Jewish Journal


May 22, 2012

by Shmuel Rosner

May 22, 2012 | 3:15 am

A Palestinian man in the southern Gaza Strip carries sacks of flour that he received from UNRWA. (Photo: Reuters)

Status Update

American politicians are taking a controversial new approach to the issue of ‎Palestinian refugees, which could mean a face-off with UN refugee agency UNRWA, writes Jonathan Schanzer in Foreign Policy. ‎

The knock on UNRWA [The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for ‎Palestine Refugees in the Near East] is that it exists to perpetuate the refugee ‎problem, not solve it. It was UNRWA that bestowed refugee status upon ‎‎“descendants of refugees,” regardless of how much time had elapsed. As ‎a result, the Palestinian refugee population has grown seven-fold since the ‎start of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As one study projects, if descendants ‎maintain their current status, the number of “refugees” in 2020 will be 6.4 ‎million—despite the fact that few of the actual, displaced Palestinians will ‎still be alive. In 2050, that number will reach 14.7 million.‎

What Do Egyptians Want?‎

Shibley Telhami for the Brookings Research and Policy Institute takes the pulse of the Egyptian electorate in ‎the run-up to the presidential elections. ‎

Egyptians who voted in the parliamentary elections say that the most important ‎factors in determining their choices were political party (24%) followed by ‎candidate’s record and experience (21%), and candidate’s position on the economy ‎‎(19%). But they rank these factors differently in their choices of Presidential ‎candidates, with personal trust in the candidate being the most important (31%) ‎followed by the economy (22%) and record and experience (19%). Interestingly only ‎‎9% ranked the role of religion in politics as the most important factor in the ‎parliamentary elections and 8% in their Presidential preferences.‎

Egyptian women feel ‎excluded, despite the ‎promise of the revolution

Leila Fadel and Ingy Hassieb of the Washington Post take a look at ‎how things changed for the worse for women in Egypt after the ‎regime fell. ‎

Women hold just over 2 percent of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, down from ‎about 12 percent in the last elections held under Mubarak. The sharp decline ‎followed the elimination of a quota to ensure women’s representation, which had ‎been seen by many as a way to stack the body with members of Mubarak’s political ‎party. Military rulers did not include any women in the committee that wrote ‎constitutional amendments adopted in a nationwide referendum last year.‎


Engaging Russia on Iran

Writing in the National Interest, Robert W. Merry outlines the steps he believes the ‎Obama administration must take to win Russian cooperation on Iran.

‎[T]here are many issues that require cooperation between Washington and ‎Moscow - Syria, Afghanistan, missile defense, nonproliferation, Russia’s WTO ‎entrance and of course Iran. But Iran is the most pressing, and it may be difficult to ‎get Russian cooperation on this imperative without progress on some of the other ‎fronts. That could mean granting Russia what Putin has said he wants from the ‎United States.‎

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Hunger Strike: Arab Discourse on the Social Networks

Writing for the Institute for National Security Studies, Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov draw a ‎line between the means of protest during the Arab Spring, and the new methods used by ‎Palestinians held in Israeli jails. ‎

The hunger strike, in effect another Palestinian tool in the struggle with Israel, departs from ‎terrorism and violence (barring that the situation does not spiral out of control should a ‎striking prisoner die) and focuses on applying public opinion pressure on Israel. With this ‎recourse to hunger strikes, the Palestinians have adopted methods commonly used in the ‎Arab world since the start of the “Arab Spring.” The main purpose of the nonviolent struggle ‎is to change Israeli policy by using new tools, and the decision to employ nonviolent means ‎signals an awareness that they are likely to be more effective, especially with regard to ‎human rights issues.

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