December 12, 2007
Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,
As we approach the holiday season and the end of the tax year, please consider donating to the following emergency appeals to help the people of Gaza.
The first is from the Middle East Children’s Alliance, a U.S. based group which we have worked with and highly recommend. MRSCP will be contributing $1500 toward this appeal and we strongly urge you to consider a gift as well. Contributions to MECA are tax-deductible.
The second is from Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which is “planning an emergency dispatch of humanitarian supplies and a delegation of doctors, in order to supply limited emergency aid, to witness and report on the medical situation in Gaza, and to express protest and solidarity with the residents of the Gaza Strip under siege.” Contributions are apparently also tax deductible; please follow the instructions given in the appeal.
In the past year, and especially in the past few weeks, Gaza has literally become hell on earth as the U.S., Israel and Egypt have all but cut the densely-populated strip off from the rest of the world. Just this past week Israel began drastic cuts in electricity and fuel which are essential to keep people alive by providing drinkable water and emergency health care.
Palestinian Medical Relief Society calls for an immediate end to the murderous siege of Gaza
Excerpt: People are dying in Gaza. Patients die in their hospital beds because they are denied permits to access life-saving treatments abroad. Patients with such permits die at the Erez crossing because the Israeli military denies them exit, despite their permits. (Full article)
And, the latest casualty:
Barb Olson and Amal Othman, The Capital Times, December 07, 2007
“After meeting their own low expectations for the Annapolis conference amid intense skepticism, Bush administration officials crowed with delight,” said an Associated Press story.
And well they might. It was more symbolism than substance, but President Bush looked almost presidential.
But all Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert really agreed on was to negotiate — Bush called it “hard bargaining.”
“Hard bargaining” with Olmert and Abbas (and Bush too) at record low levels of support domestically?
“Hard bargaining” with the overwhelming power of the United States and Israel on one side and the divided and bloodied Palestinians on the other?
The United States is not an honest broker here. Congress just gave Israel another $30 billion for military aid over the next 10 years. That’s on top of the $3 billion to $5 billion annually it already gets.
Since 2004, Bush has officially committed the United States to help Israel keep Palestinian land stolen for Jewish settlements. This policy of using “facts on the ground” to gobble up Palestinian land, water and commerce has already sparked two Palestinian uprisings and is destroying the viability of any independent Palestinian state.
Free preview showing and discussion!
Escape Java Joint
916 Williamson St.
Sunday, December 9, 7:00 p.m.
Discussion will be led by George Arida, co-host of WORT “Salamat” and member of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
Featuring author Dr. Jack Shaheen, the film explores a long line of degrading images of Arabs — from Bedouin bandits and submissive maidens to sinister sheikhs and gun-wielding “terrorists” — and offers along the way some devastating insights into the origin of these stereotypic images, their development at key points in US history, and why they matter so much today.
Directed by Sut Jhally, this excellent new 50-minute documentary comes from The Media Education Foundation.
Rami George Khouri – “A Fair and Balanced View from the Arab World”
Madison Civics Club November Meeting, Monona Terrace
November 17th, 2007, 10:55 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Khouri is Executive Editor of the Beirut, Lebanon-based newspaper The Daily Star, the largest English language newspaper published throughout the Middle East, in partnership with the International Herald Tribune. He was recently appointed director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut (AUB). Author of “A View from the Arab World,” an internationally syndicated weekly political column at agenceglobal.com, his commentary and articles center around the broad range of roles played by the Middle East — its culture, politics, and religion — worldwide. A Palestinian-Jordanian educated in both the Middle East and the US, Khouri returned to his homeland 35 years ago and now resides in Beirut, Amman, and Nazareth.
With a Special Public Affairs Presentation:
UW Law Professor Asifa Quraishi – “Islamic Law:
What Americans Don’t Know May Surprise Them”
Asifa Quraishi, a specialist in Islamic law and legal theory, joined the University of Wisconsin Law School faculty in Fall 2004. Professor Quraishi’s expertise ranges from U.S. law on federal court practice to constitutional legal theory, with a comparative focus in Islamic law. At the UW Law School, Quraishi is teaching a combination of core law school classes in Constitutional Law, and electives in Islamic law and jurisprudence. Asifa Quraishi made news in 2001 when she drafted a clemency appeal brief in the case of Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, who was sentenced to flogging for fornication in Zamfara, Nigeria.
Palestinians wait to cross the Rafah border for medical treatment (Photo M. Omer)
Mohammed Omer, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September/October 2007
PERCHED ATOP A suitcase and trunk, her leg knocking listlessly with staccato thuds on vinyl, newly engaged 23-year-old Islam Al Assar waits on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt.
And waits. And waits.
“I’m waiting for my happiness,” she states forlornly. “I’m waiting to start my life. I have to be immensely patient. We hear news that the border will open, but it never does.”
At the border, now closed for more than two months, her luggage carries her dreams: a wedding dress, trousseau, gifts and necessities for her future life. On the other side awaits her fiancé and a new life in United Arab Emirates. The wedding, set for late June, has been put on hold.
“I’m not the only one waiting,” she sighs. “Five of our neighbors are here, too, awaiting passage for operations for cancer, kidney diseases and other chronic illnesses.”
MRSCP will be holding an open general meeting on Sunday, Nov. 11 beginning at 7 pm at Escape Java Joint, 916 Williamson Street in Madison.
The point of this meeting is to share information on national and international trends in Palestine solidarity work, and to discuss the work of MRSCP in that light.
The meeting will open with a preview clip from one of our new films (Reel Bad Arabs or Occupation 101) and then move on to a power-point summary of the recent national conference of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which adopted three new action proposals for 2007-2008. We will also have a short report on two other major Middle East conferences: the UN conference on Palestine that was held in Brussels in August, and the Boston Sabeel conference which was held the weekend of October 27-28.
This will be followed by a recap of what MRSCP has been up to and some discussion of possible plans for the coming year. Q&A and discussion will follow.
If you’ve been thinking of getting more involved with MRSCP or just wondering what we’ve been up to, be sure to attend this meeting…bring friends too. Escape has a great menu and we will be providing some hummus and zatar with Holy Land olive oil for you to sample.
Finally, here are links to two good articles: (1) the recent decision by Israel to collectively punish Gaza further by shutting off fuel and electricity, and (2) Bishop Desmond Tutu’s speech at the Sabeel conference.
The next meeting of the Divest From the Israeli Occupation group will be on Saturday, Nov. 17th from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm in the downtown Madison Public Library.
George Arida, with the Madison Rafah Sister City Project, will give a report on the recent meeting of the national U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and will present their adopted proposal to groups for a Motorola Boycott.
Other items on the agenda include
• State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) response to Action Sudan,
• prospects for work on the SWIB campaign,
• plans of allied groups,
• ideas for a public outreach campaign to publicize the nature and effects of the Israeli occupation,
• development of an apartheid analogy,
• and your ideas.
· Seizure would allow huge expansion of settlements
· Move seen as rush to make changes before US summit
Conal Urquhart in Jerusalem
Wednesday October 10, 2007
Construction workers in the West Bank. Photograph: Sebastian Scheiner/AP
The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday.
The confiscation happened as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met to prepare the ground for a meeting hosted by President George Bush in the United States aimed at reviving a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
However, critics said the confiscation of land suggested that Israel was imposing its own solution on the Palestinians through building roads, barriers and settlements that would render a Palestinian state unviable.
The land seized forms a corridor from East Jerusalem to Jericho and is intended to be used for a road that would be for Palestinians only. Analysts said the road would run on one side of the Israeli security barrier, while the existing Jerusalem-Jericho road would be reserved for Israelis.