“. . . the flat golden face of this broom is its own shrine. . .” (Naomi Shihab Nye)

Bank of Palestine, Ramallah
Bank of Palestine, Ramallah

June 09, 2015
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Tuesday morning, the al-Khalayla neighborhood in the al-Jeeb town, northwest of occupied East Jerusalem, and demolished three Palestinian industrial structures.
____Several military vehicles, and bulldozers, invaded the neighborhood, approximately at 6:30 in the morning, and demolished a blacksmith workshop belonging to al-Kiswani family, and two car repair facilities, belonging to Nour al-Matari and Mohannad Mansour.
____Israel alleges the structures were built without construction permits.
____Head of the Local Council, Ismael Abu Rabah, said this is the fourth time the soldiers demolish the Kiswani family blacksmith workshop that provides livelihood to more than twenty Palestinians, while the Mansour workshop provides livelihood to three families.
(More. . .)

From AL-MONITOR (Palestine Pulse)
Rasha Abou Jalal
June 4, 2015
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Thousands of unemployed in the Gaza Strip wait for the summer season to get their small projects up and running to support their families in light of the continuing economic downturn. These projects include the sale of boiled corn and summer fruits on small carts, moving between markets and beaches. The owners of these projects, who are trying to fight poverty and unemployment, usually face several types of harassment by local authorities, most notably the latter’s imposition and collection of taxes.
____Economist Mohsen Abu Ramadan believes the spread of street carts and vendors is a natural phenomenon resulting from economic deterioration, increasing poverty and unemployment rates, accumulation of university graduates, the Israeli blockade and repeated wars. “The economic situation in Gaza does not give the breadwinner the opportunity to find a job to protect his family from [the need to] beg. Therefore, he would work at any job to support his family,” Abu Ramadan told Al-Monitor.
____Abu Mohammed Mekdad, 42, who worked at a concrete factory that was destroyed in Israel’s last war on Gaza, was forced to borrow some money from relatives to buy a cart to sell fruit in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in northern Gaza City to provide for his family that was displaced by the war.
(More. . .)

June 2015
Courtesy of the Association of Banks in Palestine
In an economy heavily reliant on foreign aid, it’s hard to imagine the process of building a real economy, one that can withstand an ever-tumultuous political situation. The Association of Banks in Palestine recognizes that one of the very important facets of freedom is a stable economy that has its own infrastructure and a plan of action.
____With its seven board members and the capacity to dream, the Association of Banks in Palestine was established in 1998 as a non-profit initiative by the banks operating in Palestine to represent the Palestinian banking sector and work to preserve its interests.
(More. . .)

Demolition of three Palestinian businesses
Demolition of three Palestinian businesses

Sophie Craven
June 9, 2015
Strolling through the back streets of the beautiful Palestinian town of Bethlehem, you come across many tourists enjoying the sights, smells and tastes of this peaceful little town. Take another look and you glimpse the nervous look on their faces as they’re shuttled on and off of Israeli tour buses, scuttling from holy site to holy site and avoiding the eyes of the locals.
____‘It is really not good,” said a taxi driver based at Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity. “Israeli tour companies prevent their tour groups from buying anything in the souvenir shops. The tours are paid for in West Jerusalem and then come to Palestinian towns without supporting the Palestinian economy in any way. How can I support my family?’
____The 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza rocked both the Palestinian and Israeli tourist industries.
____In Bethlehem this blow was painfully obvious around Christmas-time, when the expected annual hordes of tourists simply did not show up. Bethlehem relies on its image as a Christmas retreat, but this year the footfall dropped dramatically and small family-run businesses began to struggle more than ever.
(More. . .)

Alastair McPhail
June 9, 2015
(Note from blogger: Alastair McPhail is the British Consul-General in Jerusalem. I post this with some hesitancy. I’m not sure what the “average” Palestinian might think of it.)
Forty-eight years ago this week, the Middle East was engulfed in war. This war, known as the 1967 war or the Six Day War, changed the shape of the region. And it dramatically changed the lives of many living here. I have met Palestinians in the cities and refugee camps of the region and have heard many stories of what is known amongst Palestinians as the “Naksa”: of lives uprooted and homes lost.
____I will leave analysis of what happened in 1967 to the historians. But the fact is that it shaped the reality of what I deal with today as a diplomat working in Jerusalem: the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; the wave of settlement building which began in 1967; the millions of Palestinian refugees here and across the region.
____From my travels around the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem I know that life is still desperately hard for Palestinians today. . . .
(More. . .)


So you come with these maps in your head
and I come with voices chiding me to
“Speak for my people”
and we march around like guardians of memory
till we find the man on the short stool
who makes brooms.

Thumb over thumb, straw over straw,
he will not look at us.
In his stony corner there is barely room
For baskets and thread,
much less the weight of our faces
staring at him from the street.
What he has lost or not lost is his secret.

You say he is like all the men,
The man who sells pistachios,
The man who rolls the rugs.
Older now, you find holiness in anything
that continues, dream after dream.
I say he is like nobody,
the pink seam he weaves
across the flat golden face of this broom
is its own shrine, and forget about the tears.

In the village the uncles will raise their kefiyahs
from dominoes to say, no brooms in America?
And the girls who stop to sweep the courtyard
will stop for moment and cock their heads.
It is a little song, this thumb over thumb,
But sometimes when you wait years
for the air to break open
and sense to fall out,
it may be the only one.


From Nye, Naomi Shihab. 19 Varieties of Gazelle. New York: Greenwillow/Harper (2005).
Read about Naomi Shihab Nye at the end of the post here.

Soldiers clear Hebron city streets in preparation for Israeli tour. Photo Brona McDonald
Soldiers clear Hebron city streets in preparation for Israeli tour. Photo Brona McDonald

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