Palestine: the things you don’t hear about

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Palestinian Women: Runners, Mothers and Breadwinners

...In Summer 2014, Shawqia took a loan from FATEN in order to develop the agriculturally rich land around her home. With the care and tenderness of a mother, she took me for a tour of her hip-height bean plants, a nursery of herbs peeking through the ground, baby fig and olive trees. Over a cup of the most amazing tea I’ve ever tasted (which I am told, is a due to the well-water stored under the home), she told me how she grows almost everything that her family eats and sells any extra, essentially eliminating the need to go to the mini market.

As she lovingly stroked her budding olive tree, she told me how her two sons (who married two sisters!), helped her to plant the fields. Now that everything is in bloom, she is very content spending her days tending her land alone. Hands don’t lie: This is a woman who is no stranger to hard work.

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KIVA is an NGO microloan program that is quite successful. They loan to women primarily because women are more likely to invest it into enterprises to help their families.
 
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An interesting site....certainly reflects Palestine today


POLITICAL IS PERSONAL IS AN INITIATIVE WHICH CONDUCTS IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS WITH ISRAELI JEWISH AND PALESTINIAN WOMEN IN WHICH THEY SAFELY AND FREELY SHARE HOW THEIR LIVES HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY THE REALITIES OF THIS CONFLICT.

Aya

I am 28 years old, and I'm from Lyd [Lod in Hebrew, Lyd in Arabic, mixed Jewish-Arab city 15km southeast from Tel Aviv].

I am married and I have a daughter. I’ve been a feminist and political activist for ten years.

I’m very proud of my Palestinian identity. I talk about it all the time.

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Meital

My name is Meital Marcel. These are the two names that I go by.

I am 39 years old, single, and I live in Tel Aviv.

I studied at Tel Aviv University. My bachelor’s degree is in cinema and philosophy, and my master’s degree is in literature.

I work in writing. I publish short stories, only for a small circle of people, but I’m in a development phase, and now one of my short stories has been chosen to be featured in the university’s magazine. The first magazine issue hasn’t come out yet, but they are working on it now.

My biggest dream, however, is to publish a story through a well-known publisher that will give my writing a spring board.

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Wedad

I’m Wedad Zaid Alkilany, from Ara, in Wadi Ara.

I’m 29 years old, mother to two wonderful daughters, and a student in my last year of a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Parallel to this, I also study group training, and this year I have spent a lot of time volunteering for the women’s organization Women Wage Peace.

The course in group training is basically a course not related to my degree. It’s something that you study independently with some intensive months of studying, and at the end of the course you receive a diploma.

I really like the course on group training, because I have previously got the opportunity to guide groups, but I wanted to gain professional skills, in order to learn how to do it really well. In addition to this, I am considering working within this field in the future.

The reason why I have chosen to study psychology and group guidance is that, first of all, I don’t have stage fright, and second of all I am a person, who likes to guide groups of people and to talk and to discuss, so I think all of this is very relevant [for me].

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Rachel

I was born in Herzliya, and when I was a baby we moved to Kfar Saba. I've lived here ever since, but next year we are moving to Tzur Moshe, a moshav [Israeli village], which is a big deal. I'm looking forward to it.

My mother-in-law lives there. She has an olive plantation, and has lived there for 20 years. She is a very special woman. She is a widow and lives there alone, tending to the olive trees all by herself. Most people wouldn't do what she does.

We decided to move there, not to help her, as [Rachel and her husband] are two very busy people. We're moving there to give our children the quality of life that a moshav can offer.

I'll miss Kfar Saba a lot, because I come from a big family. My mother lives here, my sister lives close-by, and my brothers as well. Because of my relationship with them, our decision to move took many years. But sometimes it's difficult in Kfar Saba because we have five children. It's very loud and intense, and we are looking forward to silence from the moshav environment.

I don't think it will be calmer [in the moshav], because of all the work, but it will be a more secure environment, and lately we have been wanting to feel more secure.

In town there is a closer proximity to terror attacks. My children know that I work with Arab women and Palestinians all the time, so of course I teach my children that we don't need to fear Arabs. We need to get over the fears, because the number of terrorists is small. But one can't ignore the everyday news, including the stabbings that mostly take place in towns. The moshav will hopefully be a more hermetic, quiet, and secure place - not only in the safety aspect but in many other ways too.

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I realized I forgot to add the link to the site so it is now added. It is very interesting. Here is how they describe what they are doing.

What is PiP?
WHAT IS PIP?
Political is Personal / Israel + Palestine is a project of interviews conducted with individual Palestinian and Israeli Jewish women conveying how the conflict has affected their lives. Their stories help to personalize one of the most seemingly intractable conflicts in the world.

HOW - ARE THE STORIES WRITTEN
  • All the stories feature Palestinian and Israeli Jewish women, who are 18 years old or above;
  • The interviews are conducted either face-to-face, via Skype, email, chat or phone depending on circumstances and on the wishes of the interviewees;
  • The first name of the interviewee is included in the title of her story or is completely anonymous - all depending on the wishes of the interviewee;
  • Interviews are free-flowing, allowing for the subject's safe, non-judgmental, open telling of her thoughts, experience and feelings.
  • Stories are edited only for clarity, flow and structure.
  • Tolerance, Respect and Sensitivity: Once the story of an interviewee is written, it is sent back to her for her approval or modifications. Because of the sensitivity of the political situation, and because the stories will be publicly available, no story is published without the full consent of the interviewee.
 
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The Team

Wajiha Al Abyad, Gaza Coordinator & Writer


Wajiha is a Palestinian woman who was born and still live in the Gaza Strip. She is descended from a refugee family in Jaffa. In 2015, she received her BA degree in English and French Literature which essentially paved the way for her writing career. Since then, she developed a profound passion in writing. She started off as a blogger for WeAreNotNumebrs, CivilArab, and currently works as a freelance writer publishing regularly on the Medium. Her background in working as a Project Coordinator within a local Non-Governmental Organization dedicated for advocating Women’s Rights has given her a broad base from which to approach gender issues in Gaza. Therefore, in her writings, she addresses women’s issues through featured stories. She especially enjoys reading about psychology and communicating with people from diverse cultures.
 
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ASIL
Her Story #3 Asil

Always Just An Arab


During the “tzfirah” [siren] for Yom Hazikaron [Memorial Day] today, I saw a woman holding her daughter, who was scared. When the “tzfirah” stopped, I heard the mother explaining to the child, what it was about. She told her that it was to commemorate all the killings of Jews that have been carried out by Arabs, “the ones who seek to kill us,” in other words, “our enemy”.

I am 25 years old, and what I have learned up to now is that no matter what I do in this country I will always be the "Arab." If someone steals something, the finger will still be pointed at me, because I am the "Arab." I can go to the police, but it won't matter. It will always be my fault.

I am not seeking to be an Israeli. I am a Palestinian living in Israel. I just don’t want to be a second-class citizen. I want to be treated like the nice person that I am. I also have feelings.
 
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MANAL
Her Story #12 Manal

......
Male Authority

I am a liberal woman, but I don’t even represent 2% of the women in Gaza. I think it’s a natural development after eight years of a blockade. It has resulted in a furthering of narrow-minded mentality here.

There is unemployment and poverty, and education cannot be financed. When men can’t find work, the oppression creates a vicious cycle, which makes the men dominate even more and mistreat their wives and daughters.

Additionally, women aren’t able to see the outside, and they become provincial in their thinking too. As daughters and sisters, women try to escape their brother’s and father’s authority by finding a husband, but the husband is no different than their father and brother.

My Jewish Friends

I have a lot of Jewish friends, and I like them for the human beings that they are. I try not to talk about politics with them, and instead I prefer to look at them from their human side. As long as there is respect.

I was born in 1969, and I used to go to Ashkelon with my mother to have coffee. I would go to Tel Aviv, where I bought everything that I needed for my wedding.

Today, because I have a permit, I always go to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I often take the train from Ashkelon to Tel Aviv. I like to talk to people there, and when they find out that I am from Gaza, they are amazed. That is how I know that we have a lot in common, and that is why I think that the leaders are our problem.

I believe that Israelis have the right to exist, and so do we. We need two states, and I know that even if I were to pray for Israel to vanish, it won’t happen, and we need to be on equal footing.

Healing

We need to get rid of the hatred. We’ve tried wars and many other methods. I’m doing my best because I’m the kind of person who believes that you can heal pain with love. It’s time to try different kinds of weapons, to convey peace and love. We need to express this to our leaders, and Israelis need to do the same to their leaders.

I always believe in better times. I’m very optimistic. Sometimes things go up, sometimes they go down. We must see the end of the tunnel. I think it’s about time to heal people from the inside
 
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Kind of interesting...and surprising. Not what I would have expected.


Photo essay spotlights Palestinian women in physics

In November, a photographer and I set out to capture the lives of seven women studying and working in physics in Palestine.

The interest arose from my work over the last few years in Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab world, where I have organized particle physics workshops and seminars. Each time, I was joyfully surprised to be standing in front of an audience full of women.

It is a known phenomenon in the Arab world that the number of women studying physics surpasses that of men, and in Palestine, I saw this most pronounced. However, the number dramatically drops at the faculty level. I wanted to know why there was this reverse gender gap for students, what issues affected women wanting to pursue a career in physics, and how these compared to the issues in the West.



We traveled a lot during the project, to places such as Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem, and Ramallah, and even into Jordan. Often, we were warmly invited into the homes of the women. We met their families and discussed the various issues in their lives and the role of women, over deliciously cooked Palestinian cuisine, all the time learning new words and phrases in Arabic. There was always a lot of love and support from their families when discussing their career aspirations. Some of the challenges the women face were not easy, both societal and political, but the women's strength and hopes for the future are inspirational, lending to an increasing number of women embarking on careers in physics.

One of the key facts I learned as to why many women study physics in Palestine is there is not the stigma that physics is seen as being a masculine subject, which is prevalent in the west.A student named Suhad talked about this issue with us over coffee one morning in the department:

I don't know why you say physics is only for men, because here in our university in the science as a whole, many students are women, not men. For example in undergraduate we were 18 girls and only three boys. So with respect to me, it is not strange to be a female scientist.
 
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Participants at the launch of the first Palestinian community-based Youth Sports League in Jericho. The project is funded by the Government of Japan and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Al-Quds University, and the Palestinian Olympic Committee.
© UNDP/PAPP – Nadine Abu Rmeileh

Palestinian Youth: Carrying the Potential for Future Growth

http://thisweekinpalestine.com/palestinian-youth-carrying-potential-future-growth/

 
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Pretty innovative :)

Rooftop farms in Gaza provide a lifeline to the community

Meeting even basic needs can be a challenge for the nearly 2 million people that live in Gaza. An Israeli blockade inhibits international trade and prevents vital supplies from reaching the 141 square mile territory, so the Palestinians living there rely on resilience and innovation to survive with the resources they have. Squeezed out of arable land, many Gaza residents are farming upwards, on the rooftops of the dense urban Mediterranean territory.

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How an unlikely alliance of Jewish settlers and Palestinian activists are trying to bring peace to Israel

Ali Abu Awwad, a tall Palestinian with thick curly hair, who once spent four years in an Israeli prison, talks intensely with Shaul Judelman— a Seattle-born Orthodox Jew who now lives in a nearby settlement. Along with Hanan Schlesinger, an Orthodox rabbi from another neighbouring Jewish settlement, Abu Awwad and Judelman are the co-directors of Roots, an organization dedicated to teaching nonviolence. The friendship of these natural-born enemies— in one of Israel's deadliest conflict zones— challenges the usual assumptions about Palestinian-Israeli relations.

"Don't be pro-Palestinian or pro-Israeli," Abu Awwad says. "Be pro-solution."

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Palestinian High-tech Workers Plugging Shortage of Israeli Tech Staff

'For the price of one Israeli engineer, an [Israeli] company can hire three Palestinians in the West Bank, and they have very high motivation'or the price of one Israeli engineer, an [Israeli] company can hire three Palestinians in the West Bank, and they have very high motivation'

Dudu Slama, an executive at Mellanox Technologies, told last week’s Startup Neighbor’s conference in Tel Aviv sponsored by TheMarker that collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli high-tech engineers is one of the keys to successful cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians more generally.

Prior to the conference, however, Palestinians opposed to normalization of ties with Israel lobbied through social media to persuade Palestinians not to attend the conference. Palestinians who did attend said their primary interest was looking after the well-being of hundreds of workers in the high-tech sector in the Palestinian Authority who earn a living working for Israeli tech firms.

At a time when Israeli high-tech companies are outsourcing their work to countries such as Ukraine and India, the Palestinian Authority, where about 3,000 students a year graduate from computer science and engineering programs, provides a workforce that can be hired for less than is generally paid in Israel. There are several Palestinian manpower firms operating in Palestinian West Bank cities such as Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and the new planned community of Rawabi that provide high-tech placement services.

“For the price of one Israeli engineer, an [Israeli] company can hire three Palestinians in the West Bank, and they have very high motivation,” Slama said. Mellanox itself, which is based in Yokne’am, southeast of Haifa, employs more than 100 Palestinians, including 20 engineers who work in the Gaza Strip. The other 80 employees are based in Rawabi.



Palestinian high-tech workers plugging shortage of Israeli tech staff
 
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Had no idea about the high tech sector developing in Gaza...interesting stuff, flacaltenn isn’t this some of what you were talking about? This is from 2015. Some how this Jory of news just gets ignored.

Https://www.voanews.com/a/ap-in-war-torn-gaza-tiny-high-tech-sector-emerges/3093096.html

In War-torn Gaza, Tiny High-tech Sector Emerges

As a student graduating from computer college two years ago, Mohammed Qudih was dreading the “painful” unemployment in the Gaza Strip - a war-battered territory where nearly half the population is without work.

Today, the 25-year-old engineer boasts about his company, its 20 full-time staff and the final check he is issuing to cover the $40,000 spent on designing and furnishing the office.

The firm, called Haweya for Information Technology, specializes in branding for new or restructuring businesses. Its name in Arabic means “identity.”

“I was shocked by the painful work situation in Gaza; there were no jobs and getting a job is very, very difficult. That's where the idea came from,” Qudih said, sitting behind a white laptop on his dark wooden desk.

It is a rare success story in Gaza, whose economy has been battered by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade and a 50-day war between Israel and the territory's Hamas rulers last year. Israel considers Hamas, an Islamic militant group committed to its destruction, to be a terrorist organization.

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This is one of the start ups..Sky Geeks, who’s founder had left Gaza and felt he had to return, a video of was posted by T earlier I believe.


He Found A Way Out Of Gaza. Then, Something Drew Him Back.

Altaharwi is the manager of the pre-seed startup accelerator at Gaza Sky Geeks, the improbable Mercy Corps.-funded tech accelerator that operates inside blockaded Gaza. He is a rarity. Altaharwi not only managed to leave Gaza, eventually earning an MBA in Germany, but he gave up the chance to work at McKinsey, Bain or Accenture -- Big Three firms he was in discussions with -- to come back.

“He could have gone to (one of them) but decided to come back to Gaza to work with us. I still can’t believe it,” says Ryan Sturgill, Gaza Sky Geeks director.

I checked in on the Geeks during these past weeks of terrible violence. When you see the numbers – more than 115 Palestinians killed and 13,000 wounded -- it’s hard to imagine life going on normally there. The U.N. has said it will be unlivable by 2020. But more than 1.8 million people live in Gaza, and despite the electricity shortages and the collapsing infrastructure, in some places some people manage to maintain hope against the odds.

Gaza Sky Geeks is one of those places.

Amazingly, it has more than doubled in size since I visited in 2016. In addition to admitting a larger cohort of startups, Gaza Sky Geeks has started a freelance community and a coder program. The budget of $400,000 has swelled to $900,000. I saw an office with a few dozen people. These days, there are more than 120 people there on a daily basis, and all of its programs must turn away applicants.
 
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Here is another interesting one...surprising too.

World Bank reports high rate of Palestinian women leading startups
World Bank reports high rate of Palestinian women leading startups

Palestinian women are participating at relatively high rates in leading roles at technology startups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a World Bank report published on Wednesday found.

Twenty-three percent of Palestinians who founded tech companies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are women, according to the report.

In comparison, 19 percent, 12%, and 10% of startup founders are women in Beirut, New York City, and Cairo, respectively, the report said.
 
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What is it with Palestinian women entrepreneurs?

Here is another with an innovative idea to solve a chronic problem in Gaza...lack of electricity, Hamas’ restrictions on cooperative endeavors with Israel, and the challenge of getting things through the unpredictable opening and closing of border crossings. The article goes on to describe the convoluted and often politically motivated process that is trade, particularly agricultural between Gaza and Israel.

A Palestinian woman's fight to bring electricity into Gaza defies Israeli moves against border crossings

Majid al-Mashharawi, 24, grew up in the Gaza Strip in a life of intifada, closure and blockade. One particularly painful event happened when she was 13 – she saw a man about to throw a bomb out a window, but the bomb blew up in his hands. Despite the harsh reality, she went on to study engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza, after which she decided to become an entrepreneur.

A year ago Mashharawi and partners launched their SunBox project — an inexpensive and lightweight solar-powered system that can provide energy to things like small refrigerators, laptops and smartphones. She invested a lot of time and thought into the project and traveled to Japan to meet with experts. She installed the system for free in a few homes in Gaza and is now raising money to enable subsidized sales of the device; this would decrease the price in the Strip to $250 from $350.
 
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If there is going to be peace it will be through the women. Palestinian women are known for their distinctive embroidery....

Two Neighbors Brings Together Palestinian Embroiderers and Israeli Seamstresses

It’s no surprise what happens when a wall is built between neighbors. As the cement is poured, as the soldiers patrol by foot, as the barrier blocks a whole people from view, any semblance of shared humanity quickly erodes. The people on the other side are lumped into an opposing and unrecognizable mass of threat, and they become impossible to empathize with and easy to denounce. But coming out of that kind of toxic environment is what makes Two Neighbors, a joint Israeli-Palestinian fashion initiative, so unexpected. The brand offers a model for how fashion can be used as a force for good in a complex, political landscape.

Two Neighbors pairs Israeli designers and seamstresses with traditional Palestinian embroiderers to create stunning contemporary designs. Every garment is a transgression — passing over that physical barrier and through both Israeli and Palestinian hands. Two Neighbors has a workshop in south Tel Aviv and coordinators in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The company is a rare instance of cooperation in an increasingly segregated setting, and it offers a literal interweaving of the people who share disputed land. The tagline is "Peace through the eye of a needle,” and through the simple act of engagement, the brand speaks of “waging our own peace process.”

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First Palestinian animal welfare organisation aims to “cut the cycle of violence”


First Palestinian animal welfare organisation aims to “cut the cycle of violence”


Ramallah - The idea for the Palestine Animal League (PAL), the only locally-run animal welfare organisation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, founded in 2011, was first conceived when Ahmad Safi was working on a children’s summer camp. Ahmad, PAL's founder and executive director, saw a child sitting alone and throwing stones at a cat. He approached the boy and questioned his actions.

The boy told him that during the night, Israeli soldiers had entered his house, beaten and abducted his brother. At this moment, Ahmad saw in the boy a younger version of himself, and realised that it constitutes an important and ubiquitous problem in Palestine.

“I started thinking about how this happens. We [Palestinians] normalise violence. This is how we survive here. If you are frustrated or abused, it is normal. You have to deal with it,” Ahmad said.

In the hierarchy of violence, Ahmad believes it is often the animals that bear the brunt, as the weaker beings on which even children can vent their frustration and aggression. Ahmad thus began working with children in Jalazone refugee camp on how to deal with day-to-day life under occupation, anger management and animal welfare.

“We tried to cut the cycle of violence, to teach children how to be responsible for themselves and for weaker members of society,” he said.

“Palestine is everything, not only the human beings. Palestine is the earth, the trees, the animals,” Ahmad added. Together with his friend and co-founder, Sameh Arekat, he tried to promote these values, as well as teaching the children that being kind is not a sign of weakness, while hurting animals is not a symbol of strength, “because this is the culture that we grow up with”.
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Skateboarding camp teaches Palestinian kids to "fly" beyond walls

QALQILYA, West Bank — Residents in this Palestinian city never see the sunset; Israel's imposing security wall blocks the view towards the west, and much else. Now, a skateboarding summer camp in Qalqilya is helping kids to see a new horizon.

“When you get on the skateboard, you don’t think about all the problems you have. All you’re focused on is that you have to stay on the board and not fall,” said Abdullah Milhem, a 17-year-old from Qalqilya who first picked up a skateboard five years ago.

He says his hobby has changed his life and gave him a positive outlet for his energy instead of hanging out on the streets or getting involved in drugs or violence.

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