Expand our Compassion to Include Palestinians

By David Hart

With thanks to our friends at Waging Nonviolence and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, I am pleased to share a piece I wrote that they just published. If you are not already getting their inspirational newsletters, please sign up now here. 


As ‘annexation’ looms, let’s expand our compassion to include Palestinians

For decades, Israel has used talk of peace as a cover for expansion of an unjust system. We are now poised on a dangerous cliff that should offend everyone who believes themselves to be committed to human rights, international law or creative conflict resolution. 

I am Jewish and was raised being told of land taken during a war when the whole world was against us and still somehow we prevailed. Yes, international law made clear that no nation can occupy land they took in war. But, we were defending ourselves and we certainly would not hold the land long. 

The story I was told was one of an oppressed people eeking out a fragile living in a harsh land. Not surprisingly those people were “my people.” I wasn’t told of the suffering of the Palestinian people. When I learned of this deep affront to the basic values Jews are taught are at the heart of our faith, I was somehow more able to accept this contradiction because it came with a story that land would be traded for peace and the occupation would soon end. 

That was decades ago. Sadly, cruel and illegal actions taken again and again have reshaped “facts on the ground” and made the call for a two-state solution more of a cover for oppressive policies than a realistic path towards justice and peace.

Now Trump, Netanyahu, and Jared Kushner are forming an unholy alliance of callous disregard for the suffering of others. When we are appropriately focused on COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests sweeping our nation and the globe, a great evil will likely be advanced. They put out a swiss cheese map that is not — nor can it ever be — a real nation. It appears likely that some form of annexation may move forward over the next several weeks or months. 

To make the so-called “international community” respond less harshly, they will likely not take all the land in one fell swoop. Maybe they will take smaller steps or call it something other than annexation, but have no doubt they are continuing a long and destructive pattern —  one that flies in the face of international law and makes a joke of mediation and conflict resolution. 

For years I made my living as a conflict resolution practitioner and believe deeply in the power of those tools. Even people with minimal exposure to mediation understand both parties must be at the table for the process to have any credibility. What Jared dreamt up or built from pieces fed to him by those without the vision to imagine a world of peace with justice is not a peace plan at all. Don’t let them fool you. They have put forth a series of unworkable proposals that have neither been considered nor approved by both sides to the conflict. Instead, they talk out of both sides of their mouths, declaring a love for peace while harshly ignoring the basic human rights of the Palestinian people. The “deal of the century” is no deal at all. Turns out it is a dangerous and deceitful farce that negates the power and potential of actual negotiation. 

Many progressive, moderate and conservative American Jews are now expressing deep, and hopefully, heartfelt sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement. This is a major step and one I celebrate with all my heart. Similarly, the vast majority of my community — other than a handful of religious fanatics who are on the wrong side of history — celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on LGBTQ rights. The court said simply you can’t be married legally on a Sunday and then be fired on Monday if the boss finds out who you love. Most Jews understand this as a step forward on the path to the much needed and long delayed Tikkun Olam — our moral obligation to heal and repair the world.  

Wanting to meet people wherever they are and seeking to embrace radically honest conversation even when it scares us, I must ask, what will it take to extend our compassion to the Palestinian people? Maybe we could start with the simple recognition that they are fully human. Radical I know, but true nonetheless. We seem to be able to accept the suffering of others when we are able to dehumanize them. When we can not see them to be as loving and fully alive as ourselves or our families, we can turn away when we see them suffer needlessly. 

If the repulsive and important video of George Floyd being murdered by a uniformed police officer bothers you, you are alive. You are human, you are decent, and able to feel for the suffering of others. And now I ask, can you extend your compassion to those young people in Palestine with the knee of occupation on their necks? I know this is not easy and that there is much to do at home to help create a just society, but neither of those facts can be used as a reason to avoid our ongoing moral obligation to speak up about the suffering of the Palestinian people. 

My hope is that those willing to begin to grapple with this complex and difficult series of interrelated issues will read the recent article by Daoud Kuttab, the celebrated journalist and creator of Sesame Street Palestine. He challenges us to come to terms with some harsh realities of occupation and lovingly urges us to look at the pattern of lies — and to question our own beliefs. I found reading his words to be both challenging and worthwhile. Even while asking us to examine the painful truth of our own complicity in the occupation, he warmly welcomes us into the conversation, noting kindly and correctly that “Palestinians have made mistakes too.” I urge you to bravely ponder what he says at this critical moment. 

I feel moved to share a short story that shook me to the core. Recently, I was on yet another Zoom call, this time with a group of old friends knowledgeable of the reality in Palestine. It is a mixed group with substantial involvement from different relevant communities. Before beginning an open discussion, two Palestinian experts were asked to speak. One, an attorney, noted several different scenarios of how annexation or something like might play out. His remarks have informed this piece. Another longtime nonviolent Palestinian leader said, “I’m not too worried about annexation.” 

Many of us on the call seemed shocked, but then as he explained, we became more sad than surprised. He spoke movingly of the brutal reality of day-to-day life for so many Palestinians. He noted with particular concern the trauma inflicted on young people who have known no reality other than occupation. He wasn’t telling us annexation isn’t a big deal. He was reminding us it has been underway in one form or another for decades. 

There are however two major differences annexation will, in fact, bring. First, it will be very hard to change course after this  illegal and immoral executive action is taken. Reversal would require a supermajority vote of Israeli Knesset members, which is not likely. 

Possibly even more significant to the day-to-day reality for Palestinians is how the change could impact settlement construction. As noted above, with every new settlement we were told that Israel remained ready to trade land for peace. But, facts on the ground made that less and less likely. At least under current law, new settlements — in land that all understand to be occupied by force and thus not legally held by Israel — have to receive special permission from both Israel’s defense and prime ministers. If annexation moves forward, settlement expansion will become a local issue and thus it will be much easier to proceed without a time consuming approval process.  

I struggle to remain hopeful in the face of so many terrible things happening in the world these days. The interrelated crises coming at us will not be easy to solve, but if we can expand our compassion to all those experiencing unnecessary suffering, we will find a path forward that embraces our deepest values. Our Palestinian brothers and sisters are calling out to be heard and need our support. Let us push past the boundaries of our comfort zones and look directly at the harsh reality of occupation and annexation. May that difficult process bring us closer to real and lasting peace.

https://wagingnonviolence.org/forusa/2020/06/annexation-looms-lets-expand-our-compassion-to-include-palestinians/

 

Latest posts

Nonviolence Can Heal National Traumas, by Jonathan Kuttab

Dear reader,

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and more generalized trauma are not only personal and individual in character but often afflict whole nations and peoples. Frequently historical in nature, trauma can be passed down intergenerationally. 

One of the greatest examples of such trauma afflicting  humanity is that of the Holocaust, compounding the historical experience of centuries of persecution, hatred, and discrimination against Jewish people. This is a trauma that made it easy for many to succumb to the doctrines of Zionism, offering Jewish empowerment via Jewish supremacy in a Jewish-dominated state as the only cure for their ongoing suffering. It has made many easy prey for fascist doctrines, of belief in the value of violence and military overkill as the only path to survival. It has also made it difficult for many to take seriously any path towards peace and reconciliation that is not firmly rooted in their military power and supremacy. And while many cynically exploit the traumas of the Holocaust for political ends, there exists a genuine phenomenon of authentic fear that cries out for healing and needs to be addressed.

That rabbit hole of domination and “deterrence” will likely doom Israeli Jews to eternal strife and enmity with their neighbors, leading to ever increased militarization since in their traumatized state no amount of military power will ever be sufficient, and any attempt by Palestinians to resist that domination is only likely to reinforce the trauma. Similarly, all peace efforts will be viewed with deep suspicion and reticence, particularly if they require concessions that seem to reduce Israeli military domination or appear to make Israel weaker or more vulnerable to the risk of future attacks.

As a Palestinian, I am keenly aware of these traumas. I realize, however unjust it is, that our liberation is tied to the healing of our oppressors from the traumas of the past, for which we are the current victims.

Rubble from a destroyed school in Palestine

I am also aware that armed struggle by Palestinians, however legitimate under international law—and even if it were directed solely at armed soldiers and settlers—still risks reinforcing rather than healing the trauma.

In addition to this, we cannot forget that the Palestinians also have a long history of trauma, are now being traumatized, and are in great need healing, especially when the current genocide stops and the difficult process of rebuilding Gaza commences. Tens of thousands of orphans, bereaved families, over 70,000 wounded, and millions who have lost their homes require not only justice but also time and space to undertake a long process of healing.

I am also deeply conscious of how attractive the call to violence can be for oppressed and traumatized peoples. The events of October 7—apart from the attacks on civilians at the music festival and the kibbutzim as well as the taking of civilian hostages, which are properly to be condemned in no uncertain terms—were also viewed by many Palestinians as a brilliantly successful military operation whereby resistance fighters armed with primitive hand held weapons simultaneously breached the sophisticated walls imprisoning Gaza in 30 locations, captured two army bases, including the headquarters of the Gaza Battalion, killing 340 soldiers and capturing about 40 others, and carried the fight into the territory held by their enemies (rather than their own). Despite the massiveness of the Israeli retaliation and the utter destruction of Gaza, the events of that day will likely hold an appeal to those who preach armed resistance for many years to come.

So we clearly need to resist the siren call for violence, especially in our pursuit of justice. But what can we do to bring about some measure of healing to these deep traumas that are currently feeding the cycle of violence and without the healing of which, no peace is possible?

NVI's fiscal partner, Holy Land Trust along with FOSNA held an extensive series of trainings, attended by over 70 Palestinians in the West Bank, to work on the process of dealing with ongoing trauma. We are also committed to pursuing such healing globally. 

Another conversation between NVI's new Co-Director, Sami Awad and Gabor Mate “From Pain to Healing: Healing Collective Trauma in Israel/Palestine” deals with this problem as well. It is this healing process that is urgently needed by all sides, and it is one area that supporters of nonviolence, can be part of the solution.

Peace,

Jonathan Kuttab, Co-Founder and Board Member

P.S.The Gaza Freedom Flotilla is delayed in Turkey, but another boat is headed from Sweden and is currently near Eurovision raising awareness of the ongoing blockade and siege of Gaza.

 

(Art Credit - Kayla Ginsburg - from CJNV)

US Boats to Gaza helps Freedom Flotilla Effort to Break the Siege

Update from global volunteers in Istanbul on April 20th including

Ann Wright, Huwaida Arraf, Dr. John Reuwer, Lisa Fithian, Wynd Kaufmyn, Cassandra Nixon and Shabnam Mayet.  All hosted by NVI Palestinian leaders, Mubarak Awad, and Sami Awad

 

 

Update from Ann Wright, April 15, 2024

Here is a beautiful Instagram that updates the world about the upcoming flotilla. Volunteers are coming from more than 30 countries!

 

Media Release
April 4, 2024

The international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) will sail in mid April with multiple vessels, carrying 5500 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds of international human rights observers to challenge the ongoing illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. This is an emergency mission as the situation in Gaza is dire, with famine setting in in northern Gaza, and catastrophic hunger present throughout the Gaza Strip as the result of a deliberate policy by the Israeli government to starve the Palestinian people. Time is critical as experts predict that hunger and disease could claim more lives than have been killed in the bombing.

Getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza is urgent, but it is not sufficient. We must end Israel’s unlawful, deadly blockade as well as Israel’s overall control of Gaza. Allowing Israel to control what and how much humanitarian aid can get to Palestinians in Gaza is like letting the fox manage the henhouse.  And yet, this is what the international community of states is allowing by refusing to sanction Israel and defy its genocidal policies in order to ensure that enough aid reaches the trapped, beleaguered and bombarded civilian population.

The Cyprus maritime corridor, the U.S. floating pier project, and symbolic air drops of food are all distractions from the fact that these methods of aid delivery are insufficient, and still leave Israel in control of what aid can get to the Palestinian people, all while Israel actively prevents thousands of aid trucks from entering Gaza through the land crossings.

On January 26 the International Court of Justice ruled that, ‘the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.’ On March 28, the ICJ ordered additional preliminary measures, which included requiring the Israeli forces to stop “preventing, through any action, the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance” to Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel has long violated its responsibility as occupying power to ensure the health and wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Now, it is engaging in full scale genocidal conduct in Gaza and using starvation as a weapon of war. Israeli military and political leaders have repeatedly declared their intention to collectively punish the entire population of Gaza, including by denying them food, water and other life-sustaining aid. We therefore reject Israel’s control over the humanitarian aid that can enter Gaza and reject any Israeli inspection of our cargo.For everyone’s safety and to ensure aid is delivered to those who need it, the FFC is bringing hundreds of international humanitarian observers, from many countries and different backgrounds.

“The International Court of Justice’s preliminary measures ordered against Israel are very clear” comments Ismail Moola of South Africa’s Palestine Solidarity Alliance, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. “The court’s ruling requires the whole world to play their part to stop the genocide unfolding in Gaza, including unobstructed access to vital aid. While our governments fail to lead in these urgently required humanitarian responses, people of conscience and our grassroots organizations must act to take leadership. When governments fail, we sail!”

###

Many supporters of Nonviolence International are joining this aid effort as volunteers.

If you want to donate, please donate here.

(Please see this page for background information, resources, and action steps on Palestine / Israel)


NVI fiscally sponsors groups that work to help Gazans. Please support them.

If you want to hear news and views directly from Gaza, please check the website and social media sites of  We Are Not Numbers.

US Boats to Gaza is a member of the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition. They seek to bring humanitarian aid by sea to Gaza and break the siege. Learn more about their important work below. 

Here are some photos from the big recent Washington, DC event for Palestinian humanity that was part of much larger global effort.


Don't miss this important event!

 

 

In this time of enormous unnecessary suffering, it is vitally important that people of good will everywhere raise up the humanity of Palestinian people.

NVI is grateful to the co-founder of our wonderful fiscally sponsored partner, We Are Not Numbers, Ahmed Alnaouq, who brought this short moving video clip to our attention.

Don’t miss US Representative Rashida Tlaib saying the name and last words of WANN writer, Yousef Dawas.

Then take a moment to watch her powerful video here.


We Are Not Numbers is featured in this moving piece in "In These Times."

“I yearn for our voices to echo across the globe with the truth, reaching out to those who seek it.”

SHERELL BARBEE FEBRUARY 7, 2024

https://inthesetimes.com/article/letters-from-gaza-genocide-palestine-culture-


 

We are thrilled that Ahmed's powerful voice was included in the Washington Post.

Here is his excerpt and a link (behind a paywall) to the full article, which includes other perspectives - several not rooted in personal experience or basic human compassion for the suffering of others. When militarists are welcomed into the mainstream press, the media doesn't feel a need to provide "balance." But, for some reason, the few times that Palestinian voices are heard, they present another perspective that often negates Palestinian humanity. 

The slaughter must end

Ahmed Alnaouq: Last week, Israel bombed my family home in Gaza, killing my father, as well as two brothers, three sisters and all of their children, in an instant. One friend described their bodies as “bags of meat” — an arm here, a leg there.

I write to you in mourning. Even now, we Palestinians are not granted the luxury to grieve. Instead, we are burdened with the responsibility to talk, to communicate the extent of our suffering and the injustice wielded against us.

So, first, I must say this: We demand an immediate cease-fire. We demand a lifting of the Israeli siege of Gaza and the restoration of electricity, fuel, water and food. And we demand unimpeded humanitarian access in line with international law.

Today, the word “genocide” is being widely used. I can’t think of another word that captures the magnitude of what Israel, a nuclear-armed military power, continues to unleash on a captive population of children and refugees. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the quiet part out loud: “Gaza won’t return to what it was before,” he said. “We will eliminate everything.”

But we Palestinians already knew what Gallant had in mind. Corralled in Gaza for the past 17 years, burdened with mass unemployment and poverty — even before white phosphorus filled the skies, or before we lay crushed beneath the rubble — we could not breathe. We were held captive like prisoners who had never committed a crime or shot down when we attempted to peacefully protest our incarceration.

Our 1 million children have never traveled outside Israel’s militarized cage and know nothing but the buzz of drones in the sky tracking their every move.

In the past week, I have lost everything. But I do not seek revenge. There is no “military solution” here, only a collective responsibility to finally grant Palestinians what they have demanded for decades, what they are owed: justice, freedom and their very basic rights as human beings.

Ahmed Alnaouq is the head of We Are Not Numbers, which pairs Palestinian writers with mentors overseas.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/11/02/gaza-ceasefire-civilian-military-humanitarian/

Click here to donate to support NVI's fiscally sponsored partner WANN.


Ahmed was also featured in this recent New York Times piece

After the Israeli military killed his older brother in an airstrike in Gaza in 2014, Ahmed Alnaouq says, he almost lost his will to live. “I sank into a deep depression,” he told me in a recent phone call. But an American friend convinced him to write about his brother and channel his grief into something productive. Together, they founded We Are Not Numbers, a project that trains young writers in Gaza and publishes their personal essays in English.

The name is a nod to how numbing numbers can be. The higher the death toll, the less we are inclined to care, since the scale of human suffering can feel overwhelming. Statistics don’t trigger empathy and action. Personal stories do.

“This project changed my life because for the first time, I thought that some people can care about us,” Mr. Alnaouq said, describing the response it got outside Gaza.

We Are Not Numbers began as a way to memorialize the dead, but it quickly turned into a lifeline for the living. For young people in Gaza, stuck in a political system with few rights and a blockaded economy with few jobs, it provides a vital outlet for self-expression...

“After losing my family, I did not stop believing in what I believe in,” he told me. “I don’t want other people to feel what I am feeling. Not the Israelis, not the Palestinians.”


These very painful, honest, meaningful videos feature WANN's co-founder.

Trigger / harsh reality warning. 


Mubarak Awad speaks on KKFI radio about Palestine

Moussa Elbayoumy, Yara Salamed, and NVI President Mubarak Awad discuss calls for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Hamas war. Moussa is an MD and chair of the board of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Kansas). Yara is studying Law at UMKC and is President of Students for Justice in Palestine there. Mubarak is a Palestinian born in Jerusalem in 1943, influenced by Mennonite and Quaker missionaries. He received bachelors, masters and PhD degrees from universities in the US. He became a US citizen in 1978 and returned to Jerusalem in 1983 to found the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence. He was expelled from Palestine in 1988 during the First Intifada for organizing nonviolent protests against mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli military and settlers. Back in the US, he founded Nonviolence International. Moussa, Yara and Mubarak are calling for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Gaza war.      KKFI.ORG


Sadly, this short NVI video clip from two years ago is still relevant. 


Refaat Alareer, WANN's co-founder, killing featured in major media outlets. 

CNN

Al Jazeera

Time


In this episode of Mondoweiss’s podcast Culture Editor Mohammed El-Kurd

speaks with journalist and co-founder of We Are Not Numbers Ahmad Alnaouq.


Michael Beer quoted in LA Times article on effective activism. 


Please see these articles: 

Writing while expecting to die “Can you kindly publish the attached stories if I die?” This is what we have been hearing from the young writers we work with from Gaza in the We Are Not Numbers project.

7 steps to end the cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine:
The path to peace requires nonviolent action not just from Israelis and Palestinians, but also Americans, the media, aid organizations and others.
By NVI Founder, Mubarak Awad.  We are pleased to announce this piece was selected as Waging Nonviolence's top story of the year!  https://wagingnonviolence.org/2023/12/waging-nonviolence-top-stories-2023/

When will we learn that violence doesn’t lead to security?
To support Israelis and Palestinians is to insist on their right to equally live in peace and freedom — not help structures of state violence and cultures of militarization.
By NVI Board member, Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Solidarity with Palestinians and Jews Sign on Statement. 

By Jonathan Kuttab, NVI co-founder. Cat Zavis, Jewish Civil/Women's Rights Lawyer, Mediator, and Rabbi: Beyt Tikkun. Michael Lerner, Rabbi and Editor of Tikkun magazine.
Esther Azar, Arab Jewish Trauma Activist, and Rabbi: Trauma Informed Rabbinics.


Recent attacks by Israel on Gaza and Hamas fighters on Israel are tragic and will not resolve bring peace and justice to all.

NVI believes that nonviolence is the only way to end the savagery, brutality and cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.

NVI urges all parties to cease all military attacks and prevent further escalation of violence that will only harm innocent civilians on both sides.

Call for an immediate ceasefire and end to all violence, including an immediate halt to attacks towards Israel and Israeli military attacks on Gaza.

Urgent humanitarian action is needed, including the establishment of a humanitarian corridor inside and out of Gaza, for the safe movement of people and the delivery of essential supplies. This includes opening Erez and Kerem Shalom / Abu Salem crossings to allow for the movement of people and goods and remove the ban on access to the sea. 

End violations of international law and impunity, including settlement expansions, forcible transfer, demolitions, settler violence, all part of ongoing and illegal de facto annexation of West Bank territory. Immediately lift all movement restrictions on Palestinian communities in the West Bank to allow the movements of goods and services. 

Take action at the UN Security Council to reaffirm UN Security Council resolutions calling for a nonviolent resolution of disputes, the reversal of the annexation of Greater East Jerusalem and the preservation of the status quo at holy sites.           

NVI supports nonviolent political resolution of the conflict by ending the systemic policies of oppression and discrimination of Palestinians, including the 16-year siege on Gaza and 56-year military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including. East Jerusalem.

We hope you will find this helpful and will share it with others.


US Boats to Gaza is a fiscally sponsored partner of NVI and a member of the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition. They seek to bring humanitarian aid by sea to Gaza and break the siege. Learn more below. 

In this video, Ann Wright, a leader of US Boats to Gaza, Veterans for Peace, and Code Pink interrupts the US Secretary of State to call for a Cease Fire Now. Timestamp 1:45


Check out this powerful video (from before the latest crisis), learn more about their important work, and please consider supporting this creative constructive nonviolent movement


 

Activists discuss global nonviolent movement for Palestinians April 8th

Don't miss this important event!

Join us on our youtube live channel, Youtube/nonviolence to watch this discussion of activist leaders on global solidarity and resistance for justice in Palestine.

 


 

(Please see this page for background information, resources, and action steps on Palestine / Israel)


NVI fiscally sponsors groups that work to help Gazans. Please support them.

If you want to hear news and views directly from Gaza, please check the website and social media sites of  We Are Not Numbers.

US Boats to Gaza is a member of the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition. They seek to bring humanitarian aid by sea to Gaza and break the siege. Learn more about their important work below. 

Here are some photos from the big recent Washington, DC event for Palestinian humanity that was part of much larger global effort.


In this time of enormous unnecessary suffering, it is vitally important that people of good will everywhere raise up the humanity of Palestinian people.

NVI is grateful to the co-founder of our wonderful fiscally sponsored partner, We Are Not Numbers, Ahmed Alnaouq, who brought this short moving video clip to our attention.

Don’t miss US Representative Rashida Tlaib saying the name and last words of WANN writer, Yousef Dawas.

Then take a moment to watch her powerful video here.


We Are Not Numbers is featured in this moving piece in "In These Times."

“I yearn for our voices to echo across the globe with the truth, reaching out to those who seek it.”

SHERELL BARBEE FEBRUARY 7, 2024

https://inthesetimes.com/article/letters-from-gaza-genocide-palestine-culture-


 

We are thrilled that Ahmed's powerful voice was included in the Washington Post.

Here is his excerpt and a link (behind a paywall) to the full article, which includes other perspectives - several not rooted in personal experience or basic human compassion for the suffering of others. When militarists are welcomed into the mainstream press, the media doesn't feel a need to provide "balance." But, for some reason, the few times that Palestinian voices are heard, they present another perspective that often negates Palestinian humanity. 

The slaughter must end

Ahmed Alnaouq: Last week, Israel bombed my family home in Gaza, killing my father, as well as two brothers, three sisters and all of their children, in an instant. One friend described their bodies as “bags of meat” — an arm here, a leg there.

I write to you in mourning. Even now, we Palestinians are not granted the luxury to grieve. Instead, we are burdened with the responsibility to talk, to communicate the extent of our suffering and the injustice wielded against us.

So, first, I must say this: We demand an immediate cease-fire. We demand a lifting of the Israeli siege of Gaza and the restoration of electricity, fuel, water and food. And we demand unimpeded humanitarian access in line with international law.

Today, the word “genocide” is being widely used. I can’t think of another word that captures the magnitude of what Israel, a nuclear-armed military power, continues to unleash on a captive population of children and refugees. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the quiet part out loud: “Gaza won’t return to what it was before,” he said. “We will eliminate everything.”

But we Palestinians already knew what Gallant had in mind. Corralled in Gaza for the past 17 years, burdened with mass unemployment and poverty — even before white phosphorus filled the skies, or before we lay crushed beneath the rubble — we could not breathe. We were held captive like prisoners who had never committed a crime or shot down when we attempted to peacefully protest our incarceration.

Our 1 million children have never traveled outside Israel’s militarized cage and know nothing but the buzz of drones in the sky tracking their every move.

In the past week, I have lost everything. But I do not seek revenge. There is no “military solution” here, only a collective responsibility to finally grant Palestinians what they have demanded for decades, what they are owed: justice, freedom and their very basic rights as human beings.

Ahmed Alnaouq is the head of We Are Not Numbers, which pairs Palestinian writers with mentors overseas.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/11/02/gaza-ceasefire-civilian-military-humanitarian/

Click here to donate to support NVI's fiscally sponsored partner WANN.


Ahmed was also featured in this recent New York Times piece

After the Israeli military killed his older brother in an airstrike in Gaza in 2014, Ahmed Alnaouq says, he almost lost his will to live. “I sank into a deep depression,” he told me in a recent phone call. But an American friend convinced him to write about his brother and channel his grief into something productive. Together, they founded We Are Not Numbers, a project that trains young writers in Gaza and publishes their personal essays in English.

The name is a nod to how numbing numbers can be. The higher the death toll, the less we are inclined to care, since the scale of human suffering can feel overwhelming. Statistics don’t trigger empathy and action. Personal stories do.

“This project changed my life because for the first time, I thought that some people can care about us,” Mr. Alnaouq said, describing the response it got outside Gaza.

We Are Not Numbers began as a way to memorialize the dead, but it quickly turned into a lifeline for the living. For young people in Gaza, stuck in a political system with few rights and a blockaded economy with few jobs, it provides a vital outlet for self-expression...

“After losing my family, I did not stop believing in what I believe in,” he told me. “I don’t want other people to feel what I am feeling. Not the Israelis, not the Palestinians.”


These very painful, honest, meaningful videos feature WANN's co-founder.

Trigger / harsh reality warning. 


Mubarak Awad speaks on KKFI radio about Palestine

Moussa Elbayoumy, Yara Salamed, and NVI President Mubarak Awad discuss calls for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Hamas war. Moussa is an MD and chair of the board of the Kansas chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Kansas). Yara is studying Law at UMKC and is President of Students for Justice in Palestine there. Mubarak is a Palestinian born in Jerusalem in 1943, influenced by Mennonite and Quaker missionaries. He received bachelors, masters and PhD degrees from universities in the US. He became a US citizen in 1978 and returned to Jerusalem in 1983 to found the Palestinian Centre for the Study of Nonviolence. He was expelled from Palestine in 1988 during the First Intifada for organizing nonviolent protests against mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli military and settlers. Back in the US, he founded Nonviolence International. Moussa, Yara and Mubarak are calling for a ceasefire in the current Israel-Gaza war.      KKFI.ORG


Sadly, this short NVI video clip from two years ago is still relevant. 


Refaat Alareer, WANN's co-founder, killing featured in major media outlets. 

CNN

Al Jazeera

Time


In this episode of Mondoweiss’s podcast Culture Editor Mohammed El-Kurd

speaks with journalist and co-founder of We Are Not Numbers Ahmad Alnaouq.


Michael Beer quoted in LA Times article on effective activism. 


Please see these articles: 

Writing while expecting to die “Can you kindly publish the attached stories if I die?” This is what we have been hearing from the young writers we work with from Gaza in the We Are Not Numbers project.

7 steps to end the cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine:
The path to peace requires nonviolent action not just from Israelis and Palestinians, but also Americans, the media, aid organizations and others.
By NVI Founder, Mubarak Awad.  We are pleased to announce this piece was selected as Waging Nonviolence's top story of the year!  https://wagingnonviolence.org/2023/12/waging-nonviolence-top-stories-2023/

When will we learn that violence doesn’t lead to security?
To support Israelis and Palestinians is to insist on their right to equally live in peace and freedom — not help structures of state violence and cultures of militarization.
By NVI Board member, Mohammed Abu-Nimer

Solidarity with Palestinians and Jews Sign on Statement. 

By Jonathan Kuttab, NVI co-founder. Cat Zavis, Jewish Civil/Women's Rights Lawyer, Mediator, and Rabbi: Beyt Tikkun. Michael Lerner, Rabbi and Editor of Tikkun magazine.
Esther Azar, Arab Jewish Trauma Activist, and Rabbi: Trauma Informed Rabbinics.


Recent attacks by Israel on Gaza and Hamas fighters on Israel are tragic and will not resolve bring peace and justice to all.

NVI believes that nonviolence is the only way to end the savagery, brutality and cycle of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.

NVI urges all parties to cease all military attacks and prevent further escalation of violence that will only harm innocent civilians on both sides.

Call for an immediate ceasefire and end to all violence, including an immediate halt to attacks towards Israel and Israeli military attacks on Gaza.

Urgent humanitarian action is needed, including the establishment of a humanitarian corridor inside and out of Gaza, for the safe movement of people and the delivery of essential supplies. This includes opening Erez and Kerem Shalom / Abu Salem crossings to allow for the movement of people and goods and remove the ban on access to the sea. 

End violations of international law and impunity, including settlement expansions, forcible transfer, demolitions, settler violence, all part of ongoing and illegal de facto annexation of West Bank territory. Immediately lift all movement restrictions on Palestinian communities in the West Bank to allow the movements of goods and services. 

Take action at the UN Security Council to reaffirm UN Security Council resolutions calling for a nonviolent resolution of disputes, the reversal of the annexation of Greater East Jerusalem and the preservation of the status quo at holy sites.           

NVI supports nonviolent political resolution of the conflict by ending the systemic policies of oppression and discrimination of Palestinians, including the 16-year siege on Gaza and 56-year military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including. East Jerusalem.

We hope you will find this helpful and will share it with others.


US Boats to Gaza is a fiscally sponsored partner of NVI and a member of the global Freedom Flotilla Coalition. They seek to bring humanitarian aid by sea to Gaza and break the siege. Learn more below. 

In this video, Ann Wright, a leader of US Boats to Gaza, Veterans for Peace, and Code Pink interrupts the US Secretary of State to call for a Cease Fire Now. Timestamp 1:45


Check out this powerful video (from before the latest crisis), learn more about their important work, and please consider supporting this creative constructive nonviolent movement


 

Mennonite Action Day of Action March 29, 2024

Send Aid Not Bombs, March 25-29, 2024

See a map of actions around the USA

 

For more information check out their website: https://www.mennoniteaction.org/

Donate here. 


 

 

Mennonite Action Prayer Service For Ceasefire in Gaza in the US Congress on January 16, 2024

Don't miss this prominent and positive coverage in the Washington Post. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2024/01/16/gaza-protest-cannon-building-mennonite-action/


We are people of God’s peace.

Mennonite Action is a movement of Mennonites bonded by a common belief that we must be public about our peace values. We believe that Mennonites have a responsibility to use our voices as powerfully as possible for the cause of peace and justice. We are taking public action as Mennonites. We are mobilizing Mennonites across the US and Canada to demand a ceasefire, end the US and western funded occupation of Palestine, and build for lasting peace.


 “To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.  It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.  If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future.  The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."  -- Howard Zinn

NVI is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for the this important project. Please consider donating here

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