Thursday, October 30, 2008

Falafel TV US Election Special

Two Important Announcements:

1. Everyone make sure to catch Falafel TV's US Election Special from Israel, which will air this weekend on CNN World Report.

2. Everyone make sure to vote. I just sent in my absentee ballot from Israel, so you have no excuse. If you need me to tell you who to vote for, I will be happy to do so.

Here is the program schedule for wherever you are in the world:

SATURDAY: 1) 08:00A GMT / 16:00P Hong Kong / 19:00P Sydney / 06:00A Buenos Aires / 04:00A EST

2) 18:00P GMT / 02:00A (Sunday) Hong Kong / 05:00A (Sunday) Sydney / 16:00P Buenos Aires / 14:00P EDT – extra airing

SUNDAY: 1) 12:30P GMT / 20:30P Hong Kong / 23:30P Sydney / 10:30A Buenos Aires / 07:30A EST

2) 18:30P GMT / 02:30A (Monday) Hong Kong / 05:30A (Monday) Sydney / 16:30P Buenos Aires / 13:30P EST – extra airing

MONDAY: 09:30A GMT /17:30P Hong Kong / 20:30P Sydney/ 07:30A Buenos Aires /04:30A EST

TUESDAY: 04:00A GMT / 12:00P Hong Kong / 15:00P Sydney / 02:00A Buenos Aires / 23:00P EST (Monday)


World Report is available free-of-charge on the internet, just go to and click on Live Video at the following times:

SATURDAY: 17:00P GMT / 01:00A (Sunday) Hong Kong / 15:00P Buenos Aires / 04:00A (Sunday) Sydney / 13:00P EST

SUNDAY: 14:30P GMT / 22:30P Hong Kong / 12:30P Buenos Aires / 01:30A (Monday) Sydney / 09:30A EST

MONDAY – only on CNN Mobile: 07:30A GMT / 15:30P Hong Kong / 05:30A Buenos Aires / 18:30P Sydney / 02:30A EST

TUESDAY: 04:00A GMT / 12:00P Hong Kong / 02:00A Buenos Aires / 14:00P Sydney / 23:00P (Monday) EST

THURSDAY: 03:30A GMT / 11:30A Hong Kong / 13:30P Sydney / 01:30A Buenos Aires / 22:30P (Wednesday) EST

The show is also available streamed on the website

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm really upset I missed out on a truly historic event: the nation of Palestine's first home soccer match in the West Bank. I heard from friends that the match itself wasn't that great, but that the atmosphere was electric when Palestine scored the first goal. For some original reporting, check out this LA Times article from Ashraf Khalil.

Photo Courtesy of Ahmad Gharabli / AFP/Getty Images

SHOW OF PRIDE: A giant Palestinian flag is seen in the stands as the Palestinian national soccer team prays before a game against Jordan. Fans in the new West Bank stadium waved flags and patriotic banners and shouted slogans.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jerusalem Tolerance Video

This is a story I've been working on for a few weeks along with Isabel Kershner of the New York Times. The written story appeared in last Saturday's newspaper and the video you can check out by clicking this link below:

Jerusalem Tolerance Video

It's an interesting story that I think encapsulates Jerusalem's mood at the present moment. Within a very short time period, three events transpire. A monument of tolerance in unveiled between Jebel Mukaber and Armon Hanetziv. A peace concert at the YMCA brings together Arab and Jewish children of the city. The night after the concert, a violent encounter ensues that leaves 17 Israeli soldiers wounded and one young Palestinian man dead.

One interesting aspect from this last violent encounter is how differently this event is perceived by the Arabs of Jebel Mukaber and the Jews of Armon Hanetziv. While the facts on the ground are not always black and white, the interpretation of the event is almost always black and white depending on which side of the fence you're standing. As is the case with most violent incidents here, each side immediately plugs the story into their own ethnically jaded, century-old narrative where your side is usually/always the victim and the other side is usually/always the aggressor.

For the Arabs, this was a clear-cut accident. The victim is the young innocent Arab man driving without a license who accidentally ran over some soldiers. The aggressor is the Israeli soldier who cruelly ended the young man's life so viciously. As one Arab man told me, "I am now scared to drive the streets. Any single mistake and I am likely to be called a terrorist and shot."

For the Jews, this was a clear-cut terrorist attack. The logic goes as follows: There were three other attacks from East Jerusalem this year. Two of them were clearly ideologically motivated with the intent to kill Jewish civilians. The attackers of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva are from the same Arab village as the driver. You don't just accidentally run over 17 Israeli soldiers, especially if you're Arab. Therefore, it was no accident. Jew=Victim, Arab=Aggressor.

This is basically a repeat of the same story we've been seeing in Israel/Palestine since the Jews came back to this land. What is new, however, is that amidst the violence, many noble attempts are being made to bring together both sides into a single narrative. It was inspiring to see both Arabs and Jews teenagers on the stage jamming together. They are wise enough to know that when violence strikes, everyone here is a victim.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back in the Middle East but still kind of in the US

I survived my 3 week trip to the States, including numerous forays to the frightening Aventura Mall in South Florida. Despite missing my friends and family, it's good to be safe and sound and back in the Middle East.

Back in Jerusalem, all people are talking about is politics. We are witnessing a reshuffling of the Kadima party and the remaking of the Israeli government. There's a municipal election in Jerusalem November 11. But it seems like the enormity of this year's US presidential election this November 4 is overshadowing it all.

We've prepared an election special for CNN World Report that will air a few days leading up the election. I will keep you posted on that, but for now you can see a small sample of our interviews in minute 16:52 of an election special now airing on Current TV. (Viewable below)

Walking the streets of downtown Jerusalem and asking people their opinions, I was surprised to see how many Israelis are now leaning towards the Democrats. While the Palestinians and Arab Israelis I spoke to almost unanimously support Obama, Israeli Jews seem to be split 50/50. In past election I assume that most Israeli Jews supported the Republicans, but I get a sense this support is waning this time around.

The older Israelis who support Obama claim that the economic crisis is Bush's fault and that there needs to be a major change in Washington to fix the broken economy. The younger Israelis I spoke to point towards the War in Iraq as their major reason for supporting Obama. They unanimously view America as much weaker as a result of 8 years of the shadowy "Bush Doctrine" and think that a weak America is generally bad for Israel.

The McCain supporters claim to be scared of the "real Obama." They allude to his relative inexperience and supposed ties to Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Wright as their major reasons they wouldn't vote for him. They see the Iraq War as improving and think it will take a war hero with character, someone like John McCain, to finish the job in Iraq. I was surprised to hear from a handful of people that Obama was a "closet Muslim."

Many were undecided. One college age girl I spoke to sees Obama as more democratic, but not as likely to support Israel. Her dilemma is between her perceived importance of democratic values versus her love for the Jewish state. She therefore didn't know who to vote for. So I told her to imagine that she suddenly became an honorary American voter in a national majority voting system (no electoral college). There was a tie and her vote was the tiebreaker. She smirked uncomfortably and said that she would vote for McCain, disclaiming "I care more about Israel than democracy."