Reflections from my recent visit to Gaza in May 2014 and Israel's current, horrific assault on Gaza that began on July 8th, 2014. Israel must be held accountable and responsible for its war crimes in Gaza. We will not stop working and fighting for justice, equality, human rights, ending the occupation, and ending the siege on Gaza. We will not stop until Gaza and all of Palestine is free.
I will never forget the special afternoon I spent in the home of this lovely refugee family in Saleh Al balawi Beach Camp, Gaza Strip in May (2014). The family's father still holds the key to their family home in Majdal.
Departing Gaza in May (2014) through Israel's Erez Checkpoint, I took this photo while walking inside the 500 meter (.3 mile) over-ground caged tunnel, with mounted automatic machine guns watching you from the distant wall. Very few can get in or out of Gaza, only those with permits and those are very limited and granted artibrarily. Entry and Exit to Gaza at the Erez crossing has become even more impersonalized, with automated gates and narrow doorway passages where no human being is present. Israeli soldiers send orders to pass via microphones as they are stationed above the entry hall in glass sealed rooms.
Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old). Abdullah was killed by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza on July 20th, 2014. Abdullah was a participant in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, and was studying to be an international human rights lawyer.
I will never forget the days I spent with Abdullah and the many other inspirational students while in Gaza in May (2014). My heart breaks for Abdullah, his family, my Gaza colleagues, and for all those in Gaza during this horrific time.
I’m terrified to let my mind be still and truly feel the grief that swims silently through my veins threatening to slowly poison my heart. The risk is too great.
What if my silent pain consumes me and brings me to my knees in helpless agony?
But, I know at the center of my being, this is a risk I must take. For the fear of not feeling my own humanity terrifies me even more.
Lying under the stars in the darkness of night, I will lose myself to my suffocating pain. Only the stars and moon will hear my cries. But, I know I will make it through my tears and out of the darkness, weightlessly riding on the healing rebirth of the sunrise.
May the souls of Gaza guide me towards courage… Courage to be still, truly grieve and weep. Courage to let my heart break open, so that it may be filled with the beauty of forgiveness and the music of hope.
May the light of Gaza guide us all through the darkness, reminding us of our humanity and carry us home to peace at last.