When dreams are arrested: Students stuck in Gaza at the Rafah crossing

Esraa Yaseen, Mondoweiss, November 5, 2013

The Rafah border crossing. (Image via RafahToday.org)The Rafah border crossing. (Image via RafahToday.org)

I was supposed to be in Egypt on Sunday October 27 to start my trip to Doha along with a distinctive group of Palestinian students. We were planning to attend the WISE conference. We spent three months preparing for it to speak on behalf of educated students in the Gaza Strip. (WISE is an annual conference organized by the Qatar Foundation in Doha and it refers to “world innovation summit for education.)

We dreamed of unforgettable days. My passport, with its very distinguished sentence– “valid for all countries”– written inside it was kept under my pillow for days. I was thinking of myself everyday looking prettier and more glorious and confident when holding my country and people’s message. I thought that this event will make my year. I once saw myself at the airport then in the plane flying between clouds. I might be exaggerating, but honestly this is the logic of a girl who has her dreams hovering over the world yet restrained by borders.

I was expecting a lot to happen as I live in Gaza, the city where disappointments always pop up from everywhere, bringing out the fact that our passport is not valid to any country. The unacceptable fact was that not one of us was able to get out of Rafah crossing. This is the message we have received:

“Due to the critical security situation in Egypt that keeps deteriorating, I regret to tell you that the Trip to WISE Conference has been cancelled.”

For those who do not know a lot about Gaza, the only two ways to leave to the other side of the world are Erez checkpoint and Rafah crossing. The first one is totally controlled by the Israeli occupation who decide who can enter or leave. The other one is controlled by Egypt, where no one can pass but students who are at risk of losing their studies or people who are on critical health condition.

The situation in Rafah crossing is worsening due to lots of restrictions; if someone wants to leave Gaza, there are two main risks he has to consider: the dangerous situation in Egypt and the way back to Gaza. I do not know why the Palestinians always have to be punished. Don’t we deserve to live, move, have our human rights like any person in the world?

Monday at 01:55 was supposed to be the time of our departure on the plane. It took off but we didn’t. I wished to tell people in Doha to put Legion of Honor on our seats, for we should have been there, if the world did not have this attitude.

After feeling sorry for missing the WISE conference, I am now a bit better as we have had a chance to attend by video conference. We felt happy to participate in some of the WISE sessions, even though it was not a physical attendance. In reality, sending our message from Gaza was the most important for us!

Speakers mentioned our empty seats and appreciated our struggle to attend. Our absence has made sense. We sent the message of our Palestinian people that we do not know to give up. We only know the meaning of life that we should live in all its meaning.

Esraa Yaseen is a 22-year-old studying computer engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza.

How does Palestine’s economy work?


Its legal status is contested, its land is divided and thousands of its citizens emigrate every year – so how does Palestine’s economy function?

A Palestinian labourer works at a construction site of a residential project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Photograph: Said Khatib/Getty Images

Mona Chalabi, The Guardian, 14 October 2013

These days, the economic health of any country relies on that of others – but the Palestinian Territories are exceptionally dependent on factors outside of them. On what do Palestinian economic fortunes rely on and how does the future look?

Israel

Israeli occupation in Palestinian territories, the barrier it has constructed along and within the West Bank as well as its land, air and sea blockades in the Gaza strip have placed severe limitations on the success of Palestinian economic policies.

A complex web of checkpoints and roadblocks make it difficult for Palestinians to travel within the Palestinian Territories for jobs, to bank or to trade. Farmers whose land is now behind the barrier are required to apply for ‘visitor permits’ which Israel regularly rejects – in Akkaba it approved 49% of applications in 2011, and just 20% by 2012. More recently, a report from the World Bank found that Israeli restrictions in the West Bank alone cost the Palestinian economy $3.4bn (£2.1bn) a year, or 35% of its GDP.

Image: Visualizing Palestine.

Israel may have policies that hamper the Palestinian economy, but it is also a major source of Palestinian livelihoods. Unemployment is exceptionally high in the West Bank and the Gaza strip where almost 1 in 4 adults are jobless. According to the latest report from the International Labour Office, some 87,000 Palestinians aged over 15 (around 10% of all those with jobs) are employed in Israel and its settlements.

The majority of these Palestinians are employed in the construction sector, followed by manufacturing and agriculture – all of which tend to be characterised by insecurity. A survey by Palestine’s main trade union found that only 11% of workers in Israeli settlements said they had job security, over half received less than the minimum wage and 65% had been exposed to toxic substances.

Palestinian authority

Corruption is rampant inside many of Palestine’s institutions. In its latest report, the Coalition for Integrity and Accountability (part of the Transparency International Secretariat) produced a catalogue of corruption cases within Palestine’s public bodies. In just over six months, the Corruption Crimes Court received 41 cases, which they say:

included embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, and exploitation of position for personal gain. Those involved in these crimes were high-level employees, such as heads of government divisions, who were conspiring with lower and intermediate level employees.

Pharmaceutical companies and their agents have also been accused of distributing expired food and medicine – though the risks of obtaining evidence on this means that often these crimes go unpunished.

In a 2012 opinion poll, 40% of Palestinians said they had used various forms of corruption to receive a certain public service. In 2011, 47 thousand traffic tickets had not been paid and tax evasion represented 40% of all tax revenues.

Image: AMAN. Ministries most prone to corruption in Palestine during 2012

Palestinian diaspora

The estimated one million Palestinians who have emigrated since 1948 (as well as their children) serve as a vital lifeline for Palestinians who remain in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As a percentage of its GDP, the Palestinian territories are one of the most dependent economies in the world on remittances. The latest data from IMF in 2010 shows US$ 431m being transferred by workers employed abroad.

Get the numbers and get involved

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Mona Chalabi is teaching a Masterclass, Mastering spreadsheets: how to work with data, at the Guardian’s London offices on 26-27 October. Learn more and book

Rafah Prep School Water Filter

Girls Preparatory School A, Rafah

A gift from the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and others, Dedicated to Karin Sandvik


 

More on the Maia Project from the Middle East Children’s Alliance:

  • Completed Maia Project Water Purification and Desalination Units, January 2014
  • Maia Project Photo Album
  •  

    World Bank Report on Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy

    World Bank Report No. AUS2922
    October 2, 2013

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    i. Restrictions on economic activity in Area C of the West Bank have been particularly detrimental to the Palestinian economy. Area C constitutes about 61 percent of the West Bank territory. It is defined by the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as “areas of the West Bank outside Areas A and B, which, except for the issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, will be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction in accordance with this Agreement”.1 According to the Interim Agreement, the gradual transfer should have been completed by 1997.2 However, it has not been implemented as envisaged in the Interim Agreement3 and in the meantime, access to this area for most kinds of economic activity has been severely limited. Yet, the potential contribution of Area C to the Palestinian economy is large. Area C is richly endowed with natural resources and it is contiguous, whereas Areas A and B are smaller territorial islands. The manner in which Area C is currently administered virtually precludes Palestinian businesses from investing there.

    ii. Mobilizing the Area C potential would help a faltering Palestinian economy. The Palestinian economy has experienced strong growth in recent years, fuelled by large inflows of donor budget support, some easing of the Israeli movement restrictions that intensified during the second intifada, and a PA reform program. By 2012, however, foreign budget support had declined by more than half, and GDP growth has fallen from 9 percent in 2008-11 to 5.9 percent by 2012 and to 1.9 percent in the first half of 2013 (with negative growth of – 0.1 percent in the West Bank).

    iii. This slowdown has exposed the distorted nature of the economy and its artificial reliance on donor-financed consumption. For a small open economy, prosperity requires a strong tradable sector with the ability to compete in the global marketplace. The faltering nature of the peace process and the persistence of administrative restrictions as well as others on trade, movement and access have had a dampening effect on private investment and private sector activity. Private investment has averaged a mere 15 percent of GDP over the past seven years, compared with rates of over 25 percent in vigorous middle income countries. The manufacturing sector, usually a key driver of export-led growth, has stagnated since 1994, its share in GDP falling from 19 percent to 10 percent by 2011. Nor has manufacturing been replaced by high value-added service exports like Information Technology (IT) or tourism, as might have been expected. Much of the meager investment has been channeled into internal trade and real estate development, neither of which generates significant employment. Consequently, unemployment rates have remained very high in the Palestinian territories and are currently about 22 percent – with almost a quarter of the workforce employed by the Palestinian Authority, an unhealthy proportion that reflects the lack of dynamism in the private sector. While the unsettled political environment and internal Palestinian political divisions have contributed to investor aversion to the Palestinian territories, Israeli restrictions on trade, movement and access have been seen as the dominant deterrent.

    iv. Area C is key to future Palestinian economic development. The decisive negative economic impact of Israeli restrictions has been analyzed in many reports produced by the World Bank and other development agencies over the past decade, and Israel’s rationale for them – that they are necessary to protect Israeli citizens – is also well-known. Within this setting, Area C is particularly important because it is either off limits for Palestinian economic activity, or only accessible with considerable difficulty and often at prohibitive cost. Since Area C is where the majority of the West Bank’s natural resources lie, the impact of these restrictions on the Palestinian economy has been considerable. Thus, the key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of these restrictions with due regard for Israel’s security. As this report shows, rolling back the restrictions would bring substantial benefits to the Palestinian economy and could usher in a new period of increasing Palestinian GDP and substantially improved prospects for sustained growth.

    v. This report examines the economic benefits of lifting the restrictions on movement and access as well as other administrative obstacles to Palestinian investment and economic activity in Area C. It focuses on the economic potential of Area C and does not prejudge the status of any territory which may be subject to negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. We examine potential direct, sector-specific benefits, but also indirect benefits related to improvements in physical and institutional infrastructure, as well as spillover effects to other sectors of the Palestinian economy. The sectors we examine are agriculture, Dead Sea minerals exploitation, stone mining and quarrying, construction, tourism, telecommunications and cosmetics. To do so, we have assumed that the various physical, legal, regulatory and bureaucratic constraints that currently prevent investors from obtaining construction permits, and accessing land and water resources are lifted, as envisaged under the Interim Agreement. We then estimate potential production and value added, using deliberately conservative assumptions – and avoid quantification where data are inadequate (as with cosmetics, for example, or for tourism other than that of Dead Sea resorts). It is understood that realizing the full potential of such investments requires other changes as well – first, the rolling back of the movement and access restrictions in force outside Area C, which prevent the easy export of Palestinian products and inhibit tourists and investors from accessing Area C; and second, further reforms by the Palestinian Authority to better enable potential investors to register businesses, enforce contracts, and acquire finance.


    1 The 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Article XI, Para 3(c). 2 See Interim Agreement Article XI, para 2(d) according to which the redeployment of the Israeli military forces from the West Bank and Gaza, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, should have been completed within 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Palestinian Legislative Council which took place on 7 March, 1996. 3 The Wye River Memorandum signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel on October 23, 1998 included further arrangements regarding Israeli redeployment from Area C. However, the implementation of the Memorandum was very limited and only 2 percent of Area C was transferred to the status of Area B.
    2 See Interim Agreement Article XI, para 2(d) according to which the redeployment of the Israeli military forces from the West Bank and Gaza, except for issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, should have been completed within 18 months from the date of the inauguration of the Palestinian Legislative Council which took place on 7 March, 1996.
    3 The Wye River Memorandum signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Government of Israel on October 23, 1998 included further arrangements regarding Israeli redeployment from Area C. However, the implementation of the Memorandum was very limited and only 2 percent of Area C was transferred to the status of Area B.

    October 12, 2013
    Rachel Corrie Library Benefit

    Saturday, October 12th 2013
    1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
    High Noon Saloon
    $5 Suggested Donation

    Music con Brio w/ special guest Yid Vicious, Intemperance Collective

    Family Friendly Benefit/fundraiser with proceeds going to the Rachel Corrie Library Center in Rafah. There will also be a craft sale to raise extra funds for the library.

    Please Join us for a Saturday afternoon of music and dance to raise funds for the renovation of the library at the Rachel Corrie Youth Center in Rafah, Palestine! While on a delegation to the Gaza Strip in late 2012, MRSCP members toured the youth center, which provides badly-needed educational and recreational opportunities for Rafah’s children. They were shown an empty library room that needs to be furnished with chairs, shelves, desks, a computer and printer. MRSCP gladly accepted this project and has raised over $3000 of the $3990 goal!

    Yid Vicious has been engaging and delighting audiences throughout the Midwest since 1995. The group has released four CDs and has received numerous Madison Area Music Awards for its unique blend of traditional and contemporary klezmer. In 2009, Yid Vicious became the first performing arts ensemble in Wisconsin to receive a USArtists International grant, to perform at Argentina’s KlezFiesta, an international klezmer festival spanning three cities and including bands from ten countries. In 2006, Yid Vicious toured Chiba Prefecture, Japan as part of the Wisconsin-Chiba Sister State Goodwill Delegation. Yid Vicious is committed to keeping traditional klezmer music and dance alive, and collaborates frequently with internationally renowned klezmer dance instructor Steve Weintraub. The group has participated in the New York-based “KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program”, and was a featured performer at the “KlezKamp Roadshow” directed by Yiddish scholar Henry Sapoznik at the University of Wisconsin in April 2009. Yid Vicious has presented concerts, workshops, and clinics at performing arts centers, cultural festivals, universities, and K-12 schools in Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan, and has performed to statewide audiences on Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television.

    Stephen Zunes On U.S. Involvement In Syria

    WORT 89.9FM Madison

    Regardless of the position taken Syrian involvement, it is important to analyze all of the factors and possible consequences of action or lack thereof. On Thursday September 12th, our host Allen Ruff talked with Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, about one of his latest articles for Truthout.

    Ruff and Zunes gave us an update on Syria as well as where the United States stands on involvement with Syria. Zunes also stressed the importance of Congress and their role to help stop plans of attacking Syria.“The decision by President Barack Obama to first seek congressional approval of any US military action against Syria is good and important, not only on constitutional grounds but because it gives the American people an opportunity to stop it. It is critically important to convince members of Congress not to grant the president that authority.”- Stephen Zunes in Eight Arguments Against Going to War with Syria.

    A Public Affair is WORT’s daily hour-long talk program. It aims to engage listeners in a conversation on social, cultural, and political issues of importance. The guests range from local activists and scholars to notable national and international figures.

    Quakers Call For Israel Boycott & Divestment

    Breakthrough! Quakers Spanning 3 States Call For Boycott & Divestment

    Anna Baltzer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation National Organizer, September 4th, 2013

    Quakers Call for Boycott & Divestment!
    Quakers call for boycott & divestment!

    Exciting news! Lake Erie Yearly Meeting, a regional Quaker organization encompassing Ohio, Michigan, and Western Pennsylvania, has become the first Quaker Yearly Meeting to officially endorse boycott and divestment targeting companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. The recently adopted minute states:

    “Lake Erie Yearly Meeting calls for Friends to join the boycott of products made in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements and to divest from companies that support Israel’s military occupation and repression of the Palestinian people.”

    Congratulations to member organization Palestine-Israel Action Group of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting and the many others who helped achieve this breakthrough, the latest in a string of Quaker decisions and actions in support of Palestinian rights, including (click here for a complete list):

    • Last year, the Friends Fiduciary Corporation, which manages more than 300 Quaker institutions, divested more than $1.2 million in holdings of Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Veolia following advocacy by Ann Arbor Friends working for Palestinian rights.
    • The American Friends Service Committee implemented a screen banning investment in 29 companies that benefit from the Israeli occupation. Earlier this year, the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. unanimously adopted the same screen!
    • Illinois Yearly Meeting, Blue River Quarterly Meeting, St. Louis Monthly Meeting and Colorado Springs Monthly Meeting all came out in support of the We Divest Campaign (check out the new website!) urging financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from the Israeli occupation.

    Now, the U.S. Quakers are setting their sights on Israel’s illegal settlement products.

    Inspired by the breakthrough, and with support from the US Campaign, Quakers nationwide are forming a new national group, Quaker Palestine Israel Network (QPIN) to further Friends’ support for Palestinian freedom through boycott and divestment campaigns. Are you a Quaker or do you know someone who is? Invite them to click here to join QPIN during this exciting, pivotal moment!

    Likewise, inspired by the MCC-U.S. decision to go occupation-free, Mennonites have organized the new Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (Menno-PIN)!

    Boycott SodaStreamClick to sign the Interfaith SodaStream Boycott petition: “Thirsting for Justice”

    QPIN and Menno-PIN could soon be the newest members of the Interfaith Boycott Coalition, a network of the US Campaign, which launched a campaign earlier this year to boycott SodaStream, an Israeli settlement product. If you haven’t yet, sign the “Thirsting for Justice” petition to show your support for the Interfaith SodaStream Boycott.

    Faith-based organizing and SodaStream boycotts will be just two of the many topics covered at the US Campaign’s 12th Annual National Organizers’ Conference September 20-22 — less than three weeks away! — at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. Have you registered yet?

    This year, our conference theme is joint struggle and how we can connect our work for Palestinian rights with other movements for social justice. It’s a time when activists from member groups working on campaigns nationwide can come together to network and share skills, strategies and tactics. From creative protest to getting an op-ed published, from understanding the opposition and “green-washing” to understanding the legal details of boycott and divestment, this conference is one you won’t want to miss!
    P.S. — Special Offer! If you’re one of the next 20 people to register for the conference before this Friday, you will get a free copy of our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner’s book Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace. And he will sign it for you at the conference!

    Anthony Bahl Obituary

    Anthony “Tony” Joseph Bahl, age 72, of Chicago, died peacefully on August 1st after a courageous battle with Mesothelioma surrounded by his daughters, Michele Bahl of Madison, WI, and Amy Lee of Chicago, and son-in-law Brendan Lee.

    Tony was a dedicated high school English teacher and a steadfast social justice advocate and longtime participant at the College of the Complexes. However, most of all, he was a tremendous friend, father, and grandfather to his two grandchildren, Bella (2) and Dylan (3). Tony touched so many people by his generous and empathetic spirit.

    Tony is preceded in passing by his late wife Judith (Hutensky) Bahl of Waterbury, CT. In addition to his children and grandchildren, Tony is survived by his siblings Mary Ellen (Jerry) White, Ruth Ann (Richard) Vaske, Virginia (David) Burget, Andrew (Marie) Bahl, and Kathryn (Michael) Shareck. Two sisters, Margaret and Cecilia, preceded Tony in death. A private memorial service will be held in September.

    In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Tony’s name to Madison Rafah Sister City Project, P.O. Box 55371, Madison, WI, 53705.

    Published by the Chicago Tribune Media Group on Aug. 4, 2013

    It’s Kosher to Boycott Israeli Goods

    Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, July 1, 2013

    An extensive list of 153 signatories from 24 different countries (below and at http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/150-orgs-stand-french-repression-11117) have signed a solidarity message in support of French activists on trial for their BDS campaigning work.

    Updates about the trial and demonstrations outside are being posted on twitter hashtag #solidariteprocesbds and on the BDSmovement.net website.

    Here is the message as circulated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

    International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression

    June 26 2013 – As more than 150 Palestine solidarity and social justice organizations from across the world, we stand in solidarity with all of the French campaigners for Palestinian rights facing legal action and repression for participating in demonstrations calling for a boycott of Israel.

    French campaigners have faced criminal charges for their solidarity activity since 2009. Despite a previous ruling that advocating boycott is not illegal and should be permitted as part of the right to freedom of speech, three activists were brought to trial earlier this month in Perpignan, seven more will attend court on June 27 in Alencon and further trials will take place later this year.

    In all of these cases, campaigners have been charged with “incitement, provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons, due to their ethnicity, race, religion or nation” following their participation in actions at supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

    This misuse of anti-discrimination law is part of a wider attack on solidarity with the Palestinian people. French pro-Israel organizations are plaintiffs in many of the cases against boycott activists and have successfully pressured the French government to support repression of solidarity activity. In 2010, then justice minister Michèle Alliot Marie ordered prosecutors to press charges against boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists. Police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at protests calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was deployed to stop protests at a basketball match involving an Israeli team that took place in France.

    Alarmed by the growth of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the BDS movement in particular, Israel and leading Israeli think tanks have made clear their desire to sabotage and disrupt solidarity activism. Senior Israeli foreign ministry official Amir Sagie recently admitted that the Israeli government has been “investing heavily” in legal warfare against BDS in France and other European countries.

    To Bernard, Jeanne, Yamina, Alain, Chantal, Christine Francis, Jo, Nicole and Pierre, to all those facing criminal charges and the whole of the French movement: we stand with you.

    While we cannot be with you as you demonstrate outside the court at the start of the next trial on June 27, we express our full support for your efforts to build solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of state repression. We cannot allow Israel to export its attacks on basic freedoms to Europe or anywhere else.

    Inspired by the steadfastness of the Palestinian struggle and the resolve of the French BDS movement, we pledge to continue to work with the BDS movement in France to support their efforts to resist oppression and to continue to build the international movement for a boycott of Israel.

    Australians for Palestine, Australia
    Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Belgium
    Palestina Solidariteit, Belgium
    Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
    Vrede vzw, Belgium
    Anel – Assembleia Nacional dos Estudantes – Livre!, Brazil
    Ciranda Internacional de Comunicação Compartilhada, Brazil
    CSP-Conlutas – Central Sindical e Popular, Brazil
    CUT – Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Brazil
    Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino-SP, Brazil
    Front of solidarity with the Palestinian people – Sao Paulo, Brazil
    MML – Movimento Mulheres em Luta, Brazil
    PSTU – Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado, Brazil
    Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos, Brazil
    Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver, Canada
    Canada Palestine Association, Canada
    Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada
    Seriously Free Speech Committee – Vancouver, Canada
    ICAHD Finland, Finland
    BDS Berlin, Germany
    InCACBI (Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), India
    Palestine Solidarity Committee in India, India

    Irish Friends of Palestine, Derry, Ireland
    Derry Stop the Wall Coalition, Ireland
    Derry to Gaza, Ireland
    Gaza Action Ireland, Ireland
    Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland
    Peace & Neutrality Alliance, Ireland
    Trade Union Friends of Palestine (ICTU), Ireland
    Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, Israel
    100 idee per la pace, Siena, Italy
    BDS Italia, Italy
    BDS Milano, Italy
    BDS Milano, Italy
    BDS Trieste, Trieste, Italy
    Castelli per la Palestina, Rocca Priora, Italy
    Comitato BDS Campania, Napoli, Italia
    Coordinamento Campagna BDS Bologna, Italy
    Forum Palestina, Italy
    Gruppo BDS Roma, Italy
    ISM, – Milano, Italy
    Parallelo Palestina, Italy
    private, Italy
    Rete di Solidarietà con la Palestina – Milano, Italy
    Rete Romana di Solidarietà al Popolo Palestinese, Italy
    U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice – Rome, Italy
    Un Ponte per, Italy
    Artists Against Occupation, Japan
    Palestine Forum Japan, Japan
    Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
    Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK), Netherlands
    Service and Research Centre for Palestine (docP), Netherlands
    The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Norway
    Alternative Information Center (AIC), Palestine
    Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Palestine
    Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Poland
    Edinburgh Students For Justice in Palestine, Scotland
    Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scotland
    We are all Hana Shalabi, Scotland
    Students for Palestinian Rights – Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland
    BDS South Africa, South Africa
    Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, South Korea
    Al-Quds Málaga, Málaga, Spain
    Asociacion Al Quds, Spain
    Asociación de Amistad Palestina-Granada Turab, Spain
    Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe, Spain
    Junts Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins,, Spain
    La Comuna Presxs del franquismo/ Fed.Castilla y Leon, Burgos, España
    Plataforma solidaria con Palestina en Valladolid, Spain
    Red Solidaria contra la ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP), Spain
    SODePAZ, Spain
    Taula per Palestina, Palma, Spain
    BDS Schweiz, Switzerland
    BDS Zürich Switzerland, Switzerland
    Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in Palästina Bern, Switzerland
    BDS Thailand, Thailand
    All African Women’s Group, London, UK
    Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), UK
    Global Women’s Strike, London, UK
    ICAHD UK, UK
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, UK
    Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK
    Legal Action for Women, London, UK
    Liverpool Friends of Palestine, UK
    Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
    Payday Men’s Network, UK
    Portsmouth & South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
    Queer Strike, UK
    Shalimar, UK
    War on Want, UK
    Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, UK
    14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, US
    Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, US
    Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Oregon, US
    American Iranian Friendship Comte (AIFC), New York, US
    Bay Area Women in Black, US
    Bard Students for Justice in the Middle East, Annandale-on-Hudson, US
    BDS Los Angeles, US
    Boulder Palestine Film Festival, US
    Boulder WILPF, US
    Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy, US
    Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, US
    Chico Palestine Action Group, US
    CODEPINK Women for Peace, US
    Colorado BDS Campaign, Colorado, US
    Cornell SJP, US
    Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Corvallis, Oregan, US
    CU-Divest!, Colorado, US
    Culture and Conflict Forum, US
    Free Palestine Movement, California, US
    Friends of Palestine Wisconsin, US
    Friends of Sabeel-North America, US
    Guilford College Students for Justice in Palestine, US
    Interdenominational Advocates for Peace, US
    Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Texas, US
    International Solidarity Movement – Northern California, US
    Israel Palestine Task Force CA/NV Conference United Methodist Church, US
    Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, US
    Justice for Palestinians, California, US
    Labor for Palestine, US
    Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Oredan, US
    National Lawyers Guild – Free Palestine Subcommittee, US
    National Lawyers Guild – International Committee, US
    NorCal Friends of Sabeel, US
    North Coast Coalition for Palestine, US
    North Texas BDS, US
    Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Wisconsin, US
    Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Minneapolis, US
    Middle East Peace Now, Minneapolis, US
    Minnesota Anti-War Cpmmittee, Minneapolis, US
    Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), US
    Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago, US
    Palestine Study Group Peace and Social Justice Center, US
    Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County, US
    Payday Men’s Network US, US
    Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, US
    Peace Panel Project, US
    Salaam Shalom, North Carolina, US
    St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College, US
    Tiffin Area Pax Christi, US
    Tucson Women In Black, US
    Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility United Church of Christ, Tennessee, USA
    University of Denver Students for Justice in Palestine, US
    US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, US
    US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US
    Vancouver for Peace, US
    Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, Vermont, US
    WESPAC Foundation, New York, US
    WI Middle East Lobby Group, US

    McDonald’s Israel rejects West Bank branch proposal


    Burger Ranch, a rival, announced it would open a branch in Ariel “for the glory of the state of Israel”

    Israelis eat at a kosher McDonald’s restaurant in Tel Aviv. Photograph: Getty Images

    Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem, The Guardian, 27 June 2013

    McDonald’s has refused to open a branch in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank in a move that swiftly prompted calls from settler organisations for a boycott of its restaurants.

    McDonald’s, which has 180 outlets in Israel and dominates the domestic fast-food industry, declined an offer to open a restaurant in a shopping mall under construction in Ariel, a vast settlement which juts deep inside the West Bank.

    The Israeli-owned franchise rejected the invitation, citing a long-term policy not to operate across the pre-1967 green line. “This has always been the policy of Dr Omri Padan [the franchise owner],” McDonald’s said. Padan, chief executive of McDonald’s Israel, was a founding member of Peace Now, the anti-settlement organisation.

    Settlers’ representatives condemned the move. “McDonald’s has turned from a business into an organisation with an anti-Israeli political agenda,” Yigal Delmonti of the Yesha Council, a settlement umbrella organisation, told the Jerusalem Post. “We expect that Israeli citizens, especially those living in Judea and Samaria [the biblical term for the West Bank], will take this into account before entering the company’s franchises.”

    The mayor of Ariel, Eliyahu Shaviro, told Ma’ariv: “The decision by McDonald’s not to open a branch in the Ariel mall is an unfortunate decision that discriminates against the residents of the city.”

    Aerial view of Ariel, West Bank. McDonald’s rival Burger Ranch plans to open a branch in the mall ‘for the glory of the state of Israel’. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

    Two members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, Ayelet Shaked and Zvulan Kalfa of the rightwing Jewish Home party, said they would boycott the burger chain.

    Burger Ranch, McDonald’s main rival, announced it would open a branch in the Ariel mall “for the glory of the state of Israel”.

    But Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now said: “In every democratic country, every person or company has the right to choose not to go against their values, ideology or morals. The decision of McDonald’s reflects this and we support it.”

    He said Israeli businesses were under pressure to invest and operate in the West Bank, and “it’s important to advocate the right to choose. Companies cannot be forced to assist settlers”.

    Padan was no longer active in Peace Now, he added, but had consistently refused to operate in West Bank settlements.

    The Israeli government expects Ariel, home to about 20,000 settlers, to be on its side of a future border. But because it stretches from the green line halfway across the West Bank, almost reaching the Jordan valley, Palestinian officials say its inclusion in the state of Israel would virtually bisect a future Palestinian state. All settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.

    In December Israel’s first settlement university was authorised in Ariel when the government upgraded a college. Some 165 Israeli academics had earlier called for a boycott of the university.

    A state-funded arts centre, which opened in Ariel in 2012, has also been the subject of a cultural boycott. About 60 Israeli actors refused to appear at the Ariel Centre for Performing Arts, saying they did not wish to “strengthen the settlement enterprise”.

    150 organizations join with BDS activists in France

    US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, June 26, 2013

    france-bds

    USACBI is a signatory of the following statement in solidarity with BDS activists in France facing repression and criminal charges for their organizing for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

    International solidarity with French BDS activists facing repression

    http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/150-orgs-stand-french-repression-11117

    June 26 2013 – As more than 150 Palestine solidarity and social justice organizations from across the world, we stand in solidarity with all of the French campaigners for Palestinian rights facing legal action and repression for participating in demonstrations calling for a boycott of Israel.

    French campaigners have faced criminal charges for their solidarity activity since 2009. Despite a previous ruling that advocating boycott is not illegal and should be permitted as part of the right to freedom of speech, three activists were brought to trial earlier this month in Perpignan, seven more will attend court on June 27 in Alencon and further trials will take place later this year.

    In all of these cases, campaigners have been charged with “incitement, provocation to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or group of persons, due to their ethnicity, race, religion or nation” following their participation in actions at supermarkets calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.

    >This misuse of anti-discrimination law is part of a wider attack on solidarity with the Palestinian people. French pro-Israel organizations are plaintiffs in many of the cases against boycott activists and have successfully pressured the French government to support repression of solidarity activity. In 2010, then justice minister Michèle Alliot Marie ordered prosecutors to press charges against boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists. Police regularly demand the names and addresses of those present at protests calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was deployed to stop protests at a basketball match involving an Israeli team that took place in France.

    Alarmed by the growth of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the BDS movement in particular, Israel and leading Israeli think tanks have made clear their desire to sabotage and disrupt solidarity activism. Senior Israeli foreign ministry official Amir Sagie recently admitted that the Israeli government has been “investing heavily” in legal warfare against BDS in France and other European countries.

    To Bernard, Jeanne, Yamina, Alain, Chantal, Christine Francis, Jo, Nicole and Pierre, to all those facing criminal charges and the whole of the Frenchmovement: we stand with you.

    While we cannot be with you as you demonstrate outside the court at the start of the next trial on June 27, we express our full support for your efforts to build solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of state repression. We cannot allow Israel to export its attacks on basic freedoms to Europe or anywhere else.

    Inspired by the steadfastness of the Palestinian struggle and the resolve of the French BDS movement, we pledge to continue to work with the BDSmovement in France to support their efforts to resist oppression and to continue to build the international movement for a boycott of Israel.

    Australians for Palestine, Australia
    Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Belgium
    Palestina Solidariteit, Belgium
    Palestina Solidariteit vzw, Belgium
    Vrede vzw, Belgium
    Anel – Assembleia Nacional dos Estudantes – Livre!, Brazil
    Ciranda Internacional de Comunicação Compartilhada, Brazil
    CSP-Conlutas – Central Sindical e Popular, Brazil
    CUT – Central Única dos Trabalhadores, Brazil
    Frente em Defesa do Povo Palestino-SP, Brazil
    Front of solidarity with the Palestinian people – Sao Paulo, Brazil
    MML – Movimento Mulheres em Luta, Brazil
    PSTU – Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado, Brazil
    Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos de São José dos Campos, Brazil
    Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver, Canada
    Canada Palestine Association, Canada
    Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Canada
    Seriously Free Speech Committee – Vancouver, Canada
    ICAHD Finland, Finland
    BDS Berlin, Germany
    InCACBI (Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel), India
    Palestine Solidarity Committee in India, India
    Irish Friends of Palestine, Derry, Ireland
    Derry Stop the Wall Coalition, Ireland
    Derry to Gaza, Ireland
    Gaza Action Ireland, Ireland
    Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ireland
    Peace & Neutrality Alliance, Ireland
    Trade Union Friends of Palestine (ICTU), Ireland
    Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from Within, Israel
    100 idee per la pace, Siena, Italy
    BDS Italia, Italy
    BDS Milano, Italy
    BDS Milano, Italy
    BDS Trieste, Trieste, Italy
    Castelli per la Palestina, Rocca Priora, Italy
    Comitato BDS Campania, Napoli, Italia
    Coordinamento Campagna BDS Bologna, Italy
    Forum Palestina, Italy
    Gruppo BDS Roma, Italy
    ISM, – Milano, Italy
    Parallelo Palestina, Italy
    private, Italy
    Rete di Solidarietà con la Palestina – Milano, Italy
    Rete Romana di Solidarietà al Popolo Palestinese, Italy
    U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice – Rome, Italy
    Un Ponte per, Italy
    Artists Against Occupation, Japan
    Palestine Forum Japan, Japan
    Comité pour une Paix Juste au Proche-Orient, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
    Netherlands Palestine Committee (NPK), Netherlands
    Service and Research Centre for Palestine (docP), Netherlands
    The Association of Norwegian NGOs for Palestine, Norway
    Alternative Information Center (AIC), Palestine
    Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp, Palestine
    Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Poland
    Edinburgh Students For Justice in Palestine, Scotland
    Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Scotland
    We are all Hana Shalabi, Scotland
    Students for Palestinian Rights – Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland
    BDS South Africa, South Africa
    Palestine Peace & Solidarity in South Korea, South Korea
    Al-Quds Málaga, Málaga, Spain
    Asociacion Al Quds, Spain
    Asociación de Amistad Palestina-Granada Turab, Spain
    Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe, Spain
    Junts Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins,, Spain
    La Comuna Presxs del franquismo/ Fed.Castilla y Leon, Burgos, España
    Plataforma solidaria con Palestina en Valladolid, Spain
    Red Solidaria contra la ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP), Spain
    SODePAZ, Spain
    Taula per Palestina, Palma, Spain
    BDS Schweiz, Switzerland
    BDS Zürich Switzerland, Switzerland
    Gerechtigkeit und Frieden in Palästina Bern, Switzerland
    BDS Thailand, Thailand
    All African Women’s Group, London, UK
    Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), UK
    Global Women’s Strike, London, UK
    ICAHD UK, UK
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, UK
    Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, UK
    Legal Action for Women, London, UK
    Liverpool Friends of Palestine, UK
    Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
    Payday Men’s Network, UK
    Portsmouth & South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign, UK
    Queer Strike, UK
    Shalimar, UK
    War on Want, UK
    Women of Colour in the Global Women’s Strike, UK
    United States
    14 Friends of Palestine, Marin, US
    Al-Awda NY, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, US
    Al-Nakba Awareness Project, Oregon, US
    American Iranian Friendship Comte (AIFC), New York, US
    Bay Area Women in Black, US
    Bard Students for Justice in the Middle East, Annandale-on-Hudson, US
    BDS Los Angeles, US
    Boulder Palestine Film Festival, US
    Boulder WILPF, US
    Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Policy, US
    Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy, US
    Chico Palestine Action Group, US
    CODEPINK Women for Peace, US
    Colorado BDS Campaign, Colorado, US
    Cornell SJP, US
    Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace, Corvallis, Oregan, US
    CU-Divest!, Colorado, US
    Culture and Conflict Forum, US
    Free Palestine Movement, California, US
    Friends of Palestine Wisconsin, US
    Friends of Sabeel-North America, US
    Guilford College Students for Justice in Palestine, US
    Interdenominational Advocates for Peace, US
    Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Texas, US
    International Solidarity Movement – Northern California, US
    Israel Palestine Task Force CA/NV Conference United Methodist Church, US
    Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, US
    Justice for Palestinians, California, US
    Labor for Palestine, US
    Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Oredan, US
    National Lawyers Guild – Free Palestine Subcommittee, US
    National Lawyers Guild – International Committee, US
    NorCal Friends of Sabeel, US
    North Coast Coalition for Palestine, US
    North Texas BDS, US
    Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Wisconsin, US
    Minnesota Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Minneapolis, US
    Middle East Peace Now, Minneapolis, US
    Minnesota Anti-War Cpmmittee, Minneapolis, US
    Palestine Israel Action Group (PIAG), US
    Palestine Solidarity Group – Chicago, US
    Palestine Study Group Peace and Social Justice Center, US
    Palestine-Israel Working Group of Nevada County, US
    Payday Men’s Network US, US
    Peace and Social Justice Center of South Central Kansas, US
    Peace Panel Project, US
    Salaam Shalom, North Carolina, US
    St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at Hunter College, US
    Students for Justice in Palestine at John Jay College, US
    Tiffin Area Pax Christi, US
    Tucson Women In Black, US
    Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility United Church of Christ, Tennessee, USA
    University of Denver Students for Justice in Palestine, US
    US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, US
    US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, US
    Vancouver for Peace, US
    Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel, Vermont, US
    WESPAC Foundation, New York, US
    WI Middle East Lobby Group, US

    April 28, 2013
    Susan Abulhawa Talk in Madison

    Playgrounds for Palestine Annual Benefit Dinner
    Nile Restaurant [Map]
    5:30 pm-8:00 pm

    The Madison chapter of Playgrounds for Palestine is pleased to invite you to attend a talk given by Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian-American writer and political commentator. She is the author of the 2010 international bestselling novel Mornings in Jenin and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine.

    Today and twenty years after the Oslo Peace Accord (in 1993) when the US led a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian, Israel is still unhindered accelerating the settlement construction by creating a new form of apartheid system in the Middle East. The recent “Arab only buses” is an example of the apartheid activity the government of Israel is imposing on Palestinians.

    Susan Abulhawa’s talk will highlight the ongoing practices that the Israeli government and military are perpetrating to exceedingly diminish the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination. The dinner’s funds raised will go toward the completion of our 22nd playground (3rd Madison chapter funded), which will be built in the West Bank.

    A vegetarian menu will be served and includes hummus, falafel, spinach pie, cheese pie, foul (fava beans), lentil soup with spinach, bread, and dessert. Ticket prices are $25 per person at the door, or $22 if paid in advance by Monday, April 22. We are doing our best to keep the dinner cost as affordable as we can; we hope that those who can afford more will consider donating more.

    If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Samir El-Omari at pfpmadison (at) gmail.com or (608) 395-7047 with the number in your party. Space is limited, so we urge you to get your reservation as soon as you can.

    Join us on Facebook: search “causes” for “Playgrounds for Palestine – Madison, WI Chapter

    Playgrounds for Palestine – Madison Chapter
    http://pfpmadison.blogspot.com
    3902 Birch Ave
    Madison, WI 53711