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.

Lee Brown
Madison

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.

The report said between 180,000 and 200,000 Palestinians in West Bank rural communities have no access to running water, while taps in other areas often run dry.

In the Gaza Strip, the 22-day military offensive which Israel launched on December 27 damaged water reservoirs, wells, sewage networks and pumping stations.

Further aggravating an already dire situation, Israel and Egypt have sealed off the impoverished territory to all but basic goods since the Islamist Hamas movement seized control in June 2007, severely hampering the upkeep of basic infrastructure. Related article: Palestinian farmers struggle with water crisis

The sewage system has been particularly hard-hit, as Israel does not allow pipes to be imported for fear they could be used by Palestinian militants to build rockets.

“The coastal aquifer, Gaza’s sole fresh water resource, is polluted by the infiltration of raw sewage from cesspits and sewage collection ponds and by the infiltration of sea water (itself also contaminated by raw sewage discharged daily into the sea near the coast) and has been degraded by over-extraction,” Amnesty said.

UN experts say the underground water supplies upon which Gaza’s 1.5 million population depend are in danger of collapse.

Researchers have found levels of nitrates in Gaza rising as high as 331 milligrams per litre, well above World Health Organisation guidelines for a maximum of 50.

High nitrate concentrations in ground water have been linked to a form of potentially fatal anaemia among newborns known as “blue baby syndrome.”

Israel Supreme Court: Open 'apartheid' road to Palestinians

Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, Oct 23, 2009

Jerusalem – In the first ruling of its kind, Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the Israeli army on Thursday to allow Palestinians to travel on a West Bank road they had been banned from using.

The case, filed by the Association for Human Rights Israel (ACRI) on behalf of 22 Palestinian villages in the area south of Hebron, is being hailed by human rights activists as a victory in their battle against segregated roads in the occupied West Bank. While most West Bank roads are open to both Israelis and Palestinians, a few major ones are closed to Palestinian traffic, leading critics to decry them as “apartheid” roads.

A spokeswoman for ACRI said that it was the first time that the Supreme Court had ever ruled on road closures imposed by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). Following the outbreak of violence in the second intifada in September 2000, the IDF closed roads in many areas in what it said was a move to protect Israeli citizens, including both Jewish settlers and passing Israeli motorists. Approximately 10 of these roads remain closed, ACRI says.

“The Supreme Court never made a decision before relating to a particular place where Palestinians are banned from driving on a road just for being Palestinians,” said Nirit Moskovich of ACRI. The group is disappointed, however, that the Supreme Court did not seize the opportunity to make a ruling on segregated roads in general, she added.

“In our petition, we put great emphasis on the fact that the entire notion of prohibiting public resources to people based on their ethnic or national identity is forbidden and should be outlawed,” Ms. Moskovich said. “But the Supreme Court did not refer to that at all in their decision. It was based on the circumstances of that particular case.”

The 29 members of the Jadallah family in the village of Beit Awa were a compelling example of the hardships caused by the policy. They live adjacent to the road in question, Road 354, which they haven’t been allowed to use since 2001. That left the only route to and from the family homes over treacherous, unpaved mountain roads. Older family members found it impossible to travel at all.

“It is hard to downplay the damage caused to the local residents, as clearly demonstrated by the petitioners,” the Supreme Court justices said in their ruling.

Israel’s Supreme Court is one of the country’s more liberal-minded institutions, and has often made rulings that are at odds with other spheres of power in the Israeli establishment. Ten years ago, ACRI, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and HaMoked: the Center for the Defense of the Individual, won a Supreme Court ruling that prohibits the use of torture by Israel’s security services. The groups complain that the anti-torture ruling is regularly violated.

Thursday’s ruling is likely to provide additional pressure for the high court to decide on Road 443, a larger and well-trafficked road also closed to Palestinians.

“Today’s ruling is particularly relevant as it may influence future court decisions on the legality of this separation regime, such as the notorious case of Route 443. ACRI submitted a petition against the segregation of this road and is awaiting a ruling,” Attorney Limor Yehuda said in a release.

“As such, it is alarming that Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish refers to the notion of proportionality in the present ruling and avoids confronting the principle at stake: the legality of Israel’s policy of segregation and discrimination in the West Bank.”

The army said in its petition that the closure order was issued to protect residents in the West Bank settlement of Negohot and other settlement outposts, where about 200 Israelis live. The court gave the IDF three months to find another solution.

November 14, 2009
Seven Jewish Children at the Wilmar Center

Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza
Written by Caryl Churchill & directed by Andy Somers

Saturday, November 14
Madison Socialist Potluck
Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center
953 Jenifer Street, Madison
    Potluck supper 5:30 pm (bring a dish to pass)
    Announcements 6:30 pm
    Play and discussion following

Seven Jewish Children is Caryl Churchill’s response to the situation in Gaza in January 2009.

The performance is FREE. Donations are being accepted for the organization Medical Aid for Palestinians. All the actors are members of the Prairie Unitarian Social Action Committee, including director Andy Somers.

For more info contact marysomers44[at]charter.net

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: the Goldstone Report


Decision an Insult to the Victims

Al Mezan Center For Human Rights, 3 October 2009

A Joint Press Release from Adalah * Addameer * Aldameer * Al Haq * Al Mezan * Badil * Civic Coalition for Jerusalem * DCI-Palestine * ENSAN Centre * Independent Commission for Human Rights * Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre * Palestinian Centre for Human Rights * Ramallah Centre for Human Rights Studies * Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling *

Yesterday, 2 October 2009, the Palestinian leadership – under heavy international pressure lead by the United States – deferred the draft proposal at the Human Rights Council endorsing all the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission (the Goldstone Report). This deferral denies the Palestinian peoples’ right to an effective judicial remedy and the equal protection of the law. It represents the triumph of politics over human rights. It is an insult to all victims and a rejection of their rights.

The crimes documented in the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission represent the most serious violations of international law; Justice Goldstone concluded that there was evidence to indicate that crimes against humanity may have been committed in the Gaza Strip. Violations of international law continue to this day, inter alia, through the continuing Israeli-imposed illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip. The findings of the Mission confirmed earlier investigations conducted by independent Palestinian, Israeli and international organisations.

The injustice that has now been brought upon Palestinians has been brought upon everyone on this globe. International human rights and humanitarian law are not subject to discrimination, they are not dependent on nationality, religion, or political affiliation. International human rights and humanitarian law apply universally to all human beings.

The rule of law is intended to protect individuals, to guarantee their fundamental rights. Yet, if the rule of law is to be respected it must be enforced. World history, and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land has shown us that as long as impunity persists, the law will continue to be violated; innocent civilians will continue to suffer the horrific consequences.

Justice delayed is justice denied. All victims have a legitimate right to an effective judicial remedy, and the equal protection of the law. These rights are universal: they are not subject to political considerations. In the nine months since Operation Cast Lead, no effective judicial investigations have been conducted into the conflict. Impunity prevails. In such situations, international law demands recourse to international judicial mechanisms. Victims’ rights must be upheld. Those responsible must be held to account.

The belief that accountability and the rule of law can be brushed aside in the pursuit of peace is misguided. History has taught us time and time again, that sustainable peace can only be built on human rights, on justice, and the rule of law. For many years in Palestine international law, and the rule of law, has been sacrificed in the name of politics, and cast aside in favour of the peace process. This approach has been tried, and it has failed: the occupation has been solidified, illegal settlements have continued to expand, the right to self determination has been denied; innocent civilians suffer the horrific consequences. It is now time to pursue justice, and a peace built on a foundation of human rights, dignity, and the rule of law. In Justice Goldstone’s words, there is no peace without justice.

As human rights organizations we strongly condemn the Palestinian leaderships’ decision to defer the proposal endorsing all the recommendations of the Fact Finding Mission, and the pressure exerted by certain members of the international community. Such pressure is in conflict with States’ international obligations, and is an insult to the Palestinian people.

As human rights organizations concerned with rights and justice, we declare that we will double our efforts to seek justice for the victims of the violations of human rights and international law in oPt [Occupied Palestinian Territory] without delay.

July 18, 2009
Madison Children’s Museum Benefit Sale

Madison Children’s Museum Warehouse
8830 N. Greenview Drive, Middleton [Map]
7:00 AM to 4:00 PM

A new Fair Trade Crafts sale has been added outdoors to the Madison Children’s Museum Annual Benefit Sale of American Girl Returns & Seconds. The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and other local groups will be participating.



Annual Benefit Sale of American Girl Returns & Seconds

See what’s new this year!

Tickets for the 2009 sale are SOLD OUT! MCM members can shop without a ticket starting at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 18. At 3 p.m. the general public can enter the warehouse with free tickets. These free tickets will be issued at the MCM information tent beginning at 10 a.m. on the day of the sale.

Thank you for your interest and support of this important fundraiser for Madison Children’s Museum and American Girl’s Fund for Children. We want loyal supporters like you to be aware of important changes that will be made in 2009.

  • This year we will condense the sale into a one-day event on Saturday, July 18, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Shoppers will see a change in inventory offered at this year’s sale due to new federal safety requirements for children’s products. Because of these new, more stringent laws, our 2009 sale inventory is now limited to only American Girl’s popular dolls and books. In the future, it is possible more categories of product may become eligible.
  • As in past years, timed tickets will be required for entry to the sale from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Tickets for the 2009 sale are SOLD OUT.
  • At 2:30 p.m., members of Madison Children’s Museum will be allowed to enter the warehouse without a ticket.
  • At 3:00 p.m., the genereal public will be allowed to enter the warehouse without a ticket.
  • To receive email updates about our Annual Benefit Sale, including ticket information and price list, when they are available, click here.
  • If you currently receive our email updates, we strongly encourage you not to opt out as it will result in permanently removing you from all of our email communications.

Thank you for your patience and ongoing support while we continue to determine the details of this year’s sale. Please check back regularly for updates. If you have immediate questions, please contact Marianne Madar, our sale manager, at mmadar@madisonchildrensmuseum.org. We appreciate your patience.

Please do not contact American Girl regarding this sale. American Girl is not responsible for the condition of the merchandise or the management of the sale.

July 19, 2009
Palestine Program at Prairie Unitarian: "When Breathing is Defiance"

Stories from Occupied Palestine
Prairie Meeting House
2010 Whenona Drive, Madison [Map]
10:00 AM

As part of the Sunday service at 10 am on July 19 there will be a presentation on Palestine organized by the Social Action Committee of the Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society.

The presenters will be Nathan Beck and Sol Thea Kelley-Jones, solidarity workers and human rights activists who have worked on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank.

President Obama has said that “the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.” The Prairie program will report on current developments in Palestine, followed by a discussion of how a two state solution could be achieved.

From President Obama’s statement in Cairo, Egypt:

    “America’s strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Obama further stated “that it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.”