March 29, 2020
Tribute to Rachel Corrie: Freedom is the Future

With Tarek Abuata, Executive Director
Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

 

First United Methodist Church
203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison
1:30 – 4:00 pm

Join us for Madison’s annual tribute to honor Rachel’s legacy, hear about current developments in Gaza and all of Palestine, and explore the future of peace and justice at home and abroad.

March 16, 2020 marks 17 years since American peace activist Rachel Corrie was run over and killed by an Israeli soldier driving an armored Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to stop the demolition of a family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Each year the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project honors Rachel with an educational program that benefits children in Rafah.

Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.

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  • Refreshments and desserts, including baklawa.
  • Door prizes!
  • Palestinian olive oil, soap, embroidery, and other crafts on sale.
  • Free & open to the public. Donations welcome for a Maia Project clean water filter to a school in Rafah.

    Co-sponsored by MRSCP, FOSNA, Playgrounds for Palestine — Madison, Jewish Voice for Peace — Madison, UW Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, and The Crossing.

    Palestinians stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation

    The TransCanada Coastal Gaslink pipeline aims to steal Wet’suwet’en land, use resource extraction to solidify control over Indigenous territories, destroy the environment and violate Indigenous laws.

    Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), February 13, 2020

    From the occupied Palestinian territory, we stand in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en nation and land defenders at the Unist’ot’en Camp and Gidimt’en who continue to resist Canada’s colonial incursions of their unceded territories.

    The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads the global BDS movement, sends a message of support to your struggle.

    We call on the Palestine solidarity movement in Turtle Island and elsewhere to stand with the Wet’suwet’en nation.

    As Palestinians, we have firsthand experience with a colonial power, Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid, that systemically works to dispossess, divide and strip us of our lands and resources.

    We know too well, from our own experience, that the TransCanada Coastal Gaslink pipeline aims to steal Wet’suwet’en land, use resource extraction to solidify control over Indigenous territories, destroy the environment and violate Indigenous laws. We also know that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attacks, sanctioned by the Trudeau government, against the Hereditary Wet’suwet’en leadership, matriarchs and land defenders, are used to violate Indigenous sovereignty. The RCMP is employing tactics and equipment similar to Israel’s government, including Caterpillar bulldozers, to seize indigenous lands.

    We are deeply grateful for the Wet’suwet’en people for their indomitable spirit, and their tireless defence of the land and water resources. We stand firmly with you in your struggle for your land and ancestral rights.

    Palestinians owe the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island a great debt for teaching us how to resist settler colonialism generation after generation through your powerful resistance, grace and indomitable spirit.

    The BNC is committed to building stronger ties of solidarity between our peoples and movements, and we will work with our partners in Turtle Island to make this a reality.

    From Palestine to Wet’suwet’en, we stand united with you in the struggle against settler colonialism, racism, corporate criminality and your inalienable rights for justice and self-determination.

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    What Valentine’s Day Means in Gaza, Palestine

    Hani and his uncle and daughter in front of an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip
    Hani and his uncle and daughter in front of an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip

    UNRWA USA, February 7, 2020

    Hani Almadhoun is UNRWA USA’s new Director of Philanthropy.

    Though he now lives in Virginia with his wife and daughters, he grew up in the Gaza Strip. Hani’s father was an UNRWA teacher in Gaza and his family benefited from UNRWA services there, so he can speak firsthand from personal experience about the work UNRWA does and how the Gaza Strip has changed over the past few decades.

    Below, Hani reflects on these changes through the lens of Valentine’s Day.

    Hani Almadhoun’s reflection on Valentine’s Day and
    what it means for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip

    Now – March 15, 2020
    Exhibit: Unpacked: Refugee Baggage

    Including Palestinian textiles provided by MRSCP

    Lynn Mecklenburg Textile Gallery, Room 1235
    School of Human Ecology
    1300 Linden Drive, UW-Madison

    “UNPACKED: Refugee Baggage” seeks to humanize the word “refugee.” This multimedia exhibit features the sculptures of Mohamad Hafez, a Syrian-born, Connecticut-based artist and architect who re-creates war-torn domestic interiors within suitcases. Each piece is based on interviews with refugees who were forced to leave their homes in countries ranging from Syria and Afghanistan, to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and who now reside in the United States. The exhibit will be accompanied by pieces from the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection.

    Directions, hours, and more information.

    February 29, 2020
    International Festival

    Overture Center
    201 State Street
    Madison
    10 am – 5 pm

    Join MRSCP and many other Madison sister cities, businesses, and organizations at the annual celebration of the rich cultural heritage in our community. Come and enjoy the free performances, plus food and crafts from all over the world!

    MRSCP and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison will be selling fair trade Palestinian items from Gaza and the West Bank, including:

    • Olive oil and soap (a portion of all oil sales to the Maia Water Project)
    • Palestinian-made Hirbawi kuffiyahs
    • Earrings and necklaces from the Hebron Women’s Co-op
    • Embroidered purses, wallets, scarves, and shawls
    • Ceramics, wooden boxes, and mirrors

    Complete schedule and more info

    Strangers in Our Homeland


    MK Aida Touma-Sliman, January 15th, 2019. Photo: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk via Flickr

    Aida Touma-Sliman, JewishCurrents, February 6, 2020

    LAST WEEK, Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu announced a deal that is intended to determine the future of the Palestinian people, without a single Palestinian present in the room or involved in the consultation process. They unveiled the plan in the midst of Trump’s impeachment trial and on the same day that Netanyahu was indicted for corruption. Like a group of men deliberating women’s reproductive freedoms, the Americans and Israelis who drafted the plan intend to unilaterally decide the fate of Palestinians, our land, and our fundamental rights. The plan’s total erasure of Palestinian voices and blatant denial of these rights lays bare the real intentions of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations.

    Just as importantly, the past week clarifies the positions of so-called moderates—from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Israel’s Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Party—who have either barely protested or outright endorsed the plan. While it is no secret that the US and Israel have always rendered Palestinian narratives, demands, and aspirations secondary, centrist acquiescence to Trump’s plan suggests that the “deal of the century” is the logical culmination of a long-held vision of an apartheid Palestinian pseudo-state, bereft of meaningful sovereignty or self-determination. 

    Trump and Netanyahu have inherited this vision and added their typical vulgarity. Their plan would enshrine Jewish supremacy in all of Israel and historic Palestine, annexing Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley, and East Jerusalem, while leaving Palestinians in the occupied territories with a patchwork of isolated ghettos surrounded by walls and military checkpoints. Israeli law would be applied in all settlements, which violate international law and numerous UN resolutions. Israel would retain sovereign control over the air and sea, as well as absolute “security” control in the entire territory west of the Jordan River. Jerusalem, including occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem and its holy sites, will remain entirely in Israeli hands. And Palestinian refugees will be categorically denied their right to return to the land from which they were expelled by Israel because they were not Jewish. 

    The plan would also have dire consequences for Palestinian citizens of Israel, many of whom would probably be stripped of their citizenship and transferred to the new Palestinian “state” under the plan’s proposed land swaps. To those ends, Israel’s Tourism Minister, Yariv Levin, has already raised the specter of de-nationalizating Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who make up about 20% of the population, or about 1.8 million people. Many people in this category would likely lose the ability to travel within most of historic Palestine and be subject to the same restrictions, including on movement, imposed on citizens of the new Palestinian “state.” 

    As a Palestinian citizen of Israel myself, I have been treated with suspicion and as a threat by the government for my whole life, a fifth column in my own homeland. Will I now be told to move to the new Palestine, or remain and accept permanent second- or third-class Israeli citizenship? We already face dozens of laws that discriminate against us—including the so-called “Jewish nation-state” law, which has effectively made segregation official national policy—because we are not Jewish. With Trump’s plan, Israel’s claim to being a liberal democracy that values human rights has been discredited once and for all.

    Trump and Netanyahu’s plan, then, is outrageously unapologetic in its denial of Palestinian rights and its whitewashing of Israeli colonization. In key respects, however, it does not represent a radical break with the many previous plans proposed over the past several decades—by both Democrats and Republicans, by Israel’s Labor and Likud—to “grant” Palestinians nominally autonomous, discontiguous parcels of land surrounded by Israeli settlements and under the control of the Israeli military, and to pass off these bantustans as an independent state. As far back as 1978, Prime Minister Menachem Begin proposed granting Palestinians a limited “autonomy” or home rule in scraps of the occupied Palestinian territories in an attempt to quash Palestinian demands for independence. The 1993 Oslo Accords offered Palestinians limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while allowing unfettered Israeli settlement expansion—with the number of Israeli settlers more than tripling since the signing of the peace agreement. 

    Gantz, supposedly a moderate alternative to Netanyahu, has embraced Trump and Netanyahu’s racist annexation plan, and vowed to bring it for approval in the Knesset. The Joint List—the coalition of Arab-majority parties, of which I am a member—will not support any candidate or party that supports annexation, including Gantz. Indeed, with rare exceptions, most Jewish Israeli politicians subscribe, implicitly or explicitly, to Trump and Netanyahu’s agenda of segregation, intolerance, and xenophobia, as evidenced by the nation-state law and others passed in recent years, like the so-called Nakba law, which is intended to suppress public discussion and debate of the mass expulsion of Palestinians that accompanied Israel’s establishment as a Jewish state in 1948.

    In the US, meanwhile, even some Democrats critical of Trump and Netanyahu have been muted in their criticism of this scheme. Reacting to a summary of the plan last week, Pelosi declared that it “appears to be a basis for negotiations . . . so let us be optimistic and hopeful.” Echoing Pelosi, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel of New York declared: “There’s some good room for hope there.”

    With the notable exception of Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential hopefuls have thus far refrained from proposing concrete ideas to end US complicity in Israel’s apartheid regime, with some even proudly reiterating their support for Israel. Because our shared values of freedom, equality, and democracy are on the line more clearly than ever before, Democrats can no longer get away with claiming progressive credentials in some arenas while remaining willfully blind to injustice elsewhere. Trump and Netanyahu recognize their own shared values and are working hand in hand; Democratic leaders likewise need to understand that Palestinians are their natural allies in resisting the onslaught of Trumpism in the US and around the globe.

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    George K. Shalabi, 1939-2020

    George Kamel Shalabi passed away January 31, 2020 from complications due to congestive heart failure. He was born at home on April 9, 1939 in Haifa, Palestine to Nahala and Kamel Shalabi. He was the oldest of four boys — a position of responsibility, respect and honor in Arab families. This helped form his personality and guided his interactions with people throughout his entire life.

    In 1948, his family lived as refugees in one room of Carmelite monastery, on Mount Carmel, high above the city of Haifa. He was 9 years old during this period and remembers the time fondly because he didn’t have to go to school.

    Much of George’s early education was at a school run by French monks, where all subjects were taught in French. He was fluent in several languages — Arabic, French, English and Hebrew.

    Because of his fluent French, after high school, he landed a job working at the French Embassy in Haifa. He worked here for several years before meeting Bill Cabecca — a U.S. Naval attaché who would frequently visit the embassy.

    George and Bill befriended each other and it gave George the opportunity to practice his English skills during their visits.

    It was at Bill’s insistence that George applied for college scholarships in the United States and he eventually received an offer to attend the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

    He left Haifa in June of 1962 on a ship with a suitcase of clothes and the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars in his pocket.

    At the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, he began working on his chemistry degree. And at a party in 1964, he met Peggy Goltz, whom he would eventually marry on July 1, 1967.

    After they graduated, they both found jobs in the Sauk-Prairie, Wisconsin area and moved there to settle and start a family.

    George found work at the Badger Army Ammunition plant in 1967 and worked there in various environmental and chemical engineering capacities until he retired in 2000.

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    Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Has Led to Violence Not Peace

    February 08, 2020

    (WASHINGTON, D.C. 2/8/20)—Since President Donald Trump released the details of his much-derided so-called “deal of the century,” a total of five Palestinians, including a teenager, have been killed by Israeli forces while protesting a “peace plan” that has delivered nothing but promises of further dispossession and apartheid. Rather than achieving peace, this plan has only emboldened the Israeli government to continue its policies of land theft and aggression against Palestinians. As AMP warned prior to the release of this “steal of the century,” this atrociously one-sided plan was always a recipe for more bloodshed and a prolonging of suffering. AMP condemns this plan and the inevitable violence it has provoked with Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing supporters, including settlers parading through the Jordan Valley, taunting Palestinians with the impending annexation of their lands. 
     
    Within the 1948 borders, Trump and Netanyahu’s Apartheid plan has proposed that an Arab-populated region there be added to a future Palestinian state. Not only is this suggestion tantamount to the illegal forced transfer of people but, like in Apartheid South Africa, it will result in the denaturalization of Israel’s minority population. Netanyahu has already vowed that there will never be a Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister—nothing more than swiss cheese-like Bantustans in which Israel and the Trump administration wish to segregate Palestinians. This racist plan, which deprives Palestinians of every basic right, sets impossible conditions on Palestinians who must prove themselves worthy of existing before any rights may be bestowed on them. 
     
    Of course, Palestinians would never accept such a humiliating proposal and have been protesting this initiative since its announcement last week. Israel has expectedly responded with violence, shelling and shooting Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, and killing young protesters with impunity. The first victim, 17-year-old Mohammad Al-Haddad from Hebron, was shot and killed by Israeli forces while protesting Trump’s plan. In the following days, as Israeli forces began a military incursion in Jenin, a protester who demonstrated against the demolition of a Palestinian home was killed. 

    Unsurprisingly, Jared Kushner blamed Palestinians for this escalation in violence in an effort to absolve himself of responsibility for his failed policies. As the region continues to descend into further chaos and instability, the world has begun to recognize that not only is the blood of innocent Palestinians on the hands of Israeli leaders, but also on the hands of the Trump administration which has waged a war on the Palestinian people over the last three years. 

    Israeli Occupation Forces Kill 3 and Destroy Home in Less than 24 Hours

    February 6, 2020

    The newest Israeli killing of Palestinians under its policy of excessive use of force, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed 3 Palestinians and wounded 8 others in less than 24 hours in Jenin and Hebron, north and south of the West Bank. Of the Palestinians killed, 2, including a policeman, were shot and killed during an IOF raid into Jenin to demolish a prisoner’s house, for the second time. This falls under the Israeli policy of collective punishment employed against families of Palestinians accused of carrying out attacks against Israeli soldiers and/or settlers. Meanwhile, the third Palestinian was killed by an Israeli sniper in a protest in Hebron.

    According to PCHR investigations, at approximately 1:30 on Thursday, 06 February 2020, IOF, backed by 20 military and construction vehicles, moved into al-Basateen neighborhood north of Jenin. The soldiers were deployed among civilian houses and topped the roofs of some while 30 of them raided Palestinian prisoner, Ahmed Jamal Ahmed al-Qumbo’s, house (220 sqm, home to 8 persons, including 2 children) to execute a demolition order issued by an Israeli court 48 hours prior. Al-Qumbo’ has been arrested since 17 January 2018, and the house was built only 9 months ago following IOF’s earlier demolition. The soldiers did a thorough search of the house with a large number of police dogs; afterwards, the Israeli bulldozers proceeded to level the house to the ground. During the demolition, a number of Palestinian civilians gathered and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF military vehicles present at the scene. Immediately, IOF responded with live and rubber bullets and toxic tear gas canisters; the situation quickly escalated. As a result of the Israeli shooting, 2 Palestinians were killed, one on the spot and the other succumbed to his wounds hours later, and 7 were wounded. The two killed were identified as 1. Yazan Monther Khaled Abu-Tabykh (19), a university student from Wad Bourqin area west of Jenin, was shot with a live bullet in the chest and killed immediately; and 2. Tariq Loay Ahmed Badwan (24), a Palestinian police officer from Qalqiliyah, was shot with a live bullet in the abdomen while inside the police station. He was transferred to the hospital where his condition was classified as critical and he was pronounced dead at 11:40 on Thursday.

    It should be noted that IOF detonated prisoner al-Qumbo’s house for the first time on 24 April 2019, under the pretext of being charged with involvement in the killing of an Israeli settler, Arail Shefeh, from “Hefat Gilad” settlement, southwest of Nablus, on 09 January 2018.

    At approximately 16:00 on Wednesday, 05 February 2020, an Israeli sniper stationed on a building’s roof near Israeli Military Checkpoint (56) established on al-Shuhada’a Street, fired 3 live bullets at Mohammed Salman Ta’mah al-Haddad (17) from a distance of 100 meters as Mohammed was near an old market, 50 meters away from the checkpoint’s entrance. As a result, Mohammed was shot and injured with a live bullet in the heart and fell on the ground. A number of young men managed to reach Mohammed and transferred him via an ambulance to Hebron Governmental Hospital. Few minutes later, doctors pronounced Mohammed’s death after being shot with a live bullet that penetrated his heart and caused severe bleeding. The shooting was reported during a protest organized by dozens of young men, who threw stones at IOF and burned tires near the abovementioned checkpoint.

    These crimes are part of IOF’s grave escalation in the oPt since the U.S President Trump declared his Middle-East Peace Plan known as “the Deal of the Century” on 28 January 2020. IOF suppressed more than 60 protests against Trump’s plan at seam points confrontation in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. As a result, dozens of civilians were shot and injured with live and rubber bullets in addition to many others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.

    PCHR strongly condemns the IOF’s crimes, which prove the ongoing Israeli use of excessive force against Palestinian civilian, who did not pose danger or threat to the soldiers’ lives.

    PCHR condemns the crime of demolishing Qombo’s house for the 2nd time as part of IOF’s collective punishment policy against the Palestinian civilians.

    PCHR reminds that this policy is internationally prohibited according to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Pillage is prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

    Therefore, PCHR reiterates its call upon the international community to take immediate action to put an end to the Israeli crimes. PCHR also reiterates its call upon the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under Article 1; i.e., to respect and ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances and their obligations under Article 146 to prosecute persons alleged to commit grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These grave breaches constitute war crimes under Article 147 of the same Convention and Protocol (I) Additional to the Geneva Conventions regarding the guarantee of Palestinian civilians’ right to protection in the oPt.