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tv   Gaza Middle East Peace  CSPAN  April 27, 2018 10:52am-12:06pm EDT

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dinner taking place here at washington, d.c. at about the same time. live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> sunday morning on 1968 america in turmoil, we look at the media's role in shaping how americans experienced the events of 50 years ago. our guests marvin cowell former cbs and nbc journalist and founding director of harvard university's center on media, politics and public policy and david kennerly prize winning photographer who covered senator robert kennedy's presidential campaign, the vietnam war and the white house. watch 1968 america in turmoil live sunday at 8:30 a.m. eastern on c-span's washington journal and on american history tv on c-span 3. >> brian barber the author of an
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upcoming book on the gaza strip spoke about his experiences in the region. his presentation included stories and videos from people and families in the gaza strip. he talks more broadly about middle east peace including the israe israeli-palestinian conflict. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> hello. thank you all for coming. i'd like to also thank the jerusalem funds palestine center for hosting for jointly doing this with us, actually and hosting their beautiful facility
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here. i've been told by my staff -- i'm julia pitner, the executive director of the institute for palestine studies and i've been told by my colleagues that i need to promote those books in the back. we brought some very interesting books about gaza and about palestine in general. but today it's about gaza. i'm short. i know. okay. gaza has been back in the headlines lately, as we know. there are a lot of demonstrations going on right now along the border with israel in gaza and today also in the west bank. should we be surprised? no. i think all of us know very well the answer is no. all the palestinians have been
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negotiating, shall we say, with israel for the last 26 years. the refugees have been waiting 70 for some type of justice. young people in palestine and in gaza specifically are frustrated with the slowness of the pace. the young people that are participating in the demonstrations that are going on now have already lived through four major conflicts. the young children who are like ten years old have lived through three of those. the restrictions on the movement of people and goods did not start with the -- what is referred to as encalad or the takeover of gaza, the de facto government in gaza with hamas, it actually started in 1993.
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the restrictions imposed on the gaza, the tightening of goods and people, movement in and out, started right as the oslo process was starting and started as israel finished the border fence and the checkpoint system. it has only gotten worse over the years with a brief relief for three months in 2005, gaza has been almost under total closure since 2007. the unemployment rate today is at 45%, the electricity available to the ordinary people in gaza for only four hours a day, it affects the sewage system, water treatment system, agriculture and bizs, it affects the education system, too. but all of these are just numbers and statistics, but they do reflect the reality of life in gaza.
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these people are represented in these statistics. today i have the pleasure of welcoming dr. brian barber who has himself just returned from gaza. dr. barber is a senior fellow at the institute for palestine studies and a fellow with the new america. he is also the professor emeritus of child and family studies at the university of tennessee where he is founder and director of the center for study of youth and political conflict. he is also the editor of the 2009 oxford university press volume entitled "adolescents and war, how youth deal with political conflict." he is regularly published, also, studies on global youth, on -- including the palestinians, leaving academic outlets and publications. he has a fourth coming book
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which unfortunately isn't out yet, but coming soon, i know, and we are looking very much forward to reading it, but he is here today to tell us about his experience over the past 23 years visiting with the people in gaza. so, brian, i welcome you to the podium to take us through this journey with you to gaza. [ applause ] >> thank you, kindly, julia for that introduction. thank you all here and those listening for taking the time to meet with me today. thank you also to the jerusalem fund and the pal style center for hosting this talk and to institute for palestine studies and new america for supporting me. i could talk about gaza for days
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and would given the chance, but in the 40 minutes or so i have today i will do my best to communicate some of the essences of gaza and its people as i've come to know them over the past decades. as a note of clarification, gaza ns use the term gaza in at least two days, first to refer to the gaza strip as a whole, second, if not in gaza itself, if not in gaza city itself, g achazans wi refer to that main population center as gaza. for our purposes today gaza means the entire strip. much of what i have to say today in terms of attitudes, orientations, emotions, et cetera, applies equally well to palestinians in the west bank and east jerusalem where i also have had considerable experience, but my focus today is on gaza, especially as i've
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sensed it in this recent trip. i will not take the time now to explain how or why this upper middle class white wasp ended up in gaza in the first place in 1995, a place that i had literally no interest in. as interesting as that story is. but as very brief background let me say that i am a social psychologist by training, interested primarily in youth around the world and how their contexts from family to nation facilitate or impede their development into competent adults and citizens. as to gaza, my interests encompasses several questions, first, why, how and to what degree palestinian youth engaged in the first fava from 1987 to
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1993 in which youth participated in proportions never before seen or matched since. upwards of 80% of young men and 50% of young women. how that experience has shaped their lives and how they have made life work for themselves over the decades through the ever worsening economic health and political conditions. my colleagues and i have published the results of our several studies and top academic journals and health, medicine and psychology and believe we have made a mark on a variety of key issues including resilience, well being, mental suffering, social suffering and political activism. as rigorous as the research has been done and described, those writings can't give you a real feel for this unique place and its people. most of you will never go to gaza. my sole goal today accordingly
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is to take you there. i will attempt that via several mechanisms including photos, videos, narratives and verse. i will attempt that -- my hope is that we will come away feeling that you know gaza and its people better than before. one overall lesson we have learned about studying palestinians is how crucially context matters to human thinking, feeling and behaving, for a place like gaza where context and all of its territorial, economic and political dimensions literally influences the activities and mood of most every day, its story can't be told without attention to these environments. first some history. you may not know how crucial gaza as one of the world's most important cities has been over the millenia.
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here is a short list of the luminaries that have had presence in gaza. gaza was the chief center of the frank incense trade as early as 500 bc as well as the commercial center for many other products. it was named for its fairs, theaters and school of rhetoric, which was at the time the basis of all higher education. so important was gaza? roman times that it had its own calendar. yet, its strategic location between asia and africa has also made it the coveted linchpin for incessant military conquests across the millenia. throughout it the record makes clear that unlike many other
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cities in the region, gazans have been unusually defiant. alexander the great lost 10,000 men taking gaza. napoleon was injured in his assault on the city. it took allenby three full days to take it. for a sense of gaza's boundaries and limitations here are some renditions by ocha, united nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. you will note that these are dated back to 2011 and apparently haven't been updated since. the largest change will be a significant widening in the no-go zone on the eastern border after the 2014 war.
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we have added here the fencing, the crossings, only two of which are pedestrian, north at areies, south at rafa. this would be the no-go zones as of 2011. and then the sea restrictions. here is another rendition. with that brief background, i'd like now to take you inside gaza via video clips i made during
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the recent trip. i shot the videos from the front seat of my taxis so that you feel literally what it would be like if you went today, complete with rough rides, cracked window shields, maneuvering traffic and ambient sound except the sound is not working, so you have to imagine that. at the end of the presentation i will give you the link to my blog where i am posting the full videos sequentially. the two videos i will show now are compilations spliced together from dozens of longer videos i made of the strip. i should acknowledge ashraf my video editor in gaza who literally worked through this past night to complete them. the first clip chronicles the entry into the strip at the northern crossing, aries, from israel. one enters gaza now only with
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advanced permission from the israeli military. no filming is allowed in israeli entry terminal, but the experience consists of a series of document checks, then long narrow walkways, shoulder width turnstiles and eventually passes through a heavy iron gate opened remotely. the video picks up at that point, taking you through the rest of the distance before reaching gaza proper. >> so this is approaching the aries terminal from the north. in the old days when i went earlier there was no such terminal, we would just cross, showing our passport in a rudimentary checkpoint. now, we've been through the terminal and we are going to
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look back at that iron gate and then back back at -- now i'm on a motorized vehicle which is pulling a baggage cart, the sound would be blaring noise of a very loud engine. this is what is known as no man's land. it used not to be paved or roofed or caged, but it is long, as you can see. these are splices, remember. the journey takes longer. now we are coming to the end where we will be at the palestinian authority
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checkpoint. now i'm standing back to the israeli terminal in israel. then you take a cab from the p.a. checkpoint to the former hamas checkpoint which until october last year was operative, now it's just manned by another group of p.a. military. this next video is longer and gives you a whirlwind tour of the strip. it begins with a trip from the last checkpoint into gaza itself and then it moves north. to cover the northern territory, the towns of betlahean and
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betlahun and the refugee camp. we will move south from gaza city heading to another camp in the middle strip to eastern fields. we will continue south along the main road from the middle area of gaza to the southern area, first viewing some of the camp in town and then down to the southern most camp in the town of rafa. back up the main road north and finally a trip north the beechview with a side view to another camp. i will give you the video that is short for reasons of time, but i will give you as much as i file comfortable with.
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>> so we've just left the crossing area and are traveling on one of two routes into gaza city. the sound would be typical traffic noise of any main city, some commentary by the taxi driver now and then, a little by me. now we are ending that journey to the city approaching the beach. that journey takes about 20 minutes by car. so we have hit the beach and turning south on the beach road. now i have taken you up north, this is one of the villages in
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the northernmost part of the strip. it's actually not a village, it's a town. imagine the clip clopping of the horses, the laughter of the children, the motorcycles, the tuk tuks. this was taken as school let out on that particular day. now we are at the northernmost part, approaching the point that which we can't go. so we are looking northeast at
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israel and we will stop when the taxi driver felt it was no longer safe to proceed. we've moved over west to betlahea and this is a view to one of the wastewater treatment plan plants. finishing up looking again north. now to the strawberry fields where we were treated with a handful of just picked
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strawberri strawberries. now we have moved to another camp entering from the west. this is the largest of the eight refugee camps now totally well over 100,000 people. this is entry from another direction. as a reminder we are up at the very northern part of the strip now, north of gaza city itself.
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>> these are a series of splices to remind you just capturing snippets that i thought relevant. >> okay.
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now we've moved south again, this is the beach road from gaza city south towards the eventual destination today, that day, was the new sarat refugee camp. the beach road you will notice is quite nicely paved, that's relatively new and not quite yet complete due to the funding of qatar. now, we are farther down the beach road looking at some of the shelters on the beach itself. we're moving progressively toward the middle part of the strip. the strip is typically defined into three sections, the north, middle and south.
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so this is now entry into the new sarat refugee camp, again, there are eight, four clustered in the middle of the strip, new sarat is one of them. now proceeding towards the power
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plant, the only power plant in the strip, which is regularly bombed and never operating at full capacity, but nevertheless critical to the strip. this would be a look at new sarat camp just to the right so you get a feel for the narrow alley ways of the camp. we obviously could not bring a car into those alley ways, it
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wouldn't fit and it would otherwise be inappropriate for either myself or the driver to go filming within the camp proper. these are the cultural fields between new sarat and the main road. the main road, salahadine street virtually bi secretaries the strip from north to south. you will see some of this before i cut this off shortly. >> now we are east of the main road, this is also east of the refugee camp borage so one of
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the other four middle camps. this is the -- in the distance between the camp and the eastern no-go zone. we eventually stop where the cap driver felt no longer comfortable. driver felt no longer comfortablb driver felt no longer comfortable. >> now we are looking back at borage from the east. and now approaching borage from the east. now we are in the central part of the camp.
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>> what's the temperature? >> then it was about 70. we will land in just a minute as we pass through borage camp. again, you will see the side views of the non-transit areas of the camp.
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here we are driving finally through borage camp facing the main road where we turn south towards fenun u.s. air i can't. this road also provided by qatar is now almost complete from the rafa crossing in the south. it is complete up to gaza city, what's left is the journey from gaza city to aries. so that's about -- so that's about half the video. i'm going to cut it here, but hopefully that was enough to give you a flavor for the
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diversity of the strip and some of its activities. so now that you have that view i want to move to highlighting some themes which i have repeatedly noticed in my years in gaza, insights, as it were, into the personality and psychology of gazans. from my very first visit in 1995 a three-day trip to recruit schools to participate in the survey colleagues and i had done in the west bank and jerusalem i've written the following as a narrative for the book describing that trip, the three days were intense, gaza was surely a very busy place, but i sensed none of the negative emotion i had anticipated.
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people were friendly, they seemed normal and particularly humble. i began to be disappointed with myself, why had i left myself buy into the hostile characterizations constantly offered by pundits and press of anger, hatred and violence? i knew people all over the world to be good and the poorest of them the most humble and gentle, why would gasz za be any different? i should have known better. as for the youth, they seem to be intensely interested in telling their story, but instead of discharging anger or bitterness for their suffering, they seem more interested in simply being acknowledged. this came clear in a series of interactions. first was the universal aston h astonishment that this vip, a professor from america, no less, had actually daned to visit their little gaza, an expression that was inevitably paired with
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heartily veiled in treaties to return. there was the two young boys who approached me on the very first night as i sat alone on a rock outcropping to photograph the gigantic sun melting into the blue saer. that was my first encounter with these pew diddly angry stone throwers that had ended a year before. they shuffled quietly but confidently towards me on the wet sand. welcome to gaza, they said. we took photos and we talked with our primitive language skills upon leaving they said, don't forget to send us the photos and thank you, sir, for coming to gaza. it was the girl in gaza city who during my talk to her classroom who penned a note to me in english, it welcomed me to gaza, thanked for visiting her school, hoped that i would enjoy my visit and finally wished that i would consider coming again.
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it was the classroom of male youth in the southern camp of rafa who sensed that i was about to conclude my brief discussion with them, exploded into a delighted ovation, please come back, not to their school i understood but to gaza. then a lanky young man at the back of the classroom stood and directly but respectfully pleaded, please go home and tell your people that we are not all terrorists. it was mr. mohanna my u.n. guide who when the school principal we were visiting drifted off in side discussions with her staff spontaneously turned to me and softly said, with err so happy you came to visit us. you are always welcome here. we hope you will come back. it was a discussion with the class of junior college students in a camp in the center of the strip during which a question pair was repeated six times verbatim, do you like gaza?
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will you ever come back? >> it felt as if their hunger to hear my positive answers couldn't be stated. >> there has been nothing in the ensuing years that has remedied this sense of existential insecurity, rather than experiences have sharpened it as the world continues to look away or only flirts with interest when the blood and body count merit the media craze as in this very week. just three weeks ago a young man i spoke with in gaza described their various suffering. we can handle the food, water and sanitation problems, rather the siege kills us by making us feel subhuman. as you will know from reports that are easily accessible, the absence of adequate electricity, medical care, medicines, water and sanitation is now clam in a to us through the strip. theoretically tar rack was
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willing to deal with those conditions but his prioritization of feeling to be made subhuman by the occupation and siege was telling of gazan mental. the sense of being dealt with as sub human was pervasive in my early interviews of youth as they referred to the experiences during the just ended apt fada including frequent verbal abuse, physical assault, injury and for many torture. nothing has changed over the decades that has alleviated this sense of being disrespected and disda disdained. this week he is assaults, injuries and killings only confirmed to gazan minds that their lives are unworthy and their blood is cheap. another fundamental aspect of palestinian and particularly gazan psychology is the continuing and broadening sense of betrayal. this sense has long historic roots. it began after world war i when britain and france reneged on their promise to the arabs, france taking syrian and lebanon
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and britain taking palestine. palestinians have often felt betrayed by their arab brothers, one of the triggers was the failure to put palestine on the agenda at the arab summit. gazans from always been overwilling to trust. despite the failing peace process that was to have begun as an end to the first anti-fada in 1994 for which the u.s. was blamed as an architect and patron of israel, clintons arrival in 1998 was met with ecstasy. the first u.s. president to come to gaza finally we have a friend. i saw portraits of clinton and american flags occasionally burned previously adorning their streets and homes. two days after his departure from gaza clinton authorized the bombing of iraq. a fellow arab nation which had given much support to palestine.
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gazans were dumbfounded, incredulous, unable to grasp how this new friend of theirs stabbed them in the back and so quickly. crucially gazans have felt betrayed by all the of the peace agreements they have supported or consented to, whether with israel or among their own leaders. all of their own politicians and political groups have proven inept and corrupt with none so painful as the continuing hostilities between hamas and fatah. this has culminated in recent months by the admitted strategy of abbas to collectively punish gazans by reducing salaries and electricity contributions as a tool to coerce gazans to pressure hamas to give up control. gazans cannot be understood without awareness of these deep senses of marginalization, dee humanization and betrayal.
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however, gazan psychology has equally potent values of intense determination, pride and value on education and family. let me try to illustrate those convenience via synopsis of the life histories of the three men i'm writing about. i will excerpt from the book "proposal" there wouldn't certainly be time to chronicle the 23 years of all three of them with their first person narratives. so i will rely on mine. >> ordinary youth -- i will say -- they don't even know each other so large and consuming as life in even such a tiny place, collectively their individual narratives reveal an array of life-driving values that will be familiar to all, sacredness of
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family, the sense of education, expectations of justice and the role of religion in providing meaning. all of these, all the more enhanced by the oppositions they face. further while possessed of an identical national narrative of struggle, freedom and self-determination the three illustrate how and why individuals still make different decisions about how to enact their national devotions and political activism. this is hosan, he is the oldest of nine children, born soft-spoken, cerebral, fiercely determined and unflappable. his commanding drive has been a hunger for intellectual development and academic a choechlt. his early years included independent study of gaza's meager libraries at age 13 to answer for himself the question of whether this land was his or
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israel's. his positive conclusion, he then joined the pflp, the popular front for the liberation of palesti palestine, the political communist party that have the best articulated principles and plans when the anti-fatah broke out. he led the group of youth in his camp. his thrill was ever present in his leading his team of protesters and also the agony plaguing nightmares, the beatings he sustained in detentions and the torture during multiple imprison mts flavored his narrative. he was relieved as the anti-fatah ended so he could resume his education. the book traces him undaunted towards his educational goals and narrates his pride and gratification for succeeding through numerous challenges, the fatah government passing over him for internships after he created his ba in english because he wasn't a member, the
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crushing revelation of widespread corruption in his own party, the one to which he had given his heart and soul for which he had suffered to severely gutting him of his prime source of life meaning. it follows him on a phenomenal journey to the united states to get his ma in educational leadership, a year full of obsessive fright over what turned to be a false positive on a tuberculosis test of wonder at this massive world he had discovered on this his first trip ever out of gaza. his devouring the curriculum and of all places his real embrace of islam as a replacement of his lost meaning. but this time it was a godly one, his unwavering principles he could fully trust. once back in gaza he ascended rapidly the professional ladder, first as and instructor at a small college, the department chair and eventually vice dean. his betrothel to a distant cousin through a traditional
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marriage arranged by his parents. the book follows his steps through education, progressiv y progressively. the first three wars between hamas and israel were hard to take, but those bombard mts were targeted to specific areas, but not so the 2014 war that pulverized more than 10,000 houses and buildings in every sector of the strip leaving no space to flee. the book narrates the incapacitating ter terror that his family endured beginning with the a.m. nous call from the flat voiced israeli commander your home is targeted for destruction, you have ten minutes to leave. then the nightmarish scrambles to find safer places to stay, directing the screaming kids, trying to evade the bombs from the sky, the missiles from the sea and the tank shells from the east. what else can we do but move
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forward has been the saving refrain forever in gaza. displaying his first physical anxiety he would pick up and move on, more work and soon enough another search for post doc training only to be rebuffed at aries, your permit has been revoked. his story ended in 2017, i'm happy to update you on all three. as he looks at the cellphone to view the sms from the bank verifying a deposit of his salary it had been cut 55%. of all his traumas this would be the one he would describe as humiliating having come not from outside but from his own president. visibly shaken he would say it seems there is no floor to worse in gaza. hammam is the oldest son of
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seven from a refugee camp. he is an easygoing optimistic but also boisterous rambunctious and outspoken person, unlike h hosan his family is loosely connected to the traditions of culture. he naturally enjoys life, people and animals. as a child he took great dee delight in his goats, sheep, chickens in the small courtyard of his camp home. he would take pleasure in during visitors to the new cookie factory and the ancient wine press outside the camp. he would not comment on the camp's litter or stench or on the pristine sand dunes that operated the camp from the fancy jewish settlement beyond. upon all his course creating social connections. i'm abbreviated.
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he had great difficulty in school, he failed due to an error by the egyptian authorities who refused to overturn it. most painful to him was the loss of his chungs they went on to college and he had to stay behind. he let his rambunctious self take over once he got into college all that was important to him were his buddies, his new friends. they passed the final exam in the final year and he didn't. this crushed him. the story follows him minute by minute as he copes with this catastrophe on to his sudden realization that he had to pick himself up and guide his life with more responsibility. passing next year would be his sweetest moment, his first call, through gushing tears, papa, i did it, i overcame my waywardness. his soft reply, yes, my son, you
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are a real man now. he married shadda who he had remembered accompanying her mother to the hospital when she was born. they had difficulty having children for five years, finally he had a surgery which fixed the problem and then the first pregnancy was troubled, the doctor came in and said there is a problem, it's possible that i can't save both of them, which do you choose? he chose sheva and gratefully the other was born as well. life was difficult, nevertheless he continued, got his master's degree in gaza and started a ph.d. program. he also received the ominous phone call in 2014, but his family decided not to leave, but bunkered themselves in a small room at the center of their apartment, packing themselves on top of each other for 24 hours.
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his story also ends with a similar sms. his salary had been cut 45% after a life of trials it was only now that the first signs of anxiety surfaced. this was a huge slam. his jovial personality was now sobered and he worries about being able to support his family in gaza. haliel the youngest of four children born in the poorest section of a camp as a pen sieve, discerning individual. his towering height and voice has always communicated an air of wisdom and authority but prior to the anti-fatah he felt as a simple naive kid. relative to others in the camp
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his family was especially poor and core to him was being weaned on social justice by way of his illiterate mother's tales of her life in extreme poverty and her lessons to the kids about how they could help the poorer have a better life. he is not a fighter, he shied away from the demonstrations in the camp, was never thus arrested and spent a tortuous week in detention. he still did not activate in the sense of joining the physical fighting but game a leader and was equally disappointed at the end of the anti-fatah when his political leaders proved corrupt. history also including his life as a human rights activist in gaza, the leader of one of its
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main organizations. he was undaunted in criticizing any injustice, which included his own government's. arrested three times by the palestinian authority when arafat was there and when by hamas since. hamas took him down rather brutally a couple years ago, he fled, took refuge is jordan for six months, a time that was only made bearable to him by daily snap chats with his wife and children. i hope that that deep look into three individuals tells you yet more about gaza. i want to end with a different medium for a feel for gaza. i realize more clearly that every -- that more than ever
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before during this last trip there was a soberness and a pain and burden that is understandable given the repeated trials, but was nevertheless heavy and it made me worry about how to express it. as i worried about that a series of verses came to my mind which i will recite to you now. the voice in them varies from individual to individual, old, young, male and female. and recall incidents is that i discussed with them or they relayed and has been updated since the events of recent moment in gaza. as far as i know as of today the death toll is above 20 and the
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injury toll is above 2,000. >> dusty shoes, calloused soles, countenances tilt, shoulders shrug, trudging. i love gaza, my heart, my home, but it gives no life now. i want it back. i want to go to jerusalem to pray, to sightsee and no says israel. to the west bank to see relatives. no, says israel. to cairo for a break, onward to study. no, says egypt. so amman, to traful to accept the scholarship i won in the states.
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no, says jordan. i want to go just anywhere. no. why not? tell me. what have i done to deserve this? dusty shoes, calloused soles trudging. darkness hides the horizon past the expanse of the sea, hides the menace, vessels poised to shoot. it's late, i'm alone, the breeze salty, fresh, intoxicating, delicious, calms my nerves, tools the fire in my mind. quiet at last. don't stop. this is peace. let it last, at least for this second. dusty shoes, calloused soles, trudging. war, let it come. i know it will anyway. nothing could be worse than life is now. kill us fast or kill us slow. where is the hope inside?
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how deep? how long? how long? how long will this go on? dusty shoes, calloused sole, trudging. a good joke, my body convulses, laughter, so precious, so good. see, there is something still inside, free, unconstrained, for this moment. dusty shoes, calloused soles, trudging. such shame, i'm a professional, a respected leader, courage took days to mount. friend, were you able to save any this month? could you lend me a bit? i'm so, so, so sorry to ask. such shame. dusty shoes, calloused soles, trudging. can i approach the cage that jails me to shake my fist, to scream, to vent? dare i throw a stone or light a
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tire to protest, to do something? pop goes the bullet through my back, thud comes the bullet that splits my skull. subhumans. dusty shoes, calloused soles, trudging. my children, my children, my god, my children, they make me laugh, they make me care, they make me keep on. i love them so. theirs forever. if you let me live you won't kill my soul. honor, pride, determination, dignity, i can take it. i will go on. it is my right. will you care? dusty shoes, calloused soles, trudging. thanks for listening. [ applause ]
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>> now we will take questions for brian. i do want to, if you will allow me, to ask the first question. which is something that i noticed. when you came back from gaza this time you seemed to be a little bit more affected by what was happening in gaza than before. what's changed between the last few years and now? >> the change has been progressive. it is these -- the recent events and challenges that have accumulated, so the 2014 war was -- was massively disastrous psychologically as well as physically. the salary cuts so humiliating.
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the financial situation almost unbearable, feeling trapped literally now, not being able to go anywhere. it just has grown more profound and more serious and i've always been very proud of my ability to talk about the strengths of palestinians and i will always do that, especially gazans because they will make it, but it's harder now. the burden is so severe that one can't go away without feeling something of what i tried to describe here. >> first of all, i just want to say it was very moving and appreciate very much the intensity that you make -- this is not working, i'm sorry. i will stand up and ask the
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question. >> okay. sorry. i appreciate the effort you've made to express the intensity of the of the suffering -- the intensity of the suffering. i guess my question really is from your perspective, what would you say people here in the audience and beyond should be thinking about trying to do, to change. i mean, is it bds? is that the best hope? is there anything else beside that? that's the only question i have. >> and it's a difficult one to answer. sometimes it seems rather simple. in my experience, through a life of traveling the world, i've learned that the only thing that
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really moves and changes a person is to see and feel that circumstance or that people. so whatever we can do to inform those about the realities on the ground will make a difference in our various ways that we can do that. but short of having some adequate awareness of those circumstances, those who have power in this world, here in this city and elsewhere, are apparently not going to move to make any difference in the region for the positive. so the challenge is awareness. >> thank you for your remarks today. i'm a retired journalist, and i
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worked for many american newspapers, including "the washington post." i noticed this week because of the events there has been more seemingly sympathetic coverage. i hope, i hope -- this is my recommendation for you -- that you'll write one of two things, another feature for the papers, either the post or "new york times," or an op ed piece on your experience and what is it like to be in gaza these days. thank you very much. >> thank you for the suggestion. i'll do that. >> thank you. >> thank you, brian. this is a difficult question, i guess, but how well do you know hamas? obviously hamas is a bunch of
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people, it's not one thing, but do you have an impression you can share with us about what, you know, what's driving hamas, what it might end up meaning for the day when things begin to change for the better? >> well, i do know many members of hamas. i talked with them at length at a long lunch with a family who's loyal to hamas. you know, it's hard to answer the question. hamas is about resistance, and they have an idea how best to accomplish that. in the end, people are really people. gazans as a whole have never supported hamas any more than 30%, according to polls.
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the locals, when hamas took over in 2007 militarily, after their election in 2006, you know, people were of two minds. i was there then, and people would tell me, look, we really appreciate what hamas has done for us. and they meant by that the violence, the awful violence of that civil war, those clashes had ended so order had been brought. so they could simply go out and walk on a street without feeling like they might be injured. at the same time, they said, look, we don't buy into extreme views of any kind, and we're aware now and feel that the rigid control that hamas wants to exercise over us is
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burdensome and offensive. illustrating the dual minds of gazans relative to hamas. i don't know what their political structure is thinking. i'm certain that the younger hamas leaders are shifting, making modifications in their ideas and their approaches. we'll see in the end what they're fighting for, and awl palestinians are fighting for a release of the chokehold, an opportunity to feed their families and get educated. >> thank you very much for your presentation. i'm from gaza, born and raised, and looking at what's going on back home just this past week
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and at perhaps a more pervasive sense of cynicism that has spread around gaza over the past few years, one question that's really on my mind right now, what we're seeing this week with tens of thousands protesting for their rights and their humanity at large, beyond the political cause, you know, a few weeks ago i interviewed you and asked if commitment to the national project has dwindled because of that cynicism. what can we make of today's protests? are you seeing that commitment still in place, or have gazans gotten to a place that alarmed you enough to think they would crack and give up altogether? >> i can't imagine that gazans would crack only from the evidence of my decades there watching them survive progressively more cruel
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circumstances. and gazans, there are 2 million of them, so there's not one gazan approach towards hamas or towards anything else. it is true that the older generation, so the generation of these three men that i continue to know, that there is fatigue and there is conclusion maturation that politics aren't going to save them. -- and that's their contribution to the struggle. what's happened in the last week is actually rather impressive in terms of the fact that there is at least a small collective
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movement for the first time in a long time to amount some visible protest to the basic conditions that you've joult -- outlined. that's the younger generation mostly. we see that here in the parkland group from florida. i don't know how long and durable that can be. i know they want to continue through may. but you can't escape the conditions overall. those kids want their education. they want the support, to contribute to their families. we'll see how much they calculate is going to be worth the effort. >> thank you very much for your remarks. they, i think, communicated very well sort of a sense of despair and frustration in gaza.
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i've been to the west bank many times, but i've never been to gaza. you've been to both places. i wonder if you could comment on sort of the differences in sort of the emotional state between those folks and the west bank. i assume they both -- i wonder if you could talk about their commonalties and differences, if any. >> there are many common elements, as you noted. they're single minded in terms of what justice means for them as individuals and as people. but the territories do have different experiences. in gaza, it is as i've tried to describe. constrained, trapped, almost hopeless economically and extreme betrayal by any local
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political leaders. that's true in the other regions as the well. but to be fair, it's not just gazans who suffer. they suffer in the ways we've discussed today. we actually have empirical research to document this, that west bankers and east jerusalemites for their various reasons suffer mentally, struggle as much or more so than gazans. for the west bank, it's the hundreds and hundreds of check points that make life impossible to get to work, to get to hospital and so forth. gazans don't have that issue anymore. for jerusalem, it's all about the crazy i.d. system and the
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building and razing of homes and so forth. i wouldn't prioritize the suffering in any kind of hierarchy. it's common and different per region. >> thank you for your remarks. i had the opportunity to go to gaza in 2010, and the whole city was in rubble. in the video, it looked like there was some rebuilding going on. there was paved roads and stuff like that.
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how have the differences between hamas and the p.a. affected the electricity situation now? because up until now, there had been no payments, but they have been talking about making payments recently. it was a really institutional power. >> well, the largest part of the structure of gaza was on the eastern border where a large percentage of the homes were destroyed. there was bombing everywhere, as we all know. but less so in the city proper. so in gaza city, you certainly do see remnants of buildings that were targeted. in the east, i wasn't able to film just because of time reasons, this time the eastern
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border. i was there last year, however. there's some progress, but it does still very much look like what you may have been remembering. as to hamas and their skirmishes, it varies week by week. since you were there, i think probably electricity was up to six hours a day, something like that. you know, it has dipped as low as two last year, some of this year. now i think it's generally back to about four. and i don't see any indication that that's going to change dramatically, largely because of this hostility between ramallah
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and gaza. >> so there aren't any perishable foods? >> well, they're very creative in how to store power. i have lots of photos of the various devices and systems they've rigged. those are fortunate enough to have a home and appliances like refrigerators and freezers are able to pretty much make things work by careful planning. so when that power comes on, whatever hour of the day or night, you race to make sure all of your charging devices and all of your storage systems are plugged in. those two hours are now four hours. you can store some and keep the freezer going or the refrigerator going. >> as brian said, the people of gaza are very creative. after 2014, and during the war even, they were charging their
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cell phones on car batteries. it works very well. thank you very much, brian, for your presentation, and to all of you for coming today. the one thing i want to ask in relation to gaza is to keep it at the front of the conversation because part of the reason that the palestinians i think, although i cannot speak 100% to this, is because they are feeling like they're being erased -- this is just getting started. >> today is celebrating the d.c. launch of its 2018 corporate accountability index. that index measures how well or more often how poorly 22 tech


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