Update: Back-To-School Backpacks For Rafah Kids

135 backpacks to Rafah by MECA on our behalf
More MECA photos from Gaza

 


 

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!School backpacks for Gaza

Send a check payable to “MRSCP”
and marked “Backpacks” to:
MRSCP
P.O. Box 5214
Madison, WI 53705
or donate online:

Donate

Thank you for helping the children of Gaza.

 

AND…Here at Home:

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“Cancel the F-35”: Organizations Sign Letter to President & Congress


Rep. Francesca Hong addresses concerns for the arrival of F-35 jets in Truax Field, surrounded by Eken Park Resistance members. CAMERON CIESZKI/CAP TIMES

One goal of this letter is to bring organizations on the national and international level together with local organizations who have been working against F-35 training in their communities for years. Another is to use the F-35, the most expensive weapons program in history, to address the larger issue of unchecked military spending. The F-35 is causing harm at home and abroad in primarily working class and BIPOC neighborhoods. We hope to begin a substantial and sustained campaign to cancel the F-35 program.

President Biden & Members of Congress,

We, the undersigned organizations from around the world, are calling for a cancellation of the F-35 program, an end to F-35 training in residential areas like South Burlington, Vermont and Madison, Wisconsin, and a reinvestment of the project’s funds to life affirming programs. We are making these demands based on the harm caused abroad, cost of the program to the taxpayer, inefficiencies and failures, the environmental impact of F-35s, and the effects training has on local communities. 

HARM CAUSED THROUGH MILITARISM

We primarily stand firmly against the F-35 as a weapon of war. Although not ready for full-scale production, the U.S. intends on producing countless F-35s to sell around the world that will without a doubt be used to harm people living in the Global South. F-35s have the capacity to carry nuclear weapons, and the deployment of these jets only aids nuclear proliferation. The U.S. already makes up 40% of the global arms trade, aiding and abetting war crimes all over the world. Israel is procuring F-35’s from the United States which will undeniably be used against Palestinians to further Israel’s goals of ethnic cleansing and displacement in Palestine. Saudi Arabia has expressed interest in F-35s as well as the UAE while both countries wage a brutal war on Yemen. The F-35 is a disaster of a project, but also  a potential disaster for humanity. 

INEFFICIENCIES AND FAILURES

The F-35 spending is becoming impossible for important members of Congress to justify. The Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Smith called the F-35 a “rathole.” Another member of HASC, Rep. John Garamendi had some scathing comments about the F-35 in a HASC subcommittee hearing in May: 

“For the contractors out there, what are you doing? Why can’t you give us a piece of equipment that actually works? You should never have a contract. And for Lockheed, you want a five-year maintenance contract? You can’t do what you’re doing today. Come on. What are we thinking? If I have not adequately expressed my frustration, I would assume that my frustration is less than the frustration of the pilots and the maintainers out there. … The primary maintenance responsibility on this is Lockheed and you gentlemen.”

The Government Accountability Office said the F-35 “continues to fall short of prescribed mission-capable rates and is consistently missing reliability targets”. According to the GAO, the F-35A in 2021 was fully mission capable 50% of the time, while the F-35B was fully mission capable less than 20 percent of the time. The F-35c was only capable 9.5% of the time.

The signatories call attention to the failures of the program to address harmful projects seeing never ending investment while programs that protect people such as universal healthcare never see the light of day. 

COST TO THE TAXPAYER

The failures of the program make the spending impossible to justify, even from a militaristic standpoint. The F-35 program is the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapon system program. As of now, the F-35’s projected total cost is $1.7 trillion, which includes $1.3 trillion in estimated operations and sustainment over 66 years.  The F-35 is horribly behind schedule, experiencing massive cost overruns with maintenance costs doubling.  The F-35 is not ready for full scale production. According to the GAO, “if DOD moves forward as planned, it will have bought a third of all F-35s before determining that the aircraft is ready to move into full-rate production.” Spending billions to trillions of dollars on a plane that is not yet up to speed with what the government has requested is poor fiscal policy. 

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

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National Nurses United condemns Gaza bombardment

National Nurses United, August 09, 2022

National Nurses United (NNU) mourns the loss of life over the weekend in the besieged Gaza Strip area of Palestine due to Israeli airstrikes that killed dozens—including at least 15 children. “As nurses, we are grateful that a cease-fire between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Government has been accepted and we urge it be permanent,” said NNU Secretary Treasurer Martha Kuhl, RN. “We express alarm at the grave impacts on critical health care infrastructure caused by last week’s bombardment. This includes the incredible strain placed on nurses and other health care workers struggling to provide care at the main hospital in Gaza, the Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City. In addition to caring for patients who were victims of the bombardment, the hospital faces an energy crisis as Israel cut off vital supplies of fuel to the Gaza Strip late last week. 

“NNU joins the international community in condemning this attack on civilians, on children, on health care infrastructure, health care workers, and public health,” continued Kuhl. “As nurses and as people of conscience, we find these acts of war wholly unacceptable. We stand with Palestinian nurses, doctors, and other health care workers and their unions who have valiantly worked to save human lives during this recent escalation of violence. We call for an end to military aggression, to occupation, and an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza.

Recent violence has only compounded the public health effects of the 15-year blockade of Gaza—where critical goods, services, and freedom of movement have been restricted by the Israeli government as part of its ongoing occupation of Palestine. Due to the humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade, the area has been deemed as “uninhabitable” by the United Nations. According to human rights reports, 97 percent of water in Gaza is undrinkable, where 75 percent of the area’s 2 million residents experience food insecurity. More than half of Gaza’s residents are children, the vast majority of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Since 2008, military attacks by the state of Israel have resulted in more than 4,000 civilian deaths in Gaza, hundreds of whom have been children. Despite the United Nations, international human rights, and international health organizations calling for accountability for Israel’s systematic human rights violations, military occupation, and apartheid practices, Israel remains one of the biggest recipients of U.S. aid, nearly $4 billion annually.

“We want an immediate end to unconditional U.S. aid to the state of Israel that has been used to fund the Israeli government’s human rights violations,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “Just as we seek peace and justice globally, and have opposed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so do we call for peace and solidarity in Gaza and in the rest of Palestine.” 

National Nurses United is the largest union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide.

Gaza is Not a Breaking News Cycle



The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy

August 11, 2022

 

Good Morning,

As you might have seen or heard, Israel launched yet another assault on the besieged Gaza strip, with bombardments and airstrikes killing 45 Palestinians and injuring more than 360, so far.

With the announcement of yet another precarious ceasefire, the international community’s attention is likely to move away from Gaza, yet again, leaving its people to mourn and rebuild in isolation under Israel’s 15 years of ongoing military siege. With this being Israel’s fifth assault since 2009 it is crucial to educate and inform ourselves and each other on Gaza, and to fight against its invisibilization and its dehumanization as mere periodical news cycle. Gaza has an ancestral history that is an integral and enmeshed part of Palestinian history. We must fight to keep it as part of the whole, and look ahead with a long-term vision, united against Israel’s intention to fragment and isolate Palestinians everywhere. 

This is why we are sharing with you again our latest Palestinian Takes email from June on Gaza, marking the passage of 15 years of Israel’s military siege. The email includes various Palestinian perspectives and resources on Gaza’s present and past, intertwined to bring us to the current moment.

The Nakba in 1948 and “the Gaza strip”:

  • Gaza has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, a thriving port for multiple cultures. Right before the Nakba of 1948, Gaza was one of many of Palestine’s districts, including the areas of Bir Al Sabi’ (Beersheba). As Israel’s ethnic cleansing operations began, 49 villages of the Gaza district were destroyed and more than 200,000 Palestinians were expelled from the southern and coastal areas of Palestine to smaller parts of Gaza district, which came to be known as the Gaza strip, as we learn in the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question.
  • Since 1948, Gaza has become the epitome of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return movement, embodied more recently by the Great March of Return, that was co-initiated by Ahmad Abu Artema: “I wondered what would happen if 200,000 protesters gathered near the Israel fence with Gaza Strip, and entered the lands that are ours”.

The centrality of Gaza to iconic Palestinian food and land cultivation:

  • At home, on the sidewalks or dangling from the roofs of the shops at the markets or crossroads, this is how the branches of the unripe dates, called the “red gold”, announce they’re in season, a fruit after which the city of Deir Al-Balah (Land of Unripe Dates) is named.
  • Famous recipes have been curated by Palestinian chef Laila Haddad in The Gaza Kitchen cookbook, documenting people’s history and daily life through traditional dishes like the Rumaniyya (eggplant lentil pomegranate bowl) and Dagga (hot tomato and dill salad).
  • With its long Mediterranean coastline, fishery became a major source of food culture and sovereignty for many families. Yet, following the Israeli blockade in 2007, fishermen were systematically prevented from accessing the sea beyond 20 nautical miles, which gradually decreased to 3 nautical miles, while regularly being targeted and shot at by the Israeli naval army.
  • “In a few years there will be no more fishing at all, we will have to forget our profession and become traders”, said Gaza fishermen in a documentary on the topic.

    Fishermen on a Gaza Beach, 1987
    (Palestinian Museum Digital Archive)

A testing ground for apartheid, weapons and colonial repression:

  • In 1948, Palestinian refugees “were not expecting that their exodus would be prolonged for seven decades, and that they would be subjected to condescending efforts to void their right to return.” writes Jehad Abu-Salim.
  • In the span of two decades, the Israeli regime has led four aerial bombardment campaigns, killing and injuring thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza, intentionally treating it as a testing ground for its military capabilities before it is exported all over the world.
  • “All the injustices Palestinians in Gaza face are a direct consequence of the continued denial of freedom, dignity and return. Overshadowing it with a humanitarian crisis is depriving the people in Gaza of their political will and reducing them to poor, powerless and passive subjects.” – writes Abir Kopty.
  • This thematic chronology by the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question is an important resource covering how main events unfolded in the Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014-2015.
    This visual by Visualizing Palestine explains how the Israeli closure on Gaza started long before the blockade and in the height of the 1990s peace process.

We will never forget and never forgive: Palestinian testimonies from under the rubble:

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Stop the Line 5 Pipeline Expansion

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project supports these efforts by Indigenous Women to end fossil fuel projects and protect water.

USA, April 27, 2022 Today, Indigenous women leaders, joined by over 200 organizations, representing millions nationwide, submitted a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers urging the department to deny necessary permits for the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline, and to conduct a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the entire pipeline within the Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction.

Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline was originally built in 1953, and continues to operate nearly 20 years past its engineered lifespan, transporting 22 million gallons of crude oil each day through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and under the Straits of Mackinac. Currently, Enbridge is proposing to expand the Line 5 pipeline, despite the strong opposition of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Tribes.

Enbridge proposes to route Line 5 through hundreds of waterways that flow into the Bad River Reservation, their extensive fisheries, and the navigable waters of Lake Superior. The letter sent today delivers key information detailing the impacts the Line 5 tar sands pipeline expansion project would have in the region, and clarifies how it directly undermines Indigenous rights and perpetuates the climate crisis:

“We call on you to reject permits for the expansion of Line 5. This plan places massive risk squarely upon the Bad River Tribe and the Red Cliff Tribe against their will. Furthermore, we consider the pipeline construction an act of cultural genocide. Damage to the land and water destroys food and cultural lifeways that are core to our identity and survival. The pipeline would cut through more than 900 waterways upstream of the Bad River Reservation. The U.S. EPA determined that the plan ‘may result in substantial and unacceptable adverse impacts’ to the Kakagon and Bad River slough complex. This is unacceptable.”

The letter also brings attention to the ongoing investigations and environmental issues with Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, and details Enbridge’s pattern of misrepresenting risks, violating permits, and covering up environmental damage. While constructing the Line 3 pipeline, Enbridge caused at least 28 frac-outs, polluting surface water and releasing undisclosed amounts of drilling fluid into groundwater, amongst other permit violations.

The letter concludes by bringing attention to the global repercussions of the Line 5 pipeline, noting that increased fossil fuel production will not support President Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, nor align with the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which calls for urgent emissions reductions as quickly as possible.

The letter comes from Indigenous women who are advocating to stop Line 5, and is endorsed by local and national groups representing Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, health professionals, faith groups, and more. Please see quotes from the original signatories of the letter below:

Jannan J. Cornstalk, Citizen of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and Director of the Water is Life Festival: “There needs to be a shift, to ensure that Tribes and Indigenous communities are part of the process not after the fact but from the very beginning. That’s consultation. Our very lifeways and cultures hang in the balance as pipelines like Line 5 get rammed through our territories and water. These are our lifeways– when that water is healthy enough that rice is growing– that not only benefits our communities, but that benefits everybody up and down stream. The Army Corps and Biden Administration must put people over profits. Allowing Line 5 to proceed is cultural genocide. The disturbances go deeper than you are hearing. That water is our relative, and we will do whatever it takes to protect our water, our sacred relative.”

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Al Samud Playground at Al Shuhada Kindergarten, Hebron

Ramadan Mubarak from our family at Playgrounds for Palestine to you and yours! 

Image

On behalf of all of us at Playgrounds for Palestine, we would like to wish you a blessed Ramadan!  

We would like to extend a sincere thank you for your support of PfP and share some photos of our work.

This week, a new playground will be installed in Hebron at Al Shuhada Kindergarten. This is one of nine upcoming playgrounds for the year 2022! 

Our work would not be possible without your generous contributions and support. Thank you for working with us to affirm every child’s right to play! 

 

Playgrounds for Palestine
P.O. Box 559
Yardley, PA 19067
© 2021

Due to wars and siege, Gaza infrastructure unprepared for climate disaster

Palestinian residents stranded in an inundated house following torrential rains that hit Gaza City on January 16, 2022. (Photo: Mohammed Dahman/APA Images)

TAREQ S. HAJJAJ, MONDOWEISS, MARCH 16, 2022

No one should go to bed with the fear that their children might drown or float away in the middle of the night. But that was the reality for many families in the besieged Gaza Strip this winter, which saw heavy rain and snowstorms across Palestine. 

It was the middle of January, and a heavy rainstorm was gripping Gaza. Khadijah Abukarsh, 30, a mother of five, was only asleep for a few hours when she felt water around her. 

She jumped up and ran to her kids’ room, where she found her kids soaked in water, and her youngest, Hassan, 2, almost completely submerged under water that had overtaken the house. 

“I lifted him up as fast as I could, the water was coming out of his ears,” Abukarsh said, shivering as she remembered the night that her family was forced to flee their flooded home in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza for the nearest shelter, a local school a few blocks away. 

“The water was over 50 centimeters high. Our house was completely flooded,” Abukarsh said. “We stayed at the shelter for two days, and slept on the floor of a classroom. It was very difficult.”

Palestinian municipal workers help UNRWA school students to cross a flooded street in the heavy rain in Gaza City, on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Palestinian municipal workers help UNRWA school students to cross a flooded street in the heavy rain in Gaza City, on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

‘Our house was like a swamp’

After 13 years of siege, and four devastating wars, being in a state of crisis or disaster has become familiar for many Palestinians in Gaza. 

In recent years, however, a more unfamiliar disaster has crept into the homes of many Gazan families. 

As the global climate crisis continues to worsen, many Gazan families, like the Abukarsh’s, are feeling the devastating effects of climate change, which are compounded by Israel’s siege. 

With an infrastructure that’s been crippled by the siege and Israeli offensives, most recently in May 2021, most Palestinians in Gaza are not prepared for what the climate crisis has brought to their doorstep. 

“During the last war, due to airstrikes on our neighborhood, the foundation and walls in our house have cracked,” Abukarsh told Mondoweiss from her modest 60 square meter home. 

When it rains, she said, water seeps easily through the cracks in the walls, and the tin sheet roof that covers the house. 

“Every time it rains, our home becomes uninhabitable, and we have no other place to go except the nearby school,” Abukarsh said, admitting that her family’s home, despite housing seven people, is not really fit for living. 

Abukarsh said that the heavy storms and floods that slammed Gaza this winter were particularly nasty for her family. 

“We could not move in the house, it was like a swamp inside our rooms,” she said. “We went to seek shelter in the school just like during the war.” 

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Maia Project Update

For Over 11 Years



The new unit providing clean water to the kids in Shuka, Rafah (MECA, 12/29/21)

Help us give the gift of Clean Water to the Children of Rafah

There is a water crisis in Palestine that affects the health of virtually every adult and child. In the Gaza Strip poor sanitation and over-extraction have polluted the limited water supply. Israeli military attacks and the blockade have prevented repairs to water infrastructure. Water to Gaza is restricted and often too expensive for families to purchase from a safe source.

MAIA is Arabic for water, and the MAIA Project began when children at a UN school in Gaza picked clean drinking water as the one thing they wanted most for their school.

That’s why the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project joined with the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) in 2010 to provide water filters to schools in Rafah. You can help today!

For a limited time we are offering a 22-oz. Trek II aluminum refillable water bottle with this Maia logo for all donations of at least $60.

Donations of $80 or more can also receive a GAZA logo pin. If you want the water bottle and/or pin, please mail a check and send us a phone number or email address with your request; we will contact you to arrange delivery.

  • Make a donation online. Due to coronavirus precautions, this is currently preferred.
  • Mail a check payable to MRSCP with the memo “water”. Send it to
      MRSCP
      P.O. Box 5214
      Madison, WI 53705

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is registered as a 501(c)(3) organization and your donation is tax deductible.


Our History with the Maia Project

2019 — 2020 Our current goal is to raise $16,000 for a large Maia filter at the Al Shuka Preparatory School. The siege of Gaza and lack of building materials forces this school to run in two shifts: the first one girls and the second co-ed. A total of 2,200 students and their families will be able to get clean water from this unit.

Maia Brochure 2019 adobe


2018 — 2019 $16,000 for filters at two schools serving 3,250 students and their families in Rafah. A joint project of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim, First Unitarian Society of Madison, Jewish Voice for Peace – Madison, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. Photos of the filters by Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance:

  • Drinking Clean Water
  • Drinking Clean Water
  • School Yard
  • School Yard
  • Tank & Filter Unit Delivery
  • Tank and Filter Unit Delivery
  • Units Ready for Transport
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Filter Unit Fabrication
  • Control Panel
  • Control Panel
  • Water Storage Tank
  • Filter Unit Housing

http://madisonrafah.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/maia-bro-for-online590.pdf

2013 $11,500 for clean water at the Girl’s Preparatory School A in Rafah with 1,187 students.

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December 12, 2021
Online Film: To Treat Kids Like Me in Gaza

Screening & discussion
Sun, Dec 12, 2021, 1:00 PM CST

With severe medicine shortages and an overstretched health care system in Gaza, children in need of medical treatments can only find them outside the strip. Yet Israel’s convoluted, arbitrary permit process leaves them waiting in pain, often missing life-saving care. To Treat Kids Like Me (produced by Donkeysaddle Projects and +972 Magazine) follows the family of Mohamed Saleh and several other children in the Gaza Strip as they navigate the often Kafkaesqe process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments that are unavailable there.

The 5th offering in DSP’s Freedom Film Series will be followed by a discussion with filmmaker Jen Marlowe and special guests:

  • Ghada Majadli: Director of the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel department for Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT); featured in To Treat Kids Like Me.
  • Mohamed Lafi: Public health professional working for the World Health Organization in the OPT, with a focus on access to health care for patients who need to seek care outside the OPT.
  • Fadi Abu Shammalah: Manager of Donkeysaddle’s Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project; has been DSP’s on-the-ground support for Mohamad Salah (who is featured in To Treat Kids Like Me)
  • Miranda Cleland: Communications Manager for Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP). DCIP documents cases like Mohamed’s where Israeli forces kill or injure Palestinian children.
  • Tickets by donation. 50% of ticket proceeds go to Palestine Grassroots Distribution Project, including Mohamad Salah’s medical care.

    Sponsored by Donkeysaddle Projects. Co-sponsored by Just Vision & Defense for Children International-Palestine.