Sister Cities

Invest in Justice by Building Genuine Connections

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Image via Sacramento to Bethlehem

Cities for Palestine by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

WHAT’S THE CAMPAIGN ABOUT?

Invest in justice by building genuine connections between US and Palestinian cities, towns, villages, or refugee camps through a sister city relationship. Sister Cities promote ties between community members in both places to learn about each other’s lives and work together on projects to support one another.

Sister Cities have transformed US city officials’ and other residents’ understanding of what is happening in Palestine through personal and official connections with Palestinians living under Israeli apartheid. Sister Cities also open the door to delegations to Palestine, including by city officials.

Current official and unofficial sister cities between the US and Palestine include:  Continue reading

Youth of Sumud Remembers Tom Hurndall

Youth of Sumud, a group of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills, believes and is committed to a peaceful, popular resistance as a strategic choice to end the Israeli occupation.

Tom Hurndall (27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003 he was shot in the head in Rafah, Gaza by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later.

Hayb was convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice by an Israeli military court in April 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison. On 10 April 2006 a British inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Hurndall’s father told reporters that there had been a “general policy” to shoot civilians in the area without fear of reprisals, as stated by Hayb. Hayb had earlier told a military tribunal that the Israeli army “fires freely in Rafah.” (Wikipedia)

Regeni murder: If only Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall had been Italian

Why did the UK and US not react firmly against Israel for the killing of Hurndall and Corrie the way Italy did with Egypt for the death of Regeni?


A foreign peace activist (C) joins Palestinian protesters for a demonstration marking the anniversary of the death of US peace activist Rachel Corrie (poster), who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003, at a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 16 March 2013. (AFP)

Kamel Hawwash, Middle East Eye, 21 April 2016

The world was shocked at the discovery of the body of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in a ditch in Cairo on 9 February. His body showed signs of horrific torture which made it difficult even for his relatives to confirm his identity. The 28-year-old Cambridge University student had been kidnapped 10 days earlier while researching labour unrest and independent trade unions in Egypt.

Ironically, he went missing on 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the start of Egypt’s revolution. Egypt’s initial theories for the cause of his death ranged from being a casualty in a road traffic accident to being murdered by a criminal gang and even to being killed in a lover’s argument.  

The reaction of Italy was firm and robust. The Italian interior minister, Angelino Alfano who claimed that Regeni had been subjected to “inhuman, animal-like violence” announced that while Egypt appeared to be cooperating with a team of Italian investigators dispatched to Cairo, Italy wanted justice for Regeni. “We will not settle for alleged truths,” he said. “We want those really responsible identified and punished on the basis of law.” Rejecting suspicions of Egyptian security forces involvement in Regeni’s death, the Egyptian interior minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, called them “completely unacceptable”.

Not satisfied with Egypt’s response the Italian government recalled its ambassador on 8 April for “an urgent evaluation” of what steps to take to “ascertain the truth about the barbaric murder of Giulio Regeni”. In diplomatic norms, recalling an ambassador is a significant step in expressing displeasure at the behaviour of the host nation, in this case Egypt. States use this very sparingly as it can sometimes take months if not years for relations to return to normality, possibly impacting on other aspects of the relationship including trade cooperation. On this occasion Italy saw this move as an appropriate response.

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THE ANSWER IS PALESTINE

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CODEPINK, 1/13/20

On Friday, January 11, 2020, on the Beloved game show Jeopardy, Katie Needle of Brooklyn, N.Y. correctly answered the clue “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity” by responding What is Palestine?” But host Alex Trebek responded “nope” and told Jack McGuire, who answered, “What is Israel?” that he was correct — he was not!.

Take action now: tell Alex Trebek and Jeopardy that the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, is in Palestine, not Israel! 


Dear Alex Trebek and Jeopardy,

On Friday, January 11, 2020, answering the clue “Built in the 300s A.D., the Church of the Nativity,” Katie Needle replied CORRECTLYwhat is Palestine?.” But you falsely told McGuire, who followed up with the INCORRECT answer “what is Israel?” that he was right — he was not!

The Church of the Nativity, located in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, is not located in Israel, but in Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt). Palestine is a member of the United Nations. The United Nations and the US State Department list the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem as being located in Palestine. International law and world consensus are clear that Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are Palestine, not Israel. Israel’s occupation and annexations of these lands are entirely illegal.

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BDS Victory: Liverpool FC reject Puma sponsorship

Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 1/13/20

Thank you to the hundreds of supporters who wrote to Liverpool FC about our #BoycottPuma campaign!

Amidst growing international pressure for sports teams to boycott Puma over their complicity with Israeli war crimes, we’re delighted that Liverpool FC have rejected Puma’s kit sponsorship offer. Please join the campaign and help get other clubs to #BoycottPuma.

Join the #BoycottPuma campaign

Take action and demand UK football clubs ditch Puma. Use our template letter to send a message to football clubs calling on them to end sponsorship deals with Puma. Just follow this link.

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Activists Reclaimed a Water Source for Palestinians, Showing Co-Resistance Works

A man raises his arms in triumph next to a sign reading "Ein Albeida spring"
A Palestinian activist sticks a sign bearing the Palestinian name of Ein Albeida spring over an Israeli street sign with the name Avigail Spring, south of the village of Yatta near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on January 3, 2020. (Hazem Bader-AFP via Getty Images)

Oren Kroll-Zeldin, Truthout, January 10, 2020

Recently, nonviolent Palestinian activist Kifah Adara drew water from the Ein Albeida spring near her West Bank village of Al-Tuwani for the first time in 15 years. The spring is a natural water source that was used by Palestinian communities in the region for generations, but a decade and a half ago, nearby Israeli settlers started swimming in the spring, which dirtied the water and made it unsuitable for drinking. For years, due to settler violence and intimidation tactics, Palestinians couldn’t access the spring at all.

That all changed after a massive nonviolent direct action in which a group of over 150 Palestinian, Israeli, and diaspora Jewish activists reclaimed and rehabilitated Ein Albeida, thereby enabling Adara to walk from her village to fill water buckets for the first time since her youth. “I remember coming to this spring with women from my village to collect water for our families,” Adara said after the action. “We would travel 1.5 kilometers on our donkeys, just like we did today. Once Israeli settlers began swimming in this spring, it was no longer safe for us to drink. For many years, we could not access the spring at all. I am so happy to be back at this spring. I hope that, through the work we started today, the people of this region can use this water again.”

A woman stands in front of her donkey bearing jugs of water
Kifah Adara and her donkey carry water from Ein Albeida spring to nearby olive trees. (Emily Glick)

Ein Albeida, which means “White Spring” in Arabic, is the only natural water source for people living in Al-Tuwani and other nearby villages. The spring is also near Avigayil, an illegal Israeli outpost established in 2001. Settlers living in Avigayil have access to electricity and running water provided by the Israeli government, despite the outpost being considered illegal under Israeli law, while the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani lacks these services. This is representative of one of the many structural inequalities of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, where services are systematically denied to Palestinians while brazenly given to Israeli Jewish settlers.

The coalition of activists who participated in the action with Adara joined her to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against occupation and to assert their commitment to justice in the region. Adara invited the Israeli and diaspora Jewish members of this coalition to demonstrate their commitment to Palestinian solidarity by leveraging their privilege, as Jews, to protect her and other Palestinian activists from settler and state violence.

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February 29, 2020
International Festival

International Festival
Overture Center
201 State Street, Madison
10 am – 5 pm

Join MRSCP and other Madison sister cities, businesses, and organizations at the annual celebration of the rich cultural heritage within our community. Features more than 30 FREE performances throughout Overture by artists who call Dane County home, cuisines from around the world, and stunning arts and crafts for purchase.

Schedule and more information

January 12, 2020
Building Bridges and Border Presentation

Portraits of Immigrants and Refugees

502 Mark Drive
Verona, WI
6:30 – 9 pm

Family Diversity Projects‘ photo-text exhibit shares the stories of immigrants and refugees who have arrived in the U.S. from all over the world. The Jan. 12 reception features a presentation by members of Plymouth UCC who participated in a mission immersion experience at the U.S./Mexico Border. Other Madison area organizations who assist immigrants and refugees will be available to share their missions as well.

Schedule:
6:30 – 7 pm: Exhibit opens for self-guided tours. Reception.
7-8 pm: Members of Plymouth UCC, Madison will share their experiences at the U.S./Mexico border.
8-9 pm Local groups who assist immigrants and refugees will be available with information, and the exhibit is open for touring.

Free and open to the public.

January 13-February 2, 2020
The exhibit is open weekdays 10 am – Noon and 7-9 pm, or by appointment.

Contact Sarah Pundt, Director of Christian Education
(608) 845-7315
spundt at salemchurchverona.org

To Prison, Again, for Protesting Against Israel’s Colonial Rule

Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack pens a powerful Op-Ed in Haaretz on his arrest, putting into context his act of solidarity with Palestinians who face altogether different circumstances than his own.

The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009.
The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jonathan Pollak, Haaretz, Jan 07, 2020

I am currently detained in an Israeli jail, the result of refusing to attend or cooperate with criminal charges laid against me and two others for joining Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Israel’s colonial rule. Because I am an Israeli citizen, the proceedings in the case are held in an Israeli court in Jerusalem and not at the military court, where Palestinians are tried.

>> Police arrest left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak in Haaretz building

It has been almost nine years since the last time I was incarcerated for more than a day or two. Much has changed since. Politically, reality does not even resemble that of a decade ago, and none of the changes were for the better.

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The U.N. once predicted Gaza would be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020. Two million people still live there.

The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day.   (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images )
The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day (Mohammed Abed-AFP-Getty Images)

Hazem Balousha and Miriam Berger, The Washington Post, January 1, 2020

GAZA CITY — Jana Tawil was born in 2012, the same year that the United Nations released an alarm-raising report on the state of the Gaza Strip: If the prevailing economic, environmental and political trends continued, the organization warned, the besieged coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt would become unlivable by 2020.

The United Nations revised its initial rating in 2017 to warn that “de-development” was happening even faster than it first predicted.

Jana’s father, 35-year-old Mahmoud Tawil, never thought much of that assessment.

“When the U.N. report [said] that Gaza would be unlivable, I felt that Gaza was not fit for life in the same year, not in the year 2020,” he said.

That is the bleak reality facing Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents as they approach a new year and new decade: still stuck living in a place the world has already deemed uninhabitable in perhaps the most surreal of 2020 predictions.

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