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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October 3, 2022
Gaza: The Longest Siege in Modern History

2007 to the Present
Gaza Siege

Monday, October 3, 2022
11:00 am – 12:30 pm CT
Webinar

Registration is Required
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Livestream

In 1948, the tiny Gaza Strip was cut off from the rest of historic Palestine, absorbing a huge number of Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral lands.

In 1967, it was militarily occupied by Israeli forces, its inhabitants suffering from a plethora of colonial domination techniques and movement restrictions over the subsequent decades.

An unprecedented land, air, and sea blockade was imposed on Gaza since June 2007, constituting the longest siege in modern history.

As the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 has noted in her latest report: “Israel’s apparent strategy is the indefinite warehousing of an unwanted population of two million Palestinians, whom it has confined to a narrow strip of land through its comprehensive 15-year-old air, land and sea blockade.” 

The outcome has been a harrowing process of de-development resulting, as the UN Special Rapporteur notes, “in a 45 percent unemployment rate, a 60 percent poverty rate and with 80 percent of the population dependent on some form of international assistance, in significant part because of the hermetic sealing of Gaza’s access to the outside world”. 

Besides this siege imposed by the Israeli state with Egyptian state collusion, the Palestinian people living in Gaza have been assaulted and bombarded by Israeli forces from land, sea, and air on a regular basis. Their cities, villages, and refugee camps have suffered from several Israeli military invasions, which have led to the killing of thousands and the maiming of tens of thousands of Palestinians. Centering the voices of Palestinian scholars and intellectuals from Gaza, this panel examines the political and historic context of this process, accounting for its enormous human toll but also highlighting the ongoing will to resist this oppressive colonial present.


Hosted by Darwish Visiting Professor in Palestinian Studies, Abdel Razzaq Takriti

Panelists:

Jehad Abusalim, PhD candidate, History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies Joint Program, New York University
Aya Al-Ghazzawi , Writer, English language teacher, Palestinian Ministry of Education
Swee Chai Ang , Orthopedic surgeon, Author
Hadeel Assali, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Lecturer, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University
Fady Joudah, Physician, Poet, Translator 

Let’s Build A Playground in the Bordertown of Sásabe

MRSCP is passing along an unusual opportunity to help build a playground for migrant children in the Mexico-US border town of Sásabe. We have installed similar playgrounds in Rafah and Hebron in Palestine, and we know firsthand how much these simple facilities mean to the children who use them.

Infrastructure For the Youth, For the Future. No More Walls.

School of the Americas Watch, August 27, 2022

Sásabe is a small rural border town in Sonora, Mexico only a short distance from the border. Since the implementation of Title 42 in March 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been dropping hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers at the doorsteps of the citizens of Sásabe every week. Even though the town had nothing in place to help support these vulnerable people, they helped as much as they could with very limited resources. The town reached out to Dora Rodriguez (Salvavision) and Gail Kocourek (Tucson Samaritans) and asked for their help. Dora was already involved with providing aid to Nogales, Sonora.

In response to the request, in 2021 Dora and Gail opened a Resource Center (Casa de la Esperanza) in Sásabe. Only walking distance from the port of entry, it is a space for migrants who need aid and refuge. “Our mission is to restore some of their dignity with a hot meal and a little hope” says Dora.

Dora and the Mayor of Sásabe asked Mike Tork, a Veterans For Peace (VFP) national board member, who also works with the School of Americas Watch (SOAW), if it would be possible to build a playground for the children, those living in Sásabe and those dropped off by CBP.

Mike has assembled a team to build the playground. “This is about reclaiming space and filling it with kindness and compassion. It’s a way to resist hatred, racism and to be in solidarity with vulnerable people and communities” he said.

We will follow the guidance of Dora, Gail and the community. Construction is planned to begin in the fall (Sept/Oct) once the weather is cooler.

Please donate generously. Funds will go towards the playground and to help support Casa de la Esperanza.

    To make a tax-deductible donation via check or money order, please include “Playground” in the memo line, make payable to “SOA Watch,” and mail to our address:

      SOA Watch
      225 E 26th St, Suite 7
      Tucson, AZ 85713

      or Donate Online


Rashida Tlaib’s historic resolution to recognize the Nakba

Please read this letter to North Carolina’s US Congressional Representatives from VJP leadership urging them to co-sign.

May 23, 2022

Dear Representative,

We are Voices for Justice in Palestine, a North Carolina-based nonprofit working for a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine. We are a nonpartisan 501c3 working with interfaith and diverse social justice partners. Our membership consists of citizen-activists, scholars, scientists, pastors, theologians, and professionals who have studied this issue extensively and traveled widely in the region. We focus on education, legislative advocacy, and media presence in order to raise awareness of issues and perspectives largely absent from the public conversation in American society.

We are writing to you to ask you to co-sponsor Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan)’s historic resolution recognizing “The Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic), commemorating the 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children who were driven from their homes and their land in 1947-1949.

The resolution calls for:

  • Congressional recognition of the Nakba and to commemorate the Nakba through official recognition and remembrance,
  • Reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the US government with denial of the Nakba,
  • Encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Nakba,
  • Continuation of the support for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), the refugee aid society dedicated to helping the 6 million Palestinian refugees,
  • Support the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ rights as enshrined in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We strongly support this resolution because it has significant educational value. Our research indicates that a great many North Carolinians are poorly informed about Palestinian history. They know little or nothing about the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people in the Nakba. Those who have heard of it have been misled by myths and disinformation that obscure the truth. We view Rep. Tlaib’s resolution as an important public service that will lead to better understanding of this tragedy. The more knowledgeable our citizens are about this history, the more likely we are to progress toward a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine.

It would also establish a stronger basis for Congress to support humanitarian assistance programs for Palestinian refugees, which are desperately needed.

We are sending this letter to all of your colleagues in the North Carolina congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats. This is not a partisan issue. A just and lasting peace in this conflicted land that three major religions call holy transcends politics and demands our most compassionate and well-informed response.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully yours,
The Governing Board of Voices for Justice in Palestine

May 15, 2022
Madison Nakba Rally

This coming weekend marks 74 years since the Nakba (Catastrophe) of 1948, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that continues to this day.

There will be a rally in Madison on Sunday, May 15, 1:30 pm at Lisa Link Peace Park, 452 State Street.

Please join us and wear your traditional Palestinian clothing and keffiyehs, and bring your flags!

Need a keffiyeh? Stop by Palestine Partners (Booth 78 on State Street between Gorham and Johnson Streets) at the Madison Night Market on Thursday, May 12th to buy a genuine Palestinian Hirbawi keffiyeh and to check out all the great items made by Women in Hebron!

It is especially important this year to show opposition to the Israeli court decision that just cleared the way for mass expulsions of thousands of Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the West Bank and the destruction of their homes, farm and community buildings, lands, and flocks. In fact, Israel has just destroyed over 20 structures in the area.

If you haven’t already, please sign the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) petition to Congress opposing the destruction of the eight villages in Masafer Yatta.

And be sure to watch Palestine 1920: The Other Side of the Story, a fantastic new 45 minute documentary from Al Jazeera that explains how Palestine was prosperous, fully occupied, and as modern as any other part of the region before British and then Israeli colonialism took it over.

Because in the words of comedian Amer Zaher, Palestine was Akhaduha Mafroosheh: Fully Furnished.

We call hypocrisy on PUMA

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), April 6, 2022

PUMA enacted swift measures to hold Russia accountable for its illegal weeks-long military invasion of Ukraine. Yet PUMA has been hiding behind the flimsy excuse of not getting involved in politics for years now to justify its ongoing support for Israel’s decades-long apartheid regime. Take action now to call out PUMA’s hypocrisy. 

Hypocrisy.

That’s the only way to describe PUMA’s actions.

PUMA enacted swift measures to hold Russia accountable for its illegal weeks-long military invasion of Ukraine. PUMA first ended a sponsorship contract with the Russian Basketball Federation and subsequently suspended its operations in Russia.

Yet PUMA has been hiding behind the flimsy excuse of not getting involved in politics for years now to justify its ongoing support for Israel’s decades-long apartheid regime.

Never has PUMA’s “we don’t do politics” excuse fallen flatter. Never has its hypocrisy been more exposed.

Tell PUMA: No more hypocrisy. End support for Israeli apartheid now. 
    

Puma continues to maintain its sponsorship contract with the Israel Football Association, which governs and advocates on behalf of teams in illegal settlements forcing Indigenous Palestinians off their land in the occupied Palestinian territory.

More than 200 Palestinian sports teams have called on PUMA to end its support for Israel’s military occupation. According to a leaked PUMA memo, an increasing number of PUMA’s own business partners and ambassadors are raising ethical concerns.

Take action now to call out PUMA’s hypocrisy.

Hey PUMA, now that you “do politics,” stop supporting illegal Israeli settlements
  

PUMA should take action now to end its complicity in oppression and suffering everywhere. Selective action is just another stain on its tarnished image.

In solidarity,
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

ps: We’re planning actions ahead of the PUMA shareholders meeting in early May. Mark your calendars and please get in touch if your group would like to join.

The nonviolent BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality is supported by the absolute majority in Palestinian society. BDS rejects all forms of racism and racial discrimination.

March 28, 2022
Land Day Event by the Palestinian Feminist Collective

Palestinian Feminist Collective

Online Monday, March 28th at 4PM Pacific, 6PM Central and 7PM Eastern

This event features PFC members Lila Sharif, Ayah Hamdan, Sherene Seikaly, and Noura Erakat, moderated by Selma Al-Aswad, discussing what we are fighting for — Land, Life, Love and Liberation.

Held during International Women’s Month, with this event we also commemorate Palestinian Land Day, the one-year anniversary of our release of the “Pledge that Palestine is a Feminist Issue” and our work and growth over the past year.

Navigating our Humanity: Ilan Pappé on the Four Lessons from Ukraine


Israeli warplanes attacked hundreds of towers and civilian ‘targets’ in the Gaza Strip. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

Ilan Pappe, The Palestine Chronicle, March 4, 2022

The USA Today reported that a photo that went viral about a high-rise in the Ukraine being hit by Russian bombing turned out to be a high-rise from the Gaza Strip, demolished by the Israeli Air Force in May 2021. A few days before that, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister complained to the Israeli ambassador in Kiev that “you’re treating us like Gaza”; he was furious that Israel did not condemn the Russian invasion and was only interested in evicting Israeli citizens from the state (Haaretz, February 17, 2022). It was a mixture of reference to the Ukrainian evacuation of Ukrainian spouses of Palestinian men from the Gaza Strip in May 2021, as well as a reminder to Israel of the Ukrainian president’s full support for Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in that month (I will return to that support towards the end of this piece).

Israel’s assaults on Gaza should, indeed, be mentioned and considered when evaluating the present crisis in the Ukraine. It is not a coincidence that photos are being confused – there are not many high-rises that were toppled in the Ukraine, but there is an abundance of ruined high-rises in the Gaza Strip. However, it is not only the hypocrisy about Palestine that emerges when we consider the Ukraine crisis in a wider context; it is the overall Western double standards that should be scrutinized, without, for one moment, being indifferent to news and images coming to us from the war zone in the Ukraine: traumatized children, streams of refugees, sights of buildings ruined by bombing and the looming danger that this is only the beginning of a human catastrophe at the heart of Europe.

At the same time, those of us experiencing, reporting and digesting the human catastrophes in Palestine cannot escape the hypocrisy of the West and we can point to it without belittling, for a moment, our human solidarity and empathy with victims of any war. We need to do this, since the moral dishonesty underwriting the deceitful agenda set by the Western political elites and media will once more allow them to hide their own racism and impunity as it will continue to provide immunity for Israel and its oppression of the Palestinians. I detected four false assumptions which are at the heart of the Western elite’s engagement with the Ukraine crisis, so far, and have framed them as four lessons.

Lesson One: White Refugees are Welcome; Others Less So

The unprecedented collective EU decision to open up its borders to the Ukrainian refugees, followed by a more guarded policy by Britain, cannot go unnoticed in comparison to the closure of most of the European gates to the refugees coming from the Arab world and Africa since 2015.  The clear racist prioritization, distinguishing between life seekers on the basis of color, religion and ethnicity is abhorrent, but unlikely to change very soon. Some European leaders are not even ashamed to broadcast their racism publicly as does the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov:

“These [the Ukrainian refugees] are not the refugees we are used to … these people are Europeans. These people are intelligent, they are educated people. … This is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists…”

He is not alone. The Western media talks about “our kind of refugees” all the time, and this racism is manifested clearly on the border crossings between the Ukraine and its European neighbours. This racist attitude, with strong Islamophobic undertones, is not going to change, since the European leadership is still denying the multi-ethnic and multicultural fabric of societies all over the continent. A human reality created by years of European colonialism and imperialism that the current European governments deny and ignore and, at the same time, these governments pursue immigration policies that are based on the very same racism that permeated the colonialism and imperialism of the past. 

Lesson Two: You Can Invade Iraq but not the Ukraine

The Western media’s unwillingness to contextualize the Russian decision to invade within a wider – and obvious – analysis of how the rules of the international game changed in 2003 is quite bewildering. It is difficult to find any analysis that points to the fact that the US and Britain violated international law on a state’s sovereignty when their armies, with a coalition of Western countries, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.  Occupying a whole country for the sake of political ends was not invented in this century by Vladimir Putin; it was introduced as a justified tool of policy by the West.

Lesson Three: Sometimes Neo-Nazism Can Be Tolerated

The analysis also fails to highlight some of Putin’s valid points about the Ukraine; which by no means justify the invasion, but need our attention even during the invasion.  Up to the present crisis, the progressive Western media outlets, such as The Nation, the Guardian, the Washington Post etc., warned us about the growing power of neo-Nazi groups in the Ukraine that could impact the future of Europe and beyond. The same outlets today dismiss the significance of neo-Nazism in the Ukraine.

The Nation on February 22, 2019 reported:

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On Watching Ukraine Through Palestinian Eyes

The rightful outpouring of support for Ukraine teaches us that the West can condemn occupation when it wants to


Civilians are seen at the train station attempting to head west from Kyiv, Ukraine on March 2, 2022, amid Russian attacks. (Wolfgang Schwan / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Yousef Munayyer, The Nation, March 4, 2022

Tanks rolling through city streets. Bombs dropping from fighter jets onto apartment buildings. Military checkpoints. Cities under siege. Families separated, fleeing to seek refuge and not knowing when they will see each other or their homes again.

When a military occupation begins to unfold before our eyes, the whole world is forced to pay attention. But while we may all be watching the same thing, some of us see it a little differently.

My first thoughts as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine commenced last week was for the civilian population in Ukraine, who will face the heaviest burden as a much more powerful force seeks to impose its will on them. How many must die? How many civilians will be killed by “precision bombs” that are anything but precise? How soon will freedom come for them? Will they see it in their lifetime? Or will they, like us Palestinians, see the struggle last for generations? I hope, for their sake, that it is the former.

Still, even as it was easy as a Palestinian to identify with the scenes of bombardment, destruction, and refugees, the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was totally foreign to us.

Overnight, international law seemed to matter again. The idea that territory could not be taken by force was suddenly an international norm worth defending. Western countries sought to advance a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Russia’s actions despite knowing full well that Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, would veto it. “Russia can veto this resolution, but cannot veto our voices,” said the US ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “Russia cannot veto the UN Charter. And Russia will not veto accountability.”

When the inevitable Russian veto came down, Western diplomats emphasized how it highlighted Russia’s isolation. Indeed, Russia was Isolated. Just as the United States has been each time it cast the lone UNSC veto on over 40 resolutions condemning Israel’s violations of international law and abuses against Palestinians.

The US also decided to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council just at this moment. It left the UNHRC several years ago because it opposed the council’s efforts to hold Israel to account. Meanwhile, countries have called on the International Criminal Court to act on Russia’s invasion—the same court whose prosecutor the United States sanctioned for investigating war crimes committed in Palestine.