On today’s episode, we take a look at the water crisis in Gaza and its effects on the inhabitants there, particularly the children. The discussion also highlights people-to-people grassroots efforts happening here in the U.S. to respond to the disaster, along with local ecumenical projects for peace in the Middle East.
Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch is executive director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), a non-profit humanitarian aid organization based on Berkeley, California that supports children and families in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon. He is a Palestinian refugee from Dheisheh Refugee Camp in the West Bank and is co-founder of the Ibdaa Cultural Center in Dheisheh. He was co-producer and production manager of the documentary film Promises, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002.
Jeff Spritzer-Resnick is a Madison-based civil rights attorney. He is the president of Madison’s Shaarei Shamayim congregation and chair of the Madison chapter of J Street, a non-profit advocacy group working for a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine.
Thursday, Nov 15
12 noon – 1 pm
A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff will feature guests Zeiad Abbas Shamrouch, Executive Director of the Middle East Children’s Alliance, and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, President of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, discussing the water crisis in Gaza in advance of Madison’s November 20 fundraiser for Clean Water for the Children of Gaza.
Tune in at 89.9 FM or Listen Live online, and call in at 256-2001. There will also be a discussion of this week’s escalation of violence in Gaza. If you can’t listen live, you can find the show later in the WORT Archives.
Contaminated and scarce water owing to Israel’s brutal siege and bombing of infrastructure leads to death and disease.
A Palestinian woman bathes her son with water from a tank filled by a charity inside their dwelling in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip July 3, 2017 [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
This article is the first of a two-part series on Gaza’s water crisis. The second, which examines solutions to Gaza’s water and health catastrophe, was published on Tuesday, October 30.
Gaza – The unshaven doctor with circles under his eyes enters the children’s ward at Al Nassar hospital in Gaza City. It’s a Thursday evening, almost the weekend. The ward is bleak and eerily quiet, but for the occasional wail of an infant.
At each cubicle, sectioned off by curtains, it’s a similar image: A baby lies alone in a bed, hooked up to tubes, wires and a generator; a mother sits in silent witness at the bedside.
Dr Mohamad Abu Samia, the hospital’s director of paediatric medicine, exchanges a few quiet words with one mother, then gently lifts the infant’s gown, revealing a scar from heart surgery nearly half the length of her body.
At the next cubicle, he attends to a child suffering from severe malnutrition. She lies still, her tiny body connected to a respirator. Because electricity runs only four hours a day in Gaza, the baby must stay here, where generators keep her alive.
Barely three percent of Gaza’s drinking water wells is fit for human consumption, and the crisis is claiming lives.
Mousa Hilleh, 48, rebuilt his home after the 2014 Gaza war and says not having access to clean water is a major concern [Abdel Kareem Hana/Al Jazeera]
This article is the second of a two-part series on Gaza’s water crisis. The first, which examines Gaza’s water and health catastrophe, was published on Monday, October 29.
Gaza – When it comes to survival in Gaza, safe, clean drinking water is not at the top of Mousa Hillah’s list of priorities.
Since the 2014 war, Hillah, known to neighbours and family as Abu Ali, has had far bigger worries, which are etched deeply into the exhausted face of the 48-year-old grandfather.
Dodging shell fire from Israeli tanks, he fled with his family from the destruction of his Shuja’iyya neighbourhood, flattened by Israel in an attack so devastating – 7,000 shells in barely an hour – that it astonished even US military officials. (“Holy bejeezus!” one retired general exclaimed.)
The family took refuge for months in an in-law’s house near the sea, along with 50 other people. When they returned, Abu Ali found his home – the one he had built after 30 years of working construction in Israel – utterly destroyed.
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive
Help provide a Maia Project water filter from the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to serve clean drinking water to 3,250 students of two schools and their families in Rafah. This is a joint project of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, First Unitarian Society of Madison, Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
Free and open to the public. Donations will be gratefully accepted.
Can’t make the benefit but would still like to donate? You can donate online or send a check payable to MRSCP marked “water” to:
P.O. Box 5214
Madison, WI 53705
Hosted by Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim
Sunday, October 14
First Unitarian Society,
900 University Bay Drive, Madison
4 – 6 pm
Come hear about this important effort to provide clean drinking water to children in Gaza. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. Free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted to help provide a Maia Project water filter to two schools in Rafah.
Can’t make it? You can donate online or send a check payable to MRSCP marked “water” to:
P.O. Box 5214
Madison WI 53705
Monday, October 8:
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive
5:30 pm – Community Potluck
6:30 pm – Drumming and welcoming by Indigenous Leaders
7:00 pm – Showing of The Eagle and The Condor – From Standing Rock with Love
8:00 pm – Panel/Community Discussion about the importance of supporting “Water Protectors”
Free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Coalition to Save the Menominee River.
Background from Madison Alder Rebecca Kemble:
“In October 2016, I traveled to Standing Rock to deliver the City of Madison resolution, ‘Expressing Solidarity with Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline,’ to the Standing Rock nation through its Chairman, David Archambault. The morning after my arrival was Indigenous Peoples’ Day and I attended a ceremony based on the Eagle and Condor prophecy that was held on a piece of land that had been excavated in preparation for installation of the pipeline. While serving as a Legal Observer, I was arrested along with 26 other people and charged with engaging in a riot, criminal trespass, destruction of evidence, and resisting arrest.
“Over the course of that fall and winter, more than 800 people would be arrested and charged with crimes for non-violently defending the Missouri River from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Extreme levels of violence were used by Morton County and the State of North Dakota on behalf of DAPL owners to eventually demolish the action camps in February 2017 and disperse the historically unprecedented gathering of Indigenous people from all across the planet.
“The Eagle and The Condor is a beautiful film made by Mohawk filmmaker, Kahsto’sera’a Paulette Moore, that focuses on the events of that day as a way to explore the juxtaposition of the extreme violence and history of violence with the beauty of ceremonies and the people who still remember and practice them. Helping produce the film has been an integral part of my own healing from the events that I experienced and witnessed. I hope it will bring viewers a deeper understanding of and respect for the challenges Indigenous peoples face to maintain and practice their cultures under the pressures of centuries of colonization and extreme resource extraction on their homelands.”
MRSCP is a co-sponsor of this event. The Eagle and The Condor will premiere on Indigenous People’s Day on Free Speech TV and in communities across North America and Europe.