Sep 9, 2020

Greetings from Rebuilding Alliance's New Advocacy Coordinator and Other Updates

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to you with some exciting updates! 

First off, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Katie, and after two months of volunteering with Rebuilding Alliance, I have officially joined Rebuilding Alliance fulltime as an Advocacy Coordinator.

When I graduated from college with an Arabic and Islamic Studies degree at the start of the summer, I happened to stumble upon the incredible efforts of Rebuilding Alliance in a region I hold dear to my heart. I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve this caring community from the nation’s capital, and work towards safeguarding Palestinian families.  I look forward to getting to know you better — if you ever have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.

In other news, we have exciting updates regarding our work in Palestine revolving around the Sumarin family. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has finished circulating a Congressional letter asking for the Israeli PM to halt the eviction of the Sumarin family. The signed letter now goes to the House Ethics Committee for review. This is a critical step forward in our fight to protect the Sumarins; one which never would have happened without your kindness and persistency. On behalf of the Sumarin family and all of us here at Rebuilding Alliance, thank you! 

The Israeli Supreme Court will now be taking the Sumarin case in April. Although this may seem like plenty of time to relax, we have no plans to ease off the gas. Rebuilding Alliance will be keeping a close eye on the situation in Silwan because, as we have learned, plenty can happen when we turn the other way. We are also working on a short film to document the progress of the Sumarin coalition, which has been leading the fight to keep the Sumarin house standing. 

On a separate note, our advocacy team is preparing to take on a new and exciting challenge in the Palestinian villages of Madama and Burin. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for an announcement about the details of the case! 

As always, thank you for your steadfast support for Rebuilding Alliance and most importantly, for Palestinian communities who deserve peace.

Sincerely,

Katie                                                                                                                                

Links:

Sep 2, 2020

A Landmark Case in East Jerusalem

The Sumarin home is in Jerusalem's Old City
The Sumarin home is in Jerusalem's Old City

The Sumarins are a family in East Jerusalem that have been fighting to keep their home for over 30 years. Rebuilding Alliance was invited to join the Sumarin Coalition in May 2020 because we would contact Congress, and 8 volunteers came from all over the country and Great Britain to help!

The Coalition is an international group of 20+ organizations that are advocating on behalf of the Sumarins. Constituents were urged to call their Representatives and Senators and ask for 2 specific interventions: to call the U.S. State Department and to call the Israeli embassy to express concern about the injustice of this eviction. 841 constituents sent 3018 letters. We held about thirty-eight 30 minute briefings with Congressional offices with speakers from Jerusalem on the line, often with constituents joining us.

As a result of a briefing, Congresswoman Jackie Speier is sponsoring a letter addressed to Prime Minister Netanyahu requesting to halt the eviction. The letter as of now has 23 co-signers and will close for signatures on Wednesday, September 2nd at 6 PM.

From an excerpt of Congresswoman Speier's letter, here's what happened: 

"Thirty years ago, JNF asked the Israeli government to seize the Sumarin family home based on Israel's Absentee Property Law, even though the family had the rightful title and were never absent. On May 23, 1991, without notification to the family, the property was purchased by JNF from the Development Authority in a land barter. In 1994, Judge Yehudit Tzur ruled that the declaration of the home as absentee property was unlawful and denied the claim for eviction, yet the land and the title to their home were never returned to the Sumarin family. The Israeli Government's Klugman Commission later noted "grave findings regarding the functioning of the Custodian of Absentee Properties," and pledged to end the use of the law but failed to apply the policy retroactively to past eviction cases."

In a separate project, Rebuilding Alliance helped raise funds so the family could take case to Israel's Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court agreed to take the case. With this case, Rebuilding Alliance has learned much about building a coalition. If the Supreme Court case is lost, this Congressional intervention is the best way to moderate government action to safeguard the Sumarin family and their Jerusalem home.

As stated by a rabbi who spoke to Congress on behalf of the family, "In the Abrahamic tradition shared by Muslims, Christians, and Jews who live in the holy city, the Temple Mount is the site of God's presence on earth. The prophets envisioned that from this place, a divine spirit of global justice and moral responsibility would descend upon the world." 

Thank you for believing in us and for your support. More soon. 

The Sumarin Grandchildren
The Sumarin Grandchildren
Old City (background) seen from the Sumarin home
Old City (background) seen from the Sumarin home

Links:

Aug 14, 2020

Sumarins Will Go to Israel's Supreme Court!

Amal Sumarin showing family pictures
Amal Sumarin showing family pictures

Hello Everyone, 

On August 5th, the Supreme Court of Israel agreed to hear the Sumarin family's case and issued an order delaying their eviction. This is welcome news to the Sumarin family and all who've worked with them as part of the Sumarin Coalition. Their previous eviction date was August 16th after which the Jewish National Fund could have applied to forcibly evict them. We're relieved to have the Sumarins safe at home for now, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

In the eleventh hour, the Palestinian National Authority stepped in to pay the Sumarins' court fees. However, this doesn't mean your generosity is going to waste. We are immediately transferring payment for their lawyers' fees, and in the event that they may lose, the Sumarin family would have to pay eviction fees, the JNF's local court fees, and the JNF's deposit to the Supreme Court. 

Here in the United States, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California's 14th District is circulating a letter for signatures to press the Government of Israel to just stop the eviction.  Please ask your Representative to sign on to this letter, and your Senators to sponsor one like it. 

Write to your Representative and ask them to sign

We could not have gotten to this point without the support of constituents who helped bring the Sumarin Family’s case to Congresswoman Speier’s attention. This is not lobbying. If you are a constituent, Congress promises to assist with any urgent issue that involves a Federal Agency. If you were one of those who emailed Congress, thank you! Rebuilding Alliance followed up by holding Contact Congress briefings with 37 offices, House and Senate, Republican and Democratic.  

We hope you will follow up with your elected officials and urge them to be a signatory on this important letter.  Thank you.

Links:

 
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