The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Hundreds take to Wis. Capitol in support of Palestine

The Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine (WCJP) put on the event, but the entity was representing more than 50 organizations throughout the state.

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Hundreds of Wisconsinites took to the Capitol Square Saturday afternoon in what organizers are calling the largest pro-Palestine march in the history of the state.

Attendees from across Wisconsin attended the gathering to advocate for a ceasefire and let Palestinians know they have support all the way across the world.

The Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine (WCJP) put on the event, but the entity was representing more than 50 organizations throughout the state.

“I think we want to see an end to the bloodshed, that’s our first demand,” organizer Sabine Wolter said. “Ultimately though I think we’d like to see an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and just see U.S. intervention out. We don’t want to see our tax dollars going to bombing people in Gaza, that doesn’t do us any good.”

The gathering, deemed ‘family-friendly,’ featured speakers, informational booths, and a march around the Capitol.

Barbara Olson is a member of Madison Rafah Sister City Project, an organization that seeks to increase awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“And I think what’s happening now is that because social media and to some extent regular media is finally exposing the depths of the horror that’s going on there, that anybody with a conscience and a heart is appalled by this,” she said.

Organizers with the WCJP listed the following objectives prior to today’s event:

  • Permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Lift the siege of Gaza
  • End all USA aid to Israel
  • End Israeli occupation of Palestine
  • End criminalization of speech in support of Palestine
  • Free all political prisoners in Israeli prisons
  • Reparations and reconstruction for Gaza


Hundreds rally in Madison in support of Pales­tinian Ter­ri­tories

Protesters rally in support of the Palestinian Territories. (Spectrum News 1/Natalie Sopyla)

MADISON, Wis. — Protesters crowded the streets of Madison’s Capitol Square Saturday with messages of support for the Palestinian Territories.

What You Need To Know

  • Hundreds gathered in Madison for a rally in support of the Palestinian Territories
  • The rally was organized by the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine, a group of more than 50 organizations from across the state
  • It was part of a week-long series of events calling for an end to the war, and showcasing aspects of Palestinian culture

The rally was organized by the Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine, a group of more than 50 organizations from across the state.

For Middleton, Wis., resident Rebecca Alwin, it’s an issue that’s close to her heart. Nearly 20 years ago, she traveled to the area, meeting Palestinians and Israelis.

“I saw it firsthand with my own eyes and heard with my own ears from Palestinian people who were really struggling to be able to stay in their ancestral homeland in Palestine,” Alwin said. “We also met with Israeli people and heard about their concerns for their safety.”

She said it was an eye-opening experience. She said learning more about the war over the years brought her to the rally on Saturday.

“The violence that’s being inflicted, it is not keeping anyone safe,” she said. “It’s not keeping Israelis safe. It’s not keeping Palestinians safe.”


The number one message of many of the speakers at the rally was for an end to the violence. It’s this message that brought Madison, Wis., resident Jennifer Hedstrom and her friends to the event.

“I am extremely disturbed at what’s happening in Gaza with all of the massacres and constant, just constant bombing,” she said.

The rally was one of several events held throughout the week in the Madison area that not only called for an end to the war but showcased aspects of Palestinian culture.

Hedstrom said it felt good to unite with others for a common cause.

“I feel less isolated, because it can feel very isolating when you’re just at home and you’re thinking about these things,” she said. “But to see other people who care about it is motivating and just heartening.”

Songs and poetry accompanied the chanting and marching. While the event was peaceful, the message was a forceful call for change.

“What I personally would like to see come out of it is a recognition that the two-state solution is only an excuse for international communities and especially the United States to not take any real significant long-lasting action,” Alwin said.

“I would just love for the Palestinian people to be free to live their lives in their homes and to be free of violence and oppression,” Hedstrom said.

Israeli politician calls for captured Palestinians to be ‘buried alive’

‘They aren’t human beings and not human animals. They’re subhuman and that’s how they should be treated’

Palestinian men rounded up and stripped by Israeli forces in Gaza before being taken to an undisclosed location (Screengrab/X)Palestinian men rounded up and stripped by Israeli forces in Gaza before being taken to an undisclosed location (Screengrab/X)

The deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Aryeh Yitzhak King, has called for the Israeli army to bury alive hundreds of Palestinian civilians captured in Gaza. 

In a post on X on Friday, King, a far-right politician, said the Israeli army was eliminating “Muslim Nazis” in Gaza and suggested it needed to pick up the pace. 

The post made specific reference to footage published by the Israeli army showing captured Palestinians stripped to their underwear, kneeling on the ground and being guarded by Israeli soldiers.

King, in his post that has since been deleted for violating rules on X, said: “If it were up to me, I would have dispatched D-9 bulldozers and put them behind the mounds of dirt and would have given the order to cover all these hundreds of ants, while they’re still alive.”

The men are thought to have been arrested in Beit Lahia, in the far north of the Gaza Strip.

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Israel said they were Hamas members, however it provided no evidence for the claim which could not be independently verified. 


Diaa al-Kahlout, a well-known journalist at al-Araby al-Jadeed, was identified by local media as among those being held.

“They aren’t human beings and not human animals. They’re subhuman and that’s how they should be treated,” King said, adding “Eradicate the memory of Amalek, and never forget.”

‘They aren’t human beings and not human animals. They’re subhuman and that’s how they should be treated’
– Aryeh Yitzhak King

Amalek is in reference to a biblical verse, which has also been referenced recently by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling for the extermination of every man, woman and child, and their livestock, belonging to an ancient enemy of the Jewish people. 

Several far-right Israelis and ultranationalists have in the past referred to Palestinians as modern-day Amalekites, in what commentators have deemed as genocidal language used to justify the killing of Palestinians.

As the deputy mayor, King administers all of the territory within Israel’s Jerusalem municipality, which includes occupied East Jerusalem and almost 400,000 Palestinians. 

More than 17,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli attacks since the war began two months ago. Most of the dead are women and children. 

The bombing campaign followed Hamas’s attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October, which killed around 1,200 Israelis, most of whom were civilians.

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Demonstrators urge Baldwin to publicly support ceasefire in Israel, Palestine

Vigil calls for ceasefire in Gaza

WISC Channel 3000 News, December 8, 2023

MADISON, Wis. — Demonstrators in Madison are putting pressure on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin to call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.

The organizations Madison for a World Beyond War and Jewish Voice for Peace have been setting up vigils outside the senator’s Madison officer for the past week.

On Friday, they read the names of children who have been killed in the bombings of Gaza.

The demonstrators want Baldwin to join other lawmakers who have made public statements supporting a ceasefire and for the government to cut military aid to Israel.

“There’s only so much that letter-writing and phone-calling and phone-banking can do,” demonstrator Phil Trachtenberg said. “She needs to see the people in front of her office saying this is wrong, what we are supporting, what our tax dollars are supporting is wrong and what’s being done in the name of Judaism is wrong.”

Rep. Mark Pocan made a statement in October calling for a ceasefire and for the federal government to send more humanitarian aid to Gaza.

US blocks UN Security Council demand for ceasefire in Gaza

‘Nowhere in Gaza is safe’

Michelle Nichols, Reuters, December 8, 2023

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 8 (Reuters) – The United States on Friday vetoed a proposed United Nations Security Council demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza, diplomatically isolating Washington as it shields its ally.

Thirteen other members voted in favor of a brief draft resolution, put forward by the United Arab Emirates, while Britain abstained. The vote came after U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a rare move on Wednesday to formally warn the 15-member council of a global threat from the two-month long war.

“What is the message we are sending Palestinians if we cannot unite behind a call to halt the relentless bombardment of Gaza?” Deputy UAE U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab asked the council. “Indeed, what is the message we are sending civilians across the world who may find themselves in similar situations?”

The United States and Israel oppose a ceasefire because they believe it would only benefit Hamas. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas in a deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the council that the draft resolution was a rushed, imbalanced text “that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way.”

“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” said Wood.


The U.S. had offered substantial amendments to the draft, including a condemnation of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks that Israel says killed 1,200 people and in which 240 people were taken hostage.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said her country abstained because there was no condemnation of Hamas.

“Israel needs to be able to address the threat posed by Hamas and it needs to do so in a manner that abides by international humanitarian law so that such an attack can never be carried out again,” she told the council.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a United Nations Security Council meetingUnited Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a United Nations Security Council meeting


Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour told the council the result of the vote was “disastrous,” adding: “Millions of Palestinian lives hang in the balance. Every single one of them is sacred, worth saving.”

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan did not address the Security Council after the vote, but in a statement said: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”

The United States favors its own diplomacy over Security Council action to win the release of more hostages and press Israel to better protect civilians in Gaza as it retaliates against Hamas.

However, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged on Thursday that there was a “gap” between Israel’s intent to protect civilians and what has happened on the ground. Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 17,480 people have been killed.

Israel has bombarded Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground offensive. The vast majority of the Palestinian enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes.

“There is no effective protection of civilians,” Guterres told the council earlier on Friday. “The people of Gaza are being told to move like human pinballs – ricocheting between ever-smaller slivers of the south, without any of the basics for survival. But nowhere in Gaza is safe.”

A seven-day pause – during which Hamas released some hostages and there was an increase in badly needed humanitarian aid to Gaza – ended on Dec. 1.

After several failed attempts to take action, the Security Council last month called for pauses in fighting to allow aid access to Gaza, which Guterres on Friday described as a “spiraling humanitarian nightmare.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols, additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Jonathan Landay; editing by Susan Heavey, Frances Kerry, Mark Heinrich, Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman


Meanwhile in the West Bank

Cassandra Dixon, 12/8/23

Last night about 50 soldiers-settlers stormed the village of Khalet Al Dabaa. They arrived in civilian cars, all wearing army uniforms and most of them with their faces covered.

They injured 5 people and kidnapped/arrested one man. They ransacked homes, destroyed buildings, stole 6000 sheckles and three power drills, and caused enormous damage in the village.


Israel Killed Refaat Alareer in Gaza

These Are Some of His Last Words

Professor Refaat Alareer was killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

Refaat Alareer, one of the founders of the ‘We Are Not Numbers’ project and professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, was killed by an Israeli airstrike.

Professor Alareer was not an ordinary intellectual. He was an educator, who has inspired countless young people in Gaza to take charge of their own narrative and to tell the story of Gaza and Palestine based on their own experiences. 

“(Refaat) authored many books and wrote tens of stories about Gaza. Refaat’s assassination is tragic, painful and outrageous. It is a huge loss,” his friend and We Are Not Numbers co-founder, Ahmed Alnaouq, wrote on X on Thursday.

On November 30, Alareer spoke to The New Arab about his decision not to evacuate northern Gaza.

“Israel is destroying Gaza in a way that will impact life for decades to come,” he told the UK-based news website at the time.

“Refaat was one of my inspirations in Gaza. Beyond brilliant and charming, he was simply kind and genuine as a person,” Ramzy Baroud, a Gaza-born intellectual and author said. 

“I felt that everything he wrote or uttered represented a priority for us around the world. We were guided by him, and people like him. His death has completely disoriented me,” Baroud added. 



Last Words 

Alareer, a beloved English professor, communicated some of his last thoughts through his X profile. 

“If I must die, you must live to tell my story,” he wrote in a poem, published on November 1. “If I must die, let it bring hope, let it be a tale”.

On December 4, as Israeli airstrikes on his neighborhood intensified, Alareer wrote a tribute to the Palestinian Resistance, who is confronting the invading Israeli forces:

“I wish I were a freedom fighter,” he said, “so I die fighting back those invading Israeli genocidal maniacs invading my neighborhood and city.”

The strongest message, however, is in his last words, also written on X on December 4. Sharing a video featuring United States Vice President Kamala Harris, Alareer wrote, with unmistakable clarity: 

“The Democratic Party and (US President Joe) Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel.”

“Refaat’s death is not the end of the story, but the start of a new chapter of intellectual resistance,” Baroud said. 

“I am so sorry, Refaat. I was hoping that we would continue to work together for years to come, but I promise you, your tale will always be told.” 

Refaat Alareer was the editor of ‘Gaza Writes Back:  Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine’, and co-author of ‘Gaza Unsilenced’. 

In ‘Gaza Writes Back’, he wrote,

“It is when darkness prevails that I sit by the window to look past all those electricity-free houses, smell the sweet scent of a calm Gazan night, feel the fresh air going straight to my heart, and think of you, of me, of Palestine, of the crack, of the blank wall, of you, of Mama, of you, of my history class, of you, of God, of Palestine—of our incomplete story.”


‘Huge Loss’ as Gaza Luminary Refaat Alareer ‘Assassinated’ by Israel

Refaat AlareerPalestinian professor, poet, and activist Refaat Alareer was killed by an Israeli airstrike on Gaza on December 7, 2023. (Photo: American Friends Service Committee)

“Refaat Alareer embraced everything good and pure about Gaza and Palestine,” said one friend. “He will not be forgotten and his legacy will live on for many generations to come.”

Human rights defenders around the world expressed anguish and outrage Thursday after Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian professor who was one of Gaza’s most prominent writers and activists, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in Shejaiya that also killed his brother, sister, and her four children.

Alareer, 44, was “a beloved professor of world literature, comparative literature, Shakespeare, and creative writing at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught since 2007,” noted Literary Hub.

According to the publication:

He was the co-editor of Gaza Unsilenced (2015) and the editor of Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine (2014). Dr. Alareer was also one of the founders of We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating “a new generation of Palestinian writers and thinkers who can bring together a profound change to the Palestinian cause.”

Through his popular Twitter account, “Refaat in Gaza,” Dr. Alareer documented, and forcefully condemned, the ongoing atrocities committed against his people by Israeli forces, as well as the U.S. administrations that have enabled them.


Alareer’s friend and We Are Not Numbers co-founder Ahmed Alnaouqwrote on social media: “[Refaat] authored many books and wrote tens of stories about Gaza. Refaat’s assassination is tragic, painful, and outrageous. It is a huge loss.”

A groundswell of tributes to Alareer flooded social media following the news of his killing.

Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha said, “Breaking, my heart is broken, my friend and colleague Refaat Alareer was killed with his family minutes ago.”

“I don’t want to believe this,” he added. “We both loved to pick strawberries together. I took this photo of him this summer.”

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)—Quaker peace group whoseLight In Gaza anthology featured Alareer’s work—said in a statement that “Refaat was a friend, a mentor, and a father.”

“He built up those around him, helping them envision a different future and encouraging them to speak up for their rights,” AFSC added. “His impact will be felt for generations to come.”

Palestinian journalist Hebh Jamal wrote: “You killed my friend. Someone I kept praying would stay safe. Someone I messaged daily [because] his resilience gave me hope.”

“He laughed in the face of the genocidal maniacs every day he stayed alive never allowing them to think he was afraid,” she added. “You killed him. You killed Refaat Alareer.”

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein said she is “absolutely sickened by this loss.”

“I was just now on his site reading his beautiful poetry,” she added. “I feel such shame.”

The Chicago-based website The Electronic Intifadasaid on social media it is “devastated by Israel’s murder of our dear colleague, friend, and mentor.”

“Throughout this genocide, Refaat never stopped writing, supporting his students, and bringing Gaza’s voice to the world,” the site added. “We will make sure it continues to be heard.”

Journalist and filmmaker Dan Cohen wrote that “I’m in tears and sick to my stomach as I write this.”

“Refaat was a guiding light as I documented life and death for my documentary, Killing Gaza,” he continued. “He helped me gain access to elders in his neighborhood who provided testimony of shocking Israeli war crimes.”

“Refaat Alareer embraced everything good and pure about Gaza and Palestine,” Cohen added. “He will not be forgotten and his legacy will live on for many generations to come.”

Last month, Alareer posted one of his poems, “If I Must Die,” on social media.

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale.

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December 9, 2023

Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement

“Wisconsin All Out For Palestine”
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 1 p.m
State Capitol, Madison, WI

Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine (WCJP), representing more than 50 organizations throughout the State, sponsors the “Wisconsin All Out For Palestine” rally and march on Saturday, December 9 at the Capitol. We welcome all to join in voicing our urgent demands. This family-friendly event begins at 1 pm at the Capitol.

Our diversity of speakers demonstrates widespread opposition to US policies toward Palestine and the whole region. Coalition convener Janan Najeeb joins speakers from co-founding organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, and Milwaukee Muslim Women Coalition, as well as representatives from Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ+, Labor, and other BIPOC and workers’ communities Coalition demands:

  • Permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Lift the siege of Gaza
  • End all USA aid to Israel
  • End Israeli occupation of Palestine
  • End criminalization of speech in support of Palestine
  • Free all political prisoners in Israeli prisons
  • Reparations and reconstruction for Gaza

The WCJP was formed on Oct 8 in response to Israel’s declaration of war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, where civilian deaths and injuries have reached a level without historic precedent. The UN Secretary-General declared, “Palestinians in Gaza are suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Almost 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes – but nowhere is safe.”


The UN Executive Director on Women, Sima Bahous, estimates 67% of the civilians killed are women and children. She concluded, “Women and girls are paying the biggest price. Two mothers were killed every hour, seven women every two hours.” Thousands of women deliver babies in Gazan hospitals without adequate water, medicines, or energy to power medical equipment. Women undergo dangerous c-sections without anesthesia or antibiotics. No incubators or formula are available for the hundreds of babies who lost their mothers.

Half of all housing units in Gaza are damaged or destroyed by US-supplied planes flown by the Israeli military, with more than a million people internally displaced. President Biden signed off on brutal bombing campaigns, including targeting the remaining Gazan hospitals housing refugees, and injured and ill people. This inhumane destruction inflicted on a civilian population must end.

For seventy-five years, the government of Israel forcibly expanded an apartheid regime, destroying Palestinian homes and villages, stealing Palestinian land, and segregating and fragmenting Palestinian families and communities. Palestinians are killed with impunity, leaving the entire populace in a state of constant fear and insecurity.

This year, under the most racist, far-right government in Israeli history, the theft of Palestinian lands accelerated at a furious pace. Heavily armed Jewish settlers, living in hundreds of illegal settlements on stolen lands, killed countless Palestinians and terrorized communities, while Israeli Occupation Forces protected the aggressors. Israeli forces repeatedly storm the holiest Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem. These wanton human rights abuses must stop!

The events of October 7, 2023, did not happen in a vacuum. They were the result of decades of brutal oppression, starvation, surveillance, imposed poverty, mass incarceration, and frequent bombardment. Resistance to oppression is not terrorism. The United Nations affirms the right to self-determination and the right to a people under foreign occupation to resist the occupiers. Palestinians fight for liberation, self-determination, and the right to return to their land. The Palestinian struggle is akin to the Black struggle in apartheid South Africa. The actions of the Israeli government are akin to the US Government’s treatment of the Native American population. Seventy-five years of oppressive occupation must end!

While the Israeli government wages a genocidal war in Gaza under the guidance of the Biden administration and with the support of most Wisconsin Senators and Representatives, we stand in solidarity to demand change. We stand in unity to say “Never again for anyone!” We stand together to demand our federal and state representatives position themselves on the right side of history.

Special interests and lobbies must not displace the just demands of the public. We stand in solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people and in recognition of the tens of thousands of Palestinians killed to maintain Israel’s brutal apartheid system. We are a broad representation of Wisconsin people who will not rest until Palestine is free – from the river to the sea!


Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine

December 8, 2023
Join the next USCPR Power Hour for Palestine

THIS FRIDAY, December 8, at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT
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🚨TELL CONGRESS: Demand a #CeasefireNOW!

60 members of Congress have called for a ceasefire. We must demand a PERMANENT ceasefire now, and we must demand that Congress #StopArmingIsrael.
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