Gaza is Not a Breaking News Cycle



The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy

August 11, 2022

 

Good Morning,

As you might have seen or heard, Israel launched yet another assault on the besieged Gaza strip, with bombardments and airstrikes killing 45 Palestinians and injuring more than 360, so far.

With the announcement of yet another precarious ceasefire, the international community’s attention is likely to move away from Gaza, yet again, leaving its people to mourn and rebuild in isolation under Israel’s 15 years of ongoing military siege. With this being Israel’s fifth assault since 2009 it is crucial to educate and inform ourselves and each other on Gaza, and to fight against its invisibilization and its dehumanization as mere periodical news cycle. Gaza has an ancestral history that is an integral and enmeshed part of Palestinian history. We must fight to keep it as part of the whole, and look ahead with a long-term vision, united against Israel’s intention to fragment and isolate Palestinians everywhere. 

This is why we are sharing with you again our latest Palestinian Takes email from June on Gaza, marking the passage of 15 years of Israel’s military siege. The email includes various Palestinian perspectives and resources on Gaza’s present and past, intertwined to bring us to the current moment.

The Nakba in 1948 and “the Gaza strip”:

  • Gaza has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, a thriving port for multiple cultures. Right before the Nakba of 1948, Gaza was one of many of Palestine’s districts, including the areas of Bir Al Sabi’ (Beersheba). As Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations began, 49 villages of the Gaza district were destroyed and more than 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the southern and coastal areas of Palestine to smaller parts of Gaza district, which came to be known as the Gaza strip, as we learn in the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question.
  • Since 1948, Gaza has become the epitome of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return movement, embodied more recently by the Great March of Return, that was co-initiated by Ahmad Abu Artema: “I wondered what would happen if 200,000 protesters gathered near the Israel fence with Gaza Strip, and entered the lands that are ours”.

The centrality of Gaza to iconic Palestinian food and land cultivation:

  • At home, on the sidewalks or dangling from the roofs of the shops at the markets or crossroads, this is how the branches of the unripe dates, called the “red gold”, announce they’re in season, a fruit after which the city of Deir Al-Balah (Land of Unripe Dates) is named.
  • Famous recipes have been curated by Palestinian chef Laila Haddad in The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, documenting people’s history and daily life through traditional dishes like the Rumaniyya (eggplant lentil pomegranate bowl) and Dagga (hot tomato and dill salad).
  • With its long Mediterranean coastline, fishery became a major source of food culture and sovereignty for many families. Yet, following the Israeli blockade in 2007, fishermen were systematically prevented from accessing the sea beyond 20 nautical miles, which gradually decreased to 3 nautical miles, while regularly being targeted and shot at by the Israeli naval army.
  • “In a few years there will be no more fishing at all, we will have to forget our profession and become traders”, said Gaza fishermen in a documentary on the topic.

    Fishermen on a Gaza Beach, 1987
    (Palestinian Museum Digital Archive)

A testing ground for apartheid, weapons and colonial repression:

  • In 1948, Palestinian refugees “were not expecting that their exodus would be prolonged for seven decades, and that they would be subjected to condescending efforts to void their right to return.” writes Jehad Abu-Salim.
  • In the span of two decades, the Israeli regime has led four aerial bombardment campaigns, killing and injuring thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza, intentionally treating it as a testing ground for its military capabilities before it is exported all over the world.
  • “All the injustices Palestinians in Gaza face are a direct consequence of the continued denial of freedom, dignity and return. Overshadowing it with a humanitarian crisis is depriving the people in Gaza of their political will and reducing them to poor, powerless and passive subjects.” – writes Abir Kopty.
  • This thematic chronology by the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question is an important resource covering how main events unfolded in the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014-2015.
    This visual by Visualizing Palestine explains how the Israeli closure on Gaza started long before the blockade and in the height of the 1990s peace process.

We will never forget and never forgive: Palestinian testimonies from under the rubble:

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Jewelry for Clean Water Campaign, 7/22/22

Jewelry Sales for Clean Water is an emergency campaign by Palestine Partners to support members of the Women in Hebron cooperative in constructing a desperately needed cistern to assure access to clean water. (At last report, $3500 of the $6000 goal has already been reached!)

About the campaign

Laila lives with 14 members of her extended family in a small house near the city of Al Khalil/Hebron, in occupied Palestine. For two summers now they have been without safe water. Recently, three of seven small children and two pregnant women have fallen seriously ill. The youngest children, only 9 and 14 months old, have been hospitalized after drinking water that doctors say may have been chemically contaminated or stored too long in the heat.

Her West Bank village has rudimentary municipal water, but Israel has seized control of the Palestinian aquifer in order to supply its illegal settlers there with unlimited amounts of water. This results in restricted, interrupted, or non-existent water flow to Palestinian villages. Palestinians must buy water, either from small trucks in often unsanitary containers, or from water trucks capable of filling underground cisterns. Laila’s house has no cistern, so her family has been forced to rely on the risky small containers rather than water from the safer and more reliable large trucks

Laila is selling hand-made earrings and necklaces to raise the $6000 needed for materials so that her sons can build a sealed water cistern that will enable the family to purchase safe water from a reputable source year-round, instead of small unsafe containers of water at hugely inflated cost. But she needs our help NOW to sell enough of her work to purchase the construction materials, so that her sons can begin the work.

Links to
Learn More,
Make Donations,
Shop for Jewelry, or
Buy a Gift Certificate!

7/22/22
Work has begun. They got the space dug out and all went well with that; Laila got a good excavator and nothing crumbled or caved in. Now they are getting ready to pour the concrete bottom of the cistern.


The Plight of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta

Ayman Mohyeldin, MSNBC, Jul 15, 2022

On his first Middle East trip as president, Joe Biden began by visiting Israel, a country he’s been to 10 times since he was a senator in 1973. On this latest trip, Biden discussed how to address Iran’s nuclear program, and re-stated his support for a two-state solution.

But one thing he didn’t cover when he met with Israeli leaders is what’s happening in Masafer Yatta, a region of the occupied West Bank where mass evictions are taking place. And it encapsulates the plight of Palestinians in a way few other stories do.

Stop the Line 5 Pipeline Expansion

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project supports these efforts by Indigenous Women to end fossil fuel projects and protect water.

USA, April 27, 2022 Today, Indigenous women leaders, joined by over 200 organizations, representing millions nationwide, submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging the department to deny necessary permits for the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and to conduct a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the entire pipeline within the Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting 22 million gallons of crude oil each day through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac. Currently, Enbridge is proposing to expand the Line 5 pipeline, despite the strong opposition of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Tribes.

Enbridge proposes to route Line 5 through hundreds of waterways that flow into the Bad River Reservation, their extensive fisheries, and the navigable waters of Lake Superior. The letter sent today delivers key information detailing the impacts the Line 5 tar sands pipeline expansion project would have in the region, and clarifies how it directly undermines Indigenous rights and perpetuates the climate crisis:

“We call on you to reject permits for the expansion of Line 5. This plan places massive risk squarely upon the Bad River Tribe and the Red Cliff Tribe against their will. Furthermore, we consider the pipeline construction an act of cultural genocide. Damage to the land and water destroys food and cultural lifeways that are core to our identity and survival. The pipeline would cut through more than 900 waterways upstream of the Bad River Reservation. The U.S. EPA determined that the plan ‘may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts’ to the Kakagon and Bad River slough complex. This is unacceptable.”

The letter also brings attention to the ongoing investigations and environmental issues with Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, and details Enbridge’s pattern of misrepresenting risks, violating permits, and covering up environmental damage. While constructing the Line 3 pipeline, Enbridge caused at least 28 frac-outs, polluting surface water and releasing undisclosed amounts of drilling fluid into groundwater, amongst other permit violations.

The letter concludes by bringing attention to the global repercussions of the Line 5 pipeline, noting that increased fossil fuel production will not support President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, nor align with the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which calls for urgent emissions reductions as quickly as possible.

The letter comes from Indigenous women who are advocating to stop Line 5, and is endorsed by local and national groups representing Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, health professionals, faith groups, and more. Please see quotes from the original signatories of the letter below:

Jannan J. Cornstalk, Citizen of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Director of the Water is Life Festival: “There needs to be a shift, to ensure that Tribes and Indigenous communities are part of the process not after the fact but from the very beginning. That’s consultation. Our very lifeways and cultures hang in the balance as pipelines like Line 5 get rammed through our territories and water. These are our lifeways– when that water is healthy enough that rice is growing– that not only benefits our communities, but that benefits everybody up and down stream. The Army Corps and Biden Administration must put people over profits. Allowing Line 5 to proceed is cultural genocide. The disturbances go deeper than you are hearing. That water is our relative, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, our sacred relative.”

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Environmental Justice Has No Borders

A Call to the Environmental Justice Movement

Sign the Pledge

NDN Collective

Israel violently forces Indigenous Palestinians out of their homes and off their land, and harms the environment in the process. Join us in supporting Palestinian freedom and environmental justice by signing and sharing the Environmental Justice Has No Borders Pledge. Together, we can center Indigenous rights and oppose Israel’s settler colonialism.

THE PLEDGE

Guided by the release of NDN Collective’s Position Paper on Palestine (https://ndncollective.org/right-of-return-is-landback/), we invite organizations and individuals to join us in principled solidarity with Indigenous communities on Turtle Island and with the Palestinian people and commit to:

No greenwashing apartheid Israel! That means:
1. Boycott propaganda trips to Israel
2. Refuse to participate in events or actvities that cover up, or “greenwash,” Israel’s ongoing violence against the Palestinian people
3. Instead, recognize that Palestine is an issue of environmental justice and commit to principled solidarity

ORGANIZATIONAL SIGNERS:

Adalah Justice Project
Adalah-NY
American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA)
Arab Resource & Organizing Director (AROC)
Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)
Australians for Palestine
Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Catalyst Project
Church Women United in New York State
Daarna
East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC)
Eyewitness Palestine
Gods' Grace Outreach Ministries, International
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston
Jewish Voice for Peace-New Haven
Jewish Voice for Peace-Twin Cities
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
Minnesota BDS Community
Movement for Black Lives
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
NDN Collective
Peace Action WI
Sari-Sari Women of Color Arts Coup
St. Louis Friends of Bethlehem
Terra Advocati
The Art Odyssey
Uprooted & Rising
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)
Visualizing Palestine
Vote Climate

WHY PLEDGE TO UPHOLD ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ACROSS BORDERS?

The fight for environmental justice has no borders. Ensuring the survival of land and people anywhere requires that we oppose settler-colonialism, militarism, land theft, and environmental destruction everywhere.

This pledge is being released on Land Day, a day marking Palestinian protest against violent Israeli removal from their lands, and comes in the aftermath of an incident that highlighted the dangerous persistence of support for colonialism in the environmental justice movement. Recently, the Sierra Club canceled its March trips to Israel. That was the right thing to do: propaganda trips to Israel are harmful to Palestinians and the land they live on, and help cover up Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. But after facing backlash, The Sierra Club, an organization with a history of violence toward Indigenous communities in the U.S., backtracked on its commitment to cancel its trips. The Sierra Club’s reversal is an insult to Indigenous communities everywhere.

Israel was built on top of Palestinian land, just as the U.S. was built on top of Native land. Zionist paramilitary forces bombed and destroyed Palestinian towns and cities, and forced out 75% of the Palestinian population from their homes and their land. Palestinians were separated from their loved ones and from their natural resources and spiritual and cultural connection to the land. Palestinians call this the Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic.

Conservation trips to apartheid Israel help the Israeli government cover up, or greenwash, the injustices of the Nakba and Israel’s ongoing oppression of Palestinians.

The Israeli government claims to be environmentally friendly but in reality, Israel is stealing Palestinian land and destroying the Palestinian environment. Indigenous Palestinians have cultivated and cared for the land for centuries and their call for solidarity should be respected. Just two examples of Israel’s impact on the environment:

1. Forests: Israel has uprooted over 800,000 native olive trees owned by Palestinians and planted forests where nearly 9 in 10 of the trees planted are invasive species that harm the land and the people. Israel’s planting of non-native trees has resulted in rapid desertification.
2. Water: In 1967, Israel took control over Palestine’s water resources and continues to restrict Palestinians’ access to water. Israel sinks wells and taps springs, forcing Palestinians to buy back their own water. This is harmful to Palestinian farmers and all Palestinians.

As a coalition of racial and social justice organizers, we call on the Sierra Club to uphold its basic responsibility to stop harming Indigenous struggles and drop these greenwashing trips. We invite other environmental justice and conservation organizations to be guided by NDN Collective’s new Position Paper on Palestine (https://ndncollective.org/right-of-return-is-landback/), and sign our Environmental Justice Has No Borders pledge. The pledge asks organizations and individuals in the environmental justice movement to center Indigenous rights by heeding the Palestinian people’s call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) of apartheid Israel, including ceasing “greenwashing” activities and propaganda trips.

This is a moment of deeper reckoning for the conservation and environmental justice movements writ large: Indigenous peoples know intimately the violence of dispossession, displacement, and settler-colonialism, and most organizations remain complicit in this violence. Our collective call-out of Sierra Club only highlighted the need for justice that was long past due: Environmental, climate, and Indigenous justice all necessarily require divestment from the U.S. military, the single largest consumer of fossil fuels globally that enforces the occupation of Indigenous sovereign lands, from Turtle Island to Palestine. Repairing harm to Indigenous communities starts with actively resisting settler colonialism through concrete commitments to resist militarism, including refusing to participate in the propaganda that props up these policies.

Colonization and erasure of Indigenous people is never green—it's deadly to people and the planet.

Sign the Pledge

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Maia Project Update

For Over 11 Years



The new unit providing clean water to the kids in Shuka, Rafah (MECA, 12/29/21)

Help us give the gift of Clean Water to the Children of Rafah

There is a water crisis in Palestine that affects the health of virtually every adult and child. In the Gaza Strip poor sanitation and over-extraction have polluted the limited water supply. Israeli military attacks and the blockade have prevented repairs to water infrastructure. Water to Gaza is restricted and often too expensive for families to purchase from a safe source.

MAIA is Arabic for water, and the MAIA Project began when children at a UN school in Gaza picked clean drinking water as the one thing they wanted most for their school.

That’s why the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project joined with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) in 2010 to provide water filters to schools in Rafah. You can help today!

For a limited time we are offering a 22-oz. Trek II aluminum refillable water bottle with this Maia logo for all donations of at least $60.

Donations of $80 or more can also receive a GAZA logo pin. If you want the water bottle and/or pin, please mail a check and send us a phone number or email address with your request; we will contact you to arrange delivery.

  • Make a donation online. Due to coronavirus precautions, this is currently preferred.
  • Mail a check payable to MRSCP with the memo “water”. Send it to
      MRSCP
      P.O. Box 5214
      Madison, WI 53705

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is registered as a 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax deductible.


Our History with the Maia Project

2019 — 2020 Our current goal is to raise $16,000 for a large Maia filter at the Al Shuka Preparatory School. The siege of Gaza and lack of building materials forces this school to run in two shifts: the first one girls and the second co-ed. A total of 2,200 students and their families will be able to get clean water from this unit.

Maia Brochure 2019 adobe


2018 — 2019 $16,000 for filters at two schools serving 3,250 students and their families in Rafah. A joint project of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, First Unitarian Society of Madison, Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Photos of the filters by 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

Download the PDF file .

2013 $11,500 for clean water at the Girl’s Preparatory School A in Rafah with 1,187 students.

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New Film on Hebron at the New York Times

Mission: Hebron by Israeli filmmaker Rona Segal was published recently in the opinion section of the New York Times website, and can be watched there (with a subscription) or on YouTube.

Mission: Hebron is a short documentary based on interviews conducted by the director with Breaking the Silence testifiers about their service in Hebron. Describing a horrifying yet mundane routine of manning checkpoints, invading homes, nighttime arrests, and violently dispersing protests, they paint a picture of what serving in the second largest Palestinian city in the occupied territories requires, the atmosphere in the city, their interaction with the local population, both Palestinians and settlers, and how they felt about it all.

Screened around the world at international film festivals, the film won the Shagrir Prize at last year’s Jerusalem Film Festival and is now long-listed for the Academy Award for Best Short Documentary.

July 29, 2021
Webinar: What’s happening in the South Hebron Hills?


In the South Hebron Hills, the southernmost region of the West Bank, there are about 122 communities of shepherds and farmers totaling about 80,000 inhabitants. The communities settled there in the early 19th century in order to be close to the pastures and agriculture they owned. In recent decades Palestinian residents have suffered abuse from violent settlers, which the army either turns a blind eye to or cooperates with. Living in a land declared as a ‘closed military zone’ by the army, Palestinians in the area experience daily the expropriation of their land, the demolition of their homes, and the cutting of their water pipes. (tv.social.org)

What’s happening in the South Hebron Hills? Perspectives from the ground
July 29, 2021 12:00 PM Central Webinar

Join Just Vision and +972 Magazine on Thursday, July 29 at 1pm ET / 8pm Jerusalem time for a conversation on what’s happening in the South Hebron Hills, speaking with activists who have been organizing in the area for years.

In the South Hebron Hills (known locally as Masafer Yatta) in Area C of the West Bank – which the Israeli military has full control over – authorities demolish homes and infrastructure on a regular basis while refusing to grant building permits. For residents of the area, fear of violence from the Israeli settlers that surround their villages is ever-present, and the heavy military presence only leads to greater impunity for the settlers.

In the face of this decades-long struggle, Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills, with support from Israeli and international activists, are using tools – from journalism and social media, to storytelling and non-violent direct action – to resist ongoing annexation and draw local and international attention to the injustices they experience or witness daily.

Speakers for this event include Basil Al-Adraa, a Palestinian journalist, activist and resident of the area; Yuval Abraham, an Israeli reporter for Local Call, our Hebrew-language news site co-published with 972 Advancement of Citizen Journalism; and Natasha Westheimer, Australian-American water management specialist and anti-occupation activist based in Jerusalem. The discussion will be moderated by Just Vision’s Executive Director and Local Call Co-Publisher, Suhad Babaa.

How a West Bank Trip Turned This Congressman Into One of Israel’s Strongest Critics

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan tells Haaretz why he welcomes a new Israeli government, even one led by a right-winger like Naftali Bennett who has renounced the two-state solution


Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan. Andy Manis / AP

Ben Samuels, Haaretz, Jun. 7, 2021

WASHINGTON – How does a lawmaker go from surface-level familiarity with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to being one of the most vocal proponents of Palestinian rights in the history of Congress?

It starts with Humpty Dumpty.

Rep. Mark Pocan had visited Israel on congressional trips since entering office in 2013, where he spent a bit of time in the West Bank. But it was always through an Israeli lens. After learning more about the conflict from the pro-Israel left-wing J Street organization, the progressive Wisconsin Democrat went again in 2016 on the first-ever congressional trip to Palestine organized by the Humpty Dumpty Institute.

Despite being organized by an NGO that Pocan jokingly admits has “one of the worst names in Washington,” it provided him with a first opportunity to see the land from a Palestinian perspective.

“Having a chance to see things from that perspective opened my eyes about what was going on, and the barriers in getting to a two-state solution that I have advocated for,” he tells Haaretz. “Seeing and talking to people in Palestine firsthand and walking through all the different issues really mattered a lot.”