Saturday, May 28, 2005
Shame on the AUT - academic cowardice in action
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 10:30 AM
I write this article today as an open letter in order to retract my thanks to the AUT for boycotting Israeli universities.

When you live in the Bethlehem ghetto - you often feel isolated from the outside world. Even though I am not a Palestinian, the reality behind these walls always feels a world away from the debate and commentaries that take place on the situation internationally. Whilst white collar criminals all over the world talk of 'peace', 'negociations' and 'movement towards a viable Palestinian state' alls i can see is no less than seven large construction cranes towering out of the nearest Illegal colony from behind the wall of apartheid. Watching the main-stream news discussions of the situation sometimes feels like watching historical footage from a different age. Some part of my subconscious just says 'what they are saying - it can't possibly be anything related to now - can it?'

But then, every once in a while, some of the advocacy and solidarity efforts seem to pay off as news from the outside world indicates that some institution or another has actually noticed the large scale ethnic cleansing, mass oppression and 19thC style colonisation which is going on here. When i first heard news of the AUT boycott i thought it was far too little, but my heart was at least a little warmed by the fact that it at least showed some understanding. 'Maybe it will start the ball rolling towards large scale boycotts' i thought.

But no, this was not to be the case. The boycott has been overturned only one month after it was implemented. The question is how many powerful Zionists in prominent positions around the academic world called in favors for this? How many people were called racists and threatened for daring to try and take action against massive injustice? We will never know, and theorizing about it only gets you branded a conspiracy theorist at best or an anti-Semite at worst.

So whilst the ghettos own university continues to decline under the pressures of occupation, trying to run its academic affairs inside a 5km wide ghetto, I am left puzzled as to why the first minor restrictions against an Israeli university have been lifted so soon.

All that is left therefore is to salute to cowardice of the AUT and wish its members, who live in a happy little academic bubble where they can actually operate their universities properly, a long and successful hiding from the realities of the world. 'Well done, keep pushing those pens boys!'

Instead of my former message i have something new to say to the AUT members. 'thanks for being complete and utter cowards' i write this in the hope that I can remind some academics out there that sitting behind a comfy desk is not the primrary goal of academia - finding the truth is. (or am i being to radical now!?)
Friday, May 27, 2005
The new joke …………… elections
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 4:22 PM

some of beit sahour peaple loking at the number of votes during the municipal elections 2005

The new joke …………… elections

It's unreal. Three elections in the same year. What a joke!

Fed up with the political situations, my friends and I sat to discuss the Palestinian legislative council (PLC) elections the other night over a few drinks; the conversation, which took place at about 2am, looked something like this:

Shadi (he is leftist)

"Why do we have to vote any way when we know that nothing will change"

Fadi (from Fateh )

"We have to vote. It's good for the country and us."


"What the heck? Which country are you talking about??????"

Then after that we started shouting, arguing about the need for elections, the needs of our people and the madness of living in this situation.

But in the end we agreed on one joke: that "we are the only nation that has had presidential, PLC and municipal elections before we having our own country. It is the first time ever that we did something that has never happened in the United States. We finally beat the United States at something!

Maybe you are not laughing at this joke, but this is the life in Palestine. Voting and lying to people in the name of democracy. God what has happened to this country? Spending money on stupid election ads instead of giving it to the poor people in the refugee camps who sleep with no food; or to the poor workers of the city who have been unemployed since the beginning of this Intifada.

The Palestine I fight for is still occupied-- this is the time to fight not to vote.

We need to be free before we can vote.

I am sorry my friends if my joke was not funny. I promise you that the next joke will be.

Thursday, May 26, 2005
posted by: snoopy at 7:12 PM
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners
posted by: refugee at 9:12 PM
hi dear friends this is a massege written by a friend from the Basque Country and i did post it here in solidarity with each other.

Thousands of Palestinian political prisoners started a fight on the 15th of August. Unfortunately, it will not be the first neither the last, until they beat the Zionist ambition. The aim of this fight is to finish with the cruel conditions they suffer at the Israeli prisons.
In Palestine as in the Basque Country, there is a whole nation in prison, denied and imposed. Thousands of people, fighting men and women are in Israeli dirty cells, often against any legislation or law and imposing unjust conditions.
As in French and Spanish prisons, in Israeli prisons they also violate the basic rights of the political prisoners and their families, for example torturing, isolating, keeping them away, putting obstacles to the communication with their friends and families, imposing humiliating searches, withdrawing medical assistance or denying the choice to study. These are some of the norms that rule in prison here and there.
The fight of our brothers and sisters of Palestine wants to finish with a reality that us, the Basque political prisoners, know very well. In this struggle, they have got the strong support of the Palestinian society. They will need it to face the hunger of the Zionist revenge.
Through this note, we send our solidarity to all the fighting Palestinian political prisoners. At the same time, we appeal to Basque people to participate in the solidarity actions.
In support of Palestine and the Basque Country, GORA PRESO POLITIKOAK!
In the Basque Country,
The Basque Political Prisoners
my bound childhood
posted by: refugee at 9:07 PM
My childhood … I don’t know if I had it in the past or not … because I haven’t come upon the meaning of it in this life, but I am able to describe it, because my childhood is the miracle of its time.

Imagine the form of it! I will write for you now and the artists were too feeble to draw it
My childhood, it became a toy without mean…it was shot by the bullets without prevention or prohibition … my toy… I am looking for it under the destruction and asking the emergency group ... My sister... my mother… my father and my uncle… I asked about them in the crowd, they told me come and search with us under the destruction. Maybe you will find a proof or some remainder from the conscience of humanity… it was broken in the past … but it hasn’t died until now … maybe you will find it or maybe the time has passed for that!

My broken childhood, I am looking for something to fix it with and to return it not destroyed, in that time which the conscience has lost its way and it became like conspiracy in the hands of the criminals.

The conscience of the world became without a title, we don’t know if it appears like the humanity or it appears like the great injustice. In this time the human was overcoming without reference from constitution or from the Koran.

That’s my childhood, which suffer from the calamity of the occupation, without mercy and with the injustice and implementation of settlements. We are in it’s maze, we don’t have prestige …we are being insulted and killed in every time and we don’t find any conscience or human rights saying that it will save the smile on the faces of the people. They are suffering until the deliverance from mire, it is still on their life like a nightmare and some fairy tales.
That’s my childhood which you were too feeble to know and my smile, I lost my time picking it up underneath the tank and I am hopeful and all of me is a wish so help me to create the justice and save the wish.a
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The 'Arc' a gift to Palestine from the Rand corporation.
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 12:59 PM
“The Arc” The embodiment of salvation for the Palestinian people or a cynical distraction from colonial reality?

Well, now that this unfortunate little problem in Palestine-Israel has been solved, I think im going to go home. I can sleep easily in the knowledge that Palestine no longer needs internationals because an American corporate think tank has solved all the issues in one stroke. Maybe though – before I leave – I should share the genius, solve all solution with the readers of the Bethlehem Ghetto so that you can be as relieved as me. (Sarcasm ends here so as to not over do it.) Here’s a brief on the latest preposterously outrageous plan put forward by the west to ‘save Palestine’.

It’s called ‘The Arc’. At first I thought it was a plan to put two people from each religion on a huge boat, flood the whole of Israel-Palestine and start again –however the ‘solution’ put forward by the Rand corporation, at a cost of $2m, is considerably more ridiculous. At the center of the ‘comprehensive’ plans presented at the World Economic forum in Jordan is a 130mile long ‘infrastructure corridor’ which will link all the major Palestinian cities of the West Bank with a newly regenerated International Airport and seaport in Gaza.

That’s not all however. The Arc will single handedly solve the water problem by including a 130mile long aqueduct. It will solve the refugee problem by including ‘planned boulevards’ which will link each station to the heart of each west bank city – neighborhoods large enough to incorporate millions of returnees. Huge fiber-optic lines for the latest in telecommunications. Also power cables, a freight tole road, a high speed rail line and, last but not least, it will be surrounded on both sides by a huge national park which will develop into a paradise for hiking tourists. The full plans can be accessed at; if you want to have a giggle.

Meanwhile, this is all taking place whilst the Israelis are building their colonies and infrastructure in the west bank at an accelerated pace, in order to ensure than no Palestinian state could ever be possible. So why on earth would the United States bother to sponsor such an audacious plan in the first place? The answer is simple.

During the 1990’s the new Palestinian authority had to be presented with a dream in order to keep it co-operative and in denial about the continued colonization. It worked nicely. By letting the Authority think that they were going to be the leaders of a Palestinian state (albeit with large territorial reductions) the authority kept on cooperating during a decade when the settlements in the west bank doubled in size. Only when this dream became so far from reality that it could not possibly be sold to the Palestinian people any longer was there a second revolt. By then it was too late, Palestine had been ghettoized, bypass roads now created a nation on top of a nation and two states began to appear totally impossible.

Now in 2005, with Abbas as president and a new ‘cease fire’ in place, the west needs a new dream to make the mouths of the PA’s capitalist elite water for long enough to keep them playing the game. The two state solution just doesn’t do it any more, so now we have ‘The Arc’. How can we be sure that this plan is nothing more than a new and tantalizing distraction? We can be sure because of the following reasons;
• The settlements are still under rapid construction. As is the wall, the settlement roads, the water siphoning plants and all the other infrastructure. All of this indicates that the peace process is false, but it also points to the need for a new bribe or ‘dream’ for the PA’s capitalists to keep them cooperating in the face of the obvious facts – aka the Olso period.
• The plans provide the PA with a refugee offer which might help them win more support amongst those who still claim the right of return. ‘Why return to a field in Israel when you can have a free house right at the middle of a new Palestinian civilization?’ A ploy designed to gain more refugee support than the ‘two state solution’ ever managed to do on its own.
• It plays on the Palestinians dreams of freedom of movement by suggesting that it would be possible to get from Jenin to Gaza (a trip which is totally impossible today) in less than 90minuets!
• It also appeals to the rural nature of Palestinian culture by promising a huge national park stretching the length of the country to protect their land and heritage. The emotionally loaded image of a back packer hiking through an olive grove is even included in the ‘projection.’
• Finally it appeals personally to the capitalist elite in the PA with an image of one of the most dynamic and sophisticated pieces of trade infrastructure in the world.
• The final piece of evidence which suggests that all this is designed to keep the PA cooperative, is the reaction which the document received. The deputy planning minister, Jihad al-Wazir, was reported as so over come by emotion that he had ‘tears in his eyes’ upon hearing the plan.

This plan is loaded with dozens of emotional appeals and dreams which aim at, not only guarantying the PA a strong support base for continuing ‘negotiation’, but also letting them know that even if the plan is not successful, its going to involve millions of dollars. Dollars which they may well see a share of – they are only human after all.

On the other hand, the politicians may think, if on an outside chance the plan is successful then Palestine will become one of the most highly developed Capitalist havens in the Arab world. In either case, money is involved in a huge way.

To all those people out there who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom – I urge you to do what you can to publicise these massive flaws and not let ‘the arc’ dream become yet another lie which allows Palestine to be colonized still further. A campaign must be formed around exposing this plan for what it is.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Jeunes poètes en Palestine, aujourd’hui
posted by: Jino at 4:46 PM
Jeunes poètes en Palestine, aujourd’hui

Henri Deluy

Quelques feuillets d’un journal de voyage d’Henry Deluy à Ramallah en janvier 2004.
Bar Zyriab, au centre de Ramallah. J’attends plusieurs jeunes poètes de la nouvelle génération palestienne. Autour de moi, petites tables, se retrouve une partie de la " nomenklatura " palestinienne, et des intellectuels étrangers de passage. On parle arabe, anglais, français.
Dans les pages écrites le 31 décembre 2003 (Bienvenue en Palestine, chroniques d’une saison à Ramallah, Actes Sud, à paraître en mai 2004), Anne Brunswic note : " Naplouse est en état de siège. " État de siège, oui, dès le passage par le " poste-frontières " (" check-point ") de Kalandia - entre Jérusalem et Ramallah -, pour entrer en territoire palestinien. Guérites, miradors, chicanes, blocs de béton, en épis, passages étroits, chevaux de frise, radars, rails détournés, ferrailles tordues, charpentes, carcasses de voitures, ruines accumulées pour former des remblais de protection, contrôles de tous les instants, armes pointées, treillis de combat, chars, véhicules militaires divers, une armée israélienne omniprésente, l’occupation, la guerre. Et la plupart des jeunes soldats israéliens parlent russe (immigration récente).
C’est aussi en russe que nous parlons avec l’un des jeunes poètes palestiniens. Je ne parle pas arabe, il ne parle pas français, notre anglais est médiocre. Ils seront deux, puis trois, et nous téléphonons à une autre jeune poétesse qui vit à Gaza, et ne peut en sortir. Invités à la prochaine Biennale internationale des poètes en Val-de-Marne (novembre 2005), le poète de Bethléem et celui de Ramallah devront passer par la Jordanie pour rejoindre Paris, et la poètesse de Gaza par l’Égypte.
La chose qu’ils disent se présente comme un jeu de cartes serrées, qui se distribuent suivant un ordre comme bloqué :
" Sortir. Ne pas nous laisser enfermer dans les limites de ce territoire, qui n’est qu’un morceau de Palestine. Ne pas nous laisser coincer, terre à la bouche. Notre identité ne se limite pas à cet horizon de collines et de vallées pierreuses, à ces oliviers épars, à ce paysage occupé, démantelé, surveillé, puni. Nos corps ne sont pas des bagages en consigne. Poètes palestiniens, cette lourde actualité pèse sur nous. Pourtant nous souhaitons écarter ce blocage. La Palestine n’est pas ce squelette visible de murailles écroulées, elle est une très vieille histoire, une antique culture, une civilisation des origines. C’est avec tout cela que nous voulons écrire et avec ce qui nous parvient d’ailleurs. Nous avons besoin des vents qui viennent du large, d’odeurs inconnues, de langues ignorées, de livres nouveaux. "
Sur le chemin, entre la chambre que j’occupe et la place aux Lions, collées aux murs, couvrant le moindre espace libre, des affichettes portraits de Palestiniens et de Palestiniennes, morts au combat, tués lors d’un affrontement ou abattus, comme par hasard, en sortant de l’école. Hommes, kalachnikov aux poings, jeunes femmes, en tenue de kamikaze, enfants souriants. Toutes et tous sont ici considérés comme des héros tombés au champ d’honneur.
Ghassan Zaqtan, l’ancien directeur de la Maison de la poésie, ici, l’un des poètes importants de la génération qui se situe entre Mahmoud Darwich et les jeunes gens avec lesquels je suis en train de boire une bière, n’est pas très optimiste quant aux évolutions possibles de la situation générale : " L’humiliation continue et le poids des armes ne peuvent durer, et pourtant ça dure. "
La " honte ", l’" humiliation ", les mots reviennent sans cesse. Et l’arbitraire. La Mouqata, le petit espace où se situe l’état-major de Yasser Arafat, est comme un condensé : un lieu ravagé, un grand mur de béton récent, pour protéger une sorte de terrain vague, et des locaux de fortune. Dans l’état d’esprit qui est le mien, aujourd’hui, même le drapeau qui claque au vent semble revenir d’une entreprise en déroute.
Force de survie, pourtant, de ce peuple qui peut être joyeux, léger dans le désir et dur dans l’infortune. " Entre les colonies israéliennes qui occupent les meilleures terres, et les colonnes de blindés, comment dégager un espace d’écriture ? Comment retrouver une écriture qui s’occupe aussi d’elle-même ? " Notre longue conversation roule sur les poésies dans le monde. Jeunes poètes de Palestine, ils partagent quelques-unes des " problématiques " (nous avons le même jargon !) qui sont les nôtres et pas seulement le " comment écrire des poèmes après Auschwitz ", qui serait ici le " comment écrire après Chatila ", toutes proportions gardées, bien sûr, car, ici, ni four crématoire, ni extermination.
Mahmoud Darwich, le grand, l’incontournable aîné. Il est comme présent, ici, dans le bureau du centre culturel Sakakini, où se monte la revue El Karmel, dont il est le directeur. Hassan Khader, le rédacteur en chef de cette publication de niveau international - sans doute, à l’heure actuelle, la plus prestigieuse revue de littérature du monde arabe - ne le cache pas : " Pour les jeunes poètes, il est le père dont il convient de se séparer. " Symbole d’une identité palestinienne combattante, Mahmoud Darwich sait, mieux que personne, les dangers d’un enfermement : " Quand j’écris un poème d’amour, dit-il lui-même, le lecteur ne croit pas que je m’adresse à une femme, il croit que je m’adresse à la Patrie. "
Locaux ravagés, aujourd’hui remis à neuf, et je peux voir, sortie d’un tiroir, la page d’un livre de poèmes, piétiné par un soldat israélien qui a ajouté, en marge : " Bonne lecture ! " Pourtant, non loin de là, dans un coin de la pâtisserie Eiffel, nous parlons cuisine. L’un des jeunes poètes me donne la recette du plat traditionnel palestinien, le maklubeh (le " renversé "). Viande de mouton, à l’étouffée, légumes, riz, cuits à part, puis mêlés et, au dernier moment, plat renversé pour former une sorte de tour !
Car c’est ainsi que ces jeunes femmes et ces jeunes hommes qui écrivent des vers - et les questions formelles comptent pour eux - semblent voir leur situation d’écriture : " Libérer la multiplicité de notre identité, en reconnaître l’infini des domaines et les contradictions. Celle-ci, par exemple, l’horreur du mur, la lutte contre la mort, le tragique de chaque instant, contre le bruit des tambours et des rafales d’armes automatiques, mais aussi le bonheur des monceaux de tomates sur les marchés, les magasins bien pourvus, le sourire des uns et des autres. "
" Ne pas écrire pour nous venger. " Comme un mot de fin.
Henri Deluy

Najwan Darwish: Séducteur de langues !

Je suis un réfugié de Crète
J’exerce le métier de buveur de thé
À la menthe les jours d’été
À la sauge les nuits d’hiver
Et chaque fois une langue m’accueille
Je me réfugie entre les bras de sa soeur
Jusqu’à ce que je sois un séducteur de langues
Je suis un réfugié de Crète
Je n’ai que des chansons que j’ai oubliées
Et quelques souvenirs
La voix de ma mère est une poignée de sel
Une larme de mon père est une plume d’oiseau
Et des balançoires pour des enfants qui se sont égorgés eux-mêmes
Je vous expose tout ceci
En échange de quelques sous ou d’une tranche de pain
Je suis un réfugié de Crète

-Traduit de l’arabe par Jalal El Hakmaoui
avec la collaboration d’Henri Deluy
-Najwan Darwish est né en 1978.

Mahmoud Darwich:"Pour moi, la poésie est liée à la paix"

Le grand poète palestinien vit à Ramallah. Dans État de siège, il ouvre une fenêtre sur son monde en proie à toutes les souffrances.
Mahmoud Darwich vit désormais à Ramallah après de longues années d’exil. En 1948, il avait six ans quand l’armée israélienne chassa sa famille du village de Birwa où il est né. En 1950, il rentra au pays mais Birwa avait disparu. À la place avaient été construites deux colonies israéliennes. L’histoire du poète se confond avec celle de son peuple, dont le droit au retour demeure plus que jamais hypothétique. Mahmoud Darwich affirme néanmoins que " le poète n’est pas tenu de fournir un programme politique à son lecteur ". Il prône une lecture innocente de son ouvre, si volontiers empreinte d’un " lyrisme épique ", selon les mots du poète grec Yannis Ritsos. La poésie de Darwich, quelles qu’en soient les racines, n’est pas inscrite dans un temps et un espace donnés, fussent-ils toujours brûlants. L’exil demeure son vrai terreau, au plus près d’une géographie concrète du monde, baignée dans plus d’une époque historique. Mahmoud Darwich se définit comme un Troyen. C’est dire qu’il revendique, non sans un fin sourire, le statut de la victime. N’est-il pas plus noble d’avoir loisir de chanter, fût-ce au cachot, plutôt que de s’occuper à opprimer et contrôler l’autre ?
De lui, sort ces jours-ci État de siège, témoignage écrit à chaud d’un homme isolé au sein de sa propre terre encerclée par les blindés. Cette longue réflexion poétique est née du temps libre imposé à ce héraut d’un peuple placé lui-même sous haute surveillance. De sa fenêtre, il scrute les rues de Ramallah, en tient la chronique des heures et des jours.
De passage en France, il a bien voulu répondre à nos questions, traduites par Farouck Mardam-Bey, son éditeur chez Actes Sud.
Un précédent recueil d’entretiens avec vous avait pour titre la Palestine comme métaphore. De quoi la Palestine est-elle métaphore ?
Mahmoud Darwich Mon éditeur avait choisi le titre. Cette métaphore permet de dire des choses sur la poésie : la relation de l’être humain à son histoire, à son existence, à la nature, à soi-même ainsi que sa lutte pour les libertés individuelles et collectives. Pour moi, la Palestine n’est pas seulement un espace géographique délimité. Elle renvoie à la quête de la justice, de la liberté, de l’indépendance, mais aussi à un lieu de pluralité culturelle et de coexistence. La différence entre ce que je défends et la mentalité officielle israélienne - je dirais même la mentalité dominante aujourd’hui en Israël -, c’est que celle-ci conduit à une conception exclusiviste de la Palestine alors que, pour nous, il s’agit d’un lieu pluriel, car nous acceptons l’idée d’une pluralité culturelle, historique, religieuse en Palestine. Ce pays en a hérité. Il n’a jamais été unidimensionnel ni à un seul peuple. Dans mon écriture, je m’avoue l’enfant de plusieurs cultures successives. Il y a place pour les voix juive, grecque, chrétienne, musulmane. La vision adverse concentre toute l’histoire de la Palestine dans sa période juive. Je n’ai pas le droit de leur reprocher la conception qu’ils ont d’eux-mêmes. Ils peuvent définir leur identité comme ils veulent. Le problème, c’est que cette conception de l’identité signifie la négation de celle de l’autre. Cela nous empêche de vivre libres et indépendants. Ils estiment que nous n’avons aucun droit sur cette terre, dans la mesure où ils l’appréhendent comme terre biblique et jugent qu’elle est en attente, depuis deux mille ans, du " retour " de ceux qui l’habitèrent jadis. Il y a donc une tentative permanente de monopolisation de la terre, de la mémoire, de Dieu lui-même. C’est pourquoi la lutte se situe aujourd’hui à maints niveaux. Les gouvernants israéliens essaient d’appliquer leur conception du passé à une réalité qui ne lui correspond absolument pas. Parfois, je nargue un soldat au check-point. Je lui dis : " Si vous voulez la terre sainte telle qu’écrite dans la Torah, prenez-la et donnez-nous la terre non sacrée, c’est-à-dire tout le littoral palestinien. Il n’y a pas d’histoire biblique sur ce littoral. " Si la référence est religieuse, parlons de cet échange entre le littoral et l’intérieur, mais si elle est juridique, de l’ordre du droit international, revenons aux résolutions de l’ONU.
Quelle place occupe la poésie de langue arabe et singulièrement votre poésie dans la littérature arabe aujourd’hui ?
Mahmoud Darwich Les pays européens et les États-Unis croient que la poésie de langue arabe occupe la place d’honneur dans la culture arabe, comme ce fut le cas durant trois siècles. On parle de la crise de la poésie en Occident, du déclin de son lectorat. Elle existe aussi chez nous. La relation entre la poésie et les lecteurs est devenue problématique. Peut-être parce que la poésie arabe est entrée dans des formes d’expérimentations qui l’ont isolée du grand public. Elle met une distance entre le texte et le réel, en se privant de la richesse des cadences de la métrique arabe. Il y a aussi une raison d’ordre culturel. La poésie n’est pas le premier genre littéraire chez les Arabes. Le roman a pris la relève. C’est là un point positif. J’ajouterai que nous vivons une crise d’identité culturelle et politique. Les Arabes régressent sur de nombreux plans. Nous avons le sentiment d’être en dehors de l’histoire qui se fait. On entend, par exemple, parler d’un grand Moyen-Orient. Les Américains, à l’origine du projet, estiment que les Arabes ne méritent même pas d’être consultés ! Dans la mesure où les frontières des pays arabes ont été fixées par des étrangers, ces mêmes étrangers peuvent les modifier quand ils veulent. Les Arabes ne participent pas à la définition de leur destin. Que voulez-vous que la poésie fasse dans ces conditions ? Parler de l’âge d’or ? Adorer le passé ? La vraie poésie arabe est une poésie critique de la réalité arabe.
Pardonnez-moi cette question un peu brutale mais est-ce que la poésie, au plus haut sens, telle que vous la pratiquez aujourd’hui, peut constituer l’alternative à la religion ?
Mahmoud Darwich William Blake disait que l’imagination est une nouvelle religion. Tout le mouvement romantique entend substituer l’inspiration poétique à l’inspiration religieuse et prophétique. Je pense que la religion et la poésie sont nées d’une même source, mais la poésie n’est pas monothéiste. Comme l’a dit Heidegger, elle nomme les dieux. La poésie est en rébellion permanente contre elle-même. Elle ne cesse de se modifier. La religion est stable, fixe, permanente. La quête de l’inconnu leur est néanmoins commune. La poésie tend vers l’invisible sans trouver de solution. La religion en trouve une, une fois pour toutes donnée. Le grand problème du marxisme n’est-il pas qu’il est devenu une religion à un certain moment ?
La poésie est-elle compatible aujourd’hui avec la religion sous sa forme la plus revendicatrice et violente ?
Mahmoud Darwich Bien entendu, l’intégrisme empêche la poésie de s’épanouir. Son manichéisme sans appel ne convient pas du tout à la poésie. L’intégrisme a des réponses toutes prêtes. Le poète est celui qui doute et accepte l’autre. Il me semble que la poésie est liée à la paix. Elle est en adoration devant la beauté des choses et bien entendu devant la beauté féminine. L’intégrisme isole la femme et la cache. La poésie aime le vin ; l’intégrisme l’interdit. La poésie sacralise les plaisirs sur terre. L’intégrisme s’y oppose farouchement. La poésie libère les sens. L’intégrisme les bride. La poésie humanise les prophètes. C’est pourquoi la culture engendrée par l’intégrisme religieux est anti-poétique par excellence. L’intégrisme peut aller jusqu’à supprimer tout ce qui est contraire à sa conception du monde. En ses formes les plus extrêmes, il représente un danger mortel pour la poésie et pour les poètes. Durant l’âge d’or de la poésie arabe (IXe, Xe, XIe siècles) l’État était assez tolérant, ouvert à toutes les cultures. Il y eut notamment une très belle poésie érotique et bachique. Le fondamentalisme musulman est lui-même une réaction au fondamentalisme et à l’intégrisme américain et israélien. Le despotisme universel américain, tel qu’il se met en place aujourd’hui, est en train de légitimer l’intégrisme musulman. Lorsque les Américains parlent du terrorisme comme inhérent à l’islam, ils poussent les musulmans à aller vers certaines extrémités. La lutte actuelle, qu’on nous présente comme une lutte entre civilisations, n’est autre qu’une lutte entre intégrismes. Ce n’est pas une guerre de civilisations mais une guerre entre différentes barbaries.
On est frappé par la réflexion de Ritsos qualifiant votre poésie de " lyrisme épique ". Pensez-vous que cela puisse, aujourd’hui encore, vous définir, compte tenu que l’épopée, en Occident, est une forme disparue depuis des siècles, tandis que le lyrisme semble considérablement battu en brèche ?
Mahmoud Darwich La poésie épique, dans le sens traditionnel du terme, a disparu depuis beau temps. Elle est, comme l’a prouvé Hegel, liée aux anciennes civilisations. Le lyrisme vaut de tout temps car il existe toujours une pluralité de " moi ". Ce type de poésie exprime des détails, des parties de l’âme d’un peuple. Elle se penche sur les individus qui le composent, davantage que sur le peuple tout entier. Bien entendu, ces concepts n’ont pas de fondements dans la poésie arabe. Ils sont traduits des langues occidentales. On dit, en Occident, que le lyrisme, c’est ce qui n’est ni épique, ni dramatique au sens théâtral. Notre poésie arabe, au contraire, est dès l’origine lyrique, mais suivant des courants divers. Les formes en sont multiples. Quand Ritsos définit ma poésie comme un " lyrisme épique ", il veut parler de l’architecture du poème et de la multiplicité des voix en son sein. Il n’y a pas seulement ma voix, mais d’autres qui expriment le groupe. Ma poésie ne se situe pas dans un espace limité et personnel mais dans un espace large, sur le plan historique et géographique. D’où certains traits qui rappellent la poésie épique. Le lyrisme de ces poèmes n’est pas très personnel ni individuel, c’est un lyrisme collectif. Il s’agit d’une poésie qui n’est ni totalement lyrique ni totalement épique. Le lyrisme est également battu en brèche dans le monde arabe. Les jeunes poètes un peu perdus ne dominent pas les concepts. Ils confondent souvent lyrisme et romantisme.
La poésie peut-elle aider un peuple à être lui-même jusque dans les pires difficultés de la survie ?
Mahmoud Darwich Je ne crois pas que la poésie ait un rôle évident à jouer dans la lutte nationale. Son influence n’est pas immédiate. Elle constitue un voyage permanent entre cultures, temps et espaces. En ce sens, je ne crois pas en une poésie nationale. Comme le poète est le fils d’une époque et d’une langue donnée, il contribue sans doute à façonner l’identité nationale d’un peuple, en jouant un rôle d’ordre culturel mais il n’a pas à inciter à quoi que ce soit. Dans les années cinquante, sans doute, au sein du monde arabe et dans le monde entier - je pense à toute la poésie engagée, notamment, chez vous, à Aragon -, le poète a eu un rôle politique direct. Le monde était un peu moins complexe qu’aujourd’hui. Dans notre cas, l’occupation israélienne est une occupation longue à la différence de l’occupation allemande en France. Quel artiste peut jouer en permanence le rôle de poète de circonstance, de poète engagé dans le sens ancien du terme ? S’il prétend jouer ce rôle, l’occupation aura réussi à tuer aussi la poésie.
Entretien réalisé par Muriel Steinmetz
(1) État de siège, de Mahmoud Darwich
Traduit de l’arabe par Elias Sanbar
Editions Actes Sud/Sindbad
96 pages, 23.90 euros

Palestine. Le témoignage en image d’Olivier Thébaud

Olivier Thébaud, membre du collectif Tangophoto, est un homme heureux. Son travail photographique, glané lors de six voyages en Cisjordanie et à Gaza, vient d’être choisi par Elias Sanbar (voir l’Humanité du 13 avril) et par Mahmoud Darwich pour figurer dans leurs livres respectifs.
Cette photographie-là n’arrive pas par hasard dans ce livre-là. Sans doute la texture de ce poème, de nature visuelle, s’apparente-t-elle particulièrement bien à ce témoignage photographique pris sur le vif. Il se trouve que l’essence de cette photographie-là, en prime, est poétique. Peut-être parce que démarquée de l’imagerie stéréotypée qui fait invariablement de la Palestine un théâtre d’affrontement avec photos coups de poing ou un lieu des écritures avec images bibliques, elle choisit de privilégier les temps faibles, de s’attarder, dans ce qui peut sembler hors champ. En réalité, c’est la vie, plus forte que tout, qui est là radicalement cadrée. Au coucher du soleil, l’atmosphère est pesante, le paysage dévasté, mais on continue d’allumer du feu dans les pierres pour préparer le thé.
Magali Jauffret
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
The coming summer Vacation
posted by: refugee at 1:17 PM
A coming summer vacation after long waiting … Will it come or will the occupation prevent it?

That’s the feeble child, the coming and the hopeful child in a new day’s dawn...

His world became a part from the destruction… It became a center for injustice and aggression… His courtyard became a tank convention and his school became a helicopter airfield… His street became destroyed from the tanks’ chains... And his toy became dirty bullets and some splinter... Where he will play??!

He left his home to play like other children but he returned unsuccessful and his dream is impossible because there are a curfew so he can’t play and even waiting we need to find a solution…!

Will he play in a howitzer or will he build bridges from his cute toys? Will he hide behind a tank? Or will he join the Intifada children…?

He went to a place, the soldiers damaged it... He wasn’t safe from a howitzer, it passed the borders...

The child was dead... And his dream still steadfast and existent... Overcome the border soldier with it… And to make a childhood he swears for it to return….
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The truth is finally out
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 9:32 AM
The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate had a lot of deals and offers from settler organizations operating through off-shore entities, according to Danny Rubinstein (Haaretz).

According to Rubinstein, the central figure in the deal is reportedly Mattityahu Dan, an activist in the Ateret Cohanim organization.

And if you want to investigate more my friends, you will find that most of this money goes to buying houses and neighborhoods in the old city of Jerusalem.

Deals by Ateret Cohanim and other settlers' organizations are funded by public and government money.

For example, it became later known that the purchase of the St. John's Hostel was done with money provided by then-housing minister David Levy.

So do the Palestinian Christians need more proof than that? The latest events clearly show that the Greek Orthodox Church is a collaborator and anti-Palestinian.

I am sending my question in this article as a Palestinian Christian who wants to see a Palestinian Patriarchate leading a Palestinian church.

It is not racist to want this. Clearly the Greek Patriarch of the Orthodox Church does not represent our interests. The right thing to do, if we are fighting for our independence and against occupation, is to protect our cities from any threat it may face.
Friday, May 13, 2005
More land grabs in Bethlehem
posted by: salam max at 12:15 PM
Theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank by Israel continues without notice as the world looks to the so-called 'disengagement' of Gaza.
Israeli troops handed over early this morning warrants to several Palestinian residents from the West Bank villages of Peter and Ya'qoub of the Bethlehem City.

Well-informed sources in the Peter village told the IPC's that the warrants received by the residents were concerned with the expropriation of at least 1,000 dunums (each dunum=1000 square meters) of arable lands.

From its part, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (FATAH) in the abovementioned villages, released a leaflet on Thursday, calling on local human rights and United Nations institutions to put an end to ongoing Israeli expropriation of Palestinian-owned lands.

And while the world's press focuses on this fake disengagement (actually just a redeployment of their troops), Sharon's government says that if Hamas win the elections in July, then they'll reconsider pulling out of Gaza...

Sharon is famous in Palestine for his democratic credentials, so most Palestinians will surely be taking note of these comments and voting for whomever Sharon's government thinks they ought to...

Several residents of the villages of Peter and Ya'qoub, for example, told me they wished they could vote for the Likud party in the coming elections. "Israel stole my land, and I want to thank the Sharon government for this courageous step he's made towards peace," said Abu A'aroni, father of three.

A Palestinian in Hebron asks an Israeli soldier; "Why can't the US help us to build more of these fantastic checkpoints?"

Meanwhile, in America, the US government has decided that part of the promised 'Aid package' they're going to give to Palestine will actually be gong towards the building of... er, new Israeli checkpoints.
Only about $140 million of the $200 million requested by the Bush administration will end up going to development projects in Gaza and the West Bank. About $50 million of the remaining money is slated to help Israel build high-tech border-crossings along the pre-1967 border, with another $5 million set aside to pay for ongoing auditing to make sure that the funds are spent appropriately.

This is wonderful news! Finally the Bush regime has heard the cries of Palestinians who have been saying for years: "We need more, better, well equipped checkpoints! We spend so much of our time at these wonderful things (known lovingly as 'Machsoms'), why can't you invest in some more, nice newer ones!"

At last, they have been listened to and more money is coming for this exiting new project. "God bless America and George Bush," said one joyful resident of Bethlehem.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
The Left and the local elections in Bethlehem
posted by: salam max at 10:01 PM
The local elections in the Bethlehem region were the most hotly contested in the occupied West Bank. The local elections in Bethlehem, as well as the rest of the West Bank, showed that Fatah can no longer automatically rely on support from their constituents.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) won thirteen seats in the region, Hamas took five seats, Islamic Jihad one, and three other seats went to independents, some of whom will support the various different factions. Fatah won overall, with eighteen seats, including one seat going to the Peoples Party of Palestine (PPP) on the Fatah list in Beit Jala, but with mixed results which indicate that they will have to share power to certain extents in all three municipalities.

At a post-election meeting in Beit Sahour, two candidates supported by the PFLP spoke to an audience of internationals and Palestinians on the significance of the results; against corruption in the PA; of bribery allegations; the need for a secular, democratic left to challenge the rise of Hamas; and strength of the Left in the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Higher local turnout

Palestinians gather at the Beit Sahour polling station, 5 May 2005 (photo by M.)

An important feature of these elections was the high turn out (around 88%), and this was especially true in Bethlehem. Compared to local elections in the UK, or the US, this is absurdly high, and even in comparison to the Palestinian presidential elections in January, it was a large mobilization, indicating a widespread Palestinian desire to have their voices counted.

Why was there such high turn out? Firstly, these were the first elections in almost 30 years where a local vote would actually count. The last time it was a vote against Israel, and for Fatah candidates. So this was the first time Palestinians could choose between the different Palestinian factions in the street, which helps to explain why there was such a large turn out.

There is also an element of personal contact with local party candidates, whom the community knows well and trusts (or not, as the case may be). More people come out to vote for family members, friends and people they know have been closely involved in building the community at a local level. In such close-knit communities, this counts for a lot.

The presidential elections, on the other hand, were fought by candidates who were distant from the electorate, often only seen on TV or heard on radio, if at all. Further, the presidential election was somewhat decided before the event, with the entire ‘international community’ in support of the Fatah ‘moderate candidate’ Mahmoud Abbas. The only fight was thus really for second place and to see how much Abbas would win by. The local elections, on the other hand, saw thousands of candidates standing in many areas where the results were far from known in advance.

Lastly, living under Israeli occupation for decades, automatically a disenfranchising experience, further explains this thirst for a democratic outlet.

The Buying of Votes

Less encouraging were the allegations of foul play. The warning signs were evident since the presidential elections, when people complained of a number of mishaps; from people voting twice in different areas (due to being registered on different lists). One voter said that her illiterate sister’s vote had been inexplicably used by somebody else in the last elections…

Then came the student elections in Bir Zeit University, when Fatah allegedly withdrew 200,000 New Israeli Shekels (NIS) from their bank account and basically handed out 200 NIS to each student in an attempt to buy votes.

In the Bethlehem area, it emerged that some Fatah party campaigners were giving out mobile phone ‘top-up’ cards and even cash along with the list of their party candidates to vote for. People complained that they were once again trying to buy votes, and some complained of other kinds of bribes, but no party made official complaints to the Central Elections Commission (CEC).

In Gaza, Fatah members disputed the election results after allegations of fraudulent voting registrations by Hamas members, but no such complaints were made publicly in Bethlehem: neither the PFLP nor Hamas made official complaints to the CEC.

Dr Elias Rishmawi, a Pharmacist and one of the successful PFLP candidates for Beit Sahour, claims that they had tried to prevent this kind of corruption from happening by appealing to Fatah on moral grounds before the elections actually happened. He said they warned Fatah that they are creating a corrupt and indecent moral society – politically bankrupt and incapable of moving forward – if they instill in the next generation these methods of voting. If today people get 200 shekels for voting Fatah, what will they be asking for when they become directors of companies, demanding more perks in exchange for political support?

The PFLP did not want to create a public confrontation on the day, though, because they want the people themselves to reject such practices. Dr Rishmawi said he knew “many people who had taken the bribe but voted for us anyway!”

Why did the left do so well in Bethlehem?

A mural of Palestinian leftist Ghassan Kanafani (photo by snoopy).

Given these dynamics, why was it that the PFLP did so well in the Bethlehem region compared to the rest of the West Bank? Dr Rishmawi says there were several reasons why the PFLP had such a strong campaign (they gained five seats in the Beit Sahour, five in Bethlehem and three more in Beit Jala, out of a total of around 48 councilors across the whole West Bank).

Firstly, they were well established as leading the non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation since the first Intifada. Rishmawi explained his own role in the Tax Revolt of 1988-1989, which started in Beit Sahour, and acted as a catalyst for widespread rejection of the occupation and fighting with civil, non-violent resistance during the first Intifada. Since then he was arrested and imprisoned several times, along with many others, and had his personal and commercial property destroyed by the Israel army.

His party has never been part of the council or the regime of the Oslo years, however, so this was an advantage against the Fatah party who stood against him. This was the main theme of the elections, where Palestinians have been voting against Fatah as the historical leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): punishing them for their mistakes, infamous corruption, and mismanagement of services, as well as the utter failure of their back-hand negotiations with leaders such as Sharon and Co.

This has meant, in the main, a strong vote for Hamas across the board, as the alternative to the failed leadership of Fatah. But in the historically Christian town of Beit Sahour (home of the biblical “Shepherds’ Field”), Hamas didn’t even compete. So in an election when most people wanted to punish Fatah, the secular left picked up the alternative, opposition vote in Bethlehem.

That is not to say they simply gained a protest vote against Fatah, however. Like Hamas, the PFLP have gained the respect of the people on the ground by working alongside the people at grass roots levels to improve their situation. Institutions such as the Health Workers Committee’s Clinic in Beit Sahour, for example, which is the largest clinic of its kind in the West Bank; a well-equipped and effective community based institution, providing cheap services for the people independent of the inadequate PA services, was established with PFLP support and commitment. Other such centers are common around the region.

The leftists have consequently built a social base in the Christian towns with a large professional community and student population.

Dr Elias said the PFLP has a history of resistance to the occupation and has used their “Brain power” in the region to work against the Israelis. An example he gave was when they managed to force Israel to disclose the cost of the occupation by forcing Israel in 1992, through their own legal system, to publish the budget allocated to serving the occupation.

It is also worth noting that in Beit Sahour, two of the PFLP seats are held by women (out of a total of four women on the council) whilst three by men, perhaps a positive indication of their progressive stance on women’s issues.

The challenge for the Palestinian Left

Popular stencilled graffiti of Che Guevara in Deheishe refugee camp (photo by snoopy).

So, what about the upcoming legislative elections? How will the left do in the main test of political support in August? The presidential elections in January saw a large number of similar left candidates all standing against Fatah, whilst Hamas stood aside. The local elections again saw left-opposition parties competing among themselves whilst the main race was between Fatah and Hamas.

Husan Salsa, an engineer who was supported by the PFLP in Beit Sahour, said that there is an urgent need to work alongside the other left, secular and democratic parties to take on the Islamic movements: “The democratic forces must join forces in order to save Fatah from their own selves. This is no longer a luxury; this is an enforcement made on us. With the danger that Hamas represents, this must happen very soon.”

The PFLP has met with representatives of the PPP, Fida and other leftist parties to try to arrange such ‘United Fronts’ of left opposition parties standing as one block against Hamas and Fatah.

Another leftist from Hebron said that he doesn’t care who has the leadership positions, the most important thing is for the secular left to unite around common goals for the elections. He had just come back from the World Social Forum (WSF) in Brazil and was inspired by the example of the unity of the left around Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

Similar talks were held before both the presidential elections and the local elections, and yet until now, the left remains divided, which is of course, a common historical experience throughout the world.

Besides, since the sudden collapse of the USSR at the end of last century, the socialist left has been experiencing a crisis period worldwide. Palestinian leftists have thus been dealing with the lessons of the Oslo period as well as this collapse of the Soviet block and the heralding of today’s era of unchallenged American empire.

These rounds of elections are therefore a challenge for the Left to bring itself out of a period of quiet and isolation.

The current challenge is for the socialist and democratic left to prove itself as a useful opposition in Bethlehem where it holds a significant balance of power. They must not become part of the status quo, seen as yet another failed or even corrupt party in the system, thereby giving Hamas chances to grow in response. Salsa said that he had learnt a great deal about the urgent needs of people in Beit Sahour: he and his comrades need to prove capable of helping to provide better services for his new constituents (such as electricity, water supplies, and rubbish and sewage outlets).

With the local elections now over in most parts of Palestine, all eyes will be watching the fight for the legislative council in August (recently postponed). The left must take the historic chance to build a united front campaign to challenge both Fatah and Hamas from a socially principled position. Palestinians cannot afford to be let down by the leftist factions, leaving them in the hands of the corrupt Fatah leadership or the sectarian Islamists; will the Palestinian Left wake up to this challenge in time?


For an excellent overview of the elections as a whole, results from around the West Bank; their significance and implications for the future, see ‘Palestinian municipal elections: an overview’, by Bex Tyrer/AIC.

Saturday, May 07, 2005
The Local Elections; 29 years later
posted by: peacerider at 11:48 PM

Two days after Thursday’s elections and I am still sitting here listening to the same heightened pre election (now post-election) onslaught of car horns as they beep both continuously and furiously up and down the road. On second thoughts perhaps it has nothing to do with the elections. It is the weekend after all; there could be a wedding. Regardless of the reason for this evening’s mobile raucous, attention is still very much turned towards the recent local council elections and as a resident of Beit Sahour, so too is mine.

Unfortunately as a British citizen, I’'ve had a double does of election mayhem with Thursday the 5th of May, also being the day the British public some what reluctantly reelected Tony Blair. In fact the similarities do not end here. Many voters in Beit Sahour are also desperate for change. They too are disillusioned with their political leaders, and frustrated that the popular vote is not achieving satisfying results which surely should be an automated result of democracy? As one woman laminated:

Will the people never learn? We want a responsible and clean local government but yet we still vote the old corrupt leaders back in.

I read a depressing headline in the Jerusalem Post yesterday; “"Despite Iraq anger UK votes for Blair"”. From the UK to the OPT; disillusionment with democracy. Or perhaps '‘democratic disillusionment'’ would be a more perceptive phrase?

In the Bethlehem ghetto, the local election battle appeared surprisingly fierce. The past month has culminated in nightly party election rallies or what is locally dubbed as '‘festivals'’. Party posters and banners have been strung and stuck to both stationary and moving objects; from street lights to taxis. The nightly routine of finishing work and going to the gym or shopping was temporarily replaced with going to a local party ‘festival’. On a personal level this has been a treat; an empty swimming pool followed by a queue-less supermarket. Such rigorous electoral enthusiasm and the near total mobilsation (children included!) can be explained on numerous levels.

Firstly, the municipality elections follow the earlier Presidential elections, which were held last January. This undoubtedly re-ignited political consciousness and kick started political grass roots involvement after a particularly arid democratic spell. On a local level this translated into a battle between the traditional and known Fatah candidates and younger and less known figures. A second explanation for the vibrancy of the election campaigns is that Thursday’s elections were the first local elections held in 29 years. Local elections were last held in the West Bank in 1976.

Unfortunately, this democratic deficit fairs much better than Gaza, where there have been no municipal elections since the end of the British Mandate, in 1948. Consequently, the years of democratic thirst resulted in an unconfirmed turn out of around 82%. In the UK voter turn out last reached such a figure in 1950. On Thursday it reached a contemporary 'impressive' 61.3%. Meanwhile, across the Green Line, in 2003, 68.5% of Israelis seem to value their '‘island of democracy'’, when Sharon'’s Likud government was re-elected with the lowest turnout for the Israeli Knesset in Israeli history.

Election Results:
There were 13 seats to be allocated on Thursday, and it was close (but for those desperate for change, it was still not close enough). The ruling party, Fatah, took seven seats, the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) won five, while the remaining seat went to an independent candidate. Four of the 13 members elected were women. With Fatah winning a clear majority it is not necessary for the new council to elect the town’s new mayor. However, in the neighboring village of Beit Jala, the figures were a little tighter. Fatah won six seats, with the PFLP winning five and the remaining two being taken by independent candidates. Consequently, Fatah has not been allowed the liberty it has in Beit Sahour, and one of the primary tasks of the new council will be to elect its mayor from amongst its members.

Meanwhile, in the town nestling between these two predominately Christian provinces, the battle was not quite so straight forward. Bethlehem residents had to elect 15 members; or as one voter laughed, “'We got to play a good game of noughts and crosses'”.

In order to understand the real significance of the Bethlehem vote, attention must be paid to detail. In Bethlehem seven seats were reserved for Muslim candidates and eight for Christian candidates. This meant that unlike the other 2,519 candidates competing for 906 seats in the 84 municipal councils throughout the rest of the West bank and Gaza, the competition was not a straight Fatah verses Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) match. Rather it was a contest between differing streams within Fatah, the relatively localized PFLP and an array of indepdent candidates. This being the case, Bethlehem, was dubbed as 'one of the most hotly contested areas’. However, it was also one of the four municipalities’ where Hamas made some real headway.

Ultimately, six of the seven ‘'Muslim'’ seats went to Hamas (with the Islamic Jihad taking the eighth) while the eight seats reserved for Christian candidates were divided equally between the PFLP and Fatah. Perhaps the UK could learn another lesson, or rather put substance behind its rhetoric of ‘cultural and religious’ diversity. In the UK on Thursday only four out of the 646 seats were taken by Muslim candidates, however, at least 19 Muslim MPs would need to be elected in order to reflect the community's estimated 3 percent of the electorate (roughly 1.1 million).

Although the election results have still to be officially announced by the Central Election Committee (CEC), the unofficial election results indicate that overall Fatah has won a majority in 45 of the local councils, while Hamas has won 23 and the remaining 16 councils are shared between the PFLP and independent candidates lists. The next stage of Palestinian democratization (aside of course from the withdrawal of the Israeli occupation army and the destruction of the separation wall) is scheduled for 17 July 2005, when the electorate will once again go to the ballot box to elect members to the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Meanwhile, the car horns continue but for tonight I cannot. The noise is too overwhelming. I wonder what it sounds like at home?

One of the many 'political cars'. Bethlehem.

Standing tall; election posters in Bethlehem

Early on Thursday morning; ready to vote in Bethlehem.

For more on the Palestinian Municpal elections visit

Posted by Peacerider
Friday, May 06, 2005
Election results
posted by: salam max at 10:22 PM
The post I put up about the local elections said the results were too close to call on that day, and the counting went on very late into the night.

The general picture that emerged is that the Left won in Beit Sahour and Beit Jala, while Fatah, the PFLP and Hamas are sharing power in Bethlehem municipality.

I had heard of some foul play at the Bethlehem polling stations, related to the two registers that people were using, and some parties trying to get extra people on the lists to vote. But no mention of that in the press so far, and I don't know how it was resolved.

According to Haaretz:

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) appeared to have won in the Christian towns of Beit Sahur and Beit Jala, exit polls show. In Bethlehem, Hamas won six of seven council seats allocated to Muslims, while Fatah and the PFLP will share the eight seats allocated to Christians.

Although Shakaki's polls are considered to be reliable, the sample includes only 14 authorities, and therefore, it is difficult to reach clear conclusions prior to the official announcement of results Sunday. However, unofficial results reported by external observers confirmed the exit polls.

Full article hear.

More from Beit Sahour in the Irish Examiner:

The municipal campaigns were largely waged over local issues, such as clean government and better services, and analysts said clan loyalties also influence voting. However, the voting also comes at a time of growing disappointment with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas; his main achievement a truce with Israel is showing signs of unravelling and he has few achievements to present to voters.

Elias Rishmawi, a leading council candidate in the village of Beit Sahour, just outside Bethlehem, said any decent showing by Hamas is a result of Fatah mismanagement and corruption.

He said Mr Abbas has failed to forge an alliance to oppose Hamas and "emphasise the democratic, secular face of the Palestinian Authority."

"This would be the only solution to minimise the effect of Hamas," said Mr Rishmawi, who is heading a list of the opposition party Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Leonardo Da Vinci comes to Palestine
posted by: salam max at 10:04 PM

In a previous post I challenged people to show better wall-art than the graffiti in Bethlehem, and I have to admit this painting is pretty impressive - from Qalqilya, apparently.

Thanks M. Keep sending us links to pictures of art on the wall, people.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Bethlehemites go to the ballots
posted by: salam max at 4:53 PM

The ballot boxes of Bethlehem were already filling up this morning as voters turned out in large numbers for the first local elections here in 30 years. With an almost carnival-like atmosphere, men, women and children bustled at the polling stations.

Workers in the polling stations reported no problems or irregularities so far, and a very high turn out.

Independent election observer, Husam Jubran, in Beit Sahour, told me: "Everybody is here. This is the first local election we've had in 30 years, and everybody is happy because of that. The parties have mobilized highly and a strong campaign has been fought in this area."

He told me that they are expecting "at least" a 90 percent turn out.

"Even kids are here despite the fact they're not eligible to vote, and that's great," Jubran said. "I just witnessed five kids in dialogue with each other over who to vote for and debating the different candidates."

The polling stations in neighboring Bethlehem and Beit Jala were similar, with young children and canvassers surrounding the lightly (and relatively discreetly) guarded polling stations.

No guns or mobile phones were allowed into the polling stations and the only political party involvement inside the polling rooms were as observers, sat at an appropriate distance form the voting booths.

A high number of women seemed to be voting, and all in all a good atmosphere prevailed on this final day of what has proven to be hotly contested local elections for the Bethlehem region. The high number of candidates and a strong turn out in all regions make the results too close to call.

What difference these elections will make to the political decision making in the region, however, remains to be seen.

An election poster shows clearly the voting proceedure in Beit Sahour.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Why the Ghetto exists in the first place
posted by: Frubious Bandersnatch at 11:14 AM
A puppet state? – Surely not….

Some people have argued that the only reason we have a Bethlehem ghetto in the first place (as well as the other Ghetto’s of course) is because the Palestinian cities became ungovernable after the first intifada. To me, this makes a lot of sense. Even with an authoritarian or military dictatorship in place the people still need to show a certain amount of willing in order for the Regime to remain in power. You only need to look at Britain’s withdrawal from India to see that sometimes the rulers hand is forced by more disobedience than it can handle. If there’s one thing you can say about the first intifada – it certainly demonstrated a lot of healthy disobedience as a truly popular uprising.

The remnants of Palestine simply became un-governable. Even with the regular use of the gun Israel had to accept that it was never again going to be possible to assert direct rule over the cities. It is important to note however that this ONLY applies to the cities, so now we have the situation where the population centers of Palestine have been jettisoned, but most of the land itself has been taken.

Now there are those who argue (in an infinitely naïve way) that the cities were granted independence because it was ‘the right thing to do’ and that the rest of the land will follow ‘when the Palestinians stop using terror’ against an entirely defenseless Israel - which just happens to be the fourth largest military machine in the world. Hmmm….

From the standpoint of this argument, it makes no sense for Israel to simply jettison the cities and leave them hanging over the abyss with no territory because they would quickly deteriorate into anarchic hot beds of terror. That is unless you are willing to pressure the new regime in the cities, under the guise of ‘security reform’, to govern them on Israel’s behalf. Could that be why there are only 7 doctors per 10,000 Palestinians and over 450 police officers to the same head of population? A cynical commentator would so yes – as would a realist.

In the same vein, this vastly over-inflated security force comes at a cost of one-quarter of the budget whilst agriculture, which has been devastated by the Israeli military, has managed to secure just 1% of the new regimes budget.

So why am I writing this? Is it to attack the PA? The honest answer to this is ‘no’ as there are many members of the PA who are genuinely trying to achieve change with their hands tied behind their backs. The blame goes to those in Tel Aviv who would dominate this fledgling regime and drive it into a corner (or series of disconnected ghetto’s).

The reason I wanted to present this argument on the blog today is to convince those readers who are not entirely certain, that the peace process is nothing more than a cynical jettisoning of ungovernable territories which in know way holds the Palestinians best interests at heart. The Zionist movement, with over a hundred years of momentum, has not suddenly had a change of heart and decided that natives should be treated with respect – I wouldn’t be working in Bethlehem if that were the case.

I write this because many abroad support the peace process through well intentioned optimism and hope. I ask those people to store their optimism for a few years and channel it towards a day when everyone in Palestine-Israel has full human rights and the ability to come and go as they please. The peace process will not come close to achieving these aims.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
"Easy when you know how" - more graffiti
posted by: salam max at 8:54 PM

This blogging stuff is easier than you'd think, technically speaking. But every now and then I get caught out and have to 'call a friend': usually our site-manager-type person who is the real brains behind this wonderful layout we've got.

I posted before about a picture that i could only link to but couldn't put it up on the site itslef: Here it is - "easy when you know how", says the helpful Rafah Pundits Off Air, (recognize the photo they've used for their banner? looks cool huh?). Well it's even easier just nicking it off their site!

Cheers ears :)

... and here's the carrot face on the wall too... just to show i can now nick photos from flickr too, after guidance from those with the know-how.

Maybe at this stage I should shut up, but I thought I would use this post to thank all those involved in helping to get the site up and running smoothly - from those at original discussion about using the name 'ghetto', to shihad, who convinced us all that Tupac is a Shaheed (whatever! ;) - and to all the great support we've had to our email - from Bethlehem New Mexico (!) to Brixton, UK.

This site is a collective effort, and we are looking to expand the team again. So if you're reading this in the Bethlehem area and want to get involved, then get in touch:

[UPDATE]: Funnny thing about these photos is i didn't even know they're from Bethlehem. They're just next to the murals which were painted by the Mexicans who came last year... I'll put up some snaps of the paintings by them another time.

I just saw the carrot and grimacing man today by chance showing someone round the Wall. Bethlehem has the best wall art, it turns out! There's a challenge - show me some good anti wall art from elsewhere to prove me wrong...
The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
posted by: beitsahourplayer at 1:15 PM

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
The people of Beit Sahour welcoming the presets
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
The Mayer of Beit Sahour and one of the presets of the local Greek Orthodox Church
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
The Mayer of Beit Sahour and one of the presets of the local Greek Orthodox Church
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
More angels with balloons
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
The boy scouts adding joy and happiness that the city of shepherds needs
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
An angel waiting …
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

The Easter Saturday in Beit Sahour city
People gathering in the streets to welcome the persists and to light their candles from the light of the tomb from Jerusalem since non of them are allowed to go their
Photo by: beitsahourplayer 30-4-2005

Monday, May 02, 2005
More art on the wall
posted by: salam max at 11:58 AM
Thanks to zippy, from Rafah pundits, who sent us a link to these photos of some great looking graffiti ... from where exactly I don't know. I don't know how to get the photos onto this site either, so you have to follow the link, sorry... either it's 'flickr' being smart or me being useless...

Thanks zippy, and keep them coming in people.
The dream of return
posted by: refugee at 10:54 AM
The dreams are a funny and beautiful world … it makes us forget the
hardness of the days and it makes us looking to what come after the
darkness … in every where and all places...Until there is no place
for the justice.

And the children… they are the dream of the humanity... That’s what
they will try to do…although the siege and the killing and the
devastation… but does the humanity save the children?! Or they left them in the maze way of the great injustice and aggression?!

Everything that’s going on, it makes the child try and try to grow and to be able to dream.

So what is the Palestinian child’s dream, who stays hopeful to see
the wake up of the humanity conscience!

Does he still have dreams until now?! Or the tanks damaged most part of this dream?

How will he dream as he lost his father... His sister and brother his mother and his life, and he became far from his dream and his future.

He still doesn’t have just one dream, and the promised hope to return to his land and his mother “Palestine”.

He starts to dream by the return of Palestine’s cuddle, he starts to pass his ways, and he sends the sundown وand he is hopeful to make his future shine…

He is looking between his notebooks and pens… between his reality and his imagination, about his small dream, that he named it by Palestine.

He split his way and all of them are determinationو he is looking
for liberation and decision…he is hoping to be the strong hero, who breaks all the killing and siege kinds and ways, it become in his world which faces all the aggression ways…

He is still persisting and striving…dreaming and proud… would he
find his lost aim when the life betrayed him… it didn’t do anything for him, just scattered his dreams and destroyed his home and his future without I.D.

Does the humanity allow the offensive or does it because it is
Israel’s made?!