The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project


Judith Davidoff, The Capital Times, May 19, 2004

As the battle between Israelis and Palestinians grew more intense today in Rafah, Madison’s proposed sister city in the Gaza Strip, the City Council’s executive committee put off a vote on the relationship for two weeks.

They said they hoped people on both sides of the issue would use the time to work out their differences.

“I’m concerned it’s not ready for prime time,” Ald. Mike Verveer said of the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting of the City Council’s Organizational Committee. “I would like to have more time for those discussions to take place.”

Steve Morrison, executive director of the Madison Jewish Community Council, which opposes the sister city proposal, said he was open to meeting with members of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.

He said he was receptive to establishing other sister cities in the Gaza Strip, but said there was no chance he would support a formal relationship with Rafah, which the Israeli government has called a staging area for terror attacks.

“Rafah is a no-go,” he said.

In testimony before the Organizational Committee, Morrison reiterated his contention that members of the Rafah sister city project were partnering with an anti-Semitic organization, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

Those connected with the Rafah project deny Morrison’s charges but say they would also be willing to engage in a dialogue with him.

Several supporters of the proposal said Tuesday night they wanted to give voice and aid to an oppressed community through people-to-people contact.

At a news conference before the meeting, supporter Amy Scarr said a “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip had hit the city of Rafah hard.

“In the past few days alone, numerous citizens of Rafah have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces, many have been injured, many have lost their homes to IDF bulldozers and many are fleeing their homes even at this moment,” Scarr said.

Marc Rosenthal, a veteran of Madison’s sister city program and a supporter of the Rafah project, said despite Tuesday night’s referral, the proposal was already having an impact by raising local awareness about the plight of Palestinians within the Israeli occupied territories.

“A year ago there was no discourse,” he said. “This is a very positive step forward. We need to continue this discourse.”




Amy Scarr (left), a member of a Madison group that supports the creation of a sister city relationship with Rafah, a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, reads a statement Tuesday at the City-County Building. With Scarr is group member George Arida.

Cite this article

“CITY DELAYS ACTION ON SISTER STATUS FOR RAFAH.(METRO).” The Capital Times. Capital Newspapers. 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2009 from HighBeam Research:

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