Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project!

Find out what happened at last night's hearing . . . and join us for a holiday celebration

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Last Night, Council Approved NABLUS As Boulder’s 8th Sister City . . .

We knew you’d want to know immediately, and we’ll send all the details later! We heard incredibly inspiring and heartfelt testimony last night. You guys are AMAZING! We are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who came out to support this effort. And for all the emails and letters that were sent in over the past weeks and days – all of these contributed in big and small ways!

There is no way we could have been successful without all the hard work and effort that YOU put into this. Together we ARE creating the world that we want to live in!

. . . Just in Time for Us to Celebrate At the Boulder- Nablus Sister City Holiday Party:

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Reversing 2013 decision, Boulder makes Nablus a sister city

Boulder City Council members vote 7-2 in favor of sister city proposal

Alex Burness, DailyCamera Boulder News, 12/13/2016

Tom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, onTom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, on Tuesday at the Boulder Municipal Building. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The West Bank city of Nablus in Palestine will become Boulder’s eighth international sister city, following a 7-2 City Council vote that reversed a previous council decision and capped a multi-year drama that was one of the city’s most heated in recent memory.

The action came more than three years after Boulder first denied the controversial proposal, by a 6-3 vote.

It also followed a 78-person public hearing Tuesday night on the sister city project, which followed a deluge of nearly 1,000 emails from the public to the council since May. That followed a 70-person public hearing in 2013.

Even by Boulder’s standards, this was a contentious matter.

Supporters maintained that making Nablus a sister city would create a non-partisan, enriching cultural exchange with a city not unlike Boulder in many ways.

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Palestinian Author Reflects on Life in Gaza

Lupe Salmeron, Madison365, December 5, 2016

An audience of around 30 people gathered to hear from talented blogger and political analyst Laila El-Haddad on Nov. 29 at The Crossing.

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016).

The evening started off with a Q & A between UW-Madison professor Nevine El Nossery and El-Haddad about her blog and books inspired by her experiences while living on the border in Gaza. That was followed by a short cooking demonstration and potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes from El-Haddad’s cookbook.

El-Haddad explained that initially, she created her blog to relieve and process some of the emotions and experiences she underwent while living in Gaza, but it then grew to be something much bigger.

“At the time, I had a close friend who I thought was really well informed but just had this kind of naivety about the whole experience. ‘Oh, you must be used to this by now, always being stranded,’ she said. And trying to explain, “Like no, you never get used to this kind of thing.’” El-Haddad said. “Or just being ill-informed in general about the modes and methods of transportation and lack of freedom of movement (in Gaza) that made me realize that there needs to be a better ways to communicate this experience than the traditional, ‘Here are the numbers, here are the facts, here are the maps’ kind of thing. That’s when I began to use the blog as a vehicle and kind of just blogging about everyday mundane experiences, as a vehicle for people to understand the bigger political issues that exist in the background.”

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To her, it was just a way to vent, but also inform her few readers about the events happening in Gaza. She did not realize how important her “everyday mundane experiences” were to others interested in Gazarian affairs.

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New Senate bill threatens free speech

Instead of fighting antisemitism, new Senate bill threatens free speech

Jewish Voice for Peace, 06 December 2016

On Friday, without a single Senator in the Senate Chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

Judging by the title, it seems a reasonable enough piece of legislation. And the Anti-Defamation League was one of its main boosters.

But let’s look closer with a short pop quiz about why the ADL is behind this bill:

    A) To make it clear that actual neo-Nazis like the National Policy Institute, now in close proximity to power, are going to face real scrutiny and condemnation?
    B) To help prevent more violence against synagogues and Jewish poeple, like the dozens of instances of hate crimes and vandalism documented since the election?
    C) To protect the Israeli government from student protesters?

Probably the best way to figure out why the ADL supports it is to read what they’re saying themselves:

Sadly, the answer is “C.”

At a time when actual violence and bigotry against Jews is on the rise, Jewish institutions like the ADL are seizing the moment to… protect Israel from student protesters. That’s not acceptable.

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Rosary Sisters Catholic High School in Jerusalem, Palestine

Dabka dance to “My Blood is Palestinian”. Enjoy.

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

How to See Palestine: An ABC of Colonialism

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Critical Inquiry, November 28, 2016

Acknowledgements

I visited accompanying the art activist group MTL and with the generous support of many Palestinians, especially Habshe Yossef. I would also like to acknowledge the decolonial activist group Zochrot for arranging my meeting at al-Aqarib. The full web project is still being worked on by techs at USC for security. When available it will be  here. For the time being I have made a PDF of the project that you can access, with either the full text or just the introduction.

That said, all the opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Visiting Palestine was astonishing for the sheer intensity of the oppression. It was clarifying to see how the occupation operates and how little it cares what others think of it. It was humbling to see what being an activist really means and how privileged academic activism seems compared to the daily litany of harm to which any person in Palestine is exposed.

I saw elements of many different visual regimes struggling to cohere into what might become a new form. Surveillance is universal, but it’s not a panopticon because the jailers are all too visible. Religion is the justification for settlement, as it was under high imperialism, but there is no desire to convert the unbelievers. Counterinsurgency seeks “full spectrum dominance” but expects the insurgency to be permanent unless its conditions of possibility are removed.

The one thing everyone on all sides agrees on is that it’s all about land—who owns it, who can farm it, live on it, use the rainwater that falls on it, mine the minerals below—and so on. Whatever this is, it’s patently a form of colonialism. So, I decided to use my impressions to create an ABC of occupation. Unlike Nicolai Bukharin’s classic ABC of Communism, this is not a program. It is a report back on the heart of visuality’s own contradiction. That is to say, Palestine is an actually existing possibility for the general condition of social life in the twenty-first century.

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No fires or inciting politicians can destroy our shared society

Samah Salaime, +972, November 26, 2016

The wildfire that struck Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam left our Jewish-Arab village more resilient than ever before. We invite Israel’s politicians to learn from us on how to heal our society’s wounds.

Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Our country has been up in flames this past week. Hundreds of fires have broken out in various areas resulting in tens of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes. The first fire started last Tuesday at Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, a unique community between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Jews and Arabs live together in equality, which struggled to quell the flames and bring peace to the region. My husband and two children and I were evacuated from with 300 others, fearing of our lives and the destruction of our homes.

It was frightening for all of us. However what was even more frightening was the reaction of some of the countries journalists and politicians who used the opportunity to ignite and inflame hatred, claiming that arson was the cause of the wildfires. Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett posted an unfortunate and irresponsible Facebook status, in which he wrote that “The only ones capable of setting the land on fire are people to whom it does not belong.” Rather than unifying and reassuring Israeli citizens — if only slightly — Bennett incited against an entire public and inflamed the public atmosphere.

Following the elections in the United States, the world has become a dangerous place, as sparks have begun to fly in all directions, igniting hatred and fear. We have seen this over the past decade in Europe with new immigrants, and we now see it in the U.S., as white supremacists begin to cheer on Trump’s victory as a victory for the ‘white race,’ while graffiting swastikas on walls.

The fire at Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam was clearly an unfortunate accident, as was the one in the neighboring town of Nataf. One reporter, an expert in arson, deemed the fire an “inspiration” to other supposed pyromaniacs, giving second and third-rate politicians carte blanche to do what they are best at: incite. But perhaps the journalist was right; since the fire in my community was an inspiration. We made it through the freezing night together in the fields below our homes, where we realized that our community can teach this country’s leadership a thing or two about humane behavior in times of crisis.

Cohesion and unity in the face of fire is not so surprising in our community – the first and only Jewish-Arab community in the Middle East. It is what makes us feel that 40 years of living together through wars, intifadas, crises, military “campaigns,” and lots of pain has been worthwhile. They have been years of valuable teaching and learning; investment in people rather than stones; investment in one another, rather than in fences and barriers.

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Palestinians Blamed for Forest Fires Across Palestine

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, November 25, 2016

But fires are raging across Western Asia

Middle East Fires, Past Week (Global Forest Watch, Washington, DC)

Over 200 forest fires are raging in Palestine (now renamed the Jewish State of Israel, including its occupied Palestinian territories). Many countries are helping put out the fires, including four teams of Palestinian firefighters (nobody helped Gaza when it was being fire-bombed by white phosphorous).

But the fascist, racist government of “Israel” blamed the Palestinians for the fires! Even some decent Israelis pointed out that fires are raging across Western Asia (aka the “Middle East”).

Perhaps coincidentally or otherwise, right after war criminal Netanyahu blamed Palestinians, new fires erupted near Palestinian communities. If you really want to know who is to blame for the damage, it is clearly Zionism, as I wrote in many articles and books before.

In 1901 at the World Zionist Congress, and despite objections of conscientious Jews, a Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemet Li’Israel, or KKL) was established to further “Jewish colonization” (the term they used) of Palestine.

One of the tasks was to raise money, and they used the gimmick of collecting money for trees. Indeed they did plant trees, but it was unfortunately the highly flammable European pine tree.

After 1948-1949 when some 500 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated, their lands (cultivated with figs, almonds, olives and other trees) were razed to the ground, and again resinous and inflammable pine trees were planted.

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A letter from Gaza to the Natives of Standing Rock

Israa Suliman, WE ARE NOT NUMBERS, November 15, 2016

Dear Native Americans,

Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences. When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice.

My ancestors were not the only ones who lived in Palestine. Jews, Christians and Arabs all lived side by side in my country. But my ancestors—including my grandparents and great-grandparents—were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America's policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call “al-Nakba” (the catastrophe). We know what you know: that our land is sacred.

In 1948, my ancestors—along with nearly a million other Palestinians—were frightened away or forced off their lands, in some cases at gunpoint. More than 10,000 others were massacred. Hundreds of our villages and cities were completely destroyed in a systemic plan to erase our identity—just as yours has been under continuing assault.

Native Americans' Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears

Palestine today is just 22 percent of our original homeland. Like you, some of my people (an estimated 1.5 million) must live in degrading “camps” (our word for reservations), where living conditions are "comparable to the Third World." Like your reservations, they are characterized by high rates of unemployment, poverty and suicide.

Many other Palestinians (about 6 million)—now including descendants of the original residents—are scattered elsewhere around the world, just as yours are around the United States. Today, not only has the military occupation taken over our land and declared it "the state of Israel," but it continues to carry on a policy of expulsion, demolishing Palestinian houses in the little bit of land we retain, building illegal settlements and preventing free movement with a network of “security checkpoints.”

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