Palestine’s Scrambled Eggs

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1st, 2010 by Steph

by Razvan Sibii

Jamal Dajani (DUO I: Chicago and DUO II: Abu Dis) is a Palestinian-American political analyst and an award-winning journalist. He produces documentaries and other programming for Link TV and contributes to numerous other media enterprises, including the Huffington Post and Al Jazeera English.

“I call it the scrambled eggs situation: once you’ve scrambled the eggs, you can’t unscramble them,” says Jamal Dajani. He is talking about Israel’s policy of “creating facts on the ground” in the Palestinian territories by erecting a highly contentious separation barrier and by encouraging the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. As a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem and currently residing in California, Dajani has written and produced hundreds of media programming about the Middle East conflict, and has delivered talks on the subject to many thousands of people all over the world. He has just returned from a trip to Israel/Palestine, where he spent two weeks researching the most recent political developments in the region, including the ongoing expansion of the settlements and the blockade of Gaza. In other words, he went to assess for himself precisely how scrambled those eggs are.

Jamal Dajani, photo from his website

The possessor of an American passport, Dajani has the ability to travel unhindered throughout the West Bank, unlike most of the Palestinians who live in the territory. And he is acutely aware of how much of a privilege that freedom of movement really is. “When I drive on roads that are forbidden to Palestinian cars, I know that I am automatically suspicious,” Dajani says. “But the Israeli soldiers grudgingly give me permission to pass through the checkpoints because of my passport. However, they often do not allow my Palestinian cameraman to pass too, so I end up not going any farther either. I was born in Jerusalem, and I was humiliated like this every day ever since I was 10. Now, I see this kind of thing again every time I go back to the West Bank.”

Dajani covered the beginning of the Israeli military incursion into Gaza last year from the vantage point of the Erez Crossing Point, one of three Israeli gateways into the Strip. Last month, he was back at the same spot, this time covering the efforts of a group of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists to protest the continued shutdown of Gaza’s borders. The article he wrote about that experience for the Huffington Post can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/yc7ts39. From Gaza, he left for East Jerusalem and the West Bank, where he documented the story of Palestinian families evicted out of their houses by Israeli authorities “We talked to these two families who had just been kicked out of their house,” Dajani recounts. “The Jerusalem authorities said that the house had belonged to a Jewish trust so that it was illegal for the families to live there. We can’t verify that, but, even if it’s true, those families had moved into that house decades ago after being driven out of their old West Jerusalem houses. Israel is operating with a double-standard here.”

Mindful of America’s weighty involvement in the political games of the region, Dajani is writing for a predominantly American audience. For the time being, however, he is not particularly optimistic about the Obama administration’s willingness and ability to alleviate the conflicts wreaking the Middle East. “They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk,” he says. “Obama’s Cairo speech [delivered on June 4, 2009] resonated with many people in the Middle East. He said he wanted to bridge the gap between the U.S. and the Muslim world. But then he send more troops in Afghanistan! He is losing popularity in America because of the health care and economy issues, but he’s losing popularity in the Arab world because he isn’t doing anything concrete to solve the conflicts.” To read all of Dajani’s dispatches to the Huffington Post, go here: www.huffingtonpost.com/jamal-dajani.

Email: JD @ JamalDajani.com
Personal Website: www.jamaldajani.com
Twitter: jamaldajani