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‘IN THEIR OWN WORDS’

 A Conversation with Christian Leaders from the Holy Land

 SADAKA – the Ireland Palestine Alliance, Christian Aid and Trócaire invite you to this special public event which is part of the first ever Ireland-wide speaking tour by senior Palestinian church leaders.

 When: Friday 26th November, 7.30pm

 Where: Smock Alley Theatre Exchange Street Lower, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

 The main aim of the tour is to raise awareness of the grave and increasing plight of the Christian community in Palestine, as well as the Palestinian population as a whole, who are living under Israeli military occupation.

 All are welcome!

 Book your free place: E: info@sadaka.ie; Tel: 01 6694707

The senior church leaders coming to Ireland are:

 Archbishop Theodosius Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church

 Monsignor Manuel Musallam of the Latin Catholic Church

 Mr. Constantine Dabbagh of the Middle East Council of Churches

 As you may see from the biographies below, these men are of highly significant stature in religious and socio-political terms – not just in Palestine, but also in a global context.

 ‘We Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity’. KAIROS

 Palestine Background to the visit to Ireland of three senior church leaders from Palestine:

 The tour is a Sadaka initiative, organised in partnership with Trocaire and Christian Aid. The primary purpose of the tour is to raise awareness of the grave and increasing plight of the Christian community in Palestine, particularly in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. The tour aims to give voice to the Palestinian people as a whole, engage with political and religious leaders in Ireland and highlight the current political and human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

. The religious leaders’ engagements in Ireland include a courtesy call with President Mary McAleese at Aras an Uachtarain and meetings with Mr. Micheál Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs; leaders of the 4 main Christian churches and the First and Deputy First Ministers in the NI Assembly among others. There will also be a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs, receptions to be hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin and the Palestinian Delegation to Ireland, a visit to the Michael Davitt Museum and the celebration of an ecumenical service in Ballintubber Abbey in Co. Mayo.

 The tour begins on the 24th December – updates will be uploaded to the Sadaka website during the tour – so please check out the site for the latest news: www.sadaka.ie

 Biographical Information:

 Archbishop Theodosius Hanna, Greek Orthodox Church – Archbishop Theodosius (Atallah) Hanna was born in 1965 in the village of Al Rameh, Galilee district, Israel. He was ordained in 1991 and since that time has held many prominent positions within the structures of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, including spokesman for the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He held the position of Secretary General of the Clerical Lay Joint Council of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem and was appointed Professor of Church History and Arab Civilisation at the Arab Teachers College in Haifa. He is the founder of the Orthodox Youth Movement in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and is an active member of the international ecumenical movement both at local and regional level. Alongside his work towards Christian unification, he is a representative at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches. Throughout the Holy Land he is regarded as one of its most prominent religious and spiritual leaders. On the 1st December 2005 he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem as Archbishop of Sebastia (Nablus district).

 Monsignor Manuel Musallam, Latin Catholic Church – Ten years older than the state of Israel, Monsignor Musallam has witnessed enormous changes in his lifetime and has had to cope with supporting his people through their extraordinary circumstances under Israeli occupation. He served as the parish priest in Gaza until his retirement in 2009. During his time there, Monsignor Manuel became known as the ‘Priest of the Million’, in recognition of his unfailing care and concern for both Christian and Muslim alike.

 Mr Constantine Dabbagh, Middle East Council of Churches – Mr. Constantine Dabbagh was born in Jerusalem in 1938, and in the midst of fierce fighting in 1947, fled as a refugee to the Gaza strip. During his life he has worked for United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Gaza, and for the United Nations in the Republic of Congo (now Zaire). He has consistently advocated non-violence amidst living conditions that clearly have become a humanitarian crisis. His personal and professional dialogue of justice, peace, security, mutual understanding and reconciliation has involved him in critical negotiations between political factions within Palestine, and the Palestinian Authority and the international community. Constantine directs the provision of health, education and community services which care for the predominantly Muslim population of Gaza. In particular, the services focus on mothers and babies, vocational education and the provision of psycho-social health services to an increasingly traumatised population.

 For more information on the church leaders and the tour itinerary, please go to

 www.sadaka.ie

 We look forward to welcoming you on 26th November,

 Marie Crawley On behalf of the Board of SADAKA

 SADAKA – the Ireland Palestine Alliance,  Fitzwilliam Hall,  Fitzwilliam Place Dublin 2

 T: 01 6694707

 E:info@sadaka.ie

 www.sadaka.ie

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Wednesday, 03 June 2009 17:59 Written by Free Gaza Movement

03 June 2009
Dear President Obama,

Tomorrow you travel to Egypt to give one of the most important speeches of your presidency. With the words you deliver you have said that you want to “reset” U.S. relations with the Muslim world and create a fundamental change for the better. We sincerely wish you well. But you have also said that “part of being a good friend is being honest.” Let’s be honest.

Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States’ unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the right to freely enter and exit one’s own country. You will exercise this right when you arrive in Egypt tomorrow and then return to the United States. This is a right that Palestinians–particularly those trapped in Gaza–are routinely denied.

  • Over 200 Palestinian medical patients in Gaza, many critically ill, are unable to seek adequate treatment because Israeli authorities regularly deny Palestinian patients the right to travel abroad to receive the medical treatment that is not available in Gaza; at the same time import of many medicines and medical equipment into Gaza is prevented by Israel.
  • Over 700 Palestinian students in Gaza, many with scholarships, are unable to attend their universities abroad because Israel regularly denies them this right.
  • Thousands of Palestinians abroad are unable to visit their families because Israel will not allow them to re-enter their own country.

When you arrive in Egypt you will travel to your accommodations in a car maintained with spare parts banned to Palestinians, powered by gasoline denied to the people of Gaza. You will use electric lights that do not often work in Gaza, because Israel blocks the fuel needed to run Gaza’s electrical grid. You may enjoy a cup of coffee or tea during your visit – commodities Israel will not allow into Gaza.

The truth is that Israel lets in less than 20% of the ordinary supplies needed in Gaza, and allows no reconstruction materials whatsoever to enter. As a consequence over 95% of all industries have collapsed, creating massive unemployment and poverty. The purpose of the Israeli blockade is to punish and break an entire people. Collective punishment is strictly prohibited under international law, yet it remains Israel’s primary policy in regards to the Palestinian people.

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States. We sail in the spirit of international cooperation that helped create the United Nations, in the spirit of the international civil resistance that overcame Apartheid.

President Obama, you have based your political career on what you call the “audacity of hope” – the faith that each of us, individually and collectively, can change things for the better. But faith without action is dead. We too believe in hope, but from our experience we know that hope alone will not change the world. Like you, we know that the price and promise of our mutual humanity demands that each of us treat one another with dignity and respect, and that all of us strive to insure that our sisters and brothers around the world are free to make of their lives what they will, and pursue their full measure of happiness.

Mister President, you led the fight in the U.S. Senate to insure that aid was actually delivered to people after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. A man-made disaster continues to devastate the people of Gaza; due to Israel’s ongoing hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip over 80% of the population there require food assistance just in order to survive. We hope your speech tomorrow in Egypt is successful but, at a minimum, you must use your privilege to demand and secure open access to Gaza for all international humanitarian, reconstruction, and developmental supplies. Words matter, but words are not enough.

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.

Please recognize that the fact that we even have to ask (let alone risk our lives) to be allowed to provide food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and shelter to the homeless is in itself an obscenity. We look forward to hearing from you an uncompromising commitment for the immediate end of the criminal siege of Gaza, as well as an assurance that respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of the Palestinian people will be at the core of your administration’s policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Sincerely Yours,
The Free Gaza Movement Board of Directors
Huwaida Arraf, JD
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia

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Please watch the following video’s from my recent trip to Gaza. february 2009

The people of Gaza live in the worlds biggest open air prison, and with help from yourselves, we can help them break the siege, and try and live a normal life.

There’ an old saying, “The camera never lies”, so have a look at my footage, and make up your own minds.

 On October 4th, another convoy of aid led by George Galloway, intends to lead a team from Ireland and beyond to break the siege on Gaza once more.

So, if you are interested, please get in touch with me.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLqNo_04pwA

This video is of the truck handover in Gaza. Afer 24 days on the road from Tyrone and Wales, covering 6,500 miles over 12 countries, we hand the truck over to the people of Gaza.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0khgOW0KHs

 The Egyptians deny homeless people in Gaza blankets and clothes. I protest……..

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKOellc4DVE

The Destruction I witnessed in Gaza. Just horrible. The video says it all.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKOellc4DVE

 A photo slideshow of photos I took in Gaz 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG-uuLX1Aso

UTV Television interview from the Atlas Mountains in Algeria

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Concern at border delays of Irish humanitarian aid to Gaza 

 

 Galway Palestine Children’s Appeal has expressed concern about further border delays which have prevented four containers of Irish humanitarian aid from being delivered to the people of Gaza. Irish embassy officials in Egypt have been trying to track the containers, following their detention in the Egyptian port of Alexandria along with aid consignments sent from Britain and France. Irish ambassador to Egypt Gerard Corr has informed the Galway group this week that the goods are to be brought into Gaza in “instalments, subject to Israeli approval”. The four Irish containers were filled by the Galway group, and by the Cork Palestine Children’s Authority after a public appeal early in the year. They were shipped in February to Egypt, arriving in Alexandria early last month. When they were eventually released by the Egyptian authorities, they were sent back again to Alexandria from the border crossing at El Arish due to the absence of one document. Treasa Ní Cheannabháin of the Galway Palestine Children’s Appeal has been told that the containers have now been moved back to El Arish, and are to be “de-vanned” and inspected by the Israelis before delivery. Ms Ní Cheannabháin said that the containers held vital medical supplies, food, toys and clothes and it was vital that the people of Gaza received these items. “We had new clothes and household goods given to us by Galway businesses, and we know that the people are really suffering and need these supplies.” John Ging, Irish-born head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, highlighted continued inadequate access by residents of Gaza to humanitarian supplies such as food, medicine, blankets and clothes. About half of the population of 1.5 million people in Gaza are children. Ms Ní Cheannabháin has said that she and her Egyptian-born husband, Dr Saber El-Safty, intend to travel later this month to Gaza, and have copies of the container manifests which they intend to check against delivery.

 

 This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

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 rachel_smanderson

Rachel Corrie, (left) , Tristan Anderson (right)

We thank all who continue to remember Rachel and those who, on this sixth anniversary of her stand in Gaza, renew their own commitments to human rights, justice and peace in the Middle East. The tributes and actions in her memory are a source of inspiration to us and to others.

Friday, March 13th, we learned of the tragic injury to American activist Tristan Anderson. Tristan was shot in the head with a tear-gas canister in Ni’lin Village in the West Bank when Israeli forces attacked a demonstration opposing the construction of the annexation wall through the village’s land. On the same day, a Ni’lin resident was, also, shot in the leg with live ammunition. Four residents of Ni’lin have been killed in the past eight months as villagers and their supporters have courageously demonstrated against the Apartheid Wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice – a wall that will ultimately absorb one-quarter of the village’s remaining land. Those who have died are a ten-year-old child Ahmed Mousa, shot in the forehead with live ammunition on July 29, 2008; Yousef Amira (17) shot with rubber-coated steel bullets on July 30, 2008; Arafat Rateb Khawaje (22) and Mohammed Khawaje (20), both shot and killed with live ammunition on December 28, 2008  On this anniversary, Rachel would want us all to hold Tristan Anderson and his family and these Palestinians and their families in our thoughts and prayers, and we ask everyone to do so.

 We are writing this message from Cairo where we returned after a visit to Gaza with the Code Pink Delegation from the United States. Fifty-eight women and men successfully passed through Rafah Crossing on Saturday, March 7th to challenge the border closures and siege and to celebrate International Women’s Day with the strong and courageous women of Gaza. Rachel would be very happy that our spirited delegation made this journey. North to south throughout the Strip, we witnessed the sweeping destruction of neighborhoods, municipal buildings, police stations, mosques, and schools – casualties of the Israeli military assaults in December and January. When we asked about the personal impact of the attacks on those we met, we heard repeatedly of the loss of mothers, fathers, children, cousins, and friends. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports 1434 Palestinian dead and over 5000 injured, among them 288 children and 121 women. We walked through the farming village of Khoza in the South where fifty homes were destroyed during the land invasion. A young boy scrambled through a hole in the rubble to show us the basement he and his family crouched in as a bulldozer crushed their house upon them. We heard of Rafiya who lead the frightened women and children of this neighborhood away from threatening Israeli military bulldozers, only to be struck down and killed by an Israeli soldier’s sniper fire as she walked in the street carrying her white flag. Repeatedly, we were told by Palestinians, and by the internationals on the ground supporting them, that there is no ceasefire. Indeed, bomb blasts from the border area punctuated our conversations as we arrived and departed Gaza. On our last night, we sat by a fire in the moonlight in the remains of a friend’s farmyard and listened to him tell of how the Israeli military destroyed his home in 2004, and of how this second home was shattered on February 6th. This time, it was Israeli rockets from Apache helicopters that struck the house, a stand of wheat remained and rustled soothingly in the breeze as we talked, but our attention shifted quickly when F-16s streaked high across the night sky. and our friend explained that if the planes tipped to the side, they would strike.

Everywhere, the psychological costs of the recent and ongoing attacks for all Gazans, but especially for the children, were sadly apparent. It is not only those who suffer the greatest losses that carry the scars of all that has happened. It is those, too, who witnessed from their school bodies flying in the air when police cadets were bombed across the street and those who felt and heard the terrifying blasts of missiles falling near their own homes. It is the children who each day must walk past the unexplainable and inhumane destruction that has occurred.

 In Rachel’s case, though a thorough, credible and transparent investigation was promised by the Israeli Government, after six years, the position of the U.S. Government remains that such an investigation has not taken place. In March 2008, Michele Bernier-Toff, Managing Director of the Office of Overseas Citizen Services at the Department of State wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.” Now, the attacks on all the people of Gaza and the recent one on Tristan Anderson in Ni’lin cry out for investigation and accountability.

We call on President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and members of Congress to act with fortitude and courage to ensure that the atrocities that have occurred are addressed by the Israeli Government and through relevant international and U.S. law. We ask them to act immediately and persistently to stop the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military, not to encourage it.

Despite the pain, we have once again felt privileged to enter briefly into the lives of Rachel’s Palestinian friends in Gaza. We are moved by their resilience and heartened by their song, dance, and laughter amidst the tears.

Rachel wrote in 2003, “I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity – laughter, generosity, family time – against the incredible horror occurring in their lives … I am also discovering a degree of strength and of the basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances … I think the word is dignity.” On this sixth anniversary of Rachel’s killing, we echo her sentiments.

 Sincerely, Cindy and Craig Corrie on behalf of our family

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