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Galilee Society Newsletter - Issue 27

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  1. 1. Galilee Society NewsletterIn This Issue: Issue 28, November 2007 Ataa Report Launched at Study Day: Pioneering Breast Cancer Awareness Security, A Collective Right of the Project Among Arab Women Palestinian National Minority Continues EJC: Knesset Committee of Interior Naqab Department Launches Affairs and Protection of the Nutrition Campaign in Area Schools Environment Finds Mekorot Water News in Brief Shutoff Policy “Appalling and Degrading” How to Support the Galilee Society Galilee Society Representative Tours United States for Breast Cancer AwarenessAtaa Report Launched at Study Day: Security, A Collective Right of thePalestinian National Minority
  2. 2. On Friday, the 19th of October 2007, the NGOs that coordinated the ‘Ataa Hotline held a studyday entitled Security: A Collective Right of the National Minority at Al Maydan Theater in Haifa.The study day launched and discussed the one-year report of the hotline, and the economic, psychological and health effects of the Second Israeli War on Lebanon in the summer of 2006. ‘Ataa (Arabic for “to give”) Hotline, a toll-free number, was created by the Galilee Society and Adalah, as well as Ahali Center for Community Development, the Arab Culture Association, the Arab Psychologists Association, Ittijah and the Medical Relief Committee. It was designed to provide legal, psychological, and health support for Arabs The one-year report of the Ataa Hotline residing in villages affected by the war. which is now available During the conflict, Hezbollah rockets fell in and near Arab villages. With a population of around 610,000, Arabs constitute themajority of residents in northern Israel according to the Israeli census. However, Arabcommunities found themselves effectively abandoned by the state. There was a completeabsence of the air raid shelters, sirens, information and support, and access to emergencyservices that were quickly instituted for Jewish citizens.The ‘Ataa Hotline worked specifically to combat this inequality. By dialing *2231, or visiting theweb at, citizens could access health, legal and psychological support andadvice in the Arabic language. The Hotline logged 231 calls in the first three weeks. In additionto the call center, The Galilee Society, Arab Cultural Association and Baladna Association helda summer camp in August 2006 to provide psychological support to war-affected childrenbetween the ages of 8 and 14.To open the recent study day, Galilee Society General Director Mohammad Khatib placed theevents of the past year in the greater context of the history of the Palestinian Arab minority inIsrael, stating that even in times of peace, they have been victimized. The effects of theconflict last summer are “a link in the chain of events of the past 60 years, but this is achallenge that we can organize ourselves to face in a positive way.”Rikaz ( Director Ahmad Sheikh Muhammad highlighted findings of the report.The percentage of Jewish citizen fatalities dropped from 100% of total fatalities to 29% of totalIsraeli fatalities over the course of the war as emergency services were put into action.However, Arab citizen fatalities continued to increase throughout the conflict and the ratiobetween Jewish and Arab fatalities shifted dramatically. There were nearly twice as many ArabIsraeli fatalities as there were Jewish in the mid-to-latter stages of the war. Furthermore,women were more negatively affected psychologically, as they found themselves bearingmuch of the responsibility for the safety of the house and children.Guest speakers Samer Ma’allam, Director of the Arab Emergency Center, and Emil Sama’anreviewed the major problem in times of emergency: there is no information available on the
  3. 3. internet or elsewhere in Arabic, or that pertains to the Arab minority. They spoke about theirinitiatives to organize the Arab community and coordinate between villages toward readinessin dealing with future crises and emergencies. Professor Marwan Dwairy of Adalah, the LegalCenter for Arab Minority Rights, reviewed the special psychological difficulties posed byconflicts with Arab countries on Arab individuals in Israel. Dr. Hala Khoury-Bisharat, from theTel Aviv University School of Law, spoke about the right to security in international law, andhighlighted the recent UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which sets outindividual and collective rights, prohibits discrimination and calls for full participation in mattersthat affect them. Other guest speakers included Dr. Yousef Jabareen, Dr. As’ad Ghanim, Dr.Mahmoud Yazbak, Dr. Dof Hanin and Dr. Jamal Zahaliqa, on approaching individual andcollective security for the Palestinian minority in Israel.Since the Second Israeli War on Lebanon in 2006 there have been no major changes for thesecurity of the Palestinian minority. There have been some initiatives to aid the residents of thenorth in overcoming the negative consequences of the war through state compensation.However, no new shelters or sirens have been placed in Arab communities, leaving them atrisk in future conflicts.EJC: Knesset Committee of Interior Affairs and Protection of theEnvironment Finds Mekorot Water Shutoff Policy “Appalling andDegrading”Residents of Majd Al-Kroum, an Arab village in the Galilee region of Israel, have been feelingfirst-hand the effects of discriminatory water policy in Israel. Since the end of October theIsraeli National water utility, Mekorot, has shut off the water supply to the entirety of the village,forcing residents to buy and stockpile bottled water for essential tasks such as flushing thetoilet and preparing food.The water cutoff is an example of thecollective punishment which attempts toforce local authorities to pay their water debtto Mekorot. The water shutoffs, which arecommon in Arab villages, constitutedisproportionate and collective punishmentwhich is illegal under Israeli law. Hospitals,schools, and paying and non-paying citizensall suffer the effects of public health risksand deprival of the basic human right towater. The Environmental Justice Center(EJC) has concentrated advocacy efforts on A student demonstrates in Majd Al-Kroumthis ongoing policy since 2004. For against collective water shutoff policyinformation on past efforts please see the25th Issue of the Galilee Society Newsletter.The EJC is working with a local committee specially formed by the residents of Majd Al-Kroumto defend the rights of the citizens there. The committee organized a public demonstration toprotest against the collective punishment, which is illegal under international law, and whichbreaches basic rights to safe water. The EJC has also authored and sent letters to the Ministry
  4. 4. of Interior Affairs, Mekorot, and the Majd Al-Kroum mayor.Following the most recent Majd Al-Kroum water shutoff, Galilee Society Lawyer Shadi Azzamrequested immediate intervention from the Knesset Committee for Interior Affairs andProtection of the Environment, and the issuing of a resolution forbidding Mekorot from cutting the water supply to Arab towns and households because of the debts of local authorities. On the 12th of November, the Committee held a session to hear the Galilee Society claims. The Committee stated that they are concerned with this appalling policy which harms innocents, elderly, and students, and furthermore condemned Mekorot for authorizing and allowing such a policy. The Committee ordered Mekorot to stop practicing water shutoffs, and instead to solve matters of non-payment from local authorities through dialogue and legal Residents of Majd Al-Kroum attend a proceedings. camp organized by the Galilee Society to discuss the water cutoff
  5. 5. Galilee Society Representative Tours United States for Breast CancerAwarenessThe Galilee Society’s Breast Cancer Project Coordinator and a Registered Nurse, Ms AmiraOthman, has just returned from a tour of the United States as part of a U.S. State DepartmentBreast Cancer Awareness and Community Outreach project. Seventeen participants fromacross the Middle East and North Africa were invited to visit Washington D.C., Houston,Dallas, San Diego, Detroit, Lansing and New York.The tour supported the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness andResearch. The visitors were encouraged to share their ideas and strategize regarding breastcancer awareness, educational campaigns on the importance of self-exams andmammograms, public policy and research, and promotion of prevention, early diagnosis andproper treatment.In Washington D.C., the group attended meetings providing an overview of breast cancerawareness and community outreach, and the U.S. federal interest in the issue bothdomestically and internationally. U.S. First Lady, Laura Bush met with the group and assuredher support for the U.S.-Middle East Partnership. Ms. Othman was excited to report hermeeting with Nancy Brinker, the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which sponsors theGalilee Society’s Breast Cancer Awareness Project and which spearheaded breast cancerawareness work in the U.S. Amira Othman, RN, is currently representing the Galilee Society on a tour of the United States for Breast Cancer
  6. 6. The meetings comprising the tour were an Awarenessextremely valuable opportunity for Ms.Othman to share with an Americanaudience, as well as the other Middle Eastern participants, the story of the Palestinian Arabminority in Israel. The presence of the population is often entirely neglected in the internationalarena and in coverage of the Middle East. The meetings also provided a chance for Ms.Othman to hone the Galilee Society’s comprehensive Breast Cancer Awareness Project, theonly one of its kind targeting Arab women in Israel. The information gained from the tour willfurther enable her to ensure that the Galilee Society campaign incorporates the experience ofthe global campaign against breast cancer, while also meeting the specific needs of the Arabwomen in Israel.The group also visited the National Institute of Health to see current research on detection andpreventative treatments, and the American Cancer Society. Representatives of the AmericanCancer Society affirmed global evidential support for beginning mammogram screening fromthe age of 40. In both the U.S. and Israel, lack of insurance coverage for mammograms canact as a barrier for women seeking proper prevention screening. In Israel, health insurancecovers mammogram screenings from the age of 50. However, the average age of Arab womendiagnosed with breast cancer is in their 40s.Highlights of other cities included visits to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, theArab-American National Museum, and participation in the San Diego Breast Cancer Walk. Thegroup also met with organizations focused on reaching minority groups. These includeACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), which providesculturally sensitive public health and breast screening and support services in the Arab-American community; the Sisters Network, the African-American women’s advocacy andsupport group for breast cancer survivors; and the National Latino Cancer Research Network,a community-based network of organizations that work to reduce cancer health disparities inLatino communities through education, research and training.
  7. 7. Pioneering Breast Cancer Awareness Project Among Arab WomenContinuesAs part of its Breast Cancer AwarenessProject, the Galilee Society’s Health RightsCenter is currently registering participantsfor a Breast Cancer Prevention andTreatment course. The course is aimed athealth professionals who work with the Arabminority in Israel, including doctors, nurses,social workers and health activists. It willmeet for five sessions in November andDecember.Arab women in Israel suffer from a mortalityrate of more than 70%, according to Dr.Raymond Menassa. Mesassa is the Directorof the Breast Health Center at the Holy The Galilee Society breast cancerFamily Hospital in Nazareth and sits on the awareness poster campaign, readingSteering Committee of the Galilee Society "Early detection... your life is in yourproject. In contrast, Jewish Israeli women hands!" gives prevention and detectionhave a 5-year survival rate of more than information in Arabic90%, mainly due to early detection. Farfewer Arab women survive breast cancerthan Jewish women in Israel.The course is aimed especially at women health workers and Bedouin nurses, in order toincrease the number of Arab women comfortably obtaining breast cancer exams. The coursewill consist of lectures, discussions and workshops designed to train health professionals to beresponsive to the needs of Palestinian Arab women in Israel regarding breast cancer. Coursetopics will include a general physical description of breast cancer, the prevalence of breastcancer among Palestinian women in Israel, the importance of early diagnosis, how to performclinical breast checks, cultural and social restrictions preventing breast checks and treatment,psychological barriers of cancer, and additional training on related common diseases.The training course is only one part of a multi-faceted breast cancer awareness campaign inthe Arabic language. Other activities include advocacy through the Knesset Health andWelfare Committee, study days for Arab women, distribution of awareness-raising literatureand posters throughout the country, and the production of a culturally specific film on breastcancer. The Galilee Society has already raised the majority of necessary project funds, and iscurrently fundraising for the final outstanding amount to support the production of the Arabic-language film that will educate women about prevention, detection and treatment of breastcancer. To find out more about how to support the production of this film, please see donationinformation below, or email Felice Nassar at
  8. 8. Naqab Department Launches Nutrition Campaign in Area SchoolsThe Galilee Society’s Naqab Department has launched a nutrition campaign with the start ofthe new school term. The campaign incorporates Al-Maissam’s research on the benefits ofindigenous plants of the region. It follows the Galilee Society’s successful First Regional Conference on Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine that was held in Amman in August. For the campaign, 2,500 brochures with information about the uses and beneficial properties of indigenous plants will be distributed in pharmacies, mother and childcare centers, national health clinics, and elementary schools throughout the Naqab. Health days are also to be held at the elementary schools to encourage the students to adopt positive behaviors regarding their health and diet. The brochures highlight such indigenous plants as: Garlic Tests on laboratory animals have demonstrated garlic oil’s ability to reduce cholesterol in the blood. Garlic also Palestinian woman gathering plants lowers blood pressure by expanding the veins. In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, garlic has antiseptic properties, aids digestion, and prevents parasitic infections of the digestive tract.ChamomileTraditional Arabic medicine tells us that chamomile flowers may be used to treat bruising, jointpain, and headaches. Modern uses for chamomile include aiding sleep and treating mildstomach aches as well as irritable bowels. It is now known that chamomile in fact has anti-inflammatory properties, and is marketed as a mild sedative. Chamomile tea, like green tea, isan antioxidant.GingerGinger is known to aid digestion and to have antiseptic properties. It may have cholesterollowering properties as well, though research has been inconsistent. Ginger is more commonlyused to treat nausea, including motion and morning sickness, as it has no harmful effects onthe fetus. Ginger may ease symptoms of the common cold. Traditional medicine prescribesginger in other cases such as to treat tension, and insomnia. As a sleep aid, a small amount ofpowdered ginger may be added to hot milk while at the same time massaging the body witholive oil.
  9. 9. BarleyA whole grain which is mentioned in the Bible, barley is tolerant of soil salinity and so is moreeasily grown in some areas than wheat. Barley was first cultivated in the Levantine region inthe Neolithic era. Whole grain barley, often marketed as a health food, may regulate bloodsugar for up to 10 hours, and provides a healthy amount of dietary fiber. Barley suppliestryptophan, an essential amino acid in the human diet. Regular barley consumption is good forblood pressure. Barley is also a good source of potassium and magnesium, sufficient levels ofwhich help protect against kidney disease.News in BriefResearcher Brings New Field of Scientific Research to R&D CenterThe Research & Development Center welcomes Dr. Malik Yousef, a researcher in the field ofBioinformatics. Dr. Yousef joins us after completing his Postdoctoral Fellowship at theUniversity of Pennsylvania Wistar Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics and ComputerScience from Haifa University. His research brings a new field to the work of the R&D Center.R&D Center Represented at SeveralInternational Conferences Dr. Hassan Azaizeh with a German
  10. 10. The Galilee Society’s Dr. Hassan Azaizeh Scientist at the University of Hohenheimpresented his research at two international in Stuttgart, Germanyconferences. Dr. Azaizeh’s research onSelenium in the human diet was included inthe European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research conference held atBen Gurion University October 23-25. He also traveled to Germany to present his research onthe treatment of olive mill wastewater at the Progress in Biogas conference held at theUniversity of Hohenheim September 18-25. Dr Isam Sabbah presented the results of the olivemill wastewater project at the New Technologies for the Treatment and Valorization ofAgricultural By-Products Conference in Terni, Italy on October 3-5.New Course for Young Researchers Opens at Al-MaissamAl-Maissam Medicinal Plant Center has begun two new courses for the Young Researchers’program involving 40 students from Wadi Salama and Kammana elementary schools. The 30-week courses will involve meetings at Al-Maissam and at the schools and tours of theKammana valley. The students will conduct research under the guidance of Al-Maissamteachers on environmental health topics such as air and water pollution.EJC Awards Second Half of Environmental Education ScholarshipsThe EJC distributed the second installment of the scholarship funds to students of theenvironment. To complete the Galilee Society scholarship program, the university studentsconducted environmental trainings with students ages 10-14 in their local communities, andsubmitted final reports on their activities.How to Support the Galilee SocietyHelp achieve equitable health, environmental, and socio-economic conditions and developmentopportunities for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel by supporting the Galilee Society.How to Donate to the Galilee SocietyTax-Exempt DonationsIn order to facilitate giving, the Galilee Society has recently received tax-exempt status in theUnited States, via the Friends of the Galilee Society. To donate in the United States, pleasemake checks payable to the Friends of the Galilee Society and send them to:Dr. Shouki KassisChair, Board of Directors
  11. 11. 7 Lee Road, Audubon, PA 19403United Stateskassis25@comcast.netTel: +1 610 662 3693Bank transfers to the Friends of the Galilee Society can be made to the following account:Account Name: Friends of the Galilee SocietyBank Name: PNC BankBranch: Audubon Village Shopping CenterAccount Number: 86-0943-9642Please inform Friends of the Galilee Society of your DonationsTo donate to the Galilee Society directly, please send checks (in any currency) payable to theGalilee Society at:P.O. Box 330Shefa-Amr, 20200IsraelAlternatively, bank transfers (in any currency) can be made directly to the Galilee Societysbank account:Account Number: 9800Bank Name: Bank HapoalimBranch Number: 731Bank Address: Jabour Street, Shefa-Amr 20200 IsraelSWIFT Code: POALILITPlease inform us of your donation at Galilee Society - The Arab National Society for Health Research and Services is a leadingcommunity-based Arab NGO. The overriding goal of the Galilee Society is the achievement ofequitable health and socio-economic conditions for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.The Galilee SocietyP.O. Box 330, Shefa-Amr 20200, IsraelTel.: +972 4 986 1171Fax: +972 4 986 1173Email: