The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project was founded in 2003 by a group of concerned citizens in Madison, Wisconsin seeking to forge person-to-person relationships with Rafah, Palestine. We also wanted to increase public awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to influence U.S. public policy to benefit both peoples. Although our project was denied “official” Sister City status by the City of Madison in 2004, we have continued as an unofficial sister city group since.
Our work has evolved to focus on five main areas:
- Providing solidarity and humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza and the West Bank;
- Increasing understanding of Palestinian daily life, society, culture, and history, including how US and Israeli policies and Israel’s regime of control have created a devastating situation for ordinary people throughout Palestine;
- Sale of Palestinian crafts and products to support Palestinians in their struggle to remain and prosper on their lands;
- Joining with like-minded groups to engage in public advocacy to hold Israel and the U.S. accountable for human rights violations against Palestinians; and
- Working with others to uphold our rights in the U.S. and elsewhere to protest and engage in activities such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in defense of Palestinian human rights.
We staff information and crafts tables at our events and those of other groups. We annually participate in Madison’s Fair Trade Holiday Festival and Overture International Festival to sell a large variety of fair trade Palestinian crafts and olive oil products. We sponsor and co-sponsor speakers and films throughout the year. We participate in emergency demonstrations and campaigns as needed.
Solidarity with Rafah
Since our founding we have tried to raise funds for projects that directly benefit the citizens of Rafah, especially its children. Our first project contributed to rebuilding water wells destroyed by Israeli bombing. Since then we have worked with groups in the U.S. and Rafah to provide
- Professional materials to the Gaza Community Health Programme
- A playground in Tal Al Sultan neighborhood
- Maia Project clean drinking water systems to five schools
- Furnishings and books for the library of the Rachel Corrie Center for Children and Youth
- Medical care at UW children’s Hospital for a Gaza child severely injured in an Israeli attack
- Funding for the Samira Project to aid traumatized children and their parents
- Gaza-made rechargeable household systems to power lights, fans and phones
- Back-to-School Backpacks for Rafah Children
We have also protested against and raised emergency relief following repeated Israeli military assaults on Gaza. Every year we sponsor a Rachel Corrie Commemoration honoring the American peace activist who was killed in Rafah by an Israeli military bulldozer just two months after our founding.
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is an all-volunteer organization. It has a core group of members who commit to an active role and meet monthly. We have designated individuals responsible for specific tasks and sub-committees that meet as needed. We also have a small army of supporters and volunteers who help with events and fundraising, without whom nothing would be possible.
We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered with the IRS. Contributions to MRSCP are tax-deductible up to 50-60% of adjusted gross income.
Why a Sister City? by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Strategies for Rafah by the Municipal Council of the City of Rafah
Rafah – A Unique City
Sister City Debate
Chronology A history of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
Projects of this organization