Activists Reclaimed a Water Source for Palestinians, Showing Co-Resistance Works

A man raises his arms in triumph next to a sign reading "Ein Albeida spring"
A Palestinian activist sticks a sign bearing the Palestinian name of Ein Albeida spring over an Israeli street sign with the name Avigail Spring, south of the village of Yatta near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on January 3, 2020. (Hazem Bader-AFP via Getty Images)

Oren Kroll-Zeldin, Truthout, January 10, 2020

Recently, nonviolent Palestinian activist Kifah Adara drew water from the Ein Albeida spring near her West Bank village of Al-Tuwani for the first time in 15 years. The spring is a natural water source that was used by Palestinian communities in the region for generations, but a decade and a half ago, nearby Israeli settlers started swimming in the spring, which dirtied the water and made it unsuitable for drinking. For years, due to settler violence and intimidation tactics, Palestinians couldn’t access the spring at all.

That all changed after a massive nonviolent direct action in which a group of over 150 Palestinian, Israeli, and diaspora Jewish activists reclaimed and rehabilitated Ein Albeida, thereby enabling Adara to walk from her village to fill water buckets for the first time since her youth. “I remember coming to this spring with women from my village to collect water for our families,” Adara said after the action. “We would travel 1.5 kilometers on our donkeys, just like we did today. Once Israeli settlers began swimming in this spring, it was no longer safe for us to drink. For many years, we could not access the spring at all. I am so happy to be back at this spring. I hope that, through the work we started today, the people of this region can use this water again.”

A woman stands in front of her donkey bearing jugs of water
Kifah Adara and her donkey carry water from Ein Albeida spring to nearby olive trees. (Emily Glick)

Ein Albeida, which means “White Spring” in Arabic, is the only natural water source for people living in Al-Tuwani and other nearby villages. The spring is also near Avigayil, an illegal Israeli outpost established in 2001. Settlers living in Avigayil have access to electricity and running water provided by the Israeli government, despite the outpost being considered illegal under Israeli law, while the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani lacks these services. This is representative of one of the many structural inequalities of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, where services are systematically denied to Palestinians while brazenly given to Israeli Jewish settlers.

The coalition of activists who participated in the action with Adara joined her to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against occupation and to assert their commitment to justice in the region. Adara invited the Israeli and diaspora Jewish members of this coalition to demonstrate their commitment to Palestinian solidarity by leveraging their privilege, as Jews, to protect her and other Palestinian activists from settler and state violence.

I participated in the action through a delegation with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, a group that brings Jews from around the world to engage in nonviolent direct action and co-resistance projects alongside Palestinian and Israeli partners. My participation is central to my academic research investigating Jewish anti-occupation activism and the politics of Jewish identity.

A woman passes a jug of water to another person while in a cave
Members of All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective gathering water at Ein Albeida spring. (Emily Glick)

My research points to two important things with regard to this delegation and the action to rehabilitate and reclaim Ein Albeida. First, whereas previous research claimed that Jews engage critically with Israeli policies of occupation out of love for Israel and a desire to make it better, many of the activists with whom I am working are instead motivated by a deep commitment to justice, especially for Palestinians. Second, though there are many methods and tactics used to end the occupation, the co-resistance model is one of the most impactful in showing tangible results to improve the lives of Palestinians on the ground. The nature of this organizing model also builds a vibrant, intersectional, and powerful anti-occupation social movement by building trust and relationships through embodied actions.

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February 29, 2020
International Festival

International Festival
Overture Center
201 State Street, Madison
10 am – 5 pm

Join MRSCP and other Madison sister cities, businesses, and organizations at the annual celebration of the rich cultural heritage within our community. Features more than 30 FREE performances throughout Overture by artists who call Dane County home, cuisines from around the world, and stunning arts and crafts for purchase.

Schedule and more information

January 12, 2020
Building Bridges and Border Presentation

Portraits of Immigrants and Refugees

502 Mark Drive
Verona, WI
6:30 – 9 pm

Family Diversity Projects‘ photo-text exhibit shares the stories of immigrants and refugees who have arrived in the U.S. from all over the world. The Jan. 12 reception features a presentation by members of Plymouth UCC who participated in a mission immersion experience at the U.S./Mexico Border. Other Madison area organizations who assist immigrants and refugees will be available to share their missions as well.

Schedule:
6:30 – 7 pm: Exhibit opens for self-guided tours. Reception.
7-8 pm: Members of Plymouth UCC, Madison will share their experiences at the U.S./Mexico border.
8-9 pm Local groups who assist immigrants and refugees will be available with information, and the exhibit is open for touring.

Free and open to the public.

January 13-February 2, 2020
The exhibit is open weekdays 10 am – Noon and 7-9 pm, or by appointment.

Contact Sarah Pundt, Director of Christian Education
(608) 845-7315
spundt at salemchurchverona.org

To Prison, Again, for Protesting Against Israel’s Colonial Rule

Israeli activist Jonathan Pollack pens a powerful Op-Ed in Haaretz on his arrest, putting into context his act of solidarity with Palestinians who face altogether different circumstances than his own.

The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009.
The Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, October 2, 2009. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Jonathan Pollak, Haaretz, Jan 07, 2020

I am currently detained in an Israeli jail, the result of refusing to attend or cooperate with criminal charges laid against me and two others for joining Palestinian protests in the West Bank against Israel’s colonial rule. Because I am an Israeli citizen, the proceedings in the case are held in an Israeli court in Jerusalem and not at the military court, where Palestinians are tried.

>> Police arrest left-wing activist Jonathan Pollak in Haaretz building

It has been almost nine years since the last time I was incarcerated for more than a day or two. Much has changed since. Politically, reality does not even resemble that of a decade ago, and none of the changes were for the better.

Politically, the world seems to have lost much of its interest in the Palestinian struggle for liberation, placing Israel at one of the historical peaks of its political strength. I am in no position to discuss the profound changes within Israeli society and how even farther to the right it has drifted. Israeli liberals are much better suited for such a task, because they hold their country dear and feel a sense of belonging that I cannot feel and do not want to feel.


Jonathan Pollak at Hermon Prison in 2011. (Yaron Kaminsky)

Personally, I am older, more tired and, mostly, not as healthy as I was. Of course, the price I have paid for my part in the struggle is a fraction of that paid by Palestinian comrades, but I cannot deny its subjective weight on me: from physical injuries, some irreversible, through sporadic despair, anxiety and sense of helplessness, to the encumbering sensation of loss and the presence of death – and the grip all these have on my day-to-day life. And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Right now, just as it was back then, sitting in prison is better than any other alternative available to me.

The legal fallacies that riddle the case against us are of little significance. While it is fair to assume that had I agreed to cooperate, the trial would have ended up with an acquittal, my refusal to recognize the court’s legitimacy is based on two main grounds.

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The U.N. once predicted Gaza would be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020. Two million people still live there.

The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day.   (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images )
The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day (Mohammed Abed-AFP-Getty Images)

Hazem Balousha and Miriam Berger, The Washington Post, January 1, 2020

GAZA CITY — Jana Tawil was born in 2012, the same year that the United Nations released an alarm-raising report on the state of the Gaza Strip: If the prevailing economic, environmental and political trends continued, the organization warned, the besieged coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt would become unlivable by 2020.

The United Nations revised its initial rating in 2017 to warn that “de-development” was happening even faster than it first predicted.

Jana’s father, 35-year-old Mahmoud Tawil, never thought much of that assessment.

“When the U.N. report [said] that Gaza would be unlivable, I felt that Gaza was not fit for life in the same year, not in the year 2020,” he said.

That is the bleak reality facing Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents as they approach a new year and new decade: still stuck living in a place the world has already deemed uninhabitable in perhaps the most surreal of 2020 predictions.

The Tawil family lives in Gaza’s al-Shati refugee camp, or the Beach camp, where cramped and crumbling rows of homes sit adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. It is in theory a scenic view — but life here persists on a parallel plane.

The elder Tawil, a psychologist, fears the sea: It’s full of sewage, pumped in because there’s not enough electricity and infrastructure to run Gaza’s war-torn sewage system. Hospitals, schools and homes are similarly running on empty, worn down by the lack of clean water, electricity, infrastructure and jobs or money. Barely anyone has enough clean water to drink. The only local source of drinking water, the coastal aquifer, is full of dirty and salty water. By 2020 — basically, now — that damage will be irreversible, water experts have warned.

“There is no stability in work, and there is no money for people,” Tawil said. “We cannot drink water or eat vegetables safely, [as] there is a fear that it will be contaminated.”

He continued: “We need a just life, and we need hope that there is a possibility for us to live on this earth. … The various Palestinian parties do not help us in Gaza to live, just as Israel imposes a blockade on Gaza. Unfortunately, no one cares about the residents of Gaza.”

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ICC’s Pursuit of War Crimes Probe in Palestine

“Accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action” during Israel’s 52-year occupation, said UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk


People run through tear gas carrying an injured woman on May 15, 2018 in Gaza City, Gaza. (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, December 31, 2019

A United Nations human rights researcher on Tuesday hailed the International Criminal Court’s recent decision to pursue a formal investigation of alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel as a “momentous step forward in the quest for accountability.”

“Over the years, the international community has adopted hundreds of resolutions through the United Nations condemning various features of Israel’s entrenched occupation of the Palestinian territory. Yet rarely has it ever combined criticism with consequences for Israel.”
—Michael Lynk, U.N. special rapporteur 

“Accountability has, until now, been largely missing in action throughout the 52-year-old occupation,” Michael Lynk, the U.N. special rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, said in a statement.

“Over the years, the international community has adopted hundreds of resolutions through the United Nations condemning various features of Israel’s entrenched occupation of the Palestinian territory. Yet rarely has it ever combined criticism with consequences for Israel,” he continued. “Now, the possibility of accountability is finally on the horizon.”

As Common Dreams reported, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced on Dec. 20 that after a nearly five-year preliminary probe “there is a reasonable basis to proceed” with an investigation based on evidence that “war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

With his statement, Lynk—who was appointed to his position by the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2016—joined a chorus of human rights experts and advocates worldwide who have welcomed the ICC’s announcement.

Final 2019 Appeal — Clean Water for Kids


Best Photos of 2019 from MECA

We are now more than halfway to providing another water filter system to a school in Rafah, Palestine.

If you have contributed to this project, thank you.

If you have not yet contributed, please consider an end-of-year donation to help us raise the balance of the $16,000 needed to provide clean, safe water for 2,200 students at the the Al-Shuka Preparatory School.

This is the fifth Maia water filter project funded by MRSCP and other citizens of Madison.

At least 95 percent of the groundwater in Gaza is unfit for drinking, cooking, washing, or bathing. Read about the causes and consequences of the Gaza water crisis.

You can donate in three ways:

  1. Contribute online through MECA. A small service fee is taken from the donation.
  2. Mail a check to MRSCP with the note “water” to:
      MRSCP
      P.O. Box 5214
      Madison, WI 53705

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BDS impact in 2019

Mahmoud Nawajaa, BDSMovement.net

The anti-Palestinian Trump Administration and Boris Johnson government are more than ever directly engaged in Israel’s desperate war of repression on advocacy for Palestinian rights and the BDS movement in particular. Thanks to your support, our BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality continued to grow in scale and impact in 2019.

Here are just a few highlights of BDS impact in 2019:

    South Africa, whose citizens brought apartheid to an end through protests and boycotts, officially downgraded its relations with Israel.

    Leading European trade unions – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, representing eight million people, and the UK’s Trades Union Congress, representing six million people – called for suspending the EU-Israel free trade agreement or ending arms sales to Israel.

    Major international companies – Australia’s Macquarie, Canada’s Bombardier, France’s Alstom, and Germany’s Siemens – withdrew from bidding to build Israel’s illegal settlement railway on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem.

    Support grew among US progressives and liberals for BDS and the right to boycott. Polls show 44% of Democratic voters supporting BDS. 80% of Democrats oppose laws penalizing people boycotting Israel, and 72% of all Americans oppose such laws. Democratic lawmakers introduced a historic House resolution affirming the right to boycott, and the Democratic Socialists of America committed to national BDS organizing.

    More artists – authors, actors, musicians and visual artists– cancelled performances and/or stated their support for the cultural boycott of apartheid Israel. More than 150,000 people, hundreds of artists and over 100 LGBT+ organizations joined our calls to boycott Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv. Only 10% of the expected tourists showed up.

    Campaigns for a military embargo against Israel grew and won victories. The French insurance giant AXA partially divested from Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. 200 organizations and individuals representing the Global South united in a call for a military embargo against Israel.

    2019’s annual Israeli Apartheid Week featured more than 200 events, across 30 countries, on five continents.

    In Europe, more progress was made towards banning goods and services produced in Israel’s illegal settlements. Oslo’s City Council banned procurement of settlement products. The European Court of Justice ruled that settlement goods must be accurately labeled. Ireland’s Parliament passed a bill to ban settlement goods, moving the ban closer to becoming law.

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‘Blinding the truth’: Israeli snipers target Gaza protesters in the eyes


Twelve-year-old Mohammed Al-Najar was shot in his eye by Israeli soldiers [Getty]

Tareq Hajjaj and Pam Bailey, The New Arab — Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 20 December, 2019

    To date, Gaza's Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers since the demonstrations began last March leaving them permanently blind.

Tags: Gaza, Gazans, Great Return March, Israel, snipers, rubber bullets, eyes, injuries

Media coverage and social media posts went wild when Palestinian photojournalist Muath Amarneh was blinded in his left eye after he was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in the West Bank. 

However, Amarneh was far from unique; Israeli snipers targeting participants in Gaza’s weekly Great Return March protests have aimed for the legs – and eyes. To date, Gaza’s Ministry of Health reports that 50 protesters have been shot in the eye since the demonstrations began March 30, 2018 – leaving them permanently blind.

“Some of these protesters and journalists were hit in the eye with teargas canisters, but most were targeted directly with what is commonly called a ‘rubber bullet,’ giving the impression they are somehow benign,” says Ashraf Alqedra, MD, a treating physician at Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital and spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

“But there is still steel at the core, and although these bullets don’t usually kill, they do grave damage. It is impossible to save an eye hit directly by a rubber-coated steel bullet.”

However, he adds, due to the Israeli blockade, there are no artificial, glass eyes in Gaza – only a cosmetic improvement, but one that can be a significant psychological aid. These are available only by travelling out of Gaza for treatment and permits for such journeys are often not granted.

According to data released by the World Health Organization, Gaza residents submitted 25,897 applications to travel via Erez Crossing to receive medical treatment in the West Bank or Israel; an average of 2,158 were submitted each month. However, the Israeli government only approved 61 percent.

Mai Abu Rwedah: the most recent victim

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