Clean WATER for Rafah’s Children

We ask you to help us give the gift of

Clean WATER for Rafah’s Children

Children at the Tuyar Al-Jena Kindergarten in Rafah were excited to receive a Maia Project water desalination and filtration system provided by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project in memory of MRSCP member Ken Coffeen.

There is a growing water crisis in Palestine that affects the health of virtually every adult and child. In the Gaza Strip, poor sanitation and over-extraction have polluted the limited water supply. Israeli military attacks and the blockade have prevented repairs to water infrastructure. Water to Gaza is restricted and often too expensive for families to purchase from a safe source.

On July 28, 2010 the UN General Assembly declared that “Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights.”

The MAIA (Arabic for water) project began when children at a UN school in Gaza were given the opportunity to choose the one thing they wanted most for their school. They chose clean drinking water!

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project has joined with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide water filter systems for schools in Rafah. We first raised $1,995 to install a filter for the Tuyor Al-Jena (Birds of Paradise) kindergarten, where children are now enjoying clean, safe water.

We next collected $13,700 for a second and much larger filter system at the UN Girl’s Elementary school in the Rafah Refugee Camp. This donation on June 7, 2011 helped supply 1,800 young girls with a very basic human right; something children and parents in Wisconsin take for granted.

Our current goal is to collect $11,500 to provide clean water to the Al-Shuka Preparatory Girl’s School in Rafah, with an attendance of 1,187 students. The total raised as of 4/30/12 is $6,890 or 60%.

Please help us provide clean, safe water for Rafah’s children. To donate please make checks to MRSCP, write WATER on the memo line and mail to:

    PO Box 55371
    Madison, WI 53705

If you wish to honor a friend or family member please include a note with their printed name and address. We will send a card to them to acknowledge your donation. As a 501(c)(3) organization all contributions to MRSCP are tax-deductible.

You may also donate on-line at the Madison-Rafah Maia Project page at MECA.

Pictures of the many Maia project filter installations can be seen here.

As always, thanks for your support.

Israeli Intransigence Lets BDS Into the Mainstream

Alex Kane, December 21, 2010

The world is fed up with Israel, with its continued colonization of the West Bank, its continued ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, its suffocating siege of Gaza and its crackdown on nonviolent Palestinian popular resistance. This major Human Rights Watch report exposes the infrastructure of Israeli apartheid.

Israeli intransigence on the settlements issue has provided an opening for some more mainstream endorsements of the the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The Human Rights Watch report states:

The United States should consider suspending financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of the Israeli government’s spending in support of settlements and the discriminatory policies documented in this report, since the US’s $2.75 billion in annual military aid to Israel substantially offsets these costs.

And a week and a half ago, twenty-six former European Union leaders penned a letter that called for sanctions against Israel.

The ground’s shaking.

First Rafah Water Filter Project


Hello everyone,

Thought you might like to see these pictures of the first water filter installed in the kindergarten in Rafah….from the funds raised over the past year. As we requested, our gift inscription is in memory of Ken Coffeen.

Barb O.


Hi Barb and Kathy,

I just received these photos of the completed water purification and desalination unit at Tuyor Al-Jena Kindergarten! Thanks so much for making this unit possible!

Josie Shields-Stromsness
Middle East Children’s Alliance

MECA projects:

November 17, 2010
Gilbert Achcar: "The Arabs and the Holocaust"

(Photo: The Arabic Hour)

Gilbert Achcar
“The Arabs and the Holocaust:
The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives”
Wednesday, November 17
(Room to be announced — see “Today in the Union”)
7:00 pm

Noted Middle East scholar, historian and intellectual Gilbert Achcar will be speaking in Madison on November 17th. Touring the US to promote his latest book, The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, he’ll be appearing in what promises to be an informative event for all those wishing to understand the conflicts in the Middle East. As a co-sponsor of this event, Rainbow Bookstore encourages all its friends to turn out and hear this important voice.

A major critic of imperialism in the region, Achcar is currently Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His previous books have been translated into more than fifteen languages. Among them are The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder (Saqi, 2010), The 33-Day War: Israel’s War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and its Consequences (Co-authored with Noam Chomsky, Paradigm Publishers, 2007).

About The Arabs and the Holocaust:

The Arab-Israeli conflict goes far beyond the wars waged in the Middle East. There is a war of narratives revolving around the two defining traumas of the conflict: the Holocaust and the Nakba. Middle East expert Gilbert Achcar critically assesses Arab attitudes to the Holocaust, which he argues are closely related to the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1948. From Hitler’s rise to power up to the present day, he identifies a wide range of reactions among the Arab world’s four main idealogical movements: pro-Western liberalism, pan-Arab nationalism, Islamic fundamentalism and Marxism. Based on a thorough examination of sources in several languages, including Arabic, English, French and German, “The Arabs and the Holocaust” is a major contribution to the discourse of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is also groundbreaking in its effort to bridge the gap between the conflicting narratives and to promote mutual understanding.

‘This is a work of breath-taking empathy, examining one of the most painful and emotion-laden topics in the modern world with dispassion, sensitivity and high erudition. Gilbert Achcar combines a historian’s profound understanding of the workings of Arab political discourse with a fine appreciation of the traumatic valance of every aspect of this topic. This magisterial study constitutes a welcome advance on the often meretricious and mediocre scholarship produced thus far on the important topic of the Arabs and the Holocaust.’ — Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies Department of History, Columbia University

‘Essential reading for anyone who seeks a balanced understanding of the place of Jews and the Holocaust in Arab thinking today. Whether or not one agrees with Gilbert Achcar on every issue, he provides a welcome and well-informed counterpoint to caricaturists and hate-mongers and fear-promoters of every persuasion. His is a voice of moderation in a bitter conflict, and it is all the more valuable for being steeped in the history and idiom of the Arab Middle East.’ — Michael R. Marrus, author of The Holocaust in History

‘In this study Gilbert Achcar exposes a great deal of spurious scholarship on the subject and places Arabattitudes towards the Holocaust and the Jews in their proper historical and intellectual context. It is an erudite, perceptive, and highly original study that shines much-needed light on a field which has tended to be dominated by partisanship and propaganda.’– Avi Shlaim, author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World

‘Gilbert Achcar’s thoughtful, well researched, and very welcome assessment of one of the most explosive topics of Palestinian/Israeli historiography is a courageous undertaking. He succeeds in treating the subject of the relationship of Palestine and the Nazi Holocaust with original thinking, profound scholarship, and meticulous analysis.’ — Naseer Aruri, member of the Palestine National Council

Arranged by Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative. Sponsored by Havens Center, UW Department of Sociology, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Madison Area Peace Coalition, Solidarity-Socialist Feminist Anti-Racist Organization – Madison Branch, International Socialist Organization- Madison, & Individual Donors. Endorsed by UW Student Progressive Dane.

November 10, 2010
John Mearsheimer to Speak in Madison

Student Progressive Dane and the
Middle Eastern Law Student Association present

John MearsheimerProfessor John Mearsheimer
Greater Israel’s Bleak Future

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
3650 Humanities, UW-Madison
7:00-9:00 PM

University of Chicago Political Science Professor John Mearsheimer is the author of numerous books and articles, including most famously, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics and The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy with Stephen Walt. His latest book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics, is set for release in early 2011.

Mearsheimer argues that there is not going to be a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and instead Israel will control of all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, it already does. He maintains that Greater Israel, as former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert have argued, will be an apartheid state.

However, Mearsheimer says that it will be impossible for Israel to maintain itself over the long term as an apartheid state, because apartheid is antithetical to mainstream Western values as well as core Jewish values. In the long run, Greater Israel will become a democratic bi-national state dominated by its Palestinian citizens, who will outnumber the Jews in the entirety of the land.

Co-Sponsors Include: The Havens Center, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, National Lawyers Guild of UW-Madison, Rainbow Book Store Co-Operative, and Young Americans for Liberty.

For more information, please contact stevehorn1022(at), call 262-705-5856, or go to facebook.

November 3, 2010
Glenn Greenwald to Speak in Madison

Glenn Greenwald will be on A Public Affair WORT-FM 89.9 with host Esty Dinur on Wednesday, November 3rd, from noon to one.

Student Progressive Dane and the
Middle Eastern Law Student Association present

Glenn Greenwald

Wars Without End: The War on Terrorism and Against Civil Liberties in the Obama Era
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
2650 Humanities, UW-Madison
7:00 9:00 PM

The Bush/Cheney assault on civil liberties, and the radical executive power theories that supported it, were one of the prime causes of Democratic anger during the last decade. That anger helped elect Barack Obama, whose vow to reverse this erosion of Constitutional values was a featured part of his campaign.

Yet almost two full years into the Obama presidency, the vast bulk of Bushs extremist War on Terror architecture from secrecy and lawless detention to due-process-free killings and immunity for lawbreaking not only has been embraced by Obama, but, in some cases, has been fortified and expanded.

What accounts for Obamas continuation of the very War on Terror policies which he once so vehemently condemned? What are the implications for core civil liberties? And what means exist for restoring the rule of law and Constitutional safeguards in the face of ongoing fear-mongering over terrorism?

Student Progressive Dane is honored to bring in Salon.coms Glenn Greenwald to attempt to put some answers to some of these questions. Glenn Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and is currently a contributing writer at Salon. He has also contributed to other newspapers and political news magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Conservative, The National Interest, and In These Times. Greenwald is the author of three books: How Would a Patriot Act? (2006) and A Tragic Legacy (2007), both New York Times bestsellers; and Great American Hypocrites (2008).

In March 2009 he was selected, along with Democracy Nows Amy Goodman, as the recipient of the first annual Izzy Award by the Park Center for Independent Media, an award named after famed independent journalist I.F. Izzy Stone and devoted to rewarding excellence in independent journalism. The selection panel cited Greenwalds pathbreaking journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom, official deception and controversial issues.

His commentaries on surveillance issues and separation of powers have been cited in The New York Times, in The Washington Post, in United States Senate floor debates, and in House official reports on executive power abuses, and he appears on various radio and television programs as a guest political pundit.

Co-sponsors: Young Americans for Liberty of UW-Madison, Student Labor Action Coalition, Middle Eastern Law School Association, National Lawyers’ Guild of UW-Madison, Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Model United Nations, and the Havens Center.

Funded in Part by Associated Students of Madison

For more information, please contact stevehorn1022(at), call 262-705-5856, or go to facebook.

October 21, 2010
Ann Wright to speak in Madison

From Afghanistan to Gaza: Obama’s Middle East Policy in Crisis

7:00 pm
180 Science Hall
550 N. Park Street [Map]

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is co-sponsoring a talk by Ann Wright on U.S. Middle East policy.

Ann Wright is a retired Army colonel and former US diplomat who resigned from the State Department in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Afghanistan. She traveled to Gaza three times in 2009 and helped coordinate the Gaza Freedom March. She is the co-author of the book Dissent: Voices of Conscience, available from Rainbow Bookstore.

Sponsors: Student Progressive Dane and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Welcomed by WORT Radio, 89.9 FM.

Co-sponsors: American Jews for a Just Peace/Madison; Colombia Support Network; Havens Center; Iraq Veterans Against the War/Madison; Madison Area Peace Coalition; Madison Institute; Pax Christi/Madison; Playgrounds for Palestine/Madison; The Progressive; Veterans for Peace/Madison; WI Impeachment Troops Out Now; Wisconsin Middle East Lobby Group; Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom/Madison.

Radio appearances by Ann Wright:
(1) WORT: Salamat show 6-6:30 pm, Sunday, Oct. 17
(2) WORT: LIVE Morning Buzz, 8 am, Thursday Oct. 21
(3) LIVE on Coffee and Cream on WSUM Student Radio (91.7 fm) between 11 and 12 noon on Thursday, Oct. 21
(4) WORT A Public Affair live with Judith Siers-Poisson 12 noon – 1 pm on Friday, Oct. 22 (89.9 fm)

This is an excerpt from a recent article on Gaza, “Gaza Death Zone”, CounterPunch, May 2, 2010:

“The Palestinians in the Death Zone called Gaza are being slaughtered again as Israel and now Egypt kill and wound more innocent civilians who challenge their illegal siege, blockade and quarantine.

In the past four days, one young Palestinian man has been killed and two young women and a young man have been wounded by Israeli snipers as they protested the Israeli bulldozing of 300 meters of Palestinian land into an Israeli “buffer zone.” Four young Palestinian tunnel workers have been killed by suffocation and 6 injured as Egypt sprayed a crowd dispersal gas into a tunnel.”

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis Executed US Citizen Furkan Dogan

Gareth Porter, Truthout, 27 September 2010


Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was aboard the Mavi Marmara when he was killed by Israeli commandos. (Photo: freegazaorg)

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been "lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time" before being shot in his face.

The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is "tattooing around the wound in his face," indicating that the shot was "delivered at point blank range."  The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that "the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back."

Based on both "forensic and firearm evidence," the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogans killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 "can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions." (See Report Page 38, Section 170)

The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.

The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administrations policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.

Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.

The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization.  In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge  the reports conclusion about the Israeli executions.

The statement said the fact-finding missions reports "tone and conclusions are unbalanced." It went on to state, "We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship."

Although the reports revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.

The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.

On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel "should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security" and that Israels military justice system "meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation."

Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.

The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a "soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above," the mission concluded.

"Soft baton rounds" are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.

The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.

The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.

The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli governments Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government "to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces."

The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.

When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.

That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.

The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.

According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters "deemed to be violent" in response to the resistance by passengers.

That decision apparently followed the passengers successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.

The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.

Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.

The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.

The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.

The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Womens Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.

The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.

The Turkish governments announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a "Panel of Inquiry" on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to "receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future."

Fighting Bob Fest Israel/Palestine Panel Now Online

Israel and Palestine: A Progressive View

This workshop, sponsored by a large number of Wisconsin groups including the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and the United Nations Association Dane County, represents one of the first times that Fighting Bob Fest has ventured into the area of international social justice.

This groundbreaking presentation, moderated by Progressive Magazine editor Matt Rothschild and featuring panelists Cathy Sultan, Sol Thea Kelley-Jones, and George Shalabi, is available online.

The site also has recent UNA programs featuring Joe Elder and Jeremi Suri.

October 7, 2010
Fall Educational Series on the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
122 State St, Rm 407, Madison
6:30 pm

Organized by the Peregrine Forum and supported by the Wisconsin Network for Peace Justice (WNPJ). The first class will provide broad historical background of the Middle East and the Abrahamic religions up to the 19th century and is a Prologue to our examination of the development of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from the 1880s onward.

Admission is free but there will be some cost for recommended readings. The main text for the core classes is David Hirsts epic narrative history The Gun and the Olive Branch: the Roots of Violence in the Middle East (Nation Books, 3rd edition 2003). Hirst is a veteran British journalist who has covered the Middle East for decades; his book was first published in 1977. The book is available new in paperback for $18 and may also be available used. Of course, we urge you to purchase it through Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.

In addition to the Hirst book there will be from time-to-time photocopies of various materials. The first of these is a copy of Palestine In a Nutshell by Amanda Roraback (Enisen Publishing 2004) which provides broad historical background useful for the first class. This reading is optional and we ask for a $5 donation to cover the cost.

The sequence for the core classes is:

    1) Prologue: History of the Middle East and the Abrahamic Religions;

    2) Historic Palestine and the early Zionist Movement Through World War I (1880s-1919);

    3) Mandate Palestine, the Rise of Nazism the European Holocaust (1920-World War II);

    4) The Creation of Israel from the Biltmore Program Through the 1948 War Armistice (1942-1949);

    5) The Arab-Israeli Conflict the Cold War (1949-1973);

    6) The Israeli Occupation the Rise of the P.L.O. and Likud (1974-86);

    7) Intifadas, Radical Islam, the Peace Process (1987-2010).

Contact: David Williams and Stephen Wolvin, co-presenters at dvdwilliams51 (at) or 608-442-8399.

September 19, 2010

Goodman Community Center
149 Wabesa St, Madison
Room Bolz B
5 7 pm [Map]

Free and open to all — light refreshments

A report on the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) work in the south Hebron hills, as part of an ongoing project in the small town of Tuwani, providing witness and support to Palestinian children as they travel each day to school.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Contact: Stefania at stefania (at) or 608-250-9240. To learn more, go to