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Ancient Palestinian craft still intact amid globalization

April 19, 2010

Earlier this year (2009) while I was reporting from the West Bank, I visited the historic Palestinian city of Hebron where a craft that dates back to the times of the Phoenicians may be headed for extinction.

Pottery, glass and ceramic making are ancient industries in Hebron, Palestine. The city’s leather, stone, glass and ceramic goods are found throughout Palestinian, Israeli and Arab markets — but this is changing with the advent of economic globalization and fierce competition from inexpensive Chinese goods. Additionally, the political instability that has plagued the region for many years scares away tourists.
Emad El Natche and his family own and operate a Hebron glass and ceramics factory. Mr. El Natche spends hours in front of a gas oven melting recycled glass bottles at high temperatures. No two pieces that Mr. El Natche creates are alike; he prides himself on the attention to detail each piece gets. He says all of his creations are unique because of the process that no machine can replicate.

Despite the challenges from globalization and a lack of master craftsmen, El Natche remains hopeful that this ancient craft is not going to disappear without a fight.

Arab world is transfixed by Turkish soap operas

April 19, 2010

For more than six centuries, the Ottoman Empire controlled Arab lands, leaving its imprint on art, language and food.

Today, Turkey is wielding influence once again in the Arab world — not militarily, but through its soap operas. More than a dozen Turkish soaps have aired on Arab television, offering an escape from the hard daily realities of life.

Worldfocus producer Mohammad Al-Kassim reports on this new Turkish invasion.

Palestinian economy helped and harmed by globalization

April 18, 2010

After the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, for the first time, Palestinians began to take control of their own economic destiny. Foreign money soon began pouring into the West Bank.

But while the West Bank has reaped the benefits of globalization, it has also seen hardship. Businessmen are complaining less about Israel and more about cheap exports from China, sometimes known in the West Bank as the “beast from the East.”

Worldfocus producer Mohammad Al-Kassim examines the impact of globalization on Palestinian commerce.

Jerusalem’s Old City dotted with religious, cultural landmarks

April 18, 2010

Worldfocus producer Mohammad Al-Kassim recently traveled to Israel and captured these images of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The Old City of Jerusalem is home to several key religious sites, such as the Jewish Temple Mount and its Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

During the Crusader era of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, there were four gates to the Old City, one on each side. The current walls have a total of eleven gates, but only seven are in use, each with its own name in Hebrew and Arabic.

In Hamas-Fatah struggle, Barghouti embraces “third way”

April 18, 2010

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is a Palestinian physician, born in Jerusalem and living in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He came in second behind Mahmoud Abbas in the 2005 Palestinian presidential election.

Currently, Barghouti is the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party that was formed in 2002 with Edward Said, Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi and Ibrahim Dakkak. The Initiative (al-Mubadara in Arabic) calls for nonviolent resistance against the Israel occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Worldfocus producer Mohammad al-Kassim recently interviewed Barghouti in New York. The rising Palestinian politician talks openly about the difficulties facing the Middle East process, infighting among Palestinians and the Obama administration. Despite all the obstacles, Barghouti feels surprisingly positive about the future.

Yemen’s UN ambassador calls al-Qaeda a ‘pestilence’

April 18, 2010

Yemen caught the world’s attention following a failed bombing attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam on Christmas day by a Nigerian man who had lived in Yemen.

Worldfocus producer Mohammad al-Kassim interviews Abdullah Alsaidi, Yemen’s Ambassador to the U.N., about the Yemen’s battle against al-Qaeda in light of its own internal difficulties, as well as the Christmas day bomb attempt.

UN revamping its New York headquarters building

April 18, 2010

The 58-year-old world body’s main building is getting a major face-lift. Since its opening in 1952, the United Nations skyscraper sitting on the East River has not been through a major remodeling.

Michael Adlerstein, the Assistant Secretary-General in charge of renovation, says the project is long overdue because of the deteriorated physical state of the building.

The 39-floor Secretariat is plagued with hazards such as leaking roofs, asbestos, and antiquated HVAC systems.

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