The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Dr. Bruce Barrett and Mayor Cieslewicz

Date: Thu, 06 May 2004 13:06:50 -0500
To: Mayor (
From: Bruce Barrett Subject: Re: Yes to Rafah sister city!

Mayor David J. Cieslewicz

I think you are making a big mistake. Madisonians did not neglect their responsibility to weigh in on Vietnam, or South Africa, or El Salvador. It saddens me that you are seemingly afraid of potential controversy regarding something as simple as establishing a people-to-people sister city with a Palestinian community.

Bruce Barrett

At 12:34 PM 5/6/2004 -0500, you wrote:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Rafah sister city resolution. When I met with members of the Rafah sister city group earlier this year, I expressed concerns about the resolution that I had heard voiced from several members of the Madison Jewish community. I suggested that they meet with representatives of that community to see if those concerns could be addressed. Unfortunately, this did not take place and the resolution was introduced, prompting strong reactions both for and against this sister city relationship.

A sister city relationship is an official action of Madison city government. It is not as simple as an individual-to-individual relationship. We would take this action on behalf of all Madisonians, and many Madisonians feel strongly in opposition to this relationship at this time. Moreover, debate of the resolution will most certainly involve the context of Rafah, prompting the Common Council and me to explore issues of Middle East history and politics that we are not well equipped to debate. Finally, we would be doing so at the expense of what I would consider to be more immediate City issues. For all of these reasons, I cannot support the resolution at this time. I do understand the humanitarian concerns in Rafah, and I support and encourage individual citizens to address them as they see fit.

Mayor David J. Cieslewicz
City of Madison

Date: Wed, 5 May 2004 08:37:25 -0700 (PDT)
From: “Madison-Rafah Sister-City Project” (
Subject: Letter to Mayor and Alders from Dr. Bruce Barrett


I am writing to express my opinion regarding the Madison-Rafah Sister-City Project. I believe this to be one of the best people-to-people initiatives to come from the Madison area. To suggest that it is anti-Semitic is pure balderdash. In today’s America, and even here in Madison, anti-Muslim prejudice is a much more pressing problem. It is true that the Rafah project may expose Israeli human rights violations.

This, however, is a not a bad thing. Our taxes support the Israeli military. We have a right to know what they’re doing with our money, and a responsibility to launch efforts to help those in need. The people of Rafah are in great need of our friendship, solidarity, and support. Please work towards official City of Madison recognition of this truly important endeavor.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.



Bruce Barrett MD PhD, Assistant Professor
Department of Family Medicine
School of Medicine
University of Wisconsin – Madison