Tuesday, 4 March 2008

tears for gaza

i belong to some email groups that support the palestinian people. they include the christian peacemakers team (CPT) based in hebron, the international women's peace movement, one called boycott israeli goods, and the palestinian centre for human rights. let me state clearly and openly that i do not belong to any group that denigrates the jewish religion or the jewish people. these groups do, however, criticise the policies and the actions of the israeli government.

in the last couple of years i have hardly opened and read the emails i receive from the various groups. i store them in a folder unopened - they are there for reference and as a reminder. i don't open them because most days i just don't feel up to reading them. the news is mostly depressing and disheartening.

i've tried to be as active as possible in promoting palestinian rights. a couple of years ago i wrote this piece for the AEN journal (see here for the corresponding piece by dave moskovitz). i've written many letters to the editor, have been to peace rallies, and try to raise the issues when i have speaking engagements. but it all seems hopeless.

hearing the daily news out of the hell-hole that is gaza, one wonders if there will ever be peace in that troubled land. there certainly does not seem to be the international will for it. and in the meantime, this is the kind of thing that is happening now (if that doesn't work, try this). the pictures are disturbing, not just for the actual violence they show, but also the response. the protests of children daubed in red paint, and with headbands speak volumes of the anger and hatred that results from these kinds of attack. a point that was poignantly made at the end of this interview on radio nz this morning.

here is part of a report from CPT:

Most people in Hebron have TVs. The last few days the images on the screen have been unbearable. At one home I saw a mother try to distract her eight-year old son but she was too late. He had already seen the carnage of the boys playing soccer, stopped cold by an Israeli air strike. Mothers watching the screen sobbed uncontrollably as they saw Israeli bombs slaughtering babies, one only two days old. Gaza is in every home in the West Bank, on the faces of people in the market, and in the children throwing stones at the soldiers.

and finally, here is a blog report from mohammed omar, a student & journalist writing of his experiences from rafah (also includes photographs).

i know that what i am presenting here is "one side of the story". but it's a side that is not very well told in our media. these are pictures that are not often seen and voices that don't get much airplay here. it's a reality that we need to fully appreciate in order to build the will to act. while the news coverage indicates that the attack against gaza are retaliatory - in other words, one is left with a sense that they are getting what they deserve - it's hard to believe that anyone deserves this.

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