September  2016 - by Laurie Salameh, Co-Director, Palestine

The political and economic situation remains very fragile. No progress on the peace process or the internal Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation. With the most radical Israeli government in control, very little progress is foreseen in the near future. Sadly, whatever pressure is applied by the international community on Israel yields little in the way of tangible results.  As the occupation tightens, the prospects for building a robust private sector, spurring economic growth and facing the future with optimism fade. Our only hope is working with the small communities in order to create a new reality on the ground that touches the lives of many Palestinian citizens living in rural Palestine and its refugee camps.     


April 2016 - by Laurie Salameh, Co-Director, Palestine

The situation on the ground in Palestine continues to deteriorate. The hardship of the occupation is worsening. In the first three months of this year Israel demolished almost 600 structures, which is more than the entirety of the demolitions in 2015. Daily, we hear  stories about children unable to reach their schools without being attacked by settlers or soldiers, or pregnant women waiting at checkpoints to give birth, only to be faced by a laughing soldier refusing her entry, or farmers watching their crops spoil because of refusal of access to their own land. We are all facing severe water shortages, as Israel allows water only once every week to two weeks in most parts of the WestBank. We wake up every morning to read the newspapers and hear the hatred and incitement spewing out of the mouths of Israeli politicians. 

As a result of the hardship of the Occupation and the lack of hope among the younger generations here, we fear an increased risk of people resorting to violence. While the uncoordinated violence may not beckon a third intifada, most people are living in fear of the unknown future. 

We each try to find hope and improve quality of life where we can. This is where Seraj shines the brightest. In the communities in which we have established libraries, we see library usage increasing rapidly, the number of volunteers increasing, and the quality and creativity of their programs improving significantly. In each library it is women who have taken the leadership role as they work to improve the quality of life of their community members. The fact remains, though, that our work is unsustainable in the absence of peace. We urge our friends and supporters to work harder than ever before for peace and justice here in Israel/Palestine.  

Abbreviated Time-Line

Updates on "the Situation"

1099    Crusaders establish Christian rule in Jerusalem.

1187    Egypt conquers Jerusalem, Muslims control till end WWI.

1516    Ottoman Turks take Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

1922    League of Nations confirms British Mandate.

1947    British turns Palestine over to the United Nations.  

1948    Israelis declare their independence as a nation.  Nakba -  750,000 Palestinian refugees.  Green line.

1967    6 Day War.  Israel occupies Golan Heights, Gaza, Sinai, West Bank, including Jerusalem

1978    Camp David Accords are approved by Egypt and Israel. 

1987    First Intifada.  Hamas is established.

2000    Peace negotiations at Camp David break down. Ariel Sharon at Haram al Sharif.  Second Intifada launched.  

2002     Sharon confines Arafat to Ramallah office.  Israel begins building Separation Barrier

​2007  First Seraj Library established