Rafah Family Guided Home Construction

A fundraiser by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Our goal is to raise $10,064 to renovate a family apartment in the Tal al Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, where in 2005 we funded a playground for local children.

This family consists of a father, mother and three children. The father has become disabled and the mother works to try to keep the family afloat. Their small apartment is desperately in need of roof repairs, interior renovations to the main living area and bath, and the addition of another room — especially now that the cold and rains of winter have arrived.

The building condition directly affects the family’s health and well being. The family covers the roof panels with cloths to try to keep out the rain, but that’s not enough to keep the rooms dry. They cannot afford to repair the concrete ceiling.

The family was nominated by the Al Amal Society for Rehabilitation, a Palestinian Non-Government Organization in Gaza that has partnered with Rebuilding Alliance since 2017. Our grant will be transferred to and administered by this partner organization. Rebuilding Alliance’s Site Engineer, Heba El Khozondar, will supervise the project to sign-off for each phase.

The project will have three construction phases, each commencing as soon as enough funds have been donated:
▪ Phase 1: $3,080  Poured concrete roof repair
▪ Phase 2: $3,555  Main Living Space
▪ Phase 3: $3,429  Adjacent new room
$10,064  Total

On Tuesday, November 29 Global Giving is matching ALL online donations up to $2500. Also, if you are able to make monthly recurring donations, they will match up to $200 each donation after your fourth.

Donate Online

You can also mail a check to MRSCP marked “house repairs” to
MRSCP
P.O. Box 5214
Madison, WI 53705

Mailed contributions will NOT count toward the Global Giving match on November 29.

As always, we thank you for your support.

Light in Gaza Speaking Tour in Milwaukee


Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire book cover. (Photo: AFSC)

American Friends Service Committee, Sep 27, 2022

    11/17/22 update: WORT’s Gil Halsted talks with Yousef Aljamal and Asmaa Abu Mezeid, two of the Light in Gaza authors now on tour in the U.S.

Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire brings together sixteen essays and poems by twelve Palestinian writers. The book includes political essays, personal narratives, economic analysis, and poetry. The book is edited by American Friends Service Committee staff Jehad Abusalim, Jennifer Bing, and Mike Merryman-Lotze and published by Haymarket Books. Read the full press release here.

AFSC is excited to host a speaking tour featuring Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal, contributors to the Light in Gaza anthology.

Join us for a discussion of this new literary anthology featuring two of the book’s co-authors: Asmaa Abu Mezied and Yousef Aljamal.

This book imagines what the future of Gaza could be, while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

“This is a different view than most Americans see in the news.  Usually we see people in Gaza being killed or living without electricity. So they are either victims or superhumans. You miss the everyday family gatherings, the importance of nature. We hope this book inspires people to want to learn more,” said Jennifer Bing, director of the AFSC Palestine Activism Program in Chicago and editor for the Light in Gaza book project.

We will talk with the authors about their contributions to the book, and discuss the current conditions in Gaza. We will also be discussing the role that we here in Turtle Island can play in support the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

This event is co-sponsored by: Milwaukee 4 Palestine (milwaukee4palestine@gmail.com); Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation (Milwaukee), Jewish Voice for Peace (Milwaukee), Students for Justice in Palestine (UWM), Students for Justice in Palestine (Marquette University).

About the speakers:

Asmaa Abu Mezied is economic development and gender expert working to address issues of gender, development, and climate change.  Her main area of focus is women’s economic justice through gendered economic policies, women’s rights in economic sectors, unpaid care and domestic work campaigning, inclusive markets, and feminist economics in fragile and conflict areas. Asmaa is a beginner gardener in the Gaza Strip and is interested in the intersection of Palestinian political, agricultural, and environmental identities. Asmaa is a policy member and a current fellow at Al Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank.  She was an Atlas Corps Fellow with U.S. President Obama’s Emerging Global Leaders, a Gaza Hub-Global Shaper Alumna in the initiative of the World Economic Forum, and a 2021 Mozilla Foundation Wrangler at “Tech for Social Activism” space. 

Yousef M. Aljamal is a Palestinian refugee from Al-Nusierat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He has obtained an MA degree from the Department of International and Strategic Studies Department at the University of Malaya. He is now a PhD Candidate at the Middle East Institute at Sakarya University in Turkey. Aljamal, besides his research interests in diaspora, security, and indigenous studies, has contributed to a number of books which highlight the Palestinian narrative. He translated two books on Palestinian prisoners entitled The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag (2013) and Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak (2016). He also co-edited the book A Shared Struggle Stories of Palestinian and Irish Hunger Strikers (2021). Aljamal has published a number of journal articles on topics that include Palestinians in the diaspora, travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians, and struggles for liberation. Over the years, he has spoken at various forums and platforms to highlight the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation.

Mazin Qumsiyeh: Palestine Is a Climate Justice Issue

Join us to learn the environmental reality in Israel/Palestine today, what is being done by the land’s indigenous protectors. and what we can do to support their efforts.

We are honored to have one of Palestine’s leading voices on Palestinian activism and resistance, Mazin Qumsiyeh, an authority on the natural world of Palestine and environmental justice. Dr. Qumsiyeh is the founder and director of the Palestine Museum of Natural History and the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability at Bethlehem University.

The world’s climate and environmental crisis touches every corner of the globe.The most vulnerable and marginalized populations of the world are bearing the brunt of climate change and suffering daily environmental injustice. Nowhere is that more true than in Israel/Palestine. For Palestinians, climate change is not just a natural phenomenon, but a political one. Israel‘s regime of occupation and apartheid, which denies Palestinians the right to manage their land and resources, greatly heightens the impact of the climate crisis for Palestinians, making them more vulnerable to all climate-related conditions.

Yet Israel cultivates an image worldwide as an environmentally conscious, “green” society. It is even considered to be an environmental leader for the world. The reality is dramatically different.

He is also the author of several books, including Sharing The Land Of Canaan: Human Rights and the Israeli-Palestinian Struggle and Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, and he has been called “the most important chronicler of contemporary popular resistance in Palestine.”

When we gather online with Mazin Qumsiyeh, representatives from around the world will be meeting in Egypt for the United Nations’ global climate conference, COP27. As we will see on November 9th, the fight for climate justice for all is directly connected to the Palestinian struggle.

Sponsored by Methodist Federation for Social Change and United Methodist Kairos Response.

Update: Back-To-School Backpacks For Rafah Kids

135 backpacks to Rafah by MECA on our behalf
More MECA photos from Gaza

 


 

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide back-to-school backpacks to 2000 poor children in Gaza, including Rafah and Rafah camp which suffered significant damage and casualties in the latest Israeli assault.

Our goal is to provide at least 100 Gaza-produced backpacks that MECA will distribute at schools and kindergartens in Rafah. The backpacks cost $17.50 each for a total of $1,750. MRSCP will match half the cost of the first 100 backpacks before the end of August, when school resumes in Gaza. 100 percent of your donation will go to this project.

The people of Gaza suffered terribly from the recent Israeli bombardment, which was just the latest in a series of what Israeli officials callously refer to as “mowing the grass” — periodic military assaults on the two million people (one million of them children) with no safe place to hide in what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison.

But even when bombs are not falling, Gazans struggle to survive under the Israeli land, air and sea blockade that deprives them of safe drinking water, medical care, employment, and fuel, and which kills and traumatizes them day in and day out through this cruel policy of deliberate deprivation.

Your tax dollars are paying for this outrage. Please consider partially offsetting them by contributing to the backpack campaign.

 

School Backpacks for Gaza!School backpacks for Gaza

Send a check payable to “MRSCP”
and marked “Backpacks” to:
MRSCP
P.O. Box 5214
Madison, WI 53705
or donate online:

Donate

Thank you for helping the children of Gaza.

 

AND…Here at Home:

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“Cancel the F-35”: Organizations Sign Letter to President & Congress


Rep. Francesca Hong addresses concerns for the arrival of F-35 jets in Truax Field, surrounded by Eken Park Resistance members. CAMERON CIESZKI/CAP TIMES

One goal of this letter is to bring organizations on the national and international level together with local organizations who have been working against F-35 training in their communities for years. Another is to use the F-35, the most expensive weapons program in history, to address the larger issue of unchecked military spending. The F-35 is causing harm at home and abroad in primarily working class and BIPOC neighborhoods. We hope to begin a substantial and sustained campaign to cancel the F-35 program.

President Biden & Members of Congress,

We, the undersigned organizations from around the world, are calling for a cancellation of the F-35 program, an end to F-35 training in residential areas like South Burlington, Vermont and Madison, Wisconsin, and a reinvestment of the project’s funds to life affirming programs. We are making these demands based on the harm caused abroad, cost of the program to the taxpayer, inefficiencies and failures, the environmental impact of F-35s, and the effects training has on local communities. 

HARM CAUSED THROUGH MILITARISM

We primarily stand firmly against the F-35 as a weapon of war. Although not ready for full-scale production, the U.S. intends on producing countless F-35s to sell around the world that will without a doubt be used to harm people living in the Global South. F-35s have the capacity to carry nuclear weapons, and the deployment of these jets only aids nuclear proliferation. The U.S. already makes up 40% of the global arms trade, aiding and abetting war crimes all over the world. Israel is procuring F-35’s from the United States which will undeniably be used against Palestinians to further Israel’s goals of ethnic cleansing and displacement in Palestine. Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in F-35s as well as the UAE while both countries wage a brutal war on Yemen. The F-35 is a disaster of a project, but also  a potential disaster for humanity. 

INEFFICIENCIES AND FAILURES

The F-35 spending is becoming impossible for important members of Congress to justify. The Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith called the F-35 a “rathole.” Another member of HASC, Rep. John Garamendi had some scathing comments about the F-35 in a HASC subcommittee hearing in May: 

“For the contractors out there, what are you doing? Why can’t you give us a piece of equipment that actually works? You should never have a contract. And for Lockheed, you want a five-year maintenance contract? You can’t do what you’re doing today. Come on. What are we thinking? If I have not adequately expressed my frustration, I would assume that my frustration is less than the frustration of the pilots and the maintainers out there. … The primary maintenance responsibility on this is Lockheed and you gentlemen.”

The Government Accountability Office said the F-35 “continues to fall short of prescribed mission-capable rates and is consistently missing reliability targets”. According to the GAO, the F-35A in 2021 was fully mission capable 50% of the time, while the F-35B was fully mission capable less than 20 percent of the time. The F-35c was only capable 9.5% of the time.

The signatories call attention to the failures of the program to address harmful projects seeing never ending investment while programs that protect people such as universal healthcare never see the light of day. 

COST TO THE TAXPAYER

The failures of the program make the spending impossible to justify, even from a militaristic standpoint. The F-35 program is the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapon system program. As of now, the F-35’s projected total cost is $1.7 trillion, which includes $1.3 trillion in estimated operations and sustainment over 66 years.  The F-35 is horribly behind schedule, experiencing massive cost overruns with maintenance costs doubling.  The F-35 is not ready for full scale production. According to the GAO, “if DOD moves forward as planned, it will have bought a third of all F-35s before determining that the aircraft is ready to move into full-rate production.” Spending billions to trillions of dollars on a plane that is not yet up to speed with what the government has requested is poor fiscal policy. 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

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National Nurses United condemns Gaza bombardment

National Nurses United, August 09, 2022

National Nurses United (NNU) mourns the loss of life over the weekend in the besieged Gaza Strip area of Palestine due to Israeli airstrikes that killed dozens—including at least 15 children. “As nurses, we are grateful that a cease-fire between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Government has been accepted and we urge it be permanent,” said NNU Secretary Treasurer Martha Kuhl, RN. “We express alarm at the grave impacts on critical health care infrastructure caused by last week’s bombardment. This includes the incredible strain placed on nurses and other health care workers struggling to provide care at the main hospital in Gaza, the Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City. In addition to caring for patients who were victims of the bombardment, the hospital faces an energy crisis as Israel cut off vital supplies of fuel to the Gaza Strip late last week. 

“NNU joins the international community in condemning this attack on civilians, on children, on health care infrastructure, health care workers, and public health,” continued Kuhl. “As nurses and as people of conscience, we find these acts of war wholly unacceptable. We stand with Palestinian nurses, doctors, and other health care workers and their unions who have valiantly worked to save human lives during this recent escalation of violence. We call for an end to military aggression, to occupation, and an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza.

Recent violence has only compounded the public health effects of the 15-year blockade of Gaza—where critical goods, services, and freedom of movement have been restricted by the Israeli government as part of its ongoing occupation of Palestine. Due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade, the area has been deemed as “uninhabitable” by the United Nations. According to human rights reports, 97 percent of water in Gaza is undrinkable, where 75 percent of the area’s 2 million residents experience food insecurity. More than half of Gaza’s residents are children, the vast majority of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 2008, military attacks by the state of Israel have resulted in more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Gaza, hundreds of whom have been children. Despite the United Nations, international human rights, and international health organizations calling for accountability for Israel’s systematic human rights violations, military occupation, and apartheid practices, Israel remains one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid, nearly $4 billion annually.

“We want an immediate end to unconditional U.S. aid to the state of Israel that has been used to fund the Israeli government’s human rights violations,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “Just as we seek peace and justice globally, and have opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so do we call for peace and solidarity in Gaza and in the rest of Palestine.” 

National Nurses United is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide.

Gaza is Not a Breaking News Cycle



The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy

August 11, 2022

 

Good Morning,

As you might have seen or heard, Israel launched yet another assault on the besieged Gaza strip, with bombardments and airstrikes killing 45 Palestinians and injuring more than 360, so far.

With the announcement of yet another precarious ceasefire, the international community’s attention is likely to move away from Gaza, yet again, leaving its people to mourn and rebuild in isolation under Israel’s 15 years of ongoing military siege. With this being Israel’s fifth assault since 2009 it is crucial to educate and inform ourselves and each other on Gaza, and to fight against its invisibilization and its dehumanization as mere periodical news cycle. Gaza has an ancestral history that is an integral and enmeshed part of Palestinian history. We must fight to keep it as part of the whole, and look ahead with a long-term vision, united against Israel’s intention to fragment and isolate Palestinians everywhere. 

This is why we are sharing with you again our latest Palestinian Takes email from June on Gaza, marking the passage of 15 years of Israel’s military siege. The email includes various Palestinian perspectives and resources on Gaza’s present and past, intertwined to bring us to the current moment.

The Nakba in 1948 and “the Gaza strip”:

  • Gaza has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, a thriving port for multiple cultures. Right before the Nakba of 1948, Gaza was one of many of Palestine’s districts, including the areas of Bir Al Sabi’ (Beersheba). As Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations began, 49 villages of the Gaza district were destroyed and more than 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the southern and coastal areas of Palestine to smaller parts of Gaza district, which came to be known as the Gaza strip, as we learn in the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question.
  • Since 1948, Gaza has become the epitome of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return movement, embodied more recently by the Great March of Return, that was co-initiated by Ahmad Abu Artema: “I wondered what would happen if 200,000 protesters gathered near the Israel fence with Gaza Strip, and entered the lands that are ours”.

The centrality of Gaza to iconic Palestinian food and land cultivation:

  • At home, on the sidewalks or dangling from the roofs of the shops at the markets or crossroads, this is how the branches of the unripe dates, called the “red gold”, announce they’re in season, a fruit after which the city of Deir Al-Balah (Land of Unripe Dates) is named.
  • Famous recipes have been curated by Palestinian chef Laila Haddad in The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, documenting people’s history and daily life through traditional dishes like the Rumaniyya (eggplant lentil pomegranate bowl) and Dagga (hot tomato and dill salad).
  • With its long Mediterranean coastline, fishery became a major source of food culture and sovereignty for many families. Yet, following the Israeli blockade in 2007, fishermen were systematically prevented from accessing the sea beyond 20 nautical miles, which gradually decreased to 3 nautical miles, while regularly being targeted and shot at by the Israeli naval army.
  • “In a few years there will be no more fishing at all, we will have to forget our profession and become traders”, said Gaza fishermen in a documentary on the topic.

    Fishermen on a Gaza Beach, 1987
    (Palestinian Museum Digital Archive)

A testing ground for apartheid, weapons and colonial repression:

  • In 1948, Palestinian refugees “were not expecting that their exodus would be prolonged for seven decades, and that they would be subjected to condescending efforts to void their right to return.” writes Jehad Abu-Salim.
  • In the span of two decades, the Israeli regime has led four aerial bombardment campaigns, killing and injuring thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza, intentionally treating it as a testing ground for its military capabilities before it is exported all over the world.
  • “All the injustices Palestinians in Gaza face are a direct consequence of the continued denial of freedom, dignity and return. Overshadowing it with a humanitarian crisis is depriving the people in Gaza of their political will and reducing them to poor, powerless and passive subjects.” – writes Abir Kopty.
  • This thematic chronology by the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question is an important resource covering how main events unfolded in the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014-2015.
    This visual by Visualizing Palestine explains how the Israeli closure on Gaza started long before the blockade and in the height of the 1990s peace process.

We will never forget and never forgive: Palestinian testimonies from under the rubble:

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Stop the Line 5 Pipeline Expansion

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project supports these efforts by Indigenous Women to end fossil fuel projects and protect water.

USA, April 27, 2022 Today, Indigenous women leaders, joined by over 200 organizations, representing millions nationwide, submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging the department to deny necessary permits for the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and to conduct a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the entire pipeline within the Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting 22 million gallons of crude oil each day through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac. Currently, Enbridge is proposing to expand the Line 5 pipeline, despite the strong opposition of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Tribes.

Enbridge proposes to route Line 5 through hundreds of waterways that flow into the Bad River Reservation, their extensive fisheries, and the navigable waters of Lake Superior. The letter sent today delivers key information detailing the impacts the Line 5 tar sands pipeline expansion project would have in the region, and clarifies how it directly undermines Indigenous rights and perpetuates the climate crisis:

“We call on you to reject permits for the expansion of Line 5. This plan places massive risk squarely upon the Bad River Tribe and the Red Cliff Tribe against their will. Furthermore, we consider the pipeline construction an act of cultural genocide. Damage to the land and water destroys food and cultural lifeways that are core to our identity and survival. The pipeline would cut through more than 900 waterways upstream of the Bad River Reservation. The U.S. EPA determined that the plan ‘may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts’ to the Kakagon and Bad River slough complex. This is unacceptable.”

The letter also brings attention to the ongoing investigations and environmental issues with Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, and details Enbridge’s pattern of misrepresenting risks, violating permits, and covering up environmental damage. While constructing the Line 3 pipeline, Enbridge caused at least 28 frac-outs, polluting surface water and releasing undisclosed amounts of drilling fluid into groundwater, amongst other permit violations.

The letter concludes by bringing attention to the global repercussions of the Line 5 pipeline, noting that increased fossil fuel production will not support President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, nor align with the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which calls for urgent emissions reductions as quickly as possible.

The letter comes from Indigenous women who are advocating to stop Line 5, and is endorsed by local and national groups representing Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, health professionals, faith groups, and more. Please see quotes from the original signatories of the letter below:

Jannan J. Cornstalk, Citizen of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Director of the Water is Life Festival: “There needs to be a shift, to ensure that Tribes and Indigenous communities are part of the process not after the fact but from the very beginning. That’s consultation. Our very lifeways and cultures hang in the balance as pipelines like Line 5 get rammed through our territories and water. These are our lifeways– when that water is healthy enough that rice is growing– that not only benefits our communities, but that benefits everybody up and down stream. The Army Corps and Biden Administration must put people over profits. Allowing Line 5 to proceed is cultural genocide. The disturbances go deeper than you are hearing. That water is our relative, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, our sacred relative.”

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Al Samud Playground at Al Shuhada Kindergarten, Hebron

Ramadan Mubarak from our family at Playgrounds for Palestine to you and yours! 

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On behalf of all of us at Playgrounds for Palestine, we would like to wish you a blessed Ramadan!  

We would like to extend a sincere thank you for your support of PfP and share some photos of our work.

This week, a new playground will be installed in Hebron at Al Shuhada Kindergarten. This is one of nine upcoming playgrounds for the year 2022! 

Our work would not be possible without your generous contributions and support. Thank you for working with us to affirm every child’s right to play! 

 

Playgrounds for Palestine
P.O. Box 559
Yardley, PA 19067
© 2021