Above: Village elder Yusef Manassra facing the illegal Israeli settlement that threatens the future of Wadi Foquin. Yusef was 25 in 1948 when the Israeli army evacuated the village, forcing residents first into nearby hills and then into a UN refugee camp. In 1972, when villagers were allowed to return and rebuild, he vowed he would never be forced out of his home again. Yusef lived in Wadi Foquin until his death at age 95 on May 11, 2017. —Photo by Jakob Schiller
Capitol Hill Briefing to be held in November on Settlement Expansion
Wadi Foquin Mayor Ahmad Sokar (pictured above) and Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman will speak about the impact of settlement expansion on their West Bank communities.
Friends of Wadi Foquin is sponsoring a U.S. congressional briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in Washington, D.C., in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Aug. 3 visit to the illegal settlement of Betar Illit announcing the expansion of 1,100 new settlement units there. Since its establishment in 1985, Betar Illit and its accompanying outpost settlement, Hadar Betar, have annexed 500 acres of land belonging to Wadi Foquin. The expansion would cover a third hilltop belonging to the village.
Wadi Foquin Mayor Ahmad Sokar will be joined by Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman at the briefing to describe the impact of accelerating Israeli settlement expansion on Palestinian daily life in their respective communities and opportunities for Congress to intervene. In addition losing land, Palestinians in these communities are severely restricted in their access to jobs, schools, healthcare facilities, and agricultural fields due to the close proximity of settlements. Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, and UMC Rev. Michael Yoshii, co-chair of Friends of Wadi Foquin, will also be on the panel.
What You Can Do
• Ask your representatives and senators to attend the briefing by making simple phone calls to their offices and forwarding the briefing announcement. Staffers need not RSVP. Members of the public who plan to attend should RSVP to Kyle Cristofalo, CMEP’s Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, at email@example.com using the subject line Subject: Hill Briefing, 11/14.
• Help defray briefing costs. Checks may be made out to BMU-FOWF and mailed to Jean Hart, FOWF Treasurer, Berkeley Methodist United Church, 1710 Carleton St., Berkeley, CA 94703; please note “briefing” in the memo line.
For more information contact FOWF co-chairs Rev. Michael Yoshii at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Naomi Southard at email@example.com, or communications coordinator Julie Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring 2018 Israel-Palestine trip forming
Planning is under way for a spring trip to Israel and Palestine including a special visit to Wadi Foquin. Dates are TBD. For more information, contact Rev. Mike Friedrich.
Wadi Foquin is the site of a community development project supported through the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries (Advance project #3021565). A resolution supporting Wadi Foquin was passed at the church's May 2016 General Conference acknowledging the challenges of settlement expansion and recent land confiscation orders. The resolution calls for accountability from the Israeli government for the destruction of land and life in Wadi Foquin. It also calls on U.S. officials to contact the Israeli government to immediately halt the illegal Israeli settlements and confiscation of Palestinian land.
Speaking tour raises $8,000 for guest house project
Thanks to the generosity of several United Methodist churches and community organizations in Northern California, more than $8,000 was raised during Ata Manassra's September speaking tour for a guest house project to boost tourism and help offset agricultural losses due to encroachment by the illegal Israeli settlement of Betar Illit onto its land. Manassra is the coordinator of Narjes, the Wadi Foquin community development project supported by the United Methodist Church.
The guest house will provide economic activity for the village while serving as a visible sign of resistance to further land confiscation. Donations for the project may be made through the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries (Advance project #3021565).
New road opens in Wadi Foquin
Wadi Foquin Mayor Ahmad Sokar speaking at the Aug. 24, 2017, inauguration of a new road built in the village by USAID/ANERA—a project initiated during the mayor's visit to Washington, DC, in 2016—plus before and after photos. For a short video of the celebration, click here .
Soccer field to be covered with grass
Use of Wadi's Foquin's new soccer field has been temporarily suspended pending installation of grass by the Palestinian Ministry of Youth and Sports. The Green Valley Club, a young men's soccer team fielded by the Wadi Foquin Youth Club, had been training on the dirt field at night under the solar-powered lights for games with other teams in the West Bank.
The nearby playground has also been expanded to the southern wall of the soccer field, providing space for large village meetings and for dancing.
The soccer field was largely funded by donations made through Friends of Wadi Foquin and the United Methodist Advance #3021565. According to community development director Ata Manasra, "It is the most important project we have done with Friends of Wadi Foquin."