Palestinians run in Chicago & California marathons

Palestinians run in Chicago & California marathons
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Palestinians run in Chicago & California marathons

Palestinians, American Arabs and others will be among the thousands of runners in marathons across the United States this week including at the annual Bank of America Marathon in Chicago on Sunday Oct. 9, and in Mountain View and Cupertino in California on Thursday, October 13 and San Francisco, Saturday Oct. 15.

By Ray Hanania

Marathons attract huge audiences in cities across America and in recent years, and many runners band together around causes to educate spectators on their issues and challenges.

In recent years, American Arabs have entered too, showcasing causes from Palestine to Arab refugees and the trend continues to grow.

Watching runners wearing the flags of Palestine and other Arab countries is inspirational and reinforces the protest we are forced to make that we are just like everyone else and our causes are the causes of other Americans, too.

Sunday, the Palestinian group “Team Palestine” will participate in one of the nation’s biggest marathons in Chicago, hosted by Bank of America and the City of Chicago.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is without question the premiere event in the world of running. Team Palestine will be entering it’s 7th consecutive year participating in the Chicago Marathon. There are no words to describe the journey of running 26.2 miles. Especially when running in and through the best city on the planet. At the same time, knowing we are running for a great purpose. Are you ready to run with Team Palestine for PCRF? Here is what you have to do in order to get started!

Team Palestine supports local Marathons in Illinois to benefit the Palestine Children's Relief Fund

Team Palestine supports local Marathons in Illinois to benefit the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund

Team Palestine runners are seeking sponsorships to support their marathon efforts and all donations are given to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF).

Last month Team Palestine hosted a major local marathon to support Palestinian causes held at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

For more information on Team Palestine, click here.

Nine Palestinian marathoners, who normally train in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will be running through the streets of Mountain View and Cupertino on Thursday Oct. 13th to convince Google and Apple to add hundreds of missing Palestinian villages to their maps. (Video of them training in the Palestinian countryside can be watched here).

The marathon participation is called “Race to Recognize Palestinian Villages.”

The marathoners will run from Google’s headquarters (where its subsidiary Waze is also based) to Apple’s headquarters to deliver letters to the Vice Presidents of Mapping. Though Apple and Google claim it is not a priority to map the West Bank, many Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law and violate official US policy, can be found on their maps. The runners will speak to Google and Apple executives from their unique perspective as athletes who live under Israeli occupation and deal with mobility restrictions and the threat of violence on a daily basis.

Members of "Team Palestine" compete in the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Members of “Team Palestine” compete in the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon

The marathoners are from Right to Movement, a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization of over 300 runners with branches throughout Palestine, in Great Britain, Norway, and Israel. This group organizes the annual Palestine Marathon along the Separation Wall, through the streets of Bethlehem, which is now in its 5th year (see this year’s Palestine Marathon April 1, 2016).

“What a difference it makes when you see the land as it really is, including the Palestinian villages that dot the countryside. Literally putting us on the map would show the world that we exist and that there’s hope for the future,” said George Zeidan, 27, a co-founder of Right to Movement and a finance officer at a Danish/Norwegian aid organization in Jerusalem.

The California marathon schedule is as follows:

·       OCT. 13th 8 AM: Race begins at Googleplex, 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View when the runners deliver their letter to Google Vice President Jen Fitzpatrick, and Di-Ann Eisnor, Chairman of Platial and Community Geographer at Waze and tour the Google Maps department, then run to Apple down city streets, 3.1 miles.

·       9 AM: Race ends at Apple, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, where the runners will deliver their letter to Apple Vice President Eddy Cue and meet the Apple Maps team. The runners will be available for a photo-op during this time.

Race to Recognize Palestinian Villages destroyed by Israel

Race to Recognize Palestinian Villages destroyed by Israel

“I want everyone who works at Google and Apple to understand that we are ordinary people just like them, who love life and seek to live peacefully with basic human rights,” said Tala Qaddoura, an aeronautics engineering master’s student at Illinois Institute of Technology who grew up in the West Bank?. “Mapping will help the Palestinian villages hold on.”

Their message is urgent because, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, more Palestinian homes have been demolished this year than in any year in the past decade in a surge of demolitions still underway against these “invisible” villages. Being shown on the maps will give the villages more permanency and legitimacy locally, regionally, and in the eyes of the world community and help prevent the bulldozing of Palestinian homes to make room for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

Click here to see how Google now depicts, via animation, what the Google maps show now, and what they should be showing instead.

“They already have the data. My organization and our partner BIMKOM transferred the mapping data to both companies back in September,” said Donna Baranski-Walker, founder and Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance, the Burlingame-based nonprofit that invited the marathoners. “It would be great to see Google Maps and Apple Maps add the Palestinian villages soon so the marathoners can deliver thank you notes instead of petitions.”

California Marathoners’ Full Schedule:

Thursday, Oct. 13th: 8 AM, Race to Recognize Palestinian Villages, available for interviews.

Saturday, Oct. 15th: 9 AM, Gaza 5K Run, Lake Merced Park, San Francisco. Organized by UNRWA, USA.

4 PM, Joining the artists of Estamos Contra El Muro / We Are Against the Wall, where participants will line up to bash the wall until it no longer stands at Southern Exposure Gallery, 3030 20th St, San Francisco.

7 PM, Bollywood Fundraiser in Los Altos, donate here

Sun Oct 16: 6 PM, Meet the Marathoners! A Benefit Dinner for Rebuilding Alliance, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 1300 S El Camino Real #100, San Mateo.

Bios of California groups and runners:

George Zeidan is a 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 Francisco Marathon, represent Palestine and share Right to Movement with people.

Tala Qaddoura is an aeronautics engineering master’s student at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She is a runner from Ramallah, and the Chicago Marathon will be her third.

Rebuilding Alliance, is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding war-torn communities and making them safe. Rebuilding Alliance opened fourteen years ago with a life-affirming vision: a just and enduring peace in Palestine and Israel founded upon equal rights, equal security, and equal opportunity for all. Rebuilding Alliance is asking Americans to send emails to Congress who can better get Google and Apple’s attention. and is working with AppsTownInc and designer Vandana Pai to launch a mobile app, Evincible, with a petition pressing the companies to add the missing villages.

Donna Baranski-Walker is Executive Director of Rebuilding Alliance. and was awarded Special Congressional Recognition by Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Anna Eshoo. In April 2016, Donna was awarded Rotary District 5150’s Service Award, and will soon be receiving the Rachel Corrie Conscience And Courage Award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of Orange County. In 2010, on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Polish Solidarity movement, Donna was awarded the Medal of Gratitude. Her work in the Middle East began in 1990 with a NYTimes op‐ed, “Small Lights in the Darkness,” received by the Iraqi Women’s Federation just before the 1st Gulf War.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist. American Palestinian Arab, Hanania writes a weekly column for the Arab News at He also writes each week for several mainstream American newspapers on American politics and life in Chicagoland. Reach him at

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Managing Writer at The Arab Daily News
RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

His Facebook Page is

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
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