VOICES OF CONSCIENCE: DELEGATION to THE GAZA STRIP

Interfaith Peace-Builders, November 5, 2012

November 5, 2012 – Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 21 member delegation to the Gaza Strip passed safely through the Rafah Crossing Monday morning and is now safely in the Gaza Strip.

Interfaith Peace-Builders has sent more than 44 delegations to Palestine/Israel since 2001. This is the first IFPB delegation to enter the Gaza Strip since 2003. Like other IFPB delegations, its purpose is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.

On the eve of the Presidential Election in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated.

This delegation focuses on the realities of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip. Participants have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians throughout the territory regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors, in promoting a resolution to the conflict.

The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to the Gaza Strip is led by Michael Brown and Cindy Corrie. Michael Brown worked off and on in the Gaza Strip between 1993 and 2000 for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. A former IFPB board member, Michael continues to work today on the media and Palestine. Michael led an IFPB delegation in 2008. Cindy Corrie is the mother of human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie who on March 16, 2003, was killed by an Israeli military Caterpillar bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.  Motivated by her daughter’s work and sacrifice, Cindy Corrie has dedicated herself to the pursuit of justice and peace in the Middle East and has visited Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza on numerous occasions. She is also president of the board of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, inspired by her daughter.

del44gaza
a photo of the delegation in Gaza City

The delegation includes the following people:

Diane Adkin – Camas, Washington
Michele Bahl – Madison, Wisconsin
Carol Barr – Madison, Wisconsin

Michael Brown – Asheville, North Carolina
Marsha Carlton – Davis, California
Craig and Cindy Corrie – Olympia, Washington
Gary Doupe – Bainbridge, New York
Rich Forer – Yardley, Pennsylvania
Joyce Guinn – Germantown, Wisconsin
Maya Harris – Olympia, Washington
Wendy Hartley – Nevada City, California
Darlene Jones-Owens – Carrollton, Georgia
Declan Keogh – Decatur, Georgia
Ralph and Emily McCoy – Boone, North Carolina
Donna Nassor – Moonachie, New Jersey
Karen Peterson – Horseheads, New York
Cathy Sultan – Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Colleen Toomey – North Andover, Massachusetts
Sonja Wentz – Olympia, Washington

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Jennifer Loewenstein on KPFT 90.1 FM

Arab Voices, KPFT 90.1 FM, September 26, 2012

mp3 audio file

Jennifer Loewenstein

Political activist and Faculty Associate in Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is an expert on contemporary Middle East: history, politics, culture, religion, and U.S. foreign policy in the region. She is a freelance journalist, a human rights activist, volunteer for the Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, and founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. In 2010 Jennifer received ADC’s Rachel Corrie Award.

Topics

The ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine and its effects on the Palestinians, the recent verdict by an Israeli court about the murder of Rachel Corrie, the U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East, Romney’s recent comments about the Palestinians, the Arab uprisings, and more.


Arab Voices is an independent radio talk show that has been broadcasting live every Wednesday since April 2002 on KPFT Radio (Pacifica Station), 90.1 FM in Houston and 89.5 FM in Galveston. The show also broadcasts live worldwide on the Internet at www.kpft.org or at www.ArabVoices.net.

Barb Olson: Rachel Corrie ruling a setback for justice and human rights

BARB OLSON, Cap Times, Aug 31, 2012

The verdict in the civil lawsuit against the state of Israel for the killing of peace activist Rachel Corrie more than nine years ago was announced Aug. 28 at the District Court in Haifa, Israel. While many human rights advocates had high hopes that the court would provide a much needed venue for justice, this verdict marks yet another setback for the cause of human rights in Palestine.

Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American human rights activist from Olympia, Wash. She was crushed to death on March 16, 2003, by Israeli soldiers driving a huge militarized Caterpillar bulldozer as she nonviolently protested the demolition of Palestinian civilian homes in Rafah, where the Israeli military was razing entire neighborhoods along the Egypt-Gaza border.

At the time, four eyewitnesses testified that Rachel, wearing a fluorescent orange vest and shouting through a bullhorn, was clearly visible to soldiers in the bulldozer as they approached. They stated that after trapping Rachel under a mound of dirt, the operator lowered the bulldozer’s blade and backed it over Rachel, crushing her skull and breaking her back.

Yet an Israeli government investigation found no fault on the part of the soldiers. Instead, they publicly blamed Rachel for her own death.

Unsurprisingly, the U.S. government has mainly stood on the sidelines, despite the State Department’s conclusion that the Israeli investigation was not thorough, transparent or credible. Instead, a State Department official urged the Corrie family to seek redress through the courts.

After a U.S. federal court ruled that Caterpillar could not be sued because it would intrude on the US government’s foreign policy-making powers, the Corries in 2005 filed a civil suit in Israeli courts charging the State of Israel with responsibility for Rachel’s killing.

Now, two-and-a-half years after the trial began, the Corries are still left searching for justice and accountability for the murder of their daughter. It is especially troubling that the court, like the Israeli military before it, held the bulldozer driver blameless because Rachel “put herself in a dangerous situation” without acknowledging Israel’s obligation under international law to spare civilians from harm in territory that it occupies. The judge also found no fault with the Israeli military’s investigation into the incident, even though the U.S. ambassador to Israel just last week reiterated the State Department’s opinion that the investigation was highly inadequate.

This ruling is a continuation of the long campaign of ridicule, slander and vilification by the Israeli government and its supporters against Rachel Corrie. One can only imagine the pain suffered by her family, who for almost a decade have relentlessly pursued justice for their daughter and the cause of human rights for which she gave her life.

Despite the disappointing trial verdict, Rachel Corrie continues to be hailed as a hero by the oppressed and by all those who are part of the larger struggle for human rights for all people, especially Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Rachel’s story should inspire us, as Americans, to ask as she did why billions of our tax dollars continue to support Israel’s occupation, land thefts, home demolitions and human rights abuses in Palestine. It should inspire us to continue Rachel’s dream of forging people-to-people relationships with Palestinians, and to heed the call of our Palestinian civil society counterparts for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it comes into compliance with international law.

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March 18, 2012
Third Annual Rachel Corrie Commemorative Benefit Dinner

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project invites you to the

Third Annual Rachel Corrie
Commemorative Benefit Dinner


Sunday, March 18, 5:00 pm
The Nile Restaurant [Map]
6119 Odana Road, Madison, WI

Featured guests: Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of Rachel
(Program information to follow)

Cost: $20 per person/$35 per couple for a Middle Eastern dinner of hummus, falafel, salad, lentil spinach soup, fool moudamas, spinach pie and warbat dessert

All proceeds go to the Maia Project water filtration system for the Al-Shuka Girls Preparatory School in Rafah, Palestine

Space is limited and reservations are required. Please make your reservations now by contacting Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum (at) gmail.com or 235-7870. Payment may either be mailed to MRSCP, P.O. Box 55371, Madison WI 53705 or paid at the door before 5:30 pm. If you are unable to attend, please notify Donna at least three days before the benefit for others to attend.

March 20, 2011
Annual Rachel Corrie Dinner

Cash bar/socializing 5:30 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm
Program 7 – 9 pm
Bunky’s Cafe
2425 Atwood Avenue
Madison [Map]

Film: One Family in Gaza
Speaker: Ziad Abbas of the Middle East Children’s Alliance

This year’s dinner will be a benefit for the MAIA clean water project of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA). The program will feature a talk by MECA’s Associate Director Ziad Abbas and the Madison premier of the new short film One Family in Gaza.

Ziad Abbas is from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank. He offers listeners his own experience growing up under Israeli Occupation, along with sharp political analysis and inspiration to take action. He will discuss Palestine’s water crisis in the broader context of ongoing displacement, military occupation, and the current political events in the Arab world.

He will tell you about the Middle East Children’s Alliance’s Maia Project, which provides clean, safe drinking water for children in Palestine by installing water purification and desalination units in schools and kindergartens. To date, more than twenty-seven units have been installed serving nearly 30,000 children thanks to the fund raising efforts of groups and individuals throughout the United States, including one provided last year to the Tuyor Al Jena (Birds of Paradise) Kindergarten in Rafah by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. MRSCP has now raised over 80 percent of the funding for a second, larger system at the UN Rafah Girls Elementary School.

One Family in Gaza tells the story of the Kamal and Wafaa Awajah family after the 2008 – 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza are depicted either as violent terrorists or as helpless victims. The Awajah family challenges both portrayals. Through one family’s story, the larger tragedy of Gaza is exposed, and the courage and resilience of its people shines through.

The dinner menu will include a vegetarian stew on rice with house salad, falafel, hummus, and babaganouj. Bunky’s is also generously donating coffee, tea and baklava desert. There will be a cash bar beginning at 5:30 pm.

Cost is $15 per person or $25 per couple. Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 16 to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum (at) gmail.com or phone 235-7870.

Rachel Corrie was killed in Rafah on March 16, 2003 by two Israeli soldiers who crushed her beneath the blade of a Caterpillar bulldozer while she attempted to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home. Please join us once again as we honor her memory by helping the children she sought to protect.

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Break the Silence Mural Project

mural, olympia, palestine

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 2010

THE RACHEL Corrie Foundation and Break the Silence Mural Project unveiled the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural on May 8 at Labor Temple building, in downtown Olympia, WA. The mural tells a tale of two cities linked through tragedy: Olympia, WA, where Rachel Corrie grew up and attended Evergreen State College, and Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine, where she was killed in 2003—crushed by an Israeli army Caterpillar. It is also the tale of people working together for a better world. The mural features an enormous olive tree with more than 150 leaves representing issues of environmental justice, racism, colonialism, rights of indigenous peoples, and anti-war movements.

The mural uses technology to include artists from Palestine who are forbidden to travel. Viewers can use a cell phone to call and listen to the creator of each leaf talk about its meaning and theme. For more information visit <www.olympiarafahmural.org>.

—Delinda C. Hanley