Jo-Ann Mort

Jo-Ann Mort writes frequently about Israel and the Palestinians for The American Prospect and elsewhere, including as a regular contributor at TPM Cafe. She is the co-author of Our Hearts Invented a Place: Can Kibbutzim Survive in Today's Israel?

Recent Articles

In But Not of Israel

Five days into Israel's war with Hezbollah, I visited the Umm El-Fahm Gallery in the town whose name it bore. Umm El-Fahm, the largest Muslim community in Israel, with a population of 43,000, anchors the largely Arab Triangle area on the coastal plain just south of Haifa. Outside the gallery, Israeli planes were bombing Lebanon and Hezbollah rockets were detonating nearby. Inside the gallery, Yehudit Bar-Shalom, a ceramicist from nearby Kibbutz Magal, was speaking.

"I felt I was in a dream due to the hospitality of the gallery," she told me. "In all this chaos we are living in, you can do it differently," she told Said Abu-Shakra, a respected artist and the gallery's co-founder. Bar-Shalom reached across the table to Abu-Shakra. "I love you," she said.

Casualty of War

Zahi Khoury, a leading Palestinian businessman and chairman of the National Beverage Company, has two maps on a wall in his Ramallah office suite -- one for Gaza and one for the West Bank, with markings showing 150 Israeli checkpoints and 800 roadblocks, according to his logistics adviser. The maps help Khoury's staff figure out how to distribute their products throughout the region. (The person accompanying me in Ramallah when I visited this past July was also a locally based businessman. He told me that every large Palestinian company has a logistics expert on payroll to deal with issues caused by the Israeli occupation.)

An Accountability Moment

The war between Israel and Hezbollah raised serious questions about Israel's military preparedness and strategy. Calls for the resignation of the military chief of staff, Dan Halutz, abound. It's likely that the Israeli military will clean up its act quickly (although perhaps with a new chief of staff) since there's nearly universal agreement in Israel that a smart and ready Israel Defense Force (IDF) is vital to the country's survival. But whether the political class that oversees the military can survive the war's fallout is another question entirely.

The French Connection

What a difference a war makes. The Bush administration, long dismissive of multilateral diplomatic moves, especially with "Old Europe," worked closely with France to bring a diplomatic resolution to the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Now, it looks like these efforts may pay off, with an initial agreement at the U.N. for the U.S.-French sponsored resolution, and acceptance by the warring parties.