Category Archives: Palestine/Israel

Arab investigative journalism conference this week

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AMMAN – More than 200 Arab journalists are convening in Amman on Friday to discuss ways of enforcing quality in-depth journalism under the motto, “From Arabs to Arabs”.

Supported by the expertise of veteran international journalism professors, reporters and editors from 12 Arab countries are participating in the three-day conference, organised by the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) network.

Among the keynote speakers are Charles Lewis, executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop and founder of the Centre for Public Integrity in the US; South Africa’s Mondli Makhanya, chief editor of The Sunday Times; and former BBC “HardTalk” host Tim Sebastian.

The event will also feature presentations by 16 out of over 75 Arab journalists who have produced investigative reports through ARIJ on human rights, miscarriage of justice, sexual abuse and pollution, among other issues, in ARIJ’s eight countries of operation: Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain and Palestine.

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Peace and Prosperity in Jenin, West Bank?

PBS Episode: Peace and Prosperity in the West Bank?

Once one of the most dangerous cities in the West Bank, Jenin. Today, however, there’s been a huge turnaround. Jenin is now the center of an international effort to build a safe and economically prosperous Palestinian state.

Watch the Video

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Artist pushing limits teaching in the Middle East

Henri Doner-Hedrick stands next to her painting “Blindfolded Arab,” which was created as part of a conference on artistic reaction to the crisis in the Gaza Strip. “My work represents all Arab leaders in the surrounding countries putting a ‘blind eye’ to what was happening while women, children and innocent people were being used as human shields,” Doner-Hedrick says. “They were waiting for Obama to be elected in hopes that the Americans would do something.”

“I went over there with a lot of fear, not knowing anything about the culture,” she says.

The longtime Lawrence-area artist, a 56-year-old journeywoman lecturer at area universities, finally landed a full-time position — teaching at the New York Institute of Technology campus in Amman, Jordan. She started a year ago this week.

After a year of frustrations, triumphs and plenty of education — both students’ and her own — Doner-Hedrick is headed back to the Middle East this week with a renewed sense of purpose both as an educator and an artist.

“I really found my place in life,” she says.

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For ‘Amreeka’ Director, Life As Inspiration For Art

Cherien Dabis

Writer and director Cherien Dabis drew upon her own childhood experiences as a first-generation Arab immigrant growing up in the Midwest for her feature film Amreeka. The film explores the journey of a single mom and her teenage son as they emigrate from the West Bank to America during the first Gulf War. Amreeka has garnered high praise from both critics and audiences alike.

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Israel, Jordan Find Accord in Finding New Water Supplies

Jordan loses perhaps half of its water supply to leakage and illegal wells

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Controversial Projects Include Network Linking the Dead Sea and the Red Sea

Washington Post:

Water is a major source of contention in the Middle East, whether it is tension over Egypt’s concerns about Sudan’s management of the southern Nile or disputes between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over shortages in the occupied West Bank. The water shortage is severe enough to upend some of the region’s traditional dynamics. Jordan and Israel are often pressured by Western nations and international organizations to cooperate in the name of Arab-Israeli peace. Water is one area in which pressure is running in the other direction, with the two pushing quickly on the Red Sea-Dead Sea connection while outside observers urge restraint.

Jordan now views the connection as central to the long-term stability of its water supply. Upset over the years spent discussing the project without concrete action, the country in the spring announced plans to proceed on its own. Israel has since said it would join its neighbor in an initial phase, even as the World Bank and environmental groups foresee perhaps two more years for studies to be completed before deciding whether the project should be built at all.

Read the article in the Washington Post


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Where is the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Program going?

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After meeting with World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister of Regional Development, Silvan Shalom, stated that the World Bank had agreed to fund the Red-Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Program that involves Jordan, Palestine and Israel. However, Bank officials say that they have made no promises and that the project is still in the feasibility study phase.

The studies are slated to be completed in early 2011. According Lintner, the Bank has still not determined how much financial (or other) involvement it will have in the project’s future, but Lintner stated that by 2011, the three governments involved in the project will have decided what the Bank’s role will be if any, but that it is the governments’ decision to make. At this point the Bank’s only involvement is in the feasibility and the environmental impacts studies, which the governments of France, Greece, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden and USA have jointly put in the allocated $16.2 million for.

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Daily Beast: Can USAID Survive Without a Leader?

BS Top - Goldberg USAID

Until last week, Farmer was rumored to be Hillary Clinton’s choice to head USAID, an organization that has languished without a leader for almost seven months. Then he bowed out, and Wednesday came news that he’s going to be the U.N. Deputy Special Envoy to Haiti under Bill Clinton. It’s probably a much better position for him—Farmer isn’t a bureaucrat, and Haiti, where he founded the pioneering Zanmi Lasante hospital, is by all accounts where his heart is. But it raises a question that’s being asked with increasing urgency within development circles—why can’t the Obama administration fill the void at the top of USAID?

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A very important topic since Jordan is very dependent on USAID…

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UNDP: Insecurity due to unemployment, environmental degradation, lack of healthcare and legal rights is hindering progress in MidEast

Jordan Times

By Taylor Luck

According to the UNDP Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries, which was launched yesterday in Beirut, insecurity due to unemployment, environmental degradation, lack of healthcare and legal rights is hindering progress in the region.

“The security of people themselves is threatened not just by conflict and civil unrest, but also by environmental degradation, discrimination, unemployment, poverty and hunger,” Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States and UN Assistant Secretary General Amat Al Alim Alsoswa said in a statement received by The Jordan Times.

“Only if these sources of insecurity are addressed in a holistic manner will the people of the Arab region be able to make progress in human development,” he added.

According to the study, the region’s economic progress is tied to the fluctuations of the demand for oil, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of Arab exports, with Arab countries home to the highest regional unemployment rate in the world, some 14.4 per cent, compared to a world average of 6.3 per cent.

One in five people in the region live under the international poverty level of $2 a day, and many more live in nationally determined conditions of poverty, leading to undernourishment, it said.

Jordan along with Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Yemen witnessed increases in the number of undernourished citizens, according to the report, as the number of undernourished persons across the region rose by 5.7 million between 1992 and 2004.

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Read more about the report and download it…

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Israeli Settlements: Fictions on the Ground

June 22, 2009

New York Times

There are about 120 official Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank. In addition, there are “unofficial” settlements whose number is estimated variously from 80 to 100. Under international law, there is no difference between these two categories; both are contraventions of Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits the annexation of land consequent to the use of force, a principle re-stated in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.

The blatant cynicism of the present Israeli government should not blind us to the responsibility of its more respectable-looking predecessors. The settler population has grown consistently at a rate of 5 percent annually over the past two decades, three times the rate of increase of the Israeli population as a whole. Together with the Jewish population of East Jerusalem (itself illegally annexed to Israel), the settlers today number more than half a million people: just over 10 percent of the Jewish population of so-called Greater Israel. This is one reason why settlers count for so much in Israeli elections, where proportional representation gives undue political leverage to even the smallest constituency.

Thus the distinction so often made in Israeli pronouncements between “authorized” and “unauthorized” settlements is specious — all are illegal, whether or not they have been officially approved and whether or not their expansion has been “frozen” or continues apace. (It is a matter of note that Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, belongs to the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, established in 1982 and illegally expanded since.)

Read the op-ed in today’s New York Times

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Music: Ensemble Ambitions in a World Divided

Despite the cohesion implied by the word “ensemble,” these four men are rarely in the same city, much less the same room. The politics of the Middle East confine them to four separate spheres and have turned them into a living metaphor for inescapable division

“It’s our story,” said Suhail Khoury, who plays the traditional flute, or ney, and clarinet in the group. “It’s like summing up Palestine.”

Read this feature in the New York Times

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