Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Looking to New York

You would have to have been locked away in solitary confinement not to know that this week is when the Palestinian state juggernaut goes to the UN and seeks international recognition of the fact.  Walking across Clock Square (or is it now Arafat Square?) my friends and I came across the work team putting up a stage and sound system.  Palestinian flags made up the bunting between the lampposts while in Al Manara Square a few minutes’ walk away a giant blue and white chair to symbolise Palestine’s seat at the UN has been put in place (I intend to get a photo of me sitting on it, which will make me look tiny - UPDATE: That wasn't - and as of today - 9 October - still isn't possible as there always seem to be police around it!).  Meanwhile, the university president sent a circular to all staff this afternoon announcing that anyone who wants to can go attend the demonstration and speeches between 11am and 2pm.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Palestinian politics, unity and the role of religion

I attended the first day of Muwatin’s (the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy) two-day conference on the Arab revolutions and the political and intellectual challenges stemming from them yesterday.  I won’t be able to get to today’s presentations as I have other commitments.  Although the quality of the presentations and discussion was variable, it did present some useful insights and thoughts to consider.

First, I get the sense that there is very much a sense of disconnection from Palestinian society and the leadership.  The focus of the past few months (in case it’s escaped anyone’s attention!) has been on the Palestinian leadership’s drive to achieve recognition for a Palestinian state at the UN next week.  The last couple of weeks have seen reports coming out in the media which have raised a number of concerns in relation to this move, including the status of refugees who would be forgotten if the PLO’s status (which represents Palestinians everywhere, including in the diaspora) is revoked in favour of the PA.  There’s also the question of how to incorporate Gaza and East Jerusalem into the Palestinian state vote as well.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Between fact and fiction?

Flitting back and forth between Ramallah, Birzeit and Jerusalem, I don't normally come up against the occupation.  However, during Friday night some settlers wrote abusive grafitti on the walls outside the main entrance.  One can only imagine that they are trying to provoke things, ahead of the UN vote later this month.  Needless to say, the feeling in the university community is understandably angry and the students organised a protest outside the administration building for this morning.  As a friend said to me on Skype though, What's the point?  After all, it won't be targeted at the perpetrators.  But, as I pointed out, would a demo outside a settlement fair any better?  I can hardly see the army responding in a liberal and tolerant manner.