Demand the Release of Palestinian Crafts from Gaza

Please do this today. Atfaluna Society for the Deaf is one of our crafts suppliers as well.

Middle East Children’s Alliance, 19 November 2011

Every holiday season, the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and Joining Hands sponsors a bazaar of Palestinian crafts and goods. Throughout each year, we spend time building relationships with creative and talented artisans, farmers and craftspeople–especially women–living in the West Bank and Gaza, who make beautiful hand-woven rugs, tapestries, wooden sculptures, pottery, and embroidery.

However, due to the ongoing illegal Israeli siege on Gaza, our most recent shipment of crafts from the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children was prohibited from leaving Gaza by the Israeli government. That’s why today, we urgently ask you to sign the petition below by Monday, November 21st, calling on the State Department to demand that Israel releases the crafts from Gaza, and end the inhumane siege and suffering:

For the past four years and to the detriment of over 1.5 million people (more than half are under the age of 18), Israel has imposed heavy restrictions on people and goods entering or leaving Gaza. For many of our Palestinian friends, these crafts are their sole means of livelihood and survival.

The suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, especially children, is at an all time high. According to the United Nations, over 70% of the population lives in poverty. The unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip, a staggering 45%, is among the world's highest. Children in Gaza are victims of acute malnutrition, a severe lack of medicine, inadequate education, and unsanitary living conditions- due to the Israeli blockade, which is supported by the United States.

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November 20-21, 2011
Jeff Pickert Talk: Palestinian Youth, Israeli Repression, and International Solidarity

Supporting the Next Generation of Unarmed Resisters

    Sunday, Nov. 20 at 5 pm in Anderson Auditorium, Predolin Hall, Edgewood College

The past year has seen a tremendous resurgence of unarmed revolt throughout North Africa and the Middle East as millions of people have risen up against authoritarian regimes in what has been called the Arab Spring. In the occupied Palestinian Territories, these revolutions have given momentum to the regrouping of popular resistance efforts against the Israeli occupation. Jeff Pickert will speak about the strategy and effectiveness of Palestinian popular resistance, in light of these global events. His presentation will focus on the repression of Palestinian youth, as Israeli Forces seem intent to try to stop the next generation of Palestinian leadership from engaging in nonviolent organizing. Jeff will also be drawing upon his experiences working on the ground with Palestinian villagers and activists in the southern West Bank, as well as his efforts to each Gaza as part of the most recent International Freedom Flotilla which was prevented from sailing from Greece.

Jeff Pickert is a 22-year-old American solidarity activist who has lived and worked in the occupied West Bank for a collective period of over a year and a half. In addition to studying Arabic and Palestinian politics at Birzeit University, Jeff also spent significant time engaging in direct action efforts against the occupation.

Jeff has experience accompanying Palestinian medical teams during military invasions in Nablus in 2007, participating in the continued anti-wall protests in villages such as Ni’lin and Jayyous, supporting Palestinian farmers who are greatly at risk for violence from Israeli settlers and soldiers, and working with Palestinian community organizers with the Palestine Solidarity Project in Beit Ommar. He also participated in the Gaza Freedom March initiative, which tried to reach Gaza via Egypt at the end of 2009.

Most recently, Jeff attempted to sail to Gaza from Greece as a passenger aboard the US Audacity of Hope, one of the ships that made up the second International Freedom Flotilla to challenge the Israeli naval blockade.

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November 15-17, 2011
Ilan Pappé Program in Madison

Palestine: Past, Present and Future

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"The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, 1948-1967"
Tuesday, November 15, 7pm, 2650 Humanities

"Squaring the Circle: the Failure of the Middle East Peace Process"
Wednesday, November 16, 7pm, 2650 Humanities

Open Seminar for Students, Faculty and Public
Thursday, November 17, 12:20pm, 8108 Social Science

September 24 – October 6, 2011
Edgewood Photo Exhibit “Windows into Gaza”

You are invited to view the photo exhibit “Windows into Gaza” at Edgewood College’s Sonderegger Hall in Madison from Sept. 24 to October 6.

A formal opening program for the exhibit will take place on Monday, September 26 from 6 to 7 pm at Sonderegger Hall. The program will include remarks by UW Professor Joe Elder, with free parking available on campus.

From September 24 to October 6, the exhibit will be open in Sonderegger Hall from 8 am to 9 pm, with limited parking on campus.

“Windows into Gaza” is an important photography exhibit about daily life in Gaza by Skip Schiel, a frequent visitor to Gaza who seeks to answer the question, “Gaza is home to one & one-half million human beings. How do they live?”

While it does not gloss over the effects of Operation Cast Lead, the Separation Wall and the Israeli embargo, it also shows children at the Beach refugee camp, men dancing the traditional Palestinian dance Debka at a Popular Achievement Festival, a child at the Rachel Corrie Peace Center in Rafah, and dinner at Ibrahem’s.

The Exhibit is sponsored by Madison Monthly Meeting (Quakers); the Department of Philosophy and World Peace Program of Edgewood College, and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

The exhibit will also be at the Madison Monthly Meeting House, 1704 Roberts Court on October 8-9. There will be a video and talk by Prof. Joe Elder at 10 a.m. Sunday, October 9.

“Windows into Gaza” will move to the Dodgeville Public Library October 17-29, and then to Dubuque Universalist Unitarian Meeting House on November 18-20.

For an e-preview and video clip of Skip Schiel’s Gaza photographs, visit his website. For further resources about Gaza, follow the links on the Madison Monthly Meeting website.

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September 14 – 15, 2011
Madison Film Premier: Cultures of Resistance

As part of the annual World Music Festival sponsored by the Wisconsin Union Directorate and others, an innovative, exciting new film will have its Madison premier.

Cultures of Resistance explores how art and creativity can be the ammunition in the battle for peace and justice on a world-wide scale.

As a celebration of cultural diversity, it was filmed in 16 languages: Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, Farsi, French, Hebrew, Kayapó, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Korean, Portuguese, Sinhalese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Xhosa.

Musicians and artists from 25 countries are featured in the documentary: Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Occupied Palestine, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Syria, Uganda, USA, and Vietnam.

Join us at one of the following free showings:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 14: Premier showing at 7 pm in The Marquee, Union South, with post-film commentary by Jonathan Overby.
  • Thursday, Sept. 15: Showings at 7 and 9 pm in the Play Circle, Memorial Union.

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U.S. Boat to Gaza Seized by Greek Authorities and Captain Jailed


Passengers Determined to Free Captain and Set Sail Again

U.S. to Gaza, July 2, 2011
Contacts:
In Athens 30-694-266-3852
In New York Leslie Cagan, 347-581-1782

After a two hour stand off at sea, the U.S. Boat to Gaza The Audacity of Hope was seized by the Greek Coast Guard and forced to return to the port of Piraeus under military escort. The boat’s captain has been put in jail, charged with disturbing sea trafficwhich includes endangering the lives of those on the ships and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. The crew is being detained on the boat, which is being held at a military dock just outside Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the captain and crew.

Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel, responded strongly to the arrest of the American captain of the U.S. Boat to Gaza. “I think it’s outrageous what the Greek government is doing to our captain who was taking a group of Americans to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade. We call on the Greek government to release our Captain and dismiss all charges.”

Yonatan Shapira, a crew member on The Audacity of Hope and former Israeli Air Force captain, said the captain of the U.S. Boat should be praised, not condemned for his actions. “The captain acted out of concern for the safety of the passengers and boat by taking us away from the Greek port where other flotilla boats are being sabotaged,” Shapira said.

After five days of stalling, the Greek authorities produced the results of the inspection of the boat, which took place on Monday, June 27. The Greek government inspected the boat on the basis of an anonymous complaint alleging that the boat is not seaworthy. The anonymous complaint later turned out to have been filed by the Israel Law Center. The list of infractions cited on the inspection report included such things as technical details regarding the construction material of the hull and the fact that the private inspection report emailed to the authorities was unsigned. “None of these alleged infractions are actually regulations that boats are required to meet,” said group’s Greek lawyer Emmanuel Stephanakis. “It’s obvious that these are politically motivated, baseless charges calculated to stop the U.S. Boat to Gaza from sailing.”

“This shameful chapter in Greek history is symbolized by Prime Minister Netanyahu thanking his Greek counterpart Prime MInister Papandreou for his cooperation in helping thwart the flotilla, and by the fully-armed and masked Greek commandos at sea, pointing their guns at unarmed American civilians singing We are a gentle, loving people, says passenger Medea Benjamin.

The other boats in the flotilla that are docked in Greece have been denied permission to sail due to a variety of bureaucratic obstacles the Greek authorities have thrown in their way. Greeces Civil Protection Authority confirmed Saturday the ban on departures of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza was in place until further notice. Two of the boats have had physical damage done to them as well. All vow to pressure the Greek government to grant them permission to sail, and have activated their international networks. In the United States, the phones at the Greek Embassy and Consulates were so busy that callers could not get through.

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