|Tighe clowns with kids in Gaza!
I already got my Father's Day present--the best ever. It was the chance to build playgrounds for children in Gaza. Thank you to all who made that possible. We gave them not only playgrounds but the opportunity to play--something many of us take for granted. During my short visit,
I was tear gassed by Israeli soldiers while joining a Palestinian protest against the apartheid wall in the West Bank town of Bi'lin. I was beaten with an M-16 by soldiers when we were peacefully
protesting Prime Minister Netanyahu. While I experienced the violence of occupation (read Ann Wright's article and see the video here), it is little compared to the brutality these kids see every day. Check out more footage + photos from our visit and witness the joy built with peace and your generosity.
We met many remarkable fathers on our travels through Gaza, Palestine and Israel, fathers like Palestinian Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, who saw all three of his young daughters killed during the Israeli siege on Gaza in January. Dr. Abu al-Aish has decided to honor the memory of his daughters by creating a foundation to empower girls and women to live their dreams--dreams his daughters never had a chance to achieve. As I spend Fathers Day with my two boys, I will honor these fathers and grieve for their losses.
I will also honor the remarkable young people I've met--both Palestinian and Israeli--who are desperately searching for a way out of the violence and hatred they have grown up with. We spent time with the Shministim, young Israeli high school kids who are refusing to do their mandatory military service, and each had a story more compelling than the next. They face intense pressure from family, friends and the Israeli government, and many have gone to prison. These young people represent the future and they must be heard!
In honor of Fathers Day, won't you contribute to help us launch speaking tours this Fall to highlight the voices of young Israelis who refused to fight in the armed forces and Palestinian women who are speaking out from behind the walls of occupation? If you donate in your father's name, we will give you a special Father's Day ecard (pictured at right) to send to him and other special men in your life.
We also have over 100 delegates from our Gaza Peace delegations who are available and willing to speak with you and your community about their experiences bearing witness in Gaza, Palestine and Israel. To find out more, click here.
Thank you for making this Father's Day meaningful--not only for your own father, but for the fathers of the Middle East who want nothing more than for their children to live in peace.
Tighe Barry, father, activist, peacemaker (pink playground builder)!
P.S. We would be amiss to not mention the people-powered protests in Iran this week. Despite heavy government censorship, we witnessed the power of technology in creating change, as Iranians tweeted and text-ed their revolution. In solidarity with our Iranian brothers and sisters please share this Flickr Slideshow on your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. and read our statement on the elections here.