January 26, 2016
“One Book, Many Communities” and Suad Amiry’s Sharon and My Mother-in-Law

Central Library
201 W Mifflin St, Madison
7:00 pm

The first “One Book, Many Communities” event of 2016 will take place next month, focusing on Palestinian architect-humorist-scholar Suad Amiry’s Sharon and My Mother-in-Law.

9781400096497The “One Book, Many Communities” project, coordinated by Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP), is a book club that violates boundaries and borders. It launched in January 2015 with Susan Abulhawa’s Mornings in Jenin.

According to LAP’s Melissa Morrone, the project draws inspiration from “One Book, One Town” initiatives, where people in local communities come together to read and discuss a common book. By contrast, “One Book, Many Communities” is shared across many communities.

Amiry is an internationally recognized author and winner of Italy’s Nonino Prize for Promoting Peace. She has several funny books under her belt, including Golda Slept HereNothing to Lose But Your Life: An 18-Hour Journey with Muradand her popular Sharon and My Mother-in-law.

From the review by Sarah Statz:

Anyone who’s ever dealt with senior citizens or in-laws, even if they haven’t had to do it under military occupation, will recognize and appreciate the brilliance of those [final] six pages. Amiry tells a personal story, using personal forms of communication, but she also provides flashes of the universal. Pretty impressive stuff, and entirely what one would expect from a woman who got through a Jerusalem checkpoint by flashing her dog’s passport and informing a soldier that “I am the driver of this Jerusalem dog.”

Sponsored by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) and Peregrine Forum. For more information contact rafahsistercity [at] yahoo com.

NYC Cultural Boycott Pledge

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, November 17, 2015

Adalah-NY is proud to announce the release of a new short video featuring eight leading artists, all with ties to New York, stating their support for the cultural boycott of Israel and calling on cultural workers to commit to Palestinian rights by pledging to uphold the boycott.

As part of the thoughtful, hopeful, and principled Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and out of respect for Palestinian self-determination, we affirm that “Brand Israel” is not welcome in New York and we commit to upholding the cultural boycott however we can. We will not participate in events sponsored by the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions in New York, Israel, or anywhere else. As a community of New York-based artists and cultural workers, we call on other artists and cultural workers to join this global movement until Israeli occupation, colonization, and apartheid have ended.

November 19, 2015
In Solidarity: From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine

Thursday, November 19, 2015
7 p.m.
Sterling Hall 1310

Ahmed Hamad is a Palestinian activist from Gaza who will be speaking on his personal experiences in occupied Gaza and how living under such oppressive conditions affects the Palestinian people.

Todd St Hill is an organizer with We Charge Genocide’s Cop Watch program, which trains and promotes on-the-ground recording of police activity. St. Hill came to Chicago from Washington, D.C. and will be drawing parallels between police violence in the two cities.

Kathy Villalon is a Ph.D. student here at UW-Madison in Education. She will be speaking on the injustices in Mexico, Ayotzinapa, the US/Mexico border, and Femicidios.

Join us on November 19th at 7pm in Sterling Hall 1310 to hear these three speakers help us see the great intersections between the different struggles.

Sponsored by: WUD – Wisconsin Union Directorate, International Socialist Organization, Muslim Students Association @ UW- Madison, Arab Student Association (UW-Madison), TAA-Palestine Solidarity Caucus, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, All Minds Matter, and Axolote.

John Quinlan Interviews Sahar Abbasi Baidon

John Quinlan, Forward Forum
KSUN Channel 983, November 2, 2015

John Quinlan talks with Sahar Abbasi Baidon, a mother of four and Women and Children Activities Coordinator at the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in East Jerusalem.

Sahar came to Madison on a national tour of Room Number 4, a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem.

She shares stories from her experience and the importance of improving the life of children and women. Kathy Walsh from Madison-Rafah Sister City Project also joins the show to build awareness of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and help bring understanding between the two communities.

‘Most-read’ article at Washington Post calls Israel ‘savage, unrepairable society’

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, October 25, 2015

Assaf Gavron

The leftwing movement of criticism of Israel is getting more and more mainstream by the second. Everyone is walking the path; they’re just getting there a little later. The Washington Post, a hotbed of neoconservative ideas for the last 15 years, has another article harshly critical of Israel today, written by an Israeli. And guess what: that article along with yesterday’s article by the two prestige Jewish academics calling for boycott of Israel are the two “most-read” articles on the Post list this morning!

This one tops the list: novelist Assaf Gavron’s article titled, “Confessions of an Israeli Traitor.” It turns out that Max Blumenthal’s portrait of a rightwing Israel was an accurate one:

The internal discussion in Israel is more militant, threatening and intolerant than it has ever been. Talk has trended toward fundamentalism ever since the Israeli operation in Gaza in late 2008, but it has recently gone from bad to worse. There seems to be only one acceptable voice, orchestrated by the government and its spokespeople, and beamed to all corners of the country by a clan of loyal media outlets drowning out all the others. Those few dissenters who attempt to contradict it — to ask questions, to protest, to represent a different color from this artificial consensus — are ridiculed and patronized at best, threatened, vilified and physically attacked at worst. Israelis not “supporting our troops” are seen as traitors, and newspapers asking questions about the government’s policies and actions are seen as demoralizing…

Facebook pages calling for violence against left-wingers and Arabs appear frequently, and even when they’re taken down, they pop up again in one guise or another. Any sentiment not aligned with the supposed consensus is met with a barrage of racist vitriol. One Facebook group calling itself the Shadow Lions discussed how to disrupt a wedding between an Arab and a Jew, posting the groom’s phone number and urging people to call and harass him. On Twitter and Instagram, hashtags like #leftiesout and #traitorlefties abound. Film director Shira Geffen, who asked her movie audiences for a moment of silence to respect Palestinian children killed in an Israeli offensive, was flayed across Israeli social networks. “Shame,” a new and brilliant play by actress Einat Weitzman, brings to the stage a selection of the hateful comments she received after wearing a T-shirt bearing the Palestinian flag. One example from the play: “If the baby that was murdered was yours I wonder which flag you would put on yourself. Now step on it and get your ugly head back to your tiny apartment and bury yourself from the shame until you die there alone and maybe in your funeral we will ask the Jihad to read verses from the Koran.”

Gavron is in Omaha this year. He denounces Netanyahu’s Holocaust revisionism and the extrajudicial executions by Israeli law enforcement:

what I hear and read from Israel leaves me appalled. Again led by politicians from the right (with the perplexing support of members of the supposed opposition, such as Yair Lapid), then circulated by the sensationalist mainstream media, there has been a unified demonization of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. One recent poll by the newspaper Maariv found that only 19 percent of Israeli Jews think most Arabs oppose the attacks. This past week, the trend reached its absurd peak, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ridiculous claim that Hitler decided to annihilate the Jews only after being advised to do so by Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, the leader of Palestinian Arabs at the time. ..

There have been calls to kill attackers in every situation, in defiance of the law or any accepted rules of engagement for the military. Lapid, for example, said in an interview, “Don’t hesitate. Even at the start of an attack, shooting to kill is correct. If someone is brandishing a knife, shoot him.” Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan also gave his blessing to that notion. And the head of the Jerusalem police department, Moshe Edri, announced, “Anyone who stabs Jews or hurts innocent people is due to be killed.” Knesset member Yinon Magal tweeted that authorities should “make an effort” to kill terrorists who carry out attacks.

Such sentiment has led to incidents like the death in East Jerusalem of Fadi Alloun, suspected of a knife attack but shot by police as they had him surrounded. Sometimes, it backfires: This month, a Jewish vigilante near Haifa stabbed a fellow Israeli Jew who he thought was an Arab. Late Wednesday, soldiers killed an Israeli Jew whom they mistook for a Palestinian attacker.

The low point (so far) was last Sunday night’s lynching of 29-year-old Eritrean asylum seeker Haftom Zarhum…

These events are symptoms of Israel’s soul sickness:

The cumulative effect of this recent mindless violence is hugely disturbing. We seem to be in a fast and alarming downward swirl into a savage, unrepairable society. There is only one way to respond to what’s happening in Israel today: We must stop the occupation.

He understands that Israel is an isolated militaristic society:

No matter how many soldiers we put in the West Bank, or how many houses of terrorists we blow up, or how many stone-throwers we arrest, we don’t have any sense of security; meanwhile, we have become diplomatically isolated, perceived around the world (sometimes correctly) as executioners, liars, racists.

Gavron calls for Israel to end the occupation now because it is destroying Israel. I imagine many liberal Zionists will agree.

But how do you just end the occupation? You don’t. The Jim Crow south didn’t end Jim Crow. You need outsiders to help you. Governments have done nothing of course. So that means civil society, and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

And who knows: soon maybe the Post will run articles by Palestinians describing their experience, Palestinians calling for BDS.

Two establishment Jews endorse boycott of Israel and “single state”

Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, October 24, 2015

Glen Weyl

We’ve long predicted that liberal Zionists will start coming out for boycott because there’s no other peaceful way to end the conflict; and they will even abandon Zionism in the name of a peaceful transition to democracy. This has now happened in the Washington Post: the week after Lawrence Summers tried to hold the line in the Jewish community with an ill-informed speech against boycott in New York, and after J.K. Rowling sought to hold off boycott in England, two young Jewish academics of some standing, Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl, say they are for boycott because they want to save Israel from itself. And that new Israel could be a “single state” with full democratic citizenship for Palestinians.

The piece is titled, “We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel.” Note that Weyl and Levitsky endorse boycott because they “love” Israel and they do not mention the vanguard Palestinian-led movement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, nor the Right of Return, a critical component of the BDS movement. I don’t believe that Palestinian solidarity activists will embrace this move, because it largely ignores their struggle; but for anyone who wants to transform the U.S. discourse and liberate the Jewish community from blindness, it’s welcome.

Open the floodgates. These men have prestige. Levitsky is a 47-year-old Harvard professor and Weyl is a 30-year-old Senior Researcher at Microsoft, though he does not give that i.d. for the piece, just that he is an assistant professor of economics at University of Chicago. Puts Microsoft in a tender position!

The two intellectuals do not deny the rightward trend in Israeli society or the unending occupation. They address it forthrightly. The occupation is now permanent. Boycotting settlements is not enough. Excerpts:

As happened in the cases of Rhodesia and South Africa, Israel’s permanent subjugation of Palestinians will inevitably isolate it from Western democracies….

We are at a critical juncture. Settlement growth and demographic trends will soon overwhelm Israel’s ability to change course. For years, we have supported Israeli governments — even those we strongly disagreed with — in the belief that a secure Israel would act to defend its own long-term interests. That strategy has failed. Israel’s supporters have, tragically, become its enablers. Today, there is no realistic prospect of Israel making the hard choices necessary to ensure its survival as a democratic state in the absence of outside pressure.

For supporters of Israel like us, all viable forms of pressure are painful. The only tools that could plausibly shape Israeli strategic calculations are a withdrawal of U.S. aid and diplomatic support, and boycotts of and divestitures from the Israeli economy. Boycotting only goods produced in settlements would not have sufficient impact to induce Israelis to rethink the status quo.

It is thus, reluctantly but resolutely, that we are refusing to travel to Israel, boycotting products produced there and calling on our universities to divest and our elected representatives to withdraw aid to Israel. Until Israel seriously engages with a peace process that either establishes a sovereign Palestinian state or grants full democratic citizenship to Palestinians living in a single state, we cannot continue to subsidize governments whose actions threaten Israel’s long-term survival.

Israel, of course, is hardly the world’s worst human rights violator. Doesn’t boycotting Israel but not other rights-violating states constitute a double standard? It does. We love Israel, and we are deeply concerned for its survival. We do not feel equally invested in the fate of other states.

Unlike internationally isolated states such as North Korea and Syria, Israel could be significantly affected by a boycott. The Israeli government could not sustain its foolish course without massive U.S. aid, investment, commerce, and moral and diplomatic support.

We recognize that some boycott advocates are driven by opposition to (and even hatred of) Israel. Our motivation is precisely the opposite: love for Israel and a desire to save it.

Repulsed by the Afrikaners’ ethno-religious fanaticism in South Africa, Zionism founder Theodore Herzl wrote, “We don’t want a Boer state, but a Venice.” American Zionists must act to pressure Israel to preserve Herzl’s vision — and to save itself.

I assume the authors’ professions of love for Zionism/Israel are purely tactical, I can’t imagine it ever crossed these guys’ minds that they needed a Jewish state when things got too hot in the U.S. Weyl is the opposite of tribal.

Of course, this piece once again demonstrates the supremacy of Jews in the American discourse of Israel/Palestine. Just as Chuck Schumer and Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Ron Wyden were granted super-voter status by the press during the Iran deal discussions (presumably because of the west’s overriding concern with Jewish safety after the Holocaust, a concern that Israel has manipulated to a fare-thee-well), these two Jewish intellectuals will have far more clout in the U.S. press than the Palestinian-led solidarity movement. That’s unfortunate, and racist. Would we have taken white people’s actions against Jim Crow more seriously than the blacks who had so much more at risk in that struggle? No. But Jews count. We are the big liberals in American discourse, and an outsize presence in the establishment. Yousef Munayyer made the argument against settlement-only boycotts years ago and far more eloquently than these guys, but he’s just a Palestinian who can’t live in Israel, the place he was born, because his wife is a West Bank Palestinian.

But I don’t make the rules, and those are the rules. It’s vital that the Jewish community be liberated so that the American establishment can shift. So this is a very important piece. It will give a lot of elite non-Jews permission to support boycott. And other thoughtful establishment Jews who know the story should follow– Peace Now, Peter Beinart and David Remnick. Terry Gross needs to interview these guys on NPR.

Update: Weyl notes that the authors seek a two-state solution (which would preserve a Jewish state), not a single state.

November 1, 2015
Room No. 4 Photos and Speaker

room no. 4 handcuffed

Sunday, November 1, 2015
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive, Madison
1:00 – 2:30 pm

“They left me in the room for 5 hours with my hands tied behind my back and my legs tied to each other. When I refused to confess, they slapped me and tightened the hand ties more and more.” 15-year-old boy

Room No. 4 is a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem. The 12 staged photos are accompanied by written testimonies from the children themselves. Room No. 4 is the name of the Israeli interrogation room at the Russian Compound Detention Center in Jerusalem. An additional 10 documentary photos of life in occupied East Jerusalem taken by Majd Ghaith will further demonstrate the violations of children’s rights from home demolitions to settler violence.

Come hear from Sahar Abbasi Baidon – Direct from Palestine! Sahar is a mother of four and the deputy director of MECA’s partner, Madaa Silwan Creative Center, in East Jerusalem. Born and raised in Silwan, Sahar and has worked at Madaa focusing on projects to improve life for children and women. She works directly with children who are arrested, and her interviews and research (“The Impact of Child Arrest”, a study published by Sahar and Dr. Kasahun) are the basis for the Room Number 4 photo exhibit.

Free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in hiring a psychologist to help these children.

Sponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. For more information visit MECA or contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com.

Wisconsin Book Festival’s Leila Abdelrazaq And “Baddawi” on WORT 89.9FM

October 23, 2015 by

Today Esty Dinur talks to Leila Abdelrazaq, author of the newly released “Baddawi.” Her new book tells the story of a young boy raised in a refugee camp, trying to find his way in the world after fleeing his homeland after the war in 1948 established the state of Israel.

Leila Abdelrazaq is a Palestinian author, artist, and organizer. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a BFA in Theatre Arts and a BA in Arabic Studies. She has been involved in both national and local community organizing around the issue of Palestine since 2011. Leila was a participant in the 2015 Palestine Festival of Literature and is a contributor to The Electronic Intifada.

Fact Check: MSNBC’s Palestinian loss of land map

, Mondoweiss, October 22, 2015

(Screenshot: MSNBC)(Screenshot: MSNBC)

Last week, MSNBC aired a map (above) showing the loss of Palestinian land to Zionist settlers and then to Israel from 1946 to the present. Following criticism from Israelis and their supporters, MSNBC apologized and stated that the map was incorrect. But was it? The following is a fact check of MSNBC’s map and the criticisms of it.

Does the map accurately show the loss of Palestinian land since 1946?

Yes. The map accurately depicts the land that has been forcibly taken from Palestinians since 1946, two years before Israel was established and the accompanying expulsion of between 750,000 and a million Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state.

During and immediately following the state’s creation in 1948, Israel expropriated approximately 4,244,776 acres of Palestinian land. In the process, more than 400 Palestinian cities and towns were systematically destroyed by Israeli forces or repopulated with Jews. Most Palestinian population centers, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centers, were demolished to prevent the return of their owners, now refugees outside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders or internally displaced within them. (See here for interactive map of Palestinian population centers destroyed during Israel’s creation.)

Israel’s systematic dispossession of Palestinians is ongoing today, both in the occupied territories and inside Israel’s internationally recognized pre-1967 borders, where Palestinian citizens of the state and those living under occupation continue to be pushed out of their homes and off their lands – including entire towns – to make way for Jewish citizens and settlers. Today, there are approximately 650,000 Jewish settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Israel’s settlement enterprise covers approximately 42% of the West Bank.

Did the map specify that Palestine was an independent state prior to 1948?

No. Critics have focused on the fact that Palestine was not a sovereign and independent state prior to 1948, however the map did not claim that it was. The map purported to show “Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-present,” and it did precisely that, accurately. While it was not a recognized independent state under British rule in 1946, Palestine as a political entity existed prior to the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, going back to ancient times when it was a province of the Roman empire until more recently when it was British Mandatory Palestine, immediately preceding Israel’s creation.​​

Were there real factual errors in the map?

Yes. There were two factual errors in the map:

  • ​It showed the Syrian Golan Heights, which have been under Israeli military occupation since the 1967 War, as part of Israel, although the international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.
  • The map also shows “Israel” existing in 1946. While British Mandatory Palestine did exist in 1946, there was no political entity called “Israel” until 1948.

WORT 89.9FM: “Uncivil Rites” With Steven Salaita

Pledge Edition: Karma Chavez talks with Steven Salaita about his new book, “Uncivil Rites: Palestine and the Limits of Academic Freedom.” His new book addresses his controversial termination from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and important issues that affect both higher education and social justice activism.

Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” — Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

Roots To Resistance: A Project About Art Activism And Global Connection

“As water is to life, so dignity is to my Humanity” Shireen Issawi

MIDEAST-PALESTINIANS-ISRAEL

Shireen Issawi is a Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer who was arrested on March 6th 2014 by the Israeli Military as part of a crackdown on Lawyers who where defending and advocating for Palestinian Prisoners. The lawyers, who were enacting fundamental Human Rights law, were branded as supporters of terrorism and have been incarcerated ever since. Shireen Issawi has become the very prisoner that she sought to defend, someone imprisoned and mistreated because of her work, her beliefs and her non violent resistance. Shireen was arrested because of her actions and complaints as a Human Rights lawyer concerning the mistreatment of Palestinian Prisoners and the holding of prisoners without charge. She was very much aware that defending the rights and treatment of Palestinians was a highly risky endeavor but this did not deter Shireen from her work and she continued to press forward in the face of mounting threats. Where would we be without such Humans, who are willing to sacrifice so much in the name of what is just, and what are we willing to do in support of them?

This Thisth
It is from the portal of Shireen Issawi that we can view the devastating effects of so many Palestinians currently imprisoned under similar conditions. Perhaps you might imagine your own Sister, Daughter, or Mother arrested, knowing she is innocent but entirely unable to help her, and the World is mostly silent. Indeed Shireen stands in for hundreds of thousands of Political Prisoners all over this Planet, in Burma, Bahrain, Egypt, China, Eritrea, Mexico, here in the US, and in almost every Country across the Globe. As citizens of the World, I hope we will feel obligated and committed to using whatever small tools we may have to denounce such abundant injustice, despite the complications, despite our fears about entering into the realms of Israel and Palestine, despite the ease and lure of keeping quiet and tending our own lives.

20150701_171555_HDR

In this case, we at Roots to Resistance, a small Arts and Social Justice Organization, make our offerings to those who have long been seeking and fighting for Justice on issues in Palestine. We have painted an 8 foot high Portrait of Shireen and created a Global Postcard Campaign Demanding her Freedom and an end to the US funding that perpetuates conditions of Occupation across Palestine. Most importantly we have partnered with dozens of Organizations and hundreds of Peoples from all over the World to create A Global Sign Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. The Organizations and People involved in the campaign may not speak with one voice when it comes to all of the issues involved with Palestine and Israel, but we do speak as one about the absolute demand for Shireen’s release from prison.

image1-4

One World UK

11694014_10153456137044806_6277533824106919675_n

The Global Sign Campaign is an initiative asking folks from all over the Planet to send pictures of themselves holding signs Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi. In the end we have gathered over 150 with more arriving each day. Our goal in this endeavor was to invite all voices to demand Justice, not just the politicized or those well versed in the talking points of the Middle East.The invitation was for all to join because we think that a movement filled with a diversity of opinions but one voice on Shireen is the strongest way forward. Please come visit and enjoy the gallery of beautiful faces on our campaign page. puebla mexico 5 If you would like to add your own picture to our Global Sign Campaign please send your submissions on to us: invisible_earth@yahoo.com

Many of those who sent pictures and signs also sent answers to a question we posed: “Why is it important for you to be involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi? “ Below are some of the answers beginning with a statement from the two Organizations working together to win Shireen’s Freedom.

“Shireen Issawi’s case is emblematic in highlighting how Palestinian human rights defenders are being targeted by Israeli authorities for arrest and prolonged detention due to peacefully working to protect and promote fundamental human rights. Ms. Issawi has now been held continuously in detention for nearly 19 months pending the outcome of her trial. We reiterate our call for the evidence relied upon by the Israeli authorities to indict Ms. Issawi to be subjected to rigorous examination and testing, in accordance with Israel’s duty under international human rights law to protect Ms. Issawi’s right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights of the UK and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Ramallah Palestine

“Shireen has dedicated her life to justice and freedom for those Palestinian arbitrarily detained in Israel. She is a courageous and inspiring human rights defender who comes from a family committed to nonviolent resistance. The accusations held against her of supporting “terrorism” are ludicrous. She became a lawyer precisely because she believed the path to peace must be based on the protection of human rights and justice.” Ines Osman Alkarama Foundation, Switzerland

“The imprisonment of human rights lawyer and activist Shireen Issawi is yet another stain on Israel’s grim record of severe violations of human rights and international law and conventions. It is a gross miscarriage of justice, and should be terminated at once.” Noam Chomsky, US

“I felt compelled to support the call to free Shireen after learning about her deep passion for supporting human rights. As a veteran of two recent wars – I fully appreciate the heart and soul she has put in her struggle (and consequent imprisonment) to allow the freedoms we all deserve. Although we may do it in different ways, we share the need and passion to serve our fellow humans – in hopes of obtaining what is the basic rights of all humans on our wonderful planet. “ MSgt David Beaudet, USAF, Ret, B.S.

“I support this because we cannot let fear and confusion run our lives. Israel will not be safe until Palestine is free and Palestine will not be free until Israel is safe. As a Jew, I find it is critically important to take a stand against atrocities that are being committed towards Palestinian People. Shireen Issawi should be free. Free to live her life and speak her mind.” Rachel, Massachusetts

“Hope springs from the lives of people like Shireen Issawi, who strive non-violently for the freedom of political prisoners. Her dedication to that cause was recognized in December when the president of PeaceWomen across the Globe awarded her (in absentia) the AlKarama Award for Human Rights. Then, as now, Shireen was locked behind bars in an Israeli prison with those for whose freedom she has devoted her efforts. Should we not also recognize Shireen’s dedication and call for her release from prison and for the release of all non-violent political prisoners?”
Paul , New York

“It is important for me to be involved in the campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi because justice must be universal. Justice for Shireen and all other administrative detainees must be immediate with freedom granted or charges laid. Administrative Detention is an usually cruel and inhumane practice and must be condemned. If a simple inhumane law like “Administrative Detention” cannot be overturned what hope for true justice for Palestine. Free Shireen and the other prisoners.”
Nasser, Victoria Australia

“ In our work with people in Gaza, we have been told repeatedly that the issue of the prisoners is a vital one for the entire Palestinian resistance movement that cuts across political divides. Shireen Issawi like all political prisoners needs to know that she is not forgotten and that she is in our hearts.” Rafah Sister City Project, Madison, Wisconsin

“We support human rights and all those like Shireen Issawi who are working for Human Rights.” Davis Committee For Palestinian Rights, California

“Why is it important for us to be involved?!
Well , if we can do not much – this we can ! We can give our voice for the People which have no voice right now ! Shireen Issawi and her Family suffer because they are Palestinians who fight for their rights! We will stand with them! Free all political prisoners!”
BDS Zurich, Switzerland

Shireen Issawi has been punished, not for committing a crime, but for daring to defend human rights and free speech in the face of a brutal occupation. Her arrest an incarceration show how threatening these basic values are to the Israeli occupation. Palestine Advocacy Project, Cambridge

Shireen Issawi and her family have been relentlessly persecuted by Israel for over two decades. The imprisonment of Shireen is another deep and brutal injustice for her and her family that is representative of how Israel attempts to quell and punish righteous rebellion against its many decades of systematic apartheid and ethnocide. Israel must release Shireen and the over-5,000 political prisoners it holds and tortures, remember that compassion is the essence of life, and abandon its current course.
Alisa Klein Massachusetts

“ It’s about empathy, I live in Mexico, Mexico is a corrupt country and where the law favors the powerful, I can be arrested arbitrarily to defend my people as has happened to Shireen, she defended her brother and she has defended political prisoners in Palestine, but who defends her? If I lived the case of Shireen, I wanted someone to defend my case, someone to talk to the world about the injustices that I live and that my people live, is my reason to get involved in the campaign to demand the liberation of Shireen Issawi, empathy and solidarity with someone who has fought for the Palestinian people without asking anything in exchange.” Ana Rosa Moreno Puebla, Mexico

“I strongly support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was adopted by the UN in 1948. As a person who believes in human and civil rights and human dignity, Palestinian lawyer Shireen Al Issawi,is a shining example of courage, perseverance, and determination in striving to achieve justice for Palestinians who have suffered an ugly and brutal military occupation for 48 years. She has been unjustly imprisoned and I call on all those leaders who say they endorse human rights to act to free Shireen Issawi and the Palestinian people from the prison they currently endure.”
Will Thomas New Hampshire Veterans for Peace

I am in involved in the Campaign Demanding Freedom For Shireen Issawi, as I am involved in all the campaigns related to Palestinian political prisoners, because the issue of Israel’s mass incarceration of Palestinians is at the heart of Palestinian resistance and struggle for liberation.
Rima, Jerusalem

I support the campaign to demand freedom for Shireen Issawi because she is simply asking for truth and justice for Palestinian prisoners. This should not be a lot to ask of the Israeli government. The fact that this government considers this inflammatory and unacceptable, to the point that they have kept Shireen imprisoned and silenced, demonstrates the brutality and irrationality of the Israeli regime and occupation. Shireen’s fight is a fight to return humanity to her fellow Palestinian citizens, and it is emblematic of all brave activists around the world fighting for the humanity of all oppressed peoples. Shireen Issawi must be freed! Natascia Pica, Massachusetts

“Free speech and justice should be global rights” Kate, Massachusetts

“The world must demand release of all prisoners held by Israel in violation of international law!”

Young Palestinian-American Graphic Novelist Speaks at Wisconsin Book Festival

Madison365 staff, Oct 30, 2015

Palestinian American author Leila Abdelrazaq wrote the graphic novel Baddawi, which describes her father’s experience in a refugee camp during the Lebanese civil war.

Leila Abdelrazaq, a Palestinian-American writer, cartoonist, and Palestinian rights activist, was a featured speaker Oct. 23 at Central Library for the Wisconsin Book Festival. The Madison Rafah Sister City Project co-hosted the event.

Abdelrazaq recently graduated from DePaul University where she double majored in Theatre Arts and Arabic Studies. She grew up in Chicago, where she was constantly reminded of the pro-Israeli sentiment here in the United States. As Abdelrazaq studied at DePaul University, she joined a chapter of the organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). She also became a member of the National Students for Justice in Palestine Steering Committee. wisconsinbookfestival_0_0

In order to more clearly voice her thoughts on the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Abdelrazaq started a blog where she could illustrate what the situation is like for people who are unaware of the suffering of the Palestinian people and the occupation of Palestinian land, in general.

What was different about this blog was that it consisted of comic strips Abdelrazaq personally designed. As her blog picked up more and more attention, a publisher contacted her and agreed to turn the series of comics into a full-length graphic novel, which she titled Baddawi.

Baddawi is the name of the refugee camp in Lebanon where Abdelrazaq’s father Ahmed and his family fled in order to escape the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The book is the story of her father’s experience living as a child and young adult in that camp. Abdelrazaq uses graphic imagery to describe her father’s experience from the expulsion of her grandparents from Palestine in 1948 (following a massacre by Jewish militias), through their flight to Lebanon where they settled and where her father grew up. The book tells what it felt like to be a Palestinian boy in the midst of economic deprivation, anti-Palestinian discrimination in Lebanon, and frequent episodes of Israeli brutality. 611DTCgMKnL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Abdelrazaq pointed out that in her book she never depicts the faces of the Israeli soldiers. Instead, she uses frightening silhouettes as a way to show that she is only the Palestinian perspective.

Abdelrazaq noted that fleeing to Lebanon didn’t mean freedom. In Lebanon, Palestinians were still treated poorly, and their history was carried with them wherever they went. Freedom and justice would only come with the liberation of Palestine.

“The Right of Return shouldn’t be a term just used for Israelis,” she said. “The Right of Return could also be applied to the rights Palestinians have to their land.”

Abdelrazaq’s father survived the wars and difficulties of life in Baddawi and was able to move to the United States for college and settle down here.

“Moving to the U.S. wasn’t a happy ending for my father either. He had to leave his family behind,” Abdelrazaq said. “Moving to the U.S. hasn’t brought justice to the Palestinian people. Only the right to live on what is Palestinian land will bring justice.”

Sadly, living in the U.S. is a frightening reminder to Abdelrazaq of Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinians. The U.S. gives billions of dollars in military aid to Israeli every year, as well as stocks of weapons.

In the book and during her presentation, Abdelrazaq described the Palestinian struggle against hopelessness. In response to a question from the audience about Palestinian resistance, Abdelrazaq described how hopelessness leads the Palestinians toward violent responses. The Palestinians often have little hope because two major world powers are against them, namely the U.S. and Israel. Palestinians who choose to resist and fight against Israel end up suffering severely and often face injury, death, or imprisonment.

Abdelrazaq explained that the U.S. and Israel ignore that most Palestinian resistance is non-violent, and use these relatively rare violent attacks as a way to justify the occupation and the ethnic cleansing. The occupation and repression are so brutal and persistent that many Americans forget how abused Palestinians are.

Abdelrazaq’s presentation ended with a book signing and sale. She isn’t currently planning another graphic novel, but is interested in getting more involved in the business of comic design.