The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Update on City Council Vote, George Arida & Mayor Zouroub

From: George Arida
Subject: Greetings from Madison / Update on City Council Vote
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2004 09:44:22 -0500

Dear Mayor Zouroub,

Greetings from Madison. I have been working with Jennifer and others since the establishment of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project last year. I was part of the delegation to Palestine last January, but was not allowed to enter Gaza. I am writing on behalf of the many members and supporters of MRSCP here in Madison, to offer an update on the status of our efforts to gain official status and our future plans.

On July 20th, the resolution making our sister city initiative official was brought to a vote in the Madison Common Council. We have twenty elected alders in that Council, and eleven votes are required to pass such a resolution. The vote was nine in favor and eight opposed, with two alders abstaining and one absent. So although we had a 9-8 majority voting in favor of the resolution, we failed to get the 11 required votes.

The debate over the resolution lasted over 5 hours, with 107 people who registered to speak in the Council chambers. About half spoke in favor and half against. In addition to the speakers, there were over 200 more people registered in attendance. This was quite an extraordinary session.

The opposition’s tactics were not well received by the Council or the public, and it has lost credibility as a result. The number of people supporting this project continues to grow, and we will consider bringing the resolution to the Council again in the future.

Although we are disappointed that the resolution did not pass, the debate became big news, and events in Rafah have received much more visibility than before. Our newspapers have featured Rafah prominently on many occasions, sometimes on the front page, and we’ve had radio and TV coverage as well. Many people here who did not know about Rafah have now become aware of its humanitarian crisis.

Now that the vote is behind us, we can refocus our resources on our humanitarian and educational activities. We will continue to move forward, building on the strong foundation we’ve established here in Madison and expanding our relationships in Rafah.

As you may know, we are organizing committees to work on health, housing, women’s, and children’s issues, and we are preparing to launch a new fundraising initiative in conjunction with a group called”Playgrounds for Palestine.”

We are deeply committed to the ideals on which this and all other sister city projects were founded. We believe that, working together with our friends and colleagues in Rafah, we can help make a difference in Rafah and here at home. Sincerely,

George Arida
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 11:35 PM
To: George Arida
Subject: RE: Greetings from Madison / Update on City Council vote

Dear Mr. Arida and Jennifer,

We appreciate deeply your effort and commitment with all the friends in MRSCP and we are looking to continue the cooperation now and in the future.

Please pass our regards to all people who support us in Madison.

Best Regards,

Eng. Saied Zouroub
Mayor of Rafah