November 14, 2009
Israel/Palestine Workshop at the Wilmar Center

Saturday, November 14
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center
953 Jenifer Street, Madison [Map]

A workshop by the Madison Area Peace Coalition Israel/Palestine Task Force on how to talk about the conflict.

We will be viewing and discussing a DVD of the workshop presented by American-Jewish peace activist Anna Baltzer across the U.S. in the past year.

We will also be providing copies of Q & A handouts from the workshop. For more information, contact dvdwilliams51(at)tds.net.

Lee Brown: The U.S. should stop blindly supporting Israel

Editorial, Cap Times, November 6, 2009

Dear Editor:

In Cairo on June 4, President Obama promised “to work aggressively to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that she has not been able to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet face-to-face.

Perhaps, when all else fails, the United States should commit itself to upholding the rule of law.

Since 1972 the U.S. has used its veto 41 times to shield Israel from criticism by the United Nations Security Council. These resolutions concerned military attacks, rights of Palestinian people to self-determination, airstrikes that killed civilians, and violation of human rights in occupied territories — major infractions of international law. Yet the U.S. veto is so predictable Israel has assumed it had permission to ignore recognized standards of behavior.

There is no better time than now for the U.S. to announce it will not use its veto power to defend Israeli crimes.

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Amal Othman with Interfaith Peace-Builders


“Do You Have Family Here?”

Interfaith Peace-Builders, October 29, 2009

As expected, all 31 delegates went through passport control at Ben Gurion airport in Israel with no hassles. Except for me.

I am a U.S. citizen, and yet I was questioned by four different airport officers.

Racial profiling? My name is Amal Othman, my country of birth is Jordan, and my parents are Palestinian refugees. I handed my American passport to the young Israeli officer and right away, she asked me for my father’s full name. Without any hesitation, she got up out of her booth, and said: “follow me”. I took a deep breath, smiled, and walked behind her. I was so relieved when I noticed Mike (one of IFPB leaders) walking right next to me. We were escorted to a waiting area, and it did not take long before I was called in for questioning.

What is your father’s full name? What is your mother’s full name? Where were they born? What is your “hamoula” (clan) name? How old are they? Where do they live now? Have you been to Israel before? Do you have family here? Why did you come here? With whom? How did you become a U.S. citizen? And the questions continued.

I was then taken to a different waiting area, with lots of other people, mostly Arabs, a Turkish couple, and an Asian woman. We, Mike and I, waited for a while, perhaps 15 minutes or so. I was then called by another officer who took me to a different room, questioned me again, same exact questions.

The scenario repeated itself four times, like a broken record.

The Israeli officers were trying to find records of my parents and their family history. I learned later that the Israeli government has kept records of every Palestinian family, village, city, land and olive trees. They were searching for my status to determine if I pose a threat to Israel as a refugee returning to reclaim ownership of Palestinian property or if any of my family participated in the Arab revolt of 1936.

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Israel accused of rationing water to Palestinians

Patrick Moser, Agence France Presse, Oct 27, 2009

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Israel of denying Palestinians adequate access to water while allowing Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank almost unlimited supplies.

Israel, the human rights group said, restricts availability of water in the Palestinian territories “by maintaining total control over the shared resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.”

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies,” Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera said in a report.

Israel consumes four times more water than Palestinians, who use an average of 70 litres (16 gallons) a day per person, according to the report entitled: “Troubled waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water.”

Amnesty said the “inequality” is even more pronounced in some areas of the West Bank where settlements use up to 20 times more water per capita than neighbouring Palestinian communities which survive on barely 20 litres (5.28 gallons) of water per capita a day.

“Swimming pools, well-watered lawns and large irrigated farms in Israeli settlements in the OPT (occupied Palestinian territory) stand in stark contrast next to Palestinian villages whose inhabitants struggle even to meet their domestic water needs.”

Israel insists it shares common water resources with Palestinians in a fair manner, saying the Palestinians have access to twice as much water as the 23.6 million cubic metres (833 million cubic feet) they are allocated annually under a mutual agreement.

“Israel has fulfilled all its obligations,” the foreign ministry said in response to the Amnesty report.

The Palestinians on the other hand, it said, “have significantly violated their commitments” by drilling 250 wells without authorisation and failing to build sewage plants.

The Amnesty report pointed out that Palestinians are not allowed to drill new wells or rehabilitate old ones without permits from the Israeli authorities, which are often impossible to secure.

In addition, many roads in the West Bank are closed or restricted to Palestinian traffic which forces water tankers to make long detours to supply communities not connected to the water network.

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