I have been to Israel Palestine five times since June 2005. I am convinced that positive change will come through secular society and the alturistic efforts of nonviolent Israelis, Palestinians and Internationals.
On January 26, 2008, nonviolent, justice and peace activists distressed over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza will not offer them cake; but clean water...
PRESS RELEASE FROM an email from ICAHD:
GAZA: LIFT THE BLOCKADE!!
A protest convoy to Erez checkpoint
Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 13:00
Parallel Palestinian demonstration expected on the other side
Saturday, January 26th, relief convoys will depart from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva, bearing signs "GAZA: LIFT THE BLOCKADE!" Converging at Yad Mordechai at 12 noon, the rally will be at Erez Checkpoint at 13.00. On the other side will be hundreds of Gazans, organised by The Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (www.end-gaza-siege.ps), including psychiatrist and human rights activist, Dr. Eyad Sarraj.
The convoy will carry vital supplies, with an especial focus on water filters, since the water of Gaza is an undrinkable cocktail of brine, sewage, pesticides and oil, with levels of nitrates ten times higher than those set by the WHO, and coliform eight times higher: denial of filters to Gazans is an unacceptable violation of basic humanitarian standards. We will insist that the military authorities allow the goods entry into Gaza, are prepared for prolonged stay near Erez, and a public/judicial campaign.
January 26, 2008 is an International Day of Action, when worldwide peace groups will hold protest actions against the danger of war in the Middle East.
For further details please contact the Coalition's media team:
ADAM KELLER, Gush Shalom: < firstname.lastname@example.org >- 0506-709603
ADI DAGAN, Coalition of Women for Peace:< email@example.com >- 0508-575730
ANGELA GODFREY-GOLDSTEIN, ICAHD:< firstname.lastname@example.org > 0547-366393
DR. EYAD SARRAJ:< email@example.com > 0599-408438
MARWAN A. DIAB:< firstname.lastname@example.org > 0599-462037.
Participating: Gush Shalom, Coalition of Women for Peace, New Profile, Combatants for Peace, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Physicians for Human Rights (Israel), Hadash, Balad, Adalah, Tarabut-Hithabrut, Bat Shalom, Bat Tzafon, Anarchists Against the Wall, Follow-up Committee of the Arab Population in Israel, Alternative Information Center, Psychoactive, ActiveStills and Student Coalition -- Tel Aviv Univ.
Background: Despite unilateral evacuation of 7,000 settlers, the Gaza Strip remains Occupied Territory. Israel continues to control its airspace, territorial waters, population registry, tax system, supply of goods, freedom of movement and access to healthcare. Last week, Israel strongly reprimanded Egypt for having dared to let a single group of Palestinians go in and out of the Strip without subjection to Israeli security checks. Moreover, recently Israel has re-established military control over more than a quarter of the Strip's total territory as "border security zones". Israelis are led to believe "We gave back Gaza" -- but this is simply not true.
We sympathize with Sderot's residents, exposed to traumatising years-long Qassam rockets, but siege and collective punishment are no answer: although 1.5 million men, women and children are denied basic necessities, driven to the edge of starvation, the Qassam attacks continue. Nor has the constant military offensive (1,000 Palestinians were killed in 2007, including many civilians), stopped the rockets. Whilst Sderot suffers, few ask why several Palestinian ceasefire offers have been rejected out of hand by the Israeli government. We'll go to the Gaza border, in co-operation with Palestinian partners inside Gaza, to show there's a peaceful alternative to siege and rocketfire.
A little personal background from me:
On November 2006, while in Beit Jala/West Bethlehem I met the Mayor and he said:
"Between 2000 and 2004 Israel built 15,000 units and 28 settlements in the West Bank. In 2005 Israel evacuated 2,000 from Gaza but added 6,000 new units in the West Bank. Currently there is no Israeli military presence in Gaza but they still control the air and sea borders. So Gaza is not occupied but it is controlled. Gaza is the largest prison on earth. Our children suffer a sense of alienation. 93% of the children of Palestine have fears of the future. 54% have witnessed trauma or have themselves been victims.
Also in November 2006 I attended Sabeel's 6th International Conference in Jerusalem.
Sabeel's Founder and a 21st century prophet, Rev. Naim Ateek spoke to over 900 ecumenical justice and peace seeking Christians:
"Israel will not survive unless it does JUSTICE! The situation is deteriorating and we must frustrate Israel's plans and action because they are not built on JUSTICE! All we are asking for is honoring International Law! Israel is afraid of International Law and this proves something is very wrong with Israel. We want Israel to live in peace and with security. The only way is honoring International Law. This is the bottom line. This is what we work and pray for."
International Law states that occupation is to be temporary and maintain the status quo. Forty years of occupation and the building of the illegal wall which does not follow the Green Line, but divides Palestinians from their families and steals their land and water is apartheid.
During that conference a Power Point presentation was shown and one of the photographs was of eight smiling children in Gaza.
Three flashed an upright Peace sign, but the fourth's 'V' had been turned on it's side. It reminded me of the image of the Caterpillar bulldozer that was painted on the BEIT ARABIYA home/ Peace Center that I visited on Nov. 1, 2006. Upon the wall of the home is a mural donated by the North American Workers Against the USA occupation of Iraq and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The mural depicts Rachel Corrie, the American who was run over and killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza when she stood up to defend the home of a pharmacist and where five children had lived. A pregnant Palestinian woman of ten who was also killed in Gaza is depicted too and the angelic images of the two women float above the painting of a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer tipped to one side and flanked by tanks and weapons of destruction. On both sides of the weapons of destruction are many people. A railroad track reminds the viewer that prior to 1948, Jews and Palestinians once worked together in peaceful solidarity to build a railroad.
In November 2006, I read an article written by Father Manuel, the parish priest at the Latin Church and school in Gaza who wrote:
"Gaza cannot sleep! The people are suffering unbelievably. They are hungry, thirsty, have no electricity or clean water. They are suffering constant bombardments and sonic booms from low flying aircraft. They need food: bread and water. Children and babies are hungry...people have no money to buy food. The price of food has doubled and tripled due to the situation. We cannot drink water from the ground here as it is salty and not hygienic. People must buy water to drink. They have no income, no opportunities to get food and water from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside of Gaza. They have no hope...Without electricity children are afraid. No light at night. No oil or candles...Thirsty children are crying, afraid and desparate...Many children have been violently thrown from their beds at night from the sonic booms. Many arms and legs have been broken. These planes fly low over Gaza and then reach the speed of sound. This shakes the ground and creates shock waves like an earthquake that causes people to be thrown from their bed. I, myself weigh 120 kilos and was almost thrown from my bed due to the shock wave produced by a low flying jet that made a sonic boom...Gaza cannot sleep...the cries of hungry children, the sullen faces of broken men and women who are just sitting in their hungry emptiness with no light, no hope, no love. These actions are War Crimes!"
By the sixth century before Christ, the conflicts in the land were already old news, and Jeremiah warned the people that all God could see was violence and destruction. Sickness and wounds were all around...For every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn't let go, and they only did it because they did not know. The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.
And every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above and the kingdom comes from within.
IMAGINE a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and all men.