Local organization raises Israel-Palestine conflict awareness

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Madison organization is raising awareness for the Israel-Palestine conflict hoping to educate people about realities of life in Gaza.

The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project has been around for almost two decades.

“I would like to see Israel and Palestine work towards peace and justice,” Tsela Barr, Madison-Rafah Sister City project founding member said.

Barr is fighting for an equitable solution and hoping the Israel-Palestine conflict can be put to rest.

“As someone who’s Jewish, I feel a moral imperative to speak out because these war crimes are being done in my name. They’re being done in the name of the Jewish state,” Barr said. “I don’t believe that these are Jewish values as I see them.”

The Madison-Rafah Sister City project is dedicated to helping Gaza survive decades of tragedy.

“Such as raising money for water filters because they have a problem with clean water. We’ve also sent them medicine,” she said. “We educate the public about the realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict so we’ve brought lectures here.”

In 2012, The Madison resident visited Gaza and experienced the destruction first-hand.

“The Israeli army started bombing while we were there. Just living through even a small amount of bombing, just the incredible fear,” Barr said.

“There is a Palestinian cleansing, an ethnic cleansing, that is ongoing since 1948 and it continues today,” Samer Alatout, UW-Madison middle eastern conflict expert said.

He said the Israeli government is pushing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem because they are not Jewish.

“They use several mechanisms making life really unbearable. Also using the legal structure that will kind of ethnically cleanse the 17 families from their homes,” Alatout said.

Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian militant group called Hamas. Alatout explained Israel views them as a terrorist group. Palestinians in Gaza say they are suffering because of Israeli restrictions. However, Israel said they are protecting themselves against Palestinian violence.

“Palestinians have their own perspective, which is powerful because it’s the perspective of the people who were dehumanized and have been subjugated for a long time,” Alatout said. “But it’s also important to see the perspective of historians, Israeli historian and Jewish historians…”

History experts said there’s no clear solution in sight. Both sides have to agree to resolve the complex issues and make a peace deal.


Another round of airstrikes from Israeli aircrafts pounded the Gaza strip on Monday.

The Israeli military claims it’s targeting what it calls the main operations center of the Hamas security forces, a group hoping to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation.

Today’s air strike flattened the building used as the headquarters of the Hamas-run religious affairs ministry.

Over the past week, at least 200 Palestinians have been killed, including 59 children and 35 women, with about 1,300 injured. Ten people in Israel have also died.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured the east of the city back in 1967 and annexed it. The Palestinians say the status of Jerusalem should be the subject of negotiations in a peace deal.

For the first time publicly, President Joe Biden says he supports a cease fire, but made no direct call for an immediate end to the violence. This comes after the president spoke with the Israeli prime minister for the second time in three days

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