Thursday, April 19, 2007
Building Economic Independence
By Sam Bahour
April 19, 2007
Note: The following is a talk given at the Second Annual Conference on Non-Violent Popular Resistance in the Palestinian village of Bil’in.
First, allow me to salute the people of Bil’in. Your steadfastness is being registered in the annals of history with every meter of Wall being built and every olive tree ripped from it roots by this deplorable occupation.
I’ve been asked to speak briefly on Building Economic Independence. A complicated topic but let me start by posting a question.
How do we integrate a future Palestinian economy into a U.S.-dominated globalized world today, while yet still under foreign military occupation -- an occupation operating in the full view of the international community? Yes, I speak of those 3rd parties that are signatories to the 4th Geneva Convention that, for the last year, and the majority through today, have opted to apply economic and political boycotts and sanctions against the occupied people, driving us to a nation of poverty, crime and lawlessness. How do we do all of this while our very own leadership drinks tea on a bimonthly basis with that very same occupier that is removing, by daily actions on the ground, the option of a meaningful Palestinian independence?
For 40 years, Israel linked the occupied Palestinian territory economy to its own. By design, an economic umbilical cord was weaved into every one of our sectors. To fast forward for the sake of time, it is worthy to note that the Oslo Peace Accords kept that umbilical cord fully attached, while at the same time laying on the Palestinian side the colossal burden of meeting the challenges of economic development without having the access to the full toolbox of economic resources.
State donors entered the picture. Instead of rising to the obligations placed upon them in the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure no harm be done to the occupied people, the ‘protected people’ as we are classified under international law, these 3rd party states began feeding us fish instead of assisting us to learn how to fish for ourselves. In short, donors have become accomplices to the economic repression and sustaining of the status quo that is simmering us to death as we stand and struggle here today.
Donors are not the only players in the equation. Sustainable development cannot be based on the agenda and political moods of foreign donors. Palestinian business and Palestinian consumers are, or should I say should, be the foundations in which we build our economy upon. It would be unfair to say the Palestinian business community has failed, it has not. Many businesses have remained steadfast in the face of unimaginable odds. Many others have been exceedingly successful. However, the success criteria of many of the movers and shakers in our business community needs scrutinized. Is success a single firm extracting an annual $100 million profit from the occupied people for a basic service? Is success considering building of industrial zones between this Apartheid Wall and the Green Line? Is success the monopolization of the various sectors and blocking new investments and new jobs from being created? As I noted, thousands of business are doing amazing things to keep their doors open, but a few movers and shakers have no intention of moving or shaking the occupation out of our lives and it is these elements of our own society we must hold accountable.
Accountability cannot come from an expired Authority, pre-occupied with factional politics, despite our love of those trying to make it an operational body. The Palestinian citizen, the Palestinian consumer, and those in solidarity with Palestinians must carry the burden.
I cannot comprehend how we can peacefully co-exist with Israeli settlement products on our shelves.
I cannot comprehend how we can allow Israeli firms to dump their products and services into our market with no repercussions whatsoever.
I cannot comprehend how 3rd party states refuse to take on their obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention when they see the economic roadblocks, checkpoints and Walls that Israel has constructed.
Our land is being grabbed by the hour. Through what our good friend, Jeff Halper, coined a “matrix of control” Israel is making sure land is not sufficient for daily life, let alone economic independence. The hand of occupation controls the lands we can cultivate and the destiny of the trees that we plant.
We are forced to buy our water from the Israeli water company, paying more than Israelis buying from the same source but using less per capita. The hand of occupation controls our water facets.
All of the West Bank electricity is bought from the Israeli Electric Company and resold to us. The hand of occupation controls our light switches.
Every telephone call all you make abroad is forced to go through an Israeli operator. The hand of occupation controls our conversations.
Every laborer wanting to work in Israel, or on their land west of the wall for that matter, must be issued an Israeli permit. The hand of occupation controls the sweat of our workers.
For the first time ever in our history, over a 1/3 of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem desire to voluntarily emigrate. Over a 1/3! I should note that International Humanitarian Law is clear about war crimes. The bloody events of 1948 and 1967 and 2002 were all war crimes no doubt – a military occupation, drunk on power – still drink on power – bent on destroying the fabric of Palestinian society with results well known to you all. But it is an equal war crime under the laws of occupation for the “occupying power,” that’s Israel if we have forgotten, to create the conditions for the occupied people to voluntary to be left with no option but to leave their homes in search of security and a livelihood. I add to this the new Israeli policy of outright denying entry to those of us that are prevented by Israel of ascertaining residency. This denied entry policy is separating families and contributing to faster pace of our brain drain. I tend to call all of this a sterile ethnic cleansing, one that happens one family at a time, far from any media and bloodless.
This is our reality. A reality many try to brush aside or under the carpet while pretending to be building or contributing to a viable state. Such a reality is incompatible with viability. Such a reality is not conducive to building economic independence.
So what do we do? Fold up? Hide under a rock and hope for the best? Accept and acquiesce the foreign military occupation that has kept its boot on our necks for the last 40 years and which has separated us from our people for 60 years?
NO. NOT THIS PEOPLE! We may not yet know how to win and end this nightmare, but I can assure you we definitely know how not to lose.
As we, as a community, make our structural adjustment to our internal politics, new leadership is bound to emerge.
As we learn and master the tools of our oppressors, our just case will be articulated online, offline, around the wall, and over the wall.
As we focus on what matters in life: people, family, community and our inalienable rights, more focus will be placed on our ability to create Global Development Partnerships, our own kind of GDP, rather than chase the World Bank’s traditional measure of GDP. Our GDP includes all of those laborious hours mothers spend up keeping their children’s sanity and maintaining family life. Our GDP includes the efforts that all our political prisoners spend remaining steadfast in Israeli prisons. Our GDP is Global in scope, Developmental in substance, and in Partnership with peace and justice loving people wherever they reside.
I’m sorry if I disappointed you by not talking about the many economic accomplishments over the last decade, several which I had the honor of contributing to. It is not that I’m not proud that, under odds most communities would have buckled under, we have built productive companies, a stock market, a banking industry, an ICT industry, an olive oil industry, a furniture industry, and a pharmaceutical industry, among others.
These are all important but they are all trappings of a status quo that is taking us to a level of despair, unknown to our struggle. In a normal environment, as a private sector player, I would yearn for return on investments. In Palestine, I challenge my peers to translate that return to:
The return to international law;
The return to recognized borders; The return of our political prisoners to their families;
The return of our refugees; and
The return to community building.
These returns are the only returns that will put us on the path toward economic independence.
In closing, I want to note a quote passed to me by an Israeli friend of mine in Jerusalem. One of the Jewish sages, someone famous in Judaism, from the 17th Century; Rabbi Nachman from Bratzlav once said, "There is nothing that is more whole than a broken heart".
My friend said that "this is not so easy to see from within." I agree.
Thank you for your attention.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant and activist based in Ramallah/Al-Bireh and may be reached at email@example.com.
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Saturday, April 14, 2007
The Final Act of Submission
Posted on Apr 13, 2007
By Scott Ritter
In the months leading up to President Bush’s ill-fated invasion of Iraq, I traveled around the world speaking to various international groups, including many parliamentary assemblies. I spoke about democracy and the need of any nation or group of nations espousing democracy as a standard to embrace the ideals and values of justice and due process in accordance with the rule of law. I spoke of international law, especially as it was manifested in the charter of the United Nations (a document signed and adopted by all of the countries I visited).
Invariably, my presentation focused on the nation in question, whether it was Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan or Great Britain, and the status of its relationship with the United States. As an American, I said, I appreciated each nation’s embrace of the United States as a friend and ally. However, as a strong believer in the rule of law, I deplored the trend among America’s so-called friends to facilitate a needless confrontation which would severely harm the U.S. in the long run. These nations were hesitant to stand up to the United States even though they knew the course of action planned for Iraq was wrong.
Such permissive submission was deplorable, and invariably led to a comment from me about the status of genuine sovereignty in the face of American imperial power. If a nation was incapable of defending its sovereign values and interests, then it should simply acknowledge its status as a colony of the United States, pull down its disgraced national flag and raise the Stars and Stripes.
Now the tables have turned. Americans, through the will of the people as expressed in the November 2006 election, voiced their dissatisfaction with the conduct of the American war in Iraq, and empowered a new Democratic- controlled Congress to reassert itself as a separate but equal branch of government—especially when it came to matters pertaining to war and the threat of war.
This new Democratic leadership has failed egregiously. Not only has the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, been unable to orchestrate any meaningful legislation to bring the war in Iraq to an end, but in mid-March she carelessly greased the tracks for a whole new conflict. By excising language from a defense appropriations bill which would have required President Bush to seek the approval of Congress prior to initiating any military attack on Iran, Pelosi terminated any hope of slowing down the Bush administration’s mad rush to war.
Despite the fact that Congress was only stating through this language a simple reflection of constitutional mandate, Speaker Pelosi and others felt that the inclusion of such verbiage put the security of the state of Israel at risk by eliminating important “policy options” for the president of the United States. In short, Israeli national security interests trumped the Constitution of the United States.
I consider myself to be a friend of Israel, a status which has been demonstrated repeatedly through words and deeds from January-February 1991, when I was involved in the effort to stop Iraq Scud missiles from striking Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, to the period between October 1994 and June 1998 when I served as the lead liaison between the United Nations weapons inspectors and Israeli intelligence, working to find a final accounting of Iraq’s proscribed weapons of mass destruction. I know only too well the precarious reality of Israel’s security situation, and am sympathetic to its need to proactively deal with threats before they manifest themselves in a manner which threatens Israel’s ability to survive as a nation-state.
However, as an American who served on active duty in time of war as an officer of Marines, I also remember the oath I took to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” As such, I am troubled by the recent actions of Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress who have not only abrogated their collective responsibility to uphold and defend the Constitution but have taken actions which, under normal circumstances and involving any other nation, would border on treasonous. Our collective duty as Americans must center on defending the very document, the Constitution, which defines who we are and what we are as a people and a nation. To have our elected representatives flagrantly push aside their constitutional responsibilities in the name of the security interests of another nation is unthinkable. And yet it has just happened, apparently without consequence.
Sadly, the new Democratic Congress has cemented its status as yet another iteration of a system which long ago sold its soul to special interests. Democrats can cackle about Republican scandals, including the Jack Abramoff affair, which brought down Rep. Tom DeLay among others. But history will show that the Pelosi-led sellout to Israeli special interests endangered the viability and security of America as a sovereign state governed by the rule of law more than Jack Abramoff ever could.
In this time of constitutional crisis, the American people need to wake up and demand that the basic tenets of the Constitution be adhered to. Congress is solely empowered by the Constitution to declare war. Demanding that the president of the United States adhere to this prerequisite is a logical and patriotic stance. Allowing any non-American interest, even one possessing such highly charged political and emotional sensitivities as Israel, to dictate otherwise represents nothing more than a capitulation of sovereignty. We the people need to rally around this defense of sovereignty. We must demand not only that Congress reassert its constitutional responsibilities and authority by demanding the president obey the letter of the law when it comes to war, whether against Iran or any other nation, but also to place in check the anti-American activities of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C., the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee.
For decades AIPAC has operated in the shadows of American foreign policy decision-making, exerting its influence on elected officials away from the public scrutiny of the very constituents who elected those officials to begin with. It is impossible to hold someone accountable for actions that are kept secret, and as such AIPAC’s ability to secretly influence American foreign and national security policies represents a flagrant insult and threat to the very essence of American democracy. I am not advocating the dissolution of AIPAC. However, I am demanding that AIPAC be treated as any other representative of a foreign nation is treated. It should have to register as an agent of a foreign power so that the totality of its interactions with American officials can become a part of the public record. We require this of all other nations, including our good friends the British.
To state that AIPAC, and by extension Israel, is above the law in this regard is to acknowledge the reality that American national sovereignty no longer matters when it comes to the state of Israel. So be it. But then we are, collectively, no better than those nations I mocked prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as “colonies” of the United States. So if we are to continue to permit AIPAC to operate as an undeclared agent of a foreign nation, and to influence American foreign and national security policymaking at the expense of our Constitution, then we should acknowledge our true status as nothing more than a colony of Israel, pull down the Stars and Stripes and raise the Star of David over our nation’s capitol. While representing the final act of submission, it would also be the first truly honest act that occurred in Washington, D.C., in many years.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007
The Washington Post
Worse Than Apartheid?
By Robert D. Novak
Monday, April 9, 2007; 12:00 AM
BETHLEHEM, West Bank -- Hani Hayek, an accountant who is the Christian mayor of the tiny majority-Christian Palestinian village of Beit Sahour, was angry last week as he drove me along the Israeli security wall. "They are taking our communal lands," he said, pointing to the massive Israeli settlement of Har Homa. "They don't want us to live here. They want us to leave."
Har Homa, dwarfing nearby dwellings of Beit Sahour, seemed larger than when I saw it at Holy Week a year ago. It is. The Israeli government has steadily enlarged settlements on the occupied West Bank, and I could see both the construction at Har Homa and road building for a dual transportation system for Israelis and Palestinians.
Jimmy Carter raised hackles by titling his book about the Palestinian question "Peace Not Apartheid." But Palestinians allege this is worse than the former South African racial separation. Nearing the 40th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, the territory has been so fragmented that a genuine Palestinian state and a "two-state solution" seem increasingly difficult.
The security wall has led to virtual elimination of suicide bombings and short-term peace. But life is hard for Palestinians, whose deaths because of conflict increased 272 percent in 2006 while Israeli casualties declined. In a minor incident last week of the type that goes unnoticed internationally, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troopers killed a Palestinian man accused of illegally entering a firing zone while collecting metal scraps to sell. The Britain- based organization Save the Children estimates that half the children in the occupied territories are psychologically traumatized.
Palestinians argue that things have gotten worse because of pervasive feelings of hopelessness. Students at Bethlehem University (run by the Catholic Brothers of De La Salle, with an enrollment that is 70 percent Muslim) sounded more pessimistic and radicalized than a year ago. Ahmad al Issa, a fourth-year journalism student, was held for a year in an Israeli prison on charges of throwing stones at Israeli troops. Now he has bought into the libel that Jewish employees at the World Trade Center were warned in advance of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The U.S.-backed boycott following the election victory of the extremist group Hamas in early 2006 has made the Palestinian Authority destitute, crippling government services. Deprived of help from the authority, with the economy in a shambles, city governments are bankrupt. Bethlehem's mayor, Victor Batarseh, has a special problem because tourists and pilgrims no longer stay overnight in the city of Christ's birth. Out of money and credit, he is ready to lay off the city's 165 staffers.
Batarseh, a U.S. citizen who practiced thoracic surgery in Sacramento, is pinned down in Bethlehem. A Christian and political independent who calls himself a private-enterprise democrat, Batarseh is on the Israeli blacklist because he contributed to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which the State Department has designated a terrorist organization. Denied permits for Jerusalem, the mayor must drive to Amman, Jordan, to get to meetings in Europe.
Contact with the PFLP is not a requirement for being holed up by the Israel Defense Forces. Bethlehem University students cannot get to Jerusalem, a few minutes' drive away, unless they sneak in illegally. The students from the separated Gaza enclave have to take classes from Bethlehem via the Internet.
Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey was at the university the same day I was, and faculty members could hardly believe a real live member of Congress was there. Smith later was given a tour of Jerusalem to see with his own eyes that the separation barrier in most places is a big, ugly and intimidating wall, not merely a fence.
Smith, an active Catholic layman, was drawn here because of the rapid emigration of the Holy Land's Christian minority. They leave more quickly than Muslims because contacts on the outside make them more mobile. Peter Corlano, a Catholic member of the Bethlehem University faculty, told Smith and me: "We live the same life as Muslims. We are Palestinians."
Concerned by the disappearance of Christians in the land of Christianity's birthplace, Smith could also become (as I did) concerned by the plight of all Palestinians. If so, he will find precious little company in Congress.
© 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.
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Thursday, April 05, 2007
NOTE: For high quality PICS go to online article at this link :
San Francisco Chronicle
Two Easters in one
East Bay family's meal draws on ancient tradition
Karola Saekel, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Samir and Georgette Nassar and their family, Palestinian ... Kaak bi Ajwa, or Easter Cookies, are filled with dates. T... Georgette Nassar and her husband, Samir, share the prepar... Roasted Game Hens on Sumac-Onion Bread (Mousakhan). Chron... More...
Like Christians worldwide, the Nassar family is preparing for Easter this week. And like most of their neighbors, this year they will celebrate only once.
Generally, the family marks the feast of the resurrection of Christ twice: Once for Samir Nassar, who is of the Eastern Orthodox faith, and once for his wife, Georgette, a Catholic. The two celebrations, with dates anchored in ancient customs tied to the lunar calendar, can be as much as six weeks apart. This year, they fall on the same date: April 8.
And the food traditions, many going back to ancient times, are the same for both groups of Palestinian Christians, no matter the date of the observance.
Actually, the family still had two Easter feasts this year: They did a demonstration dinner a couple of weeks ago at their Hercules home to show us what a typical Palestinian Christian Easter meal looks and tastes like. As they will this Sunday, the whole family worked together in the well-equipped kitchen before sitting down to a feast that stretched over a couple of hours.
Juju, as Georgette Nassar is called, has her men well trained. While her husband (Sam to his American friends) chops, sons Samer and Suheil (Soosh) fetch platters, peel cucumbers or watch over food simmering on the stove or baking in the ovens.
Though father and sons studied a variety of subjects, they all ended up in the food business in one way or another. The young men, both in their 20s and UC Berkeley graduates, live together in the East Bay.
Samer operates Grub-n-Go, a popular downtown Berkeley sandwich shop; his brother manages a deli in Walnut Creek, and the parents' Brewed Awakening coffeehouse has been a fixture just north of the UC campus for 20 years.
"Food and service -- that's what Palestinians here do," Sam Nassar says with a grin.
Food certainly is a focal point, and the traditions of the table are one way for Palestinians in the diaspora to preserve the connection to their ancient culture, the Nassars believe.
The family's togetherness in the kitchen and at the table is not reserved for holidays. The two sons come for dinner at least twice a week, their filial loyalty no doubt aided by their appreciation of their parents' cooking, which dovetails with modern American trends. Much of the family's food is local and seasonal; they grow it in their own backyard.
The hot sauce that seasons many Palestinian dishes comes from peppers grown in a protected spot by the side of the house. The garden also provides home-grown tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, squash and more -- Soosh pulled neat, flat packages from the freezer to show off the grape leaves from their own arbor that are the basis of stuffed grape leaves year-round.
Many of the fruit trees and vegetables are grown from seeds brought from the place Sam and Juju Nassar call home. They were both born and raised in Bethlehem and were married in the ancient Church of the Nativity there.
Unlike some immigrants who have a hard time duplicating their traditional meals in the United States, the Nassars say they can find all the needed ingredients here, generally in mainstream groceries.
A few, such as sumac and the binding/sweetening agent, gum Arabic (also called mastic) require a trip to stores specializing in Middle Eastern or Greek foods (such as Haig's on Clement Street in San Francisco). And some come directly "from home" -- especially arak, the potent liquor that's a favorite digestif in the Middle East.
Olive oil is a staple, although the Palestinian kitchen also makes use of samna, a form of clarified butter similar to ghee that adds richness to some dishes. It is not used sparingly. As Sam Nassar puts it, there has to be enough "to stay on your mustache."
The trial Easter meal followed Middle Eastern custom, with no clear delineation between courses. Except for dessert, everything is brought to the table simultaneously, so diners can set their own pace and pattern as platters pass from hand to hand with frequent encouragements: "Have a little more."
First on the table are bowls of hummus. The Nassars add lightly fried pine nuts to the lemony, garlicky garbanzo spread for a toothsome, crunchy contrast.
Two yeast dough-based dishes also might be considered starters: fatayer, which are turnovers filled with lemon-scented spinach; and sfiha, a close relative of pizza. At the Nassar house, the chewy crust is topped with finely minced cooked lamb seasoned with onion, garlic, jalapenos and parsley, moistened with tahini and tomato sauce.
Lamb in a coarser grind also gives substance to hashweh, a rice dish seasoned with allspice and again highlighted with pine nuts.
The main attraction is mousakhan, sumac-scented game hens roasted to a reddish brown and placed atop Arabic pocket bread, or pita, with more sumac and plenty of sauteed onions. Laban bi khiar -- mint and cucumber salad in a yogurt dressing scented with garlic -- offers a cooling contrast.
To conclude the feast, there are kaak bi ajwa, date-filled cookies in the shape of wreaths. Sam Nassar says some Palestinian bakers now make them any time of year, but his family likes the tradition of baking and eating them only at Easter. The shape of the cookie is symbolic of the crown of thorns that, according to Christian tradition, was put on Jesus' head in his final hours.
At the trial run for the feast, there were seven of us at the table. On Easter Sunday, there will be many more. Juju and Sam Nassar were both reared in large families, and between the two of them have about 50 relatives in the Bay Area.
It's a safe bet that not only will everybody invited to the Easter feast eat their fill, but also be urged to carry some food home. Hospitality and generosity are Palestinian hallmarks, says Sam Nassar. "If we have to feed three, we cook for 20."
Roasted Game Hens on Sumac-Onion Bread (Mousakhan)
3 game hens, cut in halves
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons ground sumac
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 large onions, chopped
3/4 cup pine nuts
6 rounds thick pita bread
(such as the Middle Eastern brand Aladdin)
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350°.
Rub the hens with 1/2 cup of the olive oil and the lemon juice. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sumac, salt and pepper to taste, and the paprika. Cover with foil and place in a baking pan with 1/2 cup of water. Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover the pan and turn the heat to broil. Broil for 10 minutes, until the hens are browned.
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a skillet, then add the onions, and the remaining 2 tablespoons sumac. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions are soft.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet and brown the pine nuts in it. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pine nuts and set on paper towels to drain.
Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
Remove the hens from the baking pan and set aside. Dip the pita into the broth in the pan and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheets, 3 per sheet. Place a layer of the onion mixture on each pita. Transfer the cooked hens to the top of the pitas. Top with more onion mixture. Place under the broiler and broil for 5-8 minutes, until the bread is crispy.
Sprinkle the hens with the pine nuts and serve. Skim the fat from the juices, then pour into a gravy boat and pass at the table.
Per serving: 765 calories, 49 g protein, 42 g carbohydrate, 45 g fat (9 g saturated), 125 mg cholesterol, 772 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
This traditional Palestinian dish can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even as a snack with pita bread.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice or to taste
1 clove garlic, or to taste
1/2 jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pine nuts
Paprika, for garnish (optional)
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
Instructions: Drain the chickpeas, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Place the chickpeas with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, jalapeno pepper and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. If the hummus is too thick, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid until it reaches the desired consistency.
Melt the butter in a skillet and brown the pine nuts in it.
Place the hummus in the center of a large flat plate and spread it toward the edges with a spoon. Sprinkle the buttery pine nuts on top. If desired, garnish the edges with dashes of paprika and chopped parsley.
Serve with pita bread.
Per serving: 215 calories, 7 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 16 g fat (4 g saturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 366 mg sodium, 5 g fiber.
Mint & Cucumber Yogurt Salad (Laban bi Khiar)
2 cucumbers, peeled and cubed
16 ounces plain yogurt
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
Salt to taste
Instructions: Put the cucumbers in a mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, mint flakes and garlic. Season with salt and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate until chilled before serving.
Per serving: 60 g calories, 4 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (2 g saturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 38 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.
Easter Cookies with Dates (Kaak bi Ajwa)
Makes 30-35 cookies
Traditionally, these cookies are made only during the Easter holiday. The date cookie, in its circular shape, represents the crown of thorns that was placed on Christ's head.
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups semolina
2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon powered gum arabic (see Note)
Pinch mahlab (optional, see Note)
2 pounds pitted dates, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
To prepare the dough: Melt the butter and let it cool to room temperature. Add to the semolina and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.
Mix together 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Cover and set aside in a warm place for about 5 minutes.
Add yeast mixture to semolina, along with nutmeg, gum arabic, optionalmahlab and 1/2 cup room-temperature water. Knead by hand until thoroughly mixed.
To prepare the filling: Mix dates with olive oil and cinnamon. Form date mixture into 1 1/2- inch balls and roll into 4-inch logs.
To assemble: Position a rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 cookie sheets.
Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch balls, then roll into 4-inch logs. Flatten dough with your fingers and place a date strip in the center. Crimp edges of dough to seal date mixture inside. Shape dough into a ring and crimp ends together. Using a fork or wooden skewer, indent surface of cookie, taking care not to puncture dough.
Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to racks to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
Note: Mahlab and gum arabic are available at Middle Eastern stores.
Per cookie: 180 calories, 2 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 14 mg cholesterol, 3 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.
Rice with Minced Lamb
Georgette Nassar uses converted rice in this dish. If you want to substitute regular long-grain rice, decrease amount of water by 1/4 cup.
1/4 cup + 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds coarsely ground lamb
2 cups converted rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup pine nuts
Instructions: Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the lamb and saute until browned. Drain. Add the rice, salt, pepper and allspice. Add 3 cups water and stir to mix well. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the rice mixture is tender and fluffy.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Add the pine nuts and saute until they turn golden brown.
To serve, spoon the rice into a serving dish. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top, including any oil left in the pan, if desired.
Per serving: 490 calories, 28 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 28 g fat (9 g saturated), 75 mg cholesterol, 790 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.
E-mail Karola Saekel at firstname.lastname@example.org
(please write a thank you letter to editor for covering a Palestinian family and tradition)
This article appeared on page F - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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Sunday, April 01, 2007
[ePalestine] The History of Israel Reconsidered (by Pappe) / Blood and Religion (by Cook) / TWIP Online Now
ZNet | Israel/Palestine
The History of Israel Reconsidered: A Talk by Ilan Pappe
by Ilan Pappe; March 18, 2007
Professor Ilan Pappe is an Israeli historian and senior lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University. He is the author of numerous books, including A History of Modern Palestine, The Modern Middle East, The Israel/Palestine Question and, most recently, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, published in 2006. On March 8, he spoke at a small colloquium in Tokyo organized by the NIHU Program Islamic Area Studies, University of Tokyo Unit, on the path of personal experiences that brought him to write his new book. The following is a transcript of his lecture, tentatively titled "The History of Israel Reconsidered" by organizers of the event.
Speaking of the Palestinian citizens of Israel...
Essential Jonathan Cook interview
Although it's nearly three months old, Jonathan Cook draws a lot of issues together. Very strong on how Israeli policy deliberately encourages the quiet transfer of educated Palestinians, the restrictions on employment of any kind, and the catch 22 of Palestinian resistance - resist nonviolently and the media ignore it and Israel wins, resist violently and become the villians and Israel wins. Also disengagement and demography and many other issues. Crucial viewing. Actually, crucial listening, as the video is just Jonathan talking.
Two locations to hear the 1 hour interview:
I'm reading his latest book now and STRONGLY recommend it:
Blood and Religion
The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State
Ask your local public library to order it for their collection.
This Week in Palestine
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