JERUSALEM (JTA) – Bitterlemons.com, a joint Palestinian-Israeli website to promote an exchange of views about the Israeli-Arab conflict and other Middle East issues, is shutting down.
The closing of the publication, including two weekly e-magazines and Internet forums on Middle East topics, was announced this week by Bitterlemons’ co-founders Yossi Alpher and Ghassan Khatib in separate columns at Bitterlemons.org.
Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, wrote that the closing of the publications "is not disconnected from what is transpiring around us in the Middle East and globally." He blamed the closing on both donor fatigue and "local fatigue," the lack of a peace process or even informal moves toward regional dialogue.
"We never aspired to make ‘virtual’ peace and never presented a ‘bitterlemons plan,’ " Alpher wrote. "Rather, we sought to debate our differences and raise the level of dialogue. Over the years, our Internet and email publishing operation, based in Israel and Palestine, weathered an intifada, suicide bombings and an Israeli invasion of the Palestinian Authority."
Khatib wrote that at the beginning of the project, he hoped that Bitterlemons would provide a venue for the Palestinian voice to be heard.
"And to this day, I remain proud that we seem to have achieved this — that top international policymakers were able to read the opinions of Palestinians from many walks of life and political backgrounds and engage their ideas on this forum," he wrote.
Khatib, director of the Palestinian Authority’s government media center, also wrote that "We are now, it appears, at the lowest point in the arc of the pendulum, one that is swinging away from the two-state solution into a known unknown: an apartheid Israel. How this new ‘one-state’ option will be transformed into a solution that provides freedom and security for all remains to be seen."