July 7, 2016 Bill Corcoran / American Near East Refugee Aid and Just World Books
The United Nations predicts that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. The study estimates the population of 1.6 million will expand to more than two million, requiring a hefty increase in basic services. But, Gaza has barely recovered from the 2014 war, the third in five years. ANERA is helping to provide support on the ground. Meanwhile, Just World Books has just published a "Gaza Library" -- a collection of four books exploring Palestinian culture, politics and cuisine.
Gaza is Barely Holding Together Bill Corcoran / American Near East Refugee Aid
(Summer 2016) -- The United Nations predicts that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. The study estimates the population of 1.6 million will expand to more than two million, requiring a hefty increase in basic services. But, Gaza has barely recovered from the 2014 war, the third in five years.
Some 75,000 Palestinians are still homeless two years after the last war ended. Shelters have been built but not enough. Qatar financed a public housing project but that only added 1,000 units. The slow pace of reconstruction is due in large part to the lack of cement and building materials.
Israel still imposes heavy restrictions on the entry of materials that could be considered dual purpose -- for building tunnels. And, the cement that does get into Gaza is too costly for most families. One ton of cement that used to cost $175 now costs $475. For a while a successful alternative building material was wood, but that too has been added to the list of restricted items.
Today, Gazans suffer enormously from power shortages. Families get four hours or less of electricity a day but when it comes on is anyone's guess. That makes it hard to get enough water pumped up to the rooftop storage tanks, or to cook and clean and wash clothes. Most families live in high-rise apartment buildings, which means getting to and from home can often be a physical hardship.
Families who do have a generator can usually only afford six hours of power because of the exorbitant price of fuel. Many families have reverted to battery-operated flashlights or candles. But candlelight can be dangerous. Three children were killed this month in a fire caused by candles.
Without regular power supplies, getting clean water is a problem too. When it does arrive in the home, it's fit only for cleaning. That necessitates buying bottled water, which adds to a family's financial burdens. ANERA, for one, has been working on restoring bombed-out water lines and reconnecting water and sewage networks. Yet, after a year and a half, only one-third of the system has been repaired.
Gaza's healthcare system is suffering too. Hospitals and clinics are stretched beyond their capacity. Medicines are in short supply; health workers say about one-third of essential medicines needed for surgery are out of stock. Only about half of the supplies that once came from the West Bank are now entering into Gaza because of the ministry's financial shortfalls.
ANERA delivered blood bags to Gaza's central blood bank, where supplies were completely depleted. Even with 8,000 new bags, they won't be able to cope if another emergency arises.
Gazans are also suffering food shortages. Farmers still have not fully recovered lands that were destroyed when tanks uprooted fields and damaged wells. They can't afford expensive equipment to grade the land. Land restoration programs have helped revitalize some farms in the Khan Younis and Beit Hanoun areas but that amounts to only about 30 percent of the farms. Production is still low.
Farmers also have not been able to replenish their poultry and cows that were killed during the war. With borders and tunnels to Egypt closed down, cheap food and other products are absent from the market shelves. Most families now say they only eat meat two or three times a month.
One bright spot is the fishing industry, which appears to be functioning. There is more fish in the market at moderate prices so families can at least get some protein in their diet.
Another challenge to putting healthy food on the family dinner table is the soaring unemployment. Nearly half of Gaza's workforce is out of a job. With farms and factories damaged or destroyed, there's no work to be had. In the past, non- government organizations like ANERA and others could provide project work but the decrease in funding support has cut down on the number of programs in Gaza that could offer work opportunities.
Experts estimate it will take another 15 years to repair and restore Gaza to its prewar conditions. Forecasts for the future are clouded by despair and frustration. As foreign funding diminishes, fears grow that Gaza will unravel. "De-development" is the catchword. As much as we can do to help, foreign assistance is only just holding Gaza together but nobody knows for how long.
Yes, the United Nations has predicted that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. But they are wrong. It is unlivable right now.
Bill Corcoran is the president of ANERA. This article is excerpted from a post on fmep.org
Ramadan Food Packages Bring
Joy to Gaza and Lebanon Camps ANERA
GAZA, Lebanon (July 1, 2016) -- The month of Ramadan is meant to be a festive time spent with family and friends. Yet, in Gaza and Palestinian camps in Lebanon, the bleak situation clouds the joyous occasion. Many people are celebrating Ramadan without any food on the table.
ANERA responded with our annual distribution of food packages, containing healthy, locally purchased food items. The parcels contain many items that are a rare treat for poor families and refugees. Foods like cheese, tuna and juice are especially popular. Staples like chickpeas, beans and cooking oil round out the supply.
Thanks to ANERA donors, we are distributing food packages to 1,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon -- a majority of whom fled the violent crisis in Syria -- and 1,100 of the most impoverished families in the Gaza neighborhoods of Rafah, Khan Younis, Deir El Balah and Beit Lahia. For most, this will be the only relief they receive this Ramadan.
"This Food Package is a Real Blessing"
Under a strong sun and rising temperatures, volunteers and staff members gathered around at the donation centers to help in distributing the food packages. These are some of the people who the ANERA community has brought joy to this Ramadan. National Standards for Palestine Preschools
With expertise and a long-term vision, ANERA has been supporting the construction of a preschool curriculum framework that prepares Palestine's youngest children for a better future. In the past six years alone, the ANERA early childhood development (ECD) team has reached 30,000 children with innovative learning techniques, helped rehabilitate and rebuild 165 kindergartens, and trained more than 600 teachers.
On May 15, 2016, the Ministry of Education held a launch to recognize the culmination of ANERA's efforts to co-draft the national guidelines for a preschool curriculum.
The first-ever national framework for preschool education evolved through many months of intensive work, meetings, field visits and work sessions. It was a joint effort including the Ministry of Education, ANERA, and other well-respected international and local organizations. Preschool supervisors, who have a vested interest in the program's success, also actively participated.
ANERA engaged former board member Dr. Ilham Nasser, associate professor in the early childhood education program at George Mason University, to develop the framework. As a consultant to the ministry, Dr. Nasser led the national work team through the entire process. At the May 15 ceremony, she proudly held the framework document and underscored its significance for Palestinian children:
"A national framework is an investment in a better economic, cultural and social future...It's an educational roadmap with a clear path toward a safe and constructive preschool experience. But we need to move quickly to implement the plan to better serve young Palestinians."
ANERA's ECD program is built on a comprehensive and holistic vision to provide the best learning environment for children in safe and colorful settings featuring child- appropriate learning materials and furnishings, sanitary facilities and playgrounds.
New Preschool Built in Al Majd
ANERA's early childhood development program is leading the way in setting standards for preschool education. In the past five years, ANERA has constructed 165 preschools across Palestine. The program also involves teacher training, music and arts curriculum, reading programs and book distribution, and community involvement in early education.
This brand new preschool in Al Majd, West Bank, includes colorful classrooms, safe play areas, toys and books, and much more. Prior to the construction, the class of 50 children went to school in an old, crumbling building unfit for early learners.
Watch A Time Lapse of
Palestine Preschool Construction
From a leveled patch of land to a haven for Palestinian children, the transformation is astounding. This preschool project was built with funds by the Tarazi family in honor of Bahjat J. Tarazi.
Two years after Israel pummeled Gaza by land and air in "Operation Protective Edge," the ten-year blockade of Gaza is no closer to being lifted. Learn more about the siege of Gaza and the resilience of its people, young and old, with this four-book set of vital resources. This bundle includes a cookbook, short story collection, and two anthologies of reflections covering the situation in Gaza from 2006 to 2014.
The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey
An important book on an egregiously under appreciated, under-reported area of gastronomy. This is old school in the best possible meaning of the term.
The Gaza Kitchen is a richly illustrated cookbook (also available in hardcover) that explores the distinctive cuisine and food heritage of the area known prior to 1948 as the Gaza District -- and that of the many refugees from elsewhere in Palestine who came to Gaza in 1948 and have been forced to stay there ever since.
An important book on an egregiously under appreciated, under-reported area of gastronomy. This is old school in the best possible meaning of the term.
-- Anthony Bourdain, adventurous chef, author, and TV host
Gaza Mom (Abridged Edition)
In this new, abridged edition of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, Laila El-Haddad takes us into the life and world of a busy Palestinian journalist who is both covering the story of Gaza and living it -- very intensely.
This book is El-Haddad's self-curated choice of the best of her writings from December 2004 through July 2010, edited to a shorter length than the original edition and contains a new introduction by the author.
She was in Gaza City in 2005, watching hopefully as the Israelis prepared their withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. She covered the January 2006 Palestinian elections -- judged 'free and fair' by all international monitors.
But then, she watched aghast as the Israeli government, backed by the Bush administration, moved in to punish Gaza's 1.5 million people for the way they had voted by throwing a tough siege around the Strip.
Tensions escalated between Israel's US-backed military and the forces loyal to Gaza's elected Hamas leadership, till the point when Israel launched a three-week all-out attack against Gaza in late 2008. During that war, El-Haddad kept in close touch with her parents, trapped in their home in midtown Gaza City...
Laila el-Haddad's writing illuminates Gaza's inextinguishable culture of struggle and determination for a better world.
-- Nora Barrows-Friedman, Electronic Intifada and Al-Jazeera
Laila El-Haddad's brings the realities of Palestinian existence to life with wit, anger, passion, love, and most of all keen eye for the cruel absurdities of life under occupation. Read it, reflect, and reconsider.
-- Stephen Walt, professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government
Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine, edited by Refaat Alareer is a compelling collection of short stories from fifteen young writers in Gaza, members of a generation that has suffered immensely under Israel's siege and blockade.
Their experiences, especially during and following Israel's 2008-2009 offensive known as "Operation Cast Lead", have fundamentally impacted their lives and their writing. Indeed, many of these writers saw the war as a catalyst for their writing, as they sought an outlet and a voice in its aftermath. They view the book as a means of preserving Palestinian memories and presenting their own narratives to the world without filters.
Their words take us into the homes and hearts of moms, dads, students, children, and elders striving to live lives of dignity, compassion, and meaning in one of the world's most embattled communities. (Some of the stories also take us with courage and empathy into the imagined world of Israelis living just on the other side of the great barriers Israel has built in and around Gaza and the West Bank to wall the Palestinians in.)
These are intimate tales of devastation -- sharp as a knife and unforgettable. Families, playmates, or the writers themselves, are maimed or killed in a flash by Israeli firepower, but this new generation is writing as a form of resistance.
-- Victoria Brittain, author of Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror
These stories are acts of resistance and defiance, proclaiming the endurance of Palestinians and the continuing resilience and creativity of their culture in the face of ongoing obstacles and attempts to silence them.
Whether tackling the tragedy that surrounds missile strikes and home raids, or the everyday indignities encountered by Palestinian refugees, Gaza Writes Back brings to life the real issues that the people of Gaza face. One prominent theme in many of the stories is the value placed on the wisdom of parents and grandparents.
A sense of longing pervades the book, as the characters in the stories reveal desires ranging from the mundane to the complex -- including, in several of the stories, a strong yearning to return to the characters' long-cherished family homes and properties after many decades in exile from them. Social differences within Gaza are also sensitively explored.
A few stories are especially difficult -- but critical -- to digest, for the vividness with which they depict the experiences of victims of Israeli military strikes and confront the legacy of violence and occupation, particularly on young people.
These are the next generation of Palestinian writers and intellectuals. We should all nurture their voices, lift them up, and read their stories then pass them on.
-- Susan Abulhawa, author of My Voice Sought the Wind and Mornings in Jenin
Readers will be moved by the struggles big and small that emerge from the well-crafted writing by these young people, and by the hope and courage that radiates from the authors' biographies.
The contributors are university students and recent graduates, Palestinians who have chosen to speak out in their second language, which is an "expressive way to be more creative in a world where words are significantly mighty," according to Tasnim Hamouda. Another contributor, Nour El Borno, believes "that if a person can write effectively, it is his or her duty to get up, write, and help change this world to something better."
Five years after Operation Cast Lead, these stories remind us that the pain lingers on and the people of Gaza will be forever scarred by the attack. Yet, the call for justice remains forceful and persistent, and these young Gazan writers refuse to let the world forget about them -- their land, their people, and their story.
During and after Israel's 2014 assault on Gaza, voices within and outside Gaza bore powerful witness to the Israeli attacks -- and to the effects of the crushing siege that continued to strangle Gaza's people long thereafter.
Refaat Alareer and Laila Wl-Haddad are distinguished Palestinian writers and analysts from Gaza. In Gaza Unsilenced they present reflections, analysis, and images -- their own, and those of many other contributors -- that record the pain and resilience of Gaza's Palestinians and the solidarity they have received from Palestinians and others around the world.
. . . an outstanding collection of short essays . . .
-- John J. Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science, Univ. of Chicago
. . . joins the narrative of Palestine's witness -- of oppression, brutality, and death, but also of life reaffirmed and resistance reclaimed.
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
At over half off the individual books' retail value, this is the perfect bundle to jumpstart a book club, stock a library, or share with friends. Offer limited to shipping within the United States.
Just World Books exists to expand the discourse in the United States and worldwide on issues of vital international concern. We are committed to building a more just, equitable, and peaceable world. We uphold the equality of all human persons. We aim for our books to contribute to increasing understanding across national, religious, ethnic, and racial lines . . . to share more broadly the reflections, analyses, and policy prescriptions of pathbreaking activists for peace . . . and to help to prevent war.