Many people have been asking me, “What do you think about while bicycling?” These days, it’s mostly Gaza.
I’m traveling right now, which is a perfect excuse to bury my head in the sand. Readers of this blog are likely to want to do the same thing when reading it. At least, for me, I read a blog about traveling in order to escape the realities of the unjust, morbid world we live in. There is no true escape, though. Audre Lorde said, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we don’t lead single-issue lives.” I write about my bike tour, but ultimately there is a larger context that I can’t ignore.
Gaza is the most densely populated place on the planet. Israel controls the flow of food, medical supplies, water, electricity, ambulances, and people. For over 2 weeks, Israel has found excuses to bomb various locations in Gaza and kill hundreds of civilians. More than 700 Palestinian civilians have been killed. (By the time I post this, the count will have gone up.) Around 30 Israeli soldiers have been killed. This is an important distinction. Very few Israeli civilians have been killed; this is a one-sided war. This is not a “conflict” because Palestinians have absolutely no power. Hamas is used as an excuse for the massacre of Shejaiya, a Gaza City, and yet Hamas is not a tangible threat to Israel’s US-backed military force. There is no threat to the unilateral power Israel has over the Palestinian people. There is no justification for the ongoing slaughter.
If I were in Gaza as a nurse, I would be at risk for my hospital being arbitrarily targeted by Israel and bombed. At the last I read, twenty-five medical facilities have been targeted; dozens of health-care providers have been killed and injured; patients who those hospitals were working to save have been killed. The intensive care unit was targeted at Al-Aqsa Hospital.
As a United States citizen, I am complicit in the carnage. If the US were to withdraw military or financial support from Israel, they could not kill Palestinians. The US was the only country to vote against a UN Human Rights Council resolution that demanded an end to military bombardment of Gaza. Our leaders pay lip-service to the concept of peace and coexistence, and yet fully condone Israel’s illegal occupation by ignoring the one-sided nature of how this war is waged. Civilians are being slaughtered this minute.
When the bombing ends, we will find lives have been lost but nothing as been gained. This cycle will repeat. Israel needs to find regularly-scheduled excuses to destroy Palestinian populations; killing women and children is part of a larger strategy. Below are some ideas for “What to do.” Some are in the context of the horrific acts that are being committed right now; others are part of a longer-term strategy. The Boycott-Divest-Sanction movement is working to deconstruct the world’s largest open-air prison, known as Gaza, and create a better world for Palestinians, and all of us.
What Can We Do
1. Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid. It’s not about Hamas, it’s about Palestinian human beings being slaughtered.
2. Don’t Eat the Hummus. Boycott Divest Sanction. This is the most powerful and effective form of bringing oppressive regimes to their knees. Victoria’s Secret and Sabra Hummus are two brands that are being targeted by the BDS movement because of their ties to Israel.
3. Don’t Let Crimes Be Committed in Your Name. Your elected representatives owe you an explanation for why they voted UNANIMOUSLY to fund this genocide. Call/Write them and if they use Hamas as an excuse, refer to #1.
4. Don’t Give Up. If Palestinians in Gaza can withstand this savagery and still say sumood (perseverance), we can take a few uncomfortable conversations.
5. Love. That’s what it’s all about. Hug someone who speaks up for Palestine, especially for the first time even though they are afraid, and often attacked by friends and loved ones. Stand up for others who need you, too, your voice is powerful and there is so much suffering in the world, not only in Palestine. Kiss your sweetheart, hold your kids a little longer, praise the morning, don’t let this dim the love in your heart.
Some Phone Calls:
1. Contact President Obama at (202) 456-1111 and the State Department at (202) 647-4000. Demand that they immediately withdraw U.S. military aid from Israel and call on Israel to immediately end its attacks. Tell them to stop supporting Israel’s crimes with our tax dollars.
2. Call the Egyptian Embassy at (202) 895-5400 and demand they open the Rafah border for injured Palestinians in need of urgent medical care. Alternate number: (202) 966-6342.
3. Call Boeing. Boeing provides Israel with F-15A fighter jets, Apache AH 64 helicopters, tungsten or DIMEbombs to attack Gaza. Boeing’s headquarters are located in Chicago. Contact Boeing at (312) 544-2140 and demand they stop giving Israel weapons to use against civilians in Gaza.
Visit this link to see other corporations that are involved in the current attacks on Gaza. Look for a corporation near you if possible and call them and protest at their offices: http://afsc.org/resource/us-corporations-complicit-current-attacks-gaza
4. Call your U.S. Senators and ask that Congress demand an end to the siege of Gaza. You can find your senators at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm. In New Jersey, the phone numbers are: Cory Booker (202) 224-3224 and Robert Menendez (202) 224-4744.