U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages

 
$36,319 $62,634
Raised Remaining

Dear Friend,

Your calls to the House and Senate are working!  On July 17th, Congresswoman Eshoo plus 10 others sent a public letter to Secr. of State Kerry.   Repr. Loretta Sanchez sent her public letter soon after.   On July 28th,  Senator Diane Feinstein sent a public letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, writing, "Instead of taking action to demolish the village, the ICA [Israeli Civil Administration] should reexamine its decision to deny Susiya's petition for a master plan, so that the area's Palestinian villagers can live in peace and with legal certainty."  It is being reported in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

I am writing now to invite you to join a 30 minute briefing with your Senators' staff.   You can dial in from home or work, on a phone or a computer.  Rebuilding Alliance is setting up these up with all 99 other senators' senior staff for foreign policy and we can host up to 100 constituents on each call.   Please check the schedule here, http://www.rebuildingalliance.org/join-a-call-with-your-senator/ , then click Register Now

Today, we have calls with Senate staff as follows:

10am PST  (ND-D) Senator Heitkamp, Matt Squeri
11am PST (RI-D) Senator Whitehouse, Colleen Costello
12pm PST (OR-D) Senator Merkley, Tedros Abraham
1pm PST (MN-D) Senator Klobuchar, Ben Driscoll

Here's Thursday's schedule,

11am PST (ME-D) Senator King, Jon Greenert
11:30am PST (IN-D) Senator Donnelly, David Park

Thank you again for making this work possible.  Phone calls from Constituents are filling a void, prompting the U.S. enagement needed to give Palestinian villagers a tangible way to hold on to their homes and land.   Please keep calling so that your Senator will join Senator Feinstein to assure, "the area's Palestinian villagers can live in peace and with legal certainty."

Sincerely,

Donna Baranski-Walker
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance

P.S.  Our next step is to bring Susiya's children and their parents to visit Congress on International Peace Day, Sep. 21st.  We're working on visa applications now.
P.P.S.  If you live in the SF Bay Area and have some time available, come join our Human Rights Call Center — right now we're calling Senate staff and sending emails each day to schedule these conference calls. 

Links:

Our SaveSusiya Team at Rep. Anna Eshoo
Our SaveSusiya Team at Rep. Anna Eshoo's office

Dear Friend,

Of all our work at Rebuilding Alliance, this program is key because our advocacy keeps Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, and villages standing.  There has been such hard news since the Israeli elections this spring, especially about  the human rights of Bedouin communities living inside Israel, Palestinian communities inside Area C of the West Bank, and the people of Gaza facing continuing restrictions on rebuilding and personal travel.  To respond to what is a worsening crisis, Rebuildling Alliance has been working to develop a stronger advocacy program.  Your support of the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages is deeply appreciated.

Over the last six months, we have expanded our advocacy work tremendously, with the following projects and campaigns:

1. Stay Human Conference Calls, putting Peace-makers on the line with Constituents and Congressional Staff

  • Stop the Forced Relocation of 46 Bedouin Communities from E1 (12/17/14)
  • Umm Al-Khayr Villager's Assert Their Right to Remain (1/14/15 and 3/3/14)
  • I Care About Susiya (Planned for Wednesday June 8th - register now)
  • A wonderful new intern, Tabina Haider, from UC San Diego has joined us to coordinate a phenomenal series of conference calls for the rest of the summer. We'll post the entire schedule soon.  To register, click here

2. "Don't Say We Did Not Know" Speaking tour with Amos Gvirtz

  • Israeli peace activist, founder of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) and author Amos Gvirtz toured North America from April 3 - May 4 to discuss his new book, “Don’t Say We Did Not Know,” published in Hebrew in April. He toured at the invitation of Rebuilding Alliance who coordinated his visit to thirty peace and justice groups in the United States and Canada, to raise money for the Human Rights Defenders Fund for the village of Al Araqeeb, a Bedouin village in the Israeli Negev (Naqab) desert.  Their village had been demolished 81 times when Kelly and I visited in April — since then it has been demolish two more times.  This speaking tour was the first time Rebuildling Alliance has worked to prevent home demolitions inside of Israel. 

3.  Dr. Mona is free now, and with her family

  • When I heard that Dr. Mona El-Farra, the Palestinian pediatrician and British national who works with Middle East Children's Alliance was denied a "Leaving Permit" from Gaza, I knew I might be able to help because I've learned how to work with the diplomatic corps overseas.  I called MECA to ask if they would like my help.  I became part of the MECA strategy team and I worked through the night to appeal to all the various diplomatic and advocacy channels for Dr. Mona's Leaving Permit.   She was finally able to be reunited with her family in Great Britain on June 15th, three months after she applied.  Dr. Mona was one of 15,000 people applyng to leave Gaza.

4. Walking the Halls of Congress to Save Susiya

  • When Senator Carl Levin wrote a public letter to keep Al Aqaba standing, he asked Rebuildling Alliance to call our campaign "I Care About Peace, I Care About Israel, I Care About Al Aqaba." This hopeful message has inspired many to action to successfully keep Al Aqaba standing — and Rebuilding Alliance has just received notice that our work in Al Aqaba is a semi-finalist for the World Habitat Awards for our continuing work there.  We have taken what we've learned in Al Aqaba and used it to advocate on behalf of many at-risk communities on both sides of the Green Line. Most recently, we launched a new campaign: I Care About Peace, I Care About Susiya.
  • After hearing about the May 4, 2015 high court ruling refusing to issue a freeze against demolition orders of Susiya, affecting 350 people in the South Hebron Hills, Rebuildling Alliance put out an Urgent Action Alert. We were thrilled to see supporters across the country write letters to their represntatives and make phone calls asking to stop the demolition of this peaceful town.
  • From June 22 - 26, 2015, Rebuildling Alliance walked the halls of Congress and met with staffers from across the country to ask for their help to follow up on your calls and save Susiya from this unjust threat. We brought with us Liz Mulford, a long-time volunteer in Palestine and co-coordinator of the South Bay Jewish Voice for Peace Chapter, as well as Ophir Mintz-Manor, an Israeli professor and member of the Villages Group, to discuss the issue and ask for congressional intervention.
  • As we walked the halls of Congress, the children of Susiya made Pinwheels for Peace, writing down what peace means and drawing what peace looks like.   Here is what they wrote on their pinwheels:

    Justice, safety, no attacks (from settlers nearby), playing with our friends happily and freely, reconciliation, happiness, love, no occupation, birds, freedom

    Could these images of the children and their hope for their future be the images we see instead of the demolition of their homes and village?

  • We met with 27 staffers in one week, in addition to the State Department, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the Faith Forum. Responses were overwhelmingly positive, and many have followed up and made their calls to the State Department and Israeli Embassy. So far, we remain positive and expect that Congressional interest is finally increasing the visability of this important town, threatened by nearby settlement expansion as well as a hardened High Court in a new Israeli government that is openly expansionist.

  • We engaged the U.S. diplomatic corps (as did many others) when bulldozers were delivered near Susiya on the night of July 2nd.  Mondoweiss.net printed my article about it — and thankfully, the demolitions did not occur.

Recently, Amos Gvirtz asked us to plan our next visit to meet with Congressional staff.  He reviewed four cases recently decided by the High Court of Israel and said, "In a short time we lost everywhere."  Asking your Senators and Representatives to call the Israeli Embassy may be one of the only ways left to keep the Palestinian Village of Susiya standing.   If you haven't called your elected representatives yet, its not too late - you can learn more on how to contact Congress by clicking here. 

For me, our recent trip to Washington DC really brought home the need for our creation of a Contact Congress mobile app. The patent has now been filed and I look foward to raising the funds needed to launch our advocacy mapping ideas very soon.  Thank you again for making this work possible.

Sincerely,
Donna

P.S.  Our next Stay Human Conference Call takes place on Wednesday July 8th at 10am Pacific Time.  Please click here to register.

P.P.S.  Please mark your calendar for Wednesday July 15th when our next GlobalGiving Bonus Day will take place.  GG is providing a 40% match that day.   We ask your help to send our next team to walk the halls of Congress at the end of July, this time to keep Al Araqib, and the other Bedouin Villages in Israel, standing.

Israeli Author Amos Gvirtz speaking in Palo Alto
Israeli Author Amos Gvirtz speaking in Palo Alto
Sheik Sayah of Al Araqib is determined to stay
Sheik Sayah of Al Araqib is determined to stay
Gov. of Israel plants forest over their homes,land
Gov. of Israel plants forest over their homes,land
Amos Gvirtz and Michael Nagler, expert nonviolence
Amos Gvirtz and Michael Nagler, expert nonviolence
Meeting at Senator Pelosi
Meeting at Senator Pelosi's Office re. Susiya
Our SaveSusiya Team at the Capital
Our SaveSusiya Team at the Capital
Mike Honda is Liz Mulford
Mike Honda is Liz Mulford's representative

Links:

Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress
Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress

Dear Friend,

Greetings from Ramallah!   Kelly Leilani Main, Rebuilding Alliance’s Assistant Project Manager, and I are here with Ayat and Niveen, our team in Palestine. We came to coordinate the installation of our Birthing Center in Ein Al Beida and our Prenatal Clinic in Al Aqaba — and we’re using this 6 week visit to move our projects forward.

Three weeks ago, I picked Kelly up at the Ben Gurion Airport, making it back to Ramallah just in time to attend the UN’s Shelter Cluster Meeting.   That’s the meeting of all the international Non-Governmental Organizations who are working as best they can to provide shelter in the West Bank and in Gaza following the demolition of homes and schools.   At that meeting, UN Habitat presented their report on Master Planning in Area C and cited the Palestinian Village of Al Aqaba's decision to issue its own building permits as a model for all villages in Area C.

Thanks to your support, we're seeing that a combination of (a) solid legal representation and (b) village master planning,  coupled with (c) grassroots advocacy to press for (d) diplomatic engagement really works to keep Palestinian homes, schools, playgrounds, and villages standing in Al Aqaba.  We've been learning a lot as we work to keep Al Aqaba Village standing -- so now we're working to expand this advocacy to other Palestinian Villages and to Gaza too.

This project, the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, encompasses the "make them safe" part of Rebuilding Alliance's mission. It is key to all our rebuilding work and it is important that it extends far beyond Rebuilding Alliance’s own projects to address the safety of all Palestinian villages and neighborhoods at risk of destruction.   On this trip, Israeli author activist Amos Gvirtz took us to visit the Israeli town of Al Araqib that was demolished 81 times before our visit, and one time more, afterwards. We also joined the Villages Group to visit Um Al Kheir, south of Hebron in the West Bank.  I'll write more about these visits soon, on Rebuilding Alliance's Facebook page.

Here’s what Hamed Qawasmeh, area representative to UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right and a member of The Villages Group had to say about our Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress, "Working in coordination with Rebuilding Alliance is one of the corner stones of the community-based approach taken by Umm Al Khair to save itself from forced displacement. The community has found it very valuable to engage in the conference calls held by RA as it proved to be useful in providing the necessary pressure needed to stop the bulldozers in their tracks. The community WILL continue to engage with RA so that people worldwide will join in advocating for its own survival.”

We’ve spent this past year ramping-up the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages by developing education and advocacy events in parallel with the development of better communications technology to advance that advocacy. This was by necessity, not by choice — the crisis of home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank and last summer’s crisis of the massive bombing and destruction of Gaza's neighborhoods plus very real terror of rocket attacks and attacks on peacemakers in Israel required immediate and constant response.

We’ve held seven Stay Human Conference Calls with Congress — and each one generates remarkable response from Congress as well as new project opportunities.  Senator Grassley is now following up on a constituent request about the village of Um Al Kheir, and so are Senators and Representatives in California, Michigan and New York. Senator Peters' staffer joined the line for the 2nd Stay Human Conference call with speakers that included a villager in Um Al Kheir and a representative of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

From April 3rd to May 4th, Rebuilding Alliance will be hosting Israeli Author and Activist Amos Gvirtz on his Don’t Say We Did Not Know speaking tour.  We're brining him to speak with some 30 peace and justice groups in Toronto, NYC, NJ, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Olympia and Vancouver (wow).

In October, we’ll be hosting the Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme along with the Executive Director of the Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement — both these peacemakers, Palestinian and Israeli, were on our Stay Human Conference Call with Congress last August, just a few weeks after 28 members of Dr. Yassir Abujamei’s family we’re killed by a missile as the broke their fast for Ramadan.

Lastly, about Technology Development, we're seeing that this very hard problem — keeping Palestinian villages standing on the other side of the world — is bringing forward a breakthrough idea that could apply to all hard problems. The law firm of KPPB.com is representing Rebuilding Alliance pro bono and has filed a preliminary patent application on our behalf.  We call it “Contact Congress Countability” and we’ve entered the Knight News Challenge to bring our ideas forward.   Please use the link below for more info.

Thank you again for all you are doing. We could not do this without you.

Sincerely,
Donna

P.S.  Today Kelly and I are heading to Jerusalem to meet with Adv. Dalia Qumsieh, L.L.M, Head of the Advocacy Department at the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights

Links:

Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem
Rain, Hail, Thunder, Lightning in Jerusalem

Dear Friend,

Greetings from Jerusalem! Rebuilding Alliance’s Accountant and Assistant Project Manager, Thai Hien Ho, and I arrived yesterday to a rainy, blustery, thunder-stormy Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we’ll be meeting with the team at the UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) who wrote the newly released, “Area C Vulnerability Profile”. As stated in the report, “An estimated 297,900 people live in 532 residential areas in Area C, comprising some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank in terms of humanitarian needs.” (see attached link).   If you've been looking at the West Bank via GoogleMaps, Area C looks so very empty — the villages have already disappeared.   That's a problem we should be able to fix.   With the help of a friend at Google, Thai and I will be conveying UNOCHA’s data to the mapping team at Google so that those missing 532 residential areas including some 148 Palestinian towns will show up on Google’s maps of the West Bank.

When I think about all that Rebuilding Alliance does, I feel that this project, the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages, is one of our most important.   I’m delighted to report that we’ve used project funding to purchase a GPS camera and also MapAnything Software to help build the software app that will make it easier to contact congress.  

Here’s what we plan to do on this trip:

1.   We want the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages to build on our success in keeping one village, Al Aqaba, standing despite demolition orders issued on 97% of the village including nearly all the homes, the medical clinic and our kindergarten.   What’s worked is our collective engagement with congressional staffers who call the U.S. State Department and the Israeli Embassy at their constituents’ request as soon as demolition bulldozers are on the move. We hope to meet with the American Consulate in Jerusalem to explore how to extend this to other at-risk villages;

2. We are in touch with Reverend Yoshii and the Friends of Wadi Foquin Village who are also visiting the area. Their congressional briefing was very successful but in January, the Israeli Army destroyed some 200 newly planted olive trees in Wadi Foquin.   That’s the type of destruction we hope can be avoided by developing a contact congress “early warning system” approach, much like we’ve done in Al Aqaba.

3. We’re working with a group of UC Berkeley Computer Science Students who are part of a chapter called, “Code the Change” to develop better mapping tools for projects like this, both as a way to raise funds for construction and tree planting projects and also as a way to monitor progress over time and build advocacy to keep each project area safe too.  Their prototype may be ready next month!

4. We look forward to meeting the legal team at Rabbis for Human Rights to hear about their lawsuit to assure villages in Area C to plan their future growth. Thai and I hope to meet with them to explore how we can focus U.S. attention on this important concept through our advocacy software.

Thank you again for your support of the U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages and for your patience as we work through our software development phase. This is such a critical time — I hope our software app. will be ready soon, soon enough to keep the villages standing in Area C.

Sincerely,

Links:

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

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

donate now:

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?
  • $20
    give
  • $80
    give
  • $100
    give
  • $350
    give
  • $602
    give
  • $1,100
    give
  • $20
    each month
    give
  • $80
    each month
    give
  • $100
    each month
    give
  • $350
    each month
    give
  • $602
    each month
    give
  • $1,100
    each month
    give
  • $
    give
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Organization

Project Leader

Donna Baranski-walker

Executive Director
San Mateo, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of U.S. Movement to Save Palestinian Villages