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April 08, 2010

MWA IN THE NEWS: U.S. Muslims Back Jewish Candidate's Gaza Stance

Launched in 2005, Ma'an News Agency (MNA) publishes news around the clock in Arabic and English, and is among the most browsed websites in the Palestinian territories, with over 3 million visits per month. Considered the main source of independent news from Palestine, MNA has become the first choice for online information for many Palestinians, and is also attracting a growing international readership and interest from prominent international news organizations and agencies.

Bethlehem - Ma'an (April 6, 2010) – The Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) has commended a Jewish-American Senate candidate for his stance against Israel's building of new settlements in East Jerusalem and its ongoing embargo on Gaza.

Jonathan Tasini (D-NY) is vying for the Senate spot up for grabs in the US state of New York's midterm election on 2 November. He must first defeat the incumbent senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, in the Democratic primary.

In continuation of its ongoing campaign to bring awareness to the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, MWA director Aishah Schwartz said that "for the 1.5 million citizens of Gaza, the support of candidates like Tasini cannot come soon enough."

"At a time when news agencies are reporting that nearly 300 members of Congress have signed a letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declaring reaffirmation of their commitment to 'the unbreakable bond that exists between [the US] and the State of Israel,' every voice counts," Schwartz added.

"In working toward educating American citizens about the urgency of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and in stressing to President Obama the dire need for immediate relief in the embattled region, Tasini further supports the 54 U.S. Representatives who delivered a list of embargo-breaking relief efforts to President Obama on January 21," Schwartz said late last month.

The candidate fought then Senator Hillary Clinton in the 2006 Democratic primary. Clinton won an overwhelming majority and her re-election bid. Gillibrand replaced Clinton when she was named Obama's secretary of state shortly after his inauguration last January.

Tasini echoed the Obama administration's criticism of Israel's recent decision to approve the construction of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, stating on his campaign Web site that "the decision by the Israeli government is counter-productive, done in bad-faith and sends a signal that the Israeli government is not serious about reaching a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East—which must result in the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state for any peace agreement to be long-lasting.

"But, our government must go further. I am calling on the Administration to recognize the humanitarian crisis that is taking place every day in Gaza as a result of the Israeli blockade and demand that the blockade be halted immediately. Gaza is home to 1.5 million people who are being denied regular access to food, electricity, and medical supplies because of the blockade," he added.

"The blockade violates international law because it imposes collective punishment on a civilian population as retaliation for the actions of armed groups which are illegally firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Violence against civilians cannot be tolerated—by either side. As well, the blockade will only serve to make long-term reconciliation more difficult because it further embitters a civilian population, which has already suffered decades of poverty and economic hardship because of the lack of a peace agreement and military conflict.

"I speak out not just as a candidate for public office. I speak as a Jew. I speak out as the son of a father who was born in Palestine, and who fought in the Jewish underground. I speak as someone who has had family members killed in the decades-long conflict, and who has lived in Israel and witnessed violence first-hand. And I speak as someone who has many family members still living there—and, therefore, I will not rest nor be silent, as a candidate and as a U.S. Senator, until our government is clearly an unstinting supporter of a two-state solution and is willing to speak up when international law is violated."

According to Schwartz, "The November 2, 2010 midterm senate races are crucial, with seven states holding the potential to affect a shift in the filibuster-proof majority that the Obama administration has held for the past year. New York is one of those states. If we're going to continue to talk about 'change'—let me add that change in U.S. foreign policy that provides funding to Israel for crimes against humanity, cannot come soon enough for the Palestinian people—and there is no better time for US citizens to register to vote."

Schwartz added: "In December 2009 I had the opportunity to see with my own eyes the conditions under which citizens of Gaza currently live; they deserve every glimmer of hope we can provide - and more."



MWA Original Press Release

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