Rafah Children in the Samira Project at the Rachel Corrie Memorial Library. (Photo: Jeff Bright)
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for Traumatized Children
The Gaza Strip, one of the poorest and most densely populated places on earth, has been described as the world’s largest open-air prison. For nearly eleven years it has been tightly sealed off by the Israeli/Egyptian siege, which drastically restricts human travel as well as imports and exports. As a result at least 80% of the people live under the poverty line. Unemployment is around 43% while youth unemployment is over 60%. The educational system is overcrowded, unstable and inconsistent. Public services have been weakened more and more, especially psycho-social support and other programs serving mainly women and children. This situation has been made even worse by the continuing conflict between Fatah and Hamas, which means that public employees like teachers often go unpaid.
On top of this policy of imprisonment and siege, the people of Gaza are subjected to frequent Israeli military land and sea attacks, which sometimes turn into full-scale assaults and invasions. In 2014, your US tax dollars helped pay for a 50 day Israeli bombardment of Gaza that killed hundreds of children and severely injured thousands more. Entire families were wiped out, and every child in Gaza knows someone who was killed, injured or made homeless or destitute. The UN estimates that as a result, the number of repeatedly and severely traumatized Gaza children who need psychological support and healing is in the hundreds of thousands. Continue reading
Operation Dove, February 12, 2017
More information on Operation Dove
This Saturday morning residents of the Palestinian village of At Tuwani were grazing sheep and enjoying a day of outdoor picnics when Israeli soldiers entered the village en masse, turning the peaceful village into a military theatre. The raid appeared to be part of the price paid by residents for their nonviolent resistance to settler violence in the South Hebron Hills: twice in recent weeks Palestinians have gathered to peacefully plant olive trees on Palestinian land on the outskirts of the village, near the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on.
On the morning of February 11 more than a dozen Israeli soldiers entered the village in military vehicles. The heavily armed soldiers forced their way into houses and courtyards and began questioning the inhabitants, demanding to see all of their children between the ages of 13 and 18. They ordered Palestinians who asked for an explanation for the raid to show their ID’s, and forced several young men to spread their arms against buildings and cars while soldiers searched their bodies and clothing at gunpoint. The soldiers showed no official orders for the raid, but moved from house to house throughout the morning, questioning men and women, terrifying the children, and violating the human rights of the Palestinian residents of At Tuwani. Soldiers also demanded to see the passports of Operation Dove volunteers who were filming the raid.
Madison Resistance March on Facebook
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project will be participating as a “Palestine Solidarity contingent” at the upcoming Madison Resistance March.
We will be meeting at 11:45 am outside the Boat House in Brittingham Park with our banners. Please wear a kuffiyeh if you have one. Also, we need signs linking Palestine to the themes of the March, including Netanyahu’s visit with Trump next Wednesday. There are some ideas listed below, but feel free to improvise! One suggestion is to have signs with both English and Spanish.
Josh Ruebner, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 31 Jan 2017
Donald Trump’s first ten days in office have resulted in a whirlwind of policies that have led to major protests, from blocking refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, to ordering a wall built on the US-Mexico border, to moving forward with the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipelines, to name just a few.
Amid his flurry of Executive Orders, you may have missed the fact that on Inauguration Day, Trump formally submitted to the Senate his nomination of David Friedman to be US Ambassador to Israel.
In case you haven’t heard of Friedman, here’s what you need to know:
Today President Trump signed an executive order banning all refugees from entering the U.S. for the next four months, prohibiting all people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, barring all Syrian refugees indefinitely, and, when the refugee program resumes (presumably at half the current rate), giving preferential treatment to non-Muslims.
This blatantly anti-Muslim edict mocks the freedom of religion protection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It’s also bereft of human compassion or moral compass. Finally, given the extreme vetting already in place, it’s also bereft of cause.
In a sad juxtaposition, today is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, reminding us of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. It’s distressing to realize and to acknowledge that a great many Jews perished because the world would not give them refuge – a state of affairs chillingly similar to today.
We urge you to contact your U.S. Senators and Representative to register your strong opposition to this order and to send a strong message to the White House. This is an excellent site to help you do so: Refugee Council USA
Open Doors for Refugees continues to stand by its mission of helping refugees make a home in Madison. With that we also wish to integrate refugees into being thriving members of the community and thereby increase our city’s richness in culture and diversity. We want Madison to be a welcoming city where all feel safe and valued. We encourage our volunteers and supporters to remain informed of current events in this regard and to be engaged citizens and to embrace ideas of welcoming, inclusion and humanitarian aid to all.
Our goal remains to support those refugees who have already arrived to our community and to be ready for when more refugees are allowed to come. We are proud of America’s history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. The U.S. refugee resettlement program reflects the United States’ highest values and aspirations to compassion, generosity and leadership. Since 1975, Americans have welcomed over 3 million refugees from all over the world. Refugees have built new lives, homes and communities in towns and cities in all 50 states. We cannot let this tradition end.
Our work is not done. In fact, we have more work than ever as we begin to rebuild trust that the current refugee screening process is rigorous and that refugees in our community do not pose threat. We now have to speak out with even greater conviction that refugee resettlement in our country is the right thing to do. Our engagement with community leaders to build greater trust, understanding and support of the refugee crisis and how our community can rise to the challenge are integral components of our next steps. We at Open Doors are proud and grateful to have the strong support of so many in the Madison area.
Donations of Furniture and Household Items:
Open Doors has stocked and set up apartments for three refugee families in the last three weeks. In the next ten days, four more refugee families will move to Madison, and Open Doors will provide almost all the furniture and household items for three of them, move it all into the new apartments, and set up the apartments in preparation for the new arrivals. To be able to do so, we need an influx of furniture and household items (without getting too much which would overwhelm our limited storage facilities – it’s a fine dance).
We especially need dressers, dining tables & chairs, armchairs and lights, while we already have plenty of couches, bedding and personal care items.
If you have things you’d like to donate, or want to organize a donation drive among your friends or colleagues, please email us at OpenDoorsForRefugees [at] gmail.com
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MAY 2017 DELEGATION!
May 13 – 26, 2017