// take action for humanitarian crisis in Gaza
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« on: Jan 22, 2008 04:50 AM »

CAIR Action Alert #529

Action: Urge Congress to Halt Humanitarian Disaster in Gaza

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 01/21/08) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on American Muslims and other people of conscience to urge their elected officials to immediately intervene to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The crisis was triggered by an Israeli-imposed blockade Sunday evening, which forced the closure of the only electric plant that serves Gaza City's 400,000 residents and one third of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 millions residents. The blockade prevents the entry of fuel that is essential to the operation of the plant.

SEE: Gaza Dark Amid Israeli Blockade (LA times)

Gaza is already suffering from economic hardship, which according to the World Bank, is primarily a result of being cut off from the rest of the world by Israel. Without power, hospitals, water facilities and other crucial lifelines may completely shut off and homes may be left without heat, plunging Gaza into disarray.

On Monday, the U.N. said it would suspend food distribution to 860,000 Palestinians unless Israel eased the blockade imposed on Friday in response to rocket fire from Gaza. The World Food Program, which distributes food to another 270,000 Gaza residents warned that it too would have to suspend operations by Thursday due to lack of fuel.

A European Union (EU) official termed Israel’s blockade “collective punishment,” a practice banned by international law. "I have made clear that I am against this collective punishment of the people of Gaza," said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. (Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.”)

SEE: U.N. Agency Says May Have to Halt Gaza Food Handout (Reuters)

In a statement CAIR said:

“Because American taxpayers provide Israel with billions of dollars of economic support each year, we have the right and the responsibility to demand that Israel abide by American and universal human rights standards and end its practice of collective punishment against the Palestinian populations. Such practice amounts to war crimes.

“Silence from American officials will only serve to increase the sentiment worldwide that our nation cares little for the suffering of the Palestinian people.

"The perception that the U.S. abets cruel and inhumane treatment of civilian populations provides fodder for anti-Americanism that may threaten the security of the United States.”

According to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2007, "Israel [retains] effective day-to-day control over most key aspects of life in Gaza, including ingress and egress and thus the economy."

Seventy-nine percent of Gaza households live under the poverty line, 40 percent suffer from unemployment and almost half the population in the Gaza Strip is made up of children.

CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.


1. CONTACT your elected officials (one U.S. Representative and 2 U.S. Senators) and ask them to call for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and a full restoration of the essential services. Call, fax, and email.

Click here to find your representative:

Talking points:

*As your constituent, I urge you to call for an immediate end to the illegal Israeli blockade in Gaza.

* Our nation and its leaders cannot and should not remain silent as an illegal humanitarian disaster unfolds in Gaza. Collective punishment is always counterproductive and only serves to block moves toward a just resolution of any conflict.

* Because American taxpayers provide Israel with billions of dollars of economic support each year, we have the right to demand that those funds not be used to increase human suffering.

* Israel must abide by international law and universal standards of human rights. We call on President Bush to demand the immediate end of Israel’s blockade.

* Silence from American officials will only serve to increase the perception worldwide that our nation cares little for the suffering of the Palestinian people.

* The perception that the U.S. abets cruel and inhumane treatment of civilian populations provides fodder for anti-Americanism that may threaten the security of the United States.

2. INFORM YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY by forwarding this alert to at least five other people. Tell them you took action and ask them to do the same.


Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726
Fax: 202-488-0833
E-mail: info@cair.com
URL: http://www.cair.com

« Reply #1 on: Jan 23, 2008 11:08 AM »

Gazans pour into Egypt after militants blast hole in border
Palestinians destroy a border wall between Gaza Strip and Egypt at Rafah refugee camp in the southern of Gaza Strip

(Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty)

Hours after the pre-dawn explosions, militants used a bulldozer to destroy what was left of the wall
Image :5 of 5
Philippe Naughton and agencies at the Rafah crossing

Tens of thousands of Gazans on foot, in cars and even on donkey carts poured into Egypt this morning after Palestinian militants blew up most of the most of the border wall between the two territories.

Around two-thirds of 12-km wall was destroyed in a dramatic pre-dawn protest against the closure of the coastal strip imposed last week by Israel and backed by Egypt.

Jubilant Gazans flooded the Egyptian border town of Rafah, buying cigarettes, plastic bottles of fuel, and other items that have become scarce and expensive because of months of severe restrictions of movement in and out of Gaza.

Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the strip, did not take responsibility for knocking the border wall down but its officials quickly took control of the frontier. Hamas police channelled the crowds through two sections of the border, and inspected some bags, confiscating seven pistols carried by one man returning to Gaza.
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Others walked unhindered over the toppled metal plates that once made up the border wall, carrying goats, chickens and crates of Coke. Some brought back televisions and car tires, and one man bought a motorcycle. Vendors sold soft drinks and baked goods to the crowds.

James Hider, Middle East Correspondent of The Times, reported from Gaza that the destruction of the wall had followed a tense protest at the Rafah crossing yesterday when around 1,000 Palestinians, mostly women, tried to push their way through.

"When the explosions went off this morning, the Egyptians realised that they could not stop the tide of humanity," Hider said. "They realised the game was up and stood aside."

Mohammed Abu Ghazel, 29, said he had crossed the border three times since the morning. He bought cigarettes worth 200 shekels (£27) in Egypt and sold them for five times that in Gaza, he said. "This can feed my family for a month," he said.

The destruction of the border continued into the morning. Palestinians driving a Caterpillar bulldozer arrived at a point where the frontier is marked by a low concrete wall topped with barbed wire, tearing down the wall and opening a gap to allow easier access for cars

Egypt has largely kept its border with Gaza closed since the violent Hamas takeover of the territory in June, amid concerns of a spillover of Hamas-style militancy into Egypt.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers have orchestrated daily demonstrations on the Gaza-Egypt border, in an apparent attempt to appeal to Arab public opinion and pressure Egypt to open the passage. The chaotic scenes came on the sixth day of a complete closure of Gaza in response to a spike in Gaza rocket attacks on Israeli border towns.

On Tuesday, Israel eased the closure slightly, transferring fuel to restart Gaza’s only power plant, and also sent in some cooking gas, food and medicine. Israel has pledged to continue limited shipments because of concerns that a humanitarian crisis could develop in the already impoverished coastal territory.

However, Gazans are still facing critical shortages of electricity, fuel and other supplies. The territory has been largely cut off from the world since June, when Hamas seized power in Gaza by force.

Among those flooding over the border today was an off-duty Hamas security officer, Abdel Rahman, 29, who said this was his first time out of Gaza. "I can smell the freedom," he said. "We need no border after today."

But Abdel Rahman denied that weapons were being smuggled in from Egypt. "You can buy weapons in Gaza, guns and RPGs," he said, adding that it was easier to find weapons in Gaza than cancer medicine or Coca-Cola.
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 29, 2008 02:29 AM »

CAIR, MPAC Condemn Israeli Attacks on Gaza
Posted 2/28/2008 4:58:00 PM


    (WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/28/08) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) today issued a joint statement condemning Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed at least 20 people, including many civilians. Since Wednesday, 14 Palestinian civilians, among them eight children, have been killed by Israeli missile strikes.

SEE: Israel Kills 20 Palestinians in Gaza (AP)

In a statement, the groups said:

"The killing of civilians on either side of this tragic conflict only serves to deepen mutual hostility and mistrust. We condemn all attacks on Palestinian or Israeli civilians and urge President Bush to address the humanitarian crisis, and end our nation's uncritical support for Israel's brutal and counterproductive actions."

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic, 213-383-3443, E-Mail: communications@mpac.org

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« Reply #3 on: Jun 22, 2011 11:37 PM »


fascinating how courageous some ppl are!


Alice Walker: Why I'm sailing to Gaza

Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: What else would I do? I am in my sixty-seventh year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content.

It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one's understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise?

Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?

There is a scene in the movie "Gandhi" that is very moving to me: it is when the unarmed Indian protesters line up to confront the armed forces of the British Empire. The soldiers beat them unmercifully, but the Indians, their broken and dead lifted tenderly out of the fray, keep coming.

Alongside this image of brave followers of Gandhi there is for me an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the South in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help - our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protestors-and came to stand with us.

They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few "good ol' boys'" of Neshoba County, Mississippi and were beaten and shot to death along with James Cheney, a young black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Cheney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.

And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our President's latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorized, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the U.S. Congress to the prime minister of Israel?

I see children, all children, as humanity's most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.

As adults, we must affirm, constantly, that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the Christian child, the American child, the Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc., is equal to all others on the planet. We must do everything in our power to cease the behavior that makes children everywhere feel afraid.

I once asked my best friend and husband during the era of segregation, who was as staunch a defender of black people's human rights as anyone I'd ever met: how did you find your way to us, to black people, who so needed you? What force shaped your response to the great injustice facing people of color of that time?

I thought he might say the speeches, the marches, the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. or of others in the Movement who exhibited impactful courage and grace. But no. Thinking back, he recounted an episode from his childhood that had led him, inevitably, to our struggle.

He was a little boy on his way home from Yeshiva, the Jewish school he attended after regular school let out. His mother, a bookkeeper, was still at work; he was alone. He was frequently harassed by older boys from regular school, and one day two of these boys snatched his yarmulke (skull cap), and, taunting him, ran off with it, eventually throwing it over a fence.

Two black boys appeared, saw his tears, assessed the situation, and took off after the boys who had taken his yarmulke. Chasing the boys down and catching them, they made them climb the fence, retrieve and dust off the yarmulke, and place it respectfully back on his head.

It is justice and respect that I want the world to dust off and put - without delay, and with tenderness - back on the head of the Palestinian child. It will be imperfect justice and respect because the injustice and disrespect have been so severe. But I believe we are right to try.

That is why I sail.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Alice Walker. A longer version of this article will appear on Alice Walker's blog.
Links referenced within this article

Freedom Flotilla I

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