New Prime Minister, Same Human Rights Violations

Dear Friend,

I am heavy, but hopeful. The last two weeks have been heartbreaking and enraging in so many ways: we see U.S. government fingerprints, our tax dollars at work, on carnage around the world, from Afghanistan to Palestine. Our government has left the Afghan people to a chaotic power vacuum in the aftermath of 20 years of U.S. invasion, and denied refuge to so many. And the U.S. welcomed the new Prime Minister of Apartheid Israel, Naftali Bennett, to the White House just days after Israeli forces shot Palestinian protesters in Gaza, injuring a 13-year-old child.

But as a communication professional in advocacy, I know the power of shifting the narrative to transform what’s possible for future policy. This week we’ve seen people-powered actions disrupting the narratives of the powerful. On Afghanistan, that looks like an outpouring of people’s support for Afghan refugees—follow Afghans for a Better Tomorrow on Instagram and Twitter for one view into the outpouring of community support for providing refuge to Afghans made vulnerable by our disastrous foreign policy. And on Palestine, we’ve been part of a powerful conclusion to August’s month of action this week, with people like you speaking up in the media, in joint letters, and in the streets to condemn this red carpet rollout for war criminal Bennett and push toward an end to U.S. support for Israel’s colonialism once and for all.

Join us by raising your voice: Today the mainstream media is reporting on Israeli PM Bennett and President Biden’s meeting on “peace” and “security,” while an end to billions of dollars of U.S. weapons to bomb, cage, and displace Palestinians remains off the agenda.



Sign this petition
to demand President Biden support real justice for Palestinians.

Ben & Jerry’s: Stop supporting apartheid in Palestine

SumOfUs, June 28, 2021

Last month, during the eleven-day assault by Israeli military on the Gaza Strip, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, died. And last week, thousands of right-wing nationalists paraded around Jerusalem shouting ‘death to Arabs’.

The only way to stop the never-ending cycle of settlement expansion and violence is to make the economic cost of this illegal occupation too high to bear. 

Ben & Jerry’s has been one of the world’s most progressive companies since its inception, but they continue to sell and operate on stolen Palestinian land. 

And if we can get them to stop supporting the apartheid regime, other global companies like Puma and Motorola will be forced to follow suit.

Tell Ben & Jerry’s: stop supporting the brutal occupation of Palestine.

The recent violence in the region is just the latest in the chapter of oppression of Palestinians — a conflict that is marked by decades of apartheid, colonization, land theft, forced evictions, demolitions, and displacement of Palestinians by settlers waving Israel’s flag.

While Israeli settlers on stolen Palestinian land use freezers to store Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, people in Gaza have no choice but to use them to store the bodies of dead Palestinians babies as was the case after the deadly assault when close to 2,000 were killed in 2014.

The company’s normally active social media has been silent since the eleven-day assault. We know from inside sources that Ben & Jerry’s is deciding right now whether to pull out of Israel for good.

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End U.S. Tax Dollars for Israel’s Genocide of Palestinians

Leah Muskin-Pierret, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), June 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — 🔥 Statement & Call to Action:

The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights condemns the state-sanctioned, racist, anti-Palestinian flag march on June 15, 2021 in Jerusalem and continuing bombing of Palestinians in Gaza and calls for the U.S. to immediately stop funding Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. USCPR also asks people’s movements and organizations to express their support for Palestinian liberation, in order to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people who, united, defy these Israeli settlers’ attempts to intimidate them.

The flag march is a blatant display of anti-Palestinian racism, in which Israeli settlers chant “Death to Arabs,” a clear call for genocidal violence against the Palestinian people. The United Nations Genocide Convention recognizes that genocide includes the act of killing members of a group “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

The Israeli government backs this violence: the reality of state-sanctioned violence was made extremely clear again today when Israeli soldiers beat a Palestinian young man and a Palestinian woman for raising a Palestinian flag in a sea of Israeli flags, while protecting Israeli Jewish demonstrators calling for burning Palestinian homes. According to latest reports, Israeli forces have assaulted and arrested Palestinian people in Jerusalem today, injuring 33 people, while clearing out shops and closing Damascus Gate for the flag march. This brutal violence cannot be separated from the continuous assaults on the Gaza Strip that have massacred generations of Palestinian families, horrific assaults that Israel is resuming as of 6pm ET today.

Especially at this moment, USCPR calls on members of Congress, leaders, and organizations to condemn this anti-Palestinian racism and violence and to hold Israel accountable for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people have been loudly and clearly demanding nothing short of an end to all to all U.S. complicity, but many members of Congress have not even taken the most basic action to support Palestinian rights.

At a bare minimum, members of Congress must cosponsor H.R. 2590, The Palestinian Children and Families Act, which insists on the rights to safety, dignity, and freedom for the Palestinian people: the freedom to thrive, free from child detention, home demolitions, continual Israeli annexation and land theft.

The new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has himself bragged about killing Arabs. The root of violence in Israeli policy is Zionism, Israel’s settler colonial project of displacing Palestinians to create an exclusive Jewish homeland in Palestine. Every Israeli government has advanced Israel’s colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

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Update: May 18, 2021
EMERGENCY VIGIL FOR GAZA AND PALESTINE


Names of Palestinian Casualties as of May 16, 2021
Names of Palestinian Casualties as of May 16

Plaza at Trader Joes
Monroe and Spooner Streets
Madison, Wisconsin
8 — 9 pm

The devastation and loss of life caused by Israel’s unrelenting bombardment of Gaza is drastically escalating, with no end in sight. Today, a General Strike was held by Palestinians in the West Bank and inside Israel in protest of Israel’s assault and in support of Sheikh Jarrah and against Israel’s Apartheid rule. Meanwhile, the reported death toll has risen to at least 217 including 63 children and 36 women. Tens of thousands are displaced and there is widespread destruction of housing, government buildings businesses and infrastructure. For updates, see Middle East Eye.

Here in Madison, MRSCP has decided to hold a lighted sign vigil from 8-9 pm at the circular plaza in front of Trader Joes, at Monroe and West Lawn/Spooner Street.

We have decided to go ahead due to the urgency of the situation and the need to support the Palestinian call for a day of action despite the weather. If there is too much rain, wind, or lightning to do this safely we will shift the vigil to tomorrow night.

Please join us. Dress for the weather and bring umbrellas, a flashlight, and any signs you might have. We apologize for the late notice.

Thanks for your support,
Barb O.

Emergency Aid Appeal


First of all, thanks to those who turned out for yesterday’s banner drop and today’s demonstration at the Capitol covered by Channel 27 News. Demonstrations were held all over the world yesterday and today, even in France where they were prohibited by the Macron government at the last minute.

As I write this, live media coverage out of Gaza by Arabic channels is showing the constant bombardment of Gaza that takes place every night. As you may have heard, Israel destroyed yet another high rise building in Gaza, this time the one that also houses many press agencies including AP. Here is a video of the building owner pleading for just 10 extra minutes.

This was preceded by the destruction of 17 media offices and the wounding of 3 journalists in Gaza. Clearly Israel does not want anyone to know what is really going on.

Israel also destroyed a house in Shati (Beach) Camp and killed 10 members of one family.

And there were many injuries as Palestinians protested across the West Bank. Yesterday, 11 were killed by Israel.

The U.S. media is barely reporting and certainly not showing the extent of the damage and casualties. If you want know the reality including pictures please go to Al Jazeera English and Middle East Eye.

Also, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza issues daily reports documenting in excruciating detail the damage, deaths and injuries, including what is happening in the West Bank and to Israel’s Palestinian population.

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Update: Fresh Food for Families in Rafah

Josie Shields-Stromsness, Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA)

Update for Madison Rafah Sister City Project

BACKGROUND
The economic situation in the Gaza Strip is deteriorating dramatically as a result of the continuation of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli blockade. The precautions taken to limit the spread of coronavirus including imposing of lockdowns and curfews have worsened the dire situation. As a result, more than 70% of the population are reported below the poverty line and food insecurity and malnutrition pose serious risks to the health of hundreds of thousands of people, particularly children.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
With donations from MRSCP, MECA and our local partner in Gaza, the Never Stop Dreaming Association, were able to provide nutritious food parcels to families in need in Rafah while also supporting local farmers and businesses.

We received additional funding from several individuals and organizations in the United States for this project and in total were able to provide 1413 families in Rafah, Khan Younis and the middle region of the Gaza Strip with food parcels. Families were nominated by community organizations in each location and then checked against official lists to ensure we are reaching people most in need. MRSCPs donations of $4655 provide food parcels to 116 families in Rafah governate in the southern Gaza Strip, the transportation, warehouse rental, and meals for volunteers were covered by other funding sources.

The contents of the food parcels were purchased from 4 farms employing 24 individuals and 3 small grocery stores. This project therefore provided critical income to 27 families in Gaza.

Each food parcel contained fresh vegetables, chickens, and other household staples designed to provide each family with the necessary items to make healthy, balanced meals for two weeks. MECA staff member Wafaa El-Derawi is a trained nutritionist and oversaw the contents of the parcels.

CHALLENGES
We faced some challenges with the COVID-19 restrictions in Gaza. We overcame this by having several distribution points, providing all staff and volunteers with masks and gloves, and by organizing pick up times well so there was not overcrowding at the warehouses.

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Biden should end support for bombing and starvation of Yemen


People run following an explosion at the airport in Aden, Yemen, shortly after a plane carrying the newly formed Cabinet landed on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. No one on board the government plane was hurt but initial reports said several people at the airport were killed. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, The Cap Times, January 25, 2021

For over five years, Yemenis have endured a civil war which has already killed nearly a quarter-million people. Roughly half of those who perished died from war-induced malnutrition, disease and lack of basic services.

Intervening on one side, a Saudi-led and U.S.-supported coalition has used overwhelming military force — including laser-guided bombs and other high-tech weapons supported by our tax dollars — to systematically devastate huge areas of Yemen that their rivals control.

The U.S. has supplied combat ships that are vital to the naval and air blockade presently denying millions of people in Yemen essential food and medicine (90% of Yemen’s food supply is imported).

The U.S. has also directly carried out bombing raids against those it labels “terrorists.” Recently, Congress failed to stop the Trump administration from selling F-35s like those the Air Force wants to station at Truax to the United Arab Emirates, one of the countries bombing Yemen.

As was predicted, famine is now widespread. Two-thirds of Yemenis are hungry and many tens of thousands, especially children, are truly bloated-belly-and-stick-limbs starving. Moderate to severe malnutrition afflicts a quarter of the population, including more than 2 million children.

And now COVID-19 has joined cholera and diphtheria in exponentially compounding their misery.

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Pompeo Labels BDS Antisemitic, Threatens Blacklist

This week Pompeo broke with longstanding U.S. policy and visited illegal Israeli settlements. On his trip, he made several announcements, including that the State Department is designating BDS as antisemitic and calling for the U.S. Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to create what is essentially a blacklist of organizations that support BDS. We will have more on this soon, but for now:

  • Please share the JVP Action statement condemning this widely (this is compliant to share on chapter lists and chapter social media). You can also re-share our petition to the State Department on this issue.
  • Here are other statements you can check out and lift up:
  • November 2020
    Virtual Fair Trade Holiday Festival

    Dear Members and Friends of MRSCP,

    Mark your calendars for the upcoming Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival, which has gone virtual this year due to the pandemic.

    The sale will be during the month of November. Make this your one stop shop for all your holiday gift giving. Spend your money on products that support your values; give gifts that give twice, once to the producer and once to the recipient.

    You will be able to browse all the participating vendors and order directly from their websites by visiting Madison Fair Trade Holiday Festival.

    You can also follow the Festival on Facebook.

    MRSCP will be participating in the virtual sale via our online store, Madison-Rafah Marketplace. We will carry most of our usual items.

    (The store is currently up and running for olive oil sales; our complete product listings will be available when the Festival opens.)

    Note: MRSCP CANNOT ship or deliver any purchases; they need to be picked up. You will receive instructions and a pickup window following your purchase. In hardship cases, we may be able to provide delivery.

    We hope you will be able to participate in this annual event, and as always, thanks for your support.

    Barb O.
    MRSCP