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.

Activists Reclaimed a Water Source for Palestinians, Showing Co-Resistance Works

A man raises his arms in triumph next to a sign reading "Ein Albeida spring"
A Palestinian activist sticks a sign bearing the Palestinian name of Ein Albeida spring over an Israeli street sign with the name Avigail Spring, south of the village of Yatta near Hebron in the occupied West Bank on January 3, 2020. (Hazem Bader-AFP via Getty Images)

Oren Kroll-Zeldin, Truthout, January 10, 2020

Recently, nonviolent Palestinian activist Kifah Adara drew water from the Ein Albeida spring near her West Bank village of Al-Tuwani for the first time in 15 years. The spring is a natural water source that was used by Palestinian communities in the region for generations, but a decade and a half ago, nearby Israeli settlers started swimming in the spring, which dirtied the water and made it unsuitable for drinking. For years, due to settler violence and intimidation tactics, Palestinians couldn’t access the spring at all.

That all changed after a massive nonviolent direct action in which a group of over 150 Palestinian, Israeli, and diaspora Jewish activists reclaimed and rehabilitated Ein Albeida, thereby enabling Adara to walk from her village to fill water buckets for the first time since her youth. “I remember coming to this spring with women from my village to collect water for our families,” Adara said after the action. “We would travel 1.5 kilometers on our donkeys, just like we did today. Once Israeli settlers began swimming in this spring, it was no longer safe for us to drink. For many years, we could not access the spring at all. I am so happy to be back at this spring. I hope that, through the work we started today, the people of this region can use this water again.”

A woman stands in front of her donkey bearing jugs of water
Kifah Adara and her donkey carry water from Ein Albeida spring to nearby olive trees. (Emily Glick)

Ein Albeida, which means “White Spring” in Arabic, is the only natural water source for people living in Al-Tuwani and other nearby villages. The spring is also near Avigayil, an illegal Israeli outpost established in 2001. Settlers living in Avigayil have access to electricity and running water provided by the Israeli government, despite the outpost being considered illegal under Israeli law, while the Palestinian village of Al-Tuwani lacks these services. This is representative of one of the many structural inequalities of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, where services are systematically denied to Palestinians while brazenly given to Israeli Jewish settlers.

The coalition of activists who participated in the action with Adara joined her to show their solidarity with the Palestinian struggle against occupation and to assert their commitment to justice in the region. Adara invited the Israeli and diaspora Jewish members of this coalition to demonstrate their commitment to Palestinian solidarity by leveraging their privilege, as Jews, to protect her and other Palestinian activists from settler and state violence.

I participated in the action through a delegation with the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, a group that brings Jews from around the world to engage in nonviolent direct action and co-resistance projects alongside Palestinian and Israeli partners. My participation is central to my academic research investigating Jewish anti-occupation activism and the politics of Jewish identity.

A woman passes a jug of water to another person while in a cave
Members of All That’s Left: Anti-Occupation Collective gathering water at Ein Albeida spring. (Emily Glick)

My research points to two important things with regard to this delegation and the action to rehabilitate and reclaim Ein Albeida. First, whereas previous research claimed that Jews engage critically with Israeli policies of occupation out of love for Israel and a desire to make it better, many of the activists with whom I am working are instead motivated by a deep commitment to justice, especially for Palestinians. Second, though there are many methods and tactics used to end the occupation, the co-resistance model is one of the most impactful in showing tangible results to improve the lives of Palestinians on the ground. The nature of this organizing model also builds a vibrant, intersectional, and powerful anti-occupation social movement by building trust and relationships through embodied actions.

Co-resistance means that Palestinians, Israelis, Jews from the diaspora and international activists resist policies and structures of occupation in collaboration with one another. In the co-resistance model, Palestinians set the conditions for action and invite partners to join them based on the shared commitments to bring a just and equitable end to the Israeli occupation. Only those truly committed to dismantling the connected systems of oppression that harm communities in Palestine and Israel are invited to participate in co-resistance actions.

Through co-resistance, Palestinians, Israelis and international Jews build alliances across their differences that enables them to resist in relationship to each other. Building relationships structured on resistance is rooted in the tacit understanding that the liberation of one is deeply intertwined with the liberation of another. The co-resistance model demonstrates, in practice and on the ground, the words of Paulo Freire, who wrote in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “[W]e cannot say that in the process of revolution someone liberates someone else, nor yet that someone liberates himself, but rather that human beings in communion liberate each other.”

A woman with a farm tool works the ground as military vehicles line up in the distance behind her
A Center for Jewish Nonviolence leader planting olive trees next to Ein Albeida spring as the Israeli Army surveys in the background. (Emily Glick)

As exemplified by the direct action that allowed Adara to return to Ein Albeida, co-resistance shows how the symbolic power of Palestinians, Israelis and international Jews coming together is a model for what a future of liberation and equality for all people who live in Palestine and Israel could look like.

When Jewish activists join together in co-resistance and engage in projects to make life more livable for Palestinian communities, we refuse to enable the occupation. Co-resistance is therefore a rejection of the continued annexation of Palestinian land and resources, and the erasure of Palestinian life and culture. By engaging in co-resistance, we uplift Palestinian resilience and leadership and show by our physical presence that occupation is not our Judaism. This type of activism is a way of asserting a liberatory Jewish identity based in justice for all people while reclaiming Judaism from Israeli state violence.

In these dark days, co-resistance is a ray of light that inspires hope for the possibility of a more just tomorrow.


The stakes have never been higher

As attacks on women’s rights, health care, the environment and democracy intensify, we’re going to need truth-telling journalists more than ever.

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The U.N. once predicted Gaza would be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020. Two million people still live there.

The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day.   (Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images )
The shoreline in Gaza City during strong winds on Christmas Day (Mohammed Abed-AFP-Getty Images)

Hazem Balousha and Miriam Berger, The Washington Post, January 1, 2020

GAZA CITY — Jana Tawil was born in 2012, the same year that the United Nations released an alarm-raising report on the state of the Gaza Strip: If the prevailing economic, environmental and political trends continued, the organization warned, the besieged coastal enclave sandwiched between Israel and Egypt would become unlivable by 2020.

The United Nations revised its initial rating in 2017 to warn that “de-development” was happening even faster than it first predicted.

Jana’s father, 35-year-old Mahmoud Tawil, never thought much of that assessment.

“When the U.N. report [said] that Gaza would be unlivable, I felt that Gaza was not fit for life in the same year, not in the year 2020,” he said.

That is the bleak reality facing Gaza’s 2 million Palestinian residents as they approach a new year and new decade: still stuck living in a place the world has already deemed uninhabitable in perhaps the most surreal of 2020 predictions.

The Tawil family lives in Gaza’s al-Shati refugee camp, or the Beach camp, where cramped and crumbling rows of homes sit adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. It is in theory a scenic view — but life here persists on a parallel plane.

The elder Tawil, a psychologist, fears the sea: It’s full of sewage, pumped in because there’s not enough electricity and infrastructure to run Gaza’s war-torn sewage system. Hospitals, schools and homes are similarly running on empty, worn down by the lack of clean water, electricity, infrastructure and jobs or money. Barely anyone has enough clean water to drink. The only local source of drinking water, the coastal aquifer, is full of dirty and salty water. By 2020 — basically, now — that damage will be irreversible, water experts have warned.

“There is no stability in work, and there is no money for people,” Tawil said. “We cannot drink water or eat vegetables safely, [as] there is a fear that it will be contaminated.”

He continued: “We need a just life, and we need hope that there is a possibility for us to live on this earth. … The various Palestinian parties do not help us in Gaza to live, just as Israel imposes a blockade on Gaza. Unfortunately, no one cares about the residents of Gaza.”

Perhaps the hardest part of it all is that, relatively speaking, none of this is new.

When the United Nations issued the 2012 report setting 2020 as the zero hour for Gaza’s unlivability, the organization knew even then that no one should be living in Gaza’s already dangerous conditions.

“From our perspective, [the report] was a useful sort of ringing the alarm bell a couple of years ago,” said Matthias Schmale, the director of operations in Gaza for the U.N. Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA), the U.N. body responsible for Palestinian refugees. “But for us it’s no longer really the issue that by 2020 it will be unlivable. … The key question is how do we prevent total collapse?”

Gazans battle daily with the same crushing question.

It has been a dark decade, and then some, in a place Palestinians liken to an open-air prison. In 2007, the extremist group Hamas seized control after ousting its rival, the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Israel and Egypt in response imposed a land and sea blockade, citing security concerns and the aim of squeezing Hamas out. It hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, since 2009, Hamas and Israel have fought three bloody wars, alongside countless flare-ups. In the meantime, Israel flexes control via policies on who and what can enter and leave Gaza, barring most Gazans and goods from leaving. Hamas’s repressive and conservative rule has in turn caused people to feel squeezed from all sides.

Schmale cited four factors keeping Gaza afloat: Palestinian solidarity, such as businesses writing off debts; the inflow of cash sent by Palestinians abroad; Hamas’s autocratic rule, which has restricted internal unrest; and support from international bodies such as the United Nations.

All of these factors also remain subject to change. In 2018, President Trump cut aid to UNRWA and other Palestinian aid programs, threatening to topple the whole model set up in the 1950s to serve displaced Palestinians. Of Gaza’s 1.9 million residents, 1.4 million are refugees, and 1 million of them depend on UNRWA for food assistance. The rate of dependence on food aid only grows, Schmale said.

Despite the Trump administration’s much trumpeted economic-focused Middle East peace plan, no tangible progress has come out of it for Palestinians. A long-term, political solution to Gaza’s impasse (and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) remains far-off.

The depletion of Gaza’s coastal aquifer was one of the main factors in the United Nations’ “uninhabitable” calculus. According to World Health Organization standards, 97 percent of the aquifer’s water is unsuitable for human consumption: It’s been so heavily pumped that saltwater and other pollutants have poured in where groundwater was taken out.

Gazans who can afford to do so buy water from private companies using small-scale desalination projects. But the water from these sources can also become contaminated during unregulated distribution and storage in unclean tanks. One-fourth of all illnesses in Gaza are waterborne, the WHO found.

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Gaza 2020: How easy it is for the world to delete Palestinian pain


A man holds the hand of Maria al-Gazali, a 14-month-old Palestinian baby, as her body lies on a stretcher at a hospital in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza on 5 May 2019. She died during an Israeli air strike (AFP)

David Hearst, Middle East Eye, 13 December 2019

I would like you to try an exercise. Google the words  “family of eight killed” and you will be given several options – one in Sonora, Mexico, another in Pike, Ohio, yet another in Mendocino County, California.

But Google’s massive memory seems to have suffered amnesia over what took place just one month ago in Deir al-Baba, Gaza.

To recap, because you, too, may have forgotten: on 14 November, an Israeli pilot dropped a one-tonne JDAM bomb on a building where eight members of one family were sleeping. Five of them were children. Two of them were infants.

"

The bodies of five children from the same family killed in an Israeli air strike on 14 November lie in a hospital ward in Gaza (MEE/Atiyya Darwish)

At first, the Israeli army tried to lie its way out of responsibility for the killing of al-Sawarka family (one other family member has since died of injuries, taking the total to nine). Its Arabic-language spokesman claimed that the building was a command post for an Islamic Jihad rocket-launching unit in the central Gaza Strip.

However, as Haaretz revealed, the target was at least a year old. The intelligence was based on rumours, and no one had bothered to check who was living inside that building: they just dropped the bomb anyway.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice

Military intelligence capable of identifying and hitting moving targets like Bahaa Abu al-Atta, the Islamic Jihad’s commander in the northern Gaza Strip – or attempting to kill Akram al-Ajouri, a member of its political bureau in Damascus – is simultaneously incapable of updating its target bank from one year ago.

The Israeli army need not have bothered lying. No one took any notice. Neither the exchange of rocket fire nor the killing of the Sawarka family made the front pages of the Guardian, New York Times or Washington Post.

Israel’s diet plan for Gaza

This is Gaza now: a brutal siege of a forgotten people subsisting in conditions predicted to be unlivable by the UN in 2020, a year that is just a few weeks away.

It is inaccurate to say that the deaths of the Sawarka family were met with indifference in Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole rival for the leadership is Benny Gantz. Anyone in western capitals mistaking Gantz for a peacenik, merely because he is challenging Netanyahu, should look at a series of campaign videos the former Israeli army chief published recently about Gaza.

One of them starts with the sort of footage that a Russian drone could have taken after its bombardment of East Aleppo. The devastation is like Dresden or Nagasaki. It takes a disturbing few seconds to realise that this horrendous drone footage is a celebration of destruction, not an indictment of it.

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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

Hello from Palestine

Operation Dove, 2/13/19


Facebook video: Israel Destroys South Hebron Hills Water Piping

Today Israeli forces destroyed and confiscated underground pipes in the Palestinian villages of Jinba, Khallet Athaba, Ar Rakeez and Al-Mufaqarah. Soldiers detained the mayor of the Palestinian village of Tuwani and the head of the council of Masaffer Yatta. The confiscation has disrupted the water supply to villages and schools throughout Masafer Yatta.

The eight villages in Masafer Yatta lie within an area of Palestinian land claimed by Israel as Firing Zone 918, and used by the Israeli military as a practice area. Many of the villages within the zone have received Israeli demolition orders for homes, agricultural buildings and schools.