“The night is filled with the anxiety that any interaction with Israeli security triggers. We leave all of our suspicious material on Palestine, human rights, and any evidence of an interest in justice in an extra bag in Amman to retrieve on our return, and arrive at Allenby Bridge at 7:30 am.” — Alice Rothchild on entering Palestine from Jordan.
Alice Rothchild is inspired by a visit to the Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society in Aida refugee camp in occupied Bethlehem. Abdelfattah Abusrour founded Alrowwad 21 years ago in a mission to serve the needs of the community, and give children and young people every possibility to live rather than to die for their country.
At a session on reproductive health at Aida refugee camp in Palestine, a community health worker asks, “In our political condition, men in prison get their sperm out, illegally, to women. What is the best condition for the sperm to be in?” Alice Rothchild, a visiting doctor, tries to imagine the conditions and desperation that lead to this practice.
Dr. Alice Rothchild attends the 10th Annual Lancet Palestine Health Alliance conference in Amman, Jordan. Researchers from Gaza were mostly not able to obtain permits and their absences were noted by empty chairs at the time of their presentations or blank walls at their poster sessions.
The 30,000 “ex-Gaza” Palestinians in Jerash, the poorest refugee camp in Jordan, face services stripped by Trump– though they are stateless, half are below the poverty line, and 88 percent lack health insurance. Now wonder the children drop the F-bomb when they see American visitors.
More than 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan are served by UNRWA and Alice Rothchild visits the Nuzha camp in Amman where refugees get vital services from family planning to mental health counseling. The school is tidy and sparkling with an atmosphere of infectious enthusiasm. One girl asks: “Is America beautiful?”
Rev. Nour Sahawneh aids thousands of refugees at his church in Mafraq, Jordan, near sprawling city-like camps. “Their lives are a disaster,” he tells Alice Rothchild. “They are a tool of war. They became a subject in a war, not a people to help… War is business.”
Iraqis throughout the Middle East remain unregistered, uncounted, unassisted and unprotected. But Alice Rothchild visits the Collateral Repair Project in Amman, begun in 2006, which serves 10,000 families a year and teaches everything from Capoeira, to music, to English, to mind-body medicine.
About 50 protesters in Amman oppose Jordan’s multi-billion-dollar pipeline deal with Israel in a demonstration at the Parliament, observed by Alice Rothchild. One sign: “The gas of our enemy [Israel] is occupation.” But police soon move in to scatter the demonstration.
A natural gas pipeline from the sea through Jordan is Israel’s latest effort to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors. But Palestinians resist. In Amman, Alice Rothchild visits an exhibit of remarkable friezes by Palestinian artist, Abdul Hay Mosallam. “They killed me and my killer denied me while turning cold in my grave,” are the words on the Gaza piece.