Cancelled March 29, 2020 Tribute to Rachel Corrie: Freedom is the Future

This event with Tarek Abuata has been cancelled by coronavirus precautions.

You can still listen to an interview with Tarek from Gaza on WORT 89.9 FM’s A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur on Friday, March 27 from noon to 1 pm. Call in at 256-2001 or listen live on line.

Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.

Co-Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; FOSNA; First United Methodist; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; UW Madison Students for Justice in Palestine; The Crossing; Bright Stars of Bethlehem-Madison Chapter; WI United Church of Christ Bethlehem Partnership; Interfaith Peace Working Group; Pax Christi Madison; First Unitarian Society Social Justice Ministry; Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ Mission Team; American Friends Service Committee of Madison Friends Meeting; and James Reeb UUC Justice Leadership Team. Welcomed by WORT Radio.

New Rafah School Water Filter Donation Premium

Available for a limited time! Can you help put us over the top?

Dear Friends,

We are happy to report that we are less than $1,500 away from funding the latest Maia Project clean water filter system for a school in Rafah, Palestine.

This will be the fifth Maia filter provided to Rafah schools through the efforts of MRSCP and other citizens of Madison.

Thanks so much to those who have contributed to this project.

We need to raise the balance of the $16,000 needed to provide clean, safe water for 2,200 students at the the Al-Shuka Preparatory school in Rafah by March 29, the date of the Rachel Corrie Freedom is the Future fundraiser, this year featuring Tarek Abuata of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA).


For a limited time, we are offering a premium of a 22 oz. Trek II aluminum refillable water bottle with this Maia logo for all donations of at least $60.00.

Donations of $80 or more can also receive a red/black/white & green GAZA logo pin. Get ’em before they are gone!

The bottle premiums will first be available this Saturday, Feb. 29 10 am – 5 pm at our table at the International Festival at Overture Center. You can make your donation in person and walk away with your premiums in hand!

If you can’t stop by, you can send a check payable to MRSCP marked “water” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Please indicate if you would like the premium(s). They can be picked up at the Rachel Corrie event on March 29, where donations will also be accepted. If you can’t make it there, we will make alternate arrangements … be sure to include a phone number where we can call you.

If you don’t want a premium you can also donate online at MECA.

Another option is to purchase some Holy Land Olive Oil from MRSCP; $3 of every bottle sold will go toward the Maia Project. The new shipment has two sizes: 750 ml for $25, and 500 ml for $20. Six-packs are also available at a discount. If interested in buying oil, please come to our events or email veena.brekke at gmail.com.

As always, many thanks for your help in providing clean, safe water to kids in Gaza. We couldn’t do it without you.

Sincerely,
Barb O.
Coordinator, MRSCP

All contributions are tax deductible; if you donate online, Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Maia Project sponsor, will send you a receipt; if you send a check, MRSCP will send you one in January 2021.

Find out more about the water crisis in Gaza that has rendered over 95% of the water unfit for human use.

Youth of Sumud Remembers Tom Hurndall

Youth of Sumud, a group of Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills, believes and is committed to a peaceful, popular resistance as a strategic choice to end the Israeli occupation.

Tom Hurndall (27 November 1981 – 13 January 2004) was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003 he was shot in the head in Rafah, Gaza by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper, Taysir Hayb. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later.

Hayb was convicted of manslaughter and obstruction of justice by an Israeli military court in April 2005 and sentenced to eight years in prison. On 10 April 2006 a British inquest jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Hurndall’s father told reporters that there had been a “general policy” to shoot civilians in the area without fear of reprisals, as stated by Hayb. Hayb had earlier told a military tribunal that the Israeli army “fires freely in Rafah.” (Wikipedia)

Regeni murder: If only Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall had been Italian

Why did the UK and US not react firmly against Israel for the killing of Hurndall and Corrie the way Italy did with Egypt for the death of Regeni?


A foreign peace activist (C) joins Palestinian protesters for a demonstration marking the anniversary of the death of US peace activist Rachel Corrie (poster), who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003, at a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 16 March 2013. (AFP)

Kamel Hawwash, Middle East Eye, 21 April 2016

The world was shocked at the discovery of the body of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni in a ditch in Cairo on 9 February. His body showed signs of horrific torture which made it difficult even for his relatives to confirm his identity. The 28-year-old Cambridge University student had been kidnapped 10 days earlier while researching labour unrest and independent trade unions in Egypt.

Ironically, he went missing on 25 January, the fifth anniversary of the start of Egypt’s revolution. Egypt’s initial theories for the cause of his death ranged from being a casualty in a road traffic accident to being murdered by a criminal gang and even to being killed in a lover’s argument.  

The reaction of Italy was firm and robust. The Italian interior minister, Angelino Alfano who claimed that Regeni had been subjected to “inhuman, animal-like violence” announced that while Egypt appeared to be cooperating with a team of Italian investigators dispatched to Cairo, Italy wanted justice for Regeni. “We will not settle for alleged truths,” he said. “We want those really responsible identified and punished on the basis of law.” Rejecting suspicions of Egyptian security forces involvement in Regeni’s death, the Egyptian interior minister, Magdy Abdel Ghaffar, called them “completely unacceptable”.

Not satisfied with Egypt’s response the Italian government recalled its ambassador on 8 April for “an urgent evaluation” of what steps to take to “ascertain the truth about the barbaric murder of Giulio Regeni”. In diplomatic norms, recalling an ambassador is a significant step in expressing displeasure at the behaviour of the host nation, in this case Egypt. States use this very sparingly as it can sometimes take months if not years for relations to return to normality, possibly impacting on other aspects of the relationship including trade cooperation. On this occasion Italy saw this move as an appropriate response.

Coverage of Regeni’s death rightly filled many column inches around the world with writers contrasting the significant coverage of his death with that of thousands of Egyptians who lost their lives since the start of the revolution five years ago.

The media also tends to give significant coverage to the death of peace or human rights activists around the world including when this happens in Israel. However, if one compares the action of Italy as a state to the killing of one of its citizens in Egypt to the lack of action by the UK and the US to the killing of their citizens by Israeli forces while protecting Palestinians from Israeli violence one finds a marked difference.

Corrie and Hurndall: A muted response

Take the case of Rachel Corrie, an American citizen from Olympia Washington who decided to spend her senior year at college in Rafah, Gaza to connect it to her home town through a sister cities project. She did not live to see this through as she was run down and killed by an Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Caterpillar bulldozer as she tried to dissuade the driver from demolishing the home of a local Palestinian pharmacist. Her killing on 16 March, 2003, did not draw a sharp response form the US government.

While US Representative Brian Bard introduced a resolution in the US Congress calling on the US government to “undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation” into Corrie’s death, the House of Representatives took no action on the resolution. It was left to Israeli military and legal processes to rule on the reasons for Rachel Corrie’s death.

The Israeli army’s investigation absolved the driver of any deliberate wrongdoing, claiming he could not see Corrie from his cab due to limited visibility. The investigation was criticised by a number of international and Israeli human rights organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem. It took until 2012 for US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to say that the Israeli investigation “was not satisfactory, and was not as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been”.

Shapiro said further that the government of the United States is unsatisfied with the IDF’s closure of its official investigation into Corrie’s death. Those were empty words, similar in nature to condemnations or expressions of concern at a new settlement building announcement.

The Corrie family were left to their own devices filing an appeal against the army investigation and holding Israel liable for her death. In 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected the Corrie’s appeal. There were no howls of protest or a recall of the ambassador by Corrie’s home nation the USA despite its dissatisfaction with the original investigation.

The case of British photographic journalism student Tom Hurndall who died in January 2004 having been shot in the head by an IDF sniper on 11 April, 2003, followed an eerily similar path to that of Corrie. Hurndall had only been in Gaza for five days when the IDF opened fire on Palestinian civilians near a checkpoint in Rafah. Tom managed to rescue one child from the line of fire but was shot in the head as he knelt down to pick up another child paralysed by fear.

The Israeli army claimed its checkpoint had come under fire from Palestinian militants and that it was responding to this when Tom was hit. The IDF’s initial “routine internal inquiry” concluded that Hurndall was “shot accidentally in the crossfire”, and suggested that his group’s members were essentially “functioning as human shields”. This was contradicted by witnesses at the demonstration who asserted that he had been hit by a rifle bullet while trying to shield the children rather than having been merely hit in the crossfire.

There was no immediate outrage from the British government at this callous killing and, like the case of Corrie, it was left to the Hurndall family to pursue justice for their son. The British government did support the family through then British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. This combination resulted in the Israeli advocate general ordering the IDF to open a further investigation in October 2003. This led to a military court finally sentencing Hurndall’s killer to 11 and a half years for manslaughter. He eventually served six and a half years. Once again though, a Western government was not so robust in the pursuit of the killers of one of its citizens to consider breaking ties with Israel over the matter or even to recall its ambassador to exert pressure from the outset.

Western supporters of justice for the Palestinian people therefore visit Palestine unsure of what their governments would do to help them if they were arrested, injured or even killed by Israeli security forces. There is little protest and no action by western governments when Israeli soldiers attack European or American citizens as they do here and here or even when settlers attacked US officials.

The only exception to this was Turkey’s reaction to Israel’s attack on the Gaza siege-breaking flotilla on 30 May, 2013, in which 10 Turkish human rights activists on the lead ship the Mavi Marmara were killed by the Israeli military in international waters. Turkey broke diplomatic relations with Israel and to this day those relationships have not returned to the same level they were at before the attack.

Egypt and Israel are allies to the same Western governments but it seems that when it comes to bringing killers of their citizens to account, there is a differential to the way they deal with the two states. What this does is embolden Israel to act at will not only against the helpless Palestinians but also against citizens of its closest allies.

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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

    100 percent of the donation goes to the project.

  3. Purchase Holy Land Olive Oil from MRSCP. $3 of every bottle sold goes to the project. The oil comes in two sizes: 750 ml for $25 and 500 ml for $20. Six-packs are also available at a discount. Contact veena.brekke at gmail.com.

As always, many thanks for your help in providing clean, safe water to kids in Gaza. All contributions are tax deductible, and MRSCP or MECA will send you a receipt.

On the 69th Great March of Return

66 Civilians Injured by Israeli Forces: 28 Children, 2 Journalists, and 4 Women, Including a Paramedic

Palestinian Center for Human Rights – Gaza, August 2, 2019

On the 69th Great March of Return, 66 Palestinian civilians were injured due to the Israeli military’s continued use of excessive force against peaceful protests along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. At least 28 children, 4 women and a paramedic were among those injured this Friday, 02 August 2019. Twenty-seven civilians were shot with live bullets and 2 children were deemed in a critical medical condition.

While this week’s protests saw a decline in the number of civilian injuries, PCHR fieldworkers documented many cases of live bullets targeting civilians’ upper bodies. Despite the absence of a real threat to Israeli soldiers’ lives; the occupation forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against protestors.

For the first time since the Great March of Return started in March 2018, there were no injuries reported in eastern Gaza City. The deployment of Palestinian security forces in official apparel along “Jakar” street, who denied civilians from approaching the border fence, contributed to the decline in injuries.

Today’s protest, which lasted from 16:00 to 19:00, was titled “Solidarity with Crimes against Wadi al-Humus,” and involved activities such as speeches by political leaders and theatrical performances. Dozens of civilians protested at varied distances from the border fence across the Gaza Strip.

To this date, PCHR documented 208 killings by Israel since the outbreak of the protests on 30 March 2018, including 44 children, 2 women, 9 persons with disabilities, 4 paramedics, and 2 journalists. Additionally, 13,391 were wounded, including 2,775 children, 413 women, 222 paramedics and 209 journalists, noting that many had sustained multiple wounds on multiple occasions.  Among those wounded, PCHR documented cases where 196 persons have become with disabilities, including 28 children and 5 women, and were as follows: 149 amputees; 21 paralyzed, 26 blind or deaf and 9 sexually disabled.

The following is a summary of today’s incidents along the Gaza Strip border:

Northern Gaza Strip: 1500 protesters participated in Abu Safiyah area protests, northeast of Jabalia; only tens approached the border fence and threw stones. Israeli forces, stationed along the fence, fired live and rubber bullets as well as teargas canisters at the protesters. As a result, 20 of them were injured, including 10 children and 2 women: 11 were shot with live bullets; and 5, all children, with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.  Yasser Salah Mohammed al-Tanneh (16) sustained a bullet wound to his upper thighs severely damaging a main blood vessel. Also in norther Gaza, paramedic Wafaa Omar Khamis Jaber (24) was shot with a rubber bullet in her left ankle. At approximately 18:30, Israeli forces \ arrested a civilian who crossed the border fence; his identity has not been confirmed yet.

Gaza City: Protests set off Malakah area, east of al-Zaytoun neighborhood in eastern Gaza City. Speeches, theatrical performances and other segments were performed at the protest central encampment. Palestinian security forces spread along Jakar street and denied civilians access to the border fence; nonetheless, a handful managed to approach the fence at a 100 meters distance, threw stones at the border and Israeli soldiers responded with live ammunition. No injuries were reported for the first time since the outbreak of the protests.

Central Gaza Strip: hundreds of civilians, including women, children and families, took part in the eastern Bureij refugee camp protests; tens approached the border fence at a range varying between 2 – 70 meters, and some of them attempted to throw stones at Israeli soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli soldiers, reinforced with 9 military SUVs, responded with live and rubber bullets in addition to teargas canisters at the protesters, wounding 16 civilians, including 4 children, a woman and a journalist: 8 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel, 5 were directly hit with teargas canisters and 3 were shot with rubber bullets. Most of the injuries were documented in the upper body. Israeli forces deployed a sewage water pump against the protestors. At approximately 17:50, while present 200 meters away from the fence, journalist Usama Sharif Mohammed al-Kahlout (35), from Deir al-Balah, received a call from a number starting with 04. As soon as he took the call, he was shot in his left leg and was transferred to the hospital for treatment.

Khan Younis: protests took place in Khuza’a, where Ahmed al-Qarra and Hany Abu-Selmy, who were killed by Israeli forces this week were commemorated. Dozens approached the border fence and threw stones at it, Israeli soldiers shot back; as a result, 17 civilians were injured, including 10 children and a journalist: 4 were shot with live bullets and shrapnel and 4 were directly hit with a tear gas canister and 9 were shot with rubber bullets. The injured journalist is Hatem Saadi Saleh Omar (39), from Rafah, and he was wearing a flak jacket with “PRESS” clearly imprinted on it. Mr. Omar is a reporter for Xinhua News Agency and he sustained two rubber bullet wounds in his legs while videotaping the events at least 130 meters away from the fence. Furthermore, dozens of civilians, suffocated due to teargas inhalation.

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July 24-25, 2019
Gaza Freedom Flotilla Comes to Madison!

Photos: Jim Maas/FUS Social Justice Ministry, Tsela Barr/MRSCP, and Kit Kittredge/NA Boat to Gaza Campaign

Since 2008, the Freedom Flotilla movement has sent 35 ships attempting to break Israel’s illegal, US-backed military blockade that has devastated Gaza and denied 2 million people — half of them children — access to food, clean water, fuel, medicine, employment, and basic human dignity for 13 years.

On Wednesday and Thursday, July 24 and 25, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) welcomes the Gaza Freedom Flotilla’s North American Boat to Gaza campaign with two days of activities.

Wednesday, July 24: Gaza Freedom Flotilla on Lake Mendota!

On Wednesday evening a pontoon on Lake Mendota at the Union Terrace and The Edgewater will give visibility to the crisis in Gaza. We will also be leafleting the crowd on shore. (Anyone interested in helping with this should email rafahsistercity at yahoo.com)

Thursday, July 25: Dessert and a Conversation

Former flotilla participants Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Non-Violence) and Kit Kittredge (NA Boat to Gaza Campaign) will talk about Gaza, the importance of the flotilla, and plans for the next international sailing in 2020 — James Reeb Unitarian Congregation, 2146 E. Johnson Street, Madison at 7 pm.

This free event will feature a display of Gaza children’s artwork as well as refreshments & dessert including baklawa. Donations to benefit the Flotilla and a new Maia Project clean water system for kids in Rafah will be appreciated.

For more information, contact MRSCP at rafahsistercity at yahoo.com, and follow madisonrafah.org or the Facebook event.

Welcomed by WORT RADIO. Kit Kittredge and Kathy Kelly, fresh from the Freedom Flotilla’s activities in Chicago, will be interviewed live on WORT’s A Public Affair by host Allen Ruff from noon-1 pm on Thursday, July 25. Kathy Kelly will also be a guest on The Morning Buzz with Jan Miyasaki between 8 and 8:30 am on Wednesday, July 24. Tune in at 89.9 FM or listen live online.

If you can’t attend but would like to support either the Flotilla or the Maia Project, you can still donate:

Flotilla
Make a donation online, or send a check payable to Nonviolence International with the memo “2020 US Boat to Gaza” to:

    Nonviolence International
    4000 Albermarle Street, NW, Suite 401
    Washington D.C. 20016

Maia Project
Online donations here, or save the online fee and send a check payable to MRSCP with the memo “water” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Both MRSCP and Nonviolence International are 501(c)(3) organizations.

Maia Project Update

Latest Maia Water Filters in Rafah (28 Feb 2019)
from Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance

  • Drinking Clean Water
  • Drinking Clean Water
  • School Yard
  • School Yard
  • Tank & Filter Unit Delivery
  • Tank and Filter Unit Delivery
  • Units Ready for Transport
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Control Panel
  • Control Panel
  • Water Storage Tank
  • Filter Unit Housing

maia bro for online


Contribute online at MECAforPeace.org/Madison

For more information, contact
• Congregation Shaarei Shamayim: Shamayim.org
• First Unitarian Society/Madison: FUSMadison.org
• Jewish Voice for Peace/Madison: Facebook.com/JVPMadison