June 6, 2004
Mosaic Communities Program

The Crossing
1127 University Avenue
(University and Charter)
7:00 pm

The Mosaic Communities group is presenting two speakers, one Jewish and one Palestinian, and both members of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. Mosaic builds integrated (Arab-Jewish) housing in Israel.

Yasser Akawi, Board member, and Fred Schlomka, Executive Director, will present an update on the work of Mosaic Communities, including details of the pioneering project in the town of Ramle in Central Israel.

We will also talk about housing demolitions in Rafah and will link it to the issue of affordable housing in Madison.

This will be a public event and fund raiser, split between the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project relief account and Mosaic.

Statement by European Jews for a Just Peace

Paris, 22 May 2004

We, European citizens from ten European countries gathered in Paris for a meeting of the organisation European Jews for a Just Peace, condemn in the strongest possible terms the Israeli governmentís policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and especially in Rafah. Many of its actions amount to war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

We express our support for those forces in Israel actively opposing the occupation and showing their solidarity day-by-day with Palestinians suffering under the Israeli army onslaught. We express our solidarity with the Palestinian people in general, suffering intolerable repression and hardship.

We call on the European Union and European governments generally to put pressure on Israel to call off its war against the Palestinian people. In particular, we reaffirm our opposition to the special privileges Israel enjoys under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, while it is in breach of the human-rights foundations of that agreement. We call on the European Union and European governments to participate in an international peace-keeping force to intervene to stop the bloodshed.

EJJP Executive Committee
Liliane Cordova (France)
Dror Feiler (Sweden)
Sveva Haertter (Italy)
Richard Kuper (United Kingdom)
Daniela Vorburger (Switzerland)
Max Wieselmann (the Netherlands)

EJJP is a federation of 16 Jewish organisations in ten European countries

Mazin Qumsiyeh: Sleeping on a bus and more

Mazin Qumsiyeh, 5/9/2004

Here is something to inspire you. Read this. It will help you believe your efforts are all worth it. — Jennifer Loewenstein

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution (again overwhelming support) to affirm that the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, remain subject to the 4th Geneva Convention (Israel as the occupying belligerent power). By a vote of 140 in favour to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), the General Assembly also affirmed that the Palestinian people had the right to self-determination and to sovereignty over their territory, and that Israel had only the duties and obligations of an occupying Power. Does anyone still believe the US and Israel (and their minor four client states) can defy the will of 140 countries and the majority of the people (even in the US)? And besides countries and their politics, we have public opinion which ultimately no government can ignore (governments stand only as long as people give them permission to stand).

On Monday evening I was in Brattleboro, VT for the showing of Jenin, Jenin. Some 80-100 people jammed the room at the School of International Training (SIT) in this lovely New England town. A brief description of the event is provided at http://www.ibrattleboro.com/article.php?story=20040430120322712&mode=pri. I spoke before the film and then answered questions afterwards. I read a section from my contribution in the book “Searching Jenin” (an edited book I highly recommend; see http://www.searchingjenin.com/ ). Reem and all the organizers were just wonderful but those who took the time to attend really were the stars of the show. They all helped by donating and acting (money going to bring a Palestinian to SIT). We had the pleasure to meet Kate Casa, a journalist who was unfairly dismissed due to her truth telling. We spent the night in a home of a wonderful lady by the name of Rupa Cousins who has merged traditions from cabalist to Sufi mysticism in her healing techniques; we talked about poetry and philosophies from Hafiz to Rumi.

On Tuesday Morning I interviewed with two radio Stations in Brattleboro and then drove to Concord, New Hampshire for a meeting with the editorial board of the Concord Monitor. The editors were gracious and receptive. Later Tuesday evening, we had a lecture and a book signing (for my book “Sharing the Land of Canaan”) at Portsmouth, NH. This event was well publicized well ahead of time (e.g. at www.seacoastnh.com and thenewhampshire.collegepublisher.com ) and well attended. Those attending were quite interested (e.g. 22 books were sold by the cosponsoring bookstore). It was heartening to hear several Jews in the audience speak out in support; this followed a comment by one self-described “left Zionist” who seemed to grope for words of opposition against the one state solution. On Wednesday early morning (following a night at a home of an 81 year old WWII veteran and peace activist by the name of Robin Willits), we met with a reporter for the Portsmouth Herald who did a story on the book signing and on the local Seacoast Peace Response group that sponsored the event. I also got a $216 speeding ticket (unfairly I might add as I was not speeding). 🙁

On Thursday evening I hooked up with the Wheels of Justice (WOJ) bus tour in North Hampton, MA. I joined Mike Miles (bus driver, Iraq and Palestine volunteer, speaker, father, farmer, deep thinker, etc.) and David Lippman (entertainer, manager, artist, singing “CIA agent”). We spoke at the largest Catholic church in the area thanks to the efforts of Jacob and many local volunteers. Those who attended were extremely generous.

My experience of sleeping Thursday night inside the bus (converted bus with mattresses and a small kitchenette) was indeed a transforming experience. It is difficult with the images of Iraqi and Palestinian Children posted all around and inside the bus not to be changed. Having came back from Palestine in October, my discussion with Mike Miles and the pictures made me feel that I had been also to Iraq (Mike is a captivating speaker). It is also rewarding to think of all the other great people we met on the tour, from 18 year olds to 87 year olds.

On Friday, we were at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School in the beautiful Berkshire mountains. We spoke to four classes (and a fifth by an impromptu invitation). The students in these five classes were bright and engaged. It was one of the most rewarding experiences we had. It was especially poignant since it followed on the heels of a visit to the school by two IDF soldiers.

After the bus came to CT and parked for a while in front of our house, a neighbor taped Israeli and American flags at her window. But aside from this one person who did not attend our presentation, the reception has been phenomenal to this tour. Literally thousands of people were touched by the eyewitness presentations. Traveling in 25 states and speaking at over 200 places just since August (high schools, universities, colleges, churches, community centers, etc.). We will take a break in the Summer to redecorate the bus and revamp for the new school year this fall.

The WOJ brings grass root education and builds coalitions with literally hundreds of groups across the US. The reception we are getting everywhere we go is the best evidence of the centrality of this tour to our work. To see the incredible coverage and range of events we have been doing with the Wheels of Justice, just run an internet search (e.g. at google.com) using something like “Wheels of Justice tour”. You will see tens of thousands of media and web hits. I am glad to see that all the hard work of hundreds of activists (and donors) around the country is paying off. I am thrilled that this important work is accelerating. We must now intensify our media and outreach work especially taking advantage of the predicted and predictable debacles and fumblings by those in hegemonic power (Sharon and Bush and their cabals). You as an individual can make a big difference because you can organize and lead events at schools, colleges, universities, etc. Even an informal discussion dinner with your friends and/or coworkers is worthwhile.

My links for this week:
– ‘Homeland Dreams’ on the BBC web-site: http://news.bbc.co.uk
– Flagging symbols by Azmi Bishara (on Torture) http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/689/re11.htm

My book of the week: Greg Palast’s “The best Democracy money can buy”.

Mazin Qumsiyeh
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://justicewheels.org

May 25, 2004
SILENT VIGIL & MARCH FOR ATROCITIES IN RAFAH!

Please check out this site for the latest news on Rafah: www.palestinemonitor.org

The Madison chapter of Al-Awda (Palestine Right to Return Coaliton) is hosting a silent march on Tuesday, May 25th, beginning at 7pm in rememberance of the recent atrocities in Rafah. We will meet at Library Mall and parade up state street to the Capitol where we will have an open forum for those who wish to share memories or stories of Palestine.
  
Please come dressed in black and bring a respectful sign if you wish.  We will have some candles, but feel free to bring some to share. 
 
Please remember this is a silent march, and is meant be a powerful represention of the recent death and destruction that has taken place in Rafah.  Silence is expected throughout the march.

If you have plan on attending, or have interest in co-sponsoring the march, please respond to this e-mail or contact us.

Contacts:
Renee Medved #414.305.1955
Genia Daniels #608.251.8147 or genia02 [at] yahoo.com

RAFAH DAILY UPDATE (Volume 5) during Operation Rainbow

May 20, 2004

Attached is the Rafah Update Volume 5. The situation is worsenning so fast in Rafah. IOF invaded new areas in the southeast of the town — Tel Al Sultan is in the west of Rafah — and there are many devastating anecdotes.

The humanitarian situation in Tel Al Sultan, however, is so bad, since this area was invaded first.

Best wishes.
Mahmud

al mezan rafah update

Some of the bodies were put two to a box

Amira Hass, Haaretz, 5/20/04
 
RAFAH — Suddenly there was a shout from outside: “Leave everything. The Jews have fired missiles at the demonstration. Lots of casualties. Send ambulances.” The man shouting ran into the small hut in the hospital’s yard from where the ambulance drivers leave.

It was around two in the afternoon. A few bleary-eyed ambulance drivers and male nurses dashed out of the hut to their ambulances. As they were leaving, other ambulances that had been in the town, their sirens blaring, tore into the yard where crowds had formed. Everyone was pushing everyone else away, trying to clear a path.

The first ambulance parked and six people ran to take out a little boy on a stretcher, his clothes covered in blood. Others ran to another ambulance forced to park outside because there was no room in the compound.

For some 20 minutes, ambulances with loud sirens were either reversing out the yard or trying to enter and off-load the wounded – many of them children, some unconscious, one conscious and crying, and all the youths helping to carry them also had blood-spattered clothes.

Back and forth the ambulances came, spewing out the wounded. Soon they were joined by private vehicles and taxis, from which the crowd pull out the casualties, some on stretchers, others on their shoulders.

The morgue is at the far end of the yard. Slowly it filled up. It can take only six bodies. Since dawn on Tuesday, 15 Palestinians have been killed in the Tel Sultan neighborhood. Some of the bodies were put two in a box. Then they were taken to a large refrigerator used for storing potatoes.

Tel Sultan is under curfew. The parents call the head of the hospital and make him swear he will wait for them before burying the dead. Who knows how long the curfew will last and when the army will let them out … Another four people were killed there yesterday, including a 13-year-old boy. It is still not clear under what circumstances. They were taken to the potato fridge and then there was more room in the morgue.

Some of the youths carrying the casualties made a mistake and sent two children straight to the morgue. Someone noticed the mistake and the “bodies” were removed and sent hurriedly to the hospital. Ten minutes later, one of them, his head hanging, was put back in the morgue.

Then the families started arriving. Slowly the names and numbers became clear. Eight dead – four of them children, aged 10, 11, 13, and 14. The other four were 18, 20, 20 and 31. There were 62 wounded. Sixteen of them were children under the age of 18.

At around 1 P.M., after the midday prayer, people started gathering in the Shabura refugee camp to march the two kilometer-plus route to Tel Sultan, for a solidarity demonstration. The camp is cut off by tanks and sandbags.

En route, more and more people joined in. A fire engine carried symbolic quantities of water and food to the besieged quarter, which has very little water left and no electricity. People left their houses and joined the marchers. Estimates vary from several hundred to two thousand.

The children marched up front. “The collaborators with the IDF, who tell them about every little lane where there is a gunman so that they can fire a missile, could tell the Shin Bet [security services] that there were mostly children and youngsters in the march, that there were no armed men and that it was a demonstration of the people,” someone said.

After a kilometer and half, the marchers reached a square where the road turns left. From there it is about half a kilometer to Tel Sultan. The children marched forward and saw the tanks. The older people were behind them. They saw the tanks moving slightly, turning their turrets toward them. A helicopter or two were overhead. Nothing unusual.

A. who was marching in the middle of the road, saw the choppers shoot what is called in Rafah “a heat balloon.” Then something hit the electric pylon next to him. There was an explosion and he fell. Others around him fell too. He still remembers raising his head and then there was another explosion. The steel doors of the shops were torn apart. His mother saw him fall from a distance and “nearly died of fright.”

A. is sure the first explosion came from a tank. Others say there were missiles. Large numbers of demonstrators were hit in the firstexplosion. Many ran to rescue them and were hit by the second. Three hours later, the square was still filled with blood.

A young boy tried to approach the twist in the road, to see the tanks. A journalist was alongside him. They wanted to determine how far the tanks were from the square: half a kilometer, 600 meters. One sharp shot from the direction of the tanks told them it was not worth taking the risk.

Rafah and Gaza emergency

May 18, 2004

Friends,

We need your help.

There is an emergency situation right now in the Gaza Strip and the town of Rafah, in particular, with scenes that bring to mind Israel’s invasion of Jenin and Nablus in the spring of 2002.  So far today, 18 Palestinians were killed, but the action continues.  Last weekend, 116 homes were destroyed, making over a thousand people homeless (www.btselem.org).  Hundreds more are slated for destruction.  Amira Hass, filing dramatic daily reports from inside Rafah, describes the scenes of people grabbing their children and whatever comes to hand and fleeing their homes, anticipating the entry of the bulldozer-tanks (www.haaretzdaily.com).  Even Yossi Sarid from the Yahad Party (formerly called Meretz), normally a staunch defender of the IDF, described actions in Rafah as “war crimes”.  My friend In’am called me from Gaza trembling with fear, and reported that the Palestinian news broadcaster broke down in tears as he spoke.

Many — Israelis, internationals and Palestinians — are desperately trying to halt the bloodshed.  The Israeli women’s peace movement just placed an ad in Ha’aretz calling for an immediate halt to the violence and renewal of negotiations for a peace agreement that will extract us from all the occupied territories (“True and enduring solutions,” we wrote, “are attained by negotiation, not destruction, revenge or humiliation”).  This morning, forty women drove to Gaza to see if they could intervene physically, but they are being prevented from entering Gaza by the army.  The women have set up an encampment at the Sufa checkpoint and say they will not leave until the army stops its actions there.  Other peace and human rights organizations have placed newspaper ads, and many are organizing a larger delegation to join the women on Friday.

International figures have begun to speak out, but we need more, and quickly.  Can you please take a moment to write a letter (email or fax) or make a phone call to any or all of the list below?  A sample letter is appended.

Please take a minute to try to save someone’s life or home.  Imagine that you had to walk out the door of your home at this very moment, with nothing but what your arms can carry, and you would never see your home or its contents ever again.  Please make a couple of calls.

Gila Svirsky

**********************************
Coalition of Women for Peace:
http://www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org
**********************************

Sample letter text:

There is an emergency situation in the Gaza Strip right now.  Please demand that Prime Minister Sharon halt the death and destruction wrought there by the Israeli army.  The cycle of bloodshed must end.

Contact people (First try the US, European and UN officials.  All the fax numbers work):

(1) President George W. Bush — Tel (202) 456-2461; Fax (202) 456-2461.

(2) Secretary of State Colin Powell — Tel (202) 261-8577; Fax (202) 261-8577.

(3) US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer — Tel in Israel: (+972-3) 519-7575
webmaster@usembassy-israel.org.il

(4) Your member of Congress:
Call the Capital switchboard toll-free: 1-800-839-5276 and ask to be connected to your member of Congress.

For your information, you can send a free fax by internet (to certain places only, but definitely area code 202 in the US) at http://www.tpc.int/sendfax.html.  Note that this is a service provided for free, but is not to be used for bulk fax mailings because they can only handle a relatively limited number of faxes at once. [Thanks, Mike Wolfson, for this info.]

(5) UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, coi@un.org

(6) Council of the European Union, public.info@consilium.eu.int
(7) European Union, civis@europarl.eu.int

(8) Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Fax (+972 2) 670-5361
rohm@pmo.gov.il

(9) Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz, Fax (+972 3) 691-6940
sar@mod.gov.il
(10) Minister of Justice Yosef Lapid, Fax: (+972 2) 628-5438
sar@justice.gov.il

Thanks for doing this — but please don’t send me a copy of your letters, or I’ll be flooded (I hope…).
Gila

Appeal for Rafah City

18 May 2004

Dear Madam/Sir,

I write to you today with the high hopes that your consistent support to the Palestinian People and commitment to the peace process as the only way out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would translate into immediate and decisive actions to alleviate the suffering of the devastated Rafah families. As you are certainly aware, the Israeli aggression against Rafah and its refugee camps has been unabated for the past three years and a half, resulting in the dispossession as well as economic and psychological ruination of hundreds of Palestinian families. This ethnic cleansing campaign has literally altered the demographic and population concentrations in Rafah.

Given the latest escalation of the Israeli violence and aggression against the Palestinian People every where and in particular what is happening to Rafah city and Rafah People, we take this opportunity to appeal to you for immediate action.

In the past week, Israeli Tanks, Buldozers, have gone deep into the city killing 25 People, 15 of them were killed this morning in Tal Sultan area in Rafah and the other 10 were killed three days ago when the Israeli tanks and buldozers destroyed and demolished houses in Rafah, and injuring more than one Hundred , some of which are very seious. More that 160 families were left without shelter following the destruction of 120 houses sheltering 1170 persons, now living in tents, playgrounds, squares. The total Number of Houses demolished completely in Rafah since the start of the current Intifadah is about 1750 houses. Agricultural land and green houses were also buldozed. Roads, Water and waste water networks were destroyed. There is also a humanitarian crisis , where food, water, milk and medical supplies are not available in the city as it is isolated from the rest of the Gaza Strip for more than a week.

With these latest and dangerous developments in mind, we appeal to you to save and protect what is left of Rafah City and its infrastructure. We view the current situation with grave concern and we are certain that you share the same view. We appeal to help the alleviate the suffering of Rafah People, and help restore the destroyed infrastructure as soon as you can.

We trust that you will take the appropriate measures to ensure that the latest Israeli aggressive actions against the Palestinian People seize and desist.

Best Regards,

Dr. Emad S. Sha’at
Deputy Mayor Rafah City
Mobile 059 411 850
eshaath@gov.ps
eshaat@hotmail.com

The Municipality of Rafah appeals to the international community to contribute to the following areas of assistance that is urgently required:

    1. Financing UNRWA programs of reconstruction
    2. Supporting UNRWA’s Food Aid programs
    3. Budget support to:

      a. UNRWA
      b. Local Government institutions (Municipality, PWA, PEA):

        i. Water & Sanitation rehabilitation
        ii. Infrastructure
        iii. Environment and Solid Waste

    4. Promoting health services by assisting the only hospital available in Rafah in Coordination with Ministry of Health, through:

      a. Immediate medical aid
      b. Medical equipment

    5. Job creation programs

General Statistics*

Since the beginning of the Intifada 28/09/2001 to date:

■ The World Bank identified Rafah as the poorest city in Palestine
■ Total no. of deaths 370 Martyr (56 of them are children under 18 years old)
■ Total no. of Injured over 3500
■ 3,343 donums razed
■ Unemployment rate 70%
■ Poverty rate 82%

Rules Prevent Scholar From Researching

Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio
Monday May 10, 2004

(EAU CLAIRE) New Homeland Security rules may prevent a Palestinian Fulbright Scholar from completing his research at UW-Eau Claire.

Mohammed Riffi, a mathematician from the Islamic University of Gaza, was deported last month when he tried to return to Eau Claire after visiting family in the Middle East. He says when he told immigration officials at the Atlanta airport he was a Fulbright Scholar headed for Wisconsin, they ridiculed him and threatened to detain him for a month.

Riffi apparently broke a new Homeland Security rule by leaving the country from the wrong airport. His visa required him to leave from Minneapolis/St. Paul but a connecting flight took him through Cincinnati.

Carl Markgraf is the director of the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education. He says Riffi fell into a mandatory deportation status and was deported. He says Riffi was detained for many hours in Atlanta and interrogated there, and then was deported back to Paris and then Gaza. He says Riffi felt he was treated inhumanely and unjustly.

In an e-mail to colleagues in Eau Claire, Riffi said at one point he feared he would be sent to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Markgraf says UW-Eau Claire is working to convince federal officials to allow Riffi to return to finish his research on a math teaching technique, but he says even if the Fulbright program issues him a new visa, he may not be allowed return.

Markgraf says the decision is up to the caprice of the INS official at the airport, who will know Riffi has been deported and may use that to deny him entry again. Markgraf says the new rules make it very difficult.

Markgraf says there are no indications that Riffiís religion or ethnicity played a role in his deportation. He says while Riffi is angry about what he sees as the arbitrary rules that cut short his fellowship, he doesn’t blame the Fulbright program.

Wake up, world! Hear O Israel, wake up!

Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 19:30:43 +0200
From: “Gila Svirsky” (gsvirsky@netvision.net.il)
Subject: Anarchy in our souls
To: “Gila Svirsky” (gsvirsky@netvision.net.il)

Friends,

I just spoke to Molly Malekar on her way to the hospital from a demonstration in Bidu, and here is what she reported:

“We were about 60 women, only women: roughly 1/3 Israeli, 1/3 Palestinian and 1/3 internationals. We gathered at Bidu to protest the construction of the wall in this village. It was a quiet march, with women carrying signs and walking toward the area where soldiers were guarding the construction of the fence. At a distance of about 10 meters (30 feet) from them, we stopped walking because the soldiers turned to point their rifles directly at us. I called out to them in Hebrew, “Don’t shoot, we’re not armed, this is a nonviolent demonstration.” Suddenly there was an onslaught of tear gas and stun grenades, falling all around us, completely out of proportion to the quiet, nonprovocative nature of our action. The grenades fell right there at our feet and we were choking, unable to breathe. Most dispersed and ran back. Soldiers charged toward us and fell upon the women, grabbing some whom they arrested. By then, there was no demonstration at all, nothing to disperse. Most of the women had run back, trying to recover from the tear gas, but I stayed as I wanted to talk to the soldiers to prevent the arrest of the four women. Suddenly out of nowhere four horses charged, with border police mounted on them. I started to run away, but one of them ridden by a young woman in uniform caught up with me and she struck me on my head with her billy club. I fell, and then a second horse charged toward me and I felt more blows on my head and back. There was no provocation whatsoever at any point while this was happening.”

Molly is the director of Bat Shalom, which is the women’s peace organization that forms the Israeli side of The Jerusalem Link (the Palestinian side is called the Jerusalem Center for Women). Molly is the most wonderfully serious and thoughtful woman you would ever want to have at the head of your organization. Anyone who has ever met Molly knows that she has never engaged in provocation, but has only been cautious and respectful. I asked her by cell phone, on her way to the hospital, how she feels and she said, “A horrible headache, my ears hurt, and I’m aching from the blows. But let’s think about how to wake people up to what is happening out there. We have to wake people up.”

Wake up, world! Hear O Israel, wake up!! Israeli soldiers have made brutality a way of life against Palestinians, then they turned their weapons and death upon international peace activists, and now they are brutalizing Israelis who express disapproval of their ways. Who will be the first one killed?

Writes US woman activist Starhawk, who participated in some of these actions, “The Israelis who are involved in the day to day resistance … said to me that they know it is only a matter of time before there is an Israeli קָדוֹשׁ מְעוּנֶה, a martyr of the occupation. Being Israeli is no longer a protection against the violence of the military.”

What’s worse: Nonviolence is no longer protection against the brutality of the military, regardless of whether you are Israeli or Palestinian or international. No one should be assaulted for peacefully demonstrating, and yet that has become the norm. Today, all demonstrations that take place in the territories — whether by Palestinians or Israelis, women or men, nonviolent or violent — are treated to the same brutal behavior of guns, stun grenades, and clubs. And no one investigates the incidents in a serious, unbiased manner, meaning that the soldiers learn that they can be cruel with impunity.

What has happened? The occupation has happened. The occupation has corrupted the soul of Israel. A situation of “Ein din v’ein dayan”, as the Bible says: “No law and no one standing in judgment”. There is anarchy in the soul of Israel today, and it won’t be gone until we uproot the occupation from our land and from our hearts.

Gila Svirsky
Jerusalem

*******************************
Coalition of Women for Peace:
www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org

Yes, Alice, it does do some good

Gila Svirsky, www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org4/21/2004

Dear Alice,

You were signature number 2,750 on the petition “Open the Gates to Allow Food into Gaza”, and you added after your name, “This won’t do any good, but here goes.”

Thankfully, Alice, you were mistaken:  The gates to Gaza have now been re-opened to regular UNRWA emergency food shipments, following three harrowing weeks of sporadic delivery.  Celebration, or at least great relief, is in order.

I asked a senior UNRWA official what he thought made a difference, and he replied, “Everything — the people who signed the petition, the Israelis and Palestinians who spoke out against it, the internationals who expressed their indignation, the letters to the officials — everything together made the difference.”

So thank you, Alice, wherever you are, and thank you to the 6,685 others who signed the petition and sent letters or made phone calls.  It’s a drop in the ocean of what remains to be done, but for 600,000 men, women, and children in Gaza, it means that tomorrow they won’t go hungry.

Gila Svirsky
Jerusalem
www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org


UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near
East-Headquarters Gaza
website: www.unrwa.orgPress Release No. HQ/G/07/2004
21 April, 2004

UNRWA Recommences Emergency Food Distributions in the Gaza Strip

Gaza – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees today recommenced the distribution of emergency food aid to some 600,000 refugees in the Gaza Strip.

UNRWA’s emergency food programme was suspended on April 1 following restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities at the sole commercial entry point for Gaza. Those restrictions prevented UNRWA from transporting empty freight containers out of Gaza, causing the Agency a bottleneck that prevented 11,000 tons of food from entering from the Israeli port of Ashdod and costing UNRWA around $130,000 in fees.

For most of the last two weeks, the Israeli authorities have operated workable arrangements – as is required under international humanitarian law – at the Gaza entry point. These have permitted the Agency to bring sufficient amounts of humanitarian aid into the Strip. The Agency now has enough food in Gaza to provide for the needs of the refugees for the next 30 days.

However, the future of the emergency food assistance programme remains in doubt because the Israeli authorities are now insisting that holes must be drilled in the two-inch wall cavities of containers leaving Gaza so that they can be searched by mini-camera. The containers are not the property of UNRWA and such procedures will add to the costs and the delays in providing food to the needy.

UNRWA delivers around 250 tons of food aid per day to the refugees in Gaza as part of a wider programme of emergency operations. These operations are designed to alleviate the worst of the economic hardship felt by the refugees since the start of the strife in the West Bank and Gaza in September 2000. Around two-thirds of the population of the Gaza Strip, 80 per cent of whom are refugees, are now living below the poverty line and are increasingly dependent on international humanitarian assistance.


A donation of US$30 can provide one month’s food parcel for a family of eight containing 50kg of flour, five kg of rice, five kg of sugar, two liters of cooking oil, one kg of powdered mil and five kg of lentils. You can make a donation by visiting http://www.un.org/unrwa/emergency/donation/index.html and paying by credit card, or by sending crossed cheques to UNRWA liaison offices. Alternatively you can send cheques payable to UNRWA to its bank accounts. Please contact us about a nearest bank account from your location.


Public Information Office
UNRWA-HQ (GAZA)
website:  www.unrwa.org

April 23, 2004
International Day of Action Against Caterpillar in Peoria

STOP CATERPILLAR CAMPAIGN — PROTEST IN PEORIA APRIL 23 — BUS INFO BELOW

stopcat.org, April 20, 2004

The “Stop CAT” Coalition invites you to join us in standing up for Palestinian human rights and to demand that Caterpillar cease all sales to Israel. This demonstration is part of the April 23 “International Day of Action Against Caterpillar.”

Say NO to illegal home demolitions in Palestine!

WHAT: Rally and March to CAT headquarters
WHEN: Friday, April 23rd, 2004, @ Noon
WHERE: Peoria Civic Center parking lot, on the corner of SW Monroe St. and Fulton St, Peoria, Illinois. The southern half of the lot will be used for car and bus parking, which will be free and available for everyone attending.

At 2:00 we will march to CAT headquarters, and demand that CEO James Ownes meet with a delegation, which will included Rachel Corrie’s parents (a year ago, Rachel was trying to stop a Palestinian home from being demolished, when she was crushed and killed by an Israeli soldier using a Caterpillar bulldozer), at 3:00.

Items to bring to the demonstration and ideas for signs:
http://www.stopcat.org/dont_forget.html

Buses will be leaving Chicago at 8 AM on Friday, April 23rd. The meeting point is the corner of State Street and E. 13th Street.
http://stopcat.org/businfo.html

The fee is $10-$20 sliding scale, with scholarships available. For tickets, please contact tickets@stopcat.org.

Go to www.catdestoyshomes.org to send a letter to CAT (please edit the letter to include the demand that James Owens, CEO of Caterpillar, meet with the parents of Rachel Corrie and a small delegation in Peoria at 3:00 PM on Friday, April 23!).

For more info, visit stopcat.org or call 312-491-1789.

Endorsers of the Campaign:
Al Awda – Chicago
Al Awda – Wisconsin
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (Houston)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (Wisconsin)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (Chicago)
Atlanta Palestine Solidarity
A-Zone
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace and Justice
Boston to Palestine
Bradley Peace Network (Bradley University, Peoria IL)
Brian Avery
Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism
Chicago International A.N.S.W.E.R. Volunteers
Citizens for Fair Legislation
Coalition for Justice in Palestine – Chicago
Committee for Justice in Palestine (Ohio State University)
Craig and Cindy Corrie
DePaul Students for Justice in Palestine
Direct Action Palestine
End the Occupation (Naperville IL)
Free Palestine Alliance – US
Freedom For Palestine
Friends of Palestine (Purdue University)
Global Exchange
HammerHard Media Works (Chicago)
International Action Center – Chicago Chapter
Iowans For A Free Palestine (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
ISM (Chicago)
ISM (Montreal)
ISM (Northern California)
Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
McHenry County Peace Group
Michigan Peace Team
National Lawyers Guild (Chicago)
Northwest Suburban SUSTAIN
Not In My Name
OPTICS – Organizing Pittsburgh To Increase Community Solidarity
Palestine Solidarity Committee/ISM (Seattle)
Palestine Solidarity Group (Chicago)
Palestine Solidarity Movement
Peace Action Wisconsin – Mideast Committee
Peace Pledge – Chicago
People for Justice in Palestine – Iowa City, IA
Peoria Area Peace Network
Prairie Fire Organizing Committee
QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism)
St. Louis University Solidarity With Palestine
Students for Justice in Palestine (University of Chicago)
Students for Social Justice (Chicago)
SUSTAIN (Bay Area)
SUSTAIN (Dallas)
SUSTAIN (DC)
SUSTAIN (Memphis)
SUSTAIN (St. Louis)
Tikkun Community – Chicago
Tri-Taylor Neighbors for Peace
United for Peace and Justice (Dallas)
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Worldwide Movement for Justice and Peace (Houston TX)

April 19, 2004
Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam: Jews and Palestinians Can Live Together

Grainger Hall
Morgridge Auditorium
UW-Madison
7:00 pm

Situated midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam is a village established jointly by Jews and Palestinians, all of Israeli citizenship, who are committed to work for peace, equality, and understanding. Aside from the bilingual bicultural primary school of 300 students, the village is home to a School for Peace that conducts dialogues to educate participants from outside the village. Over 50 families reside in the village and 300 more are on a waiting list to join them.

The talk will feature Oasis of Peace residents Adi Frish, 21, and Laila Najjar, 20, who grew up together as neighbors and as classmates in the community’s integrated primary school. Their parents helped found the community in 1978 as a place for Jews and Palestinians to live, work and raise their children together.

Adi and Laila were among the first children born in the village. Their parents helped found the community in 1978 as a place for Jews and Palestinians to live, work and raise their children together. Laila and Adi still live in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam and remain close friends. They provide a unique perspective on events in the Middle East.

Adi is a manager for a national health club chain. She studied at the Rubin Music and Dance Academy in Jerusalem. Laila studies jewelry design at Jerusalem’s Academy for Art and Design. She studied sociology and social sciences at Greek Orthodox High School in Ramla and has worked as a counselor at the NSWAS Summer Camp.

The event is sponsored by:
The Contemporary Issues Committee
The Middle East Studies Program at UW-Madison
The Associated Students of Madison
The Muslim Jewish Project
Kavanah: A Progressive Jewish Voice
The Crossing: A Christian Campus Ministry