Friday, September 02, 2005

Review: The Facts on the Ground

The facts on the ground

by Robert Laurie

Maqlubeh or Facts on the Ground, London: Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association, 2005 pp. 28. £2.00 available from CADFA, PO Box 34265, London NW5 2WD. The group can be contacted by email at

ABU DIS is a small town in Israeli occupied Palestine separated from the old City of Jerusalem by the Mount of Olives. The population is about 10,000 excluding the students of Al-Quds University. Since 2003 it has been divided by the Israeli built Occupation Wall.

In April of this year a delegation of activists from north London visited Abu Dis to learn at first hand what life is like for the Palestinians under Zionist occupation. This pamphlet, written by Nandita Dowson provides a short account of that visit and is sold to raise funds to support the work of CADFA.

This work includes organising a return visit to London which takes place next month. While CADFA campaigns to establish formal twinning links between Abu Dis and Camden it also provides medical and educational aid through its various Links Groups.

The “Maqlubeh” of the somewhat curious title of the booklet refers to a traditional Palestinian dish which is served upside down from the cooking pan. Abu Dis has well and truly been turned upside down by both the Israeli occupation which began in 1967, the more recent construction of the Occupation Wall has made life much harsher.

Even before the 1967 occupation Abu Dis was affected by an influx of refugees following the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded in 1948 and the severing of links with Jerusalem and the rest of occupied Palestine. The other part of the title, Facts on the Ground, refers to the Israeli policy of rapidly expanding Zionist settlements on Palestinian land in strengthen their hand in any future negotiations over boundaries.

In a series of short chapters the booklet calmly describes the harsh lives of the Palestinians, often contrasting their difficult lives with those of the Israeli settlers. Israeli houses have swimming pools while Palestinians have an unreliable water supply provided by the Jerusalem municipality at extortionate cost. Palestinians are subject to severe and complex pass laws. The worst feature of life in the town is the Israeli built wall which cuts off the town from East Jerusalem. Farmers are cut off from their land, while routine tasks such as attending a hospital app-ointment are fraught with difficulty when the wall has to be crossed.

These difficulties are deliberately designed to persuade the Palestinian population to give up in despair and abandon their homes and farms to the settlers.Education is also disrupted as journeys to and from school are difficult for teachers and pupils alike. also covered are the problems facing young people and the health services.

This pamphlet is well worth buying both for the details of the reality of life under the occupation and to support the links between London and Abu Dis.

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