for the International Festival (2/27-3/5) and International Women’s Day (3/6)
As 2020 comes to a close, we are writing to ask for your end-of-year contribution to two great efforts: one for Rafah and the other right here in Dane County.
The economic situation in the Gaza Strip was already terrible due to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Lockdowns, curfews and other measures taken to combat COVID-19, while initially slowing the spread of the virus, ultimately worsened the situation. COVID-19 is rapidly spreading and more than 70% of the population is now reported below the poverty line.
MRSCP is therefore partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide some of the poorest families in Rafah with fresh, nutritious food parcels. Each family will receive a food parcel with essentials like rice, beans, and lentils as well as fresh local produce and poultry. We are excited about this project because an estimated 20 small farmers and cooperative members will also benefit from providing the produce and locally-made packaged goods such as jam and maftool.
$40 provides one family with a 2-3 week supply of this food. Priority will be given to poor families that have disabled individuals or those with chronic diseases, and to female-headed households. More information on this project including a video and a description of the food parcel contents and selection criteria can be found at our website.
Donate directly online:
Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is joining with MECA, ZamZam Water, PaliRoots, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees to provide food parcels to families in Rafah. As always, MECA strives to support the local economy while providing much needed aid for families. With these food parcels many Palestinian farmers and cooperatives benefit, and the end result is a healthy and local package of eggs, vegetables, beans, lentils, rice, cheese, za’atar and more.
The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating dramatically as a result of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli blockade. The precautions taken to limit the spread of coronavirus including imposing of lockdowns and curfews have worsened the dire situation. As a result, more than 70% of the population are reported below the poverty line.
The project aims to provide support for some of the poorest families in the Gaza strip through provision of fresh food items as well as protect the livelihoods of small farmers and women by helping generate income to support their families.
Each family will receive a food parcel with essentials like rice, beans, and lentils as well as fresh local produce and poultry. An estimated 20 small farmers and cooperative members will benefit from providing the produce and locally made packaged goods such as jam and maftool.
Last year at this time my friend Laila was visiting the US, bringing the fabulously beautiful hand embroidered work of Women in Hebron to Fair Trade holiday craft shows and church basements and the homes of friends.
Laila can’t travel here from Palestine now, and the cooperative can no longer sell their work to tourists in the Old City of Hebron, because there are no tourists in the Holy Land. Their shop in the souk, the first to be operated by women, is shuttered and dark along with all the rest.
This video tells the history of Women in Hebron Fair Trade Co-op since their founding in 2005.
But now you can support Women in Hebron from home by shopping at their new online store at Palestine Partners, and I really hope that you’ll join me in doing just that this holiday season. You’ll find find beautiful one-of-a kind hand made tree ornaments, bags, purses, pillow covers, placemats, backpacks, and more there, all decorated with stunning Palestinian embroidery. And best of all, buying these products will make a huge positive difference in the lives of the women who make them.
Laila worked so hard on last year’s trip here. She kept a schedule that would put most people on the couch for weeks – traveling back and forth across the US on trains and busses, with two huge duffle bags and a backpack filed with gloriously colored hand embroidered ornaments and scarves and placemats and pillow covers and coin purses and bags – and even small cats wearing tiny traditional Palestinian Kuffiyas. She has a huge heart, and an unbelievably strong spirit, and I have never known her to complain, but she recently told me that the impact of COVID has turned the clock back 20 years for the women she works with.
For many of these women the co-operative presented the very first chance to independently earn a living and care for themselves and their families through their own labor in a just and supportive cooperative setting. Now with COVID, the loss of sales has been devastating. Beautiful products are waiting on shelves, and the cooperative is unable to purchase additional materials, or pay women for the creation of new products, until they are able to sell the inventory.
So I’m asking you now, please, shop at their online store. These women need to work.
Our online store, Madison-Rafah Marketplace, has added crafts to our olive oil sales. We offer ceramics, embroidery, jewelry, kufiyas, woodcrafts, and calendars.
For the month of November make this your one-stop shopping for holiday gift giving. Spend your money on products that support your values. Give gifts that give twice, once to the producer and once to your recipient.
Since 2004 the Madison-Rafah Crafts Committee has worked with fair trade organizations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to purchase mostly traditional crafts. We buy them at fair trade prices, helping the artists support their families and the economy of Palestine.
We hope you will be able to participate in this annual event. As always, thank you for your support.
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.
Warning of Gaza Power Plant Shutdown
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses its deep concern over the repercussions of the Gaza Power Plant scheduled shutdown on Tuesday, 18 August 2020, on all basic services for the Gaza Strip population, especially health and sanitation services, industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities and other services. PCHR reiterates that the Israeli systematic policy of tightening the closure on the Gaza Strip as declared on 10 August 2020, is a form of collective punishment and inhuman and illegal reprisals against Palestinian civilians since 2007.
According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Palestinian Energy And Natural Resources Authority and the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) declared on Sunday, 16 August 2020, its decision to suspend the power plant at full capacity on Tuesday morning, 18 August 2020, as the fuel required to operate the Plant ran out due to the Israeli authorities’ suspension of fuel entry for the seventh consecutive day. The Israeli authorities alleges that their decision to tighten the closure and ban entry of fuel was in response to the launch of incendiary balloons at Israeli outposts adjacent to the Gaza Strip. This will increase the shortage of electric supply by more than 75%.
The shutdown of the power plant will have implications for basic services received by the Gaza Strip residents and will increase the hours of power outage at civilians’ homes to 16 – 20 per day. The power outage will most significantly impact the quality of health and sanitation services, including drinking water supply, sanitation and other services, such as reduction in diagnostic and treatment services at both governmental and private health facilities. Additionally, drinking water supply will be interrupted for long periods, and the power shortage will result in untreated sewage water being pumped into sea. Furthermore, the Gaza Strip’s economy will suffer huge losses as work is suspended in industrial, commercial and agricultural facilities that depend on electricity in their production mechanism, putting them at risk of being shut down and collapse.
PCHR expresses its grave concern over the catastrophic consequences that may result from the disruption of public utilities if power outages continue, which will affect all basic services provided to the public, especially hospitals, water and sanitation facilities; Thus, PCHR:
• Calls upon the international community to force the Israeli occupation authorities to stop using collective punishment policy against the Gaza Strip population and urgently intervene to guarantee import of fuel and all other needs for the Gaza Strip population; and
• Reminds Israel of its obligations and responsibilities as an occupying power of the Gaza Strip under the rules of the international humanitarian law.
On Wednesday, 12 August 2020, Israeli authorities announced new restrictions on the movement of goods entering the Gaza Strip and reduced the fishing area, in alleged response to the launch of incendiary balloons towards Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Kamil Abu Rukun, stated that pursuing to security consultations, it was decided to immediately stop the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip and reduce the permitted fishing area from 15 to 8 nautical miles until further notice. Abu Rukun added that “These decisions were made in light of the ongoing violence and launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli territory.”
This decision followed the Israeli authorities’ former decision to close Karm Abu Salem crossing issued two days ago (starting from Tuesday, 11 August 2020) except for the transportation of goods for vital humanitarian cases and fuel.
The decision suspending the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip deepens its electricity crisis and increases its 64% power deficit (pre-suspension decision). In the best case scenario, the Gaza Strip available power reaches 180 Megawatts (120 MW from Israel, and 60 MW from the Gaza power plant), a far cry from its 500 MW minimum need.
In light of the Israeli decision, it is expected that the power deficit would reach 76% after the power plant shuts, raising the hours of power outages to 16 – 20 hours per day.
This development bears warning to the impact on the lives of the 2 million Gaza residents, as their homes and workplaces will turn into hell, preventing them from leading normal lives due to the high heat and humidity. Most significantly, as the electricity crisis intensifies, basic services are expected to rapidly deteriorate, particularly health and sanitation services, including drinking water sources and sanitation services.
Furthermore, reducing the fishing area negatively affects and undermines the livelihoods of 4,160 fishermen and 700 workers in professions associated with the fishing sector i.e. the main providers for their families (a total of 27,700 persons). Even before this decision, Gazan fishermen already suffered an inability to fish and sail freely in the allowed fishing area due to the recurrent Israeli attacks at sea, the entry ban of equipment and necessary supplies for fishermen. Consequently, hundreds of fishermen are effectively unable to provide their families’ basic needs, such as food, medicine, clothing, and education.
The impact of the new Israeli decisions would deepen the humanitarian and living crises in the Gaza Strip, especially raising unemployment, poverty and food insecurity. Statistics pre-recent restrictions indicate a dangerous unemployment rate at 46%, i.e. 211,300 unemployed workers; this rate is highest among youth at 63%. Also, more than half of the Gaza Strip population suffers poverty, as data from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) indicate that the prevalence of poverty among the Gaza Strip population exceeds 53%, and more than 62.2% of the Gaza population is classified as food insecure according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In keeping with the times, we are now offering Palestinian Olive Oil and Donation and Membership services at the Madison-Rafah Marketplace, a secure online store. A new link has been added to the header menu above. Crafts may be available at the Marketplace in the future.
The Marketplace is currently offering Holy Land Olive Oil in 500 and 750-ml bottles, with discounts for cases of six. It is an extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil imported directly from Palestinian growers.
Buyers in Madison have been impressed with the oil’s quality and flavor. The oil has a brilliant green color and freshness that you can taste: nutty with a little sharpness or bite, particularly in the finish, that is typical of fresh oil.
This oil comes from West Bank villages in the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, a certified fair trade organization. The oil from the 2018/19 harvest had a peroxide value of 7, an acidity of 0.37%, and a pleasant fruity flavor characteristic of fresh ripe olives. It was mellow, not bitter or peppery, and pleasantly aromatic.
Palestinian farmers are having great difficulty selling their produce due to Israeli policies of occupation and closure. Neither Jordan nor Israel, the two natural markets, will accept the oil which is now the only source of income for many people.
The Madison-Rafah Marketplace is a secure site hosted by Square that meets the Payment Card Industry security standards.