Feb 262015
 

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World famous British artist Banksy visited the besieged Gaza Strip in Palestine and left his mark with several pieces of his politically driven artwork.

One of the paintings is that of a kitten which was drawn on the remains of a Palestinian home destroyed by Israel during it’s savage bombing campaign last summer which killed over 2,000 people.

On his website, Bansky says why he drew the kitten, “A local man came up and said ‘Please – what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.”

Banksy also released a short video which you can view below:

Jan 162015
 

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From the video description:

“On a historic trip to Palestine, freedom fighters from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, and Atlanta were able to witness firsthand the effects of Israeli apartheid and occupation, and to learn from the people who are actively resisting on the front lines.

In Nazareth, the delegates decided to do a solidarity demonstration as a call for support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

This demonstration was coordinated by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and features “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock, sung by Charlene Carruthers, National Director of the Black Youth Project 100 and Dream Defenders’ Executive Director Phillip Agnew; poet, artist, and New York Justice League member, Aja Monet; rapper and Ferguson/Hands Up United organizer Tef Poe, and Ferguson/ Hands Up United organizer, Tara Thompson. Dream Defenders Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, and Ahmad Abuznaid, journalist Marc Lamont Hill, New York Justice League organizers Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez, and Maytha Alhassen, a University of Southern California Doctoral Candidate, are seen preforming the debke, a traditional Palestinian folk dance.

Don’t forget to check out #DDPalestine on Twitter and our Instagram accounts for pictures, videos, and reflection from this trip.

Filming and Editing by Thorstein Thielow”

Jan 062015
 

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By Tahani Sahra Hamdan

Health as a basic human right is a subject of political debate in the United States, even more so for Palestinians currently living under Israeli occupation. As a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Global Health student at the University of Texas, I recently traveled to the West Bank of Palestine to conduct a pilot study of women living with physical disabilities. Some of the results that I discovered were not only disheartening as a woman myself living with physical disabilities, but also as an attack upon humanity.

As a first-generation Palestinian-American, I have always wondered what life would be like to live in Palestine with my same disabilities. I would always ask myself the question, “If I were a woman living in Palestine with Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, would I be able to receive the same care that I receive living in the U.S., or does my U.S. passport make my life worth more?”

Ask, and I shall receive. I travelled to Palestine in the midst of Israeli Operation Defensive Edge in Gaza, in which over 2137 Palestinians have been killed and several thousands more injured.

Sure, I was in the West Bank, I did not feel what was felt in the Gaza Strip, but assuredly what began as a pilot study on women with disabilities, turned out to be a nightmare. Between spending nearly every night suffocating from tear-gas shot from the Israeli Defense Forces, simply getting out of the house was difficult for me during my few short weeks there. Upon interviewing the Palestinian women living with physical disabilities, it was not difficult to understand that this is their lives each and every single day.

On days when I was able to leave the house without a tremendous fear for my life, I interviewed Palestinian women living with disabilities to get an understanding of their narrative of life under occupation.

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Disabled Palestinian women explained the difficulty of receiving any type of specialized medical care. Not only the geographic barriers, but also the nine meters high Separation Wall (known by Israel as Security Barrier but known to Palestinians as Apartheid Wall) prevents nearly all travel by West Bank residents to and from Jerusalem and all areas under Israeli control.

Jerusalem is where they have to go for the best medical care, or what we in the United States would consider basic medical care. For people with disabilities, it is the only place where you can see a disability-related specialist. The women I talked to had very severe forms of arthritis and had received nothing more than pain medications. No physical therapy. No mobility-assisted devices. Few, if any, prescriptions at all. They said that they only took medication when they were in major pain, which was during winter. Prior to the Separation Wall, which began construction in 2002, sick and disabled residents of the West Bank were able to freely travel to Jerusalem and beyond to obtain specialized care.

​Geographic barriers posed another great limitation. With hills, rocks, sand, and unpaved road, traveling for people with disabilities was very limited, leaving them no choice but to spend their time at home. The houses are very close together, most homes built on top of each other. Climbing down steep hills and alleyways is often required. The houses I visited almost always had steps at the entrance and inside. Homes resembled that of high-rise apartment buildings without elevators or wheelchair ramps. When they do go out, the disabled walk or, for longer distances, take a bus or taxi that comes to designated stops in their town.

The Palestinian society in general, including women with disabilities, is highly educated. The women I interviewed had completed their Bachelor’s degree but were working in jobs that accommodated their disabilities, such as secretarial positions. Other women dropped out of school at a young age because of physical limitations.

One of the most interesting aspects of the interviews was that disabled women said they were happy with their lives as they were. These women were not married, did not have any children, they enjoyed living at home with their parents, and they helped with house chores. When asked, “If you could change anything in your life, what would you change?” They replied, “Nothing should be changed.”

As a Public Health student, I began to question whether imposing my American values of a happy life should be like upon women that were already happy with their lives. Who am I to judge and change a woman’s perspective of “happiness?”

With the aim of improving the comfort of women living with disabilities in a developing country under decades of political unrest, I hope to one day return to Palestine with culturally-sensitive recommendations that will improve the lives of disabled Palestinian women without imposing my American values.

Nov 122014
 

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On Tuesday November 18, at 6:30 PM at the CUNY Graduate Center join the Campaing to Bring Mumia Home and Existence is Resistance in the first installment of the monthly event series, Inside The Activist’s Studio.

We will be writing letters to Palestinian political prisoners such as the Hares Brothers as well as to political prisoners in the United States such as Mumia Abu-Jamal and many others.

Many people are wrongly imprisoned and not only do their voices need to be heard but they need to know that people on the outside are fighting for them and bringing awareness on their cases.

Nov 122014
 

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By Gabriela Lazaro

On Thursday, November 6th, Venezuela welcomed 119 Palestinian students, 36 from Gaza, to begin their studies in medicine at the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American Medical School. A large crowd of Venezuelans, waiving Palestinian flags and wearing Kuffiyehs welcomed the students, at the foot of their airplane. During the welcoming ceremony, President Nicolas Maduro stated to the students, “The voice of Venezuela is always, and will always be, at the service of truth and the struggle of the Palestinian people. You will see, sooner of later, that we will celebrate the fall of the Israeli wall together. Down with the Israeli wall!”

A month ago, President Maduro announced the Yasser Arafat Scholarship Program, which would eventually welcome 1,000 Palestinian youth to Venezuela, where they would begin their medical studies. The aim of the program is that upon completing their studies, these students would return to their homeland to provide medical attention to the Palestinian population. The model of the program and the Dr. Salvador Allende Latin American Medical School is inspired by the Cuban schools which have trained thousands of students and provided medical attention to millions across the world.

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The Bolivarian Revolution and the people of Venezuela have long showed solidarity to the Palestinian cause. Back in July, Maduro condemned Israeli attacks on Palestine and stated that Israel was committing a “war of extermination” against the Palestinian people. The Venezuelan government created a shelter named after Hugo Chavez to house orphaned children who lost their parents during the attacks on Gaza. Venezuela has also sent humanitarian aid and continues to do so. Last Sunday, the latest air-load of aid and supplies left Venezuela for Gaza. This is the third shipment since July.

During the welcoming ceremony, President Maduro stated, “we receive you into our homeland on this very special and heroic day. Palestine is here; the future of Palestine is here, in its youth…. Palestine has not allowed itself to be eliminated. It has refused to die, it has resisted, and Palestine will live.”