Monday, August 18, 2014

Why My Grieving Heart Must Break Open For #Gaza….

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.

Photo of my last night in Gaza in May (2014). The people of Gaza are beautiful beyond words in every way. Their joy, happiness, spirit, humor and progressive political and movement building ideas amazed me, inspired me, and renewed my spirit and hope that Gaza and Palestine will soon be free. 

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.

Photo of my colleague's house in Gaza that was destroyed by Israel's July 2014 bombardment on Gaza.  

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. 

Grieving For Gaza… 
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. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two months ago in May, I was doing Dabke in Gaza with Palestinian youth- Today's current horror is a tragic contrast to this joy: Video & Reflection

Two-months ago, I was in Gaza visiting our American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Gaza colleagues, students, activists and more, as part of our AFSC staff delegation.  My experience in Gaza was life-changing and moving beyond words.  My colleagues in Gaza and all of the wonderful young people we met with touched my heart and spirit in ways I will never forget.  

We all left Gaza in tears, tears for knowing how precious our time there was and tears for knowing that our dear Gazan friends and colleagues could not leave Gaza because of Israel's on-going siege.  Everyone we met in Gaza amazed me and inspired me with their warm spirit, laughter, and unwavering hope that justice will prevail despite Israel's horrific on-going siege. 

Below is a video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago. 

Abdullah Mansor Abu Amara (22 years old)
Killed by Israel on July 20th, 2014
Over the last week, most of these amazing people in the video have had to evacuate their homes, have had family and friends killed, and one of the students, Abdullah, who was participating in our "Palestine Youth: Together for Change" program, was killed yesterday by Israeli soldiers in Israel's assault on the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza. Abdullah was aspiring to be an international human rights lawyer and had a contagious smile that none us will ever forget. 

My heart breaks for Abdullah's family and friends and for all those in Gaza during this horrendous time. I pray that humanity's global conscience awakens and Israel's bombing of Gaza, murder of Palestinians, siege and occupation end soon, and that the people of Gaza can live their lives as human beings… laugh again, dance again, and follow their dreams in freedom, safety and peace. 

May Gaza and all of Palestine soon be free. 

Video of our AFSC delegation and Palestinian youth doing dabke in Gaza two-months ago in May 2014. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Emergency Protest against Israel's collective punishment on Gaza and West Bank and its violence against Palestinian youth

Emergency Protest! Omaha, Nebraska- Saturday, July 5th @ 4pm @ 72nd & Dodge St.
Demand an end to collective punishment. Demand fair and accurate media coverage of Israeli violence against Palestinian youth. 

In response to the tragic deaths of three Israeli youth, Israel has unfortunately engaged in the collective punishment of Palestinians. This includes heavily bombing the Gaza strip and raiding and attacking West Bank towns and villages. Several people have been arrested and killed, including children. In the last 24 hours, settlers have run over a 9-year-old girl, Sanabel Mohammed Tus, and kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and burned 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khader. 

These are only two names of the many people who have either had their lives taken or shattered at the hands of Israel’s colonial regime. 

We call for an end to Israel's collective punishment and violence against Palestinian men, women, and children.

We call on mainstream US media to stop with its biased reporting, focusing on the Israeli youth killed and ignoring Palestinian youth killed. We demand fair and accurate coverage of the situation.

We call on the US government to condemn Israel's actions.

We call on people of conscience everywhere to stand up against Israel's violent occupation and apartheid.

The people of Omaha cannot sit back and do nothing while Israel is not only emboldened by the uncritical support of the United States but completely funded by the US citizens like you and me. Our tax dollars are used to fund mothers dying of bombshells and children being beaten, abducted, and shot by IDF soldiers. It is the responsibility of every American not only to care about where their taxes are going, but to be morally indignant at such crimes against humanity. 

Join us in collective display of indignation. We are not going to be complicit in US backed Israeli war crimes. Stand with the mothers of Palestine. Stand against the Palestinians who have their futures violently torn away. Stand against injustice.

 Click Here to Join Omaha's Emergency Protest on Facebook

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Upcoming Event with Josh Ruebner- "Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace"

Mark your calendars! Political analyst and journalist Josh Ruebner will be coming to UNO to talk about his new book “Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.” 

Josh's new book analyzes why the Obama administration has entirely failed to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, discussing the path of this administration's policies regarding the Israeli lobby, military aid to Israel, settlement expansion, Palestinian state recognition and peace talks. Ruebner argues that the growing number of Americans who are dissatisfied with their government’s policy have the power to create real change through causes such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Josh Reubner is the National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, as well as a former Analyst of Middle East Affairs at Congressional Research Service and former director of Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel.

The new book by Josh Reubner, "Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace" is highly acclaimed and has been reviewed by well-known scholars and activists such as Phyllis Bennis, Nadia Hijab, and Bill Fletcher jr.

You won't want to miss out on enlightening discussion with Josh Ruebner on the US involvement in the conflict.  
Doors open at 1pm and after the talk, Josh will have a Q&A session to answer any questions.

Josh will also be selling and signing his book! The book will be $25 and $20 for students (cash, check or credit will be accepted).

*Refreshments and snacks will be provided

To find out more about him and his book, visit his website:

Sponsored By: UNO’s Afghan Student Association, UNO’s International Student Association, UNO’s Muslim Students Association, Creighton’s Muslim Student Association and Nebraskans for Peace