Patterns of Exile: Palestinian Refugees and the War in Syria

 

Video and Edited Transcript
Faedah Totah & Helena Cobban
Transcript No. 385 (17 July 2013)

 


 

17 July 2013
The Palestine Center
Washington, DC

 

Helena Cobban:

Thanks to Leila and Graham and everybody here at the Palestine Center for setting this up, it looks like a really exciting series and it feels completely right to me to start the discussion with the situation of Palestinians in Syria.

So the first question is, who are the Palestinians in Syria? This map, a rather poorly presented map but it shows you the blue spots which are the official Palestinian refugee camps in Syria, and the gray spots are what are called concentrations or gatherings of Palestinians in Syria. So there are about I think nine refugee camps in Syria, you’ll see they are clustered around Damascus. There’s one important one down in the south in Daraa, which has been a center for the conflict, and a couple up near Aleppo, also a heavily contested area. And then [refers to map] this is the actual number of refugee camps and concentrations and gatherings around Damascus. The most important and biggest of these camps is Yarmouk camp and we’ll come back to Yarmouk later.

So in Syria, as elsewhere where the United Nations Relief and Works Agency operates—and by the way all this data comes from them because they have excellent data on the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria—in Syria there’re, as you can see, 529,000 Palestinian refugees. Now I think what UNRWA is counting here are registered refugees, which is much less than the number of refugees as a whole. All UNRWA can deal with is registered refugees, and to be a registered refugee you had to be—either you or your forebears—on a certain date in 1950, present as a refugee in one of the areas where UNRWA was delivering services—which did not include Egypt and Iraq, for example, so nobody who was there on that date got to be a registered refugee—and you had to demonstrate need. So there were a lot of, at that point (1950), exiles from Palestine, actual refugees from Palestine who were not able to demonstrate neediness, and therefore did not get onto the UNRWA rolls and were not counted as registered refugees. But that doesn’t prevent them being refugees, of course. So the numbers of actual refugees are always much higher than the numbers of registered refugees.

So I’ve been coming and going to Syria since about 19—actually the first time I went it was 1970, but I was still quite young then. But I’ve been coming and going to Syria for professional reasons as a journalist and researcher, and, mainly for that, since 1975. I used to go there quite a lot during the Lebanese Civil War when I was covering the Lebanese Civil War from Beirut, and at that time of course Syria seemed like a haven from the conflict in Lebanon, although of course there was always a lot of repression and manipulation of the Palestinians living in Syria.

I want to note just parenthetically that historically amongst the refugee population in Syria, of Palestinian refugees, there have always been a significant proportion of Christians, that Syria has been a country that has been very open to Christians from Palestine, and obviously it has a huge native Syrian Christian population. And they were very hospitable to the Christians under stress in Iraq after the American invasion of Iraq. And so, you know, the travails of the Palestinian refugees who are Christians in Syria is linked with that whole crisis of Near Eastern indigenous Christianity and those communities under stress in Iraq, in Palestine, to some extent in Egypt, and definitely now in Syria, where anybody who is not a Sunni Muslim, and many people who are, are considered fair game by the extremists among the Syrian oppositionists.

So the Palestinian refugees in Syria over these decades, let’s say from 1950 until two years ago, had a situation that was fairly good compared with that of other Palestinian refugees, for example in Lebanon. First of all they didn’t have the Civil War, and secondly they were allowed to work, they had full economic and social rights, they could go to the university, they could teach in the university, they were very integrated into Syrian society but that was as the result of sort of a Faustian bargain. You know, they were not allowed to agitate against the regime in power. That was the bargain. And come to that, neither were any Syrian citizens. It was like multi-dimensional, equal-opportunity repression.

When I was working with a group, a Quaker working party, almost exactly ten years ago, we were looking at the situation of Palestinian refugees. I was with a small group that went to Syria and talked to some refugees there. And I was just rereading this, I mean it’s such a sweet picture of these people and their situation, back in 2002. There’s a little vignette we put in the book about Professor Khayriyyah Qasmiya, “who had had a long morning of administering exams in the Damascus University College of Letters, where she is the chair of the history department. She was born to a middle class family in Haifa in the early 1940s. ‘Oh, I remember Haifa,’ she told us fondly.” You know, and just this, like, a really sweet narrative of a woman who had a very stable and productive life in Syria. And then we got into this discussion with one of her colleagues who was a Palestinian philosophy professor at Damascus University, Ahmad Barqawi. And, you know, this was obviously the upper end of the social echelon of Palestinians in Syria, and there were many who were farmers or construction workers. But they were fully integrated into the economy and society, just lacking citizenship. Now of course ‘just’ lacking citizenship is a huge thing that Professor Totah and I will be discussing a lot more about.

I remember from my time in Lebanon that civil wars, number one they are always highly inimical to the interests of women and children and the vulnerable in society, so anyone who claims that you can fight a war for humanitarian purposes is either ignorant or lying or both. But there is also a particular vulnerability of people who don’t have a state to protect them. You know, foreigners in Lebanon, there are all kinds of foreigners in Lebanon when I was there—Egyptians, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Americans, French, you know. When your neighborhood is caught up in turmoil, if you have a consulate and an embassy that can get you out of there—you know, remember the Filipinos in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion, or, you know, any group of migrant workers or foreigners that have a government to protect them—It’s not great, your life is majorly disrupted, you have to be repatriated, so on and so forth, but you have somebody looking out for you. Palestinians don’t. And I remember in Lebanon during the Civil War, the Palestinians had the PLO, which was acting like a quasi-state. And actually that was part of the problem for Palestinians in Lebanon, because the PLO was a party to the Civil War. But now they don’t even have a functioning PLO that is capable of intervening to just advocate for their physical survival in Syria. It has left them incredibly vulnerable.

[Refers to PowerPoint slideshow] So this is all thanks to UNRWA. The UNRWA counted 529,000 Palestine refugees, more than 50 percent displaced. And if you look at the pictures that UNRWA and others have, you see displaced Palestinians living in their schools, living in tents, it looks just like 1948 all over again, just like 2008 all over again. I mean this kind of cycle of stuff that happens to Palestinians, over and over for decades. So the number now in need of assistance increased to 420,000 out of 520,000. Need of assistance means really in need of assistance. If you look at the kind of assistance they’re giving, in many cases to people whose homes have been destroyed, they list these things called hygiene kits. Now, maybe some of you are familiar with what is a hygiene kit. A hygiene kit is like a bucket that can be used to transport water, some soap powder, a couple of towels, toothpaste, toothbrush—It’s for a family that’s lost everything and is living, you know, in the wild. And that’s where many of these internally displaced and externally displaced Palestinians are today, along with the Syrians who have been displaced, obviously in larger numbers because there were larger numbers of them to start with. I think the proportion of Palestinians in Syria who have been displaced is larger than the proportion of Syrians.

And they get treated differently. They get treated differently in the following way: every Palestinian in the world is counted as a Palestinian in some kind of UN scheme of things, and becomes the responsibility when in need of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which has existed since 1950, UNRWA. Everybody else in the world, when they become displaced over national borders, becomes the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has a different, much stronger mandate to provide services and protection to refugees. Palestinians inside Syria do have a degree of services that is provided to them by UNRWA, but they have no protection. UNRWA has no protection mandate. And once everything has completely fallen apart in Yarmouk refugee camp or whichever of the many destroyed refugee camps there are in Syria, and they go to Lebanon, or they try to go to Jordan, or God forbid they might try to go home to Palestine. How about that? How about creating a state that could be a haven for distressed populations? You would imagine that many Jewish people could perhaps sympathize with this aspiration. But no.

Back in December there was a huge battle in Yarmouk camp that just about destroyed Yarmouk camp. I don’t know if I have the numbers here—no I don’t have the numbers here. Oh, this number is horrible. “Fifty-seven of UNRWA’s 118 schools had sustained various levels of conflict-related damage. Seven UNRWA area staff members have been killed and 12 are missing, some presumed detained.” We don’t read about this nearly enough in our newspapers here, about the plight of these very vulnerable Palestinians in Syria.

So, Yarmouk camp. Huge battles. They made it into a lot of the—by the way all the people avidly taking notes, you can get online and find all this stuff in the UNRWA report that was published in June, very good PDF that they have. Or you can take notes, that’s fine.

So, the Yarmouk battles did make it into some of the media in this country. And afterwards Abu Mazen pleaded with Netanyahu to let some of the very distressed families from Syria, Palestinian families from Syria, come to the West Bank. And Netanyahu answered and said yes, maybe some small number of them can come, but the condition is that they give up their Right of Return to their original homes and properties. And Abu Mazen said no deal. Now, we can discuss that, it’s a tough call, actually. But that meant that nobody was able to get back. By contrast, this is an interesting little side-note to this, Hamas was able to get—or, let’s say, people, were able to get—three hundred families, Palestinian refugees from Syria, resettled in Gaza, in the days when Rafah crossing was a little more open than what it is now. And these are 300 families that are being counted by UNRWA and they are being given emergency services in Gaza. So you could say this is a small instance in which Hamas is somewhat more effective than Abu Mazen in protecting the rights of distressed Palestinians.

Most recently, Abu Mazen was in Lebanon a couple of days ago, which is interesting. Regional dynamics are shifting very, very speedily. He made a point of saying the Palestinians are not a party to the conflict, either in Lebanon or in Syria, which is very, very important. It’s a very important statement that he made, and I wish that he and Hamas had been, you know, equally kind of clear and forthright about that all along. You have to realize that, well of course, as of January, February, March of 2011, you still had, the Hamas leadership was in Damascus, operating under that Faustian bargain that I described earlier. I went and interviewed Khaled Meshaal there, two or three times, 2008, 2009, 2010 also, I think. And, you know, they were running their entire Hamas leadership from there, although it’s a fairly decentralized leadership. And then the conflict in Syria started escalating, and essentially Khaled Meshaal and the leadership of Hamas were placed in, I guess what they thought was, an untenable situation. The regime was demanding that, as usual, they don’t do anything to combat the regime. Meantime, their ideological allies in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood were demanding that they do.

Now these kinds of dilemmas are not new for Palestinians. I mean, they’re exactly the same kind of dilemmas that Palestinians have faced in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, for example, in the 1980s and 1990s. Long story short, in response to that kind of pressure, the Hamas leadership exited, went to Doha. And have no doubt they’re living in a five-star hotel there or something. And that meant cutting their political relationship with the Assad regime in Syria, which had huge consequences, and led, you could say, to the conflict within the Yarmouk camp, because there were obviously a lot of opposition people, including armed opposition people, who were in the camp, and who were not being calmed down or clamped down on by Hamas anymore. And so you got the horrible situation escalating inside Yarmouk camp and other refugee camps.

And of course that has a big effect on the broader political situation in the region. There was a very good report that the International Crisis Group published just a few days ago, actually at the end of June. And they have a quote in there that I wish I had had, so I have to give attribution to somebody else for it, but they said that what’s happened to the conflict in Syria is that it has become transformed in recent months from a Syrian conflict with regional consequences into a regional conflict with a Syrian focus. In other words, the geopolitics of it now are being driven much more by outsiders. But of course who is it that gets caught in the meat grinder, is everybody resident in Syria, whether they are Syrian nationals, Iraqi refugees, or Palestinian refugees. And the prospects for de-escalation are extremely slim, probably none.

Well I guess it’s time for me to end, otherwise I could carry on. But we’ll have the Q&A session. I just want to note that I am very pleased to be here with my colleague David Grant and some of the books published by my new publishing company, including The Gaza Kitchen, which I hope all of you have bought and if you haven’t you can buy a copy afterwards. It’s the best. It’s the most intelligently political cookbook you will ever read. So, I’m looking forward to hearing from Dr. Totah and then engaging with you in the Q&A.

Faedah Totah:

Good afternoon everybody. I’d like to start with the fact that what’s happening in Syria is just impossible to comprehend: the Civil War, the destruction of an entire country, the demolition of neighborhoods, of houses, of infrastructure, the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, the displacements of almost more than three million people, many of them crossing the borders into neighboring countries, is just terrible. And you kind of want to look into the future and see what could possibly happen. And even if the fighting ends any time soon and there is some kind of reconciliation among the fighting parties, warring parties, what is going to rebuild all of the destroyed homes, schools, hospitals? I just saw a report from UNRWA that says that the Human Development Index in Syria has fallen to its level 35 years ago, so we are 35 years ago right now as a result of this Civil War. And amidst all of this destruction I am very happy that the Jerusalem Fund organized this session and allowed us to talk about the plight of a group of people that tend to be forgotten. And this is not to say that there are not other minorities in Syria that are suffering, but the conflict in Syria, the crisis in Syria, brings to the forefront once again the vulnerability of Palestinians and Palestinian refugees in the region whenever a crisis hits.

Today I would like to emphasize three points. I really want to talk about Palestinians in Syria. Ms. Cobban mentioned Khayriyyah Qasmiya and Ahmad Barqawi. I got to know Khayriyyah Qasmiya, fascinating woman—I also got to know people at the, not upper echelon of Palestinian refugees in Syria, but actually Palestinians who were living in the Old City. And I want to talk about them and how they were relating to life in Syria. Many of them were lower middle class, some of them were working-class; but their plight is very much reminiscent of Palestinians everywhere living in refugee camps around the region, even though the Old City where they were living was not a refugee camp. And finally, I would like to conclude with, what does it mean to be Palestinian in the current turmoil in the Middle East, and what does the political transformation of the Middle East mean for Palestinians.

Now, one of the fascinating things about being a Palestinian is that the identity of Palestinians is very much linked to this whole notion of refugee-ness, right, even when you’re not a refugee, the experience of refugee-ness hits home in so many different ways. And then until recently when you talk about refugees in the Middle East, you’d think Palestinians. The recent conflicts have led to new waves of refugees. You’ve had the Civil War in Lebanon, which created different waves of refugees, the most recent being 2006 when Israel invaded Lebanon—ironically many of those Lebanese found a safe haven in Syria—and then you have Iraqi refugees from the two Gulf Wars that took place in Iraq. And in Syria, you had Sudanese refugees; Syria offered haven for a number of Sudanese refugees as well. But these refugees are different than Palestinians, because, as Ms. Cobban emphasized, Palestinians are stateless. They do not have a nation-state that looks out for their interests, but also they do not have a nation-state to which they can return if a solution is found for their crisis. And this becomes a very important point when you’re dealing with Palestinians and it comes to the forefront when you’re at the border.

One aspect of refugee-ness is detainment at the border, and I believe next week the Jerusalem Fund is hosting Sandra Tamari and Nour Joudah, who were two women [with] American passports, traveling to Israel and they were sent back. As a Palestinian traveling to the Middle East, although I’m American and nothing on my passport indexes me as Palestinian, I panic every time I come to a border. I am always singled out as Palestinian. So you can only imagine what it’s like to be a Palestinian traveling under travel documents that say you are a Palestinian and say that you are a refugee. We see it again and again. Palestinian refugees from Syria trying to go into Jordan have been detained and many of them were sent back. And the Jordanians, you know, they understand the problem of Palestinians, and they sent back Palestinians that did not have Syrian papers.

A replay of what happens to Palestinians because of their statelessness: In 2003, after the fall of Saddam, a number of refugees from Iraq tried to cross into Syria. The Palestinians were detained on the border. They were kept on the border, in no man’s land, for several years while humanitarian agencies were looking for third-party countries to take them in. We see it again in Libya after the fall of Qaddafi. Libyans were able to cross into Egypt; Palestinians again were detained at the border. And this detainment is a result of their statelessness.

Ironically, whereas being a Palestinian and a Palestinian refugee in particular, is grounds for discrimination, especially when it comes to crossing borders throughout the Middle East—and sometimes not even in the Middle East, I’ve had some skirmishes in European airports—is the cause. Arab countries love the cause. They love the Palestinian cause. From Nasser onto—even Ahmadinejad—they promote and they support and uphold the cause. But when it comes to people, it is an entirely different story.

Now, to turn to Syria. From the very beginning, even before 1948, the Palestinian cause resonated with the Syrian public, and with Syrian nationalists. 1948 happened two years after Syria gained its independence from France. Part of the establishment of a Syrian national identity was linked to supporting the Palestinian cause. The first Syrian president, Quwatli, was a supporter of Jaysh al-Inqad, the Salvation Army, [which] recruited young Syrian men to go and fight against the Zionists in Palestine. You had also Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, who was a leader of the many platoons that were fighting in Palestine against the Zionists; he was Syrian.

And on through Syrian politics, presidents adopted the Palestinian cause for their own political maneuvering, to drum up support domestically among the Syrian masses, but also to drum up support internationally. Husni al-Za’im, for example, was trying to curry favor with the Americans in the 1950s by putting forth a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian refugees in Syria. He was only in office for a short period of time and nothing came out of that. Even Hafez al-Assad was a big supporter of the Palestinian cause. His support for the Palestinian cause was very much colored by his relationship with Yasser Arafat. The two of them did not get along at all. Whereas Hafez al-Assad did not trust Arafat—of course trust goes both ways—he also thought he was too flamboyant, and fickle. And of course his suspicions came to fruition when Arafat signed Oslo, and the Syrians were livid that Arafat went ahead and signed a unilateral agreement with the Israelis.

So what happened with the Palestinians in Syria? As Ms. Cobban mentioned, they have permanent residency, which falls just short of being full citizens. They don’t have the right to own investment property; they cannot vote in elections—but as a Palestinian in Syria told me, what elections are you going to vote in, it’s always Assad—and they have to serve in the army, but not in the Syrian Army; they serve in the Palestinian Army. So they are somewhat equal, but separate. Of course on their Syrian travel documents it does indicate that they are Palestinian.

Now, Assad, both father and son, were very good at manipulating the Palestinian cause. The most recent manipulation of the cause happened in June 2011, two years ago, when, in demonstrations against the six-day war with Israel, it was the first time that there was a breach of the border between Syria and Israel, and Israeli soldiers shot and killed 25 protesters who breached the northern border with Syria. This was the first time since October 1973, after the signing of the armistice between Syria and Israel, that there has been a breach on the border. The Israelis were quick to point out that this was Syria’s way—Assad’s way, Bashar al-Assad, the son’s way—of trying to distract from the destruction that his forces, his bombers, his tanks, were creating in Hama, and the killing of civilians in the city and in surrounding villages. But it was also Assad’s way of reminding Israel as well as the international community of the role that Syria has played in the Arab-Israeli conflict: that it was able to reign in the Palestinians in Syria, unlike the Palestinians in Lebanon, and keep them from conducting any operations across the border. But the situation also brings forth two important things. It re-emphasizes the precarious situation of Palestinians in Syria where they can be used as political pawns, and it also shows the importance of the cause, rather than the people, to the Syrian regime, even during a civil war.

So, what about the Palestinians in Syria? We’ve seen the statistics, there are over half a million registered Palestinian refugees living in camps, Yarmouk being the largest, though much of it has been destroyed in the most recent fighting between the rebel forces and the government forces. To really bring home what it means to be Palestinian in Syria, I want to focus on a community of Palestinians that I’ve gotten to know who live in the Old City of Damascus. I focused on these refugees because they were not living in a camp. A camp is usually indexed as a refugee space. However, these Palestinians were living in the Old City, in homes that were confiscated from Jews that fled Damascus in 1948. So these houses were under the trusteeship of the government, and they rented them out to Palestinians who lost their homes to Jewish immigrants in Palestine. So there’s some kind of ‘justice’ there. However, many of those Palestinians that I’ve gotten to know would insist that they remain Palestinians; they are Palestinians.

So it’s not just that Syria has policy in place that creates distinction between Palestinians and Syrians by kind of granting them almost full citizenship but not quite, using their cause for political gains in its fight with Israel and even in Lebanon, but also the Palestinians themselves that live in Syria want to remain separate and distinct from the Syrians. They maintain subtle differences. They still speak with the Palestinian dialect. They haven’t adapted the Shami or the Damascene dialect. It was very funny when a group of women that I’ve gotten to know, I went to visit them one day, and they asked me, what kind of tea do you want, do you want Shami tea, Damascene tea, or Palestinian tea. Shami tea, you make it with mint, and Palestinian tea, with sage, or maramiyya. So even by the tea they want to create this difference between them and the Syrians.

What also happened to many of those Palestinians that lived in the Old City of Damascus is that their young men were recruited to fight in the war camps in Lebanon. As-Saiqa, which is one of the main forces, Palestinian forces founded by Hafez al-Assad to fight in the Lebanese Civil War. So, many of them had to express their allegiance to the regime, and to Assad in particular. So you also had this complicated relationship, whereas, as a refugee, you are a humanitarian case, there is some charity granted to you, but, when you become a guerilla fighter, that complicates your presence within the country. So a lot of those young men actually died fighting in Lebanon, and it was interesting to see what happened after Oslo.

The signing of Oslo was a deadly blow to many Palestinians living in Syria. Not only did they feel abandoned by Arafat, the fact that the Right of Return has not been negotiated since—ever! It has never been negotiated, ever. And the Syrians, especially the Syrian government, was always quick to point out that Palestinians cannot even trust their leadership. Arafat abandoned the Palestinians but Assad supports the Palestinians.

What happened to many of those young men who lived in the Old City was they abandoned the political struggle, the political Nidal. Many of them became more religious, finding more solace in the Islamic Ummah rather than Pan-Arabism. Many of them emigrated. There were a large number of families that left for Sweden. Sweden was one of the few countries after Oslo that was accepting Palestinian refugees.

So, Palestinians in Syria. Yes they had it better than [in] Lebanon, but they were still distinct and separate from Syrians. They were constantly being used as pawns for political maneuvering within the country as well as within regional and international politics. But they themselves were not passive. They did try to maintain a strong Palestinian identity. The current crisis once again highlights their vulnerability: as stateless people, as refugees, and the fact that their cause remains more important than what happens to the actual people. And I just want to really emphasize how the Palestinian cause continues to be manipulated and used by Arab leaders. Mursi is the latest example, in Egypt. And you kind of can tell the relationship between Egyptian government and the Palestinians by the status of the tunnels. Are the tunnels to Gaza open, or are they closed? Mubarak kept a tight control over the tunnels, in coordination with the Israelis. When he fell from power, the tunnels were free; there was more movement in and out of the tunnels. Mursi kind of put it back under control. But I think what was most telling was when Israel attacked Gaza last year. And I do believe it was a test of Mursi and what was Mursi going to do. The fact that he did not do anything and that got him the praise of Hilary Clinton shows once again that the Palestinian cause can be used not only for political gain domestically but also to shore up political cachet with the United States as well.

So, what’s going to happen to the Palestinians? The plight of the Palestinians is no different than the other Syrians that are caught in this conflict. It’s only a little bit more complicated when it comes to leaving, when it comes to trying to find countries that would take them in. They still lack the protection of their own government, and Ms. Cobban talked about Abbas trying to negotiate an agreement with the Israelis. But they do have UNRWA. And in no way, shape, or form am I trying to glorify UNRWA. It remains a political organization. It is restricted by what it can and cannot do, not only by its mandate but also due to donors, and to the countries in which it operates. Yet in times of crisis like these, we do see that UNRWA is stepping out. It is offering more humanitarian assistance to the displaced Palestinian families in Syria: emergency cash, food as well as medicine, and it is spreading [awareness of] the plight of Palestinians and asking for more donations. Ironically, UNRWA only does this because Palestinians are refugees and are stateless. So we see it reinforcing the statelessness and refugee-ness of Palestinians, and it’s moments of crisis in the Middle East that highlight the precarious situation of being a Palestinian refugee. Thank you.

Faedah Totah is Assistant Professor of International Studies and Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA. Her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology is from The University of Texas at Austin and she has a Masters in Arab Studies from Georgetown University with a concentration in economic development of the Middle East. Her research interests include politics of heritage, historic preservation, gentrification, and urban refugees. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Damascus where she explored the gentrification of the Old City, the results of which will be published in the forthcoming book Preserving the Old City of Damascus from Syracuse University Press. Currently she is working on Palestinian urban refugees in Damascus.

Helena Cobban is a British-American writer and publisher who has written extensively about Palestinian and Syrian issues since 1975 and has traveled to Syria many times since. In 1991 and again in 2000, she published books on the Syrian-Israeli relationship. In 2002-04, when she was part of the International Quaker Working Group on Israel and Palestine, she helped investigate the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria. Ms. Cobban contributed a regular column to The Christian Science Monitor, 1990-2007, and was a regular contributor to Al-Hayat (London). She has published a blog, “Just World News”, since early 2003. In 2010, she founded a publishing company, Just World Books, proud publisher of such titles as Miko Peled’s The General’s Son and the groundbreaking cookbook The Gaza Kitchen, by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt.

This transcript may be used without permission but with proper attribution to The Palestine Center. The speaker’s views do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jerusalem Fund.