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by Yousef M. Aljamal*

On July 2, 2019, Gaza artist and community activist Ayah Abdelrahman lost her 10-year-long battle with cancer. Ayah was well known in Gaza (and beyond) for helping cancer patients fight their illness, including by empowering them through the arts.

Ayah is buried in Northern Cyprus , where she died. But she is remembered for her strength, positive energy, arts, and community projects by her many friends and supporters on social media, who recall her role in many projects in Gaza.

Ayah at her TEDx talk

Ayah is well known for the TEDx Talk she gave in November 2015 in which she recounted her struggle with cancer, She was also widely admired for her commitment to using art as a mean to express herself and as a way to help others battling cancer in the Gaza Strip, where patients live exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Ayah gave her TEDx talk at “TEDx Shujaiya”, held in Gaza City which was extremely badly hit during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. It was a remarkable, life-affirming performance. In it, she spoke quite candidly about her own battles with cancer and urged her listeners to remember cancer patients as people and stories rather than numbers and to acknowledge cancer patients as survivors, adding, “We should say today a number of patients have lived rather than have died.”

Interior scene, Palestine, by Ayah Abdelrahman

Like many cancer patients in Gaza, Ayah had difficulty in getting medical coverage, which put her life at an imminent risk. After much delay– which prompted some doctors to warn her family that she might die if the surgery she needed was not performed in a few hours– she was finally lucky enough to obtain the medical care she needed. Ayah had prevailed and came back again to life, embracing it even closer to her.

She was remembered for her positive energy everywhere she went to, stealing people’s hearts with her charming smile, despite her long struggle with cancer.

She worked on several renovation projects while in Gaza, explaining that,“People who do not know their past, will not have a present or a future.” During her work on these projects, she was happy to meet people and talk to a wide range of people, who reminded her of the kindness of Palestinians in Gaza.

Thanks to her paintings on Gaza’s walls, her people have always felt at peace passing by her many works there, which have left a positive impact on everyone in Gaza.

Artist at work!

She had been remembered for taking part in many art exhibitions in Gaza, including her sole-artist show, the Domes of Jerusalem Exhibition.

She was also remembered by the children she used to work with and train, using drama to get them involved, both inspiring them and being inspired by them. “The most beautiful thing is to see people smiling, that’s the golden period in my life,” she would say.

Ayah always thought of others, even when her own life was at risk, trying to bring life to others, even if that meant her own death. she told doctors that she wanted to donate her organs in case her tumor surgery failed. She wanted “the stories of other people to succeed,” even if her own failed.

Woman in Palestine, by Ayah Abdelrahman

She made friends with cancer patients from one to 80 years old. “I used to play and draw with children, our life was chemotherapy and colors. These people are my message,” she said in her TEDx talk. She was always concerned with telling the stories of children with cancer, such as her friend Yara, who battled cancer for four years upon her birth. She was so connected with the reality of the lives of the cancer patients she met that she believed that the art that reflected this could help to battle the cancer.

“The real artist is the one who reflects reality,” she recalled. So did she in her life, drawing the hopes and pains of patients around her.

She never stopped drawing and painting, even on her hospital bed, where she her last drawing featured the nurse who was helping her at her Northern Cyprus hospital.

Even in Northern Cyprus, she had an exhibition of her art. It was attended by Meral Akıncı, the wife of the Turkish President of Northern Cyprus. Ms. Akıncı later attended Ayah’s funeral, along with many people who loved her for her devotion and arts. The people of Gaza watched the funeral from the other side of the Mediterranean, across which the Israeli siege forbids them to sail.

Writeup about Ayah and her work, in “Cyprus Today”.

Ayah was so full of energy that often, people could not believe she had cancer. In cancer wards, people thought she was probably accompanying another cancer patient.

She always wanted to be remembered as a successful artist from Gaza rather than a cancer patient. “Don’t stereotype people!” she urged. She was the one taking initiative always, which pushed one of the journalists at one of her exhibitions to ask her “How is the cancer doing?” Unlike Ayah, cancer was not doing well.

“Everyone has his/her own cancer,” she always said. This includes, she noted, “poverty, money and siege.” These cancers, too, limit our dreams and ambitions.

For her, what mattered the most was the impact and feeling one could leave on people that matters the most. “Just give me a shoulder to stand on,” she asked people, “but let me be myself!” And she was herself– but also the selves of the many others whom she represented and celebrated in her art, whether in Gaza or in Cyprus, where she thought of her loved ones from afar, sending them her paintings and her love.

Ayah’s grave, Cyprus

Gaza today remembers Ayah Abdelrahman, who conveyed the message of cancer patients through her arts, using her painting to communicate her love and support for those who she cared for. They remember her as a strong fighter, and a fearless heroine, an accomplished artist, who left her legacy on the walls of Gaza and in the hearts of its people, so that she will now be remembered forever.

Art was always the language that Ayah communicated through, including people who spoke a different language than hers, for art is the language of everyone that Ayah had truly mastered.

Inspire by joy

Today the people of Gaza don’t say “goodbye” to Ayah, but rather “see you later,” maybe in one of her paintings on the walls of Gaza or through her smile that will forever live in their hearts.

Today, Gaza’s patients spell Ayah’s name: A for ambitious, Y for youthful energy, A for able– and H for happy.

—-

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He is a PhD candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey.

The post Remembering Ayah: Gaza-Palestinian woman leaves powerful legacy of art, bravery, and joy appeared first on Just World Educational.

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Editors and contributors of The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement will formally launch the Vietnamese edition of their book in Hanoi this month.  The Gioi Publishing has recently translated and published the book in Viet Nam. 

Co-editors Karin Aguilar San-Juan and Frank Joyce,  along with authors Judy Gumbo Albert and Alex Hing are participating in the delegation.  They will spend the week of July 5-12 meeting with students,  teachers and media to promote the book and catch up on current developments in U.S-Vietnamese relations. 

The trip is being hosted by the Vietnam-USA Society/Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations. A lunch honoring the publication of the book will be co-hosted by The Gioi Publishers.

The delegation will meet also with Madame Nguyễn Thị Bình, the former Vice-President of Vietnam and former President of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation (VPDF), and with other dignitaries and government officials. 

The People Make the Peace: Lessons from the Vietnam Antiwar Movement features stories and analysis from antiwar activists who were among those who traveled to North Viet Nam during the war. It is published in the United States by Just World Books. The authors had returned to Vietnam in 2013 to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords which formally ended US involvement in the war. 

Doug Hostetter with the Vietnamese edition

Other authors included in the book are Rennie Davis, Nancy Kurshan,  Myra McPherson,  Jay Craven,  Becca Wilson,  Doug Hostetter, and John McAuliff. 

The post U.S.antiwar activists launch Vietnamese-language version of memoir… in Hanoi! appeared first on Just World Educational.

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For 19 weeks now, every Friday has seen massive demonstrations filling the streets of cities across the large North African country of Algeria. These protests have been overwhelmingly nonviolent, with participants abiding by the “18 commandments” for good behavior promulgated very early on. Their main goal has been to achieve serious institutional reform of the country’s long-sclerotic, authoritarian system.

At the beginning, back in late February, the first goal was to prevent the country’s somewhat symbolic, four-term President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from standing for a fifth five-year term. That goal was achieved fairly speedily. A follow-up goal was to prevent the ruling security clique that is the real power running the country, from organizing insubstantial, “window-dressing” elections on July 4. That goal, too, has been achieved. But in the absence of elections on July 4, the powerful chief of staff, Gen. Gaid Salah, has warned that Algeria will soon run into a constitutional crisis.

For their part, many of the leading figures of the multivalent protest/political movement that has engulfed the whole country have announced that they will participate in a big national conference being convened on July 6 by the respected national figure Abdelaziz Rahabi. This conference will provide an opportunity for these individuals, parties, and civil-society bodies to brainstorm political strategies for realizing their goal of building a much more accountable and inclusive political order.

June 28 saw the 19th of the weekly Friday marches– nationwide. And it saw some developments that may signal that Gen. Gaid Salah is preparing for an intervention that is more heavy-handed than anything seen thus far this year.

In the capital, Algiers, black-garbed security officials acted quickly to take down a number of the multicolored “Amazigh” flags that were hoisted (see photo above.) One week earlier, numerous participants in demonstrations in Algiers and other cities had proudly hoisted both the Amazigh flag and the national flag– making a point of inclusivity and multiculturalism regarding the country’s substantial Amazigh minority, as well as acting to defy an order Gaid Salah had issued earlier that the green-white-red Algerian national flag should be the only one displayed.

June 28 also saw some dozens of arrests of demonstrators, many apparently connected to their carrying the Amazigh flag.

Meantime, in a situation in which Algerians still enjoy wide freedom of expression, numerous Algerian political and intellectual figures have been openly brainstorming and discussing their ideas for how to build a juster, more responsive political order. I have done a quick translation on two accounts of recent such discussions in Algeria’s robust French-language press:

  • The poet/philosopher Amin Khan and the human rights leader Moumene Khelil were last Monday (June 24) the guests of a weekly open debate held on the steps of the Algerian National Theater. This is how it was reported.
Zoubida Assoul
  • The magistrate and party leader Zoubida Assoul (shown at right) gave this interview to El Watan, on June 28.

And here’s a final note, to help those of us English speakers not super-familiar with the “darija” dialect that is widespread across Algeria and Morocco. Three great scholars at Jadaliyya recently produced this helpful resource: A Hirak Glossary: Terms from Algeria and Morocco. Hats off to you, Muriam Haleh Davis, Hiyem Cheurfa, and Thomas Serres!

The post Algeria: Popular movement reaching turning point? appeared first on Just World Educational.

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Yousef Aljamal speaking at Al-Aqsa School in Chicago, April 2014

Just World Educational is delighted to announce that for the last two weeks of October 2019 we will be hosting Palestinian rights activist Yousef Aljamal on a speaking tour of the “Lower 48” states of the USA. This is Yousef’s second time touring the United States. In 2014, he was part of a team that toured the country under the auspices of Just World Books and the American Friends Service Committee. They were launching the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, to which Yousef contributed a very moving story.

More recently, Yousef was featured in the “Facebook Live” event that JWE ran in January, to wrap up our commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” assault on Gaza. (See screengrab above.) He has also recently contributed several great pieces of writing to our blog, that explore various aspects of Palestinian life. (1, 2, 3.)

The cover of “Dreaming of Freedom” (in an earlier print version)

Yousef’s October 2019 tour will be very timely, because he has a wealth of information about the situation of Palestinian children incarcerated, sometimes for several years, by the military “justice” system that Israel has run in the occupied West Bank since 1967. He translated into English the recent book Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak (which is currently available as a Kindle e-book.)

Our board member Richard Falk contributed a Foreword to the book. He wrote, “I commend a close reading of Dreaming of Freedom… With such knowledge, solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and dignity becomes… an even more urgent moral imperative of our world”

Earlier this year, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced into the House of Representatives a path-breaking bill, H.R. 24017, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act”, that seeks to hold Israel accountable for that portion of the military aid the U.S. government provides to it which is used to maintain the brutal military courts and incarceration systems that are used to violate the rights of Palestinian minors.

One page from “Dreaming of Freedom”

The campaign to win support for H.R. 2407 will continue until early Fall 2020. (You can learn more about it, here.) So we’re delighted that Yousef Aljamal’s speaking tour can help to inform broad sections of the U.S. public about this crucial issue.

If you would like to invite Yousef to come and speak to your community group, classroom, or congregation, please let us know about your interest as soon as possible!

We will be asking organizations that host a Yousef Aljamal speaking event to commit to providing the following:

  • Good-quality hosting services from the time you pick him up at the airport or rail station to the time you deliver him back there for the next leg of his trip.
  • All the arrangements for one or more excellent public events in the time he is with you, along with such other meetings with media or others as you may choose. We can help with publicity.
  • An honorarium for his speaking services that you consider fair (or even generous!) Organizations that find it complex to make a payment to a foreign national can process the payment through JWE, which will deliver the full agreed sum to Yousef.
  • A contribution of $300 to our central tour-organizing expenses, which will cover all the necessary inter-city transport, our publicity efforts, our tour-coordinating, etc.
Yousef with his friend Ahmed Al-Haaj, in Gaza.

Yousef’s family was ethnically cleansed in 1948 from Aqer, in the area that became Israel that year. He grew up in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in southern Gaza, attending schools run by UNRWA. His won his B.A. from the Islamic University of Gaza and his M.A. from a university in Malaysia. For several years he ran the Hashim Yeop Sani Library in Gaza’s Center for Political and Development Studies. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in International Relations at Sekarya University in Turkey.

Here are some resources you can use to learn more about Yousef:

Contact us soon if you want to be part of Yousef’s super-timely tour!

The post Palestinian rights activist Yousef Aljamal touring US in October appeared first on Just World Educational.

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This past Friday (June 21) saw the 18th week of massive, peaceful protests filling the streets of cities all across Algeria.

Midweek, the country’s much-criticized strongman Gen. Gaid Salah, had issued an order decreeing that only the green-white-red national Algerian flag should be displayed in public. The June 21 demonstrators had a strong response to that: many carried both the national flag and the yellow-green-blue-red flag of the country’s robust Berber (Amazigh) minority.

See the sea of flags in one part of the capital, Algiers, above. Also, this woman had a distinct way of displaying both flags!

These images are from this page on the website “Algerie 360”, which has numerous other lively and informative photos of yesterday’s demonstrations.

One of the themes of the June 21 demonstrations was “A la une”– a strong assertion of support for the country’s national unity, and rejection of what many Algerians saw as Gaid Salah’s attempts to divide them along ethnic lines.

There were reports that some other demonstrators were defying the general’s orders by hoisting the Palestinian flag alongside the Algerian flag. Algerian sociologist Lahouari Addi was quoted as saying, “We fly it not because the Palestinians are Arab but because their cause is just.”

Berber demonstrator in Kabyle dress

Indeed, many participants in the popular movement that has swept Algeria since late February have expressed great wariness about the role that some Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have played in helping to crush the parallel popular movement in Sudan in the past three weeks.

Many also remember the considerable support Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries gave to the extreme-radical Islamists who kept Algeria locked in a vicious civil war from most of the 1990s.

Algeria’s 42 million people are luckier than the 40 million people of Sudan, since Algeria has enough natural resources (hydrocarbons) that it is not dependent on financial backing from the oil-rich states of the Gulf.

Over the 18 weeks they have been demonstrating, they have maintained strong support for the “18 commandments of the pacifist and civilized demonstrator” published in early March.

Demonstrator on June 21 pledges support for nonviolence

They have made slow but steady political gains, starting with forcing/shaming their incapacitated longtime president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to abandon a plan to run for a fifth 5-year term in office. They also persuaded Gen. Gaid Salah not to proceed with a very hollow-looking presidential election he had earlier planned for July 4.

The country is in now in a deep political limbo. The very good news is that the military has done almost nothing to crack down on or suppress the demonstrations, though on Friday they did arrest eight people in the capital, for flying the Berber flag. In general, though, during the weekly Friday demonstrations the security forces content themselves with guarding the perimeters of certain centers of national power like the Presidential Palace.

Meantime, behind the scenes, there are reportedly a number of different projects underway to channel the huge popular power and hunger for reform that the demonstrations have revealed.

Kabyle woman demonstrating, with both flags visible.

We have published a number of great background resources on this inspiring popular movement in Algeria. You can access them here. And if you want to learn more about the history of the iconic (and hard-fought) independence struggle that Algeria’s people waged against French colonialism, then this memoir, Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter is an amazing resource.

We are now happy to present a few more photos from Algerie 360 (this page and this page.)

Banner in the June 21 demonstration mourning the death of former Egyptian Pres. Morsi (on right) and decrying the policies of the leaders shown on the left. Placards stressing Arab-Berber unity in Algeria Banner celebrating historic freedom fighter Djamila Bouhired, who has participated some of this year’s demonstrations.

The post Algerian popular movement stays strong, united! appeared first on Just World Educational.

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by Yousef M. Aljamal

(This was written to mark World Refugee Day, observed June 20.)

The year 1948 saw the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their towns and villages at the hands of Zionist militias, as these militias destroyed some 532 Palestinian villages. That critical event in Palestinian history, known as the Nakba (“Catastrophe”), continues to haunt Palestinians who ended up as refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt as well as in Europe and the Americas.

But what does it mean to be a refugee? One can claim that being a refugee is like inheritance, where Palestinians transfer this status of statelessness to their children, generation after another.

Growing up in a refugee camp means that the very minute detail of your life serves as a reminder of being stateless, living as a refugee at the mercy of time and other people’s (frequently hostile) governments. The number 1948 itself causes memories of horror for Palestinian refugees. My friend Ibrahim, who now teaches English to refugees in an UNRWA school in Gaza, got the number “1948” as his ID number at university and felt he was totally jinxed by it. He said it reminded him every day of the events of 1948.

Being a refugee meant that I attended those UNRWA-run schools in Gaza. The teacher would ask us at the beginning of the year about the village we originally came from. “Aqer,” I would declare at the beginning of the year. I would then team up with students who came from the same village in the class such as Hassan Al-Najjar, Sa’ed Al-Balbi, and others, all coming from Aqer.

Being a refugee meant we had to walk nearly two kilometers to get to our school, during cold winters and hot summers. I remember shivering with cold at school as it had no heating system. Rain water would drip from the ceiling, and we had to move the desks around to avoid getting wet or getting sick.

Our classrooms were crammed with students: 45-52 students in each class. As the decades passed, the number of refugees (and of students) would double and a school would have two shifts. We hated the afternoon shift as it would ruin our day, despite the joy of waking up late. Donor countries such as Japan would send refugee students stationery and some small gifts, but students were anyway highly motivated to continue studying.

But conditions have always been very tough at UNRWA schools. I remember my brother Omar would sometimes toss away the few coins we had as pocket money, in rage and frustration at how we had to live. (Though these were small coins, of course in our circumstances we considered them very valuable.)

Omar was killed by Israel in 2004.

After school, we would walk back to the refugee camp. I would do homework even before I took off my school clothes, and before I had any food. The games we would play in the dusty, sandy streets and alleys of the refugee camp were very much influenced by our surroundings and reality. We would divide ourselves into two groups, one is the Palestinian group and the second is the Israeli soldiers’ group, where the Palestinian group would get beaten by the soldiers’ group and the soldiers’ group would have stones thrown at them, if caught.

We would also play football. Sometimes one of the neighbors, angered by our noise and our stolen joy, would come out screaming at us. Sometimes he would take our football away; other times, he would puncture it so we could not play any more. But we would find a way to carry on playing, anyway.

The goalkeeper of our neighborhood– and of our whole UNRWA school– was my friend Ayman Shokor. (He was killed by an Israeli shelling in 2014 at the age of 25.) God knows how many times I and my friends in the refugee camp got injuries because we played barefoot. One time my friend Salah Al-Salhi got a face injury to which he screamed, “My mother, the neighborhood!”

Our families could not afford to buy us trainers, let alone shoes with cleats. But we played anyway. Many times, as we played, someone would run onto a rusty screw that would pierce deep into his foot. We would simply pull it out and use a cigarette butt to cauterize the wound. We basically learnt survival there.

As we grew up, our refugee camp became ever more crowded. The sandy streets got paved and more children could be seen playing on the streets, even when Israel would be bombing Gaza. When I got older, I grew impatient of the younger children playing on the street as they made so much noise! But I realized that these children, just like my generation, had no playgrounds to play. So, they just played on the streets of Gaza. As I watched many of them being killed by Israel, such as the Four Baker Boys, killed by Israel while playing football on the Gaza beach in 2014, I wished if they could come back, and play again. I missed their noise.

As Palestinian poet Khaled Juma said in one of his poems:

O Rascal Children of Gaza
You who constantly disturbed me with your screams
under my window,
You who filled every morning with rush and chaos,
You who broke my vase and stole the lonely flower
on my balcony,
– Come back
And scream as you want,
And break all the vases,
Steal all the flowers,
Come back,
Just come back…

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He is a PhD candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey.

The post What does it mean to grow up as a Palestinian refugee in Gaza? appeared first on Just World Educational.

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by Yousef Aljamal

A couple of months ago two Gaza students, Mustapha Al-Buhaisi and Mustapha Aljamal– who happens to be my brother—both of whom are studying French and English (language and literature) at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, won a scholarship to attend a summer school in France. This scholarship is part of the Erasmus Exchange Program of the European Union. Yet, the Israeli authorities have until now denied them the permit that they need in order to leave Gaza, cross to the West Bank and then to Jordan, en route to France.

Their dream of traveling out of Gaza for the first time in their life now seems to be fading.

In a letter they sent to Gisha, an Israeli human rights organization which facilitates the movement of Palestinians in and out of the Palestinian Territories, Aljamal and Al-Buhaisi noted,

We…are writing to you, with a heavy heart, regarding not granting us a permit by the Israeli authorities to cross to the West Bank and Jordan to join our Erasmus summer school in Paris on June 24, 2019.

Both of us, after months of hard work and preparation, have won scholarships to attend a summer school as part of the Erasmus exchange program… the Israeli authorities didn’t approve our requests to leave the Gaza Strip. For logistic reasons, the Erasmus scholarship is willing to help us get out of the Gaza Strip through Israel then Jordan. The Rafah crossing {via Egypt} is not an option.

Time is now running out for the two young men to exit Gaza, since that requires an Israeli permit and a lengthy process. Their hope is fading away every day.

The story of the two Mustaphas is yet another example of how Palestinians students in the Gaza Strip are collectively punished merely for being residents of the coastal enclave. It is the story of thousands of Palestinians who have lost opportunities and scholarships throughout the years of Israel’s occupation and siege of the Strip, preventing them from leaving Gaza to seek academic growth and mix with people from other cultures.

Learning languages is challenging in Gaza. Students don’t have enough access to academic resources, native speakers, or the modern means used to learn languages everywhere else around the world. Yet, the people of Gaza always thrive. For example, there are thousands of people in the Gaza Strip who can speak English fluently. They use the language as a way to connect with a world that left them in limbo under the 13 years of the suffocating siege. They use language to express themselves in different ways, including arts and graffiti– as my brother Mustapha has been doing on the walls of our Gaza refugee camp. (In addition to English and French, he has been teaching himself Turkish!)

It seems that the world has forgotten Gaza and its two million population. The sky and the earth themselves seem to be squeezing Gaza these days, not allowing it to breathe, not allowing it to speak. Yet, despite this grim reality of life– which is a metaphor for death in Gaza these days– Palestinians always manage to survive, and life goes on. 

But why do Palestinians have to go through this in the first place? I went through this too in 2013, when I was denied an Israeli permit to attend a translation conference in Jordan. I almost lost a research grant in 2013 after making four failed attempts to cross the Rafah Crossing into Egypt. I was lucky enough to finally leave the Gaza Strip—but I had to change my tickets five times! I have to confess though that I was pretty naïve to have bought my tickets in advance.

What the two Mustaphas are going through today is part of a larger campaign to silence Palestinians and keep us isolated from the rest of the world. Palestinians have to be kept behind the walls so that when they scream or even die, no one hears of them. Palestinian students have to wait at checkpoints and their schools have to be bombed and their classmates have to be killed, because an Israeli sniper or a 19-year-old-soldier, who feels bored of doing his job, decides so. “Everyone has the right to education,” notes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, this does not seem to include Palestinians, who have one of the highest literacy rates in the world, despite all these restrictions.

So what do Palestinians do? They cling to hope, our eternal disease! The hope that “things will get better,” the hope that tomorrow is going to be better than today, the hope that students will be allowed to get in and out of Palestine without restrictions and the hope that the two Mustaphas– and all the young people in Gaza who wish to do so– will be allowed to leave and return as they wish, without having to worry about permits and visas, for “all people are equal”… at least theoretically.

The post The Right to Education: Gaza Students Denied Permit to Attend EU-sponsored Summer School in France appeared first on Just World Educational.

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We are very happy to publish this paper, which was produced May 5 by a group of 15 professors at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, University of Algiers 3. (This paper was sent to us in English, which we have very lightly edited. ~JWE)

Preamble

The current crisis results from the lack of a strategic vision for the future of our national state. Hence, a group of professors present these initial elements of thinking about possible solutions, based on a number of key controlling principles and the need to distinguish between the immediate and the long term.

The controlling principles

First: National unity of people and territory.
Second: The engagement of political will.
Third: Preservation of state institutions.
Fourth: Preservation of confidence among the parties to the solution.
Fifth: Adopting the mechanism of dialogue without exclusion or marginalization.
Sixth: To avoid getting trapped in transitional stages.
Seventh: Working within the horizon of a strategic vision.
Eighth: Taking the geo-strategic and international dimension into consideration.
Ninth: The military support.

Operational mechanisms for a solution

We need to distinguish between the mechanisms of the current government under the pressure of the current crisis and the mechanisms of long-term governance needed to establish the new Algerian regime.

Immediate mechanisms

In accordance with Articles 07, 08, 11 and 12 of the Constitution, we propose the following:

  • Initiate an immediate dialogue among all parties, in all sectors and at all levels, for a period of not more than one month on the formation of an independent sovereign national authority with the task of organizing presidential elections.
  • Media and social media are heavily involved in this dialogue.
  • This dialogue will lead to the formation of a leadership for this body. This body enables all material and organizational means to perform its tasks in organizing and supervising the elections from its inception until the announcement of the final results.
  • Adopting the method of electronic elections as a mechanism of prevention of forgery.
  • The functions of this body shall not interfere with anybody, authority or personality that is rejected by the public.

Long-term mechanisms

  • The beginning of the crystallization of a vision for the future of Algeria within the horizons of 2054 be in the level of aspirations expressed in the popular movement.
  • This vision results from strategic plans in the field of building a modern state based on valuing investment in the human resource and moving away from solutions related to any personality.
  • Workshops are opened within the framework of this vision in all areas, especially the primary ones, without prejudice to the general principles of the constitution, as well as to the various strategic options.
  • To assign this task to the national competencies and youth energies in order to respond to popular aspirations.

Signed on behalf of fifteen Professors by:

  • Professor Mohamed Salim KOLALA
  • Professor Abdelhafid DIB

May 5th, 2019

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by Yousef Aljamal

Every year, Muslims around the world and Palestinians under occupation and siege in Gaza (as elsewhere) celebrate Eid, the Muslim festival that comes soon after the end of the month-long Ramadan fast.

My memories of Eid in Gaza have always been of us children getting our “Eidiyya” gift-money from the elders of the family and buying toys, often gun-toys; of going out to eat at a restaurant and taking a photo together; of then squeezing all of us into my uncles’ two cars to go visit our extended family. For us, Eid meant eating big amounts of nuts and desserts as numerous mosque loudspeakers would announce the arrival of Eid, with worshipers echoing their calls in chorus as children fought to get closer to the microphones of mosques so their voices could be heard.

My Aunt Ghalia, an UNRWA teacher for 40 years, would ask boys and girls in our area to help her clean the main alleys in the neighborhood of our Gaza refugee camp to get ready for Eid, sometimes decorating the alleys with colorful items and balloons in celebration, and adding her own touch to the neighborhood. She would clean the dust and spill some water on the ground. This meant a lot to us as children and we waited impatiently every year for Eid to come to do this again and again over the years.

Eid in Gaza in happier days

I remember that one Eid, my grandmother passed away on the first day. My eldest uncle asked us to keep our brand-new Eid clothes and he gave us money to buy things we liked. Eid was always a sacred thing to celebrate with family in a place like Gaza, even during Gaza’s many difficult times. It was so visible! Whenever we left the house, we could see children everywhere running in happiness while wearing their special Eid clothes, as toys decorated the fronts of all the shops.

But as Gaza’s suffocation continued, and the different offensives on the coastal enclave intensified and thousands of Palestinians were killed, Eid became an occasion to touch the old wounds of Palestinians. Soon after the Eid prayer, hundreds of Palestinians would flock to the Central Martyrs’ Graveyard in Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in the Central Gaza Strip, paying tribute to their loved ones and praying at their graves. A famous saying in Gaza went like this: Al-Eid Liman Mata Shaheed: “Eid is for those who were killed as martyrs.”

So I would read a prayer at the grave of my brother who was killed by Israel in 2004… at the grave of my sister who passed away in 2007 after the Israelis denied her a permit to have essential surgery in Jerusalem… at the grave of my aunt, who did everything she could to make us happy during Eid but who passed away just days after the end of Israel’s 51-day-long assault on Gaza in 2014… and finally, at that of my childhood friend Ayman Shokor, who was killed by an Israeli shell during that same, lengthy assault.

Ayman was on the roof of his family’s house. It was the first day of Eid.

As we celebrated the first Eid without Ayman, I wrote:

This is the first Eid without Ayman Shokor. This Eid, I will not pay Ayman a visit, nor will he brag about his mother’s cookies. This Eid, Ayman’s mum is in black, still in black. No more cheering, no more ‘good old days’, no more special childhood memories. This Eid isn’t like any other Eid. Since he has left us, since he has declared a final departure, the world doesn’t look the same, nor do we. These dark brown grains of sand covering his face and hiding his smile are doing no good. As people are busy distributing candies, I will spare time to hold tight to what is left of our shared memories, so that he is not just a face on a poster stuck on the walls of the refugee camp… so that he continues to be Ayman.

Today, as the suffocation of Gaza continues unchallenged, Eid becomes a stark reminder of economic hardships Palestinian go through. Many parents– it would be more accurate to say most of them– are no longer able to give their children Eid candies, buy them Eid clothes, or give them money to buy what they like. The majority of Palestinians in Gaza live below the poverty line and Eid seems to a far-away wish for many.

This year, hundreds more bereaved families of Palestinians killed during the Great March of Return will remember their loved ones with sorrow. Eid will be another tragic day for Palestinians in Gaza and kids will not be seen running in the streets full of joy, holding their candies and toys, nor will they wear Eid clothes. This year, the happiness of children, who have no responsibility for any of this, will be missing. Gaza will observe a sad Eid. Palestinians will ‘do their best’ to be happy, though their happiness has always been incomplete. Gaza’s loved ones, buried under its soil, will solemnly remind Palestinians that they need to hope that their next Eid will be better than this one. They want them to remain beautiful and happy as they have always been. Despite the occupation, despite the siege, despite the bullets and bombs that are thrown at them every time they try to rise.

They will remain beautiful and resilient as Palestinian novelist Ibrahim Nasrallah spoke of Palestinians: “Despite all these years under occupation, we are still beautiful, as if we live above the occupation, and not under it.”

The post Eid in Gaza: Fading happiness over the years appeared first on Just World Educational.

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Friday May 31 was the 15th Friday in a row in which, across the massive North African country of Algeria, hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters have taken to the streets, quite peacefully demanding meaningful democratic change.

These protests have already registered some significant gains, though huge challenges remain in a country that since it won independence in 1962 has been under the effective control of the military wing of the “FLN” movement that brought it that independence.

The first of the current, nationwide cycle of weekly protests occurred on February 22, galvanized by the fear that Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a very ill man who had been the country’s slightly-more-than-figurehead President since 1999, might seek a fifth 5-year term in the elections scheduled for July 4. On April 2, the country’s powerful Chief of Staff, Gaid Salah, announced not just that Bouteflika would not run again but also that he had resigned from office, effective immediately.

Since then, the army has taken some moves against some of the cluster of cronies that had gathered around Bouteflika. But it also, until today, continued to stress that the election of July 4 would go ahead as planned. Numerous other candidates had, at one point, announced their intention to run against Bouteflika in the election. But the popular movement in the streets– known collectively in Algeria as the “Hirak”–continued to stress the need for more fundamental democratic reforms, and to avoid holding just a “window-dressing” election on July 4 for another figurehead “President”.

Under pressure from the Hirak, nearly all the previous candidates withdrew their candidacies; and the last two still standing failed to reach the threshold of nominations required to qualify. So today, the “Constitutional Council” that has been the figurehead of power in Algeria since Bouteflika’s resignation announced that the election will not be held July 4.

The 15-week-long popular movement in Algeria has been marked by two notable features: (1) Its participants have all insisted strongly that the movement remain peaceful and not resort to violence; (2) They have all strongly rejected any hint of outside interference (or “intervention” in their country’s politics. These two features of the Hirak make it quite different from the popular movements that erupted in Libya and Syria in 2011.

For their part, the army and other security forces in Algeria have generally not responded to the movement with violence and repression. Every Friday, they have mobilized large number of security people to guard major installations of the state, but they have not shot or otherwise attacked the demonstrators. And while the number of arrests has risen in recent weeks, they are still much smaller in number than, for example, the government in Syria has carried out. And thus far, there is only one case of a protest leader having died in detention: Kamel Eddine Fekhar.

One of the worrying arrests was that undertaken a few weeks ago of the head of the Workers’ Party, Louisa Hanoune. Today, Zohra Drif-Bitat, the Coordinator of the National Committee for the Liberation of Louisa Hannoune issued a strong public appeal to General Gaid Salah, demanding Hannoune’s freedom.

Ms. Drif-Bitat’s appeal– and indeed, her position as head of the committee demanding Hannoune’s freedom– is particularly striking because she is one of the key female freedom fighters (“moudjahidate”) whose heroic actions during the national liberation struggle of the 1950s helped Algeria to win its independence. Throughout her appeal she addresses Gen. Gaid Salah as: “Monsieur le Chef d’état-major et frère du combat libérateur”– that is, “Mr. Chief of Staff and brother freedom-fighter.”

(In fall 2017, Just World Educational was proud to organize a speaking tour by Mme. Drif-Bitat in the eastern United States. The tour marked the publication of the English-language version of her memoir, Inside the Battle of Algiers: Memoir of a Woman Freedom Fighter.)

There are many other political initiatives being taken by Algerian activists and thinkers in the current era. The poet and thinker Amin Khan has been one of these. During May, he published a series of four manifestoes (in French) in “Huffpost Maghreb,” laying out his arguments for “Government of Democratic Transition.”

In April, Just World Ed’s President, Helena Cobban, conducted this 30-minute podcast interview— in English– with Mr. Khan. Other useful background materials on the Algerian popular movement can also be found here (an interview that Ms. Cobban conducted in April with American Algeria specialist William B. Quandt) and here.

The post Algeria: Mass, peaceful protests continue, make slow gains appeared first on Just World Educational.

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