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By Laith Shakir
June 26th, 2015
While Israelis water their lawns and swim in Olympic-sized pools, Palestinians a few kilometers away are literally dying of thirst.
California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, prompting Governor Jerry Brown to declare a water “state of emergency.”
Ordinary Californians are bearing the brunt of this disaster. While the governor has imposed restrictions to reduce residential water consumption, businesses in the fields of agriculture and hydraulic fracturing have been largely exempt. Brown’s unwillingness to take on these gargantuan corporate water-wasters lends a sharp political element to an otherwise natural disaster.
By Shannon Duncan Bodwell
June 10th, 2015
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Susya, who UAWC (Union of Agricultural Work Committees) introduced us to in October 2014. These are people who welcomed us, fed us, gave us a place to sleep and shared their stories with us.
“We gather to bring our voices to the on-going struggle in the face of imminent demolition by the Israeli Military.
Last fall, a delegation of Grassroots International supporters and staff had the privilege of planting and harvesting olives, and spending the night with some of the 350 farming families of Susya in the West Bank.
This Mother’s Day we want to tell you three stories that keep the original spirit of Mother’s Day alive – justice, protecting their children, and unity. It’s a far cry from the fancy brunches and greeting cards that fill in for Mother’s Day now and instead returns to the political history of the holiday: of women working in the 1850s and 1860s to improve sanitary conditions, lower infant mortality, and unite a once-divided country through pacifism after the Civil War when the idea of Mother’s Day first came about.
For several months brave activists and residents have built protest tents outside of the Jerusalem gate in Eizaria. The Israeli military has destroyed their tents 11 times—but each time the determined activists build them again. They are saying no to an Israeli plan remove 2,500 Bedouins shepherds from their land, their homes and their traditional way of life while also displacing fellow Palestinians in Abu Dis and Eizaria. What will Israel do with the land in an area they term “E1” to the North and East of Jerusalem? Expand its largest illegal settlement: Maale Adumin.
International Women’s Day (March 8) celebrates the power and struggle of women all over the world. There are so many stories of women’s strength, inspiration and bold leadership in the work of our partners and grantees. Eighty-eight percent of the groups that Grassroots International supports work to promote women’s rights. Here are just some of the women-led projects that we have supported over the past year.
Is it possible to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinians’ human rights, and thus take steps to end at least some of the worst aspects of the Israeli occupation, through the arena of international law? That’s a question that could be answered in the coming years.
On January 16, 2015, the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is an initial inquiry, after which point the ICC could decide whether or not to take up a full investigation.
Last week we got word that settlers had destroyed hundreds of olive trees very near to the area in the Southern Hebron Hills where Grassroots International’s delegation to Palestine harvested olives in October. Similar acts of violence by settlers are a reality that Palestinian farmers face day in and day out throughout the occupied Palestinian territories and a painful reminder of the impact of the settlers on stolen land.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
The hulking Separation Wall cuts Abu Nidal off from his Palestinian Village. He lives in the home he built in 1974. Israel began to build a settlement on the land just four years later and, since, has steadily surrounded Abu Nidal’s small house with towering barriers and illegal housing projects. At one point he had a cafeteria on the road. Israel demolished it. He had a storage facility for his farming equipment. Israel destroyed it 10 times. He had a green house. Israel bulldozed it.
I visited Abu Nidal with one of Grassroots International’s partners, the Stop the Wall Campaign. His story remains with me, feeding outrage at the atrocities he endures and hope for the ongoing resistance to land grabs.