By Donna Baranski-Walker - Founder and Executive Director
Meeting of Mayors: Al Aqaba & Wadi Foquin
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.
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