Monday, April 30, 2012

The History and Groundwork of the Palestinian Basic Law

The history of the Palestinian Basic Law traces back to original Ottoman laws that held force in what is today known as Israel and Palestine more than 400 years ago. After layers of laws were added to the legal regime in the area by British, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Israeli occupiers, the Oslo Accords of the mid 1990s rewound the legal clock to 1948. The laws at the end of the British Mandate over Palestine were thus reinstated, presenting a clean slate for the newly formed Palestinian Legislative Committee to establish a groundwork of uniquely Palestinian legislation. That said, more than 15 years later, the Palestinian Basic Law and its accompanying legislation have yet to be fully implemented by the Palestinian courts and government. The Basic Law's representation of Palestinians' rights and desires is also dubious. Max Budovitch spoke at the University of Chicago Arabic Circle on April 27, 2012 under the title "The Palestinian Basic Law: Its History and Groundwork."

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Conversation with Brian Turner

Today I spoke with the poet Brian Turner who previously served as an Infantry Team Leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Iraq. Turner earned his MFA from the University of Oregon before serving seven years in the US Army. His poetry has been published in two volumes, “Here Bullet” in 2005, and “Phantom Noise” in 2010. His work has appeared on National Public Radio, the BBC, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, and Weekend America, among others. Turner is currently the director of the low residency MFA in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada College. Turner discusses the nature of war poetry, his creative process, and the purpose of his poetry in our conversation.


A Confrontation in Beit Ummar

Every week, international and local protesters descend to the main entrance of the village of Beit Ummar, located between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank to protest the expansion of three nearby Israeli settlements. The Israeli Defense Force maintains a watchtower and personnel holding area at the base of the main road. The peaceful protest movement in the West Bank, which is characterized by weekly demonstrations on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the Territory against Israel settlement expansion, the occupation, and other related grievances. These peaceful protests are haunted with the occasional recourse to violence, a specter which each side, Israeli military forces and Palestinian protesters, often blame on the other. On July 22, 2011, I watched as a peaceful protest dispersed and then turned violent. Some speculate that stone-throwing Palestinian youth were looking for vengeance in light of a confrontation between an Israeli soldier and local man the day before. That said, the transition from passivity to violence that morning raised critical questions on Palestinian political activism and the Israeli military presence in the West Bank.

Image: CrossTalk.

The Modern Bakery in Birzeit

The Modern Bakery of Birzeit is situated along the main highway connecting the Northern West Bank Towns of Nablus, Jenin, and Toulkarem with the de-facto capital, Ramallah. The Bakery is run by Soleiman, an American-born Palestinian whose family is from this small, Christian town famous for its olives and local University. I visited Soleiman at the Modern Bakery on August 22, 2011 to discuss his thoughts on bread, the West Bank economy, and his observations of life from behind his storefront counter.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Unity Between Hamas and Fatah: Perspectives

On Wednesday, April 27th, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah announced that they would sign a reconciliation agreement in Cairo this week. The historic deal comes after five years of division of the Palestinian government since Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections. Hamas, an Islamic group committed to militant resistance to Israeli occupation, took control of the Gaza Strip while Fatah, a more secular group which has engaged in increasing cooperation with Israel, took control of the West Bank. I will speak with veteran politician and spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace process, Hanan Ashrawi. I will also speak with Mazen, one of the organizers of the March unity protests in the Gaza Strip, Hassan Khreisheh, the deputy speaker fo the Palestinian Legislative Council, Radii 'Aseedii, the Commander of the Jenin Area Leadership for the Palestinian Army in the West Bank, and Ghassan Khatib, the Spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. These discussions offer perspectives on the historic nature of this deal, its meaning for Egypt's role in the Middle East, peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and the timeline that some hope will end in the declaration of an independent Palestinian state. To download this segment as an MP3, please click here.

Special thanks goes to Moses Balian, Chris Brown, Ahmed Elhadded, Zachary Rotholz, and Chase Young for support in producing this segment

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Murder of Juliano Mer Khamis

On Monday, April 4th, the Israeli - Palestinian actor and director, Juliano Mer Khamis, was killed by masked gunmen outside his Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee Camp. Khamis had founded the Theatre in 2006 with Jonatan Stanczak and Zakaria Zubeidi as a continuation of his mother's theater in Jenin in the 1980s. The Theatre provided a platform for youth to express themselves in order to find their personal, social, political, and cultural freedom. The Freedom Theatre was one of the core institutions of peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. With his death, the peaceful movement in both Israel and the West Bank has gone into mourning. It remains to be seen the exact affect of Khamis' death on the peaceful resistance movement as well as on the prospects of Israeli - Palestinian peace as a whole.

CrossTalk interviews on this topic:
Jonatan Stanczak (co-founder of the Freedom Theatre)
Radii Aseedii (Commander of the Jenin Area Leadership for the Palestinian Authority)
Micaela (drama teacher at the Freedom Theatre)
Nabeel (a leader in the Freedom Theatre)
Miriam (a student of Juliano in the Acting School of the Freedom Theatre)
Fakhri Hamad (Program Director for Cinema Jenin)
Saleh Bakri (Israeli - Arab actor and colleague of Juliano)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Recommended Interviews: From Cairo to New York

From the streets of Cairo to a journalist's home in New York, CrossTalk aims to bring a variety of voices to the English speaking world on issues of Middle Eastern politics and culture. The following interviews provide a broad representation of CrossTalk highlights over the last year.

Iman Al-Badawi is from Cairo and was a protestor in the January 25th Egyptian Revolution. She spoke on CrossTalk over the phone from Tahrir Square on February 3rd, the morning after pro-Mubarak forces stormed into the Square.

Ahmed Youssef is the political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya. Youssef spoke on CrossTalk from his Gaza City office on August 16th, 2010 about Hamas's political plans, Gilad Shalit, and Hamas's relationship with the Palestinian Authority.

Osman Bukhach is the Director of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Media Office in Beirut, Lebanon. Bukhach spoke on CrossTalk on January 24th about the collapse of Saad Hariri's government in the face of opposition from Hezbollah.

Gershom Gorenberg is an American-born Israeli journalist who writes on the interaction of religion and politics in Israel. He wrote "The Accidental Empire" on the growth of the Israeli settlement movement in the West Bank.