“. . . it was only the pomegranate tree that remained standing . . .” (Tala Abu Rahmeh)

“This is not to say there is no element of danger in Gaza. I can recall several moments when I was fearful. However, these instances were results of Israeli violence” (Dan Cohen).
Naomi Zeveloff–Brave Jewish reporter in Gaza. “This is not to say there is no element of danger in Gaza. I can recall several moments when I was fearful. However, these instances were results of Israeli violence” (Dan Cohen).

❶ From MONDOWEISS
A JEWISH REPORTER IN GAZA RESPONDS TO JANE EISNER
[Note: Jane Eisner is editor-in-chief of the of The Jewish Daily Forward]
Dan Cohen
June 9, 2015
Today, Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the of The Jewish Daily Forward wrote a piece called “Why the Forward Sent a Brave Reporter to Gaza,” in which she described the decision to send their Middle East correspondent, Naomi Zeveloff, to Gaza for a three day reporting trip. She writes that the decision to send Zeveloff, who is Jewish, was “mulled over for many months” and required “complex planning.”
____Eisner’s assumption is that Gaza is a dangerous place for a Jewish journalist to visit, even for a couple of interviews on a subject as non-controversial as psychological trauma. This viewpoint is shared by Eisner’s colleague at the Forward, JJ Goldberg, who put it into blunt terms last summer while debating The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah on Democracy Now!, claiming “I’d be shot” upon stepping foot into Gaza. . . .
(More. . .)

❷ From INTERNATIONAL MIDDLE EAST MEDIA CENTER (IMEMC)
MENTAL DISABILITY ON THE RISE UNDER THE ISRAELI SIEGE
Miguel Hernández – International solidarity Movement
June 10, 2015
The number of mentally disabled people in the Gaza Strip has increased substantially in the last years.
____70% of the cases come from the communities located near the fence that separates Gaza from the territories occupied in 1948. Such data is surprising, as most of Gaza’s population lives on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, relatively far from the fence.
____The doctors and people responsible for the care of these children believe that this is due to the fact that these populations have been the most attacked in the successive massacres committed by Israel in Gaza. . . .
(More. . .)

❸ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
UN KEEPS ISRAEL OFF CHILD RIGHTS BLACKLIST
June 9, 2015
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The United Nations on Monday released a “List of Shame” of children’s rights violators but did not include Israel, despite an outcry over the death of more than 500 children in the Gaza war.
____Rights groups had called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to add Israel to the list, and there was much debate among UN agencies ahead of the final decision that rested with the UN chief.
____Ban decided that last year’s list would remain unchanged, but said he was “deeply alarmed” by the “grave violations suffered by children as a result of Israeli military operations in 2014.”
____”The unprecedented and unacceptable scale of the impact on children in 2014 raises grave concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law, notably the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in attack, and respect for international human rights law, particularly in relation to excessive use of force,” he said.
(More. . .)

Three of the children of Shadi Abu Habed each suffer from some kind of mental disability, all of them are younger than five years. Shadi, whose job is blacksmith, has been unemployed for many years, (Photo, Miguel Hernández, ISM)
Three of the children of Shadi Abu Habed each suffer from some kind of mental disability, all of them are younger than five years. Shadi, whose job is blacksmith, has been unemployed for many years, (Photo, Miguel Hernández, ISM)

❹ From MA’AN NEWS AGENCY
EGYPT TO OPEN RAFAH CROSSING [Gaza] FOR 3 DAYS
June 10, 2015
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities will open the Rafah crossing with Gaza for three days next week, a Palestinian Authority official said Wednesday.
____Nathmi Muhanna, general director of border crossings, told Ma’an that Egypt notified his department that the terminal will be open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in both directions.
____Priority will be given to Palestinians with foreign passports, students and patients seeking medical treatment.
____Use of the crossing will be based on lists of travelers already registered with Gaza’ Ministry of Interior.
____Egyptian authorities have done little to alleviate Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, keeping the Rafah crossing — Gaza’s only connection to the outside world — virtually sealed since October 2014.
(More. . .)

❺ From PALESTINE CHRONICLE
I FEEL FREE, BUT DEFEATED: CROSSING RAFAH (PART III)
Johnny Barber
June 8, 2015
At the Travel Hall we join another crowd, once again pushing and shoving to get through the narrow doorway. We manage to get to the middle of the crowd and are funneled into the hall.
____The cavernous hall is packed. We drop our bags against a wall. Hanaa goes to buy something to drink; I push my way through the crowd to the counter to try and get the man behind the glass to take our passports. He finally takes them, gives them a quick glance, and throws them back at me. Our exit papers don’t have the proper stamps. We need to go to a different counter and then return.
(More. . .)
(Part II) Raising a Gun at Women with Infants: Crossing Rafah
(Part 1) Heading to Gaza: Crossing Rafah

“POMEGRANATES,” BY TALA ABU RAHMEH
Gaza

Was it pomegranates we used to eat?

I can’t quite remember
it was before all the bombs
fell everywhere even on that church
in the backyard of grandma’s house,
when grandma did not believe in Jesus
and pushed her little sister
off of the window sill,
then her mother got pregnant again.

The new daughter got the dead
daughter’s name;
it was Aisha-the living one.

I think they were pomegranates,
we’d pick them, you and I mom,
from the tree,
red pearls they were
perfect sets of teeth.
we’d eat them so well
and stain our shirts with the mess.

It was nice then mom,
before the bombs, before you got sick.

Oh, the pomegranates
my cousin-who three days later,
got shot in the lungs-
reached for the highest one.

Mom I told you,
if we put a band aid on his chest,
he get better.

Mom are you sure they were pomegranates?

Somehow I keep thinking of little figs
you’d break your arm to reach,
as they grew ripe and plump.
You’d sneak outside, past midnight,
and hum as you swallow
their little strings of joy.

Mom remember how it was only
the pomegranate tree
that remained standing
when you leaped off of the couch
and over my body screaming.

“I swear I will come up there
to your damn chopper
and scope your eyes out
if one inch of this missile
pierces the edges of my daughter.”

Yes mom, it was pomegranates you couldn’t chew,
when your body got infested with morphine,
when you spent July sleeping
before you slept forever in august.

I don’t know how to make them sweeter,
you never gave me the recipe,
and now I cant ask you about them,
or about anything,
so I grab one and stare at its shell,
and wonder if that’s how the earth is now
harsh on the surface,
but housing your body;
your limbs now pearls
and you are the lightest pomegranate
the reddest there is.

Tala Abu Rahmeh, a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus, is a young writer based in Palestine. Her work has been published by several magazines and anthologies, including Time You Let Me In: 25 Poets Under 25, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye (Harper Collins, 2010). She is currently working as an instructor at Bard College’s chapter in Jerusalem. More about Tala Abu Rahmeh here.

Googling
Googling “pomegranate trees Gaza” returns no images of trees in Gaza, but many Israeli trees. Odd?

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