk about life in the occupied strip. Cossali, a teacher and solidarity activist, and Robson, a development worker, allow Gazans to tell their stories directly, bringing into focus the major issues that confront those who live in this “forgotten corner of Palestine.”

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A Bullet, A Lie

(to Sami and his family)

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER157

ahmad had those
wildly intense
eyes that
would stare through you
as he spoke and
would light up
every now and then
as he listened and
would drive me crazy
does he want from me?


i remember ahmad
he returned from prison
to ya‘bad
and his grandmother
ululated in jubilation
danced in happiness
served coffee to share
her happiness


and it was ahmad
who took me around the village
when i came on
mundane visit
to see all houses
demolished or sealed
in town
recording a history
of occupation


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"When the Rest Is Quiet, There Is Revolution in Dahaysha"

by Melissa Baumann
published in MER152

We enter Dahaysha through one of several gates, past rusted oil drums piled high in a stockade and a chain-link barbed-wire fence that residents keep tearing down.

The alleyways are quiet; people must be inside. M. takes us to the home of his friend A., 27, a business student at Bethlehem University. Eight prison stints have postponed his graduation indefinitely; he has been under camp arrest for two years.

“I leave prison, my brother enters,” A. smiles cynically. Two of his three brothers are now in jail. One sister was imprisoned for five days once for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails; his father, who works in a chicken factory in Bayt Shams, has gone to prison three times.

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Abu Farid's House

Family and Politics in Shift

by Beshara Doumani
published in MER157

Driving to Salfit through the villages of Yasuf and Iskaka on a sunny fall day is an exhilarating experience. The asphalt road winds like a snake through hill after hill dotted by olive trees whose clusters of tiny, pastel green leaves shimmer in the light breeze. Rich brown earth, freshly turned, is strewn with stones and contoured by terraces. Closer to the road, thorny shrubs, grasses and the lazy, bleached branches of fig trees leisurely soak in the sun, anticipating the impending winter.

Uprising in Gaza

by Anita Vitullo Khoury
published in MER152

One year before the Palestinian mass uprising began, the writing was on the grey cement walls of refugee camp houses in Gaza, where you could read the anguish of Gaza camp residents at the spectacle of the Amal militia bombarding Palestinians in the camps in Lebanon. These attacks forged a real unity among Palestinian factions there and carried Palestinians here into street demonstrations -- as much against Amal’s assault as against Israel’s “iron fist.”

Israeli military authorities must have sensed that resistance was about to escalate; when demonstrations became irritatingly frequent, they increased punitive measures and violence against Gaza Strip residents, particularly against boys between 13 and 20 years old.

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Children's Territory

by John Berger
published in MER157

Given the same materials and the same opportunities, young chiliren all over the world paint in a similar way. They don’ necessarily paint the jame things. (Eskimo children will saint different animals from the chilIren in the Sudan.) What is similar is :he way young children make intuitive narks on the paper -- a question of space, gestures, proportion, even color.

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Gaza Diary

by Melissa Baumann
published in MER152

February 7, 1988, Morning

“Welcome to Gaza,” the sign reads, but the streets are not inviting. The long road into town is nearly deserted, its shops and shanties locked shut; only a few men gather sporadically for coffee or a cigarette. Beyond, the camps stretch toward the sea like a giant junkyard, people and goods cast off on this spit of land.

It is the start of a two-day general strike, and unwise to be on the street. Soldiers are everywhere, visible and not.