Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

We support Palestine

Statement of protest and solidarity with the Palestinian people
from the mentors of We Are Not Numbers
in acknowledgement of the general strike in historic Palestine and the diaspora

 

We the undersigned are mentors for the We Are Not Numbers youth storytelling project. We work with Palestinian writers 18 to 30 years of age to develop their writing skills and share their stories, poetry, and graphic art with the English-speaking public. In this capacity, we have each gotten to know a number of young people, most of whom are living in Gaza, who want to be heard and understood, who have powerful stories to tell, and are rendered largely invisible by the world. Despite the wars, the besiegement, and the relentless attacks they have faced, they braved their experiences and crafted their narratives in ways that humbly allowed us to catch a glimpse of being young, born under siege, and living with intermittent electricity, water, fuel and internet, a drastic lack of employment, drones buzzing overhead and no access to basic public services.

We began to understand the realities of having family and friends injured or killed in their sleep, at home, in daily life, the consequences of Israeli colonial dispossession, violent bombardment, and deliberate attacks on civilians and infrastructure. We listened as the youth dared to write about experiences other than oppression and tragedy. When the occupation-imposed siege was not enough, we watched Gaza engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic due to a starved health care system, already present chronic malnourishment, limited access to technology, education and the absence of clean water. We caught only a glimpse of the pain that comes from being held in an open air prison for 15 years and counting. With it all, many of us have grown to be close to our mentees. We learned more than we taught, we tried to listen more than we spoke and we were humbled by their intelligence and dedication, along with their moments of hope, inspiration—and desperation. 

It is with horror and grief that we now hear of the massacres and trauma caused by the Israeli bombardment on these ordinary (and extraordinary) civilians in Gaza via messages, videos, and eyewitness and social media reports from our writers, documenting in real time the personal impact of this catastrophe. For the writers in this program, this is their fourth massively destructive assault in their young lives. This has to stop; there must never be another attack. 

We call on Israel to stop the bombing of Gaza and to address the root causes of systemic violence and aggression: displacement, racism, Islamophobia, and suffocating, restrictive controls on movement and trade. It is these systemic, ongoing, unrelenting brutalities of daily life—going on for nearly two decades—that make armed resistance seem to some like the only way to be seen and heard. 

We call on human rights organizations, state actors, policy-makers and voices of the public to demand and ensure that Israel, a major military and nuclear power backed by the U.S., immediately stop the bombing of Gaza, and lift the 15-year-long siege of the Strip and its overall control on Palestinians' daily lives. If those demands are not acted upon, we call for a halt to all foreign "aid," arms sales, and privileged trade status for Israel.

With the additional uprisings and resistance across Palestine, from Jerusalem to Safad, it is clear to us that Israel's aggressive and discriminatory policies toward Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and those in the territories are not sustainable or equitable and will only lead to more and more resistance, violent and nonviolent, until there is a just and sustainable solution. 

We stand with the Palestinian right for independence and a life with dignity.

Zeina Azzam, Virginia, USA
Sir Jeff Abood
Mona Al-Ghussein, UK
Pam Bailey, MS, District of Columbia, USA
Farrell Brody
Catherine Baker, MEd, Maryland, USA
Kate Casa, Vermont, USA
Catherine Cassara
Constance Charles, California, USA
Deirdre Claffey, London, UK
Lucy Cripps, UK
Deena Damen, California, USA
Eva Dunsky
Evan Dunsky, California, USA
Chava Finkler, PhD, Ontario, Canada
Charlene Fix, MA, Ohio, USA
Lillie Gardner
Benjamin Gass, Colorado, USA
Alison Glick, Pennsylvania, USA
Nahida Gordon, PhD
David Heap, PhD, Ontario, CA
Lynn Huber
Jodie Jones
Margi Keys
Bernie Koenig, Ontario, CA
Paulette Lee, APR, MIS, TEFL-Cert., Maryland, USA
Michelle Lerner, Esq. Flanders, New Jersey, USA
Tariq Luthun, MS, MDA, Michigan, USA
Mohammed Massoud Morsi, Australia
Bisanne Masoud, California, USA
Philip J. Metres, Ohio, USA
Sonya E. Meyerson-Knox, MS
Lisa Mullenneaux, New York, USA
Nora Lester Murad, Massachusetts, USA
Alice Rothchild, MD, Washington, USA
Katherine Schneider, MFA MATESOL, Connecticut, USA
Bridget Smith, BEd, Teaching/Graduate Diplomas, TESOL Cert., Australia
David Spero
Beth Stickney, MA, MPhil, Vermont, USA
Natasha Taghavi, London, UK
Laurie Tuller, Tours, France
Louisa B. Waugh

Press contact: Alice Rothchild
contact.alicerothchild@gmail.com

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