Monday, January 28, 2008

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Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2008 10:56:50 -0500
From: "Nabil Mohamad"
Subject: Ending the stranglehold on Gaza by Eyad Sarraj and Sara Roy

Thought members of this list would be interested in reading this excellent op-ed by Eyad Sarraj and Sara Roy in the Boston Globe.

Ending the stranglehold on Gaza

By Eyad al-Sarraj and Sara Roy | January 26, 2008

AN ISRAELI convoy of goods and peace activists will go today to Erez,
Israel's border with Gaza, and many Palestinians will be on the other
side waiting. They will not see one another, but Palestinians will
know there are Jews who condemn the siege inflicted on the tiny
territory by Israel's military establishment and want to see an end to
the 40-year-old occupation.

Israel's minister of justice, Haim Ramon, had pushed for cutting off
Gaza's "infrastructural oxygen" - water, electricity, and fuel - as a
response to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel. Last Sunday,
Ramon's wish came true: Israel's blockade forced Gaza's only power
plant to shut down, plunging 800,000 people into darkness. Food and
humanitarian aid were also denied entry. Although international
pressure forced Israel to let in some supplies two days later, and the
situation further eased when Palestinians breached the border wall
with Egypt, the worst may be yet to come.

The Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, agrees with Ramon's
strategy, saying that it is "inconceivable that life in Gaza continues
to be normal." The rapid and deepening desperation of Gaza's sick and
hungry is of no moral concern to her. For Livni, like Ramon, the siege
is a tactical measure, a human experiment to stop the rockets and
bring down a duly elected government.

The siege on Gaza and the West Bank began after Hamas's 2006 electoral
victory with an international diplomatic and financial boycott of the
new Hamas-led government. Development assistance was severely reduced
with the improbable aim of bringing about a popular uprising against
the very government just elected to power. Instead, this collective
punishment resulted in a steady deterioration of Palestinian life, in
growing lawlessness, and a violent confrontation between Fatah and
Hamas, which escalated into a Hamas military takeover of Gaza in June

Since then, the siege has been tightened to an unprecedented level.
Over 80 percent of the population of 1.5 million (compared to 63
percent in 2006) is dependent on international food assistance, which
itself has been dramatically reduced.

In 2007, 87 percent of Gazans lived below the poverty line, more than
a tripling of the percentage in 2000. In a November 2007 report, the
Red Cross stated about the food allowed into Gaza that people are
getting "enough to survive, not enough to live."

Why is this acceptable?

The reduction in fuel supplies that the Israeli government first
approved in October not only threatens the provision of health and
medical services but the stock of medicines, which is rapidly being
depleted. This has forced the critically ill to seek treatment outside
the Gaza Strip.

However, according to Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, many
patients are being denied permission to leave, because of new
bureaucratic restrictions imposed on top of an already inefficient and
arbitrary system. The organization has also accused the Israeli
intelligence service of forcing some patients to inform on others in
order to be granted passage.

Since June, Israel has limited its exports to Gaza to nine basic
materials. Out of 9,000 commodities (including foodstuffs) that were
entering Gaza before the siege began two years ago, only 20
commodities have been permitted entry since. Although Gaza daily
requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population, Israel had cut
this to 90 tons per day by November 2007, a reduction of 99 percent.
Not surprisingly, there has been a sharp increase in the prices of

Gaza also suffers from the ongoing destruction of its agriculture and
physical infrastructure. Between June and November 2006, $74.7 million
in damage was inflicted by the Israeli military on top of the nearly
$2 billion already incurred by Palestinians between 2002 and 2005.
Over half the damage was to agricultural land flattened by bulldozers,
with the remainder to homes, public buildings, roads, water and sewage
pipes, electricity infrastructure, and phone lines.

The psychological damage of living in a war zone may surpass the
physical. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem,
between Sept. 1, 2005, and July 25, 2007, 668 Palestinians were killed
in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli security forces. Over half were
noncombatants and 126 were children. During the same period, Qassam
rockets and mortar shells killed eight Israelis, half of them civilians.

Gaza is no longer approaching economic collapse. It has collapsed.
Given the intensity of repression Gaza is facing, can the collapse of
its society - family, neighborhood, and community structure - be far
behind? If that happens, we shall all suffer the consequences for
generations to come.

Eyad al-Sarraj is founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program.
Sara Roy is senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.


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SAVE THE DATE: 2008 ADC Annual National Convention - Washington, DC June 12 to 15.
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Organizing Department
1732 Wisconsin Ave NW.
Washington, DC. 20007, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990
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Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2008 16:04:37 -0500
From: "Nabil Mohamad"
Subject: Washington Post Editorial Distorts the Facts About Gaza; Washington DC Prayer and Vigil
ADC Action Alert:

Washington Post Editorial Distorts the Facts About Gaza

Washington, DC | January 25, 2008 | | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply disturbed by the Jan 24 Editorial
by the Washington Post about the situation in Gaza. ADC encourages you to write to the Washington Post about their distorted editorial. Below you will find a
letter sent to the Post by ADC, you can send your letters to


The author(s) of Jan 24 editorial by the Washington Post claim that "no one is starving in Gaza." Apparently, the Post did not consult the latest reports by
the World Food Programme and the UN Relief and Works Agency which call for immediate aid to be sent to the impoverished Gaza Strip to "urgently prevent a
humanitarian crisis."

Basic research by the Washington Post would have also found that 79 percent of the 1.5 million Gazans live in poverty and approximately 70 percent of the
Gazans live on less than 250 dollars a month and food purchases account for 60 percent of household expenditures (World Food Programme, Jan 11, 2008).

The Post also fails to mention that despite Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel continues to have complete control over Gaza's
land, sea, and air borders; utilities; tax revenue; and internal economy, making it an occupying power.

The editorial goes on to call for Egypt to close the border and to turn back the Gazans. Under humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions, Gazans must be
allowed access to humanitarian aid and supplies. Gazans should not be forced to go without food or medicine nor be forced to live under constant collective
punishment. An end to the misery inflicted by the ongoing Israeli occupation should be the goal for all, however, the Washington Post seems to favor halting
the peace process instead. Shame on the Post.



Breach in Gaza
As thousands stream across the border to Egypt, Hamas blockades the peace process.

Thursday, January 24, 2008; A18

THE HAMAS movement provided a dramatic illustration yesterday of its ability to disrupt any movement toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians. As tens of
thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip surged across the border into Egypt, Hamas security forces directed traffic; earlier, they stood by as organized
groups of militants blew up the fence along the previously sealed border. As Hamas no doubt expected, the government of Egypt greeted this illegal invasion
with a quick surrender: President Hosni Mubarak announced that Gazans would be allowed to shop in Egypt because they "are starving due to the Israeli siege."

In fact, as Mr. Mubarak well knows, no one is starving in Gaza -- though food, fuel and cigarettes are much cheaper across the border. Israel closed its border
with the territory and disrupted power supplies over the weekend in response to a massive escalation of Palestinian rocket launches from Gaza at nearby Israeli
towns -- between Tuesday and Saturday last week, some 225 rockets were aimed at the town of Sderot, where more than 20,000 Israelis have been relentlessly
terrorized. Hamas took advantage of the blockade first by arranging for sympathetic Arab media to document the "humanitarian crisis," then by daring
Egypt to use force against Palestinian civilians portrayed as Israel's victims. Its ultimate goal, stated publicly yesterday by Damascus-based leader Khaled Meshal, is to force Egypt to permanently reopen the border in cooperation with Hamas; that would greatly diminish Israel's ability to respond to rocket attacks with economic sanctions, and it would undermine the rival Palestinian leadership
of Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert committed themselves to reaching a peace accord in 2008 during President Bush's visit this month. Yet
since then, political attention in the region has been focused on the rocket attacks, Israel's retaliatory strikes against militants in Gaza and the
subsequent blockade, and yesterday's dramatic breach of the border. Naturally it is impossible for the peace negotiations to make progress in these conditions.
So those who say their priority is an Israeli-Palestinian settlement ought to be trying to stop Hamas's disruptions.

That obligation doesn't just fall on Mr. Abbas and Mr. Olmert -- though Israel may have a lesson to learn from the way Hamas exploited its temporary shutdown
of fuel supplies. Mr. Mubarak and other Arab leaders have to resist the urge to roll over every time they are challenged by Hamas and al-Jazeera television.
Would Mr. Mubarak allow tens of thousands of Darfur refugees to illegally enter Egypt from Sudan, where a real humanitarian crisis is underway? Surely not.
Egypt's obligation as a law-abiding state is to restore order on the border and prevent the ongoing and massive smuggling of armaments into Gaza. That would go
a long way toward stopping the rockets.

The Bush administration and European governments should act to stop the ongoing farce at the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. Human Rights Council, which have
ignored months of daily rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians but now rush to condemn a partial, three-day disruption of Gaza's power supplies. Hamas, and
the people of Gaza, should get a consistent message that relief lies not in blowing up international borders but in ending attacks on Israel and allowing a
peace process to go forward.




Event on January 27, 2008

Contact: Paul Verduin (301) 495-7891 -
or Nabil Mohamad (202) 244-2990 -

Jan 27 Interfaith Prayer Service and Vigil for Palestinians

Washington, DC | January 24, 2008 | | Deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, people of all faiths in the Washington area will gather Sunday afternoon at a church on Wisconsin Avenue to pray--and later, outside the Israeli Embassy, to hold vigil--in gestures of solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians rallying this weekend on the Israel-Gaza border to demand an end to the Israeli blockade.

The paired Jan. 27 interfaith events, sponsored by the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace, Sharing Jerusalem, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), will begin at St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 3001 Wisconsin Ave., NW, at 2 p.m. The church is located just north of Massachusetts Avenue, immediately adjacent to the National Cathedral.

Led by a Christian minister, a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim imam, the 2 PM prayer service at St. Alban's will provide an opportunity for people of all faiths to give voice to their distress for the safety and well-being of the 1.5 million people of Gaza suffering since Thursday from a cut-off by Israel of such basic human necessities as food, medicine, and the fuel required to operate the territory's sole operating power plant. Following the prayer service, those attending are invited to drive or otherwise make their way to the Israeli Embassy for an outdoor vigil at the embassy entrance demanding an end to the blockade. The Israeli Embassy is located at 3514 International Drive, N.W, near Van Ness Street a block west of Connecticut Avenue.

The prayer service at the church and the vigil at the embassy will give expression to demands for a termination of the Israeli blockade of Gaza and an end to violence committed by both sides of the struggle. According to news reports, water supplies in Gaza are polluted due to the shutdown of sewage treatment facilities stemming from disruptions in the electrical power grid caused by the blockade. Safe drinking water is reported to be in short supply, according to the media accounts. On Wednesday, Gazans destroyed and breached the seven-mile-long barrier along the border with Egypt, streaming over the barricade to buy food, fuel and other provisions.

For more information on the ongoing crisis see:

For more information on the sponsoring organizations see:





NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States and to promote the cultural heritage of the Arabs. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide with chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.

The ADC Research Institute (ADC-RI), which was founded in 1981, is a Section 501(c)(3) educational organization that sponsors a wide range of programs on behalf of Arab Americans and of importance to all Americans. ADC-RI programs include: research studies, seminars, conferences and publications that document and analyze the discrimination faced by Arab Americans in the workplace, schools, media, and governmental agencies and institutions. ADC-RI also celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Arabs.

To Unsubscribe from this list, please send a message to ORGANIZING@ADC.ORG

SAVE THE DATE: 2008 ADC Annual National Convention - Washington, DC June 12 to 15.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Organizing Department
1732 Wisconsin Ave NW.
Washington, DC. 20007, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990
Web :

SAVE THE DATE: 2008 ADC Annual National Convention - Washington, DC June 12 to 15.
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Organizing Department
1732 Wisconsin Ave NW.
Washington, DC. 20007, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990
Web :

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