To the people of Gaza,
I just got off the phone with one of the passengers that will be on the U.S. boat, the Audacity of Hope, which is part of the 2nd Freedom Flotilla that aims to break the blockade of Gaza later this month. She is one of my best friends and I am afraid for her. Israel has promised to stop the flotilla and authorized the use of all force necessary to do so, and the United States has affirmed Israel’s preparation for the flotilla. I am afraid that she will be arrested, that she will be treated badly in detainment, or worse killed. I am in on the emergency response plans and this has felt both empowering and scary. After a teary good-bye, I hung up the phone and blotted my eyes. I felt worried and grateful, proud of my friend’s bravery and courage to so publicly put her life on the line to bring attention to the illegal, abusive blockade of your home.
And I do realize that, at best, my friend will return to her life, changed by the experience, I am sure, but alive. She will able to come back to a life free of the hardships you face daily. I know that each day, the rights we enjoy as Americans are things most Gazans only dream of. I know that you are subjected to being arrested, treated harshly, and are at risk of being killed, whether by a direct IDF action or by slower murderous weapons like malnutrition and the denial of adequate health care. I know that in so many ways, your lives are always on the line. I know this is why my friend is going on the boat. Because whatever sacrifices she has made so far, and the sacrifices that may be demanded of her as a result of boarding that boat, they are no less significant than the sacrifices Gazans have made for decades.
There will be about 300 people from 22 countries in the Flotilla that departs later this month. Behind every person on the boats, there are entire home communities behind them, supporting them, who believe that the way you have been imprisoned on your own land is illegal, immoral, and indefensible. We, in these home communities pray for your human rights to be honored and protected, we pray for ingenuity, creativity and perseverance for those who will lead the conflict to it’s peaceful resolution, and we even pray for you to experience joy, fellowship, and love, which are things that get any people through harrowing times.
Each and every one of you there in Gaza, are a part of my family. I especially send my love to the children of Gaza, my younger siblings, who I pray will live to see a time when playgrounds are in parks and not amongst rubble, when high quality schooling is available to all, and when their families experience lifetimes of peace and prosperity. My love goes out to the mothers, who care for and nurture future leaders who will help to heal Palestine on it’s journey to independence. To the young adults who are pushing political leaders to unify and engage seriously in peace negotiations, I love you! March on! Stay strong! You WILL affect lasting positive change!
I also see as brothers, those individuals who engage in violent actions (behavior I will always condemn). I think that they are so desperately hopeless about their situation that they cannot conceive of a different, violence-free way. Though I do not support attacks on Israel or the murder of Israelis, I do love these Gazans, too. Such desperation can be healed by allowing civil society in Gaza to have access to healthy food, good health care, and economic opportunities currently denied to them.
I will do all I can to support you, my Gazan family.
I pray for your rights, I pray for a swift and peaceful resolution to the conflict that holds you in it’s grip, I pray for your healing and your happiness. And, I do pray these same things for your Israeli neighbors, too. In the end, I cannot have love for you that I deny to others; I cannot want for you things I do not want for all.
Insha’Allah, למען השם, may peace fall upon the earth.
All my love,
Santa Cruz, California