SANDY TOLAN, sandytolan at gmail.com
Author of The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East and the forthcoming Children of the Stones, Tolan is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC in Los Angeles. He just wrote the piece “Obama in the Holy Land: Occupation? What Occupation?” at his Ramallah Cafe blog.
Rev. MITRI RAHEB, mraheb at diyar.ps
Raheb is senior pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem; he is also president of Diyar Consortium and of Dar al-Kalima University College in Bethlehem. He said today: “President Obama didn’t land today with his helicopter just across the street from our college. He visited the Church of the Nativity just two blocks away from Christmas Lutheran Church. In and out in less than 30 minutes with no people in the church or at manger square — as if our city was a ghost town. Due a sand storm he had to drive. He had thus a chance to see how the wall and the settlements are strangling Bethlehem. President Obama visited the birthplace of the prince of peace who was born here 2,000 years ago. Yet in today’s political landscape we found more ‘peace talkers’ than ‘peacemakers.’ Twenty years of peace-talking between the Israelis and the Palestinian didn’t lead anywhere. On the contrary, it was during these years that the 25-foot-high wall was built around the ‘little town of Bethlehem’ making it as little as four square miles. It was during this period that new Jewish-only settlements were built on Bethlehem land, stealing from us the land — and all possibilities for growth. Will he do something about it? His name is Barack, the blessed. Jesus knew how to choose his words when he blessed the peacemakers.”
PETE MOORE, pwm10 at case.edu
Obama is slated to visit Jordan today. Professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University, Moore is author of Doing Business in the Middle East: Politics and Economic Crisis in Jordan and Kuwait. He said today: “Despite comparative quiet in Jordan, the same socio-economic discontent that drove protests in 2011 remains a fact of life in the Hashemite Kingdom. There are numerous factors why Jordanians have not followed in the 2011 footsteps but political leaders in Amman and Washington have good reason remain fearful.”
CHARLES KERNAGHAN, BARBARA BRIGGS, bbriggs at glhr.org
Kernaghan and Briggs are with the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, which just released a report “President Obama May Very Well Clean Up The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement,” which states: “Today, an estimated 79 percent of the workers toiling in Jordan’s garment export factories are guest workers from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, China, Burma and Nepal. The overwhelming majority of them are young women who work grueling hours, six and seven days a week, while earning just 74.5 cents an hour. These workers have no rights. They are housed in primitive, crowded dorms. Worst of all, young women guest workers in many factories report that they are sexually abused.”