January 1 and 2, 2009
WORT Programs on Gaza

“A Public Affair”, WORT 89.9 FM, Thursday, January 1, 2009 at noon, call in 256-2001
Why the Israeli assault on Gaza? Why now? What are the Israeli motivations? What are the broader, deeper contexts for this massive act of aggression against a largely defenseless people? These and other questions will be the focus of a conversation with host Allen Ruff and special guest Jennifer Loewenstein, Palestine Human Rights activist, co-founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and Lecturer on the Contemporary Middle East, the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, the UW-Madison.

“A Public Affair”, WORT 89.9 FM, Friday, January 2, 2009 at noon, call in 256-2001
Judith Siers-Poisson hosts a show on the crisis in Gaza. Guests: Ewa Jasiewicz and Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement on the Israeli attack — in international waters — on the boat Dignity. Dignity was loaded with 3-4 tons of emergency medical relief supplies, doctors, and international observers including former U.S. Congresswoman and recent presidential candidate for the Green Party, Cynthia McKinney. Jasiewicz is in Gaza, Berlin in the U.S. Also, a representative of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza.

December 28, 2008
Take Action to End Israeli Attacks on Gaza – Radio Show Sunday

Our friends in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza report massive casualties from Israeli air strikes. Hospitals are overflowing with more than 200 dead and over 500 wounded (so far). So-called “Hamas compounds” included a civil police training school where scores of young men desperate for a salary to support families were assembled for a graduation ceremony. Bombs hit at school let-out time so children were in the streets in large numbers.

Many expected that no Israeli attack would be launched just hours after Israel, as widely reported in the western media, had finally allowed the delivery of a small amount of humanitarian aid to the starving population of Gaza. Widespread property damage is making life in the cold and dark of Gaza even more miserable than it was, if such a thing can even be imagined. And as I write this, it is reported that new missile attacks are targeting a mosque and various social welfare agencies located in densely crowded neighborhoods.

And the U.S. media continues to promote the myth of Israeli “retaliation” when in reality it was Israel that broke the truce several weeks ago.

If you need more information on today’s events in Gaza, click here: Gaza City hospital a gruesome scene; families pick through body parts to identify loved ones:

    (27 Dec) Death shrouds the hallways of Gaza City’s Ash-Shefa medical compound Saturday, its smell creeping in from all corners. Amputated bodies are strewn throughout hallways because morgues in the city can no longer accommodate the dead. In one corner a man stands with his seven year old son in a cardboard box because the hospital ran out of sheets to cover the dead with. This is how he will carry him home and bury him. Another man stands dazed, in shock after watching his son Mohammed killed during his graduation ceremony at the de facto police headquarters. The father of one of Mohammed’s classmates stood next to his son as he was decapitated. The man is still screaming.

and here, Gaza-based foreigners witness catastrophic violence:

    (27 Dec) In front of our house we found the bodies of two little girls under a car, completely burnt. They were coming home from school. This is more than just collective punishment. We are being treated like laboratory animals.

See also this from Ali Abunimah at The Electronic Intifada:
Gaza Massacres must spur us to action.

If you are ready to do something, read on.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation are all issuing calls for protests to our government officials. Do three things:

  1. Contact Representative Tammy Baldwin’s office
    Phone: DC: (202) 225-2906, Madison: (608) 258-9800
  2. Contact Senator Russ Feingold’s office
    Phone numbers: DC: (202), Middleton: (608) 828-1200
  3. Contact Senator Herb Kohl’s office
    Phone numbers: DC: (202) 224-5653, Madison: (608) 264-5338

Thank You!

Friends,

Thank you so much for your support of the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Soccer Tournament for Youth. Because of your kind contributions we made our goal and the event was a huge success. Twenty teams of youths and mentors played as neighbors in an uplifing community event. Together we helped created a genuine community space where Gazans could meet to heal the wounds of internal violence. Already plans are forming for next year’s tounament and we hope you will be there with us to make it happen.

To get all the updates, photos and commentary, please visit us at Rachel Corrie Ramadan 2008 Cup.

Sincerely,
John Harvey and Andrew Ford Lyons

October 1 – 4, 2008
Palestine in Focus Photo Exhibit and Sale

In conjunction with the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, a photo exhibit will be on display outside of Anderson Auditorium, Predolin Humanities Center, Edgewood College, from October 1 – 4. Free and open to the public, the exhibit features photos by award-winning Palestinian journalist, photographer and website host Mohammed Omer.

Requests for printed copies of any of the images can be made before or after the play performances, or by sign-up sheet at the exhibit, and purchased for delivery at a later date. All proceeds from the sale of the prints will go to support Omer, a native of Rafah.

For more information about Mohamed Omer, including an account of his recent detention and torture at the hands of Israeli officials while returning from Europe where he had been given the prestigious Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, see rafah.virtualactivism.net/news/todaymain.htm.

For further information, contact Robin at 608-221-0809 or palestineinfocus (at) yahoo.com.

Truth and Consequences Under the Israeli Occupation

A Palestinian journalist’s life and work shed light on the violence in Israel’s “dual” society

Mohammed Omer, The Nation, July 31, 2008

I am a Palestinian journalist from Gaza. At the age of 17, I armed myself with a camera and a pen, committed to report accurately on events in Gaza. I have filed reports as Israeli fighter jets bombed Gaza City. I have interviewed mothers as they watched their children die in hospitals unequipped to serve them because of Israel’s embargo. I have been recognized for my reporting, even in the United States and United Kingdom, where I have won two international awards. I have also been beaten and tortured by Israeli soldiers.

This summer, at age 24, I was honored to learn that I had become the youngest journalist to receive the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, named for the famed American war reporter and awarded to journalists who counter propaganda with the truth. Although Israel has sealed Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians in what many now call the world’s largest open-air prison, Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen lobbied the Israeli government to let me leave Gaza to receive my award in person. Upon my return from London, I was surrounded by Israeli security officers. I was stripped naked at gunpoint, interrogated, kicked and beaten for more than four hours. At one point I fainted and then awakened to fingernails gouging at the flesh beneath my eyes. An officer crushed my neck beneath his boot and pressed my chest into the floor. Others took turns kicking and pinching me, laughing all the while. They dragged me by my feet, sweeping my head through my own vomit. I lost consciousness. I was told later that they transferred me to a hospital only when they thought I might die.

Today, I have difficulty breathing. I have abrasions and scratches on my chest and neck. My hands don’t function well; typing is difficult. My doctor informed me that due to nerve damage from one kick, I may be unable to father children and will need to have an operation.

Israeli attacks on journalists are not new; nor are they rare. In April, Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana was killed by fire from an Israeli tank. He was in a car, clearly marked as press. According to Amnesty International, “Fadel Shana appears to have been killed deliberately although he was a civilian taking no part in attacks on Israel’s forces.”

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Israeli military’s widespread “abusive behavior” of Palestinian journalists. And the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that journalists covering Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza “contend with perennial abuses at the hands of Israeli forces.” In 2007 alone, Israeli soldiers shot photographers from Agence France-Presse, Al-Ayyam newspaper and Al-Aqsa TV. The television cameraman, Imad Ghanem, fell to the ground when wounded. Israeli forces then shot him twice more in the legs. Both of his legs have been amputated.

Could it be that despite their tanks, fighter planes and nuclear arsenal, Israel is threatened by our cameras and computers, which give the world access to images and information about their military occupation of Palestinians? Indeed, this month a Palestinian girl filmed an Israeli soldier shooting a blindfolded Palestinian at point blank range with a rubber bullet. The video aired widely, on CNN, NBC News and the BBC, among other media outlets.

Although Palestinians face this violence daily, the images and our stories rarely travel beyond our borders. Israel seems intent on hiding its oppression of Palestinians under its rule–including its dual system of laws, one giving civil, political and social rights to Israelis, and the other denying those rights to Palestinians living under occupation. This system allows Jewish settlers in the West Bank to enjoy freedom of movement and access to healthcare and education, while Palestinian children in Gaza die of curable illnesses because hospitals have run out of medicine.

Martha Gellhorn brought to light atrocities committed in World War II and in the Vietnam War. In her tradition, I remain committed to accurate reporting from Gaza today. For this I may suffer lifelong consequences. But I hold on to the hope that Americans–as well as journalists worldwide–will impress upon Israel the need to respect the rights of reporters. Freedom of speech and a free press are hallmarks of any democracy. I am proud to call myself a Palestinian and a journalist. The might of the Israeli military will not silence my pen or darken my camera lens.

Mohammed Omer is an award-winning photographer and journalist based in Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Copyright © 2008 The Nation

September 1 – 23, 2008
Rachel Corrie Soccer Tournament

Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,

We have been asked by some of our friends from Olympia, Washington, Rachel Corrie’s home town, to solicit support for an ambitious new undertaking to benefit the young people of Rafah.

In September, during the month of Ramadan, the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), one of our partner groups in Rafah, plans to host the first ever all-Rafah youth soccer tournament. They hope that this tournament will begin the process of establishing a soccer park and organized soccer leagues in the war-ravaged Rafah community, providing a healthy outlet for Rafah’s youth (over half the population of Gaza is under 18).

Organizers have set a modest but critical goal of raising $2,500 by August 1. MRSCP has agreed to contribute $500 to this cause. We urge you to join us.

Tax-deductible U.S. donations will be channeled through the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Please do not make out checks or send donations to MRSCP.

As always, we thank you for your support!

August 8 – 10, 2008
Rafah Soccer Tournament: Benefit Garage Sale

Shafia Powell and her friend Nabila have generously offered to host a garage sale next weekend to benefit the Rafah Youth Soccer Tournament planned for this September.

THE SALE WILL BE ON MADISON’S NORTH SIDE AT 3601 MARCY LANE, OFF OF TROY DRIVE. THE TENTATIVE HOURS ARE:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 12 NOON – 5 PM
SATURDAY, AUGUST 9, 9 AM – 5 PM
SUNDAY, AUGUST 10, 9 AM – 3 PM

Tournament supporters in the U.S. were successful in raising the money needed to launch the tournament and will shortly be doing “Phase 2” fund raising to support it.

IF YOU HAVE ANY ITEMS TO DONATE TO THE SALE, please contact Nabila at 242-9179 to arrange to drop them off. If you need help transporting donations please contact Shafia at 772-5744. Holy Land Olive Oil should be available at the sale as well.

Please help us spread the word about this sale. And as always, thanks for your support.

Film: Occupation 101

Escape Java Joint
916 Williamson Street
Madison

“Occupation 101” (2006) Made at considerable personal sacrifice by two brothers, Sufyan and Abdallah Omeish, this 60-minute 2006 film has won at least eight major film festival awards. It provides an excellent, comprehensive historical summary and analysis of the Israeli occupation. Discussion will follow: What is the nature of the occupation? What does it mean for current proposed “one-state solutions”? Can there be an end to the Israeli occupation? Is real peace possible? What can we, in Madison and the U.S, do to work for peace in this part of the Middle East?

Petition to protest Israeli assault on Mohammed Omer


Washington Report

ACTION ALERT
July 2, 2008

Contact: communications@wrmea.com

Washington Report Correspondent Mohammed Omer Hospitalized Following Detention by Israeli Soldiers at Allenby Bridge Crossing

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and co-recipient of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was hospitalized with cracked ribs and other injuries inflicted by Israeli soldiers at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank.

Omer was returning home to Gaza after a European speaking tour and the June 16 London ceremony at which he accepted the prestigious Gellhorn Prize.

Mohammed Omer with John Pilger and Dahr JamailJournalist John Pilger (c), a member of the Martha Gellhorn Prize judges panel, congratulates co-recipients Dahr Jamail (l) and Mohammed Omer. Photo Paul de Rooij.

Dutch MP Hans Van Baalen, head of the parliament’s foreign relations committee, and award-winning journalist John Pilger spent weeks lobbying Israel to issue an exit permit for the 24-year-old journalist. As has been the case before, diplomatic intervention was necessary to secure permission for his return as well. Nevertheless, Israeli authorities initially refused to allow Omer to return to his home in Rafah from Amman. Finally—after missing his brother’s wedding—he was told that arrangements had been made for him to cross the border on Thursday, June 26. Dutch diplomats awaited him on the other side to escort him to the Gaza Strip.

Instead of being granted free passage, however, Omer was detained, questioned by a Shin Bet agent, strip searched at gunpoint, assaulted and dragged by the heels to an ambulance after he began vomiting and going in and out of consciousness. When he finally came to, he was in a Palestinian hospital in Jericho, where he was treated and allowed to return home in the custody of the Dutch diplomats. See the following article by John Pilger in the July 2 Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/02/israelandthepalestinians.civilliberties

The following afternoon, speaking from home, a recovering but still traumatized Omer told the Washington Report that he was having difficulty breathing and swallowing. The next day, suffering from cracked ribs and other injuries, he was admitted to a hospital in Gaza, where he remains as of this writing.


Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, correspondent Mohammed Omer lies in his hospital bed in the Gaza Strip June 30, 2008. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa (GAZA)

In his article in the August 2008 Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “A Voice for the Voiceless,” Omer defines his life’s mission as “to get the truth out,” and describes himself as “not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli, but simply…an eyewitness on the ground, reporting what happens and why.”

One of the Shin Bet agents who interrogated him at the Allenby crossing advised Omer not to return to Gaza, where—thanks to the Israeli siege—there is no electricity, potable water, medical supplies, gasoline or other necessities of life. Clearly Israel wants to silence Mohammed Omer’s voice, as it has silenced the voices of other journalists—most recently Omer’s colleague Fadel Shana, the 24-year-old Reuters cameraman killed by an Israeli tank shell on April 16.

Palestinian journalists risk their lives on a daily basis to tell the world what is happening in their homeland. Their words and pictures remind us that we have yet to realize the vow, “Never again!”

Sign the Petition: Please click on the button at right to sign a petition condemning Israel’s attacks on journalists, both Palestinian and international. Add your voice to Mohammed Omer’s on behalf of voiceless Gazans and all Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation—an occupation made possible by American tax dollars.

June 8, 2008
Film: USA vs Al-Arian

Sunday, June 8
7 pm
Escape Java Joint, 916 Williamson St.

This film about U.S. political prisoner Dr. Sami Al-Arian will be shown with remarks by Professor Mel Underbakke, a colleague of Al-Arian. Professor Underbakke is taking this film on a national tour to raise awareness of the Al-Arian case. For more information on the tour see www.freesamialarian.com.

Peregrine Forum, the Madison Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project are co-sponsors of this event.

Sami Al-Arian’s Long Ordeal

Stephen Lendman, Opednews.com, March 24, 2008

Sami Al-Arian is a political prisoner in Police State America. This article reviews his case briefly and updates it to the present.

Because of his faith, ethnicity and political activism, the Bush administration targeted Al-Arian for supporting “terrorism.” In fact, he’s a Palestinian refugee, distinguished professor and scholar, community leader and civil activist.

Nonetheless, the FBI harassed him for 11 years, arrested him on February 20, 2003, and falsely accused him of backing organizations fronting for Palestinian Islamic Jihad – a 1997 State Department-designated “Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).”

A week later, in spite of his many awards, impeccable credentials and tenured status, University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft fired him under right wing pressure.

Since February 20, 2003, Al-Arian has been imprisoned – first at Tampa, Florida’s Orient Road jail, then on to more than a dozen different maximum and other federal prison facilities. He’s currently on hunger strike at Warsaw, Virginia’s Northern Neck Regional jail after being transferred back March 18 from Butner, North Carolina’s medical prison.

Al-Arian’s trial began in June 2005 and was a travesty. It lasted six months, cost an estimated $50 million, and the prosecution called 80 witnesses, including Israeli intelligence agents and victims of suicide bombings to prejudice the jury. It introduced portions of hundreds of wiretapped phone calls from over a half million recorded; “evidence” from faxes, emails and what was seized from his home; quotes from his speeches and lectures; conferences, events and rallies he attended; articles he wrote; books he owned; magazines he edited; and various publications he read – all legal and in no way incriminating unless falsely twisted to appear that way.

After years of effort and millions spent, Al-Arian was exonerated. On December 6, 2005 after 13 days of deliberation, the jury acquitted him of all (eight) “terrorism” charges. They were deadlocked 10 – 2 for acquittal on nine others. All of them were false and unjust.

June 7 – October 18, 2008
Peregrine Forum 2008 "NAKBA" Series

PALESTINE HISTORY CLASS
March thru October at Escape Java Joint, 916 Williamson St., Madison

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1948 Palestine War and subsequent events, based largely on the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe (One World Publications 2007), 313pp., $14.95 pbk, which can be ordered though Rainbow Books. The series began on March 22, but you can join anytime. Dates and topics follow; for more specific information contact dvdwilliams51 at yahoo.com • 608-442-8399

SAT. JUNE 7 • 2 – 5 pm “The Two ‘Nakbas’, 1948 and 1967: Parallel Conquests and Parallell Mythologies.” Screening and analysis of the 2007 WGBH Boston Public TV documentary “Six Days in June.”

Standard Israeli and American accounts of the 1948 War repeat a story of “David” versus “Goliath”: “Little Israel” threatened on all sides by overwhelming Arab forces bent on destruction of the Jews. In 2007 WGBH Boston presented “Six Days in June” on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War, recycling the standard portrayals. It was screened on PBS affiliates across the U.S. without any rebuttal or countervailing points-of-view. Peregrine Forum will screen the film with critical commentary on inaccuracies and distortions.

SAT. JUNE 14 • 2- 4 pm “The ‘Arab-Israeli War’ of June-September 1948.” Reading from Pappe.

SAT. OCT. 4 • 2 – 4 pm “Completion of the Conquest: October 1948-January 1949, and Other Illegal Acquisitions.” Reading from Pappe.

SAT. OCT. 18 • 2 – 4 pm “1948 Palestine War and Its Legacies: Occupation, ‘Memoricide’, and the ‘Peace Process’. ” Reading from Pappe.

Free and open to all; donation requested.
Co-presented by David Williams & Steve Wolvin.
Contact: dvdwilliams51 at yahoo.com • 608-442-8399

Remembering The Nakba On Israel's 60th Anniversary

JUDITH LAITMAN and TSELA BARR, Wisconsin State Journal, May 16, 2008

This month, Jews around the world are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

These celebrations reflect the understandable joy of Jews who view Israel as the symbol of 60 years of freedom from centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. While Israel provided a safe haven for many Jews, the terrible fact is that more than 700,000 Palestinians were made into refugees to make room for the future state of Israel. Sixty years later, that number has swelled to an estimated 7 million.

Many live in 58 registered refugee camps dispersed throughout the Middle East, and some 4 million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories continue to endure reprehensible collective punishment to this day.

That is why the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or the Catastrophe to Palestinians.

Any peaceful future depends on recognizing both the Palestinian and the Israeli narrative. And yet, just as the names of more than 400 pre-1948 Palestinian towns and cities have been deliberately erased from maps, the history of the Palestinian Nakba itself has been all but erased from consciousness.

Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-Semitism and Hitler’s genocide.

Today, because much of the world has forgotten, we remember that: In April, 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin, Plan Dalet was put into operation. It authorized the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state.

On May 22, 1948, Jewish soldiers from the Alexandroni Brigade entered the house of Tantura residents killing between 110-230 Palestinian men.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March.

Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person “has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”

Israel has never accepted this basic human right as a basis for peace negotiations, whether by return, compensation, or resettlement.

May 8, 2008
“No Time to Celebrate” demonstration at UW-Madison

Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison, May 15, 2008

JVP’s Madison Chapter held a very successful “No Time to Celebrate” demonstration in partnership with several other area groups on May 8 on the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Library Mall.

The demonstration was a counter to an Israeli Independence Day birthday celebration put on by Hillel students also being held on the Library Mall. Their event featured birthday cake, free food, and a “moon bounce.” We actually outnumbered them during a three-hour time frame. We had from 45-50 people on our side with a very visually impactful presence including black balloons, a “puppet” figure dressed as a Palestinian refugee, Palestinian flags, banners, and signs. We also passed out a lot of leaflets putting the Israeli celebration in perspective and listing the 418 Palestinian Communities Destroyed in Al-Nakba. Our chapter reprinted the UK statement to pass out with our contact info.