The Sabra Shatila Foundation
Beirut, Lebanon-Washington, DC
Report to the Board of Directors and Friends of the Sabra Shatila Foundation on our current work and preparations for the 27th Anniversary of the 1982 Massacre at Sabra-Shatila
September 12, 2009
From: Franklin c/o email@example.com mobile: 00961-70-497-804
Distribution: SSF Master List, Members of the Board of Directors and friends of the Sabra Shatila Foundation
The Sabra Shatila Foundation
Beirut, Lebanon-Washington, DC
Firstly, mea culpa with huge apologies for not communicating recently in a more organized and regular monthly fashion. We have been swamped with but that is not an acceptable excuse.
Those of us in Beirut tend to speak by phone, exchange emails, text messages, and cross paths with others usually being copied on what we are doing and thinking but we have to communicate better with our colleagues abroad.
We want to inform the SSF community of our current projects and activities and where we have succeeded and where we have come up short during the past year. As always we very much value and need your input.
1. XO Laptop Initiative. The Distribution of XO educational laptops in Lebanon's 83 Palestinian UNRWA schools continues to be our fundamental priority and long term project. Currently 6000 XO's are en route to Gaza. Our order of 10,000 XO's for Lebanon is pending raising more funds. We communicate regularly with OLPC who remain committed to the Middle East as perhaps their most receptive and committed region for distribution of Internet education XO's. Despite the recession which has affected their plans a bit, they continue to expand and are committed, as we at SSF are, long term. OLPC sent people to Beirut in August for discussions and they will send more to conduct Teacher workshops after school reconvenes. The SSF Teacher Corps is ready to receive them and participate energetically to support the schools and teachers using XO's.
2. The Sabra Shatila Foundation's August 2, 2009 Free Gaza Beach (Ramlet el Baida) Cleanup was a great success. SSF joined with Norwegian Peoples Aid, Beit Aftel Asamoud, Lebanese Volunteer Service Groups such as SIE, the Big Blue Lebanese Environmental NGO, Sukleen Environmental Services, the Beirut Municipality and various Scout groups and student
volunteers to clean the beach used primarily by the three Palestinian Camps ( Shatila, Burj al Barajneh, and Mar Elias) community and the surrounding neighborhoods. As this is a continuing project, we have recruited Camp youngsters and have received a commitment from the Beirut Municipal Administrator that the local government will supply wave and tide proof anchored concrete trash cans for the public's use. The next phase is to install signs asking the beach users to "Please Use the Trash Cans and Keep our Beach clean!" More soon on this continuing project.
3. Continue working with the South Beirut Produce Wholesale Market to make excess produce available free of charge to Palestinian Camp residents. Previously, excess vegetables or produce, for example at peak ripeness which needed to be consumed immediately rather than held for a weekend for shipping etc. was simply dumped. Now it is made available to those who need it. More work is needed to spread the word about this program.
4. Lebanon's Palestinian Refugees Civil Rights Legislative Initiative. In the hopefully soon to be constituted Lebanese Parliament, SSF and others will seek the enactment of legislation were have drafted granting full Civil Rights to Lebanon's Palestinian refugees. Specifically, The Sabra Shatila Foundation will work with the next Parliament to enact a Law that will grant to all Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon the same civil rights that all Lebanese citizens enjoy except citizenship. If adopted, Palestinians in Lebanon will, for the first time since the 1947-1948 Nakba, secure basic rights such as the right to work in all professions including Lebanese government agencies, the right to receive social security benefits that they pay for through their places of employment, the right to own homes and real estate, to travel without fear of arbitrary arrest for not possessing 'proper identification', and the protection of current anti-discriminatory laws. SSF seeks for Lebanon's Palestinians the same rights they receive by law in Syria, for example, which include all civil rights except citizenship.
5. The Sabra Shatila Foundation continues, according to its financial ability, to grant modest cash scholarships on an urgent need basis, and to offer social service assistance when and as able.
6. On April 25, 2009 it sponsored the Janet Lee Stevens Memorial Lecture held at UNESCO Palace in Beirut. This year's speakers were Dr. Swee Ang and Dr. Hans Husum. The title of their well received public lecture was "The Wounds of Gaza".
7. The Sabra Shatila Foundation is busy preparing to participate in activities September 14-20, 2009 commemorating the 27th Anniversary of the 1982 Massacre at Sabra-Shatila. SSF will assist and support the work of Mr. Kassem Aina, the Palestinian NGO Beit Atfal Assumoud , Norwegian People's Aid, various international NGO's, Lebanese governmental organization and others working on the commemorative events. The main public commemoration will take place at 10:00 am on Friday September 18, 2009 at the Ghobeiri Municipal Center adjacent to the Embassy of Kuwait opposite Shatila Refugee Camp. The Sabra-Shatia Foundation will place a wreath at the Cemetery at Martyr's Square, Shatila Camp.
Despite the passage of time, the events at Sabra Shatila during the 43 hours of slaughter and its aftermath have not faded in the World's consciousness or within the Palestinian community. Like Edgar Allen Poe's tell-tale heart which cannot be made to stop beating by the guilty, this great crime has not been able to be hidden or erased by those responsible. The heart and spirit of all who perished 27 years ago at Sabra Shatila, and their anguished loved ones who survive remain indelible among all people of good will.
8. The SSF continues to send representatives to most Palestinian events and conferences in Lebanon and some abroad. We have learned that there are many projects and initiatives that need to be done in Lebanon's Palestinian Refugee Camps that do not cost much money. We at SSF have been delighted to learn of, support, and work with a variety of locally based NGO's that are involved in a number of projects to hopefully lessen the burden of daily life for Lebanon's Palestinian Refugees pending their return to their own country as soon as possible.
9. Upgrading and working on our Website. SSF is seeking a committed, reliable webmaster. We have hundreds of pages we are formatting on subjects such as new information and evidence relating to the 1982 Sabra Shatila Massacre.
Important Sabra Shatila Foundation initiatives being launched in September-October include the following:
· Care for Lebanon's Palestinian Martyrs' Cemeteries. Lebanon has 13 main Palestinian Martyrs' Cemeteries located in Tyre, Saida, Beirut, Dbayeh, Tripoli, and the Bekaa Valley containing the remains of Palestinians.
· Located near the Refugee Camps at Rashedeyeh, Al Buss, Burj Shemali, Ain el Helwe, Shatila, Burj al Barajneh, Dbayeh, and Wavell Camps, most of those interred will be returned to Palestine after liberation consistent with UNESR 194. Meanwhile, some of the Martyrs Cemeteries in Lebanon are in dismal condition and need cleaning, weeding, and repairs on an ongoing basis. SSF is organizing volunteers to undertake this project around Lebanon. Your help would be much appreciated. If you can help with this project please contact us c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sabra Shatila Teacher Corps Lebanon's 83 Palestinian primary and secondary level UNRWA administered schools urgently need volunteer English teachers. The Sabra Shatila Foundation is working with Lebanon's UNRWA field office to help fill this need. The idea is for volunteer Fellows to come to Lebanon to help eliminate the sometimes severe educational inequality among Lebanon's Palestinians while fostering youth leadership and promoting civic engagement among the Refugee Camp population.
Between 2006 and 2009 many Palestinian students dropped out from college preparatory UNRWA schools in favor of vocational training, religious schools or joining the labor force.
According to a study carried out by Beirut the Consultation and Research Institute, the dropout rates are attributed to several factors:
–Lack of desire to continue education (22.3%)
–Reaching the educational capabilities that are sufficient to work (14.8%)
–Being forced to work (14.3%)
–High education costs (13.1%)
The Sabra Shatila Teacher Corps Fellows will be provided an excellent opportunity to help Palestinian students catch up with other Lebanese schools. Teach for Palestine staff will also have an excellent opportunity to learn Arabic, Lebanese and Palestinian history and culture and numerous related opportunities for broadening and enriching one's life experience. Arrangements for Fellows to live in the camps and receive some financial assistance are being studied.
Among the continuing activities of the Sabra Shatila Foundation are the following:
· Endorsement and public support for UNRWA's call on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza to allow in educational materials for schools and the repair of damaged and rebuilding of destroyed schools. There is a long history of UNRWA experiencing obstacles with the Israeli authorities in getting educational materials such as paper and books into Gaza as UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness regularly explains. This week Gunness declared that "It is in the interests of everyone who believes in peace that the blockade of Gaza should be lifted especially for educational materials."
· Continuing SSF and HOKOK-International Lawyers Sans Frontieres Petitions before the International Criminal Court in the Hague to bring cases holding Israel and its relevant officials responsible under I International Law for crimes in Gaza, Palestine, and Lebanon
· Petitioning the new Lebanese Government, as soon as it is formed, to work with International Lawyers such as Professor Francis Boyle and others to bring cases against Israel on behalf of Lebanon, before the International Court of Justice and UN agencies including the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Shortcomings and continuing needs of the Sabra Shatila Foundation. Like all immediate results oriented grass roots service NGO's the SSF needs donations and funding.
But more important than cash, as we continue to expand our work, is SSF's need for dedicated individuals to come to Lebanon or work from abroad in leadership positions. Several positions with SSF need to be filled by people who want to make a difference in the plight of the Lebanese Palestinian refugees and in the other 47 camps in Middle East.
Among current vacancies is the position of a dedicated webmaster for our expanding (now under construction) website. Also, a full time Director and Treasurer, more Board Members available to work in their communities, and a public relations/media specialist.
Franklin Lamb, Board Member
The Sabra Shatila Foundation
Franklin P. Lamb, PhD
Director, Americans Concerned for
Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut
Acting Chair, the Sabra-Shatila Memorial Scholarship Program Laptop Initiative
Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp
Beirut Mobile: +961-70-497-804
FOR YOUR INFORMATION PLEASE:
The Price We Pay: A Quarter Century of Israel's use of American Weapons against Lebanon (1978-2006) is available at Amazon.com.uk or Lebanese Bookstores The Revised and Arabic Edition was released on 8/12/08. The Farsi and French Editions are expected this Fall.
And in the USA, the title is available at www.LebaneseBooks.com, and currently enjoys Free Standard Shipping.