After we sent out a call asking for messages of support for our partners at Midwives for Peace, who are celebrating the organization’s 5th anniversary, our MADRE members responded as they always do: with open arms. We got permission to share this moving display of support below. As always, we thank you all for everything you do for MADRE and for our partners worldwide. The solidarity you demonstrate makes it possible for us to move forward, together, every day.

Dear Midwives for Peace,

Your work is SO important to the health of mothers and babies, and to the mental and emotional well-being of parents-to-be and parents of newborn babies.  I was blessed to have the expertise, knowledge, support and love of two wonderful midwives during pregnancy and at the very long and complicated birth of my child, Evalín/Ilanit, who, thank God, is 10 years old and healthy, and so I know first-hand the immediate and lasting value of what you do.  Attached is a recent picture of us with our friend’s puppies!

Thank you for reaching beyond borders and differences to serve all populations.  My respect for you is great, and I will support you/Madre through donations when babies are born to my friends and family.

Shalom/Salaam and Mahbrouk/Mazal tov on your anniversary,

Sherry Pachman

Vermont, USA

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“As an Israeli midwife, I always wanted to talk to Palestinian midwives, to see their experience and exchange stories—that’s how we learn. We are neighbors, and with neighbors, you should talk. It’s unnatural that we don’t talk. So I came to the first meeting of this group. That was five years ago. Now we are more than neighbors. We are friends.”

Gomer, the Israeli coordinator of our sister organization Midwives for Peace, told me this on my recent visit to the West Bank. I was there to celebrate the group’s five year anniversary, a truly remarkable milestone.

Israel and Palestine are at a political standstill. The level of despondency in the region is as strong as I’ve ever seen it. And the lack of confidence in progress is widespread. As you can imagine, under these difficult circumstances, collaboration can seem impossible. Yet the commitment of our sister organization of Israeli and Palestinian midwives remains strong. Through it all, they continue to work together to learn from each other and to safely deliver babies in the West Bank, despite the conflict that surrounds them. What an inspiration!

The anniversary meeting gave the midwives a chance to celebrate, reflect and share their plans for the future. In 2014, the group hopes to send representatives to the International Conference of Midwives in Prague.

And this August, they are planning a group trip to the beach. You might be wondering what a day at the beach has to do with breaking down barriers between Palestinians and Israelis, but consider this: some of the Palestinian midwives are refugees whose families came from coastal villages, yet they themselves have never seen the ocean. As Aisha, the group’s Palestinian coordinator, said to me, “the friendships we are building as midwives, as women, are opening doors in our lives and in our hearts that the conflict had tried to nail shut.”

I’m always so moved to see the collaboration and friendship between our Israeli and Palestinian sisters. Our partnership with Midwives for Peace is something I am proud of every day. I was so grateful to be able to attend their anniversary event, and I look forward to celebrating their next five years.

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Violence recently exploded in Gaza and Israel. In response, MADRE raised support for women and children in Gaza who had no other source of help. Our partners there are community health workers struggling to provide urgent medical care. Meanwhile, our friends in Mexico heard about our work and decided to help in whatever way they could. With their permission, we have re-printed their letter to us here.

Chiapas, Mexico
November 16, 2012

Dear Yifat and MADRE,

Greetings from Chiapas, Mexico, on behalf of all members of our association, K´inal Antsetik A.C. (“Land of Women”).

We are writing in relation to the emergency campaign MADRE is conducting for women and the Palestinian people in Gaza, who live now under threat of bombardment and ground intervention in a new spiral of violence in that place in the world where, as usual, women and children are the first victims of the conflict.

We know MADRE’s firm commitment to the women and children of Palestine, and to Middle East Peace.

In the past, in a very different political and geographic context, but also as women subjected to situations arising from armed conflict, we were fortunate and privileged to have the support of MADRE, then embodied in the figure of Vivian, who we remember with love and respect. The commitment and dedication she showed us is still present in our hearts, and that has continued in the work of Yifat and all the sisters at MADRE.

As friends of MADRE throughout the organization’s historical work for women in the world, and as feminists and internationalist women, we want express our solidarity with the suffering of Palestinian women and children, and to join this campaign. There is little that we can contribute with our words, but we will join all those MADRE fellows in the world and send it to our sisters in Gaza. We have collected some money, and though it is not much, we send it to you with love.

We send our embrace through MADRE to all the women who suffer through this conflict.

K´inal Antsetik A.C.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Chiapas, México

16 de noviembre 2012

Estimada Yifat, Estimadas compañeras de MADRE,

Les enviamos un fraternal saludo desde Chiapas, México, en nombre de todas las integrantes de nuestra asociación, K´inal Antsetik A.C. (“Tierra de Mujeres”).

Les escribimos en relación a la campaña de emergencia que MADRE se encuentra realizando a favor de las mujeres y el pueblo palestino en Gaza, que vive en esto días una dramática situación bajo bombardeo y amenaza de intervención terrestre, en un nueva espiral de violencia en aquel lugar del mundo donde, como siempre, mujeres y niños resultan las primeras víctimas del conflicto.

Sabemos del firme compromiso de MADRE con las mujeres y niños de Palestina, y con la Paz en el Oriente Medio.

En el pasado, en un contexto diferente, pero igualmente sometidas como mujeres a las situaciones derivadas de un conflicto armado, nosotras tuvimos la fortuna y el privilegio de contar con el apoyo de MADRE, encarnada en aquel entonces por la figura de Vivian, a quién tanto recordamos con amor y respeto.  Un compromiso y una dedicación que sigue presente en nuestros corazones, y que tiene continuación en el trabajo de Yiffat y todas las compañeras que integran MADRE.

Como amigas y compañeras de MADRE en su histórica labor a favor de las mujeres en el mundo, como mujeres feministas, internacionalistas y solidarias con el sufrimiento de las mujeres y niños palestinos, queríamos sumarnos a esta campaña. Es poco lo que podemos aportar junto a nuestra palabra que sabemos se unirá al de todas aquellas compañeras de MADRE en el mundo para hacerla llegar a nuestras hermanas en Gaza, pero hemos realizado una pequeña colecta entre las compañeras de K´inal.

Enviamos a través de MADRE nuestro abrazo a todas las mujeres que sufren este conflicto.

K´inal Antsetik A.C.

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The terrible violence in Gaza and in Israel continues to escalate. As of now, ninety-six Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed, and many more people are at risk. The Israeli military launched a strike against a media building on Sunday, where both Arab and Western media outlets had offices. The number of civilian causalities is rising, including entire families and children (see full articles at the Guardian and the NYTimes). MADRE continues to monitor and respond to the situation in Gaza and stand with our partners in Palestine and Israel against violence.

More information can be found here:

Images
The Guardian

The New York Times
Al Jazeera

Live blogging and streaming news
BBC
The Guardian
Al Jazeera

Additional Articles
The latest Gaza Catastrophe (Al Jazeera)
Aid agencies warn of humanitarian disaster in Gaza if conflict continues (Al Arabiya)
Live Report from Gaza hospital (Democracy Now)

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From our friends at Jewish Voice for Peace:

Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) calls for an immediate cessation of the air strikes and naval bombardment into Gaza and an end to the ongoing siege of Gaza. JVP urges Israel not to exploit its asymmetric power to exacerbate the instability in the region. We urge President Obama to  take a stand against these attacks and to use the power of the United States to insist that Israel pursue all diplomatic measures possible for the sake of life, safety and security on all sides.  JVP also urges the end of  rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which we believe is never justifiable, and which only serve to derail efforts for a just resolution to the conflict. Read More.

You can find their actions for Gaza and further resources here.

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MADRE condemns the growing violence that has killed at least 18 people in the past days: 15 in Gaza and three in Israel. We assert that all attacks against civilians must end immediately.

Yesterday, Israel carried out a targeted killing of Hamas leader Ahmed Al-Jaabari, in violation of international legal prohibitions on extrajudicial assassinations. Subsequent attacks brought the death toll in Gaza to 15. Reports from Gaza indicate that at least 130 people are wounded. Three Israelis have been killed in a rocket attack that collapsed part of a building.

These latest assaults come after a period of escalating attacks and tension. In the week leading up to the assassination of Jaabari, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights documented the deaths of six civilians in Gaza due to Israel’s military activity. That same week saw repeated rockets attacks from Gaza into Israel, also in violation of international law.

In January, Israel will be holding elections, and some have suggested that the assassination and airstrikes are a bid by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to galvanize his far right base. Now that a ground offensive may be imminent, many more lives are at risk.

The people of Gaza already live under a US-supported Israeli military siege that denies them basic rights, like access to clean water and medical care. The current airstrikes not only risk civilian lives, they destroy essential infrastructure in Gaza still not rebuilt from the last Israeli offensive four years ago.

Today, MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind said, “By assassinating a man who has played a central role in past ceasefire negotiations, Israel’s leaders are further foreclosing the possibility of peace. That, in fact, is the essence of Netanyahu’s election strategy. And families in Gaza are paying with their lives for his political manipulations. The Palestinian and Israeli women we work with are committed to breaking the cycle of violence and ending Israel’s occupation and siege of Gaza.”

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We received an update from our partners at Midwives for Peace about a recent meeting, and we wanted to share it with MADRE supporters.

This meeting was dedicated to watching the film “Freedom for Birth,” which presents issues of human rights during childbirth. The film was produced by British filmmakers and was screened worldwide on September 20 at over 1000 venues. It tells the story of the Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb who is in jail because she attended home births in her country. One of the mothers she delivered brought her case to the European Court of Human Rights and cleared her name, but Agnes is not free yet.

Our group got permission from the producers to add Arabic subtitles to the film. We also got support for this project from our sisters at Madre, and for this we are all very grateful to them.

The project enabled a group of 24 women who came to the meeting to watch the film together, and discuss a subject that we all deal with at some point, as professionals and as women. The film with the Arabic subtitles will be shown to other Arabic speakers who could not attend the meeting. For more information on the film go to http://www.freedomforbirth.com/

We received an update from Halla about a new regulation that the Palestinian ministry of health has decided on to prohibit home births in the West Bank. This will of course influence Halla’s ability to continue her work as a home birth midwife, and we pray to hear better news on this issue.

Midwives for Peace gather together.

We spent parting of the meeting writing about our personal experiences as members of the group for a chapter in a book being written about different midwifery models worldwide.

Our next meeting was set for January 14th, 2013.

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Every Mother’s Day, you’re reminded to call your mother. You’re reminded to send her flowers. You’re reminded, in essence, to appreciate all the things your mother has done for you.

But what if we really appreciated mothers all year long? What if we lived in a world where policies actually supported mothers?

What would this world look like?

For starters, our governments would recognize that mothers sustain families and communities. They would make that job easier. Governments would preserve social services, for child care, food assistance, health care and more. They wouldn’t cut them from budgets, forcing mothers to pay the price for Wall Street’s catastrophic failures.

In communities around the world, it is women, and particularly mothers, who take care of most people. And when public services are slashed, it’s mothers who pick up the slack. When childcare services are slashed, mothers still care for children, but without help. When food assistance services are cut, mothers are still expected to feed their families. When access to health care is restricted, the responsibility to care for the sick falls on women.

Mothers have always been society’s default safety nets. But today’s budget cuts are pushing mothers to the breaking point.

In a world where mothers were really appreciated, women’s reproductive rights would be secure. We would all understand that women must have the freedom to decide whether and when to have children, and whether to end a pregnancy. A woman who chooses to become a mother would have the health care and support she needs for a safe pregnancy.

And every woman would know that she and the children she mothers have a shot at a healthy life. Health means more than a lack of disease—it means access to food and clean water, to education, to economic opportunity. It also means a commitment from our government leaders to make sure these resources are within reach.

Mother’s Day in the US was born 140 years ago, as a day to honor the commitment of mothers to peace. And mothers worldwide have never stopped working to prevent war, to survive and to rebuild families and communities out of the rubble.

If mothers were really appreciated, their global call for peace would halt our leaders’ constant march to war.

MADRE is working to make this vision of a better world a reality. MADRE’s founders chose the name MADRE—Spanish for mother—to honor the women who demand their own and their families’ safety, health and human rights.

This Mother’s Day, let’s rededicate ourselves to these women and all mothers, who understand that mothering is about more than raising kids. It’s about building the world we all need.

In Kenya, we’re working with the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) to run shelters for girls fleeing forced marriage, a practice that sacrifices girls’ education and endangers their health in early pregnancy.

In Palestine, our partnership with Midwives for Peace helps pregnant women living under Israeli occupation access maternal health services that are often cut off by blockades and military checkpoints.

In Sudan and Guatemala, we’re helping women and their families grow local, sustainable food and access clean water. And around the world, we’re fighting for international laws that support all mothers and all women.

This Mother’s Day, we’re also sending a message to President Obama: “Family planning and abortion rights are essential to women’s health and safe motherhood.” Join the call at www.madre.org/mothers.

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Midwives for Peace, our sister organization,  is a grassroots group of midwives who provide pre-natal care and childbirth support for women living in the West Bank and Israel. They hold regular meetings  that bring together Palestinian and Israeli midwives to join in friendship amidst conflict; there they discuss women’s health, offer support, and empower one another.

Midwives for Peace sent us news about one recent meeting in a town near Jerusalem, where an important issue was brought up:  a birthing center in a rural area in the northern West Bank  which offered crucial women-centered obstetric care had been shut down.

With the support of MADRE, Midwives for Peace are planning to reopen a local home-based birthing center to meet the urgent need for midwifery care.

(c) Jessica Alderman

One midwife said, “We believe that empowering birth experiences last a lifetime. We would like to do our part to provide more women with the opportunity to benefit from the high quality care that we provide.”

More information about Midwives for Peace’s work  can be found here and here.

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9 com

Today at 5:30pm join Women in Black to support the Occupy Wall Street movement and call for an end to the occupation of Palestine. Read the message below from Women in Black for more information:

Dear Friends,

This Thursday, December 22, we will bring our “Women in Black: End the Israeli Occupation” banner, our posters, our enthusiasm, our flyers, and ourselves to Occupy Wall Street at Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park). So—

Please join Women in Black Thursday, December 22 at Liberty Plaza, from 5:30-6:30, as we declare, “Occupy Wall Street, NOT Palestine!”

Remember: Thursday, December 22, you won’t find us at Union Square, because we hope to bring our Women in Black vigil down to support Occupy Wall Street. Join us there! Bring your friends! Occupy Wall Street; NOT Union Square!

HOW TO GET THERE:

Liberty Plaza (Zuccotti Park) is at the Corner of Liberty Street and Broadway.

Nearby subways:

N/R to Cortlandt St

4/5 to Wall St‎

A/C or J/Z to Fulton St

Buses:

M5 bus TO BROADWAY & THAMES ST Walk 0.04 miles (1 minute) North-East to Liberty Park

M15 bus to WATER ST & MAIDEN LANE; Walk 0.32 miles (7 minutes) North-West to Liberty Park

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