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.
Jul 15, 2015

You helped us reach our goal! Now, the hard part...

Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!
Our volunteers with hundreds of donated books!

Dear friends, 

On May 18, 2015, you helped us reach our goal - 3,888 backpack kits with school supplies for Gaza’s neediest children, and donations are still coming in! Thank you for your support!

It has been over a year since since the shelling of Gaza began last summer. At the current rate, reconstruction will take more than seventy years to complete. Not a single home has been rebuilt. The blockade continues.

We must not lose hope that a brighter future is possible. In addition to backpacks, we are now sending thousands of children’s books, one of the most sought after non-essential items requests from families in Gaza.

Our book drive coordinator, Laila el-Haddad (shown above), author of Gaza Mom and Gaza Kitchen: wrote:

" My community here in Baltimore is collecting new books to put into each backpack because this is a way to nourish young minds, and nourish the goodness in us all. There is a tendency to view those in Gaza as victims requiring nothing more than sympathy and monetary donations, and the blockade as solely a blockade on the entry of food, rather than a blockade on freedoms and rights, such as the right to learn. But people everywhere long to give something tangible and useful, Sadaqah Jarayah, translated as Continous Charity — gifts if you will, that keep on giving.   It is so difficult to have the opportunity to do that for Gaza.  With this siege and destruction how do we give to help them build their future?” 

In this spirit, hundreds of people from all different backgrounds donated to the bookdrive. From Adam, our lead volunteer coordinator who brought the project to mutliple Muslim Elementary and High Schools in New Jersey: 

“The situation in Gaza is very critical. As we take life for granted, children in Gaza are not given the opportunity to grow and succeed in school because of the occupation. Being able to contribute to the book drive is really giving the gift of reading! Education is essential to the growth and success of Gaza. Working with my community and with Laila El-Haddad and her community to come together to collect books for the children of Gaza was a beautiful and selfless experience. The fact that people of all races and religions came together to contribute to the book drive showed the support and love we have for Gaza. I hope that when these books are delivered the people of Gaza will feel the support and love we are sending their way. The thought may seem simple to many, but supporting the development of these children is really setting the foundation for them to become successful doctors, engineers, and lawyers. We aren’t just sending books, we are building a brighter tomorrow.”

Now that we successfully reached our fundraising goal for the backpacks, the hard work of customs approval begins. Production of the backpack kits finished in June (photos shown) - all 3,888 kits now are awaiting clearance to be shipped from the supplier in Oklahoma to the East Coast community center that will send them across the sea.

We knew that getting approval from the Israeli Authorities wouldn't be easy. On June 2nd, we received formal approval from the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Finance authorizing our donation. The donation was then sent to COGAT (Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) for security approval before being cleared by Israeli customs. After over a month of delays, we have engaged our diplomatic networks. We have been calling COGAT’s offices, checking in regularly to remind them the importance of this shipment. Our elected representatives are calling the Israeli consul general in San Francisco to inquire on our behalf, and we are working diligently with the UNOPS team to ensure any questions are answered in due time. You can call your representative - tell them you donated to our project and ask them to inquire to the Israeli Consulate as to why approval is taking so long. Your calls make a difference. We remain committed and engaged, especially when proceedings are frustrating and difficult - a spirit of perseverance that the families in Gaza model every day. 

Meanwhile, the blockade continues, against the advise of Israeli military officials who say that economic opportunity in Gaza is necessary to prevent another escalation of violence. School, now more than ever, proves itself to be an invaluable asset for children recovering from trauma - it provides them stability, a support network, and promotes dreams of the future. We will continue to nourish these dreams as we expand our network. As the BDS movement picks up steam across the country, we hope to build a movement to invest in education for Gaza's children, in the spirit of peace and prosperity for all. 

Because we believe we will succeed, we are continuing our outreach. Last week, Donna and Kelly met with the United Church of Christ in Redwood City to discuss ways to partner on the next backpack container. Despite the challenges this project faces, we remain committed to reaching Gaza’s children and their families. Plans for the next container are already under way.

“It is a privilege and a blessing to be able to support the good efforts and accomplishments of Rebuilding Alliance.   I especially appreciate the opportunity to help Gaza's children rebuild their lives and hope for learning in the form of a back-pack for school.  I hope that people of faith will act out their faith by giving generously…."Walk their talk."  - Rev. Dona Smith-Powers

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like assistance in contacting your representative by emailing kelly@rebuildingalliance.org.

Also, tomorrow is a Global Giving Bonus Day - all donations will be matched 40%! If you or someone you know would like to give, consider purchasing a backpack for the next container, or support Rebuilding Alliance's other projects. 

With great thanks,

Kelly Leilani 

Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Adam and Laila celebrate with friends and family
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
Finished backpack kits in Oklahoma!
People keep donating books!
People keep donating books!
Production team putting the kits together!
Production team putting the kits together!
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza
Brand new school supplies for children in Gaza

Links:

Jul 10, 2015

Let's Start At The Very Beginning

Lina describing the goals of the benefit concert
Lina describing the goals of the benefit concert

Dear Friends of A Collective Song Music Center,

We are proud to inform you that thanks to your help, we are on our way to making this music center a reality! As of now, we have raised about $13,000! We have been able to do so thanks to you, our donors, and grants, which include a Microsoft YouthSpark matching grant.   I am also happy to tell you that I am back at Rebuilding Alliance and I’ll be here this summer to work through the details to launch the Collective Song Music Center.

Over the past few months, we were able to reach out to more people and share this goal with them, with superb results. On May 3rd, I held a benefit concert at my school. There were fifteen excellent performers at the concert, ranging from professionals to students. The concert was a success, and embodied what we hope this music center will give the people of Al Aqaba.

  • Zach Chun, a student clarinetist and one of the performers at the benefit concert, said, “The gift of music is something everyone deserves.  Through Lina's project we are able to bring more moments of happiness into the lives of others.

  • Award-winning qanun player Ali Paris, who also performed at the benefit concert, said, “Lina’s dedication to this great cause is very powerful, and with her help and others’ who have the same level of global appreciation of world causes, peace will spread and wars will end."

Because of my concert, I was invited to speak at the Santa Clara County’s 14th Annual Palestinian Day on May 15th, which took us a step further in our path to creating the music center.

We are excited to begin our next steps toward implementing the center as soon as possible. Our upcoming goals include:

  1. Arranging for a teacher--The Edward Said Conservatory of Music in Ramallah has expressed interest in providing a music teacher for the center. Providing a teacher will make a world of a difference not only in the children’s experience, but in the long-term effects that the music center will have on the village.
  2. Confirming the location of the Collective Song Music Center at the Ibn Rush'd Library in Al Aqaba,
  3. Arranging for the village to interview the music teacher.
  4. Purchasing or renting equipment (instruments, music books, etc.) to arrive in Al Aqaba by the end of the summer--Although we hope to raise about $22,000 for this project, we have already raised enough to begin tangibly creating the center in Al Aqaba.

World-famous neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, whose book Musicophilia was an inspiration for this project, wrote in his book, “Rhythm and its entrainment of movement (and often emotion), its power to ‘move’ people, in both senses of the word, may well have had a crucial cultural and economic function in human evolution, bringing people together, producing a sense of collectivity and community.” We hope this music center will function in this way, acting as a constructive outlet will be a practical way to promote peace and bring the community together. We are immensely grateful for your support; it is thanks to you that this project is happening! We look forward to keeping you updated on how the project is progressing.

Best wishes,

Lina Karamali

Ali Paris and Briana Di Mara
Ali Paris and Briana Di Mara
Performing at the benefit concert
Performing at the benefit concert
Lina speaking at Palestinian Day
Lina speaking at Palestinian Day
Palestinian Day
Palestinian Day
Zach Chun
Zach Chun

Links:

Jul 7, 2015

#I Care About Peace, I Care about Susiya - Rebuildling Alliance travels to Washington, DC

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:

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