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By Salena Tramel
April 23rd, 2012
The tiny motorboat’s engine coughs a couple of miles offshore and whirls to a stop. Gazing out over the aquamarine Mediterranean waters, I feel high from the fumes of cheap Egyptian diesel and the smell of sea salt. “Let’s get in,” says Mahfouz Kabariti, a fisherman, stripping down to swim trunks and diving overboard. A Palestinian friend who is a medical student also came along for the ride. We eye each other cautiously. She winks, and we both jump in the water, fully dressed, our long pants weighing us down. It’s a perfect Friday afternoon. From out here, the ubiquitous bullet holes in buildings are invisible and Gaza City looks like a coastal resort town.
By Alicia Tozour and Mina Remy
Compared to their Arab neighbors, the occupied Palestinian territories are endowed with an abundance of freshwater. Despite this fact, Palestinians do not have access to enough water to meet their daily needs or support their small farms. Although Israel’s illegal expansion into the Palestinian territories is commonly viewed as a land grab, the placement of Israeli settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall is also a strategic water grab.
Waiting for my visa interview on a dusty embroidered couch at the Afghan Embassy in Cairo, minutes turned into hours. I had recently decided to spend International Women’s Day in the countryside outside of Kabul, to learn from women there as they work towards a better Afghanistan. My mind wandered as I prepared for the journey, and I found myself reflecting on the meaning of a day set aside to celebrate women. Memories drifted through the past few years where I had spent International Women’s Day with Grassroots International’s partners in Palestine and Haiti. Years apart and worlds away, the experiences were bound by song.
Gaza Strip, 2009
From all corners of the world, small farmers, indigenous peoples and human rights activists have been percolating solutions upward to advance their rights to land, water and food. With 2011 behind us, Grassroots International celebrates some of the victories and inroads that took place last year, all with funding from Grassroots International and our supporters. Below are just some of the highlights.
Stop the Wall Youth add Vibrant Energy to a Tradition of Steadfastness in the Struggle for Palestinian Self-Determination
On my last program visit to the Middle East, I had a chance to spend two days with Stop the Wall Campaign (a Grassroots International partner) staff and leaders throughout the West Bank. Through all of our conversations, two distinct but complementary themes arose – steadfastness and fierce determination from farmers who had been in the struggle for decades, and creative vibrant energy from youth who have recently taken on leadership in their local committees and in the broader movement.
By Mina Remy
December 27th, 2011
Three years ago today, on December 27, 2008, the Israeli Defense Force launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The offensive left a trail of death and destruction in its wake, including hundreds dead, thousands displaced, and nearly the entire 1.5 million-person population traumatized and hungry. In the years since the bombing stopped and tanks rolled through agricultural fields, recovery has been slow.
The United Nations declared November 29 to be the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People some 63 years ago.
The first time I shared a meal with Raji Sourani was at a seaside restaurant in Gaza City. A lawyer and longtime director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Grassroots International partner, Sourani is well known throughout Palestine for his quick and sound judgment—which showed when he ordered some of the best shellfish in the Strip for both of us before I had even finished scanning the menu.
“You can’t visit Gaza without eating this shrimp,” he said when our dish arrived. Plumes of shisha smoke billowed around us, and classical Lebanese chords interchanged with lively Egyptian tunes. He was right: the food was nearly as enjoyable as his company.
Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is home to more than 165,000 Palestinians—making it the largest city in the Palestinian West Bank. The city is famous for leather shoes, avant-garde blown-glass vases and qidreh, a fragrant dish cooked in clay pots. It is also notorious for settler violence in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And now Hebron is becoming increasingly known for an agricultural project that sets the standards for access to food in that city and across the occupied Palestinian territories.