The General Assembly declared 2005 the Year of the Desert. Famine and poverty-ridden countries in Africa and Asia benefit from technologies created in Israel's Negev, where, with scientific and technological ingenuity, the desert miraculously became a productive region of wealth creation.
At Turtle Bay, however, Arab diplomats threatened to vote down a resolution because Israel proposed to insert a paragraph hailing an international desert conference in Beer Sheba. Although it is within Israel's pre-1967 borders, the Negev capital is "disputed territory," the Arabs said. In a "compromise," a balancing paragraph alleging Israeli destruction of natural Arab resources was awkwardly slapped on.
Most African and Asian countries joined the attack on Israel. Some Europeans, too, eagerly jumped in, while other Europeans religiously observed their abstaining tradition. As a result, the desert resolution was turned into a petty Middle Eastern dispute.
With her textured handbag, heavy mascara, and a veil revealing only her eyes, Alaa Awdeh sounds like the ultimate feminist. Women, she believes, should have equal rights in Palestinian society, especially the right to die in the armed struggle against Israel.
''That's what I am looking for, to sacrifice my life," said Awdeh, 18, an Islamic studies major at Al Najah University in Nablus and enthusiastic member of the youth wing of Hamas, the radical Islamic group.