Commemorating Haram Al-Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre 20 years later.

Twenty years ago today, we remember the Haram Al Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre that was perpetrated by an American Jewish man from Brooklyn, NY Baruch Goldstein, MD a Yeshiva University graduate in 1977, and a graduate from Albert Einstein college of Medicine with “high honors.”

Dr. Goldstein, who was an emergency room physician occupying an illegal Zionist Jewish settlement in Palestine was dressed in an Israeli military uniform on February 20, 1994 and armed with an American made machine gun, as he entered the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al Khalil (Hebron) with the assistance of the terrorist Israeli army. This crime took place during the holy month of Ramadan as he opened fire in an execution style on kneeling Palestinian Arab worshippers as they were praying and massacred 29 Palestinians and injuring 125 people before he was beaten to death by the unarmed attendees of the mosque.

Since then, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been split in half between Palestinian Muslims and illegal fanatical Jewish colonialists realizing their Zionist aspirations for wanting a Jewish place of worship. Baruch Goldstein’s burial site has served as a pilgrimage site to fanatical Jews since his death. Similar to the tragedy on the Al Ibrahimi Mosque, we feel that the Al Aqsa Mosque is also in jeopardy.

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Al-Awda Stands By Yarmouk Camp, Through Thick and Thin

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Al-Awda Stands By Yarmouk Camp, Through Thick and Thin

It is with deep sorrow and concern that we witness the injustice and tragedy befalling the Palestinian refugees in Syria. Displaced from their homeland, our courageous people continue to face the horrors of violence, siege, famine, and indiscriminate targeting. We believe it is our duty to support them, as we believe it is our duty to support all innocent civilians who fall victim to slaughter, displacement, destruction of homes and lack of medical care and basic necessities. We know that many communities in Syria are currently suffering from these horrors, and we sympathize and stand in solidarity with all of them. However, as an organization that is dedicated to supporting Palestinian refugees and their inalienable right of return to their homes and lands of origin in Palestine, we are well aware of our responsibility in drawing attention to their specific fate, as it is inextricably tied in with our common history of brutal expulsion and exile in the Shatat (Diaspora).

We call upon all parties involved in this unprovoked injustice to cease their hostilities against our Palestinian brethren and sisters in Yarmouk camp. In the current quagmire of the warring parties in Syria, we believe that this is the proper response to adopt as a Palestinian organization that was founded with the specific aim and goal to create a strong basis of international solidarity with Palestinian refugees, regardless of where they have been forced to live outside of Palestine by their Zionist aggressors.

With regard to the Syrian people, we extend our gratitude, brotherhood and solidarity to them, and we believe it is not up to us, but up to them to decide who leads their country. All we want for our Palestinian refugee communities is the protection of their homes, their families, and their livelihoods for the time that they are still unable to return to their rightful place in the world, in our homeland Palestine. As long as this exile in the Shatat lasts, the horrors that are befalling the people living in Yarmouk camp cannot be tolerated, accepted, or defended, regardless of whom is to be held responsible for this cruel siege, that victimizes only innocent people who have little or no part in the ongoing hostilities that are prevalent on Syrian soil.

We call upon the citizens of the free world, international media, and all international aid organizations to direct their attention and action to the indefensible suffering that is taking place in Yarmouk camp. We call upon all parties, the Syrian government and the armed opposition, to take responsibility for any actions on their part, direct or indirect, that are contributing to this horrendous situation, and to cease any such activities immediately. We demand that the siege of Yarmouk camp end and that all fighters leave the camp with their weapons immediately. The injustice must end, and it must end immediately. Our people deserve food, medical aid, protection and shelter, and everything possible must be done to make sure they receive these with immediate effect.

ACTION:

We ask all people of conscience to contact the Syrian Embassy and the Office of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces in Washington DC to demand that the siege of Yarmouk camp end and that all fighters leave the camp with their weapons immediately. Let our people live!

Please contact the Syrian Embassy in Washington DC at

Embassy of Syria
2215 Wyo ming Ave. N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20008 USA
info@syrembassy.net
Tel (202) 232-6316 Fax: (202) 232-4357

Please write to National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces using the online form posted at this page

http://www.etilaf.us/contact_us

We also call on all members and supp orters to hold protests and demonstrations to draw attention to the desperate plight of our people in the Yarmouk camp and elsewhere in Syria and to demand an end to the siege of Yarmouk camp end and that all fighters leave the camp with their weapons immediately. Let our people live!

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition stands by its brothers and sisters in Yarmouk camp, squarely and firmly. Forever we will stand in solidarity with our Palestinian refugee communities, wherever they live in the world. Until Return!

Thank you for your support. We depend on it.

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Take Action for #GazaDisaster!

URGENT APPEAL TO PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE AROUND THE WORLD:

PALESTINIANS IN GAZA URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP

Snowy weather since Wednesday December 11 — the most severe since 1878 — has further crippled daily life among the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank near Jerusalem.

The central responsibility for the problems this has brought lies with the Israeli occupation, which conducts a policy of deliberate and calculated neglect when it comes to maintaining essential infrastructure. This is aimed at further pressuring our people to leave their homeland.

Adding to the already extremely bitter taste, these outrages are being visited on the Palestinian people on the 65th anniversaries of the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of Resolution 194. This resolution called on the Israeli entity to cease obstructing our people’s right to return to the lands and homes taken from them during the Nakba.

Earlier this month, the world’s conscience was shocked to see our people fording through sludge pouring from open sewers that overflowed when power from the Gaza Strip’s sole electricity generating plant had to be cut due to fuel shortages. Many have been shocked to learn of the repeated shortages of fuel deliveries needed for maintaining electric power. These shortages are brought on by the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip which began in 2006. Currently, driven into the streets by flooding, over 40,000 Gaza residents find themselves homeless.

Over the preceding years ‘Israel’ has deliberately left the electricity plant to collapse in the hopes of driving our people out. Two winters ago, their Mossad, acting through Ukrainian military police, went to the extent of kidnapping the plant’s chief engineer, Dirar Abu Sisi, on a train while on a visit with his wife’s family and tossed him in their Eichel prison. There they left him in solitary confinement and declining health to rot, while Gaza’s infrastructure continues further to crumble.

All this comes on top of the Israeli Occupation Forces continuing to use farmers and youth inside Gaza for target practice. On December 14-15, a farmer trying to check his crop inside the 300m so-called “security zone” at the Gaza border was killed by Israeli tank fire. Nearby, in a separate incident, Israeli forces shot a Palestinian youth in the foot. Each day brings more such news of fresh horrors.

Most discouraging of all, the current Egyptian military regime has enthusiastically taken up finding ways to make the Zionist occupation bite with that much more cruelty. It destroyed tunnels used as a lifeline to bring essentials into the Gaza Strip. In addition the regime instituted a completely arbitrary approach to opening and closing the Rafah crossing from the Gaza Strip into Egypt and which remained closed shut at the height of the most recent storm.

Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (USA) is calling at this time on all activists for the cause of Palestine to marshal whatever resources are available or at hand — write letters to your local newspapers, raise the Palestinian emergency situation in other public venues, speak on local radio stations (especially university-campus-based) and community cable television, and whatever social media outlets are available — And organize local demonstrations (pickets or other publicly-visible manifestations; We can help with speakers, literature, etc).

You can reach Al-Awda’s national office by email at office@al-awda.org; telephone 760-918-9441 and fax 760-918-9442. Or by mail at 2720 Loker Avenue West Suite J, Carlsbad CA 92010, USA. Our national office will connect you with Al-Awda chapter activists in your area.

HERE IS SOME MORE OF WHAT YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL CAN DO:

Communicate this news and additional updated reports of these developments to interested and concerned friends and family.

DEMAND AN END TO THE SIEGE OF GAZA

Call, email, fax:

1 The U.S. State Department. Insist it tell Israel and Egypt to Open the Crossings to the Gaza Strip. Call 202-647-4000; select option 4 and ask the operator for the comment line. (You get one minute to record your message.)

2. The White House at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ Alternatively, write to: President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500 Call: 202-456-1414 Fax: 202-456-2461

3. The Office of Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations at sgcentral@un.org

4. Contact the Near and Middle East Desk at The International Committee of the Red Cross Ms. Dibeh FAKHR Tel: +41 22 730 37 23 Mobile: +41 79 447 37 26 or fill out the form at http://www.icrc.org/eng/directory/?contactId=303023

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A Letter to Palestinian hero Samer Issawi

A letter to Palestinian hero Samer Issawi during his hunger strike battle.

To my brother Samer:

We have not yet met, but we are relatives, like the rest of the Palestinian people we are of the same blood, scattered all over the world. I am from Deir Yassin and my mother is from Issawiya. I was born and raised in the United States of America, and I am still living there today. Despite this, the love of our homeland has always been with me, as well as my yearning for Palestine, and the dream of our Return.

I co-founded an activist organization for the Right of Return and I am a member of various organizations, among them the Free Samer Issawi Campaign. What I wish to say, is that wherever we are, and wherever we were born or raised, Palestine and Jerusalem are in our blood. Let not the schemes of the jailers weaken you, for we do not forget you even for a second, and our service to you and our thoughts about you are always with you. After all, we are living for the same cause!

You are our heroes and you are the sword of our nation, one cause unites us all, as well as our mother Palestine. We are proud of you and our solidarity is with you, and we hold your hands firmly.

All of us are doing what is within our possibilities so that we can all return and meet on the soil of the homeland.

Abbas Hamideh
Chairman of Al Awda

Arabic Translation:

إلى أخي سامر:
لم نلتق قط ولكننا أقرباء كسائر الفلسطينيين دم واحد مشتت في المنفى , أنا من دير ياسين ووالدتي من العيساويه, ولدت بأمريكا وعشت هناك ومازلت حتى اليوم . ورغم ذلك ما فارقني حبي للوطن يوم أو شوقي لفلسطين و حلم العوده. أسست منظمة ناشطه لحق العوده وأنضم لتنظيمات عده منها التنظيم الدولي لتحرير سامر العيساوي. ما أود قوله أننا أينما كنا أو ولدنا أو تربينا فإن القدس وفلسطين في دمائنا ,فلا يضعفنكم مكر سجانكم فنحن لم ننسكم لحظه و مافارقتم أفئدتنا أوتفكيرنا ,كيف ونحن نحيا لذات الهدف!!, أنتم أبطالنا وسيف أمتنا , تجمعنا قضية واحده وأم واحده “فلسطين” , نفتخر بكم ونتضامن معكم ونشد على أياديكم , كل سيبذل ما بوسعه إلى أن نعود جميعا ونلتقي على أرض الوطن.
عباس حميده
رئيس منظمة العوده

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My Conversation with Um Ra’fat Samer Issawi’s Mom

My Conversation with Um Ra’fat
the mother of Palestinian hero Samer al Issawi by: Abbas Hamideh

As a Palestinian activist in the United States I have been involved and concerned for the Palestinian hunger strikers that have taken global stage with supporters and sympathizers from around the world. I have helped organize mass protests
H supporting the courageous Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails via Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition an organization fully dedicated to the right of return of Palestinian refugees that I have been a part of since the year 2000.

I’ve had the opportunity recently to contact a relative of mine from my mom’s village al Issawia, Um Ra’fat the mother of the heroic Palestinian hunger striker Samer al Issawi who has been on hunger strike for 144 days now. Samer al Issawi was imprisoned for ten years before he was released with the Gilad Shalit prisoner swap deal between Hamas and Israel. He was re-arrested and has been in jail the second time now for 6 months and 5 of those months on hunger strike protesting his illegal administrative detention without charge or trial just like many of his fellow imprisoned Palestinian predecessors like Khader Adnan, Mahmoud Sarsak and many more!

I phoned Um Ra’fat yesterday at around 9:40 pm Palestine time figuring it would be a good time while the village was a bit calm after the earlier incident that occurred during her son Samer’s court where family members were attacked by Israeli police while trying to see him while he was sitting fragile looking in his wheelchair due to his intense hunger strike. She explained to me that all they wanted was to see Samer and exchange some words with him as they were deprived of seeing him for over 6 months since he was imprisoned the second time around after his re-arrest for no apparent reason other than suspicion. The video floating online shows Samer Issawi being horrifically dragged from his wheelchair while handcuffed by Israeli police all around the court house and some other onlooking court staff laughing while Samer was being beaten.

Um Ra’fat explained to me the grief and nightmare of this ongoing Israeli assault on the village of al Issawia in general and its heroic struggle against Israeli occupation for decades and in particular the constant attack on her personal family members that included the imprisonment of her very own children numerous times. During the time of the call of her sons Medhat and Samer were in prison and her daughter Shireen was just kidnapped hours before by israeli police at gun point with heavily armed officers from the family home in the village. Her oldest son Ra’fat was also a prisoner for 8 years and her youngest son Fadi at age 15 was also sentenced for a year and 3 months after his release he was shot dead (martyred) at Hebron (Al Khalil) by the Israeli Army. One can only imagine what she has been through with the endless tragedies in her life inflicted by the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Behind the tears, pain, and tragedy was an enormously strong woman and after all Um Ra’fat raised this Palestinian hero who has become an icon, a living legend to withstand and go on hunger strike well over 140 days and still counting. It makes Mahatma Gandhi’s hunger strike look like child’s play in comparison. She spoke gently and motherly calling me Yuma in other words the equivalent of me being her son in Arabic. My entire conversation with her in my native tongue was about 20 minutes but in that short time I learned a lot from her, I learned that it would be impossible to have Palestinian heroes without a firm base at home a person like Samer Issawi’s mom who I personally think is a hero herself! Mothers in Palestine are the foundation of resistance.

I had mentioned to Um Ra’fat that Al-Awda the Palestinian led orginaztion I’m with will be holding a demonstration in downtown, Cleveland this Friday coming up on December 21, 2012 in support of her son Samer Issawi and all the Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike and asked her what message she wanted me to carry on her behalf at the protest and she eagerly and humbly replied with this statement:

“You are my son, all the revolutionaries of Palestine and supporting Palestine are my sons, you are all heroes of the cause! I appreciate all your support for my son Samer Issawi and for our family and all the solidarity from all across the world but I say in specific to the Palestinians in the shatat (exile) be stead fast on the right of return, this right is the heart of the Palestinian cause, the right of return of Palestinian refugees is more precious and above everything and even above my son Samer’s plight in Israeli jail! You must continue the struggle until we are united here in Palestine and eat under an olive tree and then we will live a normal life in a liberated Palestine. And as far as Samer goes we support him he wants to be free or martyred so we stand by his decision. That is my message Yuma (son).”

I was overwhelmed by her humbleness and noticed that in her message she put Palestine and the core issue of the Palestinian struggle the Right of Return at the top of the list as a priority even before her son. This really made an impression on me about Um Ra’fat. Not only is her son Samer al Issawi a hero but she is truly deserving of that title and is a Palestinian hero as well!

Free Samer Issawi and all the Palestinian political prisoners!

Follow Abbas Hamideh on Twitter: @Resistance48

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And Gaza lives on…

And Gaza lives on….

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Al-Awda’s 10th Annual International Convention

Al-Awda, The Palestine Right To Return Coalition convened its very successful 10th Annual International Convention recently between September 7-9, 2012 with the theme Strategies for the Return.

As one of the founders of this great and genuine organization this is always an exciting time of year for me. After over 6 hours of flying time which included a stop on the way to California I landed at San Diego Airport and was picked up by one of my colleague’s and almost immediately headed to LAX Airport in Los Angeles to pick up international artist and guest of honor Marcel Khalife which was 2 hours of driving distance. The nice part of California is everything seems like a straight shot so it makes long distance driving a bit more bearable. Anyone who organizes Palestinian events knows there’s no time for jet lag during functions like this it’s on the go the entire time catching up on last minute details for the event.

The next day Friday, September 7 Al-Awda’s Convention kicked off at the Al-Awda National Center with a meet and greet of many activists from around the country with a list of exceptional speakers. Zahi Damuni from the host committee Al-Awda San Diego started off with a welcoming speech to everyone in attendance and tied in the importance of supporting Al-Awda which unconditionally supports the right of return of Palestinian refugees from the river to the sea.

Soon after solidarity messages came from the Latino and Philippine community in California amongst others. Professor Daoud Assad from the Washington, DC metro area gave his talk on the water situation in Palestine and the long term affects it has on the Palestinian people with its dangerous contamination. The details involved caught people’s attention as this topic is rarely heard of even amongst pro Palestinian crowds. The opening night to the convention came to a close with the great talk and discussion lead by Al-Awda’s own Jess Ghannam from the San Francisco Bay area. The topic was about the Arab Spring from Tunisia to Syria and how it affects Palestine and its refugees in the Arab region. Intrinsic details about Syria were discussed by Jess and people in attendance which included members of the Syrian community and one notable activist Mazen al Mokoudad a leading member of the Syrian community in California and a very dedicated Al-Awda coordinating committee member and pro Palestine activist.

Day 2 of Al-Awda’s Convention and main Banquet night with Marcel Khalife started off during the day with a student summit spearheaded by Al-Awda San Diego representative Lorain Rihan who also heads San Diego State University (SDSU) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. Many of the students present in the summit were members of SJP and other orgs in their respective colleges/universities. The discussions were very interesting ranging from pro Palestine groups being harassed by school administrators for their roles in supporting Palestine activism and whether or not to engage dialogues with Zionist organizations on campus. There was a resounding sentiment of not normalizing with proponents of Zionist based groups. It was great seeing the high visibility of students at the convention supporting Al-Awda’s work.

The main day also included a hot debate about the Palestine National Council’s proposed election process which includes Palestinians in the diaspora. The debate consisted of two speakers Dr. Jamal Nassar and Dr. Zahi Damuni both from California which included a discussion with the convention attendees. Jamal Nassar was making an argument for the PNC elections as Zahi Damuni was against. Both speakers were convinced about their views and different opinions were also heard from the crowd. Very good arguments were made on both sides however the voices in the crowd seemed overwhelmingly critical of the PNC leading them to believe that the election process would not work.

Great speakers spoke throughout the evening like Allison Weir Executive Director of ifamericansknew.org who is always a pleasure to listen to due to the hard hitting statistics involved in her presentations which was well received. Other solidarity speakers were present as well like John Parker from the International Action Center and Larry Christian.

Al-Awda’s Amani Barakat headed the Award ceremony for Rachel Corrie’s parents who Skyped us live at the convention directly from Haifa, Palestine. They were eager and enthused about being heard during Al-Awda’s Landmark 10th Annual Convention. After they gave their moving accounts about their daughter the martyr Rachel Corrie’s recent trial they received a standing ovation by the hundreds in attendance at the convention.

After a long and productive day at Al-Awda’s convention it was time for the magnificent international artist and guest of honor Marcel Khalife to perform for the hundreds in attendance at the main Al-Awda Convention Banquet. The emcees and large crowd cheered him on and welcomed him to the stage for his grand performance. Marcel started off with a few heart warming words for his love of the Palestinian Cause and by saying he was “One of the millions around the world who loves Palestine.” He started off by playing the very popular song Oummi which was special requested by the participants in the convention and he played a few Palestinian songs that included 3lal Hodood (At the borders). The mood was very high and energetic throughout his performance. The enthusiastic crowd sang along with the maestro and his wonderful Oud instrument. It was an honor to sing along with the man who pays tribute and carries the words of Palestinian National Poet Mahmoud Darwish. It was a night to remember a night to cherish with the ever humble Marcel Khalife. The night concluded with Palestinian chants requested by activists across the room and echoes of Free Palestine, Long Live Palestine were chanted and repeated numerous times ending the convention Palestinian style a vow to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea!

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