July 21, 2018
Maia Water Project at the Midwest Waterfest

10 am – 6 pm
Common Ground
2644 Branch Street, Middleton

MRSCP will be tabling for the Maia Project at the Midwest Waterfest, A Celebration of Life – music, speakers, food, activism, information, fun!

Stop by to check out the Waterfest events and stop by our table, we’ll be selling olive oil & olive oil soap, earrings, kuffiyehs, and small embroidery items, and raising money to install a Maia Project water filter serving 3,250 students and their families in Gaza at two adjacent schools in Rafah.

Democracy Now’s Yemen Report


Just Foreign Policy, July 19, 2018

This morning, Democracy Now had a hard-hitting report on the U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen. They combined highlights of the PBS Newshour series with an interview with Jane Ferguson, the PBS Newshour journalist who “smuggled” herself into Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen to report on conditions there.

You can watch [and share] the Democracy Now segment here:
PBS Report from Yemen: As Millions Face Starvation, American-Made Bombs Are Killing Civilians

What’s crucial about the Democracy Now report, compared to most other [far too infrequent] reports in the U.S. media, is that it squarely places responsibility for the war on the government of the United States, and highlights the need for political action in the U.S. to end the war now. The report makes clear that the war is perceived correctly in Yemen as a U.S. war, that the war would not be possible without the participation of the United States, and that the U.S. government can end the war anytime it wants, by cutting off U.S. participation and by pressuring its “allies” Saudi Arabia and the UAE to end the war and agree to a political resolution. The report also makes clear that if the war is not ended this year, millions more human beings will be pushed to the brink of starvation.

This last fact, what will happen to civilians in Yemen if the war doesn’t end this year, is crucial. There’s a lack of urgency in Washington right now about pressing for action to end the war, even though the fate of millions of human beings hangs in the balance. There are many causes for this lack of urgency, but one key cause is the political season in Washington. With mid-term elections approaching in four months, the foremost concern for many people in Washington about any issue now is: how will this issue affect mobilization for our team in the mid-term elections? If it’s not obvious how raising an issue would help the Democratic team or the Republican team mobilize for the mid-term elections, it’s hard to generate interest for it in Washington right now.

But millions of human beings in Yemen can’t wait until after the mid-term elections for action to end the war. They need action to end the war now.

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Islam Maraqa of ISM on WORT

Gil Halstead with Islam Maraqa on Access

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

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Profile of Um Hassan from Al-Masara Village

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Apr 12, 2018

Fatima Brejia (more commonly known as Um Hassan) is an organic farmer, community activist, founder of a local women’s organization, and most recently the head of the Al-Masara Village Council! She is the first Palestinian woman to be elected head of a village council.

Watch this video to learn more about Um Hassan and the amazing work she does for children and the rest of her community!

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April 6, 2018: Gaza from the Inside

Professor Brian Barber
Friday, April 6, 12 pm CDT
Live Online

The Institute for Palestine Studies, in partnership with the Palestine Center, cordially invites you to a presentation by IPS Senior Fellow Brian Barber. Just back from a visit to Gaza, Professor Barber will concentrate in this talk on the current vexing conditions in Gaza and the attendant range of emotions to cope with them.

The Gaza Strip is an intense place – not just for its pockets of extreme crowding, but also for its emotions: of love, pride, sorrow, frustration, and challenged resolve. Gaza is also a vital place, indeed it is indispensable to any lasting peace in the region. While excessive commentary and analysis abound about Gaza, there is precious little coverage that communicates the feel of the place and its inhabitants as they endure ever-more-strangulating constraints. Professor Barber attempts to do so in this presentation with an assemblage of photos, video, and, most crucially, narratives of the people he has come to know well through long stays in the Gaza Strip over the past 23 years.

Author Bio

Brian K. Barber, Ph.D., is an Institute for Palestine Studies Senior Fellow. He is also Professor Emeritus of child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, where he founded and directed the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict. He is editor of the 2009 Oxford University Press volume Adolescents and War: How Youth Deal with Political Conflict and has regularly published studies on global youth, including on Palestinians, in leading academic outlets such as The Lancet, Social Science & Medicine, and Global Public Health.

His writings or interviews, particularly on Gaza, have also appeared online at Medium, Jadaliyya, New America Weekly Wonk, Muftah, InformedCOMMENT, Alternet, and openDemocracy.

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Samira Remedial Education

GAZA KIDS NEED YOUR HELP!

Barb Olson, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, March 9, 2018

For the third time, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice to fund the Samira Remedial Education Project in Rafah. Organized by the Rafah branch of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), this project employs special education teachers and a social worker to provide psycho-social support to 180 economically disadvantaged and learning-disabled children age six to twelve and their families.

The Gaza Strip, turned by Israel’s siege into the world’s largest open-air prison, is already one of the poorest and most crowded places on earth. The educational system is overcrowded, unstable and inconsistent. Sanitation, water and electrical services barely function. Public services are weak and underfunded, especially those serving mainly women and children. The recent US cuts to The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) threaten to turn crisis into catastrophe. Three-quarters of Gaza’s 1.8 million people are refugees dependent on the schools, hospitals and food distributions of UNRWA just to survive. In addition, Gaza is subjected to frequent Israeli military land and sea attacks and has not recovered from the last decade’s three full-scale bombardments and invasions. Every one of the close to 1 million children in Gaza knows someone who was killed, injured or made homeless.

Gaza Community Mental Health Program

Children have been affected more than others because every aspect of their lives, especially the education system, has been repeatedly disrupted if not destroyed. Psychologically, the negative impact on children is enormous: nightmares, racing thoughts, nail-biting, panic attacks, uncontrolled urination, violent behavior and hyperactivity are common symptoms. It is estimated that at least 30 percent of all children in Gaza are so severely affected that they require some form of structured psycho-social intervention.

For the past couple of years, the Samira Remedial Education Project has been successfully intervening to develop the children’s skills and increase their ability to learn (especially reading, writing and mathematics); to support them psychologically and socially and rebuild their confidence; to implement scientific solutions to learning disabilities and reduce violent and disruptive behavior; to train families to better support their children; and to create job opportunities for qualified professionals in this field. Field trips, a children’s library and activities such as theater, music, art and reading help the staff to understand the children and create a space for the children to express their feelings.

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Restoring U.S. Aid Crucial to Avoid Gaza Water Catastrophe

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22.

Drinking water in Gaza is causing a rising number of its residents to fall ill and the UN says scarcity and pollution of water resources are at the forefront of the territory’s scourges.

Matthias Schmale, IPS – Inter Press Service, March 27, 2018

GAZA CITY, Mar 21 2018 (IPS) – World Water Day (March 22) could not come at a more critical time for the people of Gaza who are facing a humanitarian catastrophe The recent decision by the United States to reduce funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), jeopardizes its role as a critical source of clean drinking water when Gaza’s supplies slow to a drip.

An estimated 1.2 million Gaza residents have no access to running water. For those who do, up to 97 percent of the water they receive is too polluted with salt and sewage to drink. The salt comes from seawater, which penetrates Gaza’s only aquifer when the water table drops too low. Palestinians in Gaza consume on average fewer liters per person per day than the World Health Organization recommends, and less than a quarter of the average per capita consumption in Israel.

Nevertheless, the combination of rapid population growth and regional climate change extracts 200 million cubic feet of freshwater each year from an aquifer that receives only 60 million cubic feet of diminishing rainfall annually.

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One woman tackles two of Gaza’s toughest challenges

We Are Not Numbers, February 23, 2018

A Gaza man with a SunBox

Two of the Gaza Strip’s most pressing challenges are a blockade-induced shortage of both electricity and building materials. And, in this conservative, patriarchal society, it’s a young, female engineer who is tackling both.

Twenty-four-year-old Majd al-Mashharawi, a 2016 graduate in civil engineering, first figured out how to turn ash and rubble—of which Gaza has a lot—into a material she calls “Green Cake” that can replace cement. Now, she is turning her attention to renewable energy technologies, starting with a solar kit named SunBox. Now in the piloting phase, SunBox is, she says, the first off-the-grid solar kit in Gaza.

“Gaza has an extreme shortage of electricity—receiving just three to six hours a day. But the entire Middle East suffers from a lack of sufficient electricity,” Mashharawi says. “This severely affects both quality of life and opportunity for economic growth. But the region has a resource that can be harnessed—an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, making solar energy an ideal source of electricity production.”

Mashharawi researched solar options in use in Africa and India, where electricity outages also are common. However, she ended up turning to China for the most applicable solution. Her SunBox product is a small solar energy collection kit she imports, modifies to accommodate local electrical outlets and voltage and sells for US$355—a price her market research shows is affordable to most households. (She hopes to partner with microfinance businesses for those families who need to pay in installments.) The kit generates 1,000 watts of electricity—enough to power four lamps, two laptops, two phones, an internet router and a TV/fan/small refrigerator for a full day, before needing a “refresh” (using either the sun or the electrical grid, when available).

Mashharawi (far right) using a SunBox to power a light and laptop

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