Rebuilding Alliance

Rebuilding Alliance is dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe. Our vision is a just and enduring peace in Israel and Palestine with equal value, opportunity, and security for all.
Nov 4, 2013

On tour Gaza Kitchen -Palestinian Culinary Journey

Dear Friends,

I've just returned home from a remarkable speaking tour with author Laila El Haddad and her baby Malaak who celebrated her 1st birthday as they travelled on tour.  Laila is co-author of The Gaza Kitchen: a Palestinian Culinary Journey.  When co-author Maggie Schmitt cancelled due to illness, Laila and I loaded my Prius with car seat, luggage, cookbooks and as much Fair Trade Organic Olive Oil as we could fit and we set-off on tour throughout the SF Bay area, Sacramento, Grass Valley, and Sonoma. 

Laila was recently featured on Anthony Bourdain:  Parts Unknown. Though little known outside the region, Gazan cooking is famous within the Arab world for its rich seafood dishes and its unique combinations of flavors: hot peppers, rich spices, fresh herbs… a cuisine that Anthony Bourdain calls “unlike anything” he’s ever tasted in the Middle East!  Through her blog and book Gaza Mom and her work as a journalist, documentarian, media activist, public speaker and policy advisor she provides rare insight into the human experience of the region. 

  • Shorabit frikah - Fire-roasted Green Wheat and Vegetable Soup
  • Dagga - Hot Tomato & Dill Salad w/ flatbread
  • Hbari w ruz - calamari with caramelized onions & half browned rice
  • Zibdiyit gambari - spicy shrimp & tomato clay pot
  • Marouta - date spice pinwheel cookies
  • Shay bil maramiya - Palestinian sage-scented tea

Chef Olive regularly holds classes for young people — it will be exciting to include him as a guest speaker in the Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program we are creating.

At Sacramento City College, Professor Riad Bahhur invited his Middle East History class and also a Women's Studies class to hear Laila's presentations.  Prof. Riad used the kitchen classroom to prepare and serve the spicy red lentil & kale soup recipe!   He is working with Laila on a documentary about Palestinian cuisine and he will be delighted to advise and host our Fair Trade Jobs and Entrepreneurship program at Sacramento City College.

BIG NEWS:  I am happy to tell you that our project, Create Fair Trade Jobs in California, was approved for Microsoft's "Youth Spark" initiative.  For 24 hours starting on December 3rd, Microsoft will be providing a 1:1 matching grant and they plan to give away $250,000 that day.   The road trip was a great way to explore possibilities — this week we'll update the project description to describe our plans in detail so that we can announce the program and the matching grant at our booth at the San Francisco Green Festival this weekend on Nov. 9th and 10th.

Again, thank you for your passion for Fair Trade from Palestine and your faith in Rebuilding Alliance's ability to make this Fair Trade Jobs & Entrepreneurship project take shape.  Our project will have positive and tangible impact here in the U.S. and as the sales of Fair Trade olive oil go up, that impact will stretch around the world to the Palestinian Fair Trade Association’s growers and women's cooperatives! 
We’re so excited!

Sincerely,

Donna

Links:

Nov 4, 2013

Why these schools and teachers make a difference

First Day of School in Al Aqaba Village
First Day of School in Al Aqaba Village

Hello Everyone,

Our project, Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders, continues to grow.   I and Sophia Omar were both there for the first day of school on August 24th in Al Aqaba Village — so very exciting!    I am happy to announce that a new teacher, from Estonia, is now working in Al Aqaba through a grant provided by the Estonian government.  Some 160 children registered for the Al Haq Kindergarten -- one of Al Aqabaa's largest classes ever.  

I promise to write more soon about the new programs that Librarian Haneen has been developing new programs at the Ibn Rush'd Library.   We may be able to qualify these for the Microsoft Youth Spark matching grant -- more on this by the end of this week.

What I do want to share, in addition to these great photos, is something I noticed when Sophia and I joined Combatants for Peace to visit a school they helped finish for a small Palestinian village called Kirbet Twire.   The new school is beautiful, funded by the European Community — but the school is not in the village it serves.   It is a half mile away, uphill, no school bus.   The village itslef is in Area C and faces demolition orders (as does Al Aqaba) Instead of risking the demolition of the school, the Palestinian Authority and the donor governments placed the school in Area B, leaving Kirbet Twire without its children, without direct investment in its infrastructure, and, I would argue,  even more at risk of demolition.

When we came back to Al Aqaba that evening, I asked Mayor Haj Sami how he built the elementary school there, in the village itself.  One thing he did was to attach it directly to his home, one of two pre-1968 structures that are free of demolition orders.   Also, he got private funding to build the school and only asked for PA help to staff it after it was built.  With the kindergarten, I know that story — Rebuilding Alliance had a small grant to buils a school that would not be demolished and so we responded to Al Aqaba's request and then Japan, Norway and Belgium added the 2nd floor ... and so it has grown and we've all kept it standing.

You support has made a big difference in this process.  Your calls to your members of Congress have been invaluable at pivotal times, like when we helped Al Aqaba bring their case before the Israeli High Court in 2008 or when we asked for U.S. State Department assistance last June and the Israeli Army stopped live-fire training in the village that night and did not return.

Our strategy to support the building of Al Aqaba's kindergarten despite demolition orders has helped Al Aqaba become the vibrant village it is today.   Sophia and I had the pleasure of meeting a representative of the British Consul and also of the Palestine Welfare Fund while in Al Aqaba — very exciting to hear of their new grants to improve the kindergarten!    What we all set in motion is a network of assistance, both financial and diplomatic, to keep this village standing.  It is a good model — your support for this program is the key, so deeply appreciated!

Sincerely,

Donna

The elementary school is attached to Mayor
The elementary school is attached to Mayor's house
The Kindergarten that Rebuilding Alliance built
The Kindergarten that Rebuilding Alliance built
First day at the Al Haq Kindergarten in Al Aqaba
First day at the Al Haq Kindergarten in Al Aqaba
Exciting first day at kindergarten
Exciting first day at kindergarten
There are 160 children in this year
There are 160 children in this year's class!
Librarian Haneen w new books @ Ibn Rush
Librarian Haneen w new books @ Ibn Rush'd Library
New books in English and new programs taking shape
New books in English and new programs taking shape
Oct 8, 2013

Step by step, moving forward

Meeting of Mayors: Al Aqaba & Wadi Foquin
Meeting of Mayors: Al Aqaba & Wadi Foquin

Dear Friends,

Thank you again for your support.  When our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages won the Global Giving competition, we moved forward with care

Here is what our U.S. Movement has done so far:

  • We launched our Movement in Silicon Valley with a dinner on April 6th at the First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, featuring Chef James Holloway and Chef Jamal Alradaideh's dishes from Palestine and renown musicians Georges Lammam & Gabriel Navia!  That was Representative Anna Eshoo’s district.   Soon after, we held another dinner in Representative Jackie Speier’s district at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

  • We focused our efforts to help the Palestinian Village of Wadi Foqin and organized signature of over 100 constituent letters to Rep. Eshoo and Rep. Jackie Speier, to ask their help to hold a congressional hearing about Wadi Foquin, working closely with the Friends of Wadi Foqin Village organized by Reverend Michael Yoshi at the Buena Vista United Methodist Church.   If anyone can help Wadi Foquin hold on to their land, this group will.  Their Japanese-American community was central in the effort to recognize the human rights of Japanese Americans and provide reparations for the WWII internment camps.

  • In August, Sophia Omar and I were in Palestine to develop Rebuilding Alliance's projects.   We lived in the guesthouse in Al Aqaba Village, and visited Ein Yanun, Ein Al Beida, and Wadi Foquin — all villages in Area C that are facing big challenges from nearby settlements or demolition orders issued by the Israeli Army.  We also met with the Ministry of Health in Ramallah and visited the Office of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem.

  • Ata and Fami Manasra came from Wadi Fuqin to see Al Aqaba Village and then Mayor Haj Sami Sadeq Sbaih of Al Aqaba drove us to meet the Village Council head in Wadi Fuqin to explore the possibility of a joint presentation before Congress.     Mayor Haj Sami offered to coach the young mayor of Wadi Fuqin — the next step is theirs.
  • We spent the summer researching and testing new software to help our movement contact Congress more effectively.  My team and I implemented a small test project on the new Crowdmap.com site, learning to use Instagram as an input tool.   Rebuilding Alliance is the newest chapter of Code the Change.  Next, we plan to hold a Code Jam (hackathon) in November to develop these ideas further.

  • Rebuilding Alliance promised to hold speaking events, even once a week at our shop & in Silicon Valley Congressional districts and that is ramping up now.  Fida Qishta presented her new first film, “Where Should the Birds Fly”  — one of the best presentations by a filmmaker that I’ve ever seen.

  • Working with the Israeli human right group, B’Tselem, I’ve been researching the recent demolitions in El Makhoul in which 120 people lost their homes, receiving and reviewing court documents.   Meanwhile, we’ve been asked by Comet-Middle East to help them develop their strategy to overcome demolition orders in the South area of the West Bank where they’ve installed solar electricity grids. 

  • Lastly, the Christian Peacemaker Teams based in Hebron would like to talk with us about developing a campaign to ask for Congressional help with entry visas for their members.  Four have been denied entry in the past  3 months.

Confirmed by our visit to Palestine, our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages is needed now more than ever.  Our Contact Congress software could be of use to many villages and supporting organizations — we hope to have our software up and running by December or January as a team of students at UC Berkeley’s Code the Change Chapter want to help us.  I am seeking a volunteer coder or techie who can help coordinate this in depth.

Thank you again for supporting our U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages.  I hope you are excited by the accomplishments we have achieved and I hope this gives you a sense of the challenges we face.

As always, please feel free to give me a call with any questions or suggestions:  650 440 9667 is my cellphone.

With gratitude,

Fahmi Manasra with map of settlement encroachment
Fahmi Manasra with map of settlement encroachment
Settlement of 40,000 people nearing heart of town
Settlement of 40,000 people nearing heart of town
The Wall near Wadi Foquin
The Wall near Wadi Foquin
Ata and Fahmi from Wadi Foquin, visiting Al Aqaba
Ata and Fahmi from Wadi Foquin, visiting Al Aqaba
Meeting in Mayor Haj Sami
Meeting in Mayor Haj Sami's office
An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Rebuilding Alliance

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Rebuilding Alliance on GreatNonProfits.org.