Saturday, January 17, 2009

There's little cause for hope

I think close involvement with Palestine leads to clinical depression. For 61 years Palestinians have been massacred, driven from their homes, and lived under military occupation*. The whole world has discussed roadmaps, negotiations, and the ever-illusive peace while 15-year-old Muhannad is taken from his home in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp and sentenced to 18 months in an Israeli prison for throwing stones, while nine-year old Yousef's teeth are crushed by an Israeli settler because his family continues to live in their home in Hebron*. There's little cause for hope.

Though nothing new, these last three weeks in Gaza are indeed horrifying. "The worst catastrophe of my lifetime" according to a friend living in Gaza. The stories and images of pain and trauma are everywhere. "I don't know where my brother is", "For days we bled", "One bullet hit my hand and the other went through my back," "I cannot stay in one place; it's too dangerous," "8 of my relatives have been killed", "They bombed my whole neighborhood", "Mama! Mama! Where's mama?!"***

I am thankful to have lived a life that keeps me one step removed from these experiences. But I also know that we must all be made to understand what it is like for a child in Gaza****.

Because if you and I stay one step removed, we may never have the courage to call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. We will sit comfortably in our homes and wish "both sides" would accept a ceasefire, will look for a way to send food or money so these children can survive but not live.

Yes, there is very little cause for hope as the bombs continue to rain down on Gaza. But there are a few events and actions that make me wonder if Palestinian history may finally be reaching a new chapter.

Last week in Turkey, an Israeli basketball team was driven off the court by angry protesters. This week, Bolivia and Venezuela severed ties with Apartheid Israel. Yesterday in San Francisco activists blocked the entrance to the Israeli consulate as part of a series of direct actions at Israeli consulates in Canada and the US*****. Our governments may be unwilling to utter even one more of criticism, the United Nations might be paralyzed by balance and bureaucracy, but you and I can make sure that Israeli products, musicians, and sports teams are not welcome in our homes or communities.

I hope we won't wait for the next Deir Yassin, the next Qana, or the next Jabaliya. The children in Palestine are running out of time.

Resources for actions:

*Before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians living inside Israel proper were subjected to military rule.
**I know both these families
***Taken from phone calls, news clips, and articles during the current Israeli attacks on Gaza
****Read these articles to get a sense of the situation for children.
Children 'paying price of Gaza war'
Shelled family recounts Gaza horror
*****Video from Turkey, Article about Bolivia and Venezuela, Photos and article about Israeli consulate action in SF

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