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Issue 88, November/December 2004

Dramatic Changes, Stubborn Realities

The illness of Yasser Arafat opens the Bag of Aeolus: our editorial takes the measure of its winds. Will they bear us to the long-sought Ithaca or throw us against the shoals? When we look at Palestinian expectations, as against what Israel is willing to give, we bet on the shoals.

The Palestinian hell contains many circles. One of these is located in the olive groves of Um al-Fahm, an Israeli Arab city. Thousands of illegal workers from the Wrong Side of the Wall hide out here at night, having sneaked in by a long and circuitous route. They tell us their stories, expressing an indefatigable hope.

The disengagement plan undermines the strange, post-Holocaust theology of Gush Emunim, the Bloc of the Faithful. At stake for its members is their faith itself, and that – our observer claims – is what makes them so dangerous.

But now for something completely different: Ivor Dambina, a Jewish comedian from London, held forth recently in Jaffa's Bamat Etgar, an alternative cultural stage. He presented a show on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, called This is not a Subject for Comedy. If not this, though, what? And so it turned out to be a Perfect Subject. Challenge talked with Dambina to find out what exactly is bothering him.

Another little sparkle: WAC has a theater group composed of young students and workers. In September it took third prize in a national competition, although it was the only troupe performing in Arabic. We present a review of the play it performed, The Old House, which explores the Class Conflict within One Family.

Coming back to the ominous issues, we take another long hard look at the condition of organized labor in Israel. The Thatcherist policies of the Sharon-Netanyahu government place its future in question. On the other hand, the vacuum left by the Unmaking of the Histadrut gives workers a chance to organize and secure their rights. "end"

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