Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

“Gaza Strip is not occupied,” says Israel’s Supreme Court, as Gaza is thrown into darkness

I just read the Ahmed decision by the Supreme Court of Israel. This case involves a petition filed in 2007 by the Palestinians against the State of Israel regarding the reduction of fuel supplies and electricity to the Gaza Strip.  Recently, the American Friends Service Committee prepared a short description of the problem here.

In 2005, Israel removed its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip. The Supreme Court concluded that “Israel no longer has effective control over what happens in the Gaza Strip” and so “Israel does not have a general duty to ensure the welfare of the residents of the Gaza Strip or to maintain public order in the Gaza Strip according to the laws of belligerent occupation in international law.”

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Israel, in part because

(1) Israel asserts it is monitoring the fuel supplies and electricity delivery to the Gaza Strip to meet the humanitarian needs of the people in Gaza;

(2) Israel says that the Palestinian officials have the capability to manage the load reduction;

(3) it’s better that the parties negotiate between themselves regarding the issue of fuel delivery and electricity; and

(4) there is a big distinction between the parties — one is fighting in the name of the law (Israel) and the other is fighting against the law (terrorists = Hamas).

Quick Facts • Less than half–only 45 percent—of Gaza’s power needs are now being met. Rolling blackouts leave residents with only six to eight hours of power each day. • Since 2013, the Gaza power plant has operated at less than half capacity. The plant regularly has to shut down, due to fuel shortages caused by Israeli restrictions on importing fuel. • Since 2010, at least 29 people—24 of them children— have died in Gaza from fires or suffocation directly linked to power outages. • Over 70 percent of Gaza households have access to piped water for only six to eight hours once every two to four days, because of the limited power supply.

I find the Ahmed decision troubling for several reasons:

(1) The Supreme Court’s rather cursory conclusion that Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip. No occupation = no duty under the international laws of belligerent occupation. This conclusion appears to have been reached without arguments proffered by the parties on this very important issue, and almost as a side note to the court’s decision.

(2) The Supreme Court’s characterization of the parties in the case — one is law-abiding and fighting to preserve the law, while the other is a terrorist organization fighting against the law — demonstrates the inherent bias and lack of judicial neutrality that permeates the decision. The Supreme Court also demonstrates its lack of objectivity when it cites with approval Israel’s statement that the Palestinians are capable of managing the load reduction so as not to harm hospitals, etc., while dismissing without discussion the contrary arguments made by the Palestinians.

(3) While the Supreme Court acknowledges that Israel has a responsibility to meet the “essential humanitarian needs of the civilian population” in Gaza, it doesn’t provide any guidance about what constitutes “essential humanitarian needs” and appears to defer to Israel’s assertion that the State recognizes its responsibility and will monitor the delivery of electricity and fuel so as to meet its responsibility. (That must be cold comfort to the civilians sitting in the dark on a cold winter night in Gaza, or to the children who have died in house fires due to the candles.)

(4) The issue of the nexus between Israel’s rationale for reducing the electricity and fuel to Gaza seems to be accepted carte blanche by the Court without any critical examination. Israel says its “decision to limit the supply of fuel and electricity to the Gaza Strip was made in the framework of the State’s operations against the ongoing terrorism.” Doesn’t Israel have a duty to show the Court a nexus —- that the reduction of electricity and fuel has some measurable impact on reducing the terrorism (rockets)? If there is no nexus, then isn’t it fair to say that Israel’s actions, in fact, constitute collective punishment against the civilian population?

• Hospitals provide only limited services because they rely on generators, which produce insufficient and unstable electrical supplies that can damage sensitive equipment. • Up to 90 million liters of untreated sewage are discharged into the Mediterranean Sea each day in part due to electrical and fuel shortages. • Schools often function without electricity, leaving students in the dark, making many educational activities impossible, and negatively affecting students’ learning environments. • Businesses and industry can’t function without reliable electrical supplies, increasing unemployment and further destabilizing the Gaza economy.

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Filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Occupation, Uncategorized, Video

Our Shared Disgrace

Lands of the Indigenous Peoples confiscated by the colonial power of the United States

The bonds that tie the United States and Israel together are tighter than most Americans understand and appreciate. Even President Obama needs a history lesson.

Affirming that the United States could be an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Obama told Al Arabiya television in Dubai a few days after his inauguration in January 2009: “We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power.

Say it again?!

Historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz spells out the sordid history of our colonial conquest of the Indigenous peoples who lived on this land centuries before the Anglos arrived in An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. She notes that “[t]he affirmation of democracy requires the denial of colonialism, but denying it does not make it go away.”

From the day Columbus set foot in what is present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1492, and returned to Spain with Indigenous slaves and gold, the putrid stench of colonialism has wafted over these lands we call the United States, and it lingers to this day.

Colonialism: the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.

Our forefathers, and many historians, have tried to obscure this stench with noble explanations of “manifest destiny” and the “doctrine of discovery” but the reality of our founding story and its legacy is catching up with us on the streets of Ferguson, in Baltimore, and in the huge protests today in the Dakotas and beyond.

“Our nation was born in genocide … We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its Indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or feel remorse for this shameful episode.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Obviously, Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t know (or forgot) that the State of Israel is trying as a matter of national policy to follow our lead and wipe out its Indigenous population.loss-of-landDunbar-Ortiz’s history of the United States doesn’t talk about the State of Israel, but the similarities are too striking to ignore.

  • Origin myth. While all modern nation-states claim a kind of rationalized origin story upon which their citizens can fashion patriotism and loyalty to the state, the U.S. is one of the few states founded on the covenant of the Hebrew Torah, or the Christian borrowing of it in the Old Testament. Other covenant states are Israel and the now-defunct apartheid state of South Africa, both founded in 1948. According to the myths, the faithful citizens come together of their own free will and pledge to each other and to their god to form and support a godly society, and their god in turn vouchsafes them prosperity in a promised land. (p.47)
  • Exceptionalism and the chosen people. Most Americans believe our country is exceptional among all nation-states, and this exceptionalist ideology has been used to justify appropriation of the continent and then domination of the rest of the world. (p.47)  The Zionists believe they are the Chosen People. I don’t know if that equates to the Americans’ belief in exceptionalism but both strains have a connotation of entitlement which permeates throughout their actions in both the domestic and international spheres.
  • Create laws to support land confiscation. Many laws and programs in the United States encouraged settler squatters to take the land of the Indigenous people for their own, such as the Land Ordinance of 1785. The Zionists did the very same thing with their Absentees Property Law.
  • Ethnic cleansing aka as forced relocations. The U.S. government forced the Indigenous population off of their ancestral lands and onto reservations. The early Zionists forced the Indigenous population off of their ancestral lands in Palestine, refused to allow them to return, and cast them into small bantustans in the West Bank and a large open-air prison in the Gaza Strip.
  • Violence against the civilian Indigenous population. “The Anglo settlers organized irregular units to brutally attack and destroy unarmed Indigenous women, children and old people using unlimited violence in unrelenting attacks.” (p.58)  Scalp hunting for bounties became a means of exchange, a form of currency, and the mutilated corpses left in the wake of the scalp hunts were known as the redskins. The violence of the early Zionists against the Indigenous population in Palestine has been well-documented by historians, such as Ilan Pappe. The forced expulsion from their lands, which the Palestinians call the Nakba, is seeping into the mainstream consciousness of the Israeli public. Jewish settlers continue to perpetrate violence against the Indigenous population to this day.

 

The similarities go on and on……confiscation of natural resources, humiliation and racist laws, treatment of the Indigenous population as subhuman, and failure to recognize, apologize and begin a meaningful truth and reconciliation process. In fact, both countries actively ignore and dismiss their brutal colonial past.

Times are changing, too slowly, but people are beginning to recognize the stories they’ve been told are false. Many Americans and Israelis need to make peace with their true origin story before their communities can heal.  For Americans on that journey, I recommend An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press 2014).  For Israelis, I recommend The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe (Oneworld Publications 2006)

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Filed under Book Review, Israel, People, Uncategorized, US Policy

A Livable Gaza

At the International Making Cities Livable Conference in Rome, I presented a paper about how to make Gaza a livable community. Two colleagues in Gaza and I collaborated on this paper earlier this year. They were not present in Rome because Israel would not allow Yaser (an environmental engineer) to leave the Gaza Strip, and Italy rejected Eman’s (an architect) request for a Visa.

So with a heavy heart, I began the presentation by telling the audience about these travel restrictions and reminding them how privileged we are to travel and sit together to talk about building livable communities. My presentation included five lessons.

Lesson #1 – Include the people from the community in building a livable community.

I shared some brief facts about the Gaza Strip. It’s relatively small, only 139 square miles or about the size of Detroit or twice the size of Washington, DC., with a rapidly growing population of 1.8 million people in 2014 and a density about equal to Boston. Unlike Detroit and Boston however, the Gaza Strip has been isolated from the rest of the world for nearly 10 years.

Gaza Strip

Travel in and out of Gaza is very restricted. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to return for the past 2+ years. There’s a “youth bulge” in Gaza with 51% of the population under the age of 18.  There’s a high literacy rate (96% in 2011) and the majority of the youth speak 2 languages, if not more. But 85% of the 677 schools in the Gaza Strip are running double shifts, and some are running triple shifts.

Unemployment in the Gaza Strip was 44% in 2014. Food insecurity is high (80% of households receive assistance) and 39% live below the poverty line. OCHA estimates that roughly 20% of Gaza’s population need treatment for mental health conditions.

Lesson #2 – Communities are not on a level playing field; they begin the path towards a livable future from very different baselines. 

I shared some caveats (warnings) about our paper because many of the reviewers have told us our recommendations are good but won’t succeed until some preconditions are met, including the end of the blockade and occupation of Gaza. We agree, of course. We believe Israel’s occupation will end, either by design or by default, but we must not wait until that day comes.

Our recommendations for a Livable Gaza are premised on the belief that Palestinians can plan and prepare today for a Livable Gaza, absent any resolution of the serious political challenges that exist.

Lesson #3 — Don’t wait until every impediment has been removed to begin building a livable community.

Then I discussed our methodology. The Gaza Strip has been studied and examined by NGOs, by the United Nations, by sociologists, and a whole plethora of professional disciplines.  The focus of most of the research has been how to prioritize projects to sustain the population and repair the damage caused by nearly 10 years of a brutal economic, political and cultural siege, as well as 3 military assaults. My colleagues and I decided to filter this research through a new lens — Kate Raworth’s economic doughnut.

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Raworth’s economic doughnut situates a livable community in a safe and just place between the planetary boundaries and the social boundaries.

The planetary boundary is the environmental ceiling which humans must not exceed in order to maintain earth’s life support systems.  That includes such things as climate change, freshwater use, chemical pollution, biodiversity loss, and land use changes. The social boundary is the bedrock of human rights which we must not fall below. That includes such things as food, water, jobs, health, energy, voice, education, etc.

Where is Gaza within the economic doughnut?

The Gaza Strip has exceeded the environmental ceiling: (1) climate change vulnerability – rising sea levels and significant warming, (2) freshwater use is just a memory (UN predicted the aquifer would be unusable by 2016 and irreversibly damaged by 2020), (3) land use change – military operations have flattened entire neighborhoods, buffer zone policies restrict agricultural production, (4) pollution – more than 100,000 cubic meters of raw sewage are dumped into the Mediterranean from Gaza every day. The Gaza Strip has fallen below the social foundation: (1) public health (2) education (3) energy (4) water (5) food (6) jobs (7) shelter (8) voice.

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Can a livable community be created from such a deficit?  Of course, the immediate needs must be addressed and met.  That is the focus of the international NGOs and many governments that are trying to keep the Gaza Strip functioning, but they are not focused on building a livable Gaza.  They are focused on survival.

Gaza Unsilenced

Yaser, Eman and I wrote about our potential vision for what a livable Gaza might look like, but I didn’t describe that during the presentation. I told the audience that the “process” of building a livable community is more important than our “vision”.

Lesson #4 – Process is more important than the vision or the goal.

The three biggest challenges to building a livable Gaza are:

  1. Lack of voice. A failure to hold elections in over a decade has neutered the Palestinians’ voice in a representative government in both the West Bank and Gaza. The donor community contributes to this problem. Even though donors oppose the occupation in principle, they are financing it; and they are indirectly implicated in a relation of domination that they were supposed to help dismantle. A Livable Gaza will empower the Palestinian to regain their personal agency and power.
  2. Lack of movement. The Israeli/Egyptian/US blockade and siege have resulted in Gaza’s de-development and political/economic/social strangulation. A Livable Gaza must have complete freedom of movement and this must be a top priority for both the international community and for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
  3. Finally, I mentioned the antiquated laws and regulatory framework. Palestinian legislation is extremely complex and contradictory, a hodge-podge of different traditions which lack coherency for the 21st century. Building a livable community will require a significant reform of the regulatory and legal framework in Palestine.

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There must be two tracks working simultaneously but separately towards building a livable community in Gaza.  One is already underway, and has been working for decades since the establishment of the State of Israel and the forced expulsion of many Palestinian refugees to Gaza in 1948.  This track includes 12 UN organizations, 36 international NGOs and 31 national NGOs working in the occupied Palestinian territories. They are monitoring the facts on the ground, distributing aid and resources, and financing development projects such as housing, schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure. The express purpose of these organizations is to keep Gaza from falling below Raworth’s social foundation, but they are failing miserably.

The second track must address the three biggest challenges, unencumbered by the planning and actions occurring on the first track.

COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

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RESOURCES                                                                       PLAN

Building a livable community requires the active support and engagement of community leaders; but in the absence of political engagement and leadership, it’s important to remember that there are many different types of leaders, unelected and elected, at all levels (household, neighborhood, associations, districts and on up.) Many actions can be undertaken today at the local level to build a livable Gaza, regardless of what’s going on in the political sphere. We believe it involves three key components.

The youth are at the center leading a broad community discussion, gathering the resources, and preparing the plan. The youth should be acknowledged as the change-agents for this process. Most came of age after the last election, have experienced multiple wars and tragedies, and many have never left the Gaza Strip. The future belongs to them and to their children.

Lesson #5 – Recommendations must be sensitive to the challenges.

Our current concern for a livable community needs to be replaced with a new and broader concern for ‘environmental sustainability and justice’ in Arabic – ءدل

Justice is the cornerstone for good governance and a sustainable community. The Gaza Strip could be the turn-around example that shows the world by example, how to transition from the brink of collapse to a safe and just place for all life.

Please send me an email to request a copy of our paper.   LoraLucero3@gmail.com

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Economic Development, Environment, Gaza, People, Uncategorized

#GoingtoGaza – April 2015

 

My journey to return to Gaza began more than 200 days ago in September 2014. Every day I’ve jotted down a note about my progress (or lack of progress) and I’ve compiled these notes by month on my blog.  This post includes my notes from April 2015 when I traveled to Minneapolis and Rochester, Minnesota and then to Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Day #213 – In my email inbox was a note recommending that I buy burial insurance. Since I’m traveling today — getting on an airplane in a few hours headed to Minneapolis — I hope that email was only Spam.  I deleted it.   #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #214 – Yesterday in Minneapolis, the high of 83 F broke record from 1880s.  Today, the expected high is 63 F. And tomorrow, the expected high will be 43 F.  Thank you, Fossil Fuels.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #215 – A 90-year-old friend asked me today how she could keep in touch with me when I’m in Gaza. She doesn’t have a computer. And I told her snail mail delivery to Gaza is impossible. So we decided that her son or daughter could help her send and receive emails.  My friend seemed shocked that there was no mail delivery in Gaza. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #216 – I think today is the first day in this long 200+ days journey that I haven’t talked with someone about Gaza. I focused my entire day on my 8 year old nephew. His Serpentine Lego fighter protected us all day … at the library, riding the bus around Rochester, and chasing squirrels. When I showed him the school building where I went to 2nd grade, I think he was amazed that I was ever that young. I love this little guy.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #217 – Easter Sunday. I attended Easter services in the same small church I attended as a child in Rochester, where I sang in the choir, and taught Sunday School to the young children when I was a teenager.  This was my first time back in nearly 45 years!  I looked around and saw “my tribe” and thought how good it feels to be part of a tribe.

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Mayo Clinic in background; Calvary Episcopal Church in foreground. Rochester, Minnesota

 

Hopefully, everyone begins life in a tribe that grounds the individual in the mores and traditions of the tribe, but as we mature, we learn the important lesson that we’re all connected. We are one. My tribe and your tribe and his tribe are all one.  Unfortunately, many people cannot lift their heads or hearts up above their tribal affiliations. #GoingtoGaza

 

Days #218-219 – Yesterday I reached out to one of the organizers who is pulling together the next flotilla to Gaza.  Since entry to Gaza from Israel and Egypt is so difficult, maybe I can get a seat on a boat.  Haven’t heard any response yet but keeping my fingers crossed for good luck. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #220 – Learned a new factoid today. Thomas Jefferson had purchased a copy of the Qu’ran 11 years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence. If nothing else, it indicates that he was interested in learning about “others”.

 

On NPR this morning, I listened to a program about the religion of Scientology and how its leaders discourage members from reading any critique of Scientology. Thomas Jefferson would never have been a good Scientologist. His mind was too open to new ideas and ways of looking at the world. Netanyahu, on the other hand, would make a good Scientologist. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #221 – On this pilgrimage I meet old friends and new. Yesterday I saw an old friend at the Rochester library whom I haven’t seen in 10+ years. She’s a librarian. I was surprised to learn that she knew about my travel to Gaza in 2012-2013 (I think my cousin must have shared my story with her) and she’s very interested in my future travel to Gaza. We agreed to connect on Facebook so that we can follow each other. The younger generation may be leaving Facebook, but the older 60+ generation is finding each other there. Yeah!  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #222 – Listening to a family member tell me with certitude that “Hamas are terrorists who want to destroy Israel”. He believes I met the “happy Hamas” during my visit to Gaza — those people who perform social welfare actions.  Maybe the “bad Hamas terrorists” were hiding behind children or in schools.

 

I had absolutely no words and no energy to respond. Sitting there I thought “where does he get his information?”  “Doesn’t he realize that the Israeli occupation has continued for 67 years but Hamas has existed only about 1/2 that time?”  So many Americans are living in a bubble and I’m sad because I don’t know how to burst it. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #223 – Last month a good friend was trying to warn me about my Facebook posts which focus on the Holy Land.  By way of example, she told me that her adult daughter doesn’t like my posts. Was that meant to help me “tone down” my messages? I’m not sure, but I immediately responded: “I don’t care what your daughter thinks about my FB posts on Israel and Palestine.” That ended the discussion right away.

 

In hindsight, I think my response was too curt. But do people really think I am interested in pleasing 3300+ friends on Facebook?  The beauty of FB is that anyone can “unfriend” or “unfollow” anyone else.  I highly recommend it. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #224 – Friday morning in Minneapolis I grabbed my camera to capture a picture of the snow falling. This morning, I’m watching many friends in Gaza posting their pictures of the snow falling. Thankful for the beautiful white stuff from heaven that captures the imagination of so many. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #225 – Hillary Clinton has visited Palestine, and specifically the Gaza Strip. But is she capable of speaking the truth? Apparently she has some harsh words about the occupation in her new book. I’m going to read it. #GoingtoGaza

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Deir Yassin Memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Day #226 – The Massacre at Deir Yassin has not been forgotten in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On April 9, 1948, Zionist terrorists killed more than 100 Palestinian men, women and children in the village of Deir Yassin. Today I rode my bicycle along the Midtown Greenway, an old abandoned railroad line, and was surprised to find a memorial to Deir Yassin. I don’t know who was responsible for erecting the memorial. I wonder how many cyclists understand its significance.  Surprise on the Midtown Greenway | لماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza? #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #227 – Arrived in Baltimore last night, the next leg of my pilgrimage.  My friend and I went walking along the Inner Harbor today — his pedometer measured about 5 miles — when I took a tumble and landed on my . . . face!  Except for a swollen lip, I don’t seem to be worse for wear. Very lucky I didn’t break my nose or chip a tooth. Just the thought makes me cringe! 😦   #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #228 – A good friend said he was looking seriously at Rand Paul for President because, among other reasons, Rand Paul supports “right to life.” I shared with him the candidate’s position on Israel and Palestine.  I’m pleased that he decided it was a deal breaker and he can’t support Rand Paul now. Rand Paul – “I’m proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East. Israeli cafés and buses are bombed, towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets, and its citizens are attacked by Palestinian terrorists.”  Currently, Rand Paul has introduced a bill to defund Palestine as long as they continue to seek justice at the International Criminal Court.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #229 – Life and death. When I was younger, those two seemed like black & white. Here & there. Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the honor to watch life passing to death in slow motion. Now they seem more like a continuum — a journey — a gentle breeze between a fluid membrane. Thank you my friend.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #230 – Contacted the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC via email to ask about the procedure for getting permission to cross Erez into Gaza. Was surprised to receive a response in about 30 minutes that said they don’t handle such matters. I should check with http://www.cogat.idf.il/894-en/Matpash.aspx Going to check this website tomorrow.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #231 – Today a friend told me that he was on “auto-pilot” most of his life (he’s 72) but he’s now really living and engaged with life. I think about where and what I was doing 10 years ago, compared to where and what I’m doing today — and I’m so thankful this path opened up for me. But I don’t feel I was ever on auto-pilot.  Just on another path.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Days #232-233 – Propaganda is alive and well inside the DC Beltway metro stations.  http://sayyestopeace.org  I wonder if our elected leaders are getting much truth in their diet.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #234 – Received some cold, hard reality news today that has forced me to stop and reassess the journey I’m on. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #235 – Learned yesterday that the Palestinian Youth in Gaza are planning a day of protest at home and around the world on Wednesday, April 29. I contacted one of the organizers and now I’m planning to protest in front of the Israeli Embassy. Might be a protest of one. I wonder if anyone will join me. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #236 – At the grocery store in Baltimore, a sign over the door as I left  — “Thank you” “Merci” “Gracias” and the Arabic letters for Shukran.  I was really pleased that I could read it. I should pick up my Arabic vocabulary cards and start practicing again. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #237 – What can we get for $2 trillion per year? Answer: A world beyond war.     #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #238 – A friend told me today that my strength is talking one-on-one or with small groups because people trust me and I’m a good listener. He said I should use that skill when I get to the Middle East. Maybe I should use that skill with the officials at the Egyptian Embassy and Israeli Embassy.  My yelling and kicking and screaming don’t seem to work. LOL #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #239 – “Diversity” and “Pluralism” — the first is a census factoid and the second is an achievement of building an inclusive community. It takes hard work to achieve pluralism.  “Sacred Ground” – by Eboo Patel. Israel’s occupation has created the opposite. A Jews-only state is neither diverse nor an example of pluralism. Israel supporters would feel great sadness if they understood their lost.  #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #240 – I’m in Baltimore when rioting breaks out after young black man died in police custody. FB friends draw parallels between Baltimore and Gaza. They see “good” guys and “bad” guys — so simplistic!  I wonder if they (and others) misunderstand my advocacy about Palestine. I don’t see Palestine-Israel as “good” vs “bad”. #GoingtoGaza

 

Day #241 – I’m feeling very grateful this morning. I’m walking the 5K for Gaza in middle of May to raise $$ for UNRWA. The resources are needed to help the children suffering from trauma in Gaza. Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Shukran!  #GoingtoGaza

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Nakba, People, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

#GoingtoGaza – March 2015

My previous posts in this series are Sept. 2014, Oct. 2014, Nov. 2014, Dec. 2014, Jan. 2015, and Feb. 2015.

Day #181 – Karen Armstrong writes that war is a psychosis caused by the inability to see relationships. Seems to me that Israel is trying its best to keep its citizens blind to what’s going on the occupied Palestinian Territories. Building a separation wall. Forbidding Israeli citizens from visiting the oPT.  Deleting the history of the Palestinians from Israeli textbooks. Is it official Zionist policy to nurture this psychosis?

#GoingtoGaza

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Karen Armstrong

Day #182 – Never before have I had any interest in Israeli elections. That’s changed. With the election about 3 weeks off, I’m pleased to see that Netanyahu’s polling numbers are dropping. A 4th term would be appalling. Netanyahu prides himself as the guardian of Israel’s security. He needs another assault on Gaza to help his polling.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #183 – Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu disagrees with Obama’s negotiations with Iran. So Netanyahu will try to persuade Congress tomorrow. So imagine President Obama stopping by the Knesset tomorrow and sharing his two cents about the illegal settlements.  No disrespect intended.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #184 – Watched Netanyahu’s campaign speech to Congress this morning. My thoughts:

1) too bad members of Congress can’t vote in Israel – I lost count of the # of standing ovations.

2) Bibi must think Obama, Kerry, and most Americans are stupid. He recycled his previous scare threats from 2002 onward about the evil monsters devouring Israel. Looked like members of Congress proved Bibi right — they ARE gullible.

3) The lightbulb turned on for me when Bibi mentioned Moses and other religious passages. We have 2 leaders in the Middle East threatening an apocalyptic vision.  One has nukes and the other has global recruits. #Bibi #Isis

4) Pleased to see that the Editors of The New York Times and The Washington Post and others have panned Bibi’s speech.

#GoingtoGaza

Benjamin_Netanyahu_portrait

Day #185 – Watching members of Congress yesterday genuflect . . . er give standing ovations . . . to the Israeli Emperor . . . er Prime Minister, I was struck with how WHITE, MALE, and OLD our leaders in DC are. They were fawning all over the old, white, male lecturing them from the podium. Heaven help us!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #186 – After reviewing these graphs and charts about exports/imports and the movement of people and goods into / out of Gaza, how can the Editors at The New York Times claim with a straight face that “Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza”? If they are that myopic about Israel/Palestine, in what other ways is the NYT warping reality for its readers?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #187 – Thinking about the women in my life and that I’m a very lucky gal.  So many have had such a profound impact on the path I’ve journeyed. Especially thinking about Kay who turns 80 next week. She came into my life about 30 years ago and opened the entire spiritual universe to me through Beyond War. The key that unlocked the door.

Thinking about Luria who died in December. She came into my life about 20 years ago and shared with me her gift of listening without judgment, the first time I’ve experienced that. I hope I can model that with my friends and family. Thinking about Pam. She came into my life last year. She has shown me how the spark of an idea coupled with a ton of good will can make a big difference.  I’m looking forward to learning more from Pam.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #188 – News posted today that the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be open for two days in both directions. And an American friend reported that the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza is now open, at least for people trying to exit Gaza. Are things improving?

#GoingtoGaza

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Middle East

Day #189 – Feeling the weight and burden of all of the mistakes I’ve made and — having reached 61 years — there are many, many mistakes to remember. I wonder if the State of Israel was a sentient being, would she be feeling the burden of her mistakes? 66 years old — she has made many. She acts like a teenager telling the world she knows everything and refuses to listen to anyone. Hopefully, I’m a bit wiser and have learned from my mistakes.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #190 – I really, really, REALLY want to meet Raja Shehadeh from Ramallah. Palestinian Walks – Notes on a Vanishing Landscape | لماذا غزة؟ Why Gaza?

#GoingtoGaza

Palestinian Walks

Day #191 – A felony, charge these 47 Senators with treason.  We clearly have at least 47 members of Congress who are aligning themselves with the extremists in both Iran and Israel — they are threatening the security of the U.S. Their letter to Iran is a violation of the Logan Act. How should Obama respond?

1) ignore them and hope that the public’s condemnation will bring them to their senses.

2) publicly rebuke them and hope that is enough to bring them to their senses.

3) direct Attorney General Holder to investigate and bring charges if he deems appropriate.

I’ve never been so embarrassed to be an American.

#GoingtoGaza   #GettingthefuckoutoftheUSA

Day #192 – A friend shared a thought-provoking article that points out the danger that many social activists on the left succumb to – a sense of self-righteousness! I’m going to keep it and mull over it because there are valuable tidbits to digest.

I’ve been surprised and shocked by the attitude of some activists working on peace & justice issues in the Middle East. Never thought of it in terms of “self-righteousness” but it fits. Now I’m worried if I exhibit some of the same behavior and attitudes.

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Day #193 – There are international travelers getting across the Rafah border into Gaza. I wish I knew how they did it. I can’t think of another international border that is as difficult to cross. The border between Mongolia & China requires the train car be lifted by a crane and different gauge wheels be installed. But the government bureaucracy is a piece of cake compared to the two crossings into Gaza.

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Day #194 – #AskHamas is Hamas’ attempt to use social media to answer questions from the civilized world. Uncivil Zionists are spewing venom and hatred on Twitter, exposing their deep ignorance about Hamas, Palestinians and the Occupation. People don’t realize the power their own words have in creating their reality.  I feel great pity and sadness for those Zionists.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #195 – Walked only 4 miles today. Planned to walk 8 miles but forgot to bring water and it was a hot 82 F. Also need to remember to wear sunglasses because the sun is bright. Maybe tomorrow.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #196 — About to board a plane. Leaving California with mixed feelings. The last 18 months have been some of the hardest, yet most fulfilling. I couldn’t have done it without the lessons I learned in Gaza. #Samud thank you!

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Day #197 – I’m a Pilgrim in my hometown and it feels a bit strange. Good friends have taken me in and I accomplished some important tasks today. Felt very honored when one friend asked me if I was interested in putting my name in the hat to fill the vacancy left by Senator Griego’s resignation. The only vacancy I’m interested in filling is the one in my heart left when I departed Gaza in May 2013.

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Day #198 – Election Day in Israel and I’m watching it closely this year. The exit polls say it’s very close. Commentators on public radio say it may be weeks before we know who the next Prime Minister is. But Netanyahu has already declared victory. Just like his delusional rants about the Hamas “terrorists” … he believes if he says it often enough, it will be the truth. On another note, a Hamas official has provided answers to questions about the #AskHamas Twitter campaign that Hamas launched 5 days ago.

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Day #199 – Netanyahu has won either by the skin of his teeth or by fraud. Was anyone monitoring this election?

1) Bibi drove the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution

2) A single, bi-national state is the future for the Holy Land.

3) The only question remains: by violence or peaceful means? Given Bibi’s leadership—I predict the former.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #199 (again) – Couldn’t sleep last night because my mind won’t turn away from the Israeli elections. WAR CRIMES and WAR CRIMINALS get elected.  The institutions that I once had faith in bringing peace & justice to the Middle East (UN, ICC, EU, U.S. Congress) are incapable or uninterested.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #200 – I must be back-tracking just like Netanyahu. The day before the election he said unequivocally that there will be no State of Palestine while he is Prime Minister. Two days after his election, he says he still supports the 2-state solution.

Likewise, before the election, I said it would be unbelievably horrible if Netanyahu won reelection. Two days after the election, I’m convinced his re-election was the best thing that could have happened for the prospects of long-term peace & justice in the region. Netanyahu has been unmasked. Alhamdulillah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #201 – A good Arab-American friend and I were talking this morning about the Israeli election. Although she is very curious about my travel to Gaza and learning more about the occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, she admits she is not particularly political. But she says she now feels it’s time to go into the streets and protest. Bibi’s racist comment about “those Arabs coming by droves to vote” was the RED LINE for my friend.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #202 – Is there a “right” way and a “wrong” way to open one’s heart and mind to the injustices in Palestine? Are some pro-Palestine activists more worthy than others?  I’ve observed Palestinians condemning international activists. I’ve heard American activists criticizing their fellow activists and newbies. Seems to me, we need to treat each other the way we wish to be treated, and recognize that everyone has compassion in their hearts even if we don’t see eye-to-eye with them.

#Respect #GoingtoGaza

Day #203 – Friends today suggested I take a job teaching in Cairo so that I could be closer to lobby the Egyptian authorities for permission to enter Gaza. They also suggested I try to join an NGO like Doctors Without Borders who might be traveling to Gaza. Have you ever heard of anywhere else on the planet where visitors had to make such convoluted plans just to enter?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #204 – Smoking was considered acceptable in public at one time not so long ago. I recall sitting in the back row of an airplane with 3 middle seats for me and my two young children. On either side of us were men smoking! It was perfectly acceptable to smoke on planes and I couldn’t ask them to stop.  Same with Zionism I hope.

Today it is perfectly acceptable for people to proudly announce they are Zionists, and the community accepts it (even applauds them in some circles).  I hope in the not-too-distant future, Zionism will be a stigma and no one will make a public announcement even if they continue to believe such things privately at home.

#GoingtoGaza

sumud_logo_summer_2010

Days #205-206: As a wandering nomad / pilgrim, my friends and family may find it challenging to keep track of me. We want to tie people to a place — and that is one reason “place” is so important.  Today, Bernalillo County Commissioners will consider a proposal which I believe will irretrievably ruin this place in central New Mexico.  I hope they deny Santolina Master Plan.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #207 – Feeling very frustrated. ABQ-Bernalillo County screwed up and commingled “planning” and “zoning” many years ago. We’re all paying the price today. This #Santolina master planning process is so screwed up. And those who should know better (the public planners) are clueless because they grew up with this dysfunctional system. Years ago, I tried to educate key players. Now, I just want to throw up my hands.

Thankful I’m #GoingtoGaza

Day #208 – The colonoscopy went well. Same doctor who performed it 10 years ago was my doc today. He told me he’s grown older. I told him I have too. Lolol Glad I’m in good health for my pilgrimage to Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #209 – Sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I tell people how difficult it is to get into Gaza. Then I think about Palestinians in Gaza who have been unable to leave, and I feel ashamed for my own troubles.  Middle East Children’s Alliance is arranging a U.S. speaking tour for Dr. Mona, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but she may not be allowed to leave Gaza. This situation is so diabolical. I want to scream.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #210 – I must be very, very careful (and probably a lot more circumspect) about jumping to conclusions when I read the “news” from Palestine/Israel.

Case in point: several different sources are reporting that an aide to President Abbas announced that Arab countries should attack Gaza. The “aide to Abbas” is a Muslim cleric using his bully pulpit to rouse antipathy towards Hamas. Yikes!

When I was in Gaza (2012-2013) I remember hearing about the political sermons coming from the Mosques every Friday. Since nearly every male goes to listen to these Friday sermons, I wonder how much influence/power/authority these clerics have over the population.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #211 – When I decided to become a pilgrim months ago, I thought my travels required that I leave behind many of my passions and interests. I realized this week that that’s not true. I don’t have to physically be in ABQ to remain actively engaged in some of the issues I’m concerned about, like the Santolina master plan. It’s much easier to be a pilgrim in the 21st century than it must have been in the 18th or 19th centuries.  Al-hamdulillah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #212 – I’m hearing reports that a third flotilla will be sailing to Gaza during the first half of 2015.  I wonder if I could join it.

#GoingtoGaza

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#GoingtoGaza – February 2015

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My journey continues as a pilgrim returning to Gaza. In February 2015 I was in Gilroy, California, USA calling the Egyptian Embassy regularly to see when I might be able to submit my Visa application to cross the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza.

Day #154 – A question for my Muslim friends wherever you may be in the world.

Please answer “Yes” or “No” or “Don’t know” — and feel free to send me a private message if you don’t want to be identified. Does ISIS represent the true values of Islam?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #155 – Warning to my Facebook friends. Don’t accept requests to add people to your “friend list” just because they may be “mutual friends” with me.  I don’t vouch for anyone. I typically add everyone because I’m trying to reach a large audience. I don’t personally know 90% of my FB friends. Just Sayin’

#GoingtoGaza

Day #157 – Finished a writing project that’s been hanging over my head. Yeah! Will start a new writing project tomorrow. Thinking about the power of words. I enjoy writing. I’m looking forward to mentoring a new writer from Gaza in the We Are Not Numbers! The organizers have nearly met their fundraising goal!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #158 – I have many, many friends from the Middle East. Some I know personally. Talking with them, I know 95% or more do not support ISIS. But I have a friend (perhaps more than one) who does, in fact, support ISIS. My friend is smart and intelligent and only needs a chance to succeed.  Israeli occupation and Western complicity in the occupation are destroying the hopes and dreams of 100s and 1000s of young people.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #159 – An independent investigative reporter, Nafeez Ahmed, Ph.D., has just written an excellent piece in the Middle East Eye spelling out why ISIS is attracting recruits, and what we MUST do to defeat ISIS.  This is so good—-I just mailed off copies with a handwritten note to my two US Senators and Congresswoman.  I really do hope they will read it, share it, act on it.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #160 – Tonight I watched the new film “Last Days in Vietnam” which will be released on PBS in April. This documentary is about 75-90% original footage from the actual events in 1975 when the Americans left Saigon.  The editing is very well done. And the interviews of people who were there and survived are really remarkable.  Left me thinking — considering where we are in 2015, did the U.S. government and foreign policy wonks learn anything from Vietnam?  The War on Terror is just a reincarnation of the 20-year Vietnam War. Really, nothing has changed except the military industrial complex is more firmly entrenched.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #161 – Should I? Or shouldn’t I? Before I post on Facebook, I try to decide whether my post will be constructive and meaningful. Except for the cute animal videos which are easy to post, I sometimes have to stop and seriously think about how my post will be received.

Will it merely inflame passions or will it be food for thought? It doesn’t matter if people agree or disagree with me. Today I’m weighing the pros and cons of posting a message from someone who has drawn thoughtful parallels between ISIS and Zionists.  Should I? Or shouldn’t I?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #162 – Hamas is building the facilities at its seaport in Gaza to open it up for trade and travel. I recall university students in Gaza in 2012 who prepared plans for a trade zone at the border with Egypt in Rafah. It’s absolutely amazing that their determination to join the community of nations hasn’t been defeated by Israel’s 8-year siege and blockade and 3 military operations. I’d love to be on the first passenger boat to land at the docks of this new seaport.

#GoingtoGaza

Haniyeh

Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas)

Day #163 – “Hamas is a terrorist organization” — I’m so tired of hearing that. Do people actually think if they say it often enough, it will be true?

Hamas is a terrorist organization (“TO”) like the US military is a TO in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hamas is a TO like Israel’s military is a TO in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Hamas is a TO like the extremist settlers in the West Bank are a TO to their Palestinian neighbors.

Hamas is a TO like the domestic police squads in the USA that profile young, black males and shoot to kill are TO in their communities.

Hamas is a TO like the multinational corporations that have plundered the indigenous communities in South America killing activists who stood in the way of their profits are TO.

OK … enough already! Stop talking about TO and do something to make the world a little less terrifying for the next generation.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #164 – People come to the conflict in the Holy Land with many different beliefs, different “truths” and different understanding. All they need is compassion and everything else will be revealed. I’ve met Jews, Muslims and Christians who are so firmly entrenched in their beliefs, that they view compassion as a weakness.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #165 – Advice to Facebook “friends”.

1) If you take FB comments personally, you’re spending too much time on social media.

2) If you’re feeling depressed, angry, or sad about what you read on FB, you’re spending too much time on social media.

3) If you think you’re changing the world with your FB posts, you’re spending too much time on social media.

My advice: take a sabbatical from Facebook.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #166 – Feeling the hate today. Specifically the hatred from readers of The Jerusalem Post who post outrageous comments. I wonder if they feel free to spew such venom because of their anonymity online. Would they dare say such stupid things in person? Has social media contributed to the vitriolic hogwash?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #167 – Valentines Day!  I wish every day was Valentines Day! Imagine what the world would look like if people (especially men) had love and compassion in their hearts every day? There wouldn’t be enough room left for the carnage in Gaza and Syria, the murder of 3 UNC students, or the other monstrosities. I wonder if ISIS members receive Valentine cards.

#GoingtoGaza

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Palestinian whose house was destroyed by Israel the day before offers tea to his neighbors sitting amid the ruins.

Day #168 – “Why do you want to go to Gaza?” another friend asked me last night at dinner. Instead of listing the many reasons I’ve shared with others, I simply told her “I have friends in Gaza and I miss them very much.” That was probably the most honest answer I’ve given to that question.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #169 – Thinking about the different groups of people seeking justice in the Holy Land.

Political Zionists want justice for Jews

Christian Zionists want justice for Christians

ISIS wants justice for Islam and the new caliphate

Palestinians want justice for Palestinians

International Activists want justice for whichever group they are supporting.

Which other groups should be included on this list?

Each group believes it has cornered the market on justice. Can justice for anyone be achieved without compassion?  Compassion seems to be sorely lacking.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #170 – A New York Times article today talks about how miserable life is in Gaza that Palestinians would prefer to cross the border and be captured and sent to an Israeli prison than remain in Gaza.

Someone on FB who is clearly “pro-Israel” expressed glee that Israeli prisons are better than Gaza. I intuited that he was proud of Israel for its great prisons.  :-(.  When did “pro-Israel” become synonymous with turning a blind eye to the suffering of your neighbors?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #171 – Learning new things keeps the mind and spirit young. Today I learned that I enjoy learning through all of my senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell.  Started listening to an audiobook by Karen Armstrong “Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence”.

Requires a different type of concentration to learn with my ears.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #172 – A message to my friend in Gaza who supports ISIS aka Daesh.

https://loralucero.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/a-message-to-my-friend/

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Day #173 – I watched the opening of a film tonight celebrating the heyday of the Women’s liberation movement. Title: “She’s beautiful when she’s angry.” I was AWOL during most of the marches and meetings discussed in this film. 1966 – 1971, so this was a real eye opener for me. Wish there was as much energy in the streets today protesting. We need a revolution.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #174 – Sharing with friends tonight about how important it is to maintain strong family connections.  I thought about the examples I saw in Gaza and told my friends how families there have such a strong intergenerational bond — something I really admired.

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Day #175 – Former Middle East envoy Tony Blair recently visited Gaza. Afterwards he reported that the millions of $$ pledged last September for reconstruction was not coming into Gaza because of disagreements between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.  No mention that Israel might be withholding $$ or that the donor countries haven’t fulfilled their pledges. Does anyone know what’s REALLY going on?  I want to know.

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armstrong

Karen Armstrong

Day #176 – OK, I don’t know what to make of it, but this is what I’ve been ruminating on today. Karen Armstrong’s new book “Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence” – Chapter 7 focuses on Islam and mentions the Sunni – Shia divide. In earlier chapters, she talks about divides in the other major religions. Present day Palestine and the divide between President Abbas (Palestinian Authority) and Hamas (duly elected in 2005 or 2006). The U.S. Congress and the divide between the Republicans and Democrats, reflecting a serious divide among Americans.

— Each of these divides has been very destructive for the community.

— Each of these divides is spawned from the testosterone side of humanity.

— Each of these divides represents a failure by both sides to heed the “Golden Rule”.  Treat your neighbor as you wish to be treated.

Not sure where I’m going with this train of thought. But I know I’m . . .

#GoingtoGaza

Day #177 – Today a U.S. Court ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay $218 million in damages to victims of attacks in Israel between 2002-2004.

Last week, the Supreme Court in Israelupreme Court in Israel dismissed an appeal brought by the parents of an American victim killed in Gaza by the driver of an Israeli military bulldozer.

Each case involved American victims of foreign violence; but why the different verdicts? Simple answer: Politics.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #178 – I learned a good lesson (again). Not everything posted on social media is accurate. No one is fact-checking. So I posted an article that condemned Israel for intentionally opening a dam and flooding parts of Gaza forcing many families to evacuate their homes. I didn’t fact check it but took it as truth because I saw the same story from different sources. They couldn’t all be wrong?!?  Yes, they were wrong. Friends who consider themselves “pro-Israel” posted messages about the “LIE” as evidence that people “hate Israel”. The original story was fabricated nearly 10 years ago and is repeated every time the area floods. Accuracy is so important and I regret my part in circulating the original post. However, everyone misses the POINT.

Palestinian families are victimized year after year after year with this flooding that is VERY REAL. Friends of Israel want to make themselves out to be the victims of a lie and the inevitable hatred of Israel. We have lost sight of the real victims here. The families who have been flooded out of their homes AGAIN. Ask yourself “why”? Why does this flooding persist year after year? I’m trying to find the answer and will share it when I have the facts.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #179 – “Theological bigotry.” Karen Armstrong uses that term in “Fields of Blood”. For thousands of years, mankind has savagely murdered “others” in the name of their religion — Christians, Jews and Muslims have all claimed their religion allowed them to slay the “other.”

They have failed to see their relationship with “others” and so they have failed their God/Allah/Yahweh. And I see the same thing on Facebook every day.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #180 – Realized tonight that I have no idea how I might feel if I was a Muslim listening to Daesh (aka ISIS) explain why they are destroying enturies-old statues.

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France Gaza Protest

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather to protest against the Israeli army’s bombings in the Gaza strip, in Paris, Saturday, July 19, 2014. Police have clashed with thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who defied a ban in Paris on marching to protest the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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Day #51 – August 26, 2014 – The End until it Begins Again

On this day last year, Israel and Hamas agreed to end the 51 days of fighting.

2,251 Palestinians in Gaza were killed, including 551 children, and 11,231 were injured.  During the fighting, more than 500,000 Palestinians were displaced (28% of the population in the Gaza Strip).

More than 18,000 homes were destroyed, and an estimated 80,000 homes and properties need to be rehabilitated.

63 water facilities were damaged and 23 were completely destroyed.

Gaza’s education sector was already overstretched prior to the hostilities – with a shortage of 200 schools in 2014, and almost 80 per cent of school classes running double shifts. The destruction of, and damage to 209 schools as a result of the conflict exacerbated these deficits. Three universities are reported to have been directly hit by Israeli strikes, while eight sustained collateral damage. 274 kindergartens were damaged and 11 were destroyed. Overall, the quality of education in Gaza is reported to have worsened, because classes are now larger, the time spent at school shorter and psychological and economic challenges are considerable, according to UNFPA. (para. 585, UN Independent Commission of Inquiry).

The World Bank has reported that the economy in Gaza is on the verge of collapse. Youth unemployment exceeds 60%, the highest in the world. 39% of the population lives below the poverty line.

More than 1,500 children were orphaned during the 51 days of Israel’s campaign against the Palestinians in Gaza. Almost 800 women were widowed. The psychological trauma inflicted on the youth especially cannot the underestimated.

“Children are afraid to die; they ask all the time if there will be another war.” Dr. Mona El Farra, a Palestinian doctor in Gaza.

The U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that the impact of the 2014 war cannot be assessed separately from Israel’s long-term blockade, and made a number of recommendations which I’m going to share in another post.

Denny Cormier from Santa Fe, New Mexico lived in Gaza during Israel's 51-day assault in July-August, 2014.

Denny Cormier from Santa Fe, New Mexico lived in Gaza 

An American, Denny Cormier, living in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge shared his observation that night when the fighting ended.

This is a night for joy and happiness.

Nader and I took to the streets of Al Jundi, and it was a night when thousands and thousands came to celebrate. The mood was infectious – for a few hours, the war was left behind, and the future looked brighter.

There were joyful prayers from every mosque in the city… the prayers filled Gaza and were the first reactions to the cease fire… and then came celebratory firing of rifles in the area – cries of Allahu Akbar.

Children filled the street – released from a too long confinement.

Parents and others followed close behind.

Banners were hung at Al Meena. Firecrackers were all around us.

Cars and trucks passed by in parade almost immediately – filled with young men who waved banners, shouted slogans announcing the end of war – holding hands up in the sign of peace.

I was immediately overwhelmed…. tonight was a night for joy but I also wept from the pure joy of seeing my Palestinian friends at this special moment in this journey to Gaza.

I will remember this night forever.

The people of Gaza have suffered horribly during these last 50 days. So many have died and been seriously injured. We have witnessed the photographs of so many martyred and injured children. Many villages have been destroyed altogether…. thousands and thousands of homes and mosques and buildings now lie in rubble. Many residential towers lie in ruin…. with another joining them in Gaza City last night.

Some might wonder how Gaza could celebrate in the face of such great loss and destruction…

But there is much that we have yet to learn about this people of the resistance.

Gaza celebrated its survival, its resistance, its relief, its innate love of life tonight – its strong belief in a merciful and loving Allah – and took a few hours to celebrate the end to this war, and the hope of a new beginning.

And I swear to you – I truly believe that even those who lost their lives and are now in Jannah also joined this celebration.

But this is just a beginning, my dear friends…. the celebration of the evening is fading – and now the real works begins.

The final ceasefire agreement is still filled with question marks and unresolved issues – years of reconstruction lie ahead – the dead are still being buried – the injured may have months of recovery and rehabilitation before them – the infrastructure has been destroyed – raw sewage still pours into the sea. More then 50% of the working population is unemployed (and that number will rise in the coming days)…. many people have become homeless (hundreds of thousands of them)…. and many of them have no place to go – no home to return to….. thousands and thousands are without food and water (or are food insecure)….

As one astute observer in Gaza wrote tonight – We have won the war but there is still no electricity and water tonight… the city is mostly dark, my dear friends.

There is reason for celebration in Gaza tonight because nearly 50 days and nights of bombing were a horrific experience for many who thought that they might die at any moment… that their children would meet the same fate.

Children will look to the sky for many weeks to come and run to their mother or friends hoping to find protection.

The drones are still in the sky over Gaza tonight.

Gaza is still an open air prison.

More than at any other time – the good people of Gaza need our support.

They need protests in the street until their freedoms are won.

They need us to learn more about their heritage and their future.

They will need us to dig deep in the coming days.

They will need us to continue the work of boycotting Israeli goods and investments in Israeli corporations (and those corporations that have supported years of apartheid in the West Bank and years of siege and blockade in Gaza).

There is still much to be done.

The bombs and destruction have ended for the moment – but please remember that little has changed yet – and it will not change at all without our support.

Israel is still the Occupier. The blockade and siege remain in place except for a piece of paper and promises.

One of the world’s largest armies is ready to attack again at any moment.

Thanks to Allah, I am alive – thanks to Allah, the nights are quieter – thanks to Allah, there is “temporary” peace in this land of beautiful people.

Thanks to Allah for your prayers and support and for your sacrifices, dear friends.

Gaza is still under attack.

And it will be for years to come unless we continue our work.

We must continue this work.

I love you, dear friends.

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