Terry Greenblatt, director of Bat
Shalom, Israel's prominent feminist peace organization: “We
[women] put the strife and pains in front of us, look at them
courageously and come up with a win-win formula. The Palestinian
woman with whom I converse would be my neighbor eventually.”
Amneh Badran, Palestinian director
of the Jerusalem Center for Women: “They [male Israeli
and Palestinian negotiators] are used to the narrow concept
of 'I win. You surrender.' … This win-lose equation might
be relevant in wars, but is not productive in making peace."
the situation in Gaza, and what are the needs of the people
A. Twenty-two days of Israeli bombardment by land, sea
and air left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and 5,300 injured;
approximately 4,000 homes destroyed and 17,000 others damaged;
more than 50,000 people were displaced into temporary U.N.
shelters, and entire neighborhoods were leveled. Read
more and see photos...
Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result
of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli
invasion… “What we have seen in large areas of farmland is
the destruction of all means of life.” Read
Gaza's sewerage system is on the brink of collapse; drinking
water could be contaminated for entire area. Many wells have
been destroyed, and Gaza's water agency is prohibited by Israel
from importing pipes, excavators and other equipment… as of
18 January approximately 400,000 people, among them 224,000
children, were still without running water. Read
The situation of women in Gaza is dire. Gaza has one of the
world's highest population rates, which means that many women
are either pregnant, going through or just recovering from
childbirth, or breastfeeding. During the 22-day assault of
Gaza, the hospitals were overwhelmed, and ambulances attacked
or denied access to people in need, and many women gave birth
unaided in terrible conditions. Pamela Delargy, the head of
the UN population fund's humanitarian response branch, pointed
out that the Gaza women give birth everyday to almost 170
babies and both women and their babies are at risk because
of the inability to get even the most basic health services
or good nutrition.
Gaza will need years to recover from the devastating Israeli
assault, says Katharina Ritz, head of mission of the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Israel's 22-day assault
left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead, and decimated much
of the coastal territory's infrastructure. Read
Q. I feel bad for the people of Gaza,
but isn't Hamas a terrorist organization?
Hamas, an acronym that stands for H.arakat al-Muqa-wamat al-Isla-miyyah,
meaning "Islamic Resistance Movement", is the political
and social organization that won the majority in the Palestinian
parliamentary elections in January 2007. Since June 2007,
Hamas has been the governing party in Gaza. Israel immediately
thereafter imposed an economic blockade on Gaza.
Many Palestinians voted for Hamas as a protest against Fatah,
which many considered corrupt and ineffective at gaining Palestinians
their rights, or protecting them from Israel's military actions.
However opposed to Hamas' positions, or skeptical of its goals,
Israel does not therefore have the right to commit crimes
against humanity. The 18-month siege leading up to the Israeli
assault was collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The
IDF's many crimes, well-documented in world media, include
using white phosphorus and DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosives)
bombs, shooting civilians attempting to escape, bombing civilian
infrastructure, looting and more. Read
Q. I've always supported Israel, and
I'm not going to stop, so what now?
brutal ongoing occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East
Jerusalem poses a threat to the long-term sustainability of
the Israeli state. Supporting Israel means supporting a just
and equitable peace. Many Israelis are opposed to the actions
of their government. A brave group of high school students
is refusing to serve in the Occupation; read more and see
video here: http://december18th.org/
There are many Israeli and Jewish groups working against the
occupation, and for peace with justice for both peoples. One
of the most influential is the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions. Read more...
Others include Gush Shalom, B'Tselem and many more; click
here for annotated list.
The cycles of revenge and hatred are damaging to Israel as
a country and to Israelis as individuals. Young soldiers come
home from the occupied territories with PTSD, and can fall
into addiction, patterns of domestic violence, and long-term
depression. After the IDF attacks on Gaza, including on UN
schools and food warehouses, much of the world now looks with
horror on Israel. This will have consequences on Israel's
tourism, economic development and foreign policy. A peaceful
and just resolution of the tragedy of occupation, now in its
42nd year, will be a relief and blessing to Israel as well
as to the Palestinians.
Q. What's CODEPINK's role?
A. As a women-led peace
organization we are compelled to act in the face of these
horrors, to bring attention and aid to the suffering, especially
women and children. Several CODEPINK local groups have already
taken part in marches, rallies, peace vigils, visits to Congressional
offices, and other actions.
In early February, CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin, Ret.
US Army Col. Ann Wright, and LA CODEPINKer Tighe Barry went
to Gaza, courageously witnessing the wanton destruction in
Gaza and seeing the needs of the people. They met with Palestinian
aid groups including the Palestinian Medical Relief Society,
the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and the Union of
Palestinian Women's Committees.
CODEPINK has put out a worldwide call to action for the women
of Gaza on March 8, International Women's Day. The call is
endorsed by the National Congress of Black Women, Organization
of Women's Freedom in Iraq, American Muslim Voice, author
Alice Walker and journalist Laura Flanders. Together across
our PINK network, we aim to raise $10,000 at our house parties,
and raise awareness in our communities about the plight of
the women of Gaza and the crisis in Palestine and Israel.
Q. What can I do as an individual?
A. First, take to heart
this quote from Rabbis for Human Rights: “When we feel that
our actions will have no effect we must remember that we never
know what little act will tip the scales one way or another.
As we focus on this human rights disaster here and now [in
Gaza] we know that we must sow seeds for the future.”
US citizens must tell their Members of Congress that they
want them to pursue a balanced, constructive foreign policy
that will lead to an end of the occupation and the establishment
of a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
On February 2, 2009, sixty members of the U.S. House of Representatives,
led by Reps. Barbara Lee and Lois Capps (both D-Calif.), and
John Olver (D-Mass.) called for "immediate action"
to address the "humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip"
and delivered a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The letter also requests that the State Department release
emergency funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.
- Please Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121 and ask
for support of this position, and also for the US to act for
a long-term peaceful resolution of the conflict.
- Host a House Party for the women of Gaza on or before International
Women's Day, March 8. Click
here for more!
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing
your views, and/or call in to political talk radio.
- Bring up these issues in your faith community; read, watch
videos, host discussions.
- For more info please check back here frequently, or send an
email to info[at]codepinkalert.org.