November 2020
Virtual Fair Trade Holiday Festival

Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival, which has gone virtual this year due to the pandemic.

The sale will be during the month of November. Make this your one stop shop for all your holiday gift giving. Spend your money on products that support your values; give gifts that give twice, once to the producer and once to the recipient.

You will be able to browse all the participating vendors and order directly from their websites by visiting Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival.

You can also follow the Festival on Facebook.

MRSCP will be participating in the virtual sale via our online store, Madison-Rafah Marketplace. We will carry most of our usual items.

(The store is currently up and running for olive oil sales; our complete product listings will be available when the Festival opens.)

Note: MRSCP CANNOT ship or deliver any purchases; they need to be picked up. You will receive instructions and a pickup window following your purchase. In hardship cases, we may be able to provide delivery.

We hope you will be able to participate in this annual event, and as always, thanks for your support.

Barb O.
MRSCP

Trump administration considers labeling top humanitarian groups ‘anti-Semitic’

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
and Oxfam are included

John Hudson, Washington Post, Oct. 21, 2020

The Trump administration is considering labeling some of the most prominent humanitarian organizations in the world, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam, as “anti-Semitic,” according to two people familiar with the discussions.

A declaration by the State Department could come as early as this week, the individuals said, adding that it might encourage other governments not to support the groups’ work.

The proposal has prompted sharp opposition from career officials in the department, who say it would be a gift to authoritarian governments that have long sought to delegitimize human rights groups for their work exposing mass atrocities and crimes against humanity, according to the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss future policy decisions.

The organizations deploy scores of workers in dangerous hot spots, where they often face resistance from local governments.

The State Department declined to comment on a pending declaration, which was first reported by Politico.

Pro-Israel advocates have long complained of bias by groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, saying they focus too heavily on the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

The groups, however, have a lengthy track record of spotlighting the mistreatment of individuals at the hands of governments elsewhere, including authoritarian regimes and Western democracies.

“It’s preposterous,” Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski (N.J.), who previously worked as Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said in a phone call. “They also document the treatment of the Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority. They are critical of every government in the world, including the United States. Yet the State Department under every previous secretary of state has relied on these organizations as credible sources of information and treated them as partners.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam each strenuously denied any accusation of anti-Semitism.

“Any insinuation that Oxfam supports anti-Semitism is false, baseless, and offensive,” Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam America said. “Oxfam and our Israeli and Palestinian partners have worked on the ground for decades to promote human rights and provide lifesaving support for Israeli and Palestinian communities. We stand by our long history of work protecting the lives, human rights, and futures of all Israelis and Palestinians.”

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Diplomats tour Palestinian communities Israel is expelling from the South Hebron Hills

The diplomats tour today. Photo by: B'Tselem\Breaking the SilenceThe diplomats tour today. (Photo: B’Tselem – Breaking the Silence)

B’Tselem, 19 October 2020

The representatives of 17 countries, including EU members as well as other countries, are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the South Hebron Hills, whose residents Israel is seeking to expel. Since 2000 the residents have been waging a legal struggle in Israel’s High Court of Justice. Last August, before the last hearing in the case, the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research revealed a document that proved what was already clear: Israel had declared the area a firing zone to facilitate the expulsion of its residents. The judges ignored that information and the residents are currently awaiting their ruling.

Heads of delegations and other diplomats are currently visiting Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area in the South Hebron Hills, whose home Israel has declared as “Firing Zone 918”, in an effort to drive them out. Around 1,000 residents are awaiting a forthcoming ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice in the latest petition in their
decades-long struggle against Israel’s attempts.

On the tour are representatives of the EU and of member states Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Ireland, as well as the UK, Norway, Switzerland and Canada, which concur with the EU’s position that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are unlawful and that Israel’s policy of forcible transfer of Palestinians is unacceptable. At the village of Khirbet al-Majaz, the participants are visiting the local school, built with EU funding, and meeting community leaders along with Nidal Younis, head of the Masafer Yatta local council, and Nasser Nawaj’ah, a resident of Susiya and Field Researcher for B’Tselem. The tour, which is adhering the most up-to-date Covid-19 safety guidelines, was organized by Israeli NGOs Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu said: “We have come here today to announce that we will not stand by while the State of Israel declares hundreds of people illegal residents in their own homes. We will not stay silent when soldiers are sent to expel people from their homes, in which they lived long before the first Israeli soldier set foot in the West Bank. We invite everyone to come here with us and look these people in the eye. That is more than the policymakers, who are forcing entire families to live in constant fear of being driven out of their homes, have ever done. This is expulsion. This is occupation.”

B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad added that “Israel has coveted Masafer Yatta for decades, viewing it as an area ready for exploitation were it not for what it perceives as the fly in the ointment – Palestinians who live in the area. The state wishes to expel all these families, demolish their homes and destroy their livelihoods, on one pretext or another. Declaring the area a firing zone was the excuse; cleansing the territory of Palestinians is the goal. This criminal plan must be stopped.”

The Khirbet al-Majaz community in Masafer Yatta. (Photo: B’Tselem – Breaking the Silence)

Background:
In the early 1980s, the Israeli military declared an area of about 3,000 hectares in the South Hebron Hills known as Masafer Yatta a restricted military zone, dubbed ‘Firing Zone 918’. At the time, dozens of Palestinian families had been living in the area for years, since before Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. They lived in 12 small villages and earned a living as farmers and shepherds.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Boycotts Yitzhak Rabin Event

Yesterday progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was headlined in the Palestine news-sphere as word came out about her speaking at a Peace Now event memorializing former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

For Palestinians, this news was triggering. For us, Rabin is not known as the “peacemaker” as U.S. history memorializes him, but as a colonial military general who oversaw ethnic cleansing campaigns and violent tactics to suppress Palestinian protests.

Today AOC’s office let us know that she has officially pulled out of the event memorializing Yitzhak Rabin after learning about his true legacy. Rabin’s legacy is much more than his handshake with Yasser Arafat at the White House and his assassination by a right-wing Israeli extremist. In assessing Rabin’s legacy, it’s important to center on the people most gravely harmed by his actions, the Palestinian people.

Not all Nobel Laureates are heroes, not all peace deals are just. We need look no further than the arms-trade deals President Trump is trying to pass off as peace accords between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain to know this to be true.

Young people around the world are demanding we rethink the legacy of historical figures valorized and celebrated uncritically. Israeli leaders are no exception.

Thank you for listening to the lived experience of Palestinians, Congresswoman.

Adalah Justice Project is a Palestinian advocacy organization based in the U.S. that aims to shift public discourse and policy on Palestine. We work towards collective liberation. Adalah Justice Project is a fiscally sponsored project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

COVID diary: A night in lockdown

Please consider an urgent appeal for support from We Are Not Numbers grassroots activists in Gaza, as the coronavirus crisis escalates in Gaza

Palestinian youth tell the human stories
behind the numbers in the news

Israa Mohammed Jamal, Gaza, We Are Not Numbers, September 8, 2020

The sky is full of many stars and an almost-full moon. The air is so humid I feel like I could cut it with a knife. I look at this mesmerizing view for a while, then a very small star, blinking and moving quickly, shoots by and disappears.  

I wish it was a passenger airplane, not an Israeli plane, and I wish was one of the passengers.

I'm 34 and I've never been on a plane before. I wonder how it would feel to soar up in the sky. How would the world look from the window, far below me? I hope to be free of the Israeli blockade and to have this experience one day.

The power is off—again, as usual. It feels literally like it is about to boil inside my house; my family of seven (my husband and five children, ages 12 to 4) can hardly bear it even when we have electricity and the fan blows. We get just four hours of electricity a day due to the Israeli ban on fuel imports, which means we usually can’t turn on the fan. The entire house is like an oven. There is also not enough water, so we can't shower whenever we want to refresh ourselves.

So, we stay outside in the garden, nibbling sunflower seeds and chatting about the growing number of people testing positive for COVID-19 across Gaza.

Quarantine center

That afternoon we had read heartbreaking news about a man who works for the Ministry of Health who has contracted the coronavirus. He posted on Facebook that, "I worked during the worst days of the Israeli wars and siege on Gaza, and I have never hesitated to take risks to help others." Now, he is confined to one of the quarantine centers. He recounted that he had heard complaints from other people confined with the virus and thought they were exaggerating. But now he has discovered they were right. The rooms are tiny and the food bad, he wrote.

The worst part: His child now has tested positive. We watched a video of his son (I’d guess he is about 6 years old) wearing shorts, T-shirt and a small backpack. He cried as he walked to the ambulance, and we could hear a woman crying too. I think she was his mother. The voice of a man said to the boy, "You are going to your father." We worry about the boy and what he will face.

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UNRWA USA’S Virtual Gaza 5K & Art Auction


Announcing the First-Ever
Nationwide Virtual Gaza 5K

+
Digital Festival Art Auction!

Everyone’s mental health is being tested as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we won’t all suffer the same.

From the United States to Palestine, no person should have to suffer constant distress.

And while the global pandemic has caused events, travel, and even people to be canceled, you can join UNRWA USA for an interactive Gaza 5K + Digital Festival on Saturday, September 12, 2020, bringing together community, running, music, and entertainment for a good cause — providing mental health for refugee kids in the Gaza Strip. And now, due to the crisis in Lebanon, a portion of the proceeds from the Gaza 5K will be dedicated to our urgent relief fund for Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

More on the Gaza 5k!


More on the Virtual Art Auction!

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Tell General Mills: Stop manufacturing Pillsbury products on stolen Palestinian land!


Did you know that food giant General Mills is manufacturing Pillsbury products on stolen Palestinian land?

That is not OK.

The Pillsbury factory is located in Atarot Industrial Zone, an illegal settlement near the infamous Qalandia Checkpoint that separates East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Stand up for Palestinian rights! Join AFSC in telling General Mills: Stop profiting from the occupation.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights listed General Mills as one of the companies supporting illegal Israeli settlements. AFSC’s own research shows that the land the factory was built on was confiscated by force. The factory is located on land that used to be part of Beit Hanina, a Palestinian town which was dissected by Israel’s separation wall. Israel annexed this area into Jerusalem.

We wrote a letter to General Mills CEO Jeff Harmening, urging him to stop doing business in an illegal settlement—and received no response.

Please join us in taking action today:

1. Write your own letter to Jeff Harmening and tell him: “No dough for the occupation!”

2. Boycott Pillsbury products until General Mills stops manufacturing on stolen land.

3. Help us spread the word. Share more information about the campaign with your networks as well as our campaign website: BoycottPillsbury.org. Support our call for justice for Palestinians and join us in boycotting Pillsbury today.

In peace,

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