Palestinian in Kafkaesque battle over family’s hotel

Borders change, Israeli officials deny responsibility and confiscate and re-confiscate the property that Ali Ayad hasn’t been allowed to set foot on since 2004.

For all of his 59 years, Ali Ayad’s life has revolved around the 1-acre plot overlooking Jerusalem that is home to what used to be the Cliff Hotel. (Edmund Sanders / Los Angeles Times / August 27, 2013)

ABU DIS, West Bank — The year Ali Ayad was born, his father broke ground on a majestic home perched on a bluff overlooking Jerusalem, with views of the Dead Sea in one direction and the golden Dome of the Rock in the other.

For all of his 59 years, Ayad’s life has revolved around the 1-acre plot. He played under the olive trees as a boy and became manager after the home was converted into the Cliff Hotel.

He met his Norwegian wife from behind the reception desk, married her in the dining room and raised two daughters amid the daily bustle of visiting tourists and diplomats.

But the idyllic life turned into what he describes as a Kafkaesque nightmare a decade ago after Israel seized control of the hotel. Using a combination of military orders and a controversial absentee-owner law, the government kicked him off the property, banned him from returning and then confiscated it as abandoned.

Israel informed Ayad, who has always been identified by Israel as a West Bank resident, that his former home was inside the Jerusalem city limits, even though for decades the municipality refused to provide public services because it said the property was in the West Bank town of Abu Dis.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

The Race-Baiting of America | The Nation

A memorial is seen at the scene where Australian college student Christopher Lane, 23, of Melbourne, was found dead of a gunshot wound on Friday in Duncan, Oklahoma, August 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Bill Waugh)

The tragic murder of Australian student Christopher Lane is being exploited by the right to stoke fears of a race war.

As the nation takes stock of the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, I’m listening to a news program playing a recording of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking of peace and reconciliation and mountaintops to be crested. I’m also online, watching my screen blink with discussions about current events like the dismissal of a racial harassment suit against Paula Deen and the debate over New York’s stop-and-frisk policies. The decades-long span of unsolved issues and endless crises fills me with sadness and unease.

According to a recent Pew poll, “Blacks were nearly three times as likely as whites to be living in poverty. And the median net worth of white households was 14 times the median net worth of black households.” But this disparate reality is felt very differently: nearly twice as many blacks as whites feel that blacks are treated less fairly by police and the courts; blacks are three times more likely than whites to feel that blacks are treated less fairly in employment, education, hospitals and stores. These findings are consistent with a trend documented by a 2011 article in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science: whites now see anti-white bias as a bigger problem than bias against blacks—or as the study’s title puts it: “Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing.”

Read more at The Nation.