Invite your Representative and Senators to experience Palestine in December!

Invite your Representative and Senators to experience Palestine in December!

Dear Friend,

Wow!  Thirty-nine newcomer Congresswomen and men, and 5 newcomer Senators are going to Capitol Hill in January! 

Click Here Now
to invite your Representative and Senators to experience Palestine in December!

(there's even a special template for inviting Congressional newcomers)

Then,

  1. Call their office, 

  2. Ask for their Scheduler, and 

  3. Say, as a Constituent, that you've just emailed the invitation to join Rebuilding Alliance's Congressional Leadership Learning Mission to Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza — and you need an answer before Nov. 13th when Ethics Committee applications are due.   

Of the following, please call incumbents and those who were reelected:

To contact the newcomers, please check your voting materials to send them the invitation by email and to follow-up with a phone call.   Again, call and ask for their scheduler, and tell them that, as a Constituent, that you are inviting them to on an expense-paid Congressional Leadership Learning Mission to the Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza on December 14-21st. The trip is sponsored by Rebuilding Alliance, a U.S. 501(c)3 nonprofit, in full accordance with House and Senate Ethics Committee rules.

Take Action: Khan al Ahmar Update

The next weeks are critical. While Khan al Ahmar has this moment of pause, Israeli Army bulldozers continue to demolish homes and barns in other areas of the West Bank.  To assure that Khan al Ahmar's master plan will be recognized, and to present demolitions and assure equal rights for Palestinians, 

Click here to email your Senators and Representative to invite them to join Rebuilding Alliance's Leadership Learning Mission in December and also ask them to make two calls now to the Israeli Embassy and to the US State Department to press Israel to implement the village's master plan. This case will set the precedent for Palestinian rights. 

Escalation: Khan Al Ahmar


Last Sunday, heavily armed Israeli soldiers entered the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar to deliver notice to each family requiring them to "self demolish" their own homes — and their school — by Monday, October 1st. The bizarre notice read as follows:

"Inhabitants of Khan al-Ahmar
By the High Court decision you must demolish all buildings within the Khan al-Ahmar no later than 1 October 2018. If you refuse, the authorities will enforce demolition orders as per court decision and the law.
Any citizen who wishes to receive help in demolition or transporting goods must go to the liaison office and call this number..." 

But that's not what Israel's High Court decided. On Sep. 3rd, as the court itself clarified, it specifically did NOT order demolition but merely removed the injunction preventing it. The next steps are a political decision, entirely up to the Government of Israel, so this is the time when Congress may be the only ones able to weigh in. Why Congress? Frankly, demolishing villages and schools are the political equivalent of drunk driving and friends don't let friends drive drunk.

Email your Senators and Representative NOW: https://actionnetwork.org/lette…/ask-congress-to-take-action

The villagers have already made clear that they have no intention of complying with the self-demolition orders — and they continue to bring forward a just solution through their own master zoning plan, a solution that deserves fair review and consideration. Though hard-liners in the Israeli government will press to forcibly remove them from their homes, demolition is not a fait accompli.

Rabbi Arik Ascherman, Israeli human rights activist and founder of Torat Tzedek, noted, "The judges took care to mention the fact that the State has committed to 'only' demolishing Khan Al Akhmar, but not expelling the residents. The court also wrote that there is nothing preventing them from continuing to try to get a master plan approved."

As Wendy Greenfield from Jewish Voice for Peace - South Bay noted in her letter to a Congresswoman's senior staff, "We know that the voices of Congress carry great weight with the Israeli government and we urge you to take advantage of these precious days before October 1st to communicate on this particular issue."

- Calls from Congress to the Israeli Embassy are very important. With staff on three floors dedicated to Congressional engagement, when Congress calls they get answers — and constituents (that's you) can expect to get a call or letter back. Those calls to the Embassy ripple up and down the line in Israel, empowering voices that otherwise are not heard.

- In addition, Congress' calls to the U.S. State Dept. are now more important than ever. Calls from Congress give State Dept. staff permission to make such inquiries their top priority — and I've been told that calls from members of Congress are noted all the way at the top at State.

Here's the message to your Representative and Senators: Ask them to intervene by making two calls to stop the demolition of the village of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar and to urge Israel to work with the villagers to accept their own master plan. If you can, please give them a call

Please, send your emails, make your calls — and on Sunday, join the twitter storm and tweet to your members of Congress to push them into action to keep Khan al Ahmar safe and standing.

Sincerely,

Donna Baranski-Walker
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance

Read WANN: "Disability No Barrier for True Athletes in Gaza"

We Are Not Numbers (WANN)

wearenotnumbers.org

Written by: Fadi Al-Naji

I was eager to meet the 20-year-old disabled athlete, Ahmed Abu Namous. I heard about him from Eid Shaqoura, director of the Al-Basma Club. Eid told me about Ahmed’s strong spirit and his fierce refusal to let his disability impede him from achieving his goals.

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

A term that means “smile” in Arabic, Al-Basma is a Palestinian nonprofit established in 2005 by Eid to bring parasports to Gaza. His ultimate mission: to develop the skills of people with disabilities and reintegrate them into all aspects of life—particularly sports and recreation. And with the number of amputees created by the violent Israeli response to Gaza’s Great Return March at a staggering 54, his “business” is booming.

When I arrived at the school yard in Beit Lahia—a town in the northern corner of the Gaza Strip—I heard the coach whistle during a wheelchair-basketball match. One of the players, situated well in front of the basket, took two throws—with the ball sailing in successfully. The crowd erupted, whistling and applauding raucously. I realized it was him—Ahmed Abu Namous!

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Ahmed’s right leg was amputated in 2013. He was just 15 at the time and thought he could slip right through the fence separating Gaza from Israel. However, the second he got too close, he was shot with an exploding bullet by an Israeli sniper.

On that day, he lost his leg, not his love of sport or his determination to play. And his drive paid off: Ahmed was named best football (soccer) player in a 2017 competition for disabled people in Gaza and is working hard to become a professional [para] basketball player so he can participate in global contests held in Turkey (assuming he is allowed to leave).

Ahmed said,“Joining the Al-Basma Club was the turning point in my life after my injury. I had little contact with the community until I found it. Watching other players deal with their hardships taught me a lesson about my own suffering. Now, I can compete even with normal players. Whenever I play basketball, I feel strong and free.’’

In addition to wheelchair basketball, Al-Basma organizes competitions featuring volleyball, marathons, javelin and swimming. Periodically, the players train with and even compete against able athletes, to better integrate them socially.  

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

“Every detail of their daily life is a challenge,’’ said Eid Shaqoura. “Our main goal of this club is to work with love and spirit. Disabled people shouldn’t feel ‘odd’ or like outcasts. We believe the best way to accelerate their rehabilitation is by helping them integrate into society and make sure their voices and views are heard.’’

Mohammed Dahman is one of the basketball coaches and manages a team of five disabled players.

“These disabled players are learning fast. They have the capability to sharpen their skills and win many contests in the future. But our major challenge is a lack of equipment, courts and wheelchairs,’’ Dahman said. Recently, the club asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to donate wheelchairs for more than 40 disabled girls.

Eid agreed, saying, “A lack of funding is the organization’s main obstacle. International donor organizations want to contribute or finance food and clothes. But activities like sports are important too, to build self-esteem and pride.”

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

In addition to a shortage of proper equipment, the funding shortfall also means the club cannot accept more than its current 150 members.

Due to the lack of funding, I can’t work properly. For instance, I can’t achieve my suggested project to let our players play in public areas such as squares and corniche. It’s a simple project which doesn’t need much funds, but I struggle to find enough donors.   

Another challenge faced by the club and its members is a lack of electricity. Currently, power is on only an average of four hours per day due to a shortage of fuel.

However, thanks to t Rebuilding Alliance, solar-powered lights have been donated to the Al-Basma Club as part of the “It’s Time for Light” campaign. These “Light of Hope” (Nur al-Amal) solar lamps have been distributed to all of Al-Basma’s members.

“Now I can light up my room when I return home and can give up using candles, which are dangerous because they cause fires,’’Ahmed said. “In a way, it’s a symbol. It’s a light of hope like the club has been for me.”

 



 

Read WANN: Anwar's story, a 31 y/o who has been employed by UNRWA for over six years.

WANN

wearenotnumbers.org

Written by: Ali Abusheikh

A job that pays enough to survive and support one’s family is valued above all things in Gaza, and no wonder. The overall unemployment rate currently hovers at 49% and reaches nearly 65% amongst teenagers and young adults (15-29 y/o). It is also important to mention that, 85% of all unemployed individuals are women. That means, 2 million people in Gaza- 53% of their population -live in poverty.

The best of the jobs in Gaza- with fair, relatively stable salaries -are with international NGOs, including the UN refugee agency, UNRWA, which alone employs nearly 13,000 residents. However, the decision made by the U.S. administration of Donald Trump to cut funding for UNRWA from $365 million to $65 million has jeopardized even these “safe” jobs.

This month, UNRWA announced that they are immediately laying off 113 of their employees and transitioning close to 600 full-time workers to part-time employment. The employees' union estimates about 1,000 jobs will eventually be slashed.

Among them is, Anwar Hamad, a 31-year-old social worker and mother who has been employed by UNRWA for about six and a half years.

Anwar states, "I worked very hard to get this job. I went through a long, tiring process of exams and interviews until I got accepted. The thought of losing it now paralyzes me. I worked too hard to lose it so easily!”

Anwar’s job is to identify and categorize families in need of UN aid such as food. She questions, "Who will do this once we lose our jobs? Who will make sure these families are served?"

Anwar, the mother of four children, has been informed that her contract will be terminated by the end of the year and that in the meantime, her pay will be cut- from $900 to $450 monthly -in. Not to mention that, $400 of that $450 will go to the bank in order to repay a loan she took out two months ago to build her own house.

"I feel insecure and lost,” she says. “I gave up another job offer so I could get this job. I thought I would feel safe in this one."

Anwar’s husband is an employee of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which means he only receives half of his salary due to cutbacks imposed as part of the PA’s campaign to force the government in Gaza, Hamas, to surrender their authority.

"We can no longer afford the rent on our house; how can we pay our expenses without my job?” Anwar asks. “We have to move out by the end of this month. I will go to my mother’s, along with our kids. But my husband will have to live with his family. My family will be separated."

To make things even worst, Anwar’s job with UNRWA has allowed her to be the backbone of her entire family. However, now that she has been laid off, her family will no longer be able to afford school expenses for their children; and, she will struggle to continue financially helping her mother, nine sisters, and two younger brothers who are unemployed.

"When I got the email saying that I would no longer have a permanent contract, it was the worst moment in my whole life,” she says. “I went home and couldn’t eat or drink. The email felt like my execution."

UNRWA employees fear that more layoffs are coming and are overwhelmed by the large amount of work they have been faced with as a result of the layoffs that have already taken place. That’s why they are protesting.

Although the layoffs were triggered by U.S. funding cuts, Anwar and her coworkers also blame UNRWA management. They insist that the agency’s efforts to raise money from other sources had been going well and that there are ways to save resources other than firing staff. In particular, they question why the first employees to be laid off were those assigned to emergency programs, such as social workers, security guards, and school counselors.

"UNRWA was created to help Palestinians and create work opportunities for them, not the opposite,” says Anwar. “What is going on doesn't make any sense.”

 

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

 Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo by: Mohammed Mansour

Read WANN: "Solar Light Fills A Dark House With Light"

 

Solar light fills dark house with light

Ali Abusheikh, WeAreNotNumbers.org

One of the many consequences of the Israeli blockade of Gaza is a lack of income. According to the World Bank, annual income per person in Gaza fell from $2,659 in 1994 to $1,826 in 2018. In large part, that devastating statistic is due to unemployment—which is the highest in the World Bank's database.

So, what does this look like on a human level? An example is Nedal Hutthut, 47, who lives with his wife, three sons and two daughters in a tiny cement house in the al-Shati Refugee Camp west of Gaza City. Like many other in the neighborhood, the home is scantily furnished.

 Photo taken by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo taken by: Mohammed Mansour

For the six of them, there are two bedrooms, a living room, a small kitchen and one bathroom. An old fan, an even more ancient TV and a few armchairs are all they have for furniture. They sleep on the floor.

Nedal is unemployed and the U.N. aid they receive every three months is insufficient. “I used to sell things like groceries from a cart, but then the owner went bankrupt. I am still looking for another job, but I can’t find any. I don’t even have a single shekel for us to buy water to drink,” he says, referring to the fact that the water from their faucets is undrinkable.

“I go to the market very late so I can collect food [that is discarded or has fallen] from under the sellers’ carts. I can’t find other ways to feed my kids,” he explains. When his wife prepares meals at home, the ingredients are usually donated by neighbors or relatives. Cooking is difficult even with donations, however. Cooking gas is too expensive.

Um [mother of] Muhammed, Nedal’s wife, adds, “Our neighbors sometimes help by paying for the cooking gas. We need help with everything. I just returned from my family’s house in Khan Younis and they gave me some sugar.”

Um Muhammed does not visit her family very often, since she can’t afford transportation; she usually goes only when food or other aid is needed. Their financial state isn’t that good either, but they try to help whenever possible.

 Photo taken by: Mohammed Mansour

Photo taken by: Mohammed Mansour

The couple’s oldest son, Muhmmed, is 23 and thus could normally work and contribute an income. However, he was in a car accident when he was a child, and one of his feet was injured—requiring insertion of seven platinum rods and making it difficult for him to stand for very long.  This has made it hard for him to find paid work.

“He tries so hard to find a job. He doesn’t like burdening us,” Um Muhammed says sadly. “But his handicap is, sadly, an obstacle.” All Muhammed wants is a project such as a cart from which he can sell tea and coffee to passersby on the street.

“It hurts to see my kids jobless and uneducated,” says Nedal. “They stopped going to school because we can’t afford the expenses. They even tried to find jobs to support us, but in vain. My youngest daughter is the only one who goes to school.”

Also making it difficult for his children to learn is the lack of electricity for up to 20 hours a day, which leaves them in the dark. They can’t afford a generator to provide back-up power. Instead, however, they have received help through five solar-powered lights donated by the American nonprofit Rebuilding Alliance and distributed by Gaza’s Youth Vision NGO. The nur al-amal (light of hope) allows them to read and do chores in the evenings, when otherwise they would be plunged into darkness.

Um Muhammed says, “We are so thankful for those who bought such useful lights for us. Our home is finally full of light at night.”


 

"A PALESTINIAN BEDOUIN VILLAGE BRACES FOR FORCIBLE TRANSFER AS ISRAEL SEEKS TO SPLIT THE WEST BANK IN HALF" - The Intercept.com

RAYYAH HAS LIVED in Khan al-Ahmar all of her 47 years. She raised nine children there, and 24 grandchildren; one more is on the way. Her family and neighbors, members of a Bedouin community known as the Jahalin, found refuge on this scorched patch of rocks and dust in the 1950s, after they were expelled from the land they had inhabited for generations, in the Negev desert, following the establishment of the Israeli state. The land Khan al-Ahmar stands on was under Jordanian control when the Jahalin arrived. Today, this smatter of tin roofs and tarps sits on the side of a highway in the occupied West Bank, surrounded by a fast-growing ring of Israeli settlements, which — while illegal — have become de facto suburbs of Jerusalem.

The village, which is home to less than 200 people and where the only building with walls is a school made of mud and old tires, has become the latest front line in a conflict over land that for decades has determined the fates of Palestinians like the Jahalin. Israel wants the village razed, its residents evicted, and their land annexed to its ever-expanding settlements. Khan al-Ahmar residents say they are not going anywhere and have been able to rally remarkable international support around their cause, delaying demolition through a yearslong legal battle that remains nonetheless stacked against them.

While Khan al-Ahmar’s plight is hardly unique, what is exceptional about the embattled community — which is surrounded by the illegal settlements of Kfar Adumim, Ma’ale Adumim, Alon, and Nofei Prat — is its position as one of the last-standing obstacles in the way of a decadesold plan to establish a contiguous Jewish presence between the West Bank and Jerusalem.

 The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018.

The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018.

 The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

 The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

The interiors of homes in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

On August 1, Israel’s Supreme Court confirmed an earlier ruling authorizing the village’s razing but temporarily delayed demolition, giving the Israeli government five days to come up with more suitable relocation plans than those it had previously offered — near a dump, and without any land the Bedouins could use to graze their animals.

A day after the deadline, on August 7, the government proposed moving Khan al-Ahmar residents to temporary tents before relocating them again to a new site south of Jericho along with other Bedouin communities facing demolition — but only on the condition that they would leave Khan al-Ahmar voluntarily. Israel forcibly removed other Jahalin Bedouin communities in the late 1990s, and while violent evictions of individual Palestinian families have continued since then, Israeli officials have tried to steer clear of large forcible transfers — an ugly spectacle, as well as a war crime.

In a statement, Tawfiq Jabareen, an attorney representing Khan al-Ahmar, rejected the proposal, which he said proved that “the plan of the state of Israel is to evacuate all Palestinian Bedouin and move them near Area A,” closer to areas under the Palestinian Authority, “in order to expand the Jewish settlements in places that will be emptied of Palestinians.” Khan al-Ahmar residents have made clear that they have no plans to leave their homes, making forcible eviction a likely outcome.

“The Bedouins are used to being in the sun, they have lived their whole life in the sun. If Israel demolishes their homes, they’ll stay here anyway,” Eid Abu Khamis, Khan al-Ahmar’s leader, told The Intercept. “If they put up a boundary — a meter away from it, this is where all the women and all the children of the community will stay.”

“If the children die from the heat, I didn’t demolish their homes, they did.”

 The outside of a Palestinian Bedouin house in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

The outside of a Palestinian Bedouin house in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

A Strategic Wedge

Israeli authorities routinely demolish homes built without permits — which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain — and often use demolitions as collective punishmentagainst the families of Palestinians who attempt attacks against Israelis. In July, Israel demolished a daycare and a women’s community center in Jabal al Baba, another Bedouin community outside Jerusalem, as well as several homes in the village of Abu Nawwar, near the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, leaving 64 people, mostly children, homeless.

 Map: Soohee Cho

Map: Soohee Cho

But Khan al-Ahmar sits in a uniquely strategic position close to what Israel refers to as “E1” — an area it intends to expand to create spatial continuity between the West Bank settlements and Jerusalem. So far, those plans have mostly stalled following international pressure, but advocates fear Khan-al Ahmar’s demolition will be the first step toward implementing that plan, which would further fragment Palestinian areas, isolating Palestinian-majority East Jerusalem and splitting the occupied West Bank in half.

In the 1970s, when Israel expropriated the area surrounding Khan al-Ahmar, Uri Ariel, a founder of the Kfar Adumim settlement and today the country’s minister of agriculture and rural development, made no secret the move was part of a plan to establish “a Jewish corridor from the sea, through Jerusalem, to the Jordan river, which will put a wedge in the territorial continuity of Arab inhabitation between Judea and Samaria” — the names used by Israel to refer to the occupied West Bank.

“This is a particularly strategic wedge because it’s in the narrowest part of the West Bank, and because it will complete the process of isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank,” said Amit Gilutz, a spokesperson for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, pointing to Khan al-Ahmar on a map dissected by an intricate pattern of current and planned separation barriers and settlements, and Palestinian areas under various forms of Israeli control.

“It’s fragmenting the society itself,” he added, noting that Israel can easily control isolated Palestinian enclaves by blocking access to their entrance and cutting them off entirely. “From a control perspective, that is very efficient, because if you want to disconnect their access, all you need is a military jeep. You put the thing on the road and that’s it.”

Israeli workers place container houses near the town of Al-Eizariyah in the occupied West Bank on July 9, 2018, to absorb residents of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, who are set to be evicted.

 Israeli workers place container houses near the town of Al-Eizariyah in the occupied West Bank on July 9, 2018, to absorb residents of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, who are set to be evicted. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli workers place container houses near the town of Al-Eizariyah in the occupied West Bank on July 9, 2018, to absorb residents of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, who are set to be evicted. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

The plan to force the Bedouins out so the settlements can expand is hardly a secret: In May, days after a court largely made up of settlers upheld demolition orders against Khan al-Ahmar, the Israeli government approved the construction of a new neighborhood in Kfar Adumim, “reaching 500 meters from my home,” Abu Khamis told The Intercept.

Israel argues that Khan al-Ahmar’s school and homes are illegal because they were built without permits or an approved zoning plan — hiding behind a façade of legality the reality that Palestinians have virtually no access to either, and that what is illegal is the Israeli occupation of their land. Since it occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, Israel has declared 347,000 acres of occupied territory — nearly a quarter of the West Bank — as state land. But 99.7 percent of the state land Israel has allocated for public use so far — some 167,000 acres — has gone toward the development of illegal Israeli settlements, the watchdog group Peace Now recently learned through a public records request. A meager 0.24 percent of that land was allocated to Palestinians.

After the Oslo Agreements, in the 1990s, the West Bank was divided into Areas A and B, which are under the limited control of the Palestinian Authority, and Area C, under exclusive Israeli military control. While the arrangement was supposed to be temporary, Israel has effectively treated Area C as its expansion grounds — and some 400,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements there, protected by the military. With Palestinian chances of obtaining building permits in Area C “slim to none,” according to analysis by B’Tselem, most have given up on the process altogether.

There are more than 150 Palestinian communities in Area C without zoning plans and therefore at constant risk of expulsion, including 12 — some 1,400 people — around Khan al-Ahmar, according to B’Tselem. But while Bedouins living in the area around Jerusalem are particularly vulnerable, similar efforts to cut off Palestinian areas of the West Bank are also underway in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills. “What Israel wants and has been striving toward very consistently is maximum land under its control, minimum Palestinians on it,” said Gilutz. “For the most part, Israel has been creating this coercive environment, trying to force people off of their land as if by their wish, while avoiding the textbook example of a forcible transfer, which is clearly a war crime.”

 Palestinian Bedouin men sit together in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

Palestinian Bedouin men sit together in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

“They Want to Scare Us”

Israeli efforts to make life in Khan al-Ahmar so difficult that its residents leave of their own volition started when the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim was built in the early 1980s. The settlers took over areas the Bedouins had used to graze their animals. If sheep or donkeys wandered into the settlement, settlers would take them and sell them back to the Bedouins, Rayya said last month, surrounded by some of her daughters and grandchildren. “If we went too close, they started shooting.”

Rayyah spoke to The Intercept from her home — three shacks of tin, tarps, and scrap wood she shares with her large family. Like many Palestinians in Area C, Khan al-Ahmar residents are not allowed to put up new structures or bring in construction material, so when Rayyah’s sons got married or new children were born, everyone squeezed into the structures they had already built, even though they, too, are subject to demolition. “If I put something up, they’ll come and destroy it,” she said, adding that a drone flies over the village every day, photographing anything new that residents may have built.

Recently, Israeli officials came into the village and confiscated solar panels that an aid organization had donated. Then last month, they came in with bulldozers and leveled the areas between tents and huts into a dusty road that residents speculate will be used by the army when it comes to drag them away. Tensions flared that day, and several residents, including an 18-year-old girl, were arrested. Since then, the Israeli military has kept a close eye on the village. “We can’t sleep. Maybe they’re not doing anything, but their presence there, it’s creating tension,” said Rayyah. “They come because they want to make us leave, they want to scare us.

Palestinian Bedouin children at the school in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018.Photos: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

DSC05043-1533840489-1024x683.jpg
 Palestinian Bedouin children at the school in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photos: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

Palestinian Bedouin children at the school in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photos: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

Rayyah was particularly worried about the school, which a group of Italian volunteers built in 2009 with the help of kids from the village, who painted their classrooms with hand prints and drawings of books and flowers. Before the school was built, children from Khan al-Ahmar would leave at 6 a.m. and walk on the highway waiting for rides, or trek to schools in Jericho. “It was very difficult for them,” said Rayyah. “They’d have to wait in the sun for a long time.”

Israeli authorities have destroyed or confiscated at least 12 Palestinian school buildings since 2016, and 44 Palestinian schools, including Khan al-Ahmar’s, are currently at risk of demolition, Human Rights Watch found. Over a third of Palestinians living in Area C don’t have access to primary schools and are not allowed by Israeli authorities to build any — leaving 10,000 children to attend schools in tents or other temporary structures with no heat or air conditioning.

But the mud walls of the school in Khan al-Ahmar — a sign of permanence — bothered neighboring settlers, and shortly after it was built, representatives of Kfar Adumim and the pro-settlement group Regavim petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to enforce earlier demolition orders against the village. As the Supreme Court first upheld and then froze authorization to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, life in the small community carried on between hope and fear, while delegations of activists and Palestinian and foreign officials made trips to visit.

 Eid Abu Khamis, center, speaks during a press conference in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

Eid Abu Khamis, center, speaks during a press conference in Khan al-Ahmar on July 26, 2018. Photo: Samar Hazboun for The Intercept

In July, addressing several foreign diplomats under a large tent in Khan al-Ahmar, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, called Israel’s plans to demolish the village and evict its residents “ethnic cleansing.” “You begin with evicting and demolishing the community of Khan al-Ahmar, and one day you may destroy Dura, Jericho, parts of Ramallah,” he added, referring to some of the West Bank’s most populous cities.

Bedouins live largely removed from the rest of Palestinian society, and it took some time for Palestinian leaders to take on Khan-al Ahmar’s cause. “Lately they have woken up,” said Abu Khamis, adding that Israel’s plan to dissect the West Bank would effectively put a nail in the coffin of Palestinian plans to build a state there. “They understand that if this corridor is built, then their government is over.”

To Rayyah, talk of a Palestinian state in the West Bank seems far removed from the reality at hand — the only home she has ever known slated for demolition, and her 24 grandchildren facing displacement.

“We have faith. Without faith we can’t go on,” she said. “We’re going to pray. And we’ll stay.”

See the article intercept.com, HERE!

Gaza families, UN staff send message of light to Americans

Gaza families, UN staff send message of light to Americans

Palestinians urge U.S. citizens to press Trump to release frozen U.S. aid and open blockade in Gaza

August 14, 2018 (Gaza City, Palestine) — On Tuesday, August 14th at 9pm, UN staff and their families, including doctors, trauma counselors, social workers, bus drivers and engineers, will gather at the Gaza Training College, just behind the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Due to the lack of electricity, they will gather in the darkness of a punitive black-out to send a message of light to the American people. They are set to shine cellphone flashlight messages urging U.S. citizens to press the Trump administration to release frozen U.S. aid and to open the blockade.

Thousands Attend Mega Arabic Lesson in Tel Aviv to Protest Nation-state Law

PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity) # 913 August 10th, 2018

Thousands Attend Mega Arabic Lesson in Tel Aviv to Protest Nation-state Law

Organized by a consortium of Israeli civil society organizations, the event was held to protest the controversial nation-state law, passed this month, that downgrades Arabic as one of the country’s official languages.

by Judy Maltz

It was billed the biggest Arabic lesson in the world, and on Monday evening organizers estimated that a few thousand Israelis participated in the mega-event held in one of Tel Aviv’s big city squares.

In addition to learning new words in Arabic, the crowd was treated to performances by Jewish and Arab musicians and artists.

Organized by a consortium of Israeli civil society organization, the event was held to protest the controversial nation-state law, passed by the Knesset this month,that downgrades Arabic as one of the country’s official languages. T-shirts sold at the event had the words “I love Arabic” (in Arabic words, but Hebrew letters) printed on them.

The crowd included Jews and Arabs, including many who had traveled long distances to attend. They repeated basic words and terms in Arabic after the teachers, who delivered their lesson from a central stage, sometimes with translations into in Hebrew, but often not.

Chai Margolis, a 16-year-old from the central Israeli town of Modi’in, had arrived at Habima Square with a group of friends, all active like him in an organization called “Debate4Peace.”

“Personally, I feel you can’t have a democratic nation-state that doesn’t treat minorities as fully equal,” said Margolis, who wore a yarmulke on his head and carried a sign that had the words “Understanding Starts with Talking” printed on it in several different languages.

The event opened with a performance by Miriam Tukan, the first Arab to participate in “Kochav Nolad” – the Israeli equivalent of “American Idol” – and the first to sing in Arabic on the program. She was accompanied on guitar by Idan Toledano, a Jewish musician active in various shared society initiatives.

The opening address was delivered by Sameh Saleimah, an Arab feminist activist from the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom, also known as Wahat as-Salam.

“My mother’s dream was to be a teacher, and today, with the hundreds and thousands of you standing out there, her dream is being realized,” said Saleimah, who urged Arabs and Jews to join forces in fighting the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Among the highlights of the events were several duets sung by Achinoam Nini, a Jewish musician, and Mira Awad, an Arab musician – both of them prominent peace activists who often perform together.

Anat Ben-Yehoshua, who lives in nearby Ramat Gan, said she was simply happy that an event of this kind could take place and that she could part of it. “Things have become so depressing here with this government that something like this provides hope,” she said, holding her dog by his leash.

The sponsoring organizations were the New Israel Fund, the Abraham Fund Initiatives, Sikkuy, Givat Haviva, Yad b’Yad (a network of Jewish-Arab schools around Israel), Omdim b’Yachad (a relatively new non-profit that, like the others, supports shared society in Israel) and Neve Shalom.

Edan Ring, the director of public affairs for Sikkuy, said the turnout proved to him that “there is a big public out there whose voice is not being heard.”

“These are people,” he added, “who see Arabic as a cultural treasure rather than a threat, as some of our politicians do. It is truly sad that we have come to this, that speaking Arabic in the center of Tel Aviv is today seen as something subversive.”

Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive directive of Abraham Fund Initiatives, said the many Israelis who had come to participate “understand that we are at a critical junction – either we choose Apartheid or we choose inclusion.”

These Israelis, he said, “understand the importance of the Arabic language and are not going to give up on it.”

Adapted from: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-several-thousand-protesters-attend-mega-arabic-lesson-in-tel-aviv-1.6334735

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Thank you - and may I share my dream?

Thank you - and may I share my dream?

A huge thank you to everyone who gave in the Global Giving Bonus Day competition today, many thanks to all for your patience with my and my team's many messages, and many thanks to RA's team for their persistence and creativity! We raised $11,667 from 78 donors for the US Movement to Save Palestinian Villages.  Our program placed fourth in a field of 545 projects, and we came in 9th by by total donations. Four people became recurring donors (that really helps!) Altogether, there's just enough to move forward.

Click Here to donate Wednesday

Click Here to donate Wednesday


On Wednesday, GlobalGiving will be matching your donation by 50%, up to $1000. Please CLICK HERE to give, after 9am EDT / 8am CDT / 7am MDT / 6am PDT

Our goal is to send five children and their parents to present their Pinwheels for Peace to Congress for International Peace Day. The children's speeches on International Peace Day have been the most effective advocacy we've seen of the over 300 briefings with Congressional staff, in person & over the phone, that Rebuilding Alliance has held on this issue. We've brought children from Susiya & neighboring Umm al Kheir to speak to Congress three times with their visions of peace, we've brought experts to meet with the State Dept. and the NSC, & we've shared what we learned with sister organizations to keep villages standing.

Deep breath! Court will hold hearing on Khan al Ahmar’s petition — advocacy needed now

Deep breath! Court will hold hearing on Khan al Ahmar’s petition — advocacy needed now

Khan al Ahmar is standing and 174 children will start their school year on July 16th as scheduled. Yesterday, Thursday, July 12th, Israel's High Court of Justice responded to the petition filed by the village, providing notice to hold "a hearing, not later than August 15th."

The injunction against demolition is extended until their case is heard — but the lawyers for the Government of Israel are moving fast, pressing a hearing date soon because all is ready for demolition.

Invite your Senators and Congressperson to visit to Khan Al Ahmar

In front of Congr Walden's office.jpg

Eid Jahalin from the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Khan Al Ahmar joined Rebuilding Alliance's team to walk the halls of Congress to keep Eid's village standing

Just as demolition bulldozers were about to roll into Khan al Ahmar, the High Court of Israel issued a last-minute injunction against demolition, requiring the State of Israel to respond to the village's own master plan by July 11th. This gives us more time. Since the US Consulate in Jerusalem is in transition, the strongest way to signal American concern right now is to ask your Members of Congress to visit the village of Khan Al Amar.

CLICK HERE
Email your Senators and Representative to urge them to go there now

Rep. Jackie Speier met our delegation last week and said, 'When Congress visited the border, it changed everything. We need to visit Khan al Ahmar.'   A key Republican advised us to make it a bi-partisan delegation.

 

Per Ethics Committee rules, they must file forms before Wed July 10th — I turn to YOU. 

  • Step 1:  Please click here to email your Senators and Representative
     
  • Step 2: Call them on Friday morning at their local office (you'll have to look it up - they are home this week for the July 4th holiday) and their DC office Monday morning, Call Representative Anna G. Eshoo at (202) 225-8104, Senator Kamala D. Harris at (202) 224-3553, and Senator Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3841.
  • Step 3:  Reach out to a friend in Red state or district. Ask your friend to invite their Senators and Representative too, and send them this link to use for their message: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/emergency-in-khan-al-ahmar  

Here’s what to say when you call:

·     I am a Constituent calling with an urgent request. I ask Senator ______ or Congresswoman/Congressman_________ to travel to Jerusalem in August to personally visit the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Al Khan al Ahmar, or give permission for their staff to go.

·     Rebuilding Alliance, a U.S. Nonprofit, is sponsoring the trip and they've done this befoe. They will provide a detailed agenda. Please note: Ethics Committee applications are due by end of day Tuesday, July 10th

·     The trip starts on Thu August 9th. Due to their shortened Senate recess, Senators and Senate staff will have a 4 day trip, returning by Monday morning, and House Members and staff will have a full 7 day trip. Senate returns on Sun Aug 12, House returns on Wed Aug 15.

Ok, let's begin. Click here to invite your Senators and Representative. Questions? Suggestions? Tamsin and I are standing by - call us at 650 651-7165.

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P.S. Things have been moving really fast. Here's what I'm seeing: 

The Tyre School and all Khan Ahmar's homes are standing, however the Israeli Army attacked the peaceful leadership of Al Khan Al Ahmar on July 4th.

At dawn, the Israeli Army brought bulldozers to the edge of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al Khan al Ahmar; they stated that they were there to pave access roads to facilitate the upcoming forced evacuation. Leaving behind the bulldozers, they temporarily left — after which, and a few kilometers away, the Israeli Army demolished eight Palestinian homes in nearby Abu Nuwar. Upon their return, the soldiers stood saying nothing, while villagers and visitors tried to engage them with questions. Caught on this video, the soldiers suddenly attacked them without provocation — and three villagers were hospitalized, while 10 were handcuffed and arrested. 

Concurrently, the Israeli Army entered Susiya last night at 11pm to photograph the seven homes slated for imminent demolition — taking pictures is a prerequisite to imminent demolition... And today in Al Khan Al Ahmar, the Israeli Army returned, arrested 3 more people, and continues preparing three roads leading into the village for demolition access. 

P.P.S. If you or someone you know would like to accompany your Congressional office on this trip, please complete this application form and provide your resume and three references in reply to this email.

 

Feed Gaza's Families

We ask you to help Gaza’s families break their fast during Ramadan. 

Please donate now.  Our NGO partners, the Women’s Program Center in Rafah-Gaza and the Youth Vision Society in Gaza Beach Camp, have identified families in dire need and sought bids to purchase food. They are buying in bulk, providing $50 worth of food to each family to provide nourishing Iftar dinners during Ramadan.