McDonald’s Israel rejects West Bank branch proposal

Burger Ranch, a rival, announced it would open a branch in Ariel “for the glory of the state of Israel”

Israelis eat at a kosher McDonald’s restaurant in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Getty Images

Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, The Guardian, 27 June 2013

McDonald’s has refused to open a branch in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank in a move that swiftly prompted calls from settler organisations for a boycott of its restaurants.

McDonald’s, which has 180 outlets in Israel and dominates the domestic fast-food industry, declined an offer to open a restaurant in a shopping mall under construction in Ariel, a vast settlement which juts deep inside the West Bank.

The Israeli-owned franchise rejected the invitation, citing a long-term policy not to operate across the pre-1967 green line. “This has always been the policy of Dr Omri Padan [the franchise owner],” McDonald’s said. Padan, chief executive of McDonald’s Israel, was a founding member of Peace Now, the anti-settlement organisation.

Settlers’ representatives condemned the move. “McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organisation with an anti-Israeli political agenda,” Yigal Delmonti of the Yesha Council, a settlement umbrella organisation, told the Jerusalem Post. “We expect that Israeli citizens, especially those living in Judea and Samaria [the biblical term for the West Bank], will take this into account before entering the company’s franchises.”

The mayor of Ariel, Eliyahu Shaviro, told Ma’ariv: “The decision by McDonald’s not to open a branch in the Ariel mall is an unfortunate decision that discriminates against the residents of the city.”

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150 organizations join with BDS activists in France

US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, June 26, 2013


USACBI is a signatory of the following statement in solidarity with BDS activists in France facing repression and criminal charges for their organizing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression

June 26 2013 – As more than 150 Palestine solidarity and social justice organizations from across the world, we stand in solidarity with all of the French campaigners for Palestinian rights facing legal action and repression for participating in demonstrations calling for a boycott of Israel.

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April 28, 2013
Susan Abulhawa Talk in Madison

Playgrounds for Palestine Annual Benefit Dinner
Nile Restaurant [Map]
5:30 pm-8:00 pm

The Madison chapter of Playgrounds for Palestine is pleased to invite you to attend a talk given by Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian-American writer and political commentator. She is the author of the 2010 international bestselling novel Mornings in Jenin and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine.

Today and twenty years after the Oslo Peace Accord (in 1993) when the US led a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian, Israel is still unhindered accelerating the settlement construction by creating a new form of apartheid system in the Middle East. The recent “Arab only buses” is an example of the apartheid activity the government of Israel is imposing on Palestinians.

Susan Abulhawa’s talk will highlight the ongoing practices that the Israeli government and military are perpetrating to exceedingly diminish the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination. The dinner’s funds raised will go toward the completion of our 22nd playground (3rd Madison chapter funded), which will be built in the West Bank.

A vegetarian menu will be served and includes hummus, falafel, spinach pie, cheese pie, foul (fava beans), lentil soup with spinach, bread, and dessert. Ticket prices are $25 per person at the door, or $22 if paid in advance by Monday, April 22. We are doing our best to keep the dinner cost as affordable as we can; we hope that those who can afford more will consider donating more.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Samir El-Omari at pfpmadison (at) or (608) 395-7047 with the number in your party. Space is limited, so we urge you to get your reservation as soon as you can.

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April 1, 2013
WORT Interview about Elias Chacour Play

“A Public Affair”
WORT 89.9 FM
12 noon

“A Public Affair” will be previewing the performance this Thursday, April 4th, of a one man play — We Belong to the Land — based on the life of world-renowned Palestinian peacemaker Elias Chacour. The Archbishop of Galilee of the Malkite Greek Catholic Church, Chacour is also a founder of the nonprofit “Pilgrims of Ibillin,” which works to advance understandings about persons of all faiths living in Israel. Its projects include the Mar Elias Educational Institutions in Ibillin, where Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze are educated without regard to religion or ethnic background. Much of the work of the program is made possible by support from American churches and other institutions and individuals, several of them in greater Madison.

John Quinlan’s guests on “A Public Affair” will include the Rev. Joan Deming, the Madison-based executive director of Pilgrims of Ibillin, and George Shalabi of Sauk City, a retired business person, native of Haifa, Ibillin board member, and lifelong friend of Father Chacour. Also joining us will be actor Bruce Bradley, who will be portraying Chacour, and answering questions about the man whose life he’s bringing to the stage. The show streams live at, where it is also podcast.

We Belong to the the Land tells a remarkable story of peace and reconciliation in the face of a life that began shortly before the traumatic disruption of Palestinian lives during the birth of Israel. Born in the village of Kafr Bir’im in Upper Galilee to a Palestinian Christian family, Elias Chacour’s family was forced to leave their home and take refuge in the neighboring village of Jish after Bir’im was taken over by occupying forces for Israeli independence. Chacour and his family became Israeli citizens in 1948, shortly after the establishment of the Israeli state.

Chacour came to the village of Ibillin in Galilee as a young priest in 1965. This village was the birthplace of the most recent saint of the Melkite Catholic Church. Chacour, seeing the lack of educational opportunities for Arab youth beyond the 8th grade, set about creating a school open to all local children, regardless of religious affiliation.

An advocate of non-violence, Chacour travels often between the Middle East and other countries around the world. In addition, many visitors, fact-finding missions, and pilgrims have come to Ibillin. In recognition of his humanitarian efforts he has received honors including the World Methodist Peace Award, the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, and the Niwano Peace Prize (Japan), as well as honorary doctorates from five universities including Duke and Emory. In 2001 Chacour was named “Man of the Year” in Israel.

Chacour is the author of two best selling books, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land. Blood Brothers covers his childhood growing up in the town of Biram, his development into a young man, and his early years as a priest in Ibillin. This book has been translated into more than twenty languages. His second book, We Belong to the Land, recounts his work in the development of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, from humble beginnings to major schools for educating Palestinian young people and for helping to bring about reconciliation in a land of strife. This book has been translated into 11 languages.

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Rachel Corrie’s Rafah Legacy

Ramzy Baroud, CounterPunch, March 21, 2013

“Hi Papa .. Don’t worry about me too much, right now I am most concerned that we are not being effective. I still don’t feel particularly at risk. Rafah has seemed calmer lately,” Rachel Corrie wrote to her father, Craig, from Rafah, a town located at the southern end of the Gaza Strip.

‘Rachel’s last email’ was not dated on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website. It must have been written soon after her last email to her mother, Cindy, on Feb 28. She was killed by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003.

Immediately after her painful death, crushed beneath an Israeli army bulldozer, Rafah embraced her legacy as another ‘martyr’ for Palestine. It was a befitting tribute to Rachel, who was born to a progressive family in the town of Olympia, itself a hub for anti-war and social justice activism. But Olympia is also the capital of Washington State. Politicians here can be as callous, morally flexible and pro-Israel as any other seats of government in the US, where sharply dressed men and women jockey for power and influence. Ten years after Rachel’s death, the US government is yet to hold Israel to account. Neither is justice expected anytime soon.

Bordering Egyptian and Israeli fences, and ringed by some of the poorest refugee camps anywhere, Rafah has never ceased being a news topic in years. The town’s gallantry of the First Palestinian Uprising (Intifada) in 1987 was the stuff of legends among other resisting towns, villages and refugee camps in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. The Israeli army used Rafah as a testing ground for a lesson to be taught to the rest of Palestinians. Thus, its list of ‘martyrs’ is one of the longest, and it is unlikely to stop growing anytime soon. Many of Rafah’s finest perished digging tunnels into Egypt to break the Israeli economic blockade that followed Palestine’s democratic elections in 2006. Buried under heaps of mud, drowning in Egyptian sewage water, or pulverized by Israeli missiles, some of Rafah’s men are yet to be located for proper burial.

Rafah agonized for many years, not least because it was partially encircled by a cluster of illegal Jewish settlements – Slav, Atzmona, Pe’at Sadeh, Gan Or and others. The residents of Rafah were deprived of security, freedom, and even for extended periods of time, access to the adjacent sea, so that the illegal colonies could enjoy security, freedom and private beaches. Even when the settlements were dismantled in 2005, Rafah became largely entrapped between the Israeli military border, incursions, Egyptian restrictions and an unforgiving siege. True to form, Rafah continues to resist.

Rachel and her International Solidarity Movement (ISM) friends must have appreciated the challenge at hand and the brutality by which the Israeli army conducted its business. Reporting for the British Independent newspaper from Rafah, Justin Huggler wrote on Dec. 23, 2003: “Stories of civilians being killed pour out of Rafah, turning up on the news wires in Jerusalem almost every week. The latest, an 11-year-old girl shot as she walked home from school on Saturday.” His article was entitled: “In Rafah, the children have grown so used to the sound of gunfire they can’t sleep without it.” He too “fell asleep to the sound of the guns.”

Rafah was affiliated with other ominous realities, one being house demolitions. In its report, Razing Rafah, published Oct 18, 2004, Human Rights Watch mentioned some very disturbing numbers. Of the 2,500 houses demolished by Israel in Gaza between 2000-04, “nearly two-thirds of these homes were in Rafah… Sixteen thousand people, more than ten percent of Rafah’s population, have lost their homes, most of them refugees, many of whom were dispossessed for a second or third time.” Much of the destructions occurred so that alleyways could be widened to secure Israeli army operations. Israel’s weapon of choice was the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, which often arrived late at night.

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Not Enough Water in the West Bank?

Click image for full screen

Visualizing Palestine, March 2013


In partnership with EWASH (a coalition working in the water and sanitation sector in Palestine), VP produced ‘West Bank Water’, which describes the ways in which the Palestinian water supply in the West Bank is appropriated by the Israeli government before it reaches Palestinian homes. Despite the fact that Ramallah receives more rainfall than London (one of the world’s most renowned rainy cities), the average West Bank Palestinian can access only one quarter of the water available to the average Israeli each day, and 30 liters less than the World Health Organization’s minimum recommendation.


UK Met Office, 2012. Historic Station Data (accessed on 21 March 2012)
Palestinian Water Authority, 2003. Rainfall Variability and Change in the West Bank (PDF)
“Amnesty, 2009. Troubled Waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water” (PDF)
UK DEFRA, 2013. Domestic Water Saving (accessed on 7 February 2013)
WHO, 2003. Domestic Water Quantity, Service Level and Health (PDF)
C. Messerschmid, 2007. Hydro-hegemony in shared Israeli, Palestinian groundwater resources (PDF)
EWASH, 2012. Israeli restrictions on the WASH sector in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and their impact on vulnerable communities (PDF)


February 28, 2013
Film: 5 Broken Cameras

Trailer "5 Broken Cameras" from Guy Davidi on Vimeo.

Hummus and a Movie: Screening of 5 Broken Cameras

Our Saviors Lutheran Church
550 Lincoln Drive, Sun Prairie
6:30 pm [Map]

Academy award-nominated movie by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, Palestinian refreshments served, fair trade Palestinian gifts for sale. Free admission. Contact person: Susan Berggren ph: 608.444.2745

An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, Five Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bilin, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Five Broken Cameras was shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who initially purchased a camera to record his youngest son. Structured around the violent destruction of that and four subsequent cameras, Burnats collaboration with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi follows one familys evolution over five years of village turmoil. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are
bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost. I feel like the camera protects me, he says, but its an illusion.

Film Trailer: 5 Broken Cameras Official Trailer [HD] YouTube

Note: You can now get 5 Broken Cameras on Netflix, and it has been purchased by the South Central Library system, although there is a waiting list.

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