Sunday, December 21, 2008

French cooking class to benefit PfP!

On Sunday, January 11th, Betsy Piper, the Chef of the French House and an experienced culinary instructor, will teach a class of French Favorites. Cost is $40 and the class will run from 5:30 - 8 p.m. in the Community Room of the Williamson Street Co-op, 1221 Williamson Street.

Don't miss this opportunity to watch, learn and taste these favorites, and take the recipes home to use yourself! We'll enjoy:
* saumon en croute (salmon in puff pastry -- technique can be used for other dishes too), with rice pilaf
* haricots verts à la française (green beans French style)
* homemade vinaigrette and variations (you'll never want to buy salad dressing again!)
* and flourless chocolate cake (oh la la!)

We expect the class to sell out, so reserve your place today! Email for more information or to save a spot and arrange payment.

Invite a friend to enjoy the class with you and double the fun!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Two great fair trade shopping opportunities!

There are TWO event coming up that will help you check off some of your holiday shopping needs while support great organizations and producers. Playgrounds for Palestine - Madison will be selling fair trade coffee, tea, chocolate, olive oil, and olive oil soap.


Sunday, Nov. 23 - Fair-Trade Christmas Sale
8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ
1501 Gilbert Road, Madison, in the Church's Friendship Hall. (A complete list of vendors and products is below)


Saturday, December 6, from 9 am to 4 pm
Community action on Latin American (CALA) sponsors the
12th Annual Fair Trade Holiday Festival
at Monona Terrace!

Bigger and better than ever!

Find the perfect unique gift while you support fair trade producers
around the world.

Fair Trade seeks to shorten the path between you and the artist who makes your gift, so the artist can make a living wage and you can know they receive the largest possible portion of the purchase price.

Shop a wide selection of art, crafts, clothing, home decorations,
pottery, weavings, food gifts, and more. International fair trade
products will be available from Mexico and Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

New for 2008: Domestic Fair Trade products made in Wisconsin and throughout the country, with the goal of supporting sustainable small businesses and family farms. Domestic fair trade products will include cheese, maple syrup, honey, sausage, granola, wool products and more.

For more information (including list of items for sale) visit


Fair-Trade Christmas Sale
ORUCC is sponsoring a Fair-Trade Christmas Sale where you will find unusual and beautiful gifts and holiday items. Proceeds go to organizations that help people around the world to be self-sustaining.

List of Vendors and items:
SERRV promotes social and economic justice by marketing hand-crafted items in a just and direct way. They will offer a wide selection including jewelry, Christmas decorations, baskets, carved animals, musical instruments, food, and toys.

GLOBAL REFLECTIONS offers hand-painted mirrors, ornaments and pottery from Mexico and Guatemala. Sales of these beautiful pieces provide a sustainable livelihood for the artisans.

CHIRIPA sells exquisite hand-hammered copper vases, bowls and other ornaments and also offers hand painted wooden animal from Oaxaca, Mexico, jewelry, ceramics, rugs and other artisan crafts from the Americas.

TERRA EXPERIENCE specializes in ethnic doll clothes, hand-woven in South and Central America, and also sells clothing, books and art. Sales support local artisans and sustainable development for their communities.

VILLAGE HEALTH PROJECT focuses on public health in Uganda. They will offer paper beads made by Ugandan women.

PLAYGROUNDS FOR PALESTINE raises funds to build a playground for children of the Jenin Regugee Camp. Items include coffee, olive oil, soap, spices, teas, chocolate.

DOERS offers humanitarian aid to victims of war, poverty, oppression and natural disaster. They will be selling books and handmade Afghan blankets, pillows and jewelry to support that country's refugees.

MADISON-RAFAH SISTER CITY PROJECT builds relationships in order to improve living conditions in Palestine. Items offered include embroidery, olive oil, soap and calendars.

VENUS IMPORTS markets hand-made clothing from Nepal as well as artisan crafted jewelry, musical instruments and other exceptional gift items.

HEIFER PROJECT provides the chance to buy shares of farm animals, trees, fish and honey bees for impoverished rural families so they can produce their own food and a livelihood.

MASAII HANDCRAFTS from Kenya sent by Pastor Benson Kishoyian who works directly with the artisans and was a global exchange preacher with ORUCC several years ago

TUPENDANE COTTAGE INDUSTRY sells greeting cards handmade by African AIDS widows.

RHUMY WARA is raising money to build a clinic and provide school books in Ecuador. Crafts and weaving by local artisans will be available.

PORCHLIGHT provides housing for the homeless. They will be selling jams and sauces made locally.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

PfP Fair Trade Open House, Sunday, 11/9!

Get a head start on your holiday shopping, and support Playgrounds for Palestine - Madison at the same time!

PfP - Madison's Fair Trade Open House!
Sunday, November 9th, from 1 to 4 p.m.
2643 Van Hise Ave., Madison

Stop by and sample our "Play Grounds" fair trade, organic french roast coffee and fair trade tea and chocolate, and taste PfP's delicious fair trade Palestinian olive oil and za'atar spice blend! Palestinian olive oil soap will also be available for purchase.

Get a head start on your holiday shopping, and feel free to bring friends!

For more information, please email or call 345-8659.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

PfP National Building Playgrounds for Palestinians in Lebanon

Thanks to seed money from Dr Nabil Qaddumi, PfP was able to partner with MECA (Middle East Children's Alliance) and ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) to initiate playground projects in Lebanon. On September 30, 2008, three playgrounds will arrive for installation in Ein el Hilweh and Nahr el Bared refugee camps.

In addition,
152 soccer balls are being shipped with our equipment to Lebanon courtesy of Little Feet Sports. The children will be so happy to receive those along with the playgrounds to enjoy!

Nahr el Bared
(The site of the future playground is to the right)
The Nahr el Bared Camp (NBC) was established in December 1949 by the League of Red Cross Societies in order to accommodate the Palestinian refugees suffering from the difficult winter conditions in the Beqa’a valley and the suburbs of Tripoli. Located 16km from the city of Tripoli and occupying an area of about 20 km2, some 31,000 displaced Palestinians and their descendents live in and around the camp, named after the river that runs south of the camp.

On 20th May 2006, fierce clashes erupted between armed members of the radical group Fatah Al Islam (FAI) and the Lebanese Army in Tripoli in northern Lebanon. These quickly spread to the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el Bared (NBC), causing more than 300 deaths. The camp was decimated and became uninhabitable. The human, economic and political consequences of this conflict are severe.

The "new" Nahr el Bared camp was set up to accommodate the refugees of the refugee camp and is in great need of help. PfP has partnered with ANERA and MECA to provide children in this impoverished camp with a safe and fun place to play.

Ein el Hilweh, UN Refugee camp in Lebanon: Najdeh Preschool
Najdeh Association, a local NGO doing great work with Palestinian children in refugee camps, has a preschool in Ein El-Helweh Camp in Saida which serves a highly impoverished community of Palestinian refugees. The preschool serves around 90 children aged 3 to 5 in the mornings Sunday to Thursday and hosts youth activities on Friday and Saturday for 90 to 100 kids aged 7 to 14. They have youth activities organized by ARCPA/al-Jana, another wonderful NGO working in the camps. The space available is part of the preschool property directly adjacent to the two-story school building which is walled-in and currently empty. To the right is the playground being sent for the site.

Our partner organization, ANERA, worked intensively with Najdeh Association in the distribution of kits during the summer 2006 war and they currently participate in ANERAs Mother and Child Health Program.

Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Condemnation of Killing of Palestinian Child

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the use of force by the Palestinian security forces to disperse a peaceful march near ‘Aaida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. The security forces fired at the march indiscriminately wounding a child seriously. PCHR calls upon concerned authorities to initiate an immediate investigation into the incident, to take legal action against the perpetrators and to take serious steps to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents.

According to investigations by PCHR and testimonies by eyewitnesses, on 9 September 2008, after having performed the afternoon prayer, dozens of prayers exited the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Mosque in the center of ‘Aaida refugee camp, north of Bethlehem. They walked in a peaceful march to protest the aggravation of drinking water crisis and the water cut for more than 22 days in their camp. The demonstrators crowded near Kendo intersection on the main road adjacent to the camp, and they chanted slogans calling upon officials to consider about their demands. A few minutes later, about 200 security men came. They surrounded the demonstrators and requested them to return to their homes. They then pushed the demonstrators and assaulted them using their hands and batons. In response, the protestors got angry and threw stones at the security forces. They also blocked the main road with stones and fellies.

At approximately 17:00, security men intensively fired into the air to disperse the demonstrators and they tried to arrest some of them. Some demonstrators continued to throw stones. Meanwhile, unknown persons who were not participating in the march threw stones and empty glass bottles at the nearby Intercontinental Hotel. Security forces fired indiscriminately in different directions. As a result, 15-year-old Jadallah Akram ‘Eissa Abu Sorour, from ‘Aaida refugee camp was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the abdomen. The child was taken to Beit Jala Public Hospital where he underwent a surgery to stop the hemorrhage and eradicate the damaged part of the bowel. The child is still receiving treatment in the medium care unit in the hospital. In addition, 15 demonstrators and 8 security men sustained bruises and light cuts.

The Public Committee, locals and ‘Eissa Qaraqe’, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, blamed Bethlehem 's Commander and the Chief of Bethlehem's Police for suppressing the march and for the use of excessive force. However, Bethlehem 's Commander, Brigadier Yousif Qaddoura, stated that security forces responded to maintain security and order. He added that the forces responded after they had been thrown with stones that wounded 8 of the forces' members.

He further stated that the Security Forces were obliged to respond that way after they failed to stop the attacks on the main road and on the Intercontinental Hotel that had been thrown with stones and Molotov bombs.

In light of the above:

1. PCHR strongly condemns the use if firearms by security forces to suppress the peaceful march and to forcibly disperse the demonstrators. PCHR affirms that it is necessary to have clear and specific instructions for the use of firearms by law enforcement officials that conform to international standards and ensure respect for human rights.

2. PCHR condemns attacks against private and public properties and stresses that civilians have the full and legitimate right to organize public assemblies, sit-ins and peaceful marches under law.

3. PCHR emphasizes that neither the governor nor the police has any legal right to license or prevent any public meeting, peaceful demonstration, or any other form of peaceful assembly, as the law calls for only “informing” the governor or the police by the organizers, and that the police has the right to put some limitation “for traffic control.”

4. PCHR calls upon concerned authorities to immediately investigate this attack, take legal actions against its perpetrators and take necessary steps to ensure its non-recurrence.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Israeli Troops Shoot Dead Palestinian Boy

Democracy Now! reports on July 30, 2008 that:

Israeli troops shot dead a ten-year-old Palestinian boy on Tuesday during a protest against Israel’s construction of a wall through the West Bank. Witnesses said the boy, Ahmad Moussa, died instantly after being shot in the forehead. The shooting took place in the village of Nilin, the site of another controversial shooting earlier this month. On July 7th, an Israeli soldier was captured on film shooting a rubber bullet at a handcuffed Palestinian man.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thanks to all who made our benefit dinner a success!

On Sunday, May 18th, a group of enthusiastic PfP supporters gathered at King of Falafel restaurant. We enjoyed a delicious buffet of falafel (of course!), hummus, both veggie and cheese filled sambosias, yalangi, and chicken shwarma, with King of Falafel's signature cardamom tea and delightful baklava for dessert.

While the focus was on fun and socializing over a delicious meal, we took advantage of having a special guest to talk about the importance of our Jenin playground project. Sol Kelley-Jones had just recently returned from 3 months in Palestine doing theater work with children, including those of Jenin. Her passion, anger and hope conveyed powerfully why we are doing wheat we are to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. I am sure I was not the only one whose heart leapt when she said that the children know exactly where the playground will be and are anxiously awaiting it. There was a sense of immediacy for me that made me want to do everything I could to raise the funds as soon as possible. We also got to hear a historical perspective from Jennifer Loewenstein, who was sent to Jenin just days after the 2002 massacre to witness the destruction.

Thanks to everyone that came to the benefit. If you have not yet had a chance to donate to the project, please take a moment NOW and either write a check or use Paypal (use the link at the left). Thank you!

I also want to share a P.S. from the evening, because the most amazing thing happened after the event. My family and I came home, and I was watering my garden before going inside when my phone rang in my pocket. I didn't recognize the number at first, but then realized it was the owner of King of Falafel. I figured we must have forgotten something and answered it. He told me that a man was there who had heard the event announced on WORT as he drove into town, but he had to go to a friend's daughter's graduation party. So he went to the party, but left a little early, telling the host about our benefit and that he wanted to try and make it. The host gave the man $200 to give to us as a donation! I hopped right back into the car and met him at King of Falafel, where sure enough, he had 2 $100 bills from his friend. It warmed my heart.

We should never doubt that there are kindhearted people in the world.

PfP Pleased to Take Part in Nakba Commemoration

On thursday, May 8th, PfP-Madison members joined more than a dozen other supporters of justice for the Palestinian people as a silent presence during a celebration of Israel's 60th anniversary. We were both on library mall, where the main pro-Israel activities were, but there was also a moving display on Bascom hill -- small markers for each of the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. Following are several photos of the event. Thanks to Madison Rafah Sister City Project and Jewish Voice for Peace for making sure PfP was included!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Join us this Thursday for No Time to Celebrate: Protest an Israeli Independence Day Event

No Time to Celebrate: Protest an Israeli Independence Day Event

Thursday, May 8
10 am - 1 pm
Library Mall, UW-Madison

This May, Israel is marking 60 years of statehood with celebrations. Here in Madison the University Hillel Foundation plans a public party with a "moon bounce", "Bedouin tents" and a birthday cake on Library Mall. Meanwhile Palestinians around the world will mark 60 years since the Nakba ("Catastrophe") of 1948, when over 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed and 800,000 Palestinian people were made refugees to create a Jewish state in a land where the majority was not Jewish.

In response to calls from Palestinian civil society and progressive Jewish groups, a local coalition invites you to join a NO TIME TO CELEBRATE rally commemorating 60 years of resistance to Palestinian dispossession, expulsion, and repression.

Please come for all or part of the demonstration, and bring signs so that we can be witnesses to the other side of the "celebration." While the atrocities continue, it is best to keep our signs around the memory of 1948 and its legacies.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers - WI Give Grant for Jenin Playground!

The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers - WI raise funds each year through sales of their beautiful calendars, and then make grants to international projects sponsored by group members. RPCV-WI member Lee Row graciously sponsored PfP-Madison's request for funding for the Jenin playground. Jean-Marc and Judith went to the groups meeting last night to present the project and answer questions. The feedback was really positive, and we are pleased to report that we were given a grant of $1,200 -- 10% of our goal!

With the funds we have already raised through donations and sales of fair trade olive oil and olive oil soap, we are now at nearly $3,000 raised -- 25% of the total cost of the project!

Thanks for to RPCV-WI for their support -- we look forward to updating them on our progress!

If you have not yet donated to support the playground, you can send a check to the address to the left, or use the donate button to give through PayPal.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

United Methodist Church Looks at Divestment, But Meets with Resistance

Thanks to the Madison Rafah Sister City Project for alerting us to this issue.

There is an effort by volunteers within the United Methodist Church for divestment from Israel by the church, but they are meeting with resistance. You can go directly to for more information. Here is a message from the divestment group:

Your help is urgently needed. In the face of many false attacks, United Methodist volunteers have put up a web site to explain the concept of divestment from companies that sustain the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. This site contains information on Israeli apartheid, and explanations of proposals that will be before the United Methodist General Conference (our policy-making body) later this month.

This web site has been prepared by clergy and lay volunteers from the United Methodist New England Conference, Baltimore Washington Conference, New York Annual Conference, Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference, and Rocky Mountain Conference. It answers questions about divestment proposals before the 2008 General Conference and responds to the many misrepresentations that have been made about these proposals. We hope you will find it helpful. If you have additional questions, please contact us at UMDivestment at

Time is short, and we need to get the word out. There have been many false reports about these proposals and about Methodists who support them. It is urgent that we respond. The site is

If you have a web site of your own, please place a temporary link to our site on yours, and be sure to click on it to visit our site. Linking our site to others is the surest way to move it up in the Google listings. Having many visits to the site will also help. Please also share the information in our site with others.

With many thanks,
Susanne Hoder
Member, Divestment Task Force
New England Conference of the United Methodist Church

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

U.S. Liberal Bloggers Brought to Israel to Show Them "Reality"

from, April 4, 2008

Left-wing U.S. bloggers, including Daily Kos editor David Waldman and former lobbyist Tom Matzzie, who now heads Campaign to Defend America, will spend six days in Israel as the guests of the Israeli government. The trip is sponsored and organized by the Solomon Project. The bloggers will "meet with Israeli bloggers, journalists and Knesset officials." According to author Yitzhak Benhorin, "The Foreign Affairs Ministry has long since been exerting considerable efforts to bring the prominent writers for an extensive tour of the country, in recognizing the influence many of the writers wield and the fact some of them represent websites that are less-than-friendly towards the Israel." The bloggers will receive briefings on Israel's perception of the security situation and will tour the area between Gaza and the West Bank, known as Israel's "narrow waistline," with the objective of communicating the "true meaning of a return to the borders of June 4th 1967." The borders referred to are spelled out in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which calls for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967, and were the basis of the Oslo process. The guests may also meet Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni.

Boy killed in hit-and-run on Israeli only road near Nablus

April 8th, 2008

From the International Solidarity Movement website

At approximately 5pm on Monday 7th April, a Palestinian shepherd boy was killed in a hit-and-run incident by an Israeli settler bus near the city of Nablus. The 15 year old boy, Sharif Badjas Ishtayeh, from the nearby village of Salim, was struck by the bus on road 557 - an Israeli-only road that connects Huwarra checkpoint with the illegal Israeli settlement of Elon Moreh. Seven of his sheep and one donkey were also killed, as the shepherd attempted to lead them across the road.

Witnesses report that the driver, heading towards the settlement Elon Moreh, hit the boy deliberately, and sped off afterwards, leaving him to die. Indeed, from the location of the bodies, it is evident that the boy and his flock were visible from at least 150 metres away, giving the driver plenty of time to avoid a collision. There is no indication from the evidence on the scene that the driver attempted to slow down at any time before or after the attack.

The identity of the Israeli driver is as yet unknown, as neither driver nor vehicle have been located since the incident.

Distraught Palestinian residents of Salim gathered at the road-side afterwards, by the slain bodies of the sheep. Clashes erupted between locals and Israeli soldiers, resulting in soldiers firing tear gas into the crowd.

The funeral for the boy was held during the night of 7th April, with most of the village turning out to mourn their latest victim of the Israeli occupation.

Photo by Nedal Ishtayeh

Monday, April 7, 2008

In Case You Missed the Amira Hass Interview

Chapter Steering Committee Member Judith Siers-Poisson had the opportunity to interview Israeli journalist Amira Hass on WORT on Friday, April 4th. In case you weren't able to listen on Friday, the program is available (for about 2 months) on the WORT archive.

If you'd like to listen to it, go to the WORT archive and scroll down to "A Public Affair" on Friday, April 4, 2008.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meet the Madison PfP Chapter's Steering Committee

The members of the Steering Committee of the Madison Chapter of Playgrounds for Palestine are Samir El-Omari, Jennifer Loewenstein, Jean-Marc Poisson and Judith Siers-Poisson.

Clockwise from upper left: Judith, Jennifer, Samir, and Jean-Marc

Samir El-Omari is a Palestinian who moved to Madison from Montreal in August 2007. Samir is a licensed professional engineer of Ontario, Canada. He graduated from and did his master degree at Bauhaus university in Weimar, Germany and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University Montreal, Canada. He held, for a period of 15 years, several industrial posts in Egypt in construction engineering and management on building projects including hospitals, hotels, power plants, and residential and commercial buildings. In addition to being active with Playgrounds for Palestine, he is also a member of the association for one democratic state Palestine/Israel and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. His wife, Nevine El-Nossery, and their children Hana and Zayed, are also helping the with the PfP chapter.

Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the board of the Israeli Coalition against House Demolitions-USA branch, founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and a freelance journalist.

Jean-Marc Poisson is a native of Paris, France and came to the U.S. in 1988. He holds a PhD in French Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He has previously taught at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and Madison Area Technical College and Edgewood College. He is a freelance translator and interpreter. His and Judith's daughter Ariane is also helping with the chapter.

Judith Siers-Poisson was inspired to found the Madison chapter of Playgrounds for Palestine when she interviewed PfP Founder Susan Abulhawa in Fall 2007. She has worked for a variety of non-profits as a fundraiser since 1996. She is currently the Associate Director of the Center for Media and Democracy. She serves on the board of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and hosts "A Public Affair" on community radio WORT.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Benefit Dinner Sunday May 18th!

Mark your calendar for PfP-Madison's first benefit dinner!
Sunday, May 18th, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m
King of Falafel
453 W Gilman, Madison

Enjoy a tempting buffet of Middle Eastern delicacies at King of Falafel, and learn about the children of Jenin Refugee Camp for whom we are raising funds to build a playground. We will also have fair trade olive oil and olive oil soap for sale.

$20 for adults, $10 for children 6 - 10, and kids 5 and under free!

Space is limited -- email to reserve your place, and bring along family and friends for a fun and delicious evening!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

We Have Fair Trade Olive Oil and Olive Oil Soap!

We just received our first shipment of olive oil and soap from Zatoun -- a Canadian, all-volunter organization that is very committed to fair trade and supporting Palestinian farmers and non-profits. (There is more information about Zatoun below.)

We have three wonderful products to sell, and because of a very generous donor, 100% OF THE PRICE WILL GO TO SUPPORT PfP - MADISON'S PROJECT TO BUILD A PLAYGROUND IN JENIN!

* Fair Trade Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- 750 ml bottles of the best oil you will ever taste! Great for dipping, dressings, and cooking. And healthy, too! $22/bottle

* Four Bar Gift Box -- This is soap made in Nablus, which was the home of the modern formulation of soap in 700 AD. It was a center of soap making for 1400 years. Pre-1948, there were 45 soap factories there. Today, there are barely 2 in operation, and only part-time.

The soap comes in 4 varieties, one bar of each in the gift box: honey, goat's milk, lemon, & dead sea mud. $20/box

* Scent-Free, Pure, White Soap -- hand made by a women's collective in Tibay, a christian village in Palestine. It is made of pure olive oil, with no additives, and has a dedicated following among parents for use with infants, and with people with sensitive skin. $6/bar

ORDER BEFORE APRIL 15th, AND GET A SPECIAL BONUS! Any order of $40 or more will get a bar of the pure, white soap free! Buy early for Mothers Day and Fathers Day! And we'll even deliver it to you within the Madison area by May 1st. Send an email to with your order, or drop a check in the mail to PfP- Madison, PO Box 5091, Madison, WI 53705-0091 and tell us what you'd like (and how to get in touch with you). AND THANKS!

Do you have a book club, faith community, social group or co-workers that might be interested in the soap or oil? Let us know and we can set you up with materials and can help make it a successful PfP fundraiser!

More on Zatoun:

Zatoun works closely with American Friends Service Committee. All the oil goes to Canada, and is then shipped on from there. It cannot be sent directly into the U.S. because they have chosen to make a statement by printing "Product of Palestine" on the labels, and that means it cannot go through U.S. customs. Other oils use different language to get around that, but they feel strongly enough about it to deal with the consequences.

Zatoun partners with the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA), based in Jenin. Zatoun tries to do have as much of the production done in Palestine as possible to support the economy, so the entire manufacturing process -- label printing, carton making, bottling -- is all done there. They calculate that they have been able to contribute $350,000 to the Palestinian economy in the past 5 years.

Currently, there is no global fair trade standards for olive oil. But Zatoun is so committed to fair trade that they pursued certification through a Swiss organization, the Institute for Market Ecology, and had them review their standards, examine the distribution chain, and monitor
them in order to receive certification.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Playground Destruction Protested in the West Bank

Demonstration takes place on playground near Qalqiliya, two days before it is due to be demolished March 13th, 2008

The whole story is available from the International Solidarity Movement.

"A large protest took place today in the West Bank town of Azzoun against the planned demolition of the children’s playground in the town. 450 protesters came from the local area, the village womens development association and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), who celebrated their 25 year anniversary at the demonstration. ...

The playgrounds construction was near completion when on the morning of February 22nd, 2006, bulldozers accompanied by Israeli soldiers arrived and demolished half of the park - which consisted of two swimming pools and changing rooms.

The justification given by the Israeli army for the demolition was that the park lacked a building permit for that specific ground, an area which falls within Area C, thus under Israeli civil and military control."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Great News from Palestine -- Playgrounds #6 and #7 finally released from the port!

Those of you that have been following the blogs by PfP national board members Susan Abulhawa and Sonia Rosen (Sonia is there now and her blog is available here) during their time in Palestine know that PfP has been struggling with approval from the Israeli authorities to transport our playground equipment from the port to our partner ANERA.

Just today, Sonia found out that the materials have finally been released! She wrote:

"I received a call from Lana this afternoon while I was in the Old City, and she told me that we have received approval from the Israeli authorities to bring the playgrounds into the West Bank and install them at the two sites. They will be released from the port within the next few days and should arrive at the ANERA warehouse and be distributed to the their respective sites by the beginning of next week.

I am so relieved that this issue has been taken care of, even though I am still disappointed that I was not able to be here for the actual installation.

Thank you to Lana from ANERA for being so persistent with the authorities!"

The playgrounds will be installed in Bethelem and in Beit Anan (the Beit Anan site is at the left -- the playground will be a great addition!) The situation of having to wait so long for the equipment to be released from the port has underscored one of the benefits we will enjoy when we are able to construct the playgrounds in the West Bank instead of shipping them from the U.S. As if the opportunity to contribute to the local economy wasn't enough of an incentive, the red tape we can avoid certainly is!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Don't Forget: My Name is Rachel Corrie tonight, and next Friday and Saturday!

You'll want to be sure to see the one-woman play, "My Name is Rachel Corrie", about the young woman killed almost exactly five years ago while defending a home in Rafah from demolition by the IDF. Yesterday's opening night performance played to a sold-out crowd, and was incredibly moving. Adding to the experience was a talk-back with the producer/director, actor, and Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie.

Visit the Madison Rafah Sister City Project wesbite for more information on tickets.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Craig and Cindy Corrie on WORT Friday, March 7th

Listen to "A Public Affair" on WORT (89.9 FM) Friday from noon to 1:00 p.m. to hear host Diane Farsetta interview Cindy and Craig Corrie. (If you are not near a radio, you can also listen live on-line at

Cindy and Craig are the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was killed March 16, 2003 while defending a Palestinian home in Rafah, Gaza, from destruction. The Corries are in town for the opening performance of the one-woman play "My Name is Rachel Corrie." See this post for more information on the performances.

Call in during A Public Affair with your questions and comments! If you can't listen live, you can also download the program to listen later from the WORT archive, available at

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Catastrophe in Gaza

All of us that are active in Palestinian issues -- and anyone concerned with human rights -- are outraged and disgusted by Israeli attacks on the civilian population of Gaza. Here are some accounts by activists to read:
  • Jennifer Loewenstein, Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, member of the board of the Israeli Coalition against House Demolitions-USA branch, founder of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and a freelance journalist, wrote this excellent piece for CounterPunch.
  • Kathy Walsh, of the Madison Rafah Sister City Project has written this reflection
  • Sonia Rosen, PfP board member currently in Palestine for playground installation, wrote this account

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Playgrounds will also help the local economy

All the playgrounds that have previously been installed by PfP (and the two that Susie Abulhawa and Sonia Rosen are installing right now in the West Bank) have been manufactured and purchased in the U.S. and then shipped to Palestine. But we have an exciting new model that will soon be in place.

From now on, playgrounds will be constructed in Palestine. Our goal is to have something innovative and unique, and to even be able to incorporate Palestinian cultural elements in the designs. (To see results of a PfP-sponsored playground design competition, click here.)

We will not be buying actual playgorund equipment from manufacturers. In a way, it will be the same process as if we were building a buiding. We will advertise in the newspaper and take bids from local contractors, who will then take the designs and make architectural plans. There are fiberglass and metal factories there that will be used to make molds and pieces and some of it will be made from stone and other natural materials. We are not yet sure where they will get the raw materials. Most likely these will come from Israel because for all practical purposes they control the flow of all raw materials that are not native, like steel and aluminum, for example. Any stone will come from local quarries, as will other natural materials, hopefully.

We are so excited to make this transition in the way that the playgrounds are produced. Not only will we be providing fun, safe, and colorful equipment for children, but we will be helping to stimulate the devastated local economy as well.

Want to help? Consider making a tax-deductible donation TODAY! Send a check made out to "PfP-Madison" to the address to the left, or use the link to give by credit card through PayPal.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our 2008 Project: A Playground for Jenin!

PfP-Madison is excited to announce that our first fundraising project is to raise $12,000 in 2008 to build a playground in the Jenin Refugee Camp.

This camp in the West Bank — home to 12,000 refugees — was destroyed during the last Intifada and hundreds of its citizens were massacred by the Israeli Army in 2002.

Needless to say, many children have been traumatized (42.3% of the camp’s residents are under the age of fifteen). In addition, since the playground equipment will be produced in the West Bank, our projects will also help to stimulate the devastated local economy.

There are so many ways that the playgrounds will benefit the communities. Please help us succeed!

Send a check made out to "PfP - Madison" to:
Playgrounds for Palestine - Madison
PO Box 5091
Madison, WI 53705-0091

Or return to the home page and follow the link to PayPal to make a credit card donation.


My Name is Rachel Corrie to be Performed in Madison!

PfP-Madison will be tabling at the performances. Come out to see an important play about social justice and commitment, and support humanitarian aid for Gaza.

My Name is Rachel Corrie comes to Madison
Friday and Saturday March 7 & 8
7:30 pm
Orpheum Theater, 216 State Street
Friday and Saturday March 14 & 15
7:30 pm
Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State Street

On March 16, 2003, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, of Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Rafah in the Gaza strip while attempting to stop the destruction of a Palestinian home. Her e-mails were subsequently published in the London Guardian, catching the eye of actor Alan Rickman and Guardian writer Katharine Viner. Rickman and Viner stitched together Rachel's e-mails and other writings provided by her parents into a powerful one-woman play, My Name is Rachel Corrie.

The play premiered at the Royal Court Theater in London, England in the spring of 2005, to sell-out houses and rave reviews. However, the U.S. premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop was "un-scheduled" amid cries of censorship. The London production subsequently had a successful off Broadway run at the Minetta Lane Theater in New York and since then about a dozen additional productions have been or will be mounted in Canada and the U.S. An Arabic version of the play is scheduled to open in Haifa, Israel on March 16 as a commemoration of Rachel's death. The producers have plans to tour it throughout Israel and the West Bank.

We are pleased to announce that on March 7 a local production of My Name is Rachel Corrie will open at the Orpheum Theater, 216 State Street, in Madison. Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, will join us for opening night and be the featured guests at a benefit fish fry dinner at the Orpheum Lobby Restaurant, beginning at 5:30 pm. The play will also be performed on Saturday, March 8 at the Orpheum. Both shows begin at 7:30 pm. Play tickets are $5.00. Dinner tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple and include play admission, with net proceeds going to a humanitarian project in Gaza.
On Friday, March 14 and Saturday, March 15 the play will move to the Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State Street, also at 7:30 pm. A donation is requested for admission.

For more information call 608-906-3207 or e-mail
For reviews of other productions of the play, and for background on the play and the Rachel Corrie case, visit or

The script in the form of a book of the same name is available for purchase at Rainbow Bookstore on Gilman Street, and will be available at the performances too.

Susan Abulhawa in West Bank Installing Playgrounds

Susie is about halfway through her 2 weeks in Palestine, and has been dealing with a lot of challenges. If you want to read all about it in her own words, she is blogging during her trip. You can read all about it here.

Great JVP event last night

Last night the Madison chapter of Jewish Voices for Peace had a veggie potluck fundraiser. Over 30 people were there to share and discuss the importance of olive trees, olives, and the harvest to both Israelis and Palestinians. The national JVP goal is to raise enough to plant 3,000 olive tree saplings in Palestine. At only $20 for 3 saplings, that certainly seems like an attainable goal!

Click here if you want to know more about the Trees of Reconciliation campaign.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Daniel Barenboim Given Honorary Palestinian Citizenship

The full article is available here.

Lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said he lobbied Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make Barenboim a citizen.

Barenboim deserved a Palestinian passport, Barghouti said, because the conductor had shown "solidarity with Palestinians under the most difficult circumstances."

"It was a nice gesture," Barenboim said in a telephone interview from Berlin.

At least one Israeli lawmaker wanted action taken against barenboim for his acceptance of the honor. "'It's a disgrace to the state of Israel that a man like Barenboim holds Israeli citizenship, and it would be fitting for it to be revoked,' Yakov Margi of the Shas party told the Maariv daily newspaper's Web site."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Madison-Rafah Sister City Project Hosts Film Series

Last night I attended the first of 4 film screenings sponsored by the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. The topic was "Refugees of the Nakba: Then and Now." The evening included the 1950 British documentary "Sands of Sorrow" and excerpts from the 2004 documentary "Until When ..." After the screenings, there was a discussion that included the perspectives of two Palestinian members of the Madison community.

Upcoming screenings are:

January 27, 2008: The Occupation Understood
showing of "Occupation 101" (2006)

February 10: The Wall: Final Borders of Apartheid?
showing of "The Israeli Wall in Palestinian Lands" (2004), "Building the Wall at Abu Dis" (2006), and "Endless Checkpoints" (2006).

Feburary 24: The Worst of All: Gaza Strip and Rafah
showing of "Gaza Strip" (2002) and "ISM Rafah" (2006)

All showing are at 7:00 p.m. at Escape Java Joint at 916 Williamson. For more information contact Paul Beckett at