Eliza Bates

Eliza Bates (Democracy and Workers' Rights Center - DWRC): Eliza graduated with honors and a BA in globalization and social movements from UC Berkeley. Eliza is committed to the right to free association and she worked on student-labor solidarity and anti-sweatshop campaigns while at university. Following graduation, Eliza worked in the labor movement in the United States for over five years as a researcher, organizer and lead union contract negotiator. Her interest in social justice and globalization inspired her to conduct an independent field research project in Mexico on the impacts of NAFTA on rural workers. She participated in several labor delegations to Latin America. At the time of her fellowship, Eliza was studying for a Master’s degree in international affairs with a concentration in human rights concentration at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Eat to struggle

06 Aug

I’m in Amman now at a labor education conference with union activists from four different Arab countries—Jordan, Morocco, Palestine and Iraq.

The International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations, based in Manchester, England, recently opened a branch in Amman (IFWEA/AC) and is hosting the event. The director of DWRC, Hasan Barghouthi is the current chair of IFWEA/AC.

I arrived on Friday after two hectic weeks in which I worked on the conference for the new coalition of independent and democratic trade unions in Palestine and traveled to Tulkaram and Qalquiliya to do research on industrial zones.

There is so much to write about! I’ve been neglecting this blog and now I want to just pour everything onto the page at once. But I’m too lazy to write it all out and I don’t want to bore my patient audience so instead I will give you some lists.

Things I’ve seen in the past two weeks:

• Settlers dumping chemically treated sewage on Palestinian farm land and killing the olive trees

• An illegal settlement dump where Israeli factories disposed of toxic waste

• A children’s park funded by USAID that Israel demolished just for fun

• The segregation wall cutting through the land of farmers who are no longer able to
tend to their crops

• A chemical factory that was removed from Israel by court order because it was making people sick so it reopened in the West Bank and now produces a toxic cloud over Tulkaram where the rates of respiratory disease and cancer have shot through the roof.

Strange things about Jordan:

• There are KFC’s and McDonalds and Burger Kings and Starbucks everywhere

• Female employees at Burger King wear hijab as part of their uniforms

• Women in tank tops and capris shop side-by-side with women in Niqab

• They put bowls of olive oil out on the breakfast buffet at the hotel

Some of the participants in the labor education conference:

• Wasim from Bagdad, dreamed of being an engineer but is now a math teacher. His favorite food is fish and the last book he read was Roots by Alex Haley.

• Mohammed Laharash from Rabat, Morocco, is a Geology teacher. His favorite food is a traditional Moroccan dish called Mashush, which consists of soft wheat rolled and cooked with chicken and onions and pistachios.

• Jihad Saboubeh Anibta is from Palestine and does gender education work. Her favorite food is makloobah. To make makloobah one cooks chicken, puts it at the bottom of a pot and adds fried eggplant and potatoes and rice on top. The pot is turned upside down before serving.

• Crystal is from South Africa and is in charge of education at IFWEA. She lives between London and Manchester. She dreamed of being a writer and her favorite food is tripe and trotters. The last book she read was Guns, Germs and Steel.

• Manal Al Zawi, from Bagdad dreamed of being a tour guide. She works for the Ministry of Agriculture. Her favorite food is called Dorma (stuffed vegetables).

The participants spent most of their introduction period talking about each-others’ food. Crystal suggested that they make a cookbook with their favorite recipes and call it “Eat to Struggle.”

That title aptly describes my life in Palestine.

Posted By Eliza Bates

Posted Aug 6th, 2007

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