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.