Hope & Peace Foundation For Children Update

Anees Mansour, December 16, 2016

Dear Friends,

Assalamu Alaikum & Hello Everyone,

I hope you, your family and friends are doing well.

Special thanks to our old and new donors for your contributions to our winter project “Keep Children Of Gaza Warm.”

Alhamdulillah (Thanks to God) we have achieved our goal within a few days and finally we received the whole donation today. We started the process of delivering the coats as a gift from you to our children – please check the pictures down below.

We also decided to extend the project goal to cover more children of Rafah/Gaza. So please don’t hesitate to support if you can at:

A. Gifts for the kids:

B. The children of Rafah in their rehearsal for the play show “International Criminal Law Moot Court – War Crimes on Trial”

    (please expect our show on you-tube soon)

C. Preparing the Gallery of the Peace City

Please keep your eyes open for:
1. Play show, we expect so many people to attend the Trial on Sunday, the show will be translated into English.
2. Play show, Gallery of the Peace City, also on Sunday.
3. Our new initiative for the new year, I will surprise you with it.

Thank you all for your support

Best Wishes,

Mr. Mahmoud Mansour (Anees)
Executive Director
Hope & Peace Foundation For Children – Gaza
Mobile: +970 599 028556
+970 2131 371
www.facebook.com/HPFFC.Rafah

No fires or inciting politicians can destroy our shared society

Samah Salaime, +972, November 26, 2016

The wildfire that struck Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam left our Jewish-Arab village more resilient than ever before. We invite Israel’s politicians to learn from us on how to heal our society’s wounds.

Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)Fire fighters try to extinguish a forest fire in the forest near Neve Shalom and Latrun, outside Jerusalem, November 22, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Our country has been up in flames this past week. Hundreds of fires have broken out in various areas resulting in tens of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes. The first fire started last Tuesday at Neve Shalom-Wahat al Salam, a unique community between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where Jews and Arabs live together in equality, which struggled to quell the flames and bring peace to the region. My husband and two children and I were evacuated from with 300 others, fearing of our lives and the destruction of our homes.

It was frightening for all of us. However what was even more frightening was the reaction of some of the countries journalists and politicians who used the opportunity to ignite and inflame hatred, claiming that arson was the cause of the wildfires. Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett posted an unfortunate and irresponsible Facebook status, in which he wrote that “The only ones capable of setting the land on fire are people to whom it does not belong.” Rather than unifying and reassuring Israeli citizens — if only slightly — Bennett incited against an entire public and inflamed the public atmosphere.

Following the elections in the United States, the world has become a dangerous place, as sparks have begun to fly in all directions, igniting hatred and fear. We have seen this over the past decade in Europe with new immigrants, and we now see it in the U.S., as white supremacists begin to cheer on Trump’s victory as a victory for the ‘white race,’ while graffiting swastikas on walls.

The fire at Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam was clearly an unfortunate accident, as was the one in the neighboring town of Nataf. One reporter, an expert in arson, deemed the fire an “inspiration” to other supposed pyromaniacs, giving second and third-rate politicians carte blanche to do what they are best at: incite. But perhaps the journalist was right; since the fire in my community was an inspiration. We made it through the freezing night together in the fields below our homes, where we realized that our community can teach this country’s leadership a thing or two about humane behavior in times of crisis.

Cohesion and unity in the face of fire is not so surprising in our community – the first and only Jewish-Arab community in the Middle East. It is what makes us feel that 40 years of living together through wars, intifadas, crises, military “campaigns,” and lots of pain has been worthwhile. They have been years of valuable teaching and learning; investment in people rather than stones; investment in one another, rather than in fences and barriers.

Pro-annexation Jewish Home ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett during a preliminary vote on the ‘Regulation Law’ to legalize ‘illegal’ settlement outposts, November 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)Jewish Home ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset, November 16, 2016. Bennett hinted this past week that Arabs were responsible for the spate of wildfires across Israel. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Our hearts were open as we waited in the fields below, where a protective ring circled our community as the rescue forces fought to safeguard our life’s project, built on a hilltop surrounded by fires that raged on every side. (Those of us who are dedicated to living together in peace have felt this way often.) Meanwhile our neighbors, Kibbutz Nachshon, Bekoa, and Tel Shahar, opened their gates to us. At 6 a.m. they took us in; Arab and Jewish men, women and children and offered us a warm and cozy place to recover, without checking our identity cards to check which nation we belonged to.

If the world is looking for inspiration, and our minister of education is looking to bring our people together instead of pulling us apart, we invite you to join the Arab and Jewish families who send their children to our bilingual school. On the day after the fire, the pupils and teachers got together and cleaned up the school grounds, where for more than 30 years Jewish and Arab children have studied together every day — through war and through peace as equals, promoting peace and shared society. We invite him to observe how this week we set out with 40 up-and-coming politicians from Israel and Palestine to seek new solutions together and open avenues of communication. We invite him to learn from us how to struggle to bind a shared society together, not to pull it apart.

Students from Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam clean up the school grounds following a wildfire at the Jewish-Arab village. (Lindsay Stanek)Students from Neve Shalom-Wahat al-Salam clean up the school grounds following a wildfire at the Jewish-Arab village. (Lindsay Stanek)

The attempt to sabotage the humanity of any people who share a common space in order to survive politically is a highly dangerous experiment —one that places the lives of millions all over the world. We have seen the results in the past, we see it happening all over the world today. This is truly playing with fire. If a burned forest takes years to rehabilitate, the work required to heal the wounds of hatred and fear is far more difficult.

Although it is hard to imagine that the voices we are hearing today, even from your political leaders, will lead us to a better society, I urge you, dear readers, for the health of your minds and your sanity, not to listen to the voices of malice or be carried away in the cold, dry winds of hatred and fear. Since inside that fear lies an unsustainable fire that eventually leads to hell. Look around and see that people, irrespective of religion, race and gender, are afraid of the fire and other disasters, just like you are. It is best to learn how to survive it together, or else we will burn together.

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Palestinians Blamed for Forest Fires Across Palestine

Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, November 25, 2016

But fires are raging across Western Asia

Middle East Fires, Past Week (Global Forest Watch, Washington, DC)

Over 200 forest fires are raging in Palestine (now renamed the Jewish State of Israel, including its occupied Palestinian territories). Many countries are helping put out the fires, including four teams of Palestinian firefighters (nobody helped Gaza when it was being fire-bombed by white phosphorous).

But the fascist, racist government of “Israel” blamed the Palestinians for the fires! Even some decent Israelis pointed out that fires are raging across Western Asia (aka the “Middle East”).

Perhaps coincidentally or otherwise, right after war criminal Netanyahu blamed Palestinians, new fires erupted near Palestinian communities. If you really want to know who is to blame for the damage, it is clearly Zionism, as I wrote in many articles and books before.

In 1901 at the World Zionist Congress, and despite objections of conscientious Jews, a Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemet Li’Israel, or KKL) was established to further “Jewish colonization” (the term they used) of Palestine.

One of the tasks was to raise money, and they used the gimmick of collecting money for trees. Indeed they did plant trees, but it was unfortunately the highly flammable European pine tree.

After 1948-1949 when some 500 Palestinian villages and towns were depopulated, their lands (cultivated with figs, almonds, olives and other trees) were razed to the ground, and again resinous and inflammable pine trees were planted.

The same happened after 1967 when here Palestinian villages were demolished and their village lands planted with the same European pines; one of those villages is the biblical Imwas (see photos before and after here: freepaly.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-racism.

Palestinian village of ‘Imwas, 1958

Palestinian village of ‘Imwas after destruction by Israeli army, 1968

Ruins of Palestinian village of ‘Imwas, site of Jewish National Fund’s ‘Canada Park’, 1978

The choice of European pine trees was because a) they grow fast, b) they give a European look to the otherwise “Arab” landscape, and c) their leaves on the ground make it acidic, preventing growth or regrowth of endogenous trees. In total, KKL boasts that it planted 240 million pine trees.

Resinous pine is like petrol and burns with a ferocity. This was not the only environmentally catastrophic decision by the Zionist movement in Palestine: others include draining the Hula Wetlands and the diversion of the water of the river Jordan and now the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal.

Environmentally, the current fires are deadly to all living creatures regardless of their origins, and they do spread to the remaining few indigenous forests and to human dwellings (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Atheist without distinction).

We environmentalists (Palestinian and Israeli) have long warned of the catastrophic consequences of politically driven decisions, guided by colonial ideology but devastating to native animals and plants.

So here we are: the remaining native Palestinians watching our lands go up in flames and being blamed for it. This is not unusual and we are the victims of others from long ago. We even paid the price of what happened in WWII (by Europeans to fellow Europeans).

I am thinking now if a meteor hits the Earth, we Palestinians will also pay a disproportionate price. 7 million of us are refugees or displaced people.

We in the Palestine Museum of Natural History and Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (http://palestinenature.org) urge protection of our nature. Environmental conservation is a priority for all decent human beings, including guarding biodiversity (and human diversity).

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
http://qumsiyeh.org
http://palestinenature.org/

Gaza Summer Camp

Gaza Summer Camp — July 17, 2016

Dearest Friends,

I would like to thank you all so much for your support to our project “Gaza Summer Camp”. I would also like to inform you that we have achieved our goal. Again your support is much appreciated. Here are some pictures of the first few days of the project.

In the other hand, we will start a few Skype meeting, please if you’re interested to join your kids into it let us know, feel free to ad my skype anees.mansour7

So keep your eyes open for our further updates.

Best Wishes from Gaza

Mr. Mahmoud Mansour (Anees)
Hope & Peace Foundation For Children – Gaza
Mobile: +970 599 028556
+970 2131 371
www.facebook.com/HPFFC

Breaking Ground at Cinema Hebron

Rabbi Brant Rosen, Shalom Rav, July 17, 2016

This past Friday, I had the honor to participate in an incredible, unprecedented mass action of civil disobedience in the H2 section of Hebron – in the heart of Israel's unjust and illegal occupation.

I'll start with a little bit of history:

In 1968, a year after Israel conquered the West Bank, a group of radical religious settlers led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, led a group of followers to a hotel in Hebron – with the government’s support – to observe a Passover seder. When it was over, they refused to leave; and following a negotiation with the government, they were allowed to create a settlement to the east of Hebron that they named Kiryat Arba Since that time, Jewish settlers gradually moved into Hebron proper. Over the years tension gradually increased in Hebron. Things changed drastically in 1995 after Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi mosque. Fearful of reprisals, the IDF imposed increasing curfews and restriction of movement on the Palestinian population.

In 1996, as part of the Oslo agreement, Hebron was divided into two sections: H1 and H2. H1 is locally governed by the Palestinian Authority and is home to approximately 120,000 Palestinians. Tens of thousands of Palestinians live in H2 along with 600 Jewish settlers. Since the Second Intifada, Israel increased their security crackdown on this part of the city, blocking off major streets to Palestinians – most notably the main commercial road, Shuhadah Street. (The army refers to them as “sterile roads”).

Virtually every Palestinian shop in H2 has been closed and their doors welded shut by the army. Because the Palestinian residents of Shuhadah St. are not allowed to walk on the road, they must enter and exit through the rear of homes because they cannot leave their own front doors. Because of these measures – and the ongoing harassment and violence at the hands of Jewish settlers – what was once the busting commercial center of Hebron has become a ghost town. 42% of its Palestinian homes are empty and 70% of its Palestinian business have been shut down.

We visited Hebron earlier this week and it was a truly chilling experience. Our group went on a tour led by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli army veterans who are speaking out about the abuses the IDF are committing in Hebron. I did a BTF tour in 2008 during my first real foray into the reality of contemporary Hebron. Today, the situation there is even more dire if such a thing is possible.

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Child Psychological Support by Anees Mansour

Hello from Gaza. My name is Anees Mansour, one of a group of volunteers working with at-risk children in Rafah, Gaza. With your help we’ve already done so much this year, we’ve put on a summer camp, a series of educational workshops, art therapy and performance sessions. From the photos below you can see some of the great results we’ve had.

The public response to our work has been so supportive – so thank you. Our new initiative is to train 18 new volunteers to provide psycho-social support to the children we work with here in Rafah. To reach more children we need more volunteers and we need to train them in basic counselling and art therapy. You don’t need me to tell you how badly the children of Gaza need a creative outlet in a safe space. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza and the psychological pressures on children are, frankly, brutal. We are working to create and maintain some small safe spaces for them to grow and your ongoing help is central to our efforts.

Rafah is in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Palestine on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, with an estimated area of 55 km and home to a population of 270,000 people, of whom a large proportion are children. Rafah is one of the poorest areas in Gaza, which, of course, is suffering from a prolonged, brutal siege. All and any help is appreciated.

you can see the pictures of our past projects @
• Gaza Summer Camp
• Our Right To Play
• Our Health in Our Hands
• Field Trip

For any further information , don’t hesitate to contact me at: anemansour@gmail.com or by phone on 00970598699046

Thanks in advance!

A Samira Project Success Story

This is from the Middle East Children’s Alliance project assistant in Gaza, who tells us that the program now has 220 children enrolled over two shifts. Photos are taken with consent, and A’hed’s first name is used with the family’s approval.

 


Related articles:

  • Samira Project Children’s Counseling
  • Samira Counseling Photos

  • A’hed is a nine year old boy. He joined the project from the early beginning – in August 2015. During the primary activities of that month, like ice-breaking and introductory activities, the psychologist noticed that there was something wrong about A’hed. “I noticed that he was very aggressive and very nervous during the activities. He attacked his colleagues more than once, he was moving a lot during the activities, he was sensitive and he refused to make any relationships with the other children,” said psychologist Haneen Jomaa.

    She explained: “These regular symptoms showed that A’hed is suffering from a severe psychological trauma. I talked to A’hed privately in order to complete a form about his case. After several questions, I figured out that his father had died during the last war on Gaza in 2014, his mother left him and his sister after his father’s death, and they live now in their uncle’s house.

    In conclusion, his family was broken, his mother was uneducated, and he and his sister faced serious economic problems. As a result of this session with A’hed, I called his uncle’s wife for a meeting to complete the parents form with her. I asked her to speak freely and honestly about A’hed in order to help me healing him. During her speech, many problems showed up.

    “A’hed was suffering from bed-wetting, he was terrified from the frequent assault of his uncle, he was a forgetful, his requests must be done immediately, he was treating animals cruelly, and, finally, A’hed once set fire to the house!” said his uncle’s wife painfully.

    A’hed was classified as a special case immediately. He was in need of special psychological support sessions. A joint plan was prepared by the psychologist and the teacher to follow-up his case. The psychologist tended to integrate him into activities which focus on various problems, such as getting rid of the fear, babbling, hesitation and isolation.

    A remarkable improvement appeared in A’hed’s behavior and educational achievement. He was starting to answer questions without any hesitation, concentrating on his lessons, his marks in several subjects increased, and his love and passion of studying appeared in his commitment and discipline in the various activities of the project.

    In addition, the material and moral motivation played a major role in his improvement. For example, his grade last year was 52%, but in the first semester of this year, his grade was 70%. “Regardless of this great improvement, A’hed needs more work in order to reach the required level,” said Haneen Jomaa.

    “I Like to spend my time in the Women’s Union Center studying and playing with my friends. It’s much better than my house.” A’hed said.

    November 1, 2015
    Room No. 4 Photos and Speaker

    room no. 4 handcuffed

    Sunday, November 1, 2015
    First Unitarian Society
    900 University Bay Drive, Madison
    1:00 – 2:30 pm

    “They left me in the room for 5 hours with my hands tied behind my back and my legs tied to each other. When I refused to confess, they slapped me and tightened the hand ties more and more.” 15-year-old boy

    Room No. 4 is a photographic campaign prepared by the Madaa Silwan Center and War Child Holland to illustrate the violations of Palestinian children’s rights in East Jerusalem. The 12 staged photos are accompanied by written testimonies from the children themselves. Room No. 4 is the name of the Israeli interrogation room at the Russian Compound Detention Center in Jerusalem. An additional 10 documentary photos of life in occupied East Jerusalem taken by Majd Ghaith will further demonstrate the violations of children’s rights from home demolitions to settler violence.

    Come hear from Sahar Abbasi Baidon – Direct from Palestine! Sahar is a mother of four and the deputy director of MECA’s partner, Madaa Silwan Creative Center, in East Jerusalem. Born and raised in Silwan, Sahar and has worked at Madaa focusing on projects to improve life for children and women. She works directly with children who are arrested, and her interviews and research (“The Impact of Child Arrest”, a study published by Sahar and Dr. Kasahun) are the basis for the Room Number 4 photo exhibit.

    Free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to benefit the Madaa Silwan Creative Center in hiring a psychologist to help these children.

    Sponsored by Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA), Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison. For more information visit MECA or contact rafahsistercity (at) yahoo.com.