Rep. Pocan emphasizes progressive caucus’s commitment to Palestine


Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI). (Photo: AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Helena Cobban, Mondoweiss, November 14, 2019

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) recently told an audience in his Madison WI district that the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), of which he is co-chair, is planning (depending on how Israel’s government-forming works out) to send a delegation to Palestine.

“But,” he noted to applause, “the permission has to include Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar.” The two first-term members are both members of the CPC.

Pocan added, “We’re also saying we have to go into Gaza. And we have some commitments from our leadership, who say they’re going to help us do this– which we never had when Paul Ryan was Speaker.”

Pocan made these comments on October 27 during the introduction he gave to Gaza-Palestinian Yousef Aljamal, who gave a speech, “Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation.”

The event was held at Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, WI. The primary organizer was the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and it had several other co-sponsors. This event was part of the nationwide speaking tour for Aljamal that Just World Ed organized under the title “Crisis in Palestine.”

Christ Presbyterian kindly made and posted a great video of the afternoon’s proceedings, which can be viewed in full here. (The images in the main part of this blogpost are all stills from the video.)

What you need to know about the bombings in Gaza


Palestinian children in Gaza. (Lucy Duncan/AFSC)

Mike Merryman-Lotze, American Friends Service Committee, Nov 13, 2019

On Nov. 12, 2019 the Israeli military assassinated Baha Abu al-Ata, a leading member of Islamic Jehad in Gaza, and his wife—sparking more violence in Gaza. Shortly after the killing, Islamic Jehad fired rockets into Israel. In response, Israel has launched extensive bombing attacks on Gaza, killing at least 34 Palestinians and injuring many others. One Israeli has been injured as a result of Palestinian rockets fire. So far, Hamas has refrained from engaging in violence during this latest attack. A ceasefire was announced on Nov. 14, but bombing continued on the night of Nov. 14. If the ceasefire does not hold and Israel continues its disproportionate and deadly attacks on Gaza, there is significant risk of continued escalation.

Political action is needed now in the U.S. to protect this ceasefire and to ensure a halt to attacks on Gaza. But simply ending violence is not enough—there must be an end to the 12-year blockade of Gaza, the systematic inequality and human rights abuses faced by Palestinians, and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Take action by contacting Congress today! 

Here’s what you need to know about the recent bombings:

Israel’s assassination of Baha Abu al-Ata was the start of the latest violence.

Israel has accused Abu al-Ata for a number of rocket attacks on Israel over the last several months, justifying his assassination as retaliation for those attacks. However, those attacks were carried out in the context of daily Israeli attacks on Gaza, including shooting across the boundary fence, shooting at protesters, ground incursions, shooting at fishermen, and shelling/bombing.

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Desperate work for desperate people


A man carries steel bars with bare hands in a yard filled with scrap metal. (Mohammed Al-Hajjar)

Amjad Ayman Yaghi, The Electronic Intifada, 15 October 2019

On 5 May, Israeli airplanes struck targets in Gaza.

The bombings came with the usual tragic consequences: 25 Palestinains were killed, among them 14 civilians. Four Israeli civilians also died in rocket fire from Gaza.

It was one of those “spikes in tensions” that for the briefest of moments shines a media spotlight on Gaza.

That spotlight didn’t stay long enough to see what else happened. As calm returned, a contractor, Muhammad Abu Jebah, gathered together a group of laborers to extract metal from the rubble of the Abu Qamar building, which was destroyed in one of the bombing raids.

Abu Jebah thinks of it as a new industry, one that arose after Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli attack on Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, and one that illustrates the lengths to which Palestinians in Gaza have to go to survive.

Trucks and bulldozers move in first to clear the rubble. Then a team of men filter through the building to smash concrete and extract the metal inside.

Once that is done, they realign the metal and reconstitute any large stones.

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IT’S TIME TO END THE ILLEGAL ISRAELI BLOCKADE OF GAZA

US Boats to Gaza is committed to human rights for Palestinians

An International Coalition Of 14 Countries And Organizations Dedicated To Breaking The Illegal Israeli Blockade of Gaza

45% of the 2 million people who live in Gaza are children under the age of 15. 70% of Gazans are refugees from other parts of Palestine, forced from their homes in the West Bank 70 years ago by Israeli militias.  Yet the world stands by as the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade limits electricity to just a few hours a day, makes 90% of water undrinkable, and denies access to food and medical supplies.

US Boats to Gaza is dedicated to bringing international attention to the illegal Israeli blockade on Gaza, until the world stands for human rights for Palestinians.

Support US Boats To Gaza! DONATE!

October 27, 2019
DREAMING OF FREEDOM Update



Palestinian Youth Under Siege and Occupation
with Yousef Aljamal, Gaza Writer and Activist

Sunday, October 27, 2019
2-4 pm
Christ Presbyterian Church,
944 E Gorham St, Madison, WI

Meet Yousef Aljamal, a young writer who grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza and lived through the three devastating Israeli military assaults between 2008 and 2014. He will share his experiences and insights about the lives of youth there and elsewhere in Palestine, including tens of thousands imprisoned by Israel’s military regime in the West Bank since 1967.

A contributor to the anthology Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza Palestine, Aljamal has recently translated into English the book Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak.

Both books will be available for purchase at the event. Yousef’s talk will be preceded by brief remarks from Rep. Mark Pocan.

Refreshments including baklawa will be served, and Fair Trade Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap and crafts will be sold. This event is free and open to the public, but donations will be gratefully accepted to fund another clean water project for Gaza kids.

Local Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison, UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. This is a national tour sponsored by Just World Educational.


Welcomed by WORT Radio. More information here and on Facebook. Listen to Yousef on WORT’s A Public Affair with host Allen Ruff:

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Act now to free Heba Al-Labadi

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, Oct 28, 2019

Please take a moment to sign our latest petition demanding progressive U.S. presidential candidates speak out for Heba Al-Labadi, a 24-year-old Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship now hospitalized on her 35th day of an open hunger strike against her “administrative detention,” imprisonment by Israel without charge or trial.

Then comment on the petition – your statements will go to each of their Congressional offices and presidential campaigns! – and ask your friends to join you through the buttons on the site or links from Samidoun’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

Jordan-Israel Ties Strained by Detentions

“We hold the Israeli government responsible for the lives of our citizens whose health conditions have severely deteriorated in illegal arbitrary detention,” Mr. Safadi, the Jordanian foreign minister, wrote. “We will take all necessary legal & diplomatic measures to ensure their safe return home. Administrative detention is illegal.”


Israeli activists in a Monday protest over the arrest of Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian citizen, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank more than two months ago. She has not been charged with a crime. (Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Isabel Kershner, New York Times, Oct. 30, 2019

JERUSALEM — Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations and detained an Israeli citizen who it says crossed the border illegally amid a sharpening dispute over Israel’s weekslong detention of two Jordanian citizens on suspicion of vague security violations.

The spike in tensions comes days after the 25th anniversary of the signing of the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty, which neither side commemorated officially, an indication of the testy state of diplomatic relations between Israel and its Arab neighbor to the east.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, announced on Twitter late Tuesday that the ambassador, who left for Jordan on Wednesday, was being recalled for consultations “as a first step” after the Israeli government had refused to heed what he called Jordan’s legitimate demands for releasing its two citizens, Hiba Labadi and Abdul Rahman Miri.

Ms. Labadi was detained on Aug. 20 and Mr. Miri on Sept. 12 at the border crossing between Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to a lawyer representing them, and are being held in administrative detention without charges.

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Now – Nov 17: Gaza in Color: Stories from Behind the Wall Online Art Auction

Original artwork and signed prints that were hand-carried out of Gaza. This auction offers over 100 pieces by seven artists who are struggling to share their vision and their stories with the outside world.

Despite the ongoing eleven year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Gaza Strip and the violence and human rights tragedies that surround them, artists in Gaza are using creativity to translate their hope and a stark reality into art.

The Gaza artists directly benefit from the sale of their work, which include originals and signed, limited edition prints. Funds will also support the work of Rebuilding Alliance. We hand-carried many of these pieces out of Gaza, and we’re so proud to be working with the artists to bring this to you!

View and bid at this Rebuilding Alliance site.

Since registering as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2003, Rebuilding Alliance has been working with coalitions around the world who are dedicated to helping war-torn neighborhoods rebuild and promoting citizen and diplomatic engagement, worldwide, to make them safe.

Join us in court and defend the right to boycott in Olympia, Washington

Center for Constitutional Rights, October 21, 2019

Join us in court tomorrow in Olympia, Washington, as Center for Constitutional Rights Deputy Legal Director Maria LaHood argues in our case Davis v. Cox defending former volunteer board members of the Olympia Food Co-op in their decision to boycott Israeli products in line with the co-op’s mission and long history of encouraging social justice.

Courts dismissed the lawsuit against our clients in 2012, 2014, and 2018, yet the plaintiffs have continued to pursue the case in an attempt to chill free speech and punish support for Palestinian human rights. We will continue to argue that the lawsuit brought against our clients is illegal and should be dismissed.

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