Archive for Sunday, January 11, 2009

LHS grad helps spread news to embattled Gaza residents

Julia Pitner, a 1981 Lawrence High School graduate and 1991 Kansas University graduate, is head of projects for the nonprofit Internews Network in the West Bank. She is helping coordinate an effort to get solar-powered radios that can be hand-cranked to help Palestinians in Gaza get news and humanitarian information during the current conflict with Israel.

Julia Pitner, a 1981 Lawrence High School graduate and 1991 Kansas University graduate, is head of projects for the nonprofit Internews Network in the West Bank. She is helping coordinate an effort to get solar-powered radios that can be hand-cranked to help Palestinians in Gaza get news and humanitarian information during the current conflict with Israel.

January 11, 2009

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Julia Pitner has spent the last week in the Middle East working to try to connect Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to the airwaves to give them information about humanitarian aid.

The territory has been bombarded by Israeli airstrikes for the last two weeks; nearly 1 million people are without electricity, and 750,000 are without water.

“It was just information poverty. Not only did they not have water and food and access to medical information, they also didn’t have information about what was actually happening,” Pitner said Friday morning in a phone interview from Ramallah in the West Bank.

Pitner is the head of Internews Network projects in the West Bank and Gaza. Since 2006, she has worked for the California-based nonprofit, which helps independent radio and television stations in the region establish themselves in communities.

The 1981 Lawrence High School graduate is a long way from her hometown in Kansas, where her mother, Barbara Pitner, lives. Julia Pitner earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Kansas University, and she also formerly ran an organization called Consumer Affairs in Lawrence.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has included Israeli airstrikes and ground forces moving into Gaza while rockets have been fired into Israel. More than 700 Palestinians had been killed near the end of Friday, and 13 Israelis also had died, according to The Associated Press.

The Hamas group won 2006 Palestinian elections and engineered a violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007. Hamas militants frequently fire missiles into Israel.

Pitner’s main focus from her office in Ramallah recently has been to make sure humanitarian information is broadcast from two radio station based in Hebron, also in the West Bank. The Palestinians in Gaza may need information about safe havens, road closures, food distribution and also just news about the conflict.

“What the whole media are doing here is really trying to create a more humanitarian outreach and creating a more positive message for what people can actually do to help people in Gaza,” Pitner said.

Even if the messages are making it onto the airwaves, that doesn’t mean the people can always hear them. Power failures in Gaza have affected televisions and radios. Batteries are also likely to run out soon.

So Internews Network plans to send in 540 donated radios that are solar-powered and also can be cranked by hand. The first shipment will be sent in with a United Nations convoy. The organization hopes to send hundreds more.

“These people need information because they have none. They are relying on family members to tell them what’s happening because they don’t have access to radio or television,” she said.

Pitner said she was staying safe in the West Bank while coordinating the effort.

“Out here people are working toward democracy, and as in any democracy, information is important, and having citizens to have information to make decisions is very important,” she said.

More information about the humanitarian efforts is available at www.internews.org.

Comments

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

From the Internews Network article and this article:"The Hamas group won 2006 Palestinian elections and engineered a violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007. Hamas militants frequently fire missiles into Israel."That is what we have been saying Hamas is the problem and the radios are great to "enlighten" the Palestinians about what a disaster Hamas is for their cause. A point made in the folowing Internews webpage:http://www.internews.org/articles/2001/20010904_iht_amin.htm"The Palestinians have recourse only in the power of weakness. This means eternal resistance through suicidal acts of indiscriminate destruction. The violence is justified by a belief that if Israel cannot be defeated in the short run, in the long run it is condemned by history itself to the same fate as that other Western beachhead in the Arabic world, the medieval Crusaders' Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem."

igby 6 years, 2 months ago

This would be a peaceful place if the Iranian backed Hamas terrorist were kicked out of Gaza. However, since oil prices fell, the Iranians are hungry and trying to start trouble with the west over the opec production deal. When oil prices rise back up the Hamas will stop firing on Israel.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 2 months ago

I came here primarily to correct George's headline: cranking doesn't mean solar, and also not the other way. they are two very handy power sources in any emergency; I own a crank radio for that reason. cranking means it is a human-powered generator. many radios, apparently like this shipment of 540 are dual power source with cranks and solar. george, you might wish to fix your headline to be clearer, it could confuse someone. **cheering on a war. so, benny and dupe-plenty don't want terrorists defeated. they, along with Lawrence coalition for "peace" and "justice" didn't raise an objection when it was thousands of Hamas or even Hezbollah rockets hitting Israel.but once Israel responds, seeking to defend itself from a deceptive terrorist regime that purposely seeks civilian deaths for its goals to sway those like Benny and Dupe, Israel is somehow in the wrong. the Palestinians elected Hamas; I'd say they're getting the government they chose. now, I am glad for humanitarian information, and I hope that that isn't giving much aid and comfort to hamas. over a year ago, Hamas assassinated the owner of the last Christian bookstore in Gaza. the torture and killing in their jail is light years beyond the fratboy pranking at abu ghraib; but again, not a sign, not a word from LCPJ/Benny/Dupe. very informative.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

BG-- What Hamas does to its own people, and to Israel, is quite often quite despicable. But they came to power for two primary reasons-- first, because starting about 20 years ago, Israel propped them up in order to weaken Fatah/PLO, and second, despite the heinous acts of its militant and political wings, for many years it was also the only organization building schools and hospitals and doing other community development in Gaza. That's what got them elected in Gaza, not their militancy towards Israel.Also, while I fully condemn Hamas's attacks against Israel, the US government is not supporting them in doing so. The US government is supporting the ongoing terror campaign by Israel in Gaza, which has now cost the lives of over 400 civilians. Why? Because of rocket attacks that hadn't cost a single Israeli life before Israel had attacked Gaza-- and the rocket attacks only occurred after Israeli attacks in November broke the 6-month ceasefire.I'm continually amazed at how willfully ignorant you Israel-can-do-no-wrong types have to make yourselves, and how many "you must be a Hamas supporter" strawman arguments you have to throw up.

weluvbowling 6 years, 2 months ago

I went to school with Julia! She was a very kind person then and appears to be the same today! I hope she remains safe and my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family while she is in the middle of this situation in the Middle East.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 2 months ago

"But they (Hamas) came to power for two primary reasons— first, because starting about 20 years ago, Israel propped them up in order to weaken Fatah/PLO, and second,"Negative. You need to qualify and backup the statment that Hamas, an organization that has in it's charter to destroy all Jews and to "Destroy Israel" , was "backed up by Israel. Israel was working with Fatah Party on the "Peace initiative" that was when Hamas started attacking Fatah.Where in the hell do you get these ideas from? Hamas "working with Israel" and "backed by Israel". Are you that ignorant or just mentally unbalanced to believe such tripe? I found the discredited source in "frerrepublic.com" and "democraticunderground.com". Both organizations are Leftists in the United States and support the trerrorists and and anti-Israel.The report that Hamas was backed by Israel against the PLO in the 1st Intafada is patently false. Ha,as would have sided with the PLO.""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""Because of rocket attacks that hadn't cost a single Israeli life before Israel had attacked Gaza— and the rocket attacks only occurred after Israeli attacks in November broke the 6-month ceasefire."Wrong on all accounts, as "hundreds" of Israelis have been killed by rockets, and many more have been maimed. You also have to throw in the Bus and Resturaunt bombings as well. And how can "Israel" violate a "cease fire" that Hamas was already violating by launching the rockets? Answer me that.You can state and repeat this over and over, but the truth is not reach by repetition, it is discovered by reviewing what happened in objective wasy.You have showe time and again an anti-semitic attitude, hatred of all Israel does, and an apologists and excuser of Hamas actions that do indeed kill, have killed and will continue to kill Israelis.How do we get Hamas to stop with the rockets?That is the action that csuses the trouble. There is no justification for launching rockets into civilian population centers.If Israel wanted to "kill indiscriminately" and to commit a "massacare" there would be more than the 800+ deaths of people in Gaza. And remember in that number that includes the Hamas "bad guys", which the MSM and obviously you do not recoginze as reducing the number of innocent bystanders. So they must be targeting pretty well to alonly kill an equal number of civilians when Hamas deliberately puts their armaments in these populated ares. It means therefore that Israel is definately NOT targeting civilians, but Hamas is putting their own in harms way.Those type of people that would do that need to be taken out as they are a waste of flesh.

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