Tag Archives: UNRWA-USA

Senators should not build unity on the backs of Palestinians

When do U.S. Senators stand lockstep together?

When the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convinces them that the United Nations is biased against the State of Israel.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

It’s rare, especially these days, for all 100 U.S. Senators—from Bernie Sanders to Ted Cruz, from Elizabeth Warren to Mitch McConnell—to agree on something. But the scourge of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations is such an issue.

So all of them, including Senators Warren, Sanders, and my two Senators from New Mexico signed on to the letter undoubtedly written by AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobbying operation ensconced in Washington DC.

The letter is a warning note to Secretary-General Guterres – “reform your agencies from within or pay the consequences.”

Although, as Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on many issues, we are united in our desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel and to eliminate anti-Semitism in all its forms.

My response sent to my two U.S. Senators follows.  I hope they hear from many other constituents.

May 10, 2017

RE:   April 27 letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – Israel & Palestine

Dear Senators Udall and Heinrich,

I’m very disappointed with your signatures on the letter (likely drafted by AIPAC) to the United Nations regarding Israel.

Senator Martin Heinrich

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

You, along with your colleagues in the Senate, have adopted Israel’s strategy of deflecting legitimate and worldwide criticism of Israel’s brutal 50-year occupation by focusing criticism on the messenger, the United Nations. We’ve all seen this same “strategy of deflection” coming from the White House in the form of childish Tweets. Your letter is just as childish.

Threatening the United Nations and demanding internal “reforms,” based on false assertions that the U.N. is unfairly targeting Israel, belies the fact that the community of nations stand together in their condemnation of Israel’s long-term, illegal occupation of Palestine.

A quick online review of recent actions in the United Nations reveals that the U.S. stands alone with the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau (and sometimes Canada) in supporting Israel in the U.N. General Assembly. Every other nation is united in speaking the truth about Israel’s continuing violations of international humanitarian law and the law of occupation. Your letter’s bullying demands to the Secretary-General reflect poorly on the United States, but it’s certainly a testament to AIPAC’s power over the U.S. Senate.

I particularly want to draw your attention to the letter’s outrageous claim about “UNRWA’s troubling anti-Israel bias and activities.” You write that “UNRWA must pursue reforms or risk significant consequences.” I’m personally familiar with UNRWA’s solid work in the Gaza Strip and I find this characterization and threat totally unacceptable. The Senate’s blind loyalty to Israel’s hasbara must end.

Udall

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

I’m also astonished that you oppose the international call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as stated in the letter to the U.N.  Peaceful, nonviolent methods to end Israel’s occupation deserve your strong support, not condemnation.

Please learn the facts about the occupation, beginning with the fact that the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020.

Israel’s leaders have proven over many decades that they are incapable or unwilling to end the occupation. If the United States cannot play a constructive role, then please support the United Nations and its constituent agencies in the work they are doing in the Middle East.

Finally, I invite you and your staff to join me in UNRWA-USA’s 5K run in Washington, DC in September.  Your support for this worthy cause would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Lora A. Lucero

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Filed under Israel, nonviolent resistance, Occupation, People, Politics, Uncategorized, United Nations, US Policy

#Gaza5K rain or shine in DC

IMG_4417Saturday, May 21, proved to be a real soaker and not the best conditions at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC for a 5K.  That didn’t stop hundreds from showing up bright and early (7 AM) to run or walk in solidarity with the children in Gaza.

IMG_4411The successful fundraiser supports UNRWA’s psycho-social programs for children suffering from PTSD. Tragically, more than 50% of the children in Gaza suffer from PTSD.

IMG_4423This was my second #Gaza5K. Thanks to generous donors, I exceeded my $2,000 goal. I’m waiting to hear the final stats from UNRWA-USA but I heard they exceeded their goal too. Yeah!

Honestly, I thought about not rolling out of bed at 5 AM to drive to DC to walk in the rain, but I’m glad I did it ….. for me, for the people who donated to my campaign, and for the children in Gaza.

I met some really cool new friends, and received some great advice about my personal journey to return to Gaza.  I’m contacting the National Lawyers Guild this week.

Thank you to the UNRWA-USA staff who inspired all of us to do our best for the children in Gaza.  You are truly making a difference!

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CROSSING THE FINISH LINE

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Gaza, Peaceful, Uncategorized, United Nations

Gift-giving this holiday season

Palestininan rug

Native Naseej

Spoiler alert!   My adult children and family members should not read this blog post.

A Syrian Freedom Fighter window-shopping in Cairo

A Syrian Freedom Fighter window-shopping in Cairo

Hanukkah begins Sunday, December 6 and Christmas is right around the corner. We know that our purchasing power can have a tremendous impact (good and bad) and so I offer some ideas for gift-giving this holiday — especially for Americans.

#1  – Avoid the shopping malls

#2 – Avoid driving and idling in traffic, take public transportation

#3 – Avoid the stress of finding the “perfect” gift.

#4 – Avoid impulsive gift-giving. Sit down and make a list.

#5 – If low on funds but rich on time, make cards with tasks you promise to do for the recipient.  (Be creative!)

Handmade gifts are amazing because they represent your time and spirit. There are many ideas online, but check this website first. Don’t forget handmade cards too.

Donations made in the name of your gift recipient might work for some of your family and friends who share your same interests. Be sure to explain why you made the donation in their name. Here are some of my interests.

UNRWA — Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian EconomyRachel Corrie Foundation — Middle East Children’s AlliancePalestine Children’s Relief FundThe Palestine Chronicle — YES! MagazineTikkun — 350.org — Idle No More — Union of Conerned ScientistsVeterans for PeaceWorld Beyond War — and my favorite candidate this year is Bernie Sanders who is building a campaign with grassroots contributions.

Books make great gifts but stay away from Amazon.com if you can.  Check out Just World Books or any of your local independent bookstores.   I’m bringing a suitcase-full of books to Gaza. Many of the titles are included here.

Gifts from Palestine – are extra special.  I encourage you to check out Al’ard Products —  Canaan Fair Trade — Sunbula  — Sindyanna of Galilee — Native Naseej and Nehaya Accessories.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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Nehaya Accessories

 

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Filed under Peaceful, Spiritual - Religion, Uncategorized

شكرا اصحابي Thank you my friends

I’m spending Thanksgiving in Cairo this year, waiting for permission to enter Gaza through the Rafah border. It’s been a very long wait with no end in sight. I actively started my preparations for returning to Gaza 450 days ago.

The Egyptian government tells me “لا  لا” and the U.S. Embassy tells me “no no”. The Israelis are telling my friends who are trying to enter Gaza from the north through the Erez crossing “לא לא”. Why am I still trying?  Some tell me I should have given up a long time ago.

Along this journey to Gaza I’ve met many people and learned many things. One Egyptian friend gave me reading material about Islam, which I’ve been slowly making my way through. One thing I’ve learned, but not sure I really understand, is that Muslims have a belief in destiny — each person’s destiny is written by Allah — and this belief in their destiny (good and bad) helps them persevere through difficult times and crises. “Whatever will be, will be.”

I have to have faith that my return to Gaza is in Allah’s hands, even though the governments of Egypt, Israel and the U.S. might think they control my journey.  And I don’t control it either.

(OK, I just wrote that but I’m not sure what it means.)

Many friends around the world (America, Canada, France, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel, Palestine and Egypt) have helped me on this journey.  A big “thank you” to each of you!

As the Christmas – Hanukkah holidays approach, many will be thinking about how to help others in need. Our common humanity has been sorely tested in 2015 and we want to reach out. I urge you to consider Palestinians in your gift-giving plans, and I’m sharing some suggestions and links to help.

#1 – Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American living in Ramallah. This year he started Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, [a 501(c)(3)].  Instead of focusing on political activism, Sam wants to branch out and engage in more economic activism, something that tends to get sidelined in the Palestine solidarity community. Sam frequently provides independent commentary on Palestine and serves as a policy adviser of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. He blogs at www.epalestine.com

#2 – We Are Not Numbers is the brainchild of an American writer and solidarity activist, Pam Bailey, to connect aspiring Palestinian writers with experienced writers and editors to mentor them on an individual basis. Read about the genesis of this new project here. In a very short time, WANN has connected many mentors and mentees, and the project is giving a voice to the voiceless.

#3 – UNRWA-USA [a 501(c)(3)] is the American arm of the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Lora finishes the #Gaza5K in 2015.

Lora finishes the #Gaza5K in 2015.

Needless to say, the challenges that UNRWA faces on the ground in Gaza are enormous, even more daunting following Israel’s 51-day assault in 2014. Each year, UNRWA-USA organizes #Gaza5K walk/runs in the US to raise $$. They also take donations year-round.

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Children are the primary beneficiaries of MECA’s work.

#4 – Middle East Children’s Alliance – has been doing good work on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza for 25 years.  Read about some of their great projects here. MECA has a proven track record of success.  I saw some of their good work at the Afaq Jadeeda Association in the in the Nuseirat Refugee Camp, in Gaza in 2012

#5 – Just World Books – Give yourself, family and friends a gift from Just World Books. The publisher, Helena Cobban, has released some important new titles about Palestine, and many are written by Palestinians.  On the top of my list is Gaza UnSilenced edited by Refaat Alareer and Laila El-Haddad.

Gaza Unsilenced

شكرا اصحابي Thank you my friends!

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Filed under Book Review, Gaza, People, Spiritual - Religion, Video

Walking the #Gaza5K for the Children

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My feet are ready! Nine days and counting.

I’m walking the #Gaza5K in Washington DC on Saturday, May 16.

Should be a cinch – 5K is about 3 miles. I can do THAT in about an hour. Yes I can!

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I’m walking for the children in Gaza.

Proceeds from the Gaza 5K walk/run will benefit UNRWA’s Community Mental Health Program for Palestinian children in Gaza suffering from psychological trauma and PTSD due to the devastating crisis of July-August 2014 and the prolonged blockade. Many of these already vulnerable children have now lived through three traumatic rounds of violence, witnessing death, destruction, and displacement. It’s estimated that almost 100% of children in Gaza now require immediate counseling.

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If you want to come out and cheer us along, we’re meeting at 7:00 AM at Rock Creek Park at the Intersection of 16th St. NW & Kennedy St. NW in Washington DC.

Better yet, if you want to join us and walk/run the #Gaza5K, register by Tuesday, May 12.  Check it out here.

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A big Thank You to my friends who have contributed to my campaign. As of Wednesday night (May 6), I’ve raised $675 towards my goal of $1,000. Will you help push me over the finish line? Please!

Check out my fundraising page here. A $5 . . $10 . . $15 donation will surely help.

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Filed under Gaza

Thinking about you!

I’m thinking of so many people I met in Gaza (9/12 – 5/13) and wondering how they are managing in the aftermath of the horrific massacres and devastation this summer. The LameStream media has left Gaza, and the donors will be circling in Cairo soon but no one from Gaza will be there, and Israel is violating the ceasefire with impunity. Where is the justice?

Palestinians are now facing a winter without shelter, and dirty, unsafe water. Medical supplies are nearly non-existent, and electricity is considered a luxury.  A LUXURY!

Unseen, however, is the trauma from Israel’s 51 days of shelling. My heart aches for the fear and numbness many of these children must have felt, and will feel, for the foreseeable future.

Americans can help make a little dent in the healing process by participating in the UNRWA-USA Gaza Solidarity 5K run/walk in San Francisco on October 18 or Los Angeles/Orange County on October 25.

By participating, you will directly support UNRWA’s psycho-social support program to provide these children with critically needed counseling services, offering them a safe space to express their emotions and fears, and the opportunity to work with trained counselors to learn valuable coping skills.

If you can’t join the festivities, you can participate by supporting one of the teams running.  Check out this link to choose a team and make your online donation. And here’s the team I’m supporting.

We are running and donating in the name of our beloved cousin Mohammad Abu Khdeir, a 16 yr old boy who was brutally taken from us by Israeli settlers on July 2, 2014 and for all Palestinian children who will never get to grow up, and the ones who were forced to grow up too soon. #FreePalestine #FreeGaza #Justice4Mohammad

PLEASE!  Open your pocketbook and support these young people in Gaza.

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There are many, many, many others I’m thinking of and praying that they’re OK!

 

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Filed under Gaza, People, Uncategorized