Palestine: Unlimited


Elaine Pasquini, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 2017 March-April

Throughout the month of December, photographs from the first annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition were on display in St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco. The exhibition, “Palestine: Unlimited,” was presented by the charitable organization Bright Stars of Bethlehem. Bright Stars is dedicated to the support of the Bethlehem-based Diyar Consortium, which includes, among other Bethlehem institutions, Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture, which initiated the showing.

Hailing from across all of historical Palestine, the 10 finalists were Mohammed al-Kurd, Mohammad Shaloudi, Luay Sababa, May Hirbawi, Saleh Zghari, Waseem Ali, Majd Sanuri, Reem Awad, Alaa abu Salem and first prize winner Nihaya al-Haj Mahmoud. The exhibition was curated by filmmaker Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, who teaches film studies and production at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts & Culture.

In presenting their wide range of subjects, the artists utilized various styles of photography, including experimental, abstract, conceptual and documentary.

Luay Sababa’s wrenching photo “Checkpoint 300” captures Palestinian workers traversing the checkpoint in Bethlehem—where unemployment is high—to work in Israel.

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Israel ambassador to U.S. speaks at Milwaukee Rotary Club

Bill Glauber and Amed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 6, 2018

Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said America’s recent move to relocate its embassy to Israel will help advance the cause of Middle East peace.

During an address Tuesday at the Milwaukee Rotary Club, Dermer called President Donald Trump’s decision to open the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem “historic” and “one of the greatest decisions in the history of Zionism.”

“I know some people are concerned that this decision will set back the cause of peace. I disagree,” he said.

“This is our historic home and peace can come to the region and the Palestinians can cross a psychological Rubicon and say, ‘You have a right to be here, too,’ ” he added.

The event was co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. The Rotary has invited the Islamic Society of Milwaukee to a future presentation.

There were protests outside the War Memorial Center organized by Jewish Voice for Peace-Milwaukee, an organization that advocates for full Palestinian citizenship that has labeled Dermer “Israel’s apartheid ambassador.” Peace Action Wisconsin also was an organizer of the protest, which attracted about 60 people from various backgrounds — Jewish, Palestinian, Lebanese, black.

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The Palestinian women at the forefront of Gaza’s protests

In socially conservative Gaza, women have been leading the Great Return March movement, uniting all Palestinians.

Mersiha Gadzo & Anas Jnena, 20 Apr 2018

‘I loved the sense of unity we all felt when both young men and women helped each other during the march protest,’ said Taghreed al-Barawi, seen in the photo [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Gaza Strip – On one side of the fence, dozens of Israeli soldiers lay positioned behind sand dunes, tracking the Palestinian demonstrators through the crosshairs of their snipers.

On the other side, young women, with keffiyeh scarves covering half their faces to avoid tear gas suffocation, stand in front of the young protesting men, providing cover.

“Women are less likely to be shot at,” said 26-year-old Taghreed al-Barawi on April 13, while attending the third consecutive Friday protests in Gaza near the Israeli border with her younger sister and a group of friends.

“We live in a male-dominated society and women’s participation in protests can be a strange scene for some people in Gaza. However, this time men somehow were more accepting and encouraging. It seems like they finally realised that we’re all part of this and women should be present,” Barawi said.

But being female is no guarantee for protection.

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Palestinian Child Prisoners
Day of Social Media Action
April 17, 2018

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, April 16, 2018

Join us in campaigning to protect child prisoners on the 17th April, marking the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners.

We need you to help raise awareness of the mistreatment of Palestinian children by sharing our ready made infographics on your social media throughout tomorrow. Please post 2 or 3 of the images at the end of this email, also to be found on our website, with the hashtag #freechildprisoners .

Please also take the opportunity to write to Congress to ensure that pressure remains for action in holding Israel accountable for violating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Under Israeli Military Detention, Palestinian children as young as 12 are routinely:

    • Taken from their homes in night time raids at gunpoint
    • Blindfolded, bound and shackled
    • Interrogated without a lawyer or relative and with no audio-visual recording
    • Put into solitary confinement
    • Forced to sign confessions – often in Hebrew, a language they do not understand

Children shouldn’t have to fight against the injustices of occupation, which is why they need our support. Please lend your voice on twitter and facebook, and also write to Congress.

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One woman tackles two of Gaza’s toughest challenges

We Are Not Numbers, February 23, 2018

A Gaza man with a SunBox

Two of the Gaza Strip’s most pressing challenges are a blockade-induced shortage of both electricity and building materials. And, in this conservative, patriarchal society, it’s a young, female engineer who is tackling both.

Twenty-four-year-old Majd al-Mashharawi, a 2016 graduate in civil engineering, first figured out how to turn ash and rubble—of which Gaza has a lot—into a material she calls “Green Cake” that can replace cement. Now, she is turning her attention to renewable energy technologies, starting with a solar kit named SunBox. Now in the piloting phase, SunBox is, she says, the first off-the-grid solar kit in Gaza.

“Gaza has an extreme shortage of electricity—receiving just three to six hours a day. But the entire Middle East suffers from a lack of sufficient electricity,” Mashharawi says. “This severely affects both quality of life and opportunity for economic growth. But the region has a resource that can be harnessed—an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, making solar energy an ideal source of electricity production.”

Mashharawi researched solar options in use in Africa and India, where electricity outages also are common. However, she ended up turning to China for the most applicable solution. Her SunBox product is a small solar energy collection kit she imports, modifies to accommodate local electrical outlets and voltage and sells for US$355—a price her market research shows is affordable to most households. (She hopes to partner with microfinance businesses for those families who need to pay in installments.) The kit generates 1,000 watts of electricity—enough to power four lamps, two laptops, two phones, an internet router and a TV/fan/small refrigerator for a full day, before needing a “refresh” (using either the sun or the electrical grid, when available).

Mashharawi (far right) using a SunBox to power a light and laptop

If the Gaza launch goes well, Mashharawi is already dreaming of expanding into other markets—West Bank refugee camps, Syrians in Jordan and off-grid Bedouin communities throughout the Middle East (perhaps the largest of the populations, at an estimated 3.2 million).

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