By Mina Remy
April 24th, 2013
When you hear “seed bank” what comes to mind? Is it perhaps a vault or a deep freezer stocked with seeds? Yes, Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees’ seed bank has those, but what I saw and heard was so much more than that. UAWC’s seed bank also assists farmers while protecting local agricultural biodiversity across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) – literally preserving their seed sovereignty amidst the occupation.
By Jonathan Leaning
March 27th, 2013
The real costs of the industrial food system on people’s lives and the planet are as extensive as they are hidden. The article below by long-time Grassroots International friends, Beverley Bell and Tory Field of Other Worlds, offers a thought-provoking summary of those costs—all of which challenge small farmers in the Global South on a daily basis.
The True Costs of Industrialized Food
Israeli government repression of Palestinian human rights groups continues with arrest of Stop the Wall Youth Coordinator, Hassan Karajah.
At 2:30 in the morning of January 23, 2013, the Israeli military raided the home of Hassan Karajah, Youth Coordinator of Grassroots International partner, Stop the Wall Campaign, in the West Bank village of Safa, near Ramallah. In the video below, Hassan’s brother gives a firsthand account of how the soldiers entered the house by force, searched all the members of the family (including Hassan’s mother and younger sister), ransacked their belongings, and took away computers and files, before blindfolding and arresting Hassan, and taking him away.
The recent war between Hamas and Israel was fought not only in the bloodied cities and refugee camps of a huge civilian population and in vulnerable cities and towns of Israel, but also on newsfeeds and social media. In the papers, the websites and twitter feeds, reports and analysis of the Gaza war rarely revealed any context and no reports of the deadly siege and frequent incursions that have crippled Gaza for years. Reporters and politicians often spoke with a level of racism and disregard for Palestinian civilians that should be disconcerting to anyone who values human life and the right of people to resist oppression.
Globally, activists at the forefront of human rights protection are coming under increased scrutiny and attack by state and non-state actors. Although being a human rights defender is becoming dangerous work, the commitment to human rights promotion and defense amongst activist has not waned. Nowhere is this truer than in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), where our partners have had their offices raided and equipment confiscated by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Operation Pillar of Defense (Pillar of Cloud in Hebrew) is once again destroying Gaza missile by missile, building by building. Our partner Raji Sourani, the director of Palestinian Center for Human Rights, sees history repeating itself with each civilian casualty. As he makes clear in a recent article on Al-Jazeera (posted below), the world is standing by while scores of civilians lose their lives, Gazans human rights are violated and community infrastructure is destroyed.
Once again, the steady violence that passes for “normal” in Palestine and Israel has escalated to alarming proportions. After months of rocket exchanges between militants in Gaza and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the situation rapidly deteriorated in the past 24 hours. Grassroots International joins the growing chorus of voices calling for an end to violence from both sides, a return to negotiations for a just and lasting peace, and enforcement of international human rights and humanitarian law as outlined by the Geneva Conventions.
For the past year, Stop the Wall and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (both Grassroots International partners) have been working diligently with their Palestinian and Brazilian allies to fulfill the call issued in 2011 at the World Social Forum in Dakar. Then, participants expressed a desire to hold a thematic World Social Forum to explore ongoing social injustice in the occupied Palestinian territories; and to formulate an international response from the peoples of the world since states have either been unwilling or unable to provide pathways toward a just peace.
Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property, which escalated this summer, is on the rise again with this October’s olive harvest season in the West Bank. Officials from the United Nations as well as activists in Palestine and Israel are calling on Israeli forces to intervene to stop the violence.