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By Mina Remy
September 4th, 2012
Before I arrived at Grassroots International (nearly a year ago), I thought I understood the hardships imposed on Gaza. I knew about the imposed siege, had read and heard of the Turkish flotilla of 2010 and other humanitarian attempts to reach Gaza. I even knew about loss of acres of farmland, inadequate access to potable water, shortage of medicines, shortage of building materials, and periodic bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces.
This summer, a group of Grassroots International supporters and allies participated in a delegation to Pernambuco, Brazil. There they saw first-hand the resilient and powerful work of the Landless Workers Movement, the Movement of People Affected by Dams, and the Via Campesina. Along the way, delegates talked with with small farmers, families living in encampments waiting for land, and indigenous communities working to protect their ancestral lands from the incursion of impending dams.
Below is a blog from Peggy Newell, one of the delegates and a Grassroots International supporter, offering her reflections on the journey.
Traveling to Not That Brazil, by Peggy Newell
The Separation Wall is now 10 years old. The Israeli government has not reversed course despite protests, a UN General Assembly resolution (ES-10/13), an International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion, and almost unanimous international condemnation.
The day-to-day struggle in Palestine centers on access to and control of land and water. Not only are these vital resources critical to self-determination, but they are necessary for life. And in Gaza, the five-year Israeli-imposed blockade and unrepaired destruction from Operation Cast Lead have pushed the population into dangerous health and sanitary conditions.
Yesterday I spoke with two members of Brazil’s Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) in Sao Paulo City. MAB is an inspiring organization formed by families who have been displaced by mega-dams in Brazil. Grassroots supports MAB in the organizing of displaced families, or atingidos, so they can collectively defend their land, water and food rights.
By Shiney Varghese
May 31st, 2012
Earlier this week, The Guardian reported on a study that looked at rising sea levels from a new angle. The study found that efforts to meet increasing freshwater demand by harnessing “fossil” groundwater [groundwater that cannot be replenished for millennia under current climate conditions] contributes more to rising sea levels than melting glaciers. Since there it cannot be replenished, tapping groundwater results in land subsidence (downward-shifting of ground surface) and a one-way transfer of water into the oceans.
In South Africa, land occupation is expanding as a strategy for achieving genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty and climate justice. Since these are all critical issues for people living in cities, land occupations in both urban and rural areas are an important, and often unrecognized, part of global movements.
The tiny motorboat’s engine coughs a couple of miles offshore and whirls to a stop. Gazing out over the aquamarine Mediterranean waters, I feel high from the fumes of cheap Egyptian diesel and the smell of sea salt. “Let’s get in,” says Mahfouz Kabariti, a fisherman, stripping down to swim trunks and diving overboard. A Palestinian friend who is a medical student also came along for the ride. We eye each other cautiously. She winks, and we both jump in the water, fully dressed, our long pants weighing us down. It’s a perfect Friday afternoon. From out here, the ubiquitous bullet holes in buildings are invisible and Gaza City looks like a coastal resort town.
By Alicia Tozour and Mina Remy
Compared to their Arab neighbors, the occupied Palestinian territories are endowed with an abundance of freshwater. Despite this fact, Palestinians do not have access to enough water to meet their daily needs or support their small farms. Although Israel’s illegal expansion into the Palestinian territories is commonly viewed as a land grab, the placement of Israeli settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall is also a strategic water grab.