Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project!

Find out what happened at last night's hearing . . . and join us for a holiday celebration

Become a Member * Website * LIKE US ON Facebook  *  FOLLOW BNSCP ON Twitter

Last Night, Council Approved NABLUS As Boulder’s 8th Sister City . . .

We knew you’d want to know immediately, and we’ll send all the details later! We heard incredibly inspiring and heartfelt testimony last night. You guys are AMAZING! We are deeply grateful to each and every one of you who came out to support this effort. And for all the emails and letters that were sent in over the past weeks and days – all of these contributed in big and small ways!

There is no way we could have been successful without all the hard work and effort that YOU put into this. Together we ARE creating the world that we want to live in!

. . . Just in Time for Us to Celebrate At the Boulder- Nablus Sister City Holiday Party:

What: BNSCP holiday celebration
When: Tomorrow! Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 6 PM
Where: 2430 Vassar Dr., Boulder

Please Join Us!*

*& take this opportunity to holiday shop our fair trade goods from Nablus!

Reversing 2013 decision, Boulder makes Nablus a sister city

Boulder City Council members vote 7-2 in favor of sister city proposal

Alex Burness, DailyCamera Boulder News, 12/13/2016

Tom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, onTom Hovestol, right, and Sid Fox listen to a speaker during a Boulder City Council meeting regarding the proposed sister city of Nablus, Palestine, on Tuesday at the Boulder Municipal Building. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The West Bank city of Nablus in Palestine will become Boulder’s eighth international sister city, following a 7-2 City Council vote that reversed a previous council decision and capped a multi-year drama that was one of the city’s most heated in recent memory.

The action came more than three years after Boulder first denied the controversial proposal, by a 6-3 vote.

It also followed a 78-person public hearing Tuesday night on the sister city project, which followed a deluge of nearly 1,000 emails from the public to the council since May. That followed a 70-person public hearing in 2013.

Even by Boulder’s standards, this was a contentious matter.

Supporters maintained that making Nablus a sister city would create a non-partisan, enriching cultural exchange with a city not unlike Boulder in many ways.

“I think we are best choosing friendship over fear every time,” Drew Kelner said during the public-comment segment.

“It’s a time now when we need not to build walls separating communities, but to build bridges,” David Barsamian added.

Of course, making a Palestinian town in the West Bank a sister city is political, opponents argued. Approval will fuel anti-Israeli sentiment and present just one narrative of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, they said.

“Who gets to decide what’s political? And how is it decided?” Mimi Ito said.


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Palestinian Author Reflects on Life in Gaza

Lupe Salmeron, Madison365, December 5, 2016

An audience of around 30 people gathered to hear from talented blogger and political analyst Laila El-Haddad on Nov. 29 at The Crossing.

Laila El-Haddad is a talented blogger, political analyst, engaging public speaker, and parent-of-three from Gaza City. She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between (2010); the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced (2015); and co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey (2nd Ed. 2016).

The evening started off with a Q & A between UW-Madison professor Nevine El Nossery and El-Haddad about her blog and books inspired by her experiences while living on the border in Gaza. That was followed by a short cooking demonstration and potluck social featuring samples of Palestinian food, including dishes from El-Haddad’s cookbook.

El-Haddad explained that initially, she created her blog to relieve and process some of the emotions and experiences she underwent while living in Gaza, but it then grew to be something much bigger.

“At the time, I had a close friend who I thought was really well informed but just had this kind of naivety about the whole experience. ‘Oh, you must be used to this by now, always being stranded,’ she said. And trying to explain, “Like no, you never get used to this kind of thing.’” El-Haddad said. “Or just being ill-informed in general about the modes and methods of transportation and lack of freedom of movement (in Gaza) that made me realize that there needs to be a better ways to communicate this experience than the traditional, ‘Here are the numbers, here are the facts, here are the maps’ kind of thing. That’s when I began to use the blog as a vehicle and kind of just blogging about everyday mundane experiences, as a vehicle for people to understand the bigger political issues that exist in the background.”

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To her, it was just a way to vent, but also inform her few readers about the events happening in Gaza. She did not realize how important her “everyday mundane experiences” were to others interested in Gazarian affairs.

“I didn’t think much about it at the time, but suddenly there was a lot of interest, including from like Israelis and others who had no other access,” she said. “It was all mediated cover from mainstream channels that were telling the same dismal, dark, anonymous story of Gaza. So that’s how it (her blog) became an effective tool to bypass all that.”

Rabha Elfarra was there to hear from El-Haddad, a neighbor who saw her grow up in Gaza.

“She’s very fascinating. I think she’s very smart,” Elfarra said. “She’s an advocate and you feel like she’s really, really Palestinian, it’s in her blood.”

Elfarra also reported that El-Haddad’s cookbook has helped her add more flavor to her own recipes.

Lupe SalmeronWritten by Lupe Salmeron
Lupe Salmeron is a member of the Madison365 Academy. She is is a recent graduate of Madison East High School and a former Class President. She was born in the heart of Mexico. She and her family immigrated to the United States twelve years ago in pursuit of the American Dream. This fall she will be attending Edgewood College to double major in Political Science and Communications in hopes of one day becoming an immigration lawyer and helping people who are struggling with the immigration process.

New Senate bill threatens free speech

Instead of fighting antisemitism, new Senate bill threatens free speech

Jewish Voice for Peace, 06 December 2016

On Friday, without a single Senator in the Senate Chamber, the Senate unanimously passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

Judging by the title, it seems a reasonable enough piece of legislation. And the Anti-Defamation League was one of its main boosters.

But let’s look closer with a short pop quiz about why the ADL is behind this bill:

    A) To make it clear that actual neo-Nazis like the National Policy Institute, now in close proximity to power, are going to face real scrutiny and condemnation?
    B) To help prevent more violence against synagogues and Jewish poeple, like the dozens of instances of hate crimes and vandalism documented since the election?
    C) To protect the Israeli government from student protesters?

Probably the best way to figure out why the ADL supports it is to read what they’re saying themselves:

Sadly, the answer is “C.”

At a time when actual violence and bigotry against Jews is on the rise, Jewish institutions like the ADL are seizing the moment to… protect Israel from student protesters. That’s not acceptable.

We have to make sure Congressional reps hear from a more equality-focused perspective. Click here to send them a note urging them not to be fooled by the ASAA’s title. Enough pretending that defending Israeli policies is the same as fighting antisemitism. It’s time to get down to the actual business of protecting us all – especially Muslims and people of color – from hate.

I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am. “Leading” Jewish institutions have made it clear to they care more about defending Israel’s racist policies than the real slog of fighting antisemitism. Student activists — Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Black, documented, white, and otherwise —  pose no threat to Jews. The only threat they pose is to the culture of silence around Israeli apartheid.

Attempts to silence human rights activists are always appalling. But in this time of crisis, when actual antisemitism is seeping from our political discourse and into our streets? That is truly disgusting. As Jews and allies we have an outsized voice on this one. Please, click here now and help fight this Orwellian legislation in the House.

And here’s another example: Rep. Keith Ellison is running to become Chair of the DNC. As a 501(c)(3), JVP takes no position on any election, but I will say this: I’ve met Rep. Ellison, and he’s a good and honorable man, utterly devoted to fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism. But he’s also dared to offer modest criticisms of Israeli policy, always condemning hatred at the same time.

For that, he’s been railroaded and smeared by far-right Islamophobic front groups. And here again, the ADL is carrying water for these hatemongers by lending their name and their weight to the attacks against him.

The ADL’s support for the “Antisemitism Awareness Act” and their attacks on Keith Ellison are both proof that their commitment to fighting hatred is an empty shirt. They’re not interested in really taking on antisemitism and islamophobia. They’re only interested in shilling for Israeli apartheid.

But their attacks get listened to, because Congress thinks they speak for the whole Jewish community. Show that they don’t — click here to email your Representative.

If “leading” Jewish organizations want to place their loyalty to shameful Israeli policies above the urgent fight against islamophobia and antisemitism, we’re going to have to step up.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters have made it quite clear that the fight against islamophobia and antisemitism go hand-in-hand. But the ADL isn’t stepping up to the plate — they’re too busy condemning students who dare to criticise Israeli apartheid.

That leaves space for JVP. We can be the Jewish organization that takes on our fair share of that work — the hard but vital work of fighting antisemitism and Islamophobia, wherever it exists.

Ari Wohlfeiler
Deputy Director
Jewish Voice for Peace

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Rosary Sisters Catholic High School in Jerusalem, Palestine

Dabka dance to “My Blood is Palestinian”. Enjoy.

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

How to See Palestine: An ABC of Colonialism

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Critical Inquiry, November 28, 2016

Acknowledgements

I visited accompanying the art activist group MTL and with the generous support of many Palestinians, especially Habshe Yossef. I would also like to acknowledge the decolonial activist group Zochrot for arranging my meeting at al-Aqarib. The full web project is still being worked on by techs at USC for security. When available it will be  here. For the time being I have made a PDF of the project that you can access, with either the full text or just the introduction.

That said, all the opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Visiting Palestine was astonishing for the sheer intensity of the oppression. It was clarifying to see how the occupation operates and how little it cares what others think of it. It was humbling to see what being an activist really means and how privileged academic activism seems compared to the daily litany of harm to which any person in Palestine is exposed.

I saw elements of many different visual regimes struggling to cohere into what might become a new form. Surveillance is universal, but it’s not a panopticon because the jailers are all too visible. Religion is the justification for settlement, as it was under high imperialism, but there is no desire to convert the unbelievers. Counterinsurgency seeks “full spectrum dominance” but expects the insurgency to be permanent unless its conditions of possibility are removed.

The one thing everyone on all sides agrees on is that it’s all about land—who owns it, who can farm it, live on it, use the rainwater that falls on it, mine the minerals below—and so on. Whatever this is, it’s patently a form of colonialism. So, I decided to use my impressions to create an ABC of occupation. Unlike Nicolai Bukharin’s classic ABC of Communism, this is not a program. It is a report back on the heart of visuality’s own contradiction. That is to say, Palestine is an actually existing possibility for the general condition of social life in the twenty-first century.

Perhaps the election of Donald Trump clarifies this issue somewhat. The complicated ways in which someone willing to discuss Palestine gets produced as anti-Semitic surely pale by comparison with the insertion of Stephen Bannon, an old-fashioned Jew hater into the White House.

Perhaps the success of a campaign based on the promise of a “beautiful” wall, xenophobia, hatred of Islam and Muslims and a willingness to separate existing populations will help people understand why Palestine is an example not an exception.

Perhaps.

A is for Area A

The regime covers the territory with signs, expressing its intent (fig. 1). These signs are posted wherever Area A, under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority (PA), borders with what the regime considers to be the state of Israel. Apparently, the Hebrew and Arabic versions are at variance. The English message is clear: Palestinians are dangerous. Red alert. Less obvious is that Area A covers only 18 percent of what is still referred to as the “West Bank” in a series of increasingly isolated pockets, centered on the Palestinian cities like Ramallah and Nablus. No functional state can be made from these islands. The “two-state solution” is visibly impossible.

mirz_1

Although Area A signs are quite common, there are no others. Where do you enter Area B (largely considered defunct on the ground) and Area C, now considered to be some 63 percent of the West Bank? There are no signs other than the change of rules of engagement and the appearance of settlements, settler buses and the settlers themselves. Palestinians seem to know, as do the settlers and the Israeli Defense Force. So the Area A signs are really for people like me, or Israeli leftists, venturing into the West Bank. I don’t think they work. I hadn’t been there long before the sight of an Area A sign made me relax and feel safe.

B is for Benjamin

Here is a sign of colonialism if there ever was one (fig. 2). It depicts the wolf emblem of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Massive in size and posted high above the ground, it is positioned on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, notionally running through Area C but extensively used by tourists going to the Dead Sea. However, according to legend, Joshua assigned this area to Benjamin. So what the sign indicates is that Oslo may have designated the land for Palestinians, but God had already given it to the Jews. Posted signs indicate that the area is officially known to the regime as Judea and Samaria. Benjamin’s land.

mirz_2

The Benjamin sign is only in Hebrew, a message for the colonists alone. But its visual message is clear enough. The howling wolf arcs his body over a cluster of white houses with red roofs, set against green grass and trees. The imperial echo of the Roman wolf cannot be missed. The empire protects. The houses are recognizably those of the illegal settlements that cover every hilltop in the West Bank, which all have such red roofs, in part to make them visible to the Israeli air force as settlements.

The grass and trees transform the scene into an evocation of American suburbia, the picket-fence view of the world. When I took this picture, the temperature was 115 farenheit (45 celsius). Any greenery in a Dead Sea settlement—and there is plenty—is both an ideological production and an environmental fabrication that relies on appropriated water. 10,000 settlers living in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area use one-third of the water accessible to the entire Palestinian population in the West Bank (estimated at over 2.5 million).

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No fires or inciting politicians can destroy our shared society

Samah Salaime, +972, November 26, 2016

The wildfire that struck Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam left our Jewish-Arab village more resilient than ever before. We invite Israel’s politicians to learn from us on how to heal our society’s wounds.

Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Our country has been up in flames this past week. Hundreds of fires have broken out in various areas resulting in tens of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes. The first fire started last Tuesday at Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, a unique community between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Jews and Arabs live together in equality, which struggled to quell the flames and bring peace to the region. My husband and two children and I were evacuated from with 300 others, fearing of our lives and the destruction of our homes.

It was frightening for all of us. However what was even more frightening was the reaction of some of the countries journalists and politicians who used the opportunity to ignite and inflame hatred, claiming that arson was the cause of the wildfires. Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett posted an unfortunate and irresponsible Facebook status, in which he wrote that “The only ones capable of setting the land on fire are people to whom it does not belong.” Rather than unifying and reassuring Israeli citizens — if only slightly — Bennett incited against an entire public and inflamed the public atmosphere.

Following the elections in the United States, the world has become a dangerous place, as sparks have begun to fly in all directions, igniting hatred and fear. We have seen this over the past decade in Europe with new immigrants, and we now see it in the U.S., as white supremacists begin to cheer on Trump’s victory as a victory for the ‘white race,’ while graffiting swastikas on walls.

The fire at Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam was clearly an unfortunate accident, as was the one in the neighboring town of Nataf. One reporter, an expert in arson, deemed the fire an “inspiration” to other supposed pyromaniacs, giving second and third-rate politicians carte blanche to do what they are best at: incite. But perhaps the journalist was right; since the fire in my community was an inspiration. We made it through the freezing night together in the fields below our homes, where we realized that our community can teach this country’s leadership a thing or two about humane behavior in times of crisis.

Cohesion and unity in the face of fire is not so surprising in our community – the first and only Jewish-Arab community in the Middle East. It is what makes us feel that 40 years of living together through wars, intifadas, crises, military “campaigns,” and lots of pain has been worthwhile. They have been years of valuable teaching and learning; investment in people rather than stones; investment in one another, rather than in fences and barriers.

Pro-annexation Jewish Home ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett during a preliminary vote on the ‘Regulation Law’ to legalize ‘illegal’ settlement outposts, November 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)Jewish Home ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, November 16, 2016. Bennett hinted this past week that Arabs were responsible for the spate of wildfires across Israel. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Our hearts were open as we waited in the fields below, where a protective ring circled our community as the rescue forces fought to safeguard our life’s project, built on a hilltop surrounded by fires that raged on every side. (Those of us who are dedicated to living together in peace have felt this way often.) Meanwhile our neighbors, Kibbutz Nachshon, Bekoa, and Tel Shahar, opened their gates to us. At 6 a.m. they took us in; Arab and Jewish men, women and children and offered us a warm and cozy place to recover, without checking our identity cards to check which nation we belonged to.

If the world is looking for inspiration, and our minister of education is looking to bring our people together instead of pulling us apart, we invite you to join the Arab and Jewish families who send their children to our bilingual school. On the day after the fire, the pupils and teachers got together and cleaned up the school grounds, where for more than 30 years Jewish and Arab children have studied together every day — through war and through peace as equals, promoting peace and shared society. We invite him to observe how this week we set out with 40 up-and-coming politicians from Israel and Palestine to seek new solutions together and open avenues of communication. We invite him to learn from us how to struggle to bind a shared society together, not to pull it apart.

Students from Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam clean up the school grounds following a wildfire at the Jewish-Arab village. (Lindsay Stanek)Students from Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam clean up the school grounds following a wildfire at the Jewish-Arab village. (Lindsay Stanek)

The attempt to sabotage the humanity of any people who share a common space in order to survive politically is a highly dangerous experiment —one that places the lives of millions all over the world. We have seen the results in the past, we see it happening all over the world today. This is truly playing with fire. If a burned forest takes years to rehabilitate, the work required to heal the wounds of hatred and fear is far more difficult.

Although it is hard to imagine that the voices we are hearing today, even from your political leaders, will lead us to a better society, I urge you, dear readers, for the health of your minds and your sanity, not to listen to the voices of malice or be carried away in the cold, dry winds of hatred and fear. Since inside that fear lies an unsustainable fire that eventually leads to hell. Look around and see that people, irrespective of religion, race and gender, are afraid of the fire and other disasters, just like you are. It is best to learn how to survive it together, or else we will burn together.

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Palestinians Blamed for Forest Fires Across Palestine

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, November 25, 2016

But fires are raging across Western Asia

Middle East Fires, Past Week (Global Forest Watch, Washington, DC)

Over 200 forest fires are raging in Palestine (now renamed the Jewish State of Israel, including its occupied Palestinian territories). Many countries are helping put out the fires, including four teams of Palestinian firefighters (nobody helped Gaza when it was being fire-bombed by white phosphorous).

But the fascist, racist government of “Israel” blamed the Palestinians for the fires! Even some decent Israelis pointed out that fires are raging across Western Asia (aka the “Middle East”).

Perhaps coincidentally or otherwise, right after war criminal Netanyahu blamed Palestinians, new fires erupted near Palestinian communities. If you really want to know who is to blame for the damage, it is clearly Zionism, as I wrote in many articles and books before.

In 1901 at the World Zionist Congress, and despite objections of conscientious Jews, a Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemet Li’Israel, or KKL) was established to further “Jewish colonization” (the term they used) of Palestine.

One of the tasks was to raise money, and they used the gimmick of collecting money for trees. Indeed they did plant trees, but it was unfortunately the highly flammable European pine tree.

After 1948-1949 when some 500 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated, their lands (cultivated with figs, almonds, olives and other trees) were razed to the ground, and again resinous and inflammable pine trees were planted.

The same happened after 1967 when here Palestinian villages were demolished and their village lands planted with the same European pines; one of those villages is the biblical Imwas (see photos before and after here: freepaly.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-racism.

Palestinian village of ‘Imwas, 1958

Palestinian village of ‘Imwas after destruction by Israeli army, 1968

Ruins of Palestinian village of ‘Imwas, site of Jewish National Fund’s ‘Canada Park’, 1978

The choice of European pine trees was because a) they grow fast, b) they give a European look to the otherwise “Arab” landscape, and c) their leaves on the ground make it acidic, preventing growth or regrowth of endogenous trees. In total, KKL boasts that it planted 240 million pine trees.

Resinous pine is like petrol and burns with a ferocity. This was not the only environmentally catastrophic decision by the Zionist movement in Palestine: others include draining the Hula Wetlands and the diversion of the water of the river Jordan and now the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal.

Environmentally, the current fires are deadly to all living creatures regardless of their origins, and they do spread to the remaining few indigenous forests and to human dwellings (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Atheist without distinction).

We environmentalists (Palestinian and Israeli) have long warned of the catastrophic consequences of politically driven decisions, guided by colonial ideology but devastating to native animals and plants.

So here we are: the remaining native Palestinians watching our lands go up in flames and being blamed for it. This is not unusual and we are the victims of others from long ago. We even paid the price of what happened in WWII (by Europeans to fellow Europeans).

I am thinking now if a meteor hits the Earth, we Palestinians will also pay a disproportionate price. 7 million of us are refugees or displaced people.

We in the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://palestinenature.org) urge protection of our nature. Environmental conservation is a priority for all decent human beings, including guarding biodiversity (and human diversity).

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org/

A letter from Gaza to the Natives of Standing Rock

Israa Suliman, WE ARE NOT NUMBERS, November 15, 2016

Dear Native Americans,

Although we are of different color, religion, culture and place, I have learned, as I read about the protests at Standing Rock, that we have much more in common than differences. When I read your history, I can see myself and my people reflected in yours. I feel in my core that your fight is my fight, and that I am not alone in the battle against injustice.

My ancestors were not the only ones who lived in Palestine. Jews, Christians and Arabs all lived side by side in my country. But my ancestors—including my grandparents and great-grandparents—were the indigenous people, just like you. And they suffered the same fate as your people. America's policy of occupation and displacement through forced marches like the Trail of Tears, and the gradual transfer of so many of your people to massive, impoverished reservations, hurts me deeply because it is so similar to the ethnic cleansing of my ancestors by the Israeli military occupation in what we call “al-Nakba” (the catastrophe). We know what you know: that our land is sacred.

In 1948, my ancestors—along with nearly a million other Palestinians—were frightened away or forced off their lands, in some cases at gunpoint. More than 10,000 others were massacred. Hundreds of our villages and cities were completely destroyed in a systemic plan to erase our identity—just as yours has been under continuing assault.

Native Americans' Trail of Tears
Trail of Tears

Palestine today is just 22 percent of our original homeland. Like you, some of my people (an estimated 1.5 million) must live in degrading “camps” (our word for reservations), where living conditions are "comparable to the Third World." Like your reservations, they are characterized by high rates of unemployment, poverty and suicide.

Many other Palestinians (about 6 million)—now including descendants of the original residents—are scattered elsewhere around the world, just as yours are around the United States. Today, not only has the military occupation taken over our land and declared it "the state of Israel," but it continues to carry on a policy of expulsion, demolishing Palestinian houses in the little bit of land we retain, building illegal settlements and preventing free movement with a network of “security checkpoints.”

Nakba
The Palestinian Nakba

Like you, we don’t control our natural resources. Just as you were not consulted about the Dakota Access Pipeline that will traverse your land and contaminate your water supply if installed, we are not consulted by Israel, which wants to mine the gas supply in our harbor for its own use and monopolizes the water supply in the West Bank for the green lawns of its own residents—leaving Palestinians parched and dry. In Gaza, where I live, only 10 percent of our water supply is drinkable due to the conditions in which we must live. We too know that “water is life.”

When I was young, I saw how the media portrays negative images of you, especially in Hollywood films—depicting you as uncivilized, savage, racist and drug abusers. Likewise, my people are portrayed as terrorists, “backward,” misogynists and anti-Semitic. And yet no one regards whites as all the same.

Like yours, our resistance has been labeled as acts of terrorism and violence rather than as a fight for survival and dignity. That's not surprising, since this is the policy of every oppressor who seeks to criminalize others to justify its acts. It is the oppressor's way to create its own version of reality to rationalize its behavior and brainwash the masses. And it is the oppressor's plan to make the colonized feel weak and alone. But you are proving they won’t succeed and I want you to know that my people are with you.

Seeing your women, elders and youth stand together to protest the pipeline and your exclusion from decision making is so inspiring! It gives us strength to go on with our own struggle.

As a Palestinian in Gaza, I have grown up feeling detached from the rest of the world as Israel tightens its decade-long blockade. I am sure many of you feel the same way. But we are not isolated. We are “soulmates” in the way that counts.

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