The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is partnering with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) to provide back-to-school backpacks to 2000 poor children in Gaza, including Rafah and Rafah camp which suffered significant damage and casualties in the latest Israeli assault.
Our goal is to provide at least 100 Gaza-produced backpacks that MECA will distribute at schools and kindergartens in Rafah. The backpacks cost $17.50 each for a total of $1,750. MRSCP will match half the cost of the first 100 backpacks before the end of August, when school resumes in Gaza. 100 percent of your donation will go to this project.
The people of Gaza suffered terribly from the recent Israeli bombardment, which was just the latest in a series of what Israeli officials callously refer to as “mowing the grass” — periodic military assaults on the two million people (one million of them children) with no safe place to hide in what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison.
But even when bombs are not falling, Gazans struggle to survive under the Israeli land, air and sea blockade that deprives them of safe drinking water, medical care, employment, and fuel, and which kills and traumatizes them day in and day out through this cruel policy of deliberate deprivation.
Your tax dollars are paying for this outrage. Please consider partially offsetting them by contributing to the backpack campaign.
School Backpacks for Gaza!
Send a check payable to “MRSCP”
and marked “Backpacks” to:
Please read this letter to North Carolina’s US Congressional Representatives from VJP leadership urging them to co-sign.
May 23, 2022
We are Voices for Justice in Palestine, a North Carolina-based nonprofit working for a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine. We are a nonpartisan 501c3 working with interfaith and diverse social justice partners. Our membership consists of citizen-activists, scholars, scientists, pastors, theologians, and professionals who have studied this issue extensively and traveled widely in the region. We focus on education, legislative advocacy, and media presence in order to raise awareness of issues and perspectives largely absent from the public conversation in American society.
We are writing to you to ask you to co-sponsor Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan)’s historic resolution recognizing “The Nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic), commemorating the 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children who were driven from their homes and their land in 1947-1949.
The resolution calls for:
Congressional recognition of the Nakba and to commemorate the Nakba through official recognition and remembrance,
Reject efforts to enlist, engage, or otherwise associate the US government with denial of the Nakba,
Encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Nakba,
Continuation of the support for the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), the refugee aid society dedicated to helping the 6 million Palestinian refugees,
Support the implementation of Palestinian refugees’ rights as enshrined in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We strongly support this resolution because it has significant educational value. Our research indicates that a great many North Carolinians are poorly informed about Palestinian history. They know little or nothing about the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people in the Nakba. Those who have heard of it have been misled by myths and disinformation that obscure the truth. We view Rep. Tlaib’s resolution as an important public service that will lead to better understanding of this tragedy. The more knowledgeable our citizens are about this history, the more likely we are to progress toward a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine.
It would also establish a stronger basis for Congress to support humanitarian assistance programs for Palestinian refugees, which are desperately needed.
We are sending this letter to all of your colleagues in the North Carolina congressional delegation, both Republicans and Democrats. This is not a partisan issue. A just and lasting peace in this conflicted land that three major religions call holy transcends politics and demands our most compassionate and well-informed response.
Thank you for your consideration.
The Governing Board of Voices for Justice in Palestine
Palestine Partners will have beautifully hand-embroidered tote bags, pouches, purses, scarves, and pillow covers, and handmade earrings, necklaces and other crafts from the Women in Hebron Fair Trade Cooperative, all celebrating Palestine.
Playgrounds for Palestine will have Kufiyas, the beautiful traditional scarves of Palestine made by Palestine’s last surviving factory in Al Khalil, Hebron; Fair Trade Olive Oil from small farms in Palestine, Olive Oil Soap, and Zataar spice.
Plus Madison’s Knitting for Peace will offer beautifully hand-knit hats and other treasures made by women from Iraq and Syria who have resettled in Madison.
Stand with Palestine Yard Signs will also be available for purchase.
Hosted by Palestine Partners and Playgrounds for Palestine, with special guests from Knitting for Peace.
Celebrate Summertime! Please come out and support Palestinian artisans, farmers, and their communities as they continue to struggle against the health and economic impacts of COVID and increasing settler aggression throughout the West Bank.
Our friends at Palestine Partners, a Madison-based organization that supports Women in Hebron and Youth of Samud, will be selling Palestinian crafts outdoors in Madison throughout the summer and into the fall.
Come celebrate the rich cultural heritage and diversity of our community as International Festival returns live to Overture Center! Enjoy free performances, savor cuisine from around the world, browse the arts and crafts, and check out the many local organizations & businesses with global connections.
We’ll also be selling olive oil soap, embroidery, ceramics, earrings, Hirbawi keffiyehs and other crafts from Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine. Although our online Marketplace is currently closed, you can browse there before the sale. We look forward to seeing you!
Note: Some programs will also be livestreamed online. For more information including COVID-19 protocols, visit Overture’s website.
Tens of thousands of donated books have started to arrive at the new location of a Gaza bookshop that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes last year, and owner Samir Mansour now plans to reopen its doors next month.
Mansour is now preparing to reopen as both a bookshop and library, in a new location less than 100 metres from the original site. The new building, which cost $340,000, needed to be gutted and remodelled, and Mansour spent $70,000 of his personal savings building wooden shelves, tiling and installing electrical supplies. All funds generated by the campaign, which was launched by human rights lawyers Mahvish Rukhsana and Clive Stafford Smith, have gone towards the project, with the blockade imposed on Gaza sending costs spiralling.
Rukhsana, an American human rights lawyer working at 3DC in London, said that book donations had flooded in from around the UK, as well as from abroad, with the first cargo container of 50,000 books arriving in the Gaza Strip last week. Shipping of the remainingbooks will follow.
“I was so happy when I saw the first shipment had arrived … I felt like a reborn phoenix,” said Mansour. “I did not expect all this support. But it was something beyond imagination and something more than wonderful.”
“He lost approximately 90,000 books in the bombing and our goal was to collect 100,000,” said Rukhsana. “We were immediately flooded with books and volunteers who wanted to donate time, vans, cargo trucks, money, and lots of books.”
A volunteer from Peterborough, Rabea Zia, helped Rukhsana manage 70 regional book drives across the UK; there were 20 book drop-off locations in London alone.
“It started in volunteers’ homes. This became a challenge because garages, kitchens and living rooms were fast flooded with books. Some people held drives in restaurants and coffee shops, which also were flooded quickly and had to be cleared regularly,” said Rukhsana. “We made an appeal for vans. Volunteers borrowed cargo vans and began clearing homes. Central storage units were rented to accommodate the growing number of books. Our garage in Ascot was fast filled with about 30,000 books. Another 20,000 came in from Scotland. Another 20,000 from Leicester, Manchester, Croydon. And small publishing houses donated new books.”
The lawyer said that any time it started to feel like too much for the volunteers, they would find a solution. “A cargo company approached us via social media and volunteered to put the books on pallets and stack them with forklifts in a warehouse. From there, another wonderful company called Awesome Books volunteered trucks to pick up from storage locations around the country. They sorted by genre and packed into storage containers,” she said. “It was challenging because of the Brexit-related trucking shortage, but everyone worked together patiently. It was amazing to see how a global community came together and wanted to support this project. Over 4,800 donors gave money from around the world to support his fund.” Rukhsana also explained how donors were encouraged to write messages inside the books, leaving their email addresses so that the books’ new owners can get in contact should they wish.
The only request Mansour made was for Harry Potter books, because they are so popular with children in Gaza. Many people bought new Harry Potter box sets for the drive, said Rukhsana, with one volunteer selling cupcakes and baked goods for a month to raise money to buy JK Rowling and Roald Dahl book sets.
One man from Santa Barbara spent over $300 shipping three boxes of books to the drive, and more books were shipped in from Greece, France, Italy, UAE, various US cities and Singapore. “There were multiple requests to hold book drives internationally. We had to decline drives because we exceeded our target fast,” said Rukhsana. “Volunteers worked until 1am driving and collecting books and then thanked us for the opportunity to be involved in a tangible way.”