Film: Gaza in Context

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 The Full 20-Minute Narrative
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Credits

“I did not think it was possible to examine in 20 minutes what Gaza in Context  does with such compelling clarity: Israeli policies toward Gaza and Palestine, which are inseparable; the core problems affecting Gaza and the deliberateness of the policies that have led to Gaza’s disablement; Gaza’s centrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and some common myths surrounding Gaza and the history of the conflict overall, which are straightforwardly debunked.
An immensely valuable teaching tool, the film’s power also lies in its fundamental humanity, a heartfelt entreaty to end the oppression and violence so that all people in this tortured part of the world may aspire to a future in which their children can flourish.–Dr. Sara Roy, Senior Research Scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University 

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Palestinian Author Reflects on Life in Gaza

Lupe Salmeron, Madison365, December 5, 2016

An audience of around 30 people gathered to hear from talented blogger and political analyst Laila El-Haddad on Nov. 29 at The Crossing.

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016).

The evening started off with a Q & A between UW-Madison professor Nevine El Nossery and El-Haddad about her blog and books inspired by her experiences while living on the border in Gaza. That was followed by a short cooking demonstration and potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes from El-Haddad’s cookbook.

El-Haddad explained that initially, she created her blog to relieve and process some of the emotions and experiences she underwent while living in Gaza, but it then grew to be something much bigger.

“At the time, I had a close friend who I thought was really well informed but just had this kind of naivety about the whole experience. ‘Oh, you must be used to this by now, always being stranded,’ she said. And trying to explain, “Like no, you never get used to this kind of thing.’” El-Haddad said. “Or just being ill-informed in general about the modes and methods of transportation and lack of freedom of movement (in Gaza) that made me realize that there needs to be a better ways to communicate this experience than the traditional, ‘Here are the numbers, here are the facts, here are the maps’ kind of thing. That’s when I began to use the blog as a vehicle and kind of just blogging about everyday mundane experiences, as a vehicle for people to understand the bigger political issues that exist in the background.”

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To her, it was just a way to vent, but also inform her few readers about the events happening in Gaza. She did not realize how important her “everyday mundane experiences” were to others interested in Gazarian affairs.

“I didn’t think much about it at the time, but suddenly there was a lot of interest, including from like Israelis and others who had no other access,” she said. “It was all mediated cover from mainstream channels that were telling the same dismal, dark, anonymous story of Gaza. So that’s how it (her blog) became an effective tool to bypass all that.”

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A letter from Gaza to the Natives of Standing Rock

Israa Suliman, WE ARE NOT NUMBERS, November 15, 2016

Dear Native Americans,

Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences. When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice.

My ancestors were not the only ones who lived in Palestine. Jews, Christians and Arabs all lived side by side in my country. But my ancestors—including my grandparents and great-grandparents—were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America's policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call “al-Nakba” (the catastrophe). We know what you know: that our land is sacred.

In 1948, my ancestors—along with nearly a million other Palestinians—were frightened away or forced off their lands, in some cases at gunpoint. More than 10,000 others were massacred. Hundreds of our villages and cities were completely destroyed in a systemic plan to erase our identity—just as yours has been under continuing assault.

Native Americans' Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears

Palestine today is just 22 percent of our original homeland. Like you, some of my people (an estimated 1.5 million) must live in degrading “camps” (our word for reservations), where living conditions are "comparable to the Third World." Like your reservations, they are characterized by high rates of unemployment, poverty and suicide.

Many other Palestinians (about 6 million)—now including descendants of the original residents—are scattered elsewhere around the world, just as yours are around the United States. Today, not only has the military occupation taken over our land and declared it "the state of Israel," but it continues to carry on a policy of expulsion, demolishing Palestinian houses in the little bit of land we retain, building illegal settlements and preventing free movement with a network of “security checkpoints.”

Nakba
The Palestinian Nakba

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Third Palestinian Submission to the International Criminal Court on Gaza Closure

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, November 22, 2016

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dsc_0068Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, and Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan.

Palestinian human rights organizations (Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Aldameer) held today, 22 November 2016, a press conference to announce presenting the third legal submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) titled as “Gaza Illegal Closure: Persecution and Other Inhumane Acts Committed against Civilians as a Crime Against Humanity“. The conference was held in PCHR’s head office based in Gaza City and was attended by a large number of journalists.

shawanShawan Jabareen, Director of Al-Haq, and Prosecutor of the ICC, Ms Fatou Bensouda.

Both of lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of PCHR, and Issam Younis, Director of Al Mezan, delivered speeches during the conference while Shawan Jabareen, Director of Al-Haq, held a meeting in the Hague with Prosecutor of the ICC, Ms Fatou Bensouda, to deliver the legal submission on behalf of the Palestinian human rights organizations. It should be noted this is the third legal submission of its kind to the ICC by the Palestinian human rights organizations.

Sourani stressed that the human rights organizations has pledged on behalf of the victims to neither forget nor forgive and to proceed with the prosecution of Israeli war criminals for all their crimes, including the Israeli closure imposed for nearly a decade that has turned the Gaza Strip into the world’s largest open-air prison and resulted in a man-made disaster.

Sourani added that the human rights organizations’ role before the ICC will not end here, however, there are further submissions on settlement activities and the harvest of human rights organizations’ legal work before the Israeli judiciary.

Issam Younis added that today is a big day in the context of seeking justice for Palestinian victims in light of long-standing denial of justice within the Israeli judiciary.  He considered resorting to the ICC as an indispensable step after the State of Palestine had acceded to the international conventions and ICC’s Rome Statute.

Younis also said that the human rights organizations consider the ICC as a resort to grant justice. He hoped that ICC would seriously investigate the Israeli crimes and then move to the most important step that is starting the court proceedings.  He said, “Where to achieve justice if not in the ICC?”

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Update November 29, 2016
The Gaza Kitchen with Laila El-Haddad in Madison

The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey is a cookbook and a documentary portrait of the Gaza Strip by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt, published by Just World Books.

The Crossing
1127 University Avenue
Madison [Map]

4:30 pm: Gaza, From Blogging to Cooking and Everything In Between
A Conversation with Laila El-Haddad based on topics raised in her book, Gaza Mom, led by Prof. Nevine El Nossery
6:00 pm: Laila’s Table, A Celebration of Palestinian Food and Culture
Reflections by Laila El-Haddad on her book The Gaza Kitchen, followed by a short cooking demonstration and a potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes inspired by recipes from the book. RSVP’s to dwallbaum at gmail.com by Nov. 22 are encouraged for this part of the evening. Please bring a dish to pass if you can.  If you are interested in trying a recipe from the book, include that in your RSVP; we can either get you a recipe, or we do have books available for advance purchase ($30).

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016). All three books will be available for sale and signing at both events. If you want to purchase a book in advance, please contact rafahsistercity at yahoo.com.

Co-sponsored by: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; Middle East Studies Program; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Students for Justice in Palestine-UW Madison; WUD Cuisine; and WUD Distinguished Lecture Series. Additional support provided by Friends of Sabeel-North America.

  • Laila El-Haddad
  • The Gaza Kitchen, A culinary journey through the Gaza Strip:
  • The Gaza Kitchen is a cookbook which collects recipes from the culinary tradition of the Gaza Strip.  This is a rich cuisine which mixes Levantine and Egyptian influences, and is notably distinct from that of other parts of Palestine, reflecting the tortured political history of the Gaza Strip as well as the migratory patterns it has seen. 

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