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Qalandia in the morning; schoolgirls heading to Jerusalem

In the morning I crossed the Qalandia checkpoint, as I often do, at the same time as many students. In this case I was heading to Ramallah while many kids were heading in the other direction. My goal was to meet a representative of the PA Ministry of Education who could introduce me to teachers to interview.

PA Ministry of Education

Ministry of Education sign

The PA Ministry of Education is far less architecturally imposing than the Israeli Ministry, but I draw no real conclusions from that other than the PA building is in the traditional style and the Israeli building was unfortunately erected as an Internationalist wonder, probably in the 70s.

I had no appointment, only a name, so several people gave me directions through the building. The third person actually offered to guide me. An Austrian-Palestinian, Sami Aburoza is a consultant for the German Icon Institut and, I found out later, someone who has done significant work and writing on Palestinian economic issues. His goal is to centralize all the various educational donor projects under a single plan. As he noted, the possibilities for saving money are significant – for example, to have all donors accept the same report rather than having different bureaucrats write different reports for donors with whom they are working.

Poster supporting hunger strikers

Upon reaching my contact’s office, we discovered that many people (including students) would be out for the afternoon for a rally in support of the hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails. While my contact was out, his assistant got all my information and I will set up a meeting for next week.

Small rally in clocktower square supporting hunger strikers

I then went over to clocktower square to see the rally. The organizers had set up a tent with photos of the prisoners, music was playing, and some students were chanting. Perhaps several hundred people were there, and it did not seem to have yet gotten off the ground. I went to lunch, and upon return things were quiet. It seems the rally was less of a massive event and more one of many that are currently revolving around the hunger strike. While I find hunger striking saddening, I do hope that the shift to non-violent techniques on the Palestinian side continues.

Poster for Nakba Day insisting on right of return

Meanwhile Nakba Day is coming up, the day on which Palestinians mourn their loss in the 1948 war and subsequent refugee status. Signs have been put up, some of which state that the right of return to homes in 1948 Israel is the only condition that will statisfy them. As I’ve written before, since Israel has most of the power and will never agree to that demand, I find it gets in the way of thinking about a route forward to the two-state solution, which I believe is still the quickest way for most Palestinians to improve their lives.