By Mina Remy
April 24th, 2013
When you hear “seed bank” what comes to mind? Is it perhaps a vault or a deep freezer stocked with seeds? Yes, Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees’ seed bank has those, but what I saw and heard was so much more than that. UAWC’s seed bank also assists farmers while protecting local agricultural biodiversity across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) – literally preserving their seed sovereignty amidst the occupation.
By Sara Mersha
March 30th, 2013
For 37 years, March 30 has been celebrated as Palestinian Land Day, a day of action for land rights. On this date in 1976, Palestinians inside Israel mobilized to protest Israel’s plans to take 2,000 hectares of land from Palestinian communities in Galilee. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces, and hundreds more were injured and arrested. Though the repression was severe, people around world celebrate this date as an important moment in history, bringing Palestinians together in a common struggle for their rights to land wherever they live.
The real costs of the industrial food system on people’s lives and the planet are as extensive as they are hidden. The article below by long-time Grassroots International friends, Beverley Bell and Tory Field of Other Worlds, offers a thought-provoking summary of those costs—all of which challenge small farmers in the Global South on a daily basis.
The True Costs of Industrialized Food
Four Years on from Operation Cast Lead: Worsening Impacts of Israeli Military Aggression on Community Agriculture in Gaza
Last week marked the 4th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s deadly 23-day military offensive launched in 2008, which resulted in the killing of 1,167 civilians and injury to 5,300 more in Gaza. It also caused widespread destruction of infrastructure in the already besieged Gaza Strip, which had been struggling under the Israeli blockade since 2007.
The recent war between Hamas and Israel was fought not only in the bloodied cities and refugee camps of a huge civilian population and in vulnerable cities and towns of Israel, but also on newsfeeds and social media. In the papers, the websites and twitter feeds, reports and analysis of the Gaza war rarely revealed any context and no reports of the deadly siege and frequent incursions that have crippled Gaza for years. Reporters and politicians often spoke with a level of racism and disregard for Palestinian civilians that should be disconcerting to anyone who values human life and the right of people to resist oppression.
Globally, activists at the forefront of human rights protection are coming under increased scrutiny and attack by state and non-state actors. Although being a human rights defender is becoming dangerous work, the commitment to human rights promotion and defense amongst activist has not waned. Nowhere is this truer than in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), where our partners have had their offices raided and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is once again destroying Gaza missile by missile, building by building. Our partner Raji Sourani, the director of Palestinian Center for Human Rights, sees history repeating itself with each civilian casualty. As he makes clear in a recent article on Al-Jazeera (posted below), the world is standing by while scores of civilians lose their lives, Gazans human rights are violated and community infrastructure is destroyed.
For the past year, Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (both Grassroots International partners) have been working diligently with their Palestinian and Brazilian allies to fulfill the call issued in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar. Then, participants expressed a desire to hold a thematic World Social Forum to explore ongoing social injustice in the occupied Palestinian territories; and to formulate an international response from the peoples of the world since states have either been unwilling or unable to provide pathways toward a just peace.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property, which escalated this summer, is on the rise again with this October’s olive harvest season in the West Bank. Officials from the United Nations as well as activists in Palestine and Israel are calling on Israeli forces to intervene to stop the violence.