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Running for Freedom of Gaza: Palestinians Compete in San Francisco Marathon

7 young adults cross the finish line for freedom and a viable future for Gaza

Contact: Donna Baranski-Walker, 650 440-9667, Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org #running4freedom
*Runners available for comment all week: Find out their schedule at Rebuilding Alliance's website.

July 26, 2014 San Francisco – Seven Palestinian marathoners who normally train by running through the restricted West Bank Area C countryside ran through the streets of San Francisco as they competed in the city’s marathon this weekend.

The marathoners say that with over 188,000 Palestinians in Gaza in dire need of emergency shelter assistance, it is essential that they “run for freedom in Gaza” to raise funds for the Gaza Emergency Shelter.

“I want Americans to understand that we are ordinary people just like them..." , who love life and hope one day to live peacefully with a real future for Gaza,” said Issa Baa’besh, a 22 year-old customer service representative from Bethlehem who is running the full marathon.

The runners are from Right to Movement, a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization of over 300 runners based in Bethlehem. This group organizes the annual Palestine Marathon along the Separation Wall and through the streets of Bethlehem.

“Together with a friend of mine, we started a running group that went on to organize the Palestine Marathon..." , now in its 3rd year,” said George Zeidan, co-founder of Right to Movement.


“The Right to Movement is a human right, not just a Palestinian right and that's the right we run for, every day,” said Luma Sakakini, 23, who works at a medical supply company in Ramallah and studies Public Health.

“When we first invited Right to Movement to run in the San Francisco Marathon, we knew Americans would warmly welcome them ,” said Donna Baranski-Walker, founder and Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance. “Now, we hope their voices will open hearts and remind us of our common humanity.”



George Zeidan is the co-founder of Right to Movement.  Born and raised in the old city of Jerusalem, George is a Christian who attended university in Murfreesboro, NC.  He has been working for three years for a non-profit organization called DanChurchAid, in Jerusalem as the Finance, Procurement and Admin officer. He is keen to participate in the San Fran Marathon, represent Palestine and share with the people our Right to Movement.

Rebuilding Alliance: Rebuilding Alliance is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe. Our Life-Affirming Vision: A just and enduring peace in Israel and Palestine founded upon equal value, security, and opportunity for all.   The U.N. has asked Rebuilding Alliance to join the Non-Governmental Organizations providing Emergency Shelter Assistance in Gaza.  RebuildingAlliance.org

Donna Baranski-Walker is founder of Rebuilding Alliance.  She is an M.I.T. engineer (masters from University of Hawaii) who is keenly interested in making peace and justice through tangible work that both helps families caught in the middle of conflict and rallies people around the world to help them.   Donna is not Israeli or Palestinian; she is Polish-American from Detroit. In August of 2010, Donna was given a Medal of Gratitude in front of 27,000 people at the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland for her work 30 years earlier in support of the Polish Solidarity Movement.  In 1990 Donna drew upon a tactic used by Polish Solidarity to propose a viable way to avoid the coming war with Iraq -  some 10,000 Americans participated (pre Twitter).  Her op-ed in the NYTimes was translated into Arabic and hand-carried to the Iraqi Women’s Association where it was warmly received, a week before the war.  Her work in Israel and Palestine started in 1996. 

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Corriendo por la libertad en Gaza: Palestinos compiten en el maratón de San Francisco
7 jóvenes cruzan la línea de meta en pro de la libertad y un futuro viable para Gaza 

Contacto: Donna Baranski-Walker, 650 440-9667, Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org #running4freedom

26 de julio, 2014 San Francisco – Siete corredores de maratón palestinos que normalmente entrenan corriendo por el campo de la controlada área C de la Ribera Occidental (Cisjordania) correrán por las calles de San Francisco, al competir en el maratón de la ciudad este fin de semana.

 Los corredores dicen que con más de 188,000 palestinos en Gaza enfrentando una gran necesidad de asistencia de refugios de emergencia, es imprescindible que ellos "corran por la libertad en Gaza" para recaudar fondos para el Refugio de Emergencia de Gaza.

"Quiero que los americanos comprendan que somos igual que ellos, gente ordinaria que ama la vida y que espera un día poder vivir en paz con un verdadero futuro para Gaza," dijo Issa Baa’besh, un representante de servicio al cliente de 22 años de Belén quien correrá el maratón entero.

Los corredores pertenecen a Right to Movement (Derecho al Movimiento), una organización apolítica no sectaria sin fines de lucro que cuenta con más de 300 corredores con base en Belén. Este grupo organiza el anual Maratón Palestino que se lleva a cabo a lo largo de la barrera israelí de Cisjordania y por las calles de Belén.

"Junto con un amigo mío, comenzamos un grupo de corredores que después organizó el Maratón Palestino, ahora en su tercer año," dijo George Zeidan, cofundador de Right to Movement.

 (Ver el Maratón Palestino de este año, 17 de mayo, 2014)

“El Derecho al Movimiento es un derecho humano, no solo un derecho palestino, y es por ese derecho que corremos..." , todos los días," dijo Luma Sakakini, de 23 años, quien trabaja para una compañía de artículos médicos y estudia salud pública en Ramallah.

“Cuando invitamos por primera vez a Right to Movement a correr en el Maratón de San Francisco, sabíamos que los americanos les darían una cálida acogida,” dijo Donna Baranski-Walker, fundadora y Directora Ejecutiva de Rebuilding Alliance. “Ahora, esperamos que sus voces conmuevan los corazones de la gente y nos recuerden de la humanidad que nos une.”

Right to Movement: Facebook: Right To Movement - Ramallah حرية التنقل #Running4Freedom (CorriendoXLaLibertad)

Oportunidad para conocerlos (photo op): Venga a conocerlos en la línea de meta

George Zeidan es el cofundador de Right to Movement. Nacido y criado en la vieja ciudad de Belén, George es un cristiano que asistió a la universidad en Murfreesboro, Carolina del Norte. Durante tres años ha trabajado como director financiero para una oenegé llamada DanChurchAid, en Jerusalén. Está ansioso por participar en el Maratón de San Francisco, representar a Palestina y compartir con la gente nuestro Derecho al Movimiento.

Rebuilding Alliance: Rebuilding Alliance es una organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a reconstruir y traer seguridad a comunidades destrozadas por la guerra. Nuestra Visión para Afirmar la Vida: Una paz justa y duradera en Israel y Palestina fundamentada en la igualdad, seguridad, y oportunidades justas para todos. La ONU ha pedido a Rebuilding Alliance que se una a las onegés que ahora están proveyendo asistencia de refugios de emergencia en Gaza.  RebuildingAlliance.org

Donna Baranski-Walker es fundadora de Rebuilding Alliance.  Es ingeniera de la universidad de MIT (egresada de Maestría de la Universidad de Hawái) cuyo gran interés es forjar una paz y justicia mediante un trabajo tangible que a la vez ayude a familias inmersas en el conflicto y reúna gente de todas partes del mundo para prestarles apoyo. Donna no es ni israelí ni palestina; es polaca-americana de Detroit. En agosto del 2010, Donna fue premiada con una Medalla de Gratitud en frente de 27,000 personas en el Astillero de Gdansk de Polonia, por su trabajo previo de 30 años antes en pro del trabajo de Solidaridad, federación sindical de Polonia. En 1990, basándose en una táctica utilizada por Solidaridad, Donna propuso una manera viable de evitar la guerra que se aproximaba contra Iraq - unos 10,000 americanos participaron en el esfuerzo (antes de la edad de Twitter). Su artículo de opinión en el NYTimes fue traducido al árabe y entregado a la Asociación de Mujeres de Iraq, donde tuvo cálida acogida, una semana antes de la guerra. Su trabajo en Israel y Palestina empezó en 1996.

The Right to Movement Team
RUNNING FOR FREEDOM in the San Francisco Marathon!

1.     My name is Issa Baa’besh, a 22 years old customer service representative from Bethlehem, Palestine. I am a member of the Right To Movement team because this is a community that takes an action — running — against a huge injustice I face on a daily basis in my life, specifically, restriction of my movement. I want Americans to understand that we are ordinary people just like them, who love life and hope one day to live peacefully with basic human rights. We are really far away from anything the western media is telling you about us through their filtered news. 

2.     My name is Laila, I’m 23 years old, I graduated last year from Bethlehem University with a BA in Business Administration and now I work as an accountant. As a Palestinian Christian girl, RTM has encouraged me to run as a team despite our conservative culture to help people accept the idea of women runners.  This is a big step to take because it happens you might get harassed in the street for just being a girl.  Also, RTM has given me the ability to get out there and improve my running skills despite all the constraints the occupation puts in place to hinder our movement. I participated in the Palestine Marathon, the Copenhagen Marathon and now am extremely excited to be a part of the San Francisco Marathon!

3.     √  My name is Diala Isid, I'm a Palestinian Architect working in Ramallah, Palestine. I'm one of a thousand runners who run with Right to Movement. As the community leader of RTM-Ramallah I’m honored to have the responsibility to inspire more runners to join us, as well to tell our story to the world. I participated in the 2nd Palestine Marathon and in the Copenhagen Marathon, and now taking part in San Francisco marathon is just a dream that will strengthen my running abilities, and give me the opportunity to exercise my own right to movement, a right of which I am deprived of in my own country.

4.     My name is Luma Sakakini. I work at a medical supplies and services company in Ramallah, and am currently doing a distance-based masters program in Public Health. In my free time, I like to join my friends in our Right to Movement group to go for our weekly runs in the Palestinian cities where we live, and sometimes further out in the mountainous trails. The Right to Movement has been gaining considerable momentum as more runners are joining and realizing that it's important to show the world that as Palestinians, we deserve to be able to run and move freely without being afraid of checkpoints or gun shooting that now may erupt at any second. The Right to Movement is a human, not just a Palestinian right, and that's the right we run for, every day. 

5.     My name is George Zeidan, born and raised in the old city of Jerusalem, a Christian who attended university in Murfreesboro, NC. I have been working for three years for a non-profit organization called DanChurchAid, in Jerusalem as the Finance, Procurement and Admin officer. Together with a friend of mine, we started a running group on Palestine that went on to organize Palestine Marathon, now in its 3rd year, and many other running activities. I am keen to participate in the San Fran Marathon, represent Palestine and share with the people our Right to Movement. God bless you.

6.     My name is Tarek Salfity I am a Palestinian Christian Dentist living and working in Jerusalem. Joining the Right to Movement community had a major influence on me as an athlete as well as a Palestinian living in Jerusalem. Not only has it made me better as an athlete but also it has made me realize the severity of the limitations and restrictions that have felt at some point normal to Palestinian youth living in Jerusalem. What you need to understand is that I am one of the young people trying to overcome these limitations by means of education, sports and dialogue.

7.     √  My name is Yousef.  An engineering student, I run with RTM to get people around me motivated because there isn't any better way to practice than being in a group.  Since a lot of foreigners join us we can all share our part of the story of Palestine and our identity; definitely I would want the world and Americans in particular to take a better look at what really is true rather than just ignoring what they (at least most of them) are unconsciously supporting.