Fact Check: MSNBC’s Palestinian loss of land map

, Mondoweiss, October 22, 2015

(Screenshot: MSNBC)(Screenshot: MSNBC)

Last week, MSNBC aired a map (above) showing the loss of Palestinian land to Zionist settlers and then to Israel from 1946 to the present. Following criticism from Israelis and their supporters, MSNBC apologized and stated that the map was incorrect. But was it? The following is a fact check of MSNBC’s map and the criticisms of it.

Does the map accurately show the loss of Palestinian land since 1946?

Yes. The map accurately depicts the land that has been forcibly taken from Palestinians since 1946, two years before Israel was established and the accompanying expulsion of between 750,000 and a million Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state.

During and immediately following the state’s creation in 1948, Israel expropriated approximately 4,244,776 acres of Palestinian land. In the process, more than 400 Palestinian cities and towns were systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders or internally displaced within them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)

Israel’s systematic dispossession of Palestinians is ongoing today, both in the occupied territories and inside Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders, where Palestinian citizens of the state and those living under occupation continue to be pushed out of their homes and off their lands – including entire towns – to make way for Jewish citizens and settlers. Today, there are approximately 650,000 Jewish settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel’s settlement enterprise covers approximately 42% of the West Bank.

Did the map specify that Palestine was an independent state prior to 1948?

No. Critics have focused on the fact that Palestine was not a sovereign and independent state prior to 1948, however the map did not claim that it was. The map purported to show “Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-present,” and it did precisely that, accurately. While it was not a recognized independent state under British rule in 1946, Palestine as a political entity existed prior to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, going back to ancient times when it was a province of the Roman empire until more recently when it was British Mandatory Palestine, immediately preceding Israel’s creation.​​

Were there real factual errors in the map?

Yes. There were two factual errors in the map:

  • ​It showed the Syrian Golan Heights, which have been under Israeli military occupation since the 1967 War, as part of Israel, although the international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.
  • The map also shows “Israel” existing in 1946. While British Mandatory Palestine did exist in 1946, there was no political entity called “Israel” until 1948.

WORT 89.9FM: “Uncivil Rites” With Steven Salaita

Pledge Edition: Karma Chavez talks with Steven Salaita about his new book, “Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.” His new book addresses his controversial termination from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.

Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” — Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

Roots To Resistance: A Project About Art Activism And Global Connection

“As water is to life, so dignity is to my Humanity” Shireen Issawi


Shireen Issawi is a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer who was arrested on March 6th 2014 by the Israeli Military as part of a crackdown on Lawyers who where defending and advocating for Palestinian Prisoners. The lawyers, who were enacting fundamental Human Rights law, were branded as supporters of terrorism and have been incarcerated ever since. Shireen Issawi has become the very prisoner that she sought to defend, someone imprisoned and mistreated because of her work, her beliefs and her non violent resistance. Shireen was arrested because of her actions and complaints as a Human Rights lawyer concerning the mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners and the holding of prisoners without charge. She was very much aware that defending the rights and treatment of Palestinians was a highly risky endeavor but this did not deter Shireen from her work and she continued to press forward in the face of mounting threats. Where would we be without such Humans, who are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of what is just, and what are we willing to do in support of them?

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It is from the portal of Shireen Issawi that we can view the devastating effects of so many Palestinians currently imprisoned under similar conditions. Perhaps you might imagine your own Sister, Daughter, or Mother arrested, knowing she is innocent but entirely unable to help her, and the World is mostly silent. Indeed Shireen stands in for hundreds of thousands of Political Prisoners all over this Planet, in Burma, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Eritrea, Mexico, here in the US, and in almost every Country across the Globe. As citizens of the World, I hope we will feel obligated and committed to using whatever small tools we may have to denounce such abundant injustice, despite the complications, despite our fears about entering into the realms of Israel and Palestine, despite the ease and lure of keeping quiet and tending our own lives.


In this case, we at Roots to Resistance, a small Arts and Social Justice Organization, make our offerings to those who have long been seeking and fighting for Justice on issues in Palestine. We have painted an 8 foot high Portrait of Shireen and created a Global Postcard Campaign Demanding her Freedom and an end to the US funding that perpetuates conditions of Occupation across Palestine. Most importantly we have partnered with dozens of Organizations and hundreds of Peoples from all over the World to create A Global Sign Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. The Organizations and People involved in the campaign may not speak with one voice when it comes to all of the issues involved with Palestine and Israel, but we do speak as one about the absolute demand for Shireen’s release from prison.


One World UK


The Global Sign Campaign is an initiative asking folks from all over the Planet to send pictures of themselves holding signs Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. In the end we have gathered over 150 with more arriving each day. Our goal in this endeavor was to invite all voices to demand Justice, not just the politicized or those well versed in the talking points of the Middle East.The invitation was for all to join because we think that a movement filled with a diversity of opinions but one voice on Shireen is the strongest way forward. Please come visit and enjoy the gallery of beautiful faces on our campaign page. puebla mexico 5 If you would like to add your own picture to our Global Sign Campaign please send your submissions on to us: invisible_earth@yahoo.com

Many of those who sent pictures and signs also sent answers to a question we posed: “Why is it important for you to be involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi? “ Below are some of the answers beginning with a statement from the two Organizations working together to win Shireen’s Freedom.

“Shireen Issawi’s case is emblematic in highlighting how Palestinian human rights defenders are being targeted by Israeli authorities for arrest and prolonged detention due to peacefully working to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Ms. Issawi has now been held continuously in detention for nearly 19 months pending the outcome of her trial. We reiterate our call for the evidence relied upon by the Israeli authorities to indict Ms. Issawi to be subjected to rigorous examination and testing, in accordance with Israel’s duty under international human rights law to protect Ms. Issawi’s right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights of the UK and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah Palestine

“Shireen has dedicated her life to justice and freedom for those Palestinian arbitrarily detained in Israel. She is a courageous and inspiring human rights defender who comes from a family committed to nonviolent resistance. The accusations held against her of supporting “terrorism” are ludicrous. She became a lawyer precisely because she believed the path to peace must be based on the protection of human rights and justice.” Ines Osman Alkarama Foundation, Switzerland

“The imprisonment of human rights lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi is yet another stain on Israel’s grim record of severe violations of human rights and international law and conventions. It is a gross miscarriage of justice, and should be terminated at once.” Noam Chomsky, US

“I felt compelled to support the call to free Shireen after learning about her deep passion for supporting human rights. As a veteran of two recent wars – I fully appreciate the heart and soul she has put in her struggle (and consequent imprisonment) to allow the freedoms we all deserve. Although we may do it in different ways, we share the need and passion to serve our fellow humans – in hopes of obtaining what is the basic rights of all humans on our wonderful planet. “ MSgt David Beaudet, USAF, Ret, B.S.

“I support this because we cannot let fear and confusion run our lives. Israel will not be safe until Palestine is free and Palestine will not be free until Israel is safe. As a Jew, I find it is critically important to take a stand against atrocities that are being committed towards Palestinian People. Shireen Issawi should be free. Free to live her life and speak her mind.” Rachel, Massachusetts

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Young Palestinian-American Graphic Novelist Speaks at Wisconsin Book Festival

Madison365 staff, Oct 30, 2015

Palestinian American author Leila Abdelrazaq wrote the graphic novel Baddawi, which describes her father’s experience in a refugee camp during the Lebanese civil war.

Leila Abdelrazaq, a Palestinian-American writer, cartoonist, and Palestinian rights activist, was a featured speaker Oct. 23 at Central Library for the Wisconsin Book Festival. The Madison Rafah Sister City Project co-hosted the event.

Abdelrazaq recently graduated from DePaul University where she double majored in Theatre Arts and Arabic Studies. She grew up in Chicago, where she was constantly reminded of the pro-Israeli sentiment here in the United States. As Abdelrazaq studied at DePaul University, she joined a chapter of the organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). She also became a member of the National Students for Justice in Palestine Steering Committee. wisconsinbookfestival_0_0

In order to more clearly voice her thoughts on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Abdelrazaq started a blog where she could illustrate what the situation is like for people who are unaware of the suffering of the Palestinian people and the occupation of Palestinian land, in general.

What was different about this blog was that it consisted of comic strips Abdelrazaq personally designed. As her blog picked up more and more attention, a publisher contacted her and agreed to turn the series of comics into a full-length graphic novel, which she titled Baddawi.

Baddawi is the name of the refugee camp in Lebanon where Abdelrazaq’s father Ahmed and his family fled in order to escape the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The book is the story of her father’s experience living as a child and young adult in that camp. Abdelrazaq uses graphic imagery to describe her father’s experience from the expulsion of her grandparents from Palestine in 1948 (following a massacre by Jewish militias), through their flight to Lebanon where they settled and where her father grew up. The book tells what it felt like to be a Palestinian boy in the midst of economic deprivation, anti-Palestinian discrimination in Lebanon, and frequent episodes of Israeli brutality. 611DTCgMKnL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Abdelrazaq pointed out that in her book she never depicts the faces of the Israeli soldiers. Instead, she uses frightening silhouettes as a way to show that she is only the Palestinian perspective.

Abdelrazaq noted that fleeing to Lebanon didn’t mean freedom. In Lebanon, Palestinians were still treated poorly, and their history was carried with them wherever they went. Freedom and justice would only come with the liberation of Palestine.

“The Right of Return shouldn’t be a term just used for Israelis,” she said. “The Right of Return could also be applied to the rights Palestinians have to their land.”

Abdelrazaq’s father survived the wars and difficulties of life in Baddawi and was able to move to the United States for college and settle down here.

“Moving to the U.S. wasn’t a happy ending for my father either. He had to leave his family behind,” Abdelrazaq said. “Moving to the U.S. hasn’t brought justice to the Palestinian people. Only the right to live on what is Palestinian land will bring justice.”

Sadly, living in the U.S. is a frightening reminder to Abdelrazaq of Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinians. The U.S. gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israeli every year, as well as stocks of weapons.

In the book and during her presentation, Abdelrazaq described the Palestinian struggle against hopelessness. In response to a question from the audience about Palestinian resistance, Abdelrazaq described how hopelessness leads the Palestinians toward violent responses. The Palestinians often have little hope because two major world powers are against them, namely the U.S. and Israel. Palestinians who choose to resist and fight against Israel end up suffering severely and often face injury, death, or imprisonment.

Abdelrazaq explained that the U.S. and Israel ignore that most Palestinian resistance is non-violent, and use these relatively rare violent attacks as a way to justify the occupation and the ethnic cleansing. The occupation and repression are so brutal and persistent that many Americans forget how abused Palestinians are.

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Palestinian activist Haitham Salawdeh on WORT

Karma Chavez, WORT 89.9FM A Public Affair, September 9, 2015

Today Karma Chavez talks with Palestinian activist Haitham Salawdeh. Haitham is a relative of the infant killed by Israeli settlers who fire bombed their house in the West Bank last month.

In late July, 18-month old baby Ali Saad Dawabsheh was burned to death in his home in Duma Village, Palestine. His father and mother both passed away following the attack as well, making his 4-year-old brother the only survivor.

Haitham Salawdeh is a neighbor and relative of the victims. He left Duma and has lived in Wisconsin since 1992, and is an activist with the US-Palestinian Community Network.

September 18-19, 2015 Fighting Bob Fest

Fighting Bob Fest is right around the corner and MRSCP is preparing some fun activities to show Progressive leaders that foreign policy matters and that PEP (Progressive Except on Palestine) is not acceptable.

This year’s main Saturday event will be held at Breese Stevens Field on East Washington Avenue in Madison. Because the event is open to the elements, we decided NOT to have our own table this year. However, we are planning some leafleting, petitioning, sticker distribution and banner display. Our life-sized “Hippocrat” is scheduled to return, offering those who complete our “Hypocrisy Now Quiz” the chance to enter a drawing for a free copy of the new graphic novel, Baddawi.

Bob Fest’s Friday night opening event will be held at the Barrymore Theater as usual, although it is scheduled to be a comedy show rather than the usual pep rally with some of Saturday’s speakers. We also plan to be at that event.

Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field

Joy First, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, August 26, 2015

Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25. The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means. In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.

The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18. Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration – hence starting the walk at the jail. In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people. This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions. It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”

There were about 15-20 walkers each day as we went through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside – Waunakee, Lodi, across the Merrimac ferry, camping at Devil’s Lake State Park and Rocky Arbor, up through Mauston and New Lisbon, and ending at Volk Field. It was eight nights of sleeping in the homes of supporters, in tents, and in church basements.

The walk participants kept going through inclement weather that is not typical for Wisconsin in August. There was rain, heavy wind, and very cool temperatures during the walk. The cooler temperatures were better than walking in 90 degree weather, but it still made for a difficult walk. However, they kept going 12-15 miles each day, persistent and determined.

What kept us going like this for eight days? People choose to be involved with the walk, knowing it would be difficult and push them to their limits, but also knowing that the militarized violence, both abroad and at home, is causing grave suffering to many innocent people and we must do something about it. We must speak out, raise awareness, share our concerns, and most importantly call for change. And that is what we did all along the route as we built bonds of friendship and connection with each other, and provided outreach and education along the way. We called for change in front of the City/County/Jail complex in Madison at the beginning of the walk, and we called for change at Volk Field at the end of the walk, as well as all along the route.

The walk came to an end at a beautiful rest area next to a noisy freeway near Volk Field. Volk Field is a Wisconsin Air National Guard Base near the village of Camp Douglas, WI. One of the jobs there is to train personnel to operate Shadow drones. Though the Shadow drones do not carry weapons (at least that is what we are told), they carry a camera that is used for target acquisition, surveillance, and assessment, and they are part of the bigger program of drone warfare in this country. The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has been vigiling at the gates of Volk Field for 3 ½ years – with three actions of nonviolent civil resistance during that time.

After a picnic lunch we formed our final circle to discuss details for both the vigil and risk arrest action, we read the nonviolence guidelines, and we shared a poem. Then we were ready to process to the gates of Volk Field. We walked slowly and solemnly to the gates with a drum beat and a lone voice singing a mournful chant. We walked to the gates with heavy hearts, remembering those who have died in drone strikes and as a result of police violence. Some of the signs we carried were pictures of children who have been killed by drones, stating, “U.S. Drone Warfare is Terrorism”.

The Juneau County sheriff was at the gate with several of his deputies when we arrived. There was also a police dog, which they have never used with us in the past.

We stood, as we always do, on the grass under a big beautiful tree. Buddy and Xan began to sing the names of victims of militarized violence, going back and forth between the name of a drone victim, and then the name of Black woman who was killed by the police in this country. After each name the crowd responded by singing, “We remember you” and a single drum beat.

After listening to the names for a few minutes, those of us who were going to risk arrest stepped off the curb and onto the road. We slowly walked towards the gate feeling the pain of living under a government that could commit these acts in our name. We took one step onto the base and were immediately taken into custody, handcuffed, and put into a police car.

We were handcuffed in front, given a bag of food once we got to the jail, processed and released within about four hours. We were arrested for disorderly conduct and also given a citation for trespassing. We have a court date on September 30. The arrestees were Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, Mary Beth Schlagheck, Tyler Shiffer, and Don Timmerman.

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Samira Project Children’s Counseling

Gaza Mental Health Foundation

At the request of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) has agreed to raise funds for the Samira Project in Rafah.

This project was requested by the Rafah branch of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. It will provide psycho-social counseling for 150 children with disabilities in Rafah and their families.

The project is scheduled to run for one school year and start in September, so we need to move fast. Out of a total cost of $14,900, all but $4000 has been raised or committed by MECA and the sponsoring group. MRSCP has agreed to raise and contribute the final $4000.

Because of the short time frame for this effort, we have decided to try to raise the funds quickly though our own donations and appeals to you, our strongest supporters. MRSCP has pledged $1000 directly from our treasury, and members of our core group have pledged another $500. We have about $200 in our humanitarian project account that we will also contribute.

This leaves us with a balance of $2300 to raise by September.

PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A PLEDGE TO HELP US WITH THIS PROJECT. Any amount will be appreciated, but a contribution of at least $50 would be really helpful. As always, all contributions to MRSCP are tax-deductible.

If you are able to pledge, please reply to Donna Wallbaum, dwallbaum (at) gmail.com. She will contact you with directions about how to contribute. (You can, if you prefer, send a check made out to MRSCP, marked “Samira Project”, and mailed to MRSCP, P.O. Box 5214, Madison, WI 53705 — but please let Donna know that the check is coming.)

As always, thanks for your support.

Related articles:

  • Samira Counseling Photos
  • A Samira Project Success Story


    In July and August, 2014, our US tax dollars helped pay for a 50 day Israeli bombardment of Gaza that killed over 2000 people including hundreds of children and severely injured thousands more. Entire families were wiped out, and every child in Gaza knows someone who was killed, injured or made homeless or destitute. This was only the latest in a long string of military attacks by Israel, and the UN estimates that as a result, the number of repeatedly and severely traumatized Gaza children who need psychological support and healing is in the hundreds of thousands.

    The Gaza Strip was already one of the poorest and most densely populated places on earth. As a result of repeated Israeli attacks and the ten-year-long Israeli/Egyptian siege and blockade of Gaza, 80% of the people live under the poverty line and unemployment is around 60%. The educational system is overcrowded, unstable and inconsistent. Public services have been weakened more and more, especially psychosocial support and other programs serving mainly women and children. This situation has been made even worse by the conflict between Fatah and Hamas, which means that public employees like teachers often go unpaid.

    Children have been affected more than others because every aspect of their life, especially the education system, is repeatedly disrupted if not destroyed. Psychologically, the negative impact on children is enormous; nightmares, racing thoughts, nail-biting, panic attacks, uncontrolled urination, violent behavior and hyperactivity are common symptoms.

    The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to fund The Samira Project in Rafah, a city and refugee camp at the southern edge of the Gaza strip. The project, organized by the Rafah branch of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, will employ special education teachers and a social worker to provide 150 economically disadvantaged and learning-disabled children age seven to twelve & their families with a school year’s worth of psychosocial support. There are presently no educational institutions in Rafah City for these children, who face psychological issues without support. As a result, their educational level is very low and their drop-out rate is rising.

    The Samira Project aims to intervene immediately to develop the children’s skills and increase their ability to learn (especially reading, writing and mathematics); to support them psychologically and socially and rebuild their confidence; to implement scientific solutions to learning disabilities and reduce violent and disruptive behavior; to train families to better support their children; and to create job opportunities for qualified professionals in this field. Field trips, a children’s library and activities such as theater, music, art and reading will help the staff to understand the children and create a space for the children to express their feelings.

    Please consider a donation to The Samira Project.

    • $100 will buy art and paper supplies for one month
    • $150 will provide snacks and juice for the children for one month
    • $200 will employ one of six female teachers for one month
    • $300 will pay for a field trip for the students
    • $300 will employ the Project Coordinator or Social Worker for one month
    • $500 will buy a laptop for the project
    • (Smaller amounts will also be appreciated.)

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