Edina-Gaza Twinning Association

Mural at UN Building in Gaza City

What has EGTA Achieved?

We at the Edina-Gaza Twinning Association have done three things to address the plight of Gazans, suffering from 15 years of illegal Israeli blockade.

We have:

  1. Persuaded Edinburgh Council (Balfour was from Edinburgh) to work with Gaza: see Edinburgh Council to Explore Support for Gaza – Twin Edinburgh with Gaza (twingaza.com)
  2. Been promoting trade over the net with Gaza, by distributing 10,000 flyers to small businesses and social organisations in 16 major UK cities: see Your Website- Built in Gaza – Twin Edinburgh with Gaza (twingaza.com)
  3. Been running weekly Zoom classes with any Gazan wanting free English lessons (we have 400 activists, many with TEFL skills); our most regular commitment is with the Take My Hand project in Jabaliya camp, (see Help Gazan Orphans to learn | Chuffed | Non-profit charity and social enterprise fundraising) in northern Gaza- with whom we run free weekly English classes and fund outings after Israeli bombing raids – see Take My Hand Gaza Twinning Day – Twin Edinburgh with Gaza (twingaza.com)

We feel these acts go some way towards assisting Gazans in their quest for happiness and acceptance in the world community.

WANT TO HELP?

If you speak English, do you want to help Gazans by joining our list of volunteers? We always have Gazans who want to practise and improve their English. We offer them six half-hour sessions with you, talking about… anything you like! In return you might pick up some Arabic. To register, send an email to info@twingaza.com

What is EGTA?

The Edina-Gaza Twinning Association (EGTA) is a membership-based association, open to all who seek to build bridges between the peoples of Edinburgh and Gaza City in Palestine. Edinburgh is of course the birthplace of Arthur James Balfour, author of the Balfour Declaration, the foundation stone of what became Israel. By twinning with Gaza, whose population has suffered the most from this colonial disaster, the UK can begin to acknowledge and remedy the harm it has done to the Palestinian people .

[See the article published by Redress Online on 4th April about EGTA here]

Join EGTA to start working for friendship, understanding and commerce between Edinburgh and Gaza City citizens right now. This association is open to all who care about Gaza, whether they live in Edinburgh, Gaza City or elsewhere.

Gaza City, the biggest city of Palestine, was founded in 1500 BC. With 590,000 inhabitants, it is a fifth larger than Edinburgh; thanks to the 15-year Israeli blockade and the Nakba, the Gaza strip is the most densely populated area in the world; Gaza City’s 590,000 people live in 17 sq. miles (Edinburgh’s 495,000 people live in 102 sq. miles). Many of the inhabitants were driven from their villages in 1948. It’s economy is 90% dependant of foreign aid- mostly from Qatar; 95% of its water is undrinkable; unemployment runs at 50%, half of the population are under-18; most have no chance of getting out of the strip, although their relatives are sprinkled across Jerusalem and the West Bank; there is just 10-12 unpredictable hours of electricity a day; there is a massive shortage of medicines... (Learn more about Gaza City here.)

Why you should join EGTA

The founder of EGTA, Pete Gregson says: “You don’t need to be an active member, but if in the future you feel like contacting people in Gaza who share an interest with you, whatever that may be, you will be extending the hand of friendship to those who have suffered in isolation for too many years. We need people who live not just in Edinburgh and Gaza to join, but everybody around the world who wants Gaza to escape its terrible isolation.”

“The more the merrier! By joining, we would be sending the world the message that we are many, that we care for Gaza and that Israel is wrong. We would also be saying that UK Lawyers for Israel have no case in telling our Edinburgh Councillors that they face jail for caring for Gaza, that they are peddling fear and nonsense because, by seeking to twin Edinburgh with Gaza, we are supporting the people of Gaza, because the occupation and siege is illegal, and not because we are supporting Hamas, so we are breaking no laws.”

Launched on 1st April 2022, EGTA held its Inaugural General Meeting (IGM) on Easter Sunday 17th April; its constitution is modelled on the highly successful Dundee-Nablus Twinning Association (DNTA), one of the oldest in the UK (Dundee has been twinned with Nablus since 1980). The DNTA Secretary is advising and supporting EGTA initially.

EGTA has been accepted under the umbrella of the Britain Palestine Friendship and Twinning Network.

EGTA is bound by the constitution, which can be downloaded here. The IGM meeting elected Pete Gregson, who had originated the petition to get Edinburgh twinned with Gaza, as chairperson.

We will not charge any individual or group to join EGTA at present; we will operate largely on the internet using this website, Zoom, email and Facebook, holding conversations with the Gazans that suffer international isolation, living under the brutal siege imposed by Israel since 2007 (more info on the siege here). We meet every six weeks on Zoom.

We are setting up EGTA even though we do not have the formal support from the City of Edinburgh Council to twin with Gaza. We will continue to operate even if the Council reject the petition to twin the cities when next the Policy Committee meets to discuss it.

To join EGTA

Please click on the joining form to leave your details. You will receive a response within a few days. Membership is free at present and all those joining will work to the constitution. All data will be held in accordance to the Twin Gaza Privacy Policy. Those joining need not fear prosecution for supporting Hamas as Police Scotland have declared that twinning with Gaza is not a criminal act (see our post on the subject here) Questions? Please email info@twingaza.com

To Sign up to the EGTA Newsletter

If you don’t feel ready to commit to joining EGTA, why not just sign up for the occasional newsletter- and also be kept updated on twinning progress? To do that, click here.

EGTA objectives

The objectives of EGTA will be as laid down in the constitution and are as follows:

  1. To promote and foster friendship between the people of Edinburgh and those of Gaza City.
  2.  To broaden mutual understanding of the cultural, recreational, educational and commercial activities of the linked cities.
  3. To encourage visits by individuals and groups to and from the linked cities, including children and young people and the development of personal contacts.
  4. To organise fund raising activities to foster the aims of the Association.
  5. To promote and encourage twinning projects between Edinburgh and Gaza City particularly of an educational and commercial nature.
  6. To endeavour to ensure that at least one twinning project goes ahead each year.

Those joining EGTA can be as involved as they wish. Like any group, there will those who are active and those who are passive. But all are welcome to join.

Background and context to EGTA

The EGTA draft constitution is based on the DNTA constitution. In due course we shall ask a VIP in Edinburgh to take on a corresponding role of Honorary Co-President of EGTA.

We, obviously, do not have a twinning agreement in place between Edinburgh and Gaza City at present. In any event, we can start the twinning work now.

Rationale

By setting up EGTA now, we will be able to:

  1. Present a working body to the Council Policy Committee meeting for when next it meets- ie a working group that simply seeks official blessing.
  2. With Council backing to twinning, EGTA will be empowered to approach Council schools, Universities, the Health Board and big finance companies like Standard Life to ask them to consider working with their Gazan counterparts. Without twinning, they will be less likely to take us seriously.
  3. Show that the threats of the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) are without foundation; if they dare to try to take us to court, claiming we are supporting Hamas, we shall fight back with our Michael Mansfield QC – the best lawyer in the UK – who, we believe, will demolish their case. He will defend us against all legal attacks.
  4. By so doing we shall make it impossible for UKLFI to bring the same charges against the Councillors, should they go for twinning when next their policy Committee meets.. in essence it will put some steel into their backs
  5. Even if the Council refuses to twin with Gaza, we shall carry on the work of EGTA. We note that of the 35 groups in the UK who undertake twinning-type activities with Palestinian towns, many are not officially “twinned” but merely working towards full civic twinning status.

Working on the net & programme of work

We have Zoom and Teams to facilitate communications; so many Gazans speak English. Furthermore, web browsers will now do instant translation of web sites from Arabic to English and vice-versa (for an example, see the Gaza Municipality website – the translator works well with MS Edge and Chrome).

More on our website about using the net to beat the blockade here. Also advice on agencies that will fund community projects is at http://passia.org/page/32

Programme of work

Our two principal activities at present are

(1) holding on-line English classes with those in Gaza who want to improve their English. We are currently working with 3 students on a 1-1 basis who aim to, or are, studying for medically-related qualifications. We are also working with16 children at the Take My Hand Education Centre at Jamaliya Refugee camp in Northern Gaza, running classes on a 1-4 basis. We have a team of a dozen volunteers who assist in this. Classes are on Zoom, are free, are typically once a week for 30 to 60 minutes. A block of six weeks is offered to those that apply, with a review/feedback session at the end, with a view to continuing as required. If you want to get involved, please email info@twingaza.com

We also help fundraise for the running costs of the centre- see Help Gazan Orphans to learn | Chuffed | Non-profit charity and social enterprise fundraising

(2) getting websites built in Gaza for Scottish businesses. We work with Gaza Sky Geeks to float website requests to Gazan developers. Costs start at £500 for a site, considerably less than it would cost in Scotland and to a much higher quality. See our pilot website for a TEFL teacher at www.nellenglish.com

We are about to publish a sales flyer featuring this site and we’ll take it around Edinburgh businesses. We already have 2 traders interested in purchasing 3 more websites, built in Gaza.

What is most important is continuing to build trading links – trading over the net, to help Gazans earn money by selling their skills, unrestricted by any Israel blockade. For example, there are 15,000 Muslims in Edinburgh, many with their own businesses – and many support Gaza – especially the business people from Bangladesh along with 3,000 Turks as well. We in Edinburgh will continue work to persuade them to consider getting some software for their businesses or accountancy work done- involving agencies in Gaza such as Gaza Sky Geeks and G-Gateway and so we can start exploring linkages and creating employment straight away. Both agencies are very excited at the prospect of gaining work for their graduates (see letters here and here). See more on our Why Twin? page here .

Beyond the above, there are the usual suspects in Edinburgh that we can approach: Rockstar North (gaming software), Red Kite (animation/graphics), Standard Life (finance & customer-facing solutions), Scottish Widows, Tesco Bank, City of Edinburgh Council etc

There are many more activities listed on the Britain- Palestine Twinning Network website. We can start thinking of new opportunities, working with Edinburgh’s Universities to open up links with Gaza’s Universities as a start. Ideally, we can move to something like the STEPS programme which gives Palestinians a postgraduate qualification – run by St Andrew’s University, just 80 miles from Edinburgh.

Hospitals too – some of us are medical people and those of us in Edinburgh or Gaza can identify medical personnel that could be drawn to interact and share knowledge (Gaza is a world leader in prosthetics (for sadly obvious reasons) such as Atraf and working with traumatised children (same) such as Palestine Trauma Centre .

The below is from a Linked-In posting of 8th July 2022:

EGTA Steering Group

The Chair of EGTA is Pete Gregson; there are 32 members at present. There is a GoogleGroup and meetings are held every six weeks on Zoom

For Palestinian Students seeking to study outside Gaza

Are you looking for scholarship funding?

Please go to Home – Saïd Foundation (saidfoundation.org)

You might need to look for a university the Russell group universities in the UK.

If you have two years of work experience, even volunteering, then go for this Scholarships | Chevening

If the UK University that has accepted you is not on the preferred Uni list, you may have to make a good case to get your choice of university place considered.

These others are tied to particular universities:

Qaddumi Foundation

Some are linked to SOAS, Oxford Brooks.

And this source might be useful: Scholarships – Palestine Community Foundation (palestinefoundation.org.uk)

You can enter “UK universities that offer scholarships to Palestinians” into Google and you will see more.

If you need help with specific questions on the form, please get in touch to info@twingaza.com and we will refer you to an expert in London, who processes applications for these grants.

Also see PASSIA – Palestine Directory– the section on “Charitable Institutions” may be helpful.

Also, there are two places each year for one year of Postgrad study for Palestinians at St Andrews University, near Dundee in Scotland- St Andrews Education for Palestinian Students – Study at St Andrews – University of St Andrews (st-andrews.ac.uk)

ENGLISH CLASSES

We run free 1-1 or group classes in conversational English to people in Gaza, using our volunteers.

We use these educational resources:

Face2Face Starter Workbook https://www.twingaza.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Face2Face-Starter-Workbook.pdf

Face2Face Student Book https://www.twingaza.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Face2Face-Starter-Students-Book.pdf

Face2Face Teachers Book https://www.twingaza.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Face2Face-Starter-Teachers-Book.pdf

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