Working towards peace and sustainability

Rally for Gaza: May All be Fed!

As part of our "Peace, Not Famine" rolling hunger strike, nearly three dozen of us gathered on April 5 outside CoMo City Hall to rally in support of adequate food and other necessities being provided to the desperate people of Gaza. We also called for a lasting ceasefire, the release of hostages and political prisoners, and a halt to U.S. military exports to Israel. 

We had three speakers at the rally. The first was Palestinian-American activist, humanitarian aid worker and adjunct professor, Rasha Abousalem. Below you will find the text of her talk at the Rally for Gaza, May All be Fed peace gathering. We will also be posting soon the texts of the other two speakers.

Please note that all are invited to join in our daily peace vigils which are held from 12:15-12:45 p.m. by the Keyhole sculpture outside City Hall. We vigil for peace seven days a week.

I am the child of Palestinian refugees from the original 1948 Nakba (or "catastrophe" in Arabic). My father, one of the 700,000 Palestinians expelled or forced to flee, was only 8 years old when his family was violently forced out of their home in Haifa, and my mother's family was expelled from their ancestral land in Nazareth.

I was privileged to be raised in the US, as my parents brought their 4 young children to a new country and culture in the hopes that they could live safely and give us the opportunities they were robbed of. But rather than be able to celebrate my beautiful heritage through our food, music, embroidery, and diverse history... my entire existence as a Palestinian is instead politicized, vilified, dehumanized, and questioned. Simply for stating, "My heritage is Palestinian," I am no longer seen as American (or "American" enough). I am looked at suspiciously and accused of being hateful and violent, and that the Palestinian existence is "complicated." For decades, Palestinian history has been erased, appropriated, and taken over by Zionist propaganda. Anti-Palestinian sentiment and rhetoric is so normalized and acceptable that everything from its flag to a kufiyah or even simply saying the word "Palestine" is deemed extremist, dangerous, and at best, makes people feel uncomfortable. 

For the first time in history, a genocide is being live streamed by the very population that is being targeted. Horrific scenes of wide-scale devastation, slaughter, and starvation flood our screens. Israeli military forces, armed by the US, have killed more than 32,800 in Gaza (as of April 2nd), including over 13,000 children. 

More than a million Palestinians will face famine in the coming weeks, as Palestinians have resorted to eating grass and animal-feed in a desperate attempt to ward off starvation. Gaza is now the most severe humanitarian crisis in modern history and has turned into a 21stcentury concentration camp. Almost 30 people have been starved to death, with 27 of those being children. But we need to be clear that although the people in Gaza indeed are starving, it is not due to natural or uncontrollable causes...rather, the people of Gaza are being intentionally deprived of the most basic human right to food and water...as Gaza-- besides being bombed-- is literally being starved, dehydrated and diseased to death by Israeli officials.

Since WWII, the international community has prohibited acts of apartheid, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. After the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust, the world said "never again." Today, the same leaders and nations that have developed these international laws of moral conduct are the very same ones ignoring them, as they passively stand by and watch Israel blatantly and very publicly disregard international law after international law on a massive scale.

As heavy bombardments continue in Gaza, aid workers and even Israeli hostages have not been spared from the fury of the Israeli military. This most recent attack on the WCK aid workers, who just prior to being murdered by the Israeli military were part of a team that was distributing food, has infuriated humanitarians like myself...except our outrage falls on deaf ears, blind eyes, and sealed hearts.

Decades from now, when future generations study not just this genocide, but the apartheid as well, they will discuss how the world failed to stop yet another atrocity. They will read accounts of the horrors that took place in Gaza and think to themselves exactly what so many of us think now about past horrific events – "I would have said something!"..."I would have been outraged!"...."I would have..."..."I would have..."...."I would have...."

Instead, what so many will end up saying is, "I should have taken a stand...I should have been more publicly outspoken...I should have done this or I should have...I should have...I should have...I should have."

But here we all are today, taking a stand together. Here we are today, people of different faiths, races, ethnicities and backgrounds...coming together to stand for humanity. Do not feel defeated or tired...do not feel like your voice is too small. The people of Gaza are depending on each and every single one of us to be their voice. They do not have a choice, but we do. And every day we can choose to be on the right side of history. Every day we can choose to be firm in our stance...or we can choose to stay silent and pretend that we have no say in the matter.

Thank you, friends, for choosing to fight the good cause...for taking a stand with us not just today, but everyday. Thank you from my friends in Gaza and the West Bank who everyday cling onto a little bit of hope...because as long as they have hope, they have the will to survive....because the act of existence, is the simplest and most powerful form of resistance. And today, we are existing here, now, all together in resistance against brutality. Thank you all again.