JHJPI April 2020 Newsletter
Please join JHJP for a Zoom event, Palestine Coping with Occupation & COVID-19, by of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (www.pmrs.ps) by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, this Saturday April 25, 2020 at 12:00 noon Eastern Time zone.
Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) is a grassroots community-based Palestinian health organization, founded in 1979 by a group of Palestinian doctors and health professionals seeking to supplement the decayed and inadequate health infrastructure caused by years of Israeli military occupation. It is non-profit, voluntary, and one of the largest health NGOs in Palestine. PMRS is a national health program emphasizing prevention, education, community participation, and the empowerment of people. Due to Covid 19, conditions have worsened. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti will provide firsthand updates on the current medical conditions in Palestine.
To join the Zoom event, one must register in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcqcuusqDsoGNEpPyIgNqU4fZ3LoE4L5_tD
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. We have added this extra step for security reasons.
Our USA mailing address for your tax-deductible gift Friends of PMRS, Inc, P. O. Box 450554, Atlanta GA 31145
Please email, call or text Rev. Fahed AbuAkel: 404.441.2702, [email protected]
Tuesday, April 28, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM ET – Video Call
Join MECA for a special video call with Dr. Mona El-Farra and other MECA staff. You will get updates on the situation in Gaza, what MECA is doing, and have a chance to ask questions. Please register using the form below and we will send you the details for the call.
Click here to register: https://secure.everyaction.com/IqhEXk6aJkGh1ciMAVIU1Q2
Still Locked in Conflict, Israelis and Palestinians Need Each Other To Fight COVID-19
As COVID-19 spreads through Israeli and Palestinian communities, Israelis and Palestinians now have a common enemy to battle — and reason to lean on each other.
The coronavirus has infected more than 2,000 Israelis and killed at least eight, including a man who survived the Holocaust. In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, it has infected more than 70 Palestinians and killed a Palestinian woman. At least nine Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip are infected with the virus, too. Everyone is under increasingly stringent lockdowns.
Israeli and Palestinian officials say they are coordinating their efforts against the coronavirus. Israel has ensured the passage of ambulances to Palestinian areas of the West Bank, offered medical workshops to Palestinian hospital staff on best quarantine practices, and provided virus testing kits to Palestinian medical staff with limited resources in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli hospitals, buckling under the pressure of hundreds of new virus cases a day, rely on Palestinian doctors who are citizens of Israel, as well as some Palestinian hospital staff from the West Bank, who must pass through Israeli military checkpoints to work in Israeli hospitals.
Medical staff from Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center clean and disinfect areas of the hospital dedicated to receiving patients suffering from COVID-19, on March 19.
Now, the tensions over President Trump’s pro-Israel peace proposal and Israeli vows to annex West Bank lands just last month seem like a distant memory. So does last month’s firebombing of a Palestinian restaurant that hosted an Israeli journalist delegation. Violence hasn’t ended, but it’s barely registering headlines.
“Maybe people will remember this as a time when they treated each other as humans,” a Palestinian newspaper journalist told NPR. He insisted on anonymity because in the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, public expressions of compassion remain controversial.
With the bar for empathy set so low, the simple act of Israelis and Palestinians acknowledging the common threat they face is noteworthy. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week about coordinating efforts on fighting the virus, in a rare telephone call between the two.
A public opinion poll on Tuesday found 68% of Palestinians support the Palestinian Authority’s current cooperation with Israeli authorities to stem the spread of the virus. Some Israelis have voiced their gratitude on Twitter and television for the Palestinian Arab citizens who make up 17% of Israel’s doctors, a quarter of its nurses and nearly half its pharmacists.
Israel has sealed its borders to all foreign visitors, but not to the Palestinian laborers who help keep Israel’s economy alive. Before the pandemic, about 150,000 Palestinians worked in Israel and Israeli settlements. Now, an estimated 30,000 to 45,000 day laborers, most of them construction workers, have made the difficult choice to work and sleep in Israel for months, without knowing when Israel’s lockdown, which began over a week ago, will end and when they can go back to their families in the West Bank. Their alternative: remain in the poorer West Bank, where jobs are scarce.
With no tourists in Israel now, some Israeli employers have put up Palestinian laborers in Israeli hotels. In other cases, workers have slept in the apartments they finished building before Israeli owners moved in, said Ziv Lazar of the Israeli Builders Association.
As cases of the virus soar in Israel, Palestinian leaders have called on laborers to return home and quarantine themselves, alarming Israel’s association of construction contractors.
“The damage that will cause will be enormous,” said Shai Pauzner, spokesman of the association.
For critics of Israel’s tough policies toward the Palestinians, the coronavirus underscores the inequalities of a West Bank population under Israeli military occupation and dependent on Israel’s medical aid and labor market.
They warn that some 2 million residents of the blockaded and beleaguered Gaza Strip could face disaster, should the virus spread due to a perfect storm of deficient hospitals with few ventilators and most of the population poor and living in crowded conditions.
“COVID-19, or any other health crisis, is not an equalizer. To praise Israeli-Palestinian cooperation suggests that the parties are on an equal footing when they are not,” Tareq Baconi of the International Crisis Group tweeted.
Some Israelis also have voiced skepticism about cooperation. “Optimism for coexistence born out of working with the [Palestinian Authority] to combat the coronavirus is a pipe dream,” says Gerald Steinberg of the Israeli group NGO Monitor, which tracks critique of Israel by pro-Palestinian and international rights groups around the world. “The ongoing demonization and political war against Israel, continuing unabated despite the global corona disaster, is an important reality check for all of us.”
For the few card-carrying peace activists whose optimism hasn’t fallen victim to decades of violence and hate, though, the virus offers an opportunity.
Nidal Fuqaha of the Palestinian Peace Forum recently hosted several Palestinian friends for a Zoom videoconference with former Israeli politicians and defense officials who wanted to know how Palestinians are handling the coronavirus and is holding another video call with Israelis next week. The virus lockdowns make it easier to convince people to participate in these talks, he said — no more excuses to avoid face-to-face meetups, which the virus has made impossible.
“I hope we will both learn good lessons from this crisis,” Fuqaha said. “Whether it will change the discourse, frankly, I am not sure. But definitely, it will contribute to changing the paradigm for the future. You know, this corona pandemic sent a clear message to both Israelis and Palestinians that the issue of cooperation and coordination, and arranging or dealing with such situations jointly, is a must.”
Safaa Odah, 35, a Palestinian cartoonist in the Gaza town of Rafah, returned this month from a pilgrimage to Mecca and went straight into home quarantine. She drew a cartoon of a Jew, Christian and Muslim fighting — before they dart to pray side by side as the coronavirus barges in the door.
“You know what,” Odah said in an interview, “the corona doesn’t care about religion. Doesn’t care where you live.”
Maizie Avihayil, 62, an Israeli elementary school teacher from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, tested positive for the coronavirus a couple weeks ago. Israeli health officials published where she’d been, as they do with all virus cases to alert the public.
That is how Israelis in her settlement discovered that she had been in an unusual place for an Israeli settler: She’d traveled to the Palestinian town of Beit Jala for a workshop with Palestinians on nonviolent communication.
“One of my colleagues said, ‘Wow, when this corona [pandemic is over], I am going to come to one of these meetings!'” Avihayil said in a phone call from a Tel Aviv hotel now serving as a quarantine center.
Acclaimed Israeli novelist David Grossman, who was awarded the 2017 Man Booker Prize, mused about radical changes in perspective the virus may bring.
“When the plague ends, there may also be those who will not wish to return to their former lives,” Grossman wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “Some will decide to leave their family. To separate from their partner. To bring a child into the world, or precisely to refrain from that. There will be those who will come out of the closet (out of all manner of closets). Some will start to believe in God … Possibly there will also be some who will for the first time wonder, for example, why Israelis and Palestinians continue to do battle against each other, afflicting their lives for more than a hundred years with a war that could have been resolved long ago.”
The author closed with these words: “Even if it does come to pass, I fear that it will fade away quickly and things will go back to what they were before we were plagued, before the flood.”
For 20 years JHJPI has advocated for an end to the 71-year-old Israeli Occupation of Palestine, through education, advocacy and working together with allies in Metro Atlanta and in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Our education efforts over the years have included:
- Leading and sponsoring trips to Palestine/Israel for participants to see the “facts on the ground” of the Occupation.
- Hosting and sponsoring conferences, speakers and films. Past events and conferences have included journalists and academics David Sheen, Josh Ruebner, and Noura Erakat; theologians Rev. Naim Ateek and Rev. Mitri Raheb; activists Rana Nazal, Benjamin Ladraa, and Remi Kanazi; and filmmakers Leila Sansour and Kathy Wazana.
Our advocacy efforts include meeting with state and federal officials about issues including:
- Imprisonment of Palestinian children
- Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank
- State and federal attempts to stop the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in the U.S.
Our U.S. partners and allies include:
- Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
- Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Emory, Georgia State and University of Georgia
- Presbytery of Greater Atlanta Peacemaking Program
- Israel Palestine Mission Network (PCUSA)
- CAIR, Georgia
- American Muslims for Palestine
- Project South
We can’t do this work without your ongoing support. Please consider a gift to JHJPI and let’s work for an end to the Occupation!
Joining Hands for Justice in Palestine and Israel is a 501c3 non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible. Please contact JHJP is you would like to give an in-kind gift or bequeath a gift.
Proposal to Support Palestine Art Competition.
The Diyar Theatre / Dar Alkalima University College of Arts and Culture in collaboration with artist Katie Archibald-Woodward is organizing a Palestinian art competition to encourage Palestinian children to share their life stories during home quarantines and lockdown. there are three age categories, 4-6, 7-10 and 11-13 and the paintings can be on canvas or paper using oils, watercolors, pencils or crayons.
Here are the relevant dates:
Opening of the Competition: April 15th 2020
Deadline for Receiving Entries: May 15th 2020
Evaluation and Shortlist: June 1st to June 14th 2020
Announcement of Prizes: June 15th 2020
To make this contest a reality, Katie is seeking financial support from the people who know her and understand what is at stake for the children of Palestine. Her goal is to raise $4665.00 to pay for the marketing, staff, and prizes needed to produce the event. If you feel moved to continue, please make a donation to JHJPI and we will forward the funds we gather. Please make a note in your check or online giving of “for Diyar Theatre.” checks can be mailed to JHJPI, 2200 Century Center Parkway, Suite 260
Atlanta, GA 30345-3120.