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Issue 96, March/April 2006

Reality Now!

The pace of events in our region often outruns imagination. In the recent Palestinian election campaign, for instance, no one – least of all Hamas – expected a Hamas landslide. It may turn out to be A Victory Too Many. We interview Number 2 on the winning list, Muhammad Abu Tir, who reminds us that “Mere talk doesn’t get concessions from Israel.” While Fatah behaves as though still in power, Hamas speaks as though still in opposition. Our editorial calls for Reality Now!

Israel, for its part, will go to the ballot box on March 28. We examine the precarious situation of the Arab parties. The proportion of votes a list must receive to enter the Knesset has been raised to 2%. Facing this new threshold, the Arab parties shudder. They are Nervous, but not enough to Unite.

Gaby Lasky, On the Left End of Meretz, is a new face in that party’s election list. Interviewed by our sister publication in Hebrew, Etgar, she explains the positions that Meretz has taken – from supporting Oslo to backing the Sharon government on disengagement.

The poverty rate in Israel, especially among Arabs, makes what was Once the mere Concept of a Workers’ Party into a Necessity (PDF, 220 kB). ODA’s first two candidates, Asma Agbarieh and Nir Nader, elucidate the party’s principle of Putting the Worker Front and Center (PDF, 332 kB).

While tremors shake the political earth, Occupation dominates the lives of 2.5 million in the West Bank. Nowhere does this show up so palpably as at the military checkpoints. The courageous women of Machsom Watch are there to witness. “No one,” they remark, “will be able to say ‘I didn’t know.’”

Video 48 has made a short documentary for the World Health Organization. It peers into an abandoned, unfinished shopping Mall near Tel Aviv: six stories of bare concrete beneath the ground. Here 400 Palestinian breadwinners, who sneak into Israel in search of jobs, spend their weekday nights. They feel they have neither choice nor hope of change. “In the dark,” they say, “you can’t see far.”

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