Archive for April, 2015

Apr 29 2015

Muslim Brotherhood’s choices

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is planning to celebrate its 70th anniversary on Friday in spite of public refusal of the Jordanian government to allow this event to take place.

In Palestine, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliate, Hamas, won the elections for student council at Bir Zeit University. Student elections are often seen as a signal of general public sentiment.

In Yemen, Egypt and Libya, supporters of the Brotherhood did not disappear despite very strong repressive and violent action against them.

Jordan’s leading opposition figure Laith Shbeilat posted on his Facebook account an open letter to King Abdullah, 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 the repressive attempts against the movement.

In Egypt, they are accused of being in fact a terrorist group dressed in sheep’s clothing. In Palestine and Libya, they are accused of being undemocratic and that they merely give lip service to democratic principles only to gain power. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 27 2015

WHY DO PEOPLE GO TO WAR?

Published by under Arab Issues,Articles

By Daoud Kuttab

is may be an existential question, but why, indeed, do people go to war?

One reason people and nations go to war is to settle a dispute that they are unable to resolve peacefully. The stubbornness exhibited in this case is often based on a lie that is perpetuated and repeated so much that even the party that is lying often starts believing it.

This is particularly the case in the case of an internal or civil war.

People go to war because they lie to themselves that everyone believes their lies, only to be confronted by an opposition that feels the exact opposite.

While war often happens when both parties are lying to themselves and others, often it takes one side’s lie for a war to break.

If war is therefore the result of a lie, what happens when everyone attempts to tell the truth?

First, it is often hard to know where the truth is.

Unless one has free and fair elections, it is often hard to know which side’s opinions are really representing the majority. And elections are a complicated act that require consensus on how to conduct them.

Are they based on national lists or on the one-person one-vote system? Are they about the winner takes it all or do they encourage power sharing? Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 27 2015

THERE CAN BE NO PEACE WITHOUT AN END TO OCCUPATION

Al-Araby al-jadeed

By Daoud Kuttab

Out of nowhere this week, two prominent individuals came out in support of the two-state solution as the best way to move the dormant Palestinian-Israeli conflict forward.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose organisation is part of the comatose Quartet, spoke at a special session of the UN Security Council in New York about the need for a negotiated solution. “I strongly urge the incoming government to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution,” Ban said.

At the same time, Noam Chomsky and the voluntarily exiled Israeli academician Ilan Pappe produced divergent points of view. While Pappe, known for research into the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948, urges the scrapping of the two-state solution and the adoption of the one-state option, Chomsky backs the two-state idea.

These ideas endorsed by the UN head or the MIT professor are not new. They reflect the vast majority of worldwide political thinking as the easiest and fastest way to resolve the nearly half a century of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

What is new is that neither of these men gave any new direction as to how to accomplish this goal in light of the rejection of the current Israeli leader and the majority of Israelis who voted for him in last March’s Knesset election.

It is true that shortly after winning the election (largely due to the statement that there will be no Palestinian state) Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to backtrack, but it would be hard to find any respected Israeli or international figure who does not believe that what Netanyahu said on the eve of the elections is what he truly believes and what apparently most Israelis also agree with. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 27 2015

Palestine should not be collateral damage of Iran deal

Al-Araby al-jadeed

By Daoud Kuttab

An important question has yet to be answered. Will Arabs and especially Palestinians be the biggest losers in the game being played between Iran, the White House, Capitol Hill and Israel?Arab thinker Azmi Bishara believes that if Arabs stay neutral over the P5+1 framework deal they will become collateral damage. In other words it is not possible to remain neutral in a process that is attractive to Iranian reformers and American liberals.

On the other hand Israel is heavily engaged in two international cases: the international efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear programme and the world’s desire to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.

While the nuclear issue appears to be well on its way to being resolved, there is concern that a trade-off between the two cases might take place.

All sides deny any link, but there is concern that the fierce Israeli opposition to agreement with Iran could force Washington to make an unethical trade-off.
The US president, Barack Obama, is facing stubborn opposition from Republicans in Congress, and even from some of his fellow Democrats.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 26 2015

UNESCO resolutions raise Palestinian hopes

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has finally produced resolutions “with teeth.” Elias Sanbar, the permanent Palestinian representative to UNESCO told Al-Monitor that the resolutions adopted April 20 in Paris attempts to address the usual Israeli apathy to UNESCO decisions in a practical way.

Sanbar, who has been the head of the Palestinian mission to UNESCO since 2012 said that in the past, the UNESCO executive board would meet once every few months, issue resolutions and await the Israeli reaction, “and the Israelis simply ignored the resolutions.” Sanbar believes that ignoring the most recent resolutions will have consequences. “The resolutions overwhelmingly passed by the executive board have deadlines and consequences,” he said.

While previously UNESCO would send missions — which were either allowed or denied visits to Jerusalem — UNESCO has resolved to appoint a permanent representative to be stationed in East Jerusalem. The specific wording of the resolution states: UNESCO “[d]eeply regrets the Israeli refusal to implement UNESCO previous decisions concerning Jerusalem particularly 185 EX/Decision 14 and reiterates its request to the Director-General to appoint, as soon as possible, a permanent and eminent expert(s) to be stationed in East Jerusalem to report on a regular basis about all the aspects covering all UNESCO fields of competency in East Jerusalem.”

Sanbar told Al-Monitor that the decision to have a UNESCO officer in Jerusalem was fought the hardest by some of the pro-Israel delegates on the executive board. “The US and especially Germany fought extremely hard against this actionable part of the decision,” Sanbar said. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 26 2015

Facebook group shares checkpoint wait in real time

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The first thing that Tanya George does when she wakes up in her Ramallah home is to check the Facebook group “
Status of the Road, Qalandia and Hizma.” She scrolls to the latest entry checks and reads the status of Palestine’s worst checkpoint. If it is crowded, she would take the longer road to her job in East Jerusalem, where she works to support underprivileged students, rather than risk waiting in line for hours, or might decide to do some work at home and leave for the office later.

For most Palestinians, the Qalandia checkpoint is the nearest crossing point from downtown Ramallah to downtown East Jerusalem. Individuals working for international organizations can use a special checkpoint north of al-Bireh, referred to as the DCO checkpoint. A third option is the Hizma checkpoint. The last two are farther away than Qalandia, but faster to get through if Qalandia is backed up. Qalandia also connects Ramallah to Bethlehem via the alternative Wadi al-Nar Road.

The Facebook group monitoring the crossings was started by Richard Khoury, a Palestinian who works for the International Committee of the Red Cross. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Khoury explained how the group was established. “My wife and I live in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, and on weekends we normally go to Ramallah to see family and friends.” Khoury said that after wasting so many hours waiting in line, he and his colleagues at work began exchanging information on traffic backups through Facebook. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 22 2015

Time to put an end to the occupation altogether

Following appeared in the Jordan Times newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

Out of nowhere, this week, two prominent individuals came out in support of the two-state solution as the best way to move forward the dormant Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose organisation is part of the comatose Quartet, spoke at a special session of the UN Security Council in New York about the need for a negotiated solution.

“I strongly urge the incoming government to reaffirm Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution,” Ban said.

At the same time, leading American Jewish thinker Noam Chomsky and the voluntarily exiled Israeli academician Ilan Pappe produced divergent points of view.

While Pappe, whose research into the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948 urged the scrapping of the two-state solution and the adoption of the one-state option, Chomsky backs the two-state idea.

The ideas endorsed by the UN head or the Harvard professor are not new. They reflect the vast majority of worldwide political thinking and position as the easiest and fastest way to resolve the nearly half a century of Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 17 2015

New Arab MK jockeys for influence on women’s issues, budget

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The strong showing by Palestinian citizens of Israel in the March 17 Knesset elections, winning an unprecedented 13 seats, has revived hope that the 20% Arab population in Israel can have a strong influence on the workings of the state.

Aida Tuma, one of two Arab women elected to the Knesset, told Al-Monitor that the 13-member Joint List of predominantely Arab parties is expected to wield serious influence in the Knesset committees, saying, “We want to be active in a way to have a genuine positive effect on our people.” Tuma is a member of Hadash, the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, who joined Knesset member Ahmad Tibi in the temporary finance committee.

Committee selection usually awaits the formation of the government, but until then, two temporary committees are formed: one for foreign relations and security and the other for finance. “We chose to take two seats in the finance committee because we are sure that if we go for the foreign relations and security committee, they will not allow us to have any effect by moving all-important topics to subcommittees of which we are not members,” Tuma told Al-Monitor by phone on her way to Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian leadership.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud won an unexpected 30 mandates, is having a hard time forming a narrow coalition. Israeli media reports say that he prefers a unity government with the Zionist bloc, with 25 seats headed by Isaac Herzog. To pass a confidence vote, Israeli governments need at least 61 mandates out of 120 members of the Knesset. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 14 2015

Bob Simon, My Hero

Published by under Articles,Other

HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

As a journalist who must stay neutral on all issues, I make it a habit not to sign any petitions or political statements. However, in 1991 when I got a call from Francoise, the wife of Bob Simon to organize a petition on behalf of Simon, who was imprisoned by the Iraqi government, I didn’t hesitate. I got around forty Palestinian journalists to sign an appeal to the Iraqi leadership to release Simon, confirming his professionalism and rejecting their claims that he was a spy for Israel.

Simon, who happens to be of Jewish background although not practicing, covered the Palestinian intifada with sincerity professionalism and understanding in a way no other television reporter has done. In fact while working in Palestine he intervened to prevent the Israelis from deporting one of his own colleagues Taher Shreiteh, a story that is recorded in a book Shrieteh co-authored entitled Beyond the Intifada.” Bob survived his forty day imprisonment in a Saddam Hussein jail and had the professional courage to go back to Baghdad in 1993 and relive and report on those difficult days.

Bob Simon covered both the first and second intifada for CBS News. He has returned many times since to do various stories and interview senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders. His most recent visit for 60 Minutes was focused on the plight of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land. Like a professional he gathered his evidence, made his interviews and then confronted the Israeli ambassador in Washington. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Apr 13 2015

Not 2015 Easter Yet

HuffingtonPost-Logo

By Daoud Kuttab

The Holy Family Latin Catholic Church in Ramallah was packed. Palm Sunday usually brings out the entire family and this year was no different. Children in their Sunday best were clutching on beautifully intertwined palm arrangements as they packed into the church compound that also includes the Ahliya School.

But while mass in Ramallah was on April 5th the church bulletin delivered to all Catholic churches in Palestine detailing the service listed Palm Sunday liturgy as taking place on March 29th.

Unlike the Christians of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Palestinian Christians in Ramallah have decided since 2007 to unify their holiday calendar which differ based on their respective lunar calculations. Christmas is celebrated based on the Gregorian (western) calendar on the 25th of December while Easter church and popular ceremonies are remembered based on the Orthodox (Eastern calendar). A facebookpage has been established specifically for the need to unit the religious celebrations in Palestine. In Jordan the celebrations have been united since 1979 following an appeal by the late King Hussein. But because of the sensitivity of the mother churches in Jerusalem and the complicated agreement (called status quo agreement) made since the Ottoman rule in 1453 churches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem each follow their mother church’s calendar irrespective of the requests of their parishes often differing one or two weeks from each other. Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Next »