Gaza Water Crisis Has Caused Irreversible Damage, World Bank Warns

In interview with Haaretz, bank's local specialist warns that without more water from Israel, Gaza will continue to move toward being uninhabitable by 2020.

Irreversible damage has already been done to parts of the Coastal Aquifer in the Gaza Strip as a result of overpumping and seawater seepage, according to a senior water-sanitation specialist at the World Bank.

The financial institution is one of many local and international organizations that have been warning against, and trying to prevent, such an occurrence over the past 20 years.

“Ecologically speaking, the damage to the aquifer is getting worse, and studies have been showing a steady increase in water salinity,” said Adnan Ghosheh. This brings the Gaza Strip closer to the situation the United Nations predicted in 2014: that it will be unfit for human habitation by 2020.
As a way of expressing once again the urgency needed to rectify the situation, the World Bank issued a press release earlier this month, following which Haaretz interviewed Ghosheh.

Most of the information in the press release is not new. It notes that while 90 percent of the inhabitants of the West Bank and 85 percent of the inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa have access to a faucet for drinking water, only 10 percent of the 2 million or so inhabitants of Gaza can safely drink the water piped into their homes. The other 90 percent do not even associate drinking water with the simple act of turning on a tap: Their water is too saline because of seawater seepage, and too dangerous because of raw sewage or gray-water seeping into the aquifer.

read more on Haaretz

Is Trump steering Israel toward diplomatic disaster?

[Zaha is a co-founder of AUPHR!]

Zaha Hassan is a human rights attorney and Middle East Fellow at New America. During Palestine's bid for UN membership and Quartet-sponsored talks between 2010 and 2012, she was the coordinator and legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Anyone interested in a just and durable resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict should be disturbed watching the Donald Trump transition unfold. 

As Israel's military occupation over Palestinian land enters its 50th year, the President-elect has nominated David Friedman, a right-wing sponsor of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise, to serve as US ambassador to Israel. 
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no relevant experience, is president of the US fundraising arm for Bet El, a settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. His extremist record includes calling President Obama an anti-Semite and labeling American Jews who criticize Israel's military occupation "kapos," a term used for Nazi collaborators. At a time when bold US leadership is required to stop the Israelis from flying off a cliff, destroying any chance of peace, Friedman is the exact opposite of who we need in a diplomatic position. 

Both Trump and Friedman have promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city. At best, in one fell swoop Friedman would serve to normalize the acquisition of territory by force. At worst, such reckless disregard for international law and the highly sensitive issues involved could egg on a diplomatic Armageddon.


CIty Council Vote on Caterpillar / Wells Fargo!

The City Council hearing and vote on whether to add Caterpillar and Wells Fargo to Portland's ​do not buy list is now re-scheduled to:

Wednesday December 21 at 2:30 to 4:30 PM
Portland City Hall 1221 SW 4th Ave.
City Council Chambers--2nd Floor
Come one and all to fill the chamber!

We are not quite at the finish line and there is still time to make sure the CIty Commissioners hear our voices. Just a few easy steps. If each of us take them, it will be powerful:

1. SIGN AND SHARE the petition from our allies at Enlace. We are almost at 1000 signatures, now with extra days, let's come in with 2000 names.

2. Email or call each of the City Council members. The message is simple, "I support Portland's Socially Responsible Investment policy and I urge you to put Caterpillar and Wells Fargo on the Do Not Buy list for these companies' many violations of that policy. Thank you."
Here is the contact for all the City Council Members:

Commissioner Nick Fish    503-823-3589 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz 503-823-0008 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner Steve Novick 503-823-4682 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Mayor Charlie Hales  503 823-4120 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman 503-823-4151   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks for supporting our city to align its investment with values.


The OFP Steering Committee--
Curt, Maxine,​ ​ Ned, ​​Peter and Rod

‘Alt Right’ Leader Ties White Supremacy to Zionism — Leaves Rabbi Speechless

A prominent leader of the “alt-right” left a Hillel rabbi speechless when he drew a direct parallel between white supremacy and Zionism — igniting debate on social media about whether such a comparison has any validity.

Richard Spencer, who leads the white nationalist National Policy Institute, appeared at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas on Tuesday night. Hundreds of students protested outside of the event, while others stood silently with raised fists inside the hall.

During a question-and-answer session, Texas A&M Hillel’s Rabbi Matt Rosenberg stood and invited the white nationalist to join him in Torah study. Rosenberg’s invitation, and Spencer’s response, were captured on video by The Eagle, the Texas A&M student paper, and viewed widely on Twitter.

“My tradition teaches a message of radical inclusion and love,” Rosenberg said. “Will you sit town and learn Torah with me, and learn love?”

Spencer declined the invitation, but used it as an opportunity to suggest that the objectives of Zionism and Jewish continuity were close to his own goals for white people.

“Do you really want radical inclusion into the State of Israel?” Spencer said. “And by that I mean radical inclusion. Maybe all of the Middle East could go move in to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Would you really want that?”

Rosenberg, who later admitted he is not a good debater, stood silent.

“You’re not answering,” Spencer said.

“I’m not answering,” Rosenberg said.

Spencer went on to argue that Jewish continuity is predicated on resistance to assimilation. He framed that cultural imperative as similar to the movement for so-called white rights in the U.S.

“Jews exist precisely because you did not assimilate,” he said. “That is why Jews are a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future. It’s because you had a sense of yourselves. I respect that about you. I want my people to have that same sense of themselves.”

Rosenberg later acknowledged that the confrontation wasn’t his best moment.


Read more on The Forward

Trimet Bus Ad Campaign Links Rights Violations at Standing Rock & Palestine


December 7, 2016

Media Contacts:  email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for Curt Bell or Rod Such 

Occupation-Free Portland Begins Ad Campaign on Trimet Buses Ads Link Rights Violations at Standing Rock and Palestine

Occupation-Free Portland, a coalition of faith, social justice and peace organizations, today announced the launch of an ad campaign on Trimet buses serving the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area. The ad reads, “Portland: Divest from Caterpillar. Caterpillar Violates Human Rights from Standing Rock to Palestine.” The ad shows a photograph of a Caterpillar bulldozer that was used to desecrate a sacred burial site on land promised to the Standing Rock Sioux nation by an 1851 treaty. It also shows a photograph of a Palestinian child left in the ruins of her home demolished by a Caterpillar bulldozer.

“We wanted to show that Caterpillar is complicit in serious human rights violations that are contrary to Portland’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy,” said Maxine Fookson, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and the steering committee of Occupation-Free Portland.

The ad campaign comes as Portland’s City Council prepares to vote on December 15 on whether the city will continue to invest in Caterpillar. Since 2014, the city has invested more than $110 million in commercial paper issued by Caterpillar.

In October, the city’s Socially Responsible Investments Committee (SRIC) issued its final report to the City Council and found Caterpillar in “violation of Sioux’s human rights” and Palestinian human rights. The SRIC called out findings by the United Nations Human Rights Council showing that Caterpillar’s D9 bulldozer was used by the Israeli military to violate UN agreements and to carry out “attacks on civilians.”

The SRIC is a volunteer committee that advises the city on its investments and recommends that companies be placed on the Do-Not-Buy list if they breach the criteria established under the SRI policy. The committee found that Caterpillar violated six of the seven criteria, including extreme tax avoidance and harm to the environment in addition to human rights.

“Portland has rightly condemned the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and issued an official proclamation supporting the Standing Rock Sioux,” noted Rod Such, another member of the OFP steering committee. “It makes no sense to invest in a company that is helping build the pipeline you’ve just condemned. It makes no sense to ban investments in fossil fuel companies, as Portland did earlier this year, and yet put $110 million into a company that specializes in extracting fossil fuels.” Caterpillar’s Oil and Gas Division sells and leases portable generators used for fracking shale oil, and seven Caterpillar dealers directly leased 250 earth excavators to the company building DAPL.

Caterpillar’s D9 bulldozer is sold to the Israeli military through the U.S. military sales program and is weaponized by a Caterpillar subsidiary in Israel. Numerous human rights and faith organizations, including Human Rights Watch, United Church of Christ and Presbyterian USA, have called on Caterpillar for more than a decade to cease these sales. Since 1967 Caterpillar bulldozers have been used to destroy more than 12,000 Palestinian homes and businesses, leaving more than 50,000 Palestinians homeless in blatant violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which both Israel and the United States have ratified.

The bus ad campaign began on Nov. 29, coinciding with the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The campaign is scheduled to run for one month. The ad was developed in collaboration with the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign (SeaMAC) and was cosponsored by Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, a Portland-based group, and Jewish Voice for Peace-Portland Chapter. Photos of the ad are available upon request.

Occupation-Free Portland (OFP) is a coalition of faith, peace, and social justice groups working for human rights, justice, and equality in Israel/Palestine.






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