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.

We feel that all conscientious people should show support for those who struggle under occupation in their desperate efforts to maintain their existence, identity, and dignity. It is our duty to speak out and say enough.

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.

Jeff Pickert grew up in Chicago where he became active in the anti Iraq war movement in 2003. Through his involvement in student activism, Jeff began to learn about the intersections of war, racism, and economic injustice. Jeff studied Arabic and Palestinian politics at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank after he was finished with high school. He then went on to graduate from Beloit College in Wisconsin with a degree in sociology.

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.

For more information on the exhibit, contact Meg Skinner at (608) 798-4291 through September, and (608) 238-6950 thereafter.