May 27 2015

Jibril Rajoub confident FIFA will vote on expelling Israel

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The head of the Palestinian Football Federation spoke optimistically of winning the vote that the general assembly of the world soccer association FIFA will hold May 29. Three-fourths of the association’s 209 members are needed to remove a member. “I am 100% sure we will win the vote and remove the Israelis from FIFA,” Jibril Rajoub told Al-Monitor on May 21 after meeting with FIFA head Joseph “Sepp” Blatter.

Rajoub appeared to have little faith in the mediation efforts of Blatter, who had met May 19 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians have been through this before and have in past years agreed to withdraw their efforts to kick the Israelis out only to find that travel restrictions have continued, Rajoub argued. Palestinian players, especially from the Gaza Strip, are often denied travel to the West Bank or abroad to participate in training or in games. Players from visiting teams are also sometimes denied entry, causing embarrassment to the Palestinian Football Association.

“He tried to present some new assurances about the movement of our players, but it was too little, too late,” Rajoub said.

Blatter told Palestinians that he has received new concessions from the Israelis regarding the travel issues of Palestinian players. A committee has been created, including a Palestinian, an Israeli and a FIFA representative, who meet on a monthly basis to review the situation.

“Our issue with the Israelis is not only about the movement of our players. We can’t accept that the Israeli Football Association includes five clubs from settlements and the racism in Israeli stadiums,” Rajoub said. Israeli soccer teams and their fans act and tolerate a high level of racism against Arabs in the stadiums. FIFA has a strongpolicy against racism and conducts campaigns to root it out of the game. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 27 2015

The story behind Palestine’s canonized nuns

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The Vatican gave Palestine three gifts within the span of a few days. On May 13, it recognized Palestine, thereby making the state of Palestine, rather than the Palestine Liberation Organization, its official diplomatic point of reference. The Vatican also ameliorated years of struggle by Palestinians on May 17 by canonizing two Palestinian nuns who were born and served in the 19th century. On the day the nuns were proclaimed saints, Pope Francis referred to the leader of the Palestinian national movement, President Mahmoud Abbas, as an “angel of peace.”

 The story of the two nuns has been told repeatedly among Palestinians, passed from generation to generation, but now their narratives are officially part of Catholic Church history, along with those of saints who lived and served with Jesus Christ in Palestine and throughout the world.

Marie-Alphonsine Ghattas was born in 1843 in Jerusalem during Ottoman rule and died there during the British mandate period, in 1927. She is credited with establishing the Rosary Sisters convent, which runs educational and charity projects throughout Palestine and Jordan.

Mariam Baouardy Haddad, born in 1846, in Ibillin, a village in the Galilee, was said to have had mystical powers. While a child, she moved to Egypt, where she later survived an attempt by a fellow servant to kill her when she refused to renounce her faith and convert to Islam. Baouardy Haddad received the name Sister Mariam of Jesus Crucified in 1867. She spent time in India before returning to the Holy Land and founding the Carmelite convent in Bethlehem in 1875, opposite the Church of the Nativity. She died in 1879 at the young age of 33. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 24 2015

Teamwork is absent

Published by under Arab Issues,Articles

following appeared in the Jordan Times newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

A quick survey of the success of Arabs at the Olympic Games shows an important phenomenon. With the exception of the bronze won by the Saudi equestrian jumping team in the 2012 London games, none of the nearly 100 medals won by Arab countries represents a team sport.

Some of the Arab individual medal winners include athletes like Taoufik Makhlouf, 2012 gold winner of the 1,500-m race, Syria’s Ghada Shouaa, who won the 1996 heptathlon in Atlanta and Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj, who won gold in the 1,500-m and 5,000-m races in the 2004 games in Athens.

In the World Cup, the best that Arab countries have done is to reach the 16th round before faltering.

Winning individual medals takes a lot of effort and dedication, but winning a team sport requires added sense of cooperation, sacrifice and selflessness.

Our failure at successful teamwork is not limited to sports.

We excel in family businesses, but do poorly in the corporate world.

Family businesses make up over 85 per cent of the whole Arab world’s non-oil GDP, according to the Emirati 24/7 publication.

Some of our successful companies are doing well because of a certain individual or family at its head.

Public libraries in the Arab world are like haunted houses. Arabs who boasted about the Alexandria Library have abandoned the public sphere or book sharing and book exchange habit, with most of our intellectuals having huge libraries in their homes but not bothering to bestow their book collections to any public institute, often resulting in the trashing or even burning of these books. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 20 2015

Remember the Suffering of Palestinians

HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN — Sometimes it is difficult to remember the daily suffering of Palestinians living under occupation.

The wars and turmoil all around us tend to divert our attention from genuinely terrible issues that might seem mundane when compared to the wars in Syria or Yemen. But the human tragedy in Palestine is real, even if it is not headline news.

Take, for example, the case of Khaled Abu Arafeh, Ahmad Ottwan, Mohammed Totah and Mohammad Abu Tier, who have been denied their birthright to live in Jerusalem and are forced to reside in nearby Ramallah without any documentation.

Their crime is that they were elected (in the case of Abu Arafeh, minister) following the victory of the pro-Hamas parliamentary list in 2006.

For 10 years, they have been fighting their case in the Israeli courts, and were imprisoned three times. Their main sin (as per the Israeli prosecutor) is that theyhave not shown loyalty to the state of Israel.

East Jerusalem, the birthplace of these men, was unilaterally annexed by Israel shortly after the 1967 occupation. No country in the world has recognized this annexation.

Further south, there is the case of the villagers of Susya, a rural community south of Hebron that the Israeli forces have been using for military exercises.

When the villagers complained to the Israeli high court, it ruled in favor (you guessed it) of the army, not of the third-class Palestinians living on their lands.

In April 2002, Israel surrounded the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in an attempt to arrest a group of Palestinians who had decided to hide there. After intensive negotiations, Israel agreed to allow the 39 Palestinians temporary free passage to various locations. Thirteen were sent to different European countries and 26 were sent to Gaza. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 17 2015

Palestinian state would solve right of return

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Visualizing Palestine, a Lebanese-based nongovernmental organization, created an interactive map that shows the shrinking Palestinian population in Palestine between 1918 and 2015. The graphic, “Palestine Shrinking, Israel Expanding,” demonstrates in a clear and simple way the catastrophe that has befallen the Palestinians as a result of Zionist immigration to Palestine and their (direct and indirect) expulsion.

The Zionist narrative falsely claims that Palestine is a “land without a people for a people without a land.” In the process of colonization and settlement by Jewish immigrants, Palestinians were dispossessed and made stateless. They have remained stateless for 67 years.

Palestinians have repeatedly said that the right of return enshrined in various United Nations resolutions is non-negotiable and does not have an expiry date. Palestinians want Israel to recognize its legal and historic responsibility for the refugee crisis, but they have also said that while this right is inalienable, its implementation is subject to negotiation. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas went even further in 2012 and said on Israel TV that he no longer has any desire to live in the city in which he was born and raised, Safad, but would not mind visiting it. In February 2014 in Ramallah, he also told a group of 300 visiting Israelis that Palestinians are not interested in “flooding Israel with Palestinian refugees.” Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 12 2015

Israeli court to rule on minister’s deportation case

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

For nine years, former Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafeh and elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmad Ottwan, Mohammed Totah and Mohammad Abu Tier have been waiting for a decision from the Israeli Supreme Court.

 Shortly after the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the four Jerusalem residents were banned from entering their city of birth and residency. Their crime, according to arguments by the Israeli prosecutor, is that by participating in elections on behalf of a pro-Hamas list, they showed that they are “not loyal to the State of Israel.” The same applies to Abu Arafeh, who was not elected but was asked to join the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The 2006 elections were allowed to take place by the State of Israel. East Jerusalemites voted and international observers, including former US President Jimmy Carter, participated in a monitoring role.

There was a sweeping victory by the Islamists Change and Reform List — the pro-Hamas list — which won 76 out of the 132 legislative council seats, allowing the head of the list, Haniyeh, to become the fifth prime minister of the Palestinian Authority government. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 11 2015

New Israeli government makes no pretense of peace

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

For the first time in 20 years, an Israeli government will be sworn in without a mention or plan of resolving the Palestinian conflict. This is actually a good thing, for it reveals the true nature and position of Israel. Israelis have in the past boasted that when it comes to Palestine, they negotiate the conflict among themselves.

Now there is no mention, no program and therefore no more pretense that Israel wants peace and the only thing holding back the winds of peace is the absence of a Palestinian partner.

Center-left government members have forever shielded their country from world opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation by giving off the appearance of a reasonable government that wants peace. After all, Israel is supposed to be the only democracy in the Middle East, and it is inconceivable to anyone around the world that a democratically elected government would endorse the most extreme human rights violations. A military occupation coupled with a colonial settlement program is unacceptable by any democratic system, thus leaving the world confused. Can democracy and occupation coexist? Can a country be truly democratic yet totally at peace with ruling another people by brute military force?

The answer of the March 17 elections and the formation of the government on May 6 has removed Israel’s peace-loving mask. Israeli lust for Palestinian land and its justification of perpetual control and settlement-building based on millennium-old claims of divine promise is the main reason for this military occupation of nearly half a century. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 05 2015

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Published by under Articles,Jordan

HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

AMMAN — In the end they withdrew their call for a demonstration. The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan wereplanning to celebrate their 70th anniversary on Friday, in spite of the Jordanian government’s public refusal to allow the event to take place. The huge pressure that the government felt shows that the Muslim Brotherhood continues to be a powerful force.

In Palestine, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate, Hamas, won student council elections at Bir Zeit University. Student elections there are often seen as a signal of general public sentiment. And in Yemen, Egypt and Libya, support for the Brotherhood has not gone away, despite very strong repressive and violent action against them by the authorities.

Jordan’s leading opposition figure Laith Shbeilat posted an open letter to King Abdullah on his Facebook account, calling on him to allow the Brotherhood to hold their celebrations and reminding him of earlier cases in which repressive attempts against the Muslim Brotherhood actually made them more popular.

Many arguments have been circulated to justify repressive acts against the Muslim Brotherhood. In Egypt, they are accused of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing — a terrorist group masquerading as a peaceful movement. In Palestine and Libya, they are criticized as an undemocratic force that merely exploits democratic elections to gain power whilst ignoring all other democratic principles. Once in government, the Brotherhood is accused of acting dictatorially and of hanging on to power even after they have outstayed their welcome.

In Jordan, a conflict has evolved over the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. A split within the movement has provided the government with a chance to take sides, even though the prime minister insisted in Parliament that thegovernment does not take sides in this internal conflict. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 05 2015

The switch to digital television faces bumpy road in Palestine

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

For most Palestinians, July 17, 2015, means very little. But for those who have long been working toward the migration of all Palestinian TV frequencies from analogue to digital, the date has been etched in stone. Mandated by the International Telecommunications Union and approved by the Arab League, all Arab states agreed in 2006 to turn off the analogue TV signals by this date.

In Palestine, the move toward digital broadcasting was preceded by a move to local television broadcasting. Shortly after the Oslo Accord began to be executed, there was a rush to establish local radio and TV stations especially in the cities from which the Israeli army withdrew. At one time, more than 31 local television broadcasting using terrestrial frequencies spread throughout the occupied territories. Nablus, Palestine’s largest city, had the record for having nine local television stations in 1996. However, by 2010, the number of stations was down to 18 local stations and in Nablus down to four. In time, some of these small stations folded or merged into networks such as the Maan TV network, which has become a national community-owned TV station.

As the target date approached, a frenzy of movement took place on various levels. The Palestinian Telecommunications Ministry produced a 12-page strategy paper that ended with the establishment of a large governmental committee that was mandated to prepare for the migration from analogue to digital. The supervising committee included representatives of relevant ministries including telecommunications, interior and information as well as a representative of Palestine TV, and one representing local TV stations. Birzeit University’s Media Development Center held a number of discussions on the topic and will be shortly producing a long detailed report on the topic by mid-May 2015. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

May 04 2015

After 15 years some Palestinian doctors now drive into Israel

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The news report was short, but was broadcast widely in the Palestinian and Arab media. Social media platforms have been buzzing as well. After 15 years of its unjustified ban, Israel has allowed a few Palestinian doctors to use their West Bank cars to reach Israeli hospitals, where they have been accepted for training.

 The head of the Palestinian Doctors Association, Nidam Najib, told Al-Monitor that the permission does not include West Bank doctors working for East Jerusalem hospitals, which is where most of the doctors are working.

Nevertheless, Najib said that in general, his association is opposed to any cooperation with Israel. “We have already announced that we boycott Israeli products, including medicines that have a Palestinian alternative. We are also opposed to any act of normalization with the occupation,” he insisted. Najib said that his organization, which represents all Palestinian doctors, was not asked for its opinion on the travel permits for doctors and has no relationship with the decision. However, he said, no disciplinary measures will be taken against doctors who receive permits to drive their cars into Israel.

An Israeli medical source who wished to remain nameless told Al-Monitor the permitting procedure goes through both health ministries, saying, “Applicants have to prove that they work in Israeli hospitals. However, their application has to be approved by the Palestinian Ministry of Health before being issued a permit by the Israeli military coordinator.” Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Next »