Seattle stands up for justice in Gaza

Demonstration for Gaza in Coimbatore, India. (Photo by Welfare Party via Flickr)
July 22nd demonstration for Gaza in Coimbatore, India. (Photo by Welfare Party via Flickr)

With 800 people dead and over 4,000 injured, Israel’s ground invasion into Gaza only worsens. Those numbers are accurate as I write this. They will have risen by the time you read it.

For the past two weeks, the entire world has witnessed an outrageous number of innocent civilians die in Gaza as a result of what Israel calls “Operation Protective Edge.” We have also witnessed news headlines filled with devastating and rising death counts, leaving us hopeless in the search for a possible peaceful solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

As a Palestinian living in the U.S., and as a human watching yet another massacre occur within miles of my place of birth, I can’t help but feel paralyzed, powerless and most frustratingly, helpless.

Driving up I-5 North on my daily commute to work, I make it a point to phone my family in Nablus, in the West Bank, each morning to stay connected and informed about their safety and emotional well-being. Stuck in traffic and frustrated by the many innocent lives lost, I sit in tears as I listen to my family’s voices filled with agony as they retell the many stories of those who were brutally murdered in Gaza.

It leaves me wondering whether it is better or worse to be here, waiting to hear if friends or extended family have survived, or to be there and witness my fellow citizens die while under siege.

In a depressingly comforting way, I know that I’m not the only one going through these sentiments and frustrations. Many other Palestinian Americans, Arab Americans, Jews, human rights activists and pro-peace organizers share the very same emotions, and rage at the cruelty of the situation.

This begs many questions: what can we do here? How can we be involved? What can we do to make a difference? How can we raise awareness about the human aspect of the conflict rather than the ugly political face of it? How can one morally accept the absurd justification that “Israel has the right to defend itself and that Hamas is using its citizens as human shields?” In what world can mass murder be justified?

July 20th demonstration for Gaza in San Francisco. (Photo by Daniela Kantorova on Flickr)
July 20th demonstration for Gaza in San Francisco. (Photo by Daniela Kantorova on Flickr)

I have joined many activists, both American and Arab, who have gathered every weekend, even sometimes during the week, to peacefully protest against what’s happening, to let people know that we are still able to make a difference even from so far away, and to educate our own community about this critical issue.

Though the Palestinian community in Seattle is small in size, groups such as the Palestinian Solidarity Committee and many other individuals have furiously continued to organize events all over the Seattle area to raise awareness about Gaza. From vigils, to peaceful protests, to active and loud demonstrations, the Seattle community is truly stepping up to make a difference.

Jewish Voice for Peace has been hugely instrumental, not only by joining the protests, but also by using social media to report death tolls and to emphasize the importance of uniting everyone against Israeli war crimes in Gaza. A reminder that we must not repeat history has been a crucial element to their message.

We are now having conversations in our schools, universities, workplaces, coffee shops, and living rooms. We are trying to educate through social media by engaging everyone in our social circles about this issue. The American audience is finally seeing the human face of the conflict; seeing the conflict from a Palestinian and humanitarian point of view.

With so many innocent souls killed, the question remains: how far can we let this go on for? And when will the world side with justice and against genocide?

You can make a difference NOW. Attend a protest, write your senator, sign petitions, and use social media as an outlet. Help us stop the genocide now.

A demonstration for Palestine in Seattle

Saturday, July 26, 12-2pm
Seattle Center, corner of 5th & Broad
Details on Facebook »

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7 Comments

  1. I deplore the havoc being wreaked and the loss of so many precious lives in this conflict. But I sense, from so many corners, more of the outrage at Israel than at Hamas. Hamas want like to rid the world of Jews. They are not interested in coming to terms with the Israelis.

    The Israelis have made a lot of wrong choices in the past and perhaps at present as well. But how can they tolerate the incursion of Hamas onto their own territory? Should they do nothing to defend themselves against the daily bombings and the tunnels being drilled under their cities, filled with munitions?

    Most of us, whether Jew or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian, American, European or Middle Eastern, would like to see peace and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian people. But how can that possibly be attained with hate groups like Hamas infiltrating Gaza?

    I wish I had an answer. But the flare-up of anti-Semitism that has been building since this latest conflict began is quite worrisome. At heart, aren’t most of the problems in the Middle East due to religious divisions? Religious intolerance should not be tolerated–from any corner.

    1. Elaine,
      Thank you for posting a reasonable response to the myopic and inflammatory article. As I sit here I am also mourning friends that I have lost in the southern part of Israel. It isn’t about the numbers of loss or who is right or wrong. The bottom line is one side wants Israel and Jews dead and the other side wants to live in peace. If Israel is so terrible and so hateful then why doesn’t Israel just destroy everyone in Gaza? If Israel is so evil then why do Israeli hospitals help Palestinians? If Israel wants to see Palestine destroyed then why does it provide humanitarian aid to Gaza despite the conflict? Ironically, articles like this never seem to answer these questions. Those claiming such pain for humanity do not have a huge outcry for the dead in Israel. Those that want Israel to pay for their “war crimes” don’t write about the fact that it was Hamas who turned down another 12-hours of cease-fire. When people like Majd start holding her OWN country responsible for the hate, the murder and the lack of peace then peace might become possible.

  2. Dear Elaine and Bella,

    I want to thank you both for taking the time to read my piece even though our perspectives may differ.
    I would like to clarify that this article was my attempt at coping with the current crisis and not one to explain the conflict, its history or who started what.

    Elaine,
    Yes, there has been lots of criticism of Israel’s actions. My first reaction to that is: ABOUT TIME! There has been so much violence, bloodshed and illegal actions against Palestinians and the world has stood by and did nothing. In regards to Hamas, I am in no way intending to say that their approach is the right one, but when you deprive people from basic human rights such as freedom of movement, access to food and water, and most importantly dignity, you will only foster hatred and more violence. Palestinians are fighting for their freedom, for basic human rights and for a dignified life. Israel has occupied the territories (West Bank and Gaza) since 1967 and has had Gaza under siege since 2009. What do you expect people like Hamas to do? Again, not trying to justify their actions but understanding their perspective. Additionally, I’m not one to compare numbers but killing over 1000 civilians and killing 30 soldiers is not the same. Finally, I would be very careful when using the word “Anti-Semitic”. The reality of it, the people of that land are all Semites, so realistically we are from the same tree. If you mean Anti- Jewish, I will have to strongly disagree with you. Palestinians have long accepted the fact that they lost land in 1948 to “accommodate” others, their only intention now is live in peace. Talk to any Palestinian you meet, and I guarantee you they will give you the same answer.

    Bella,
    Not sure how to respond to your accusatory comments. Calling my article myopic and inflammatory is not only offensive but also insensitive. I’m sorry that you are waiting to hear about your relatives and I wish you would share the same sentiments and respect for my emotions and my frustrations at the situation.
    I’m not sure how many Palestinians you’ve ever met or if you have event visited Palestine, but again, we only want to live a dignified life where we are not denied our basic human rights, where we live in peace and prosperity, and where we are not under siege and occupation. The bottom line is, we want peace not war. We don’t want anyone dead and we sure don’t want more violence to continue. If you ask me, I think the Israeli government is slowly trying to eradicate what is left of the Palestinian territories (hence, the wall, the Jewish settlements, etc.).
    I do have compassion for those who died in Israel. I have compassion for everyone because I believe we are all humans and we all deserve to live. What I can’t stand, however, is a person comparing both sides and saying that it’s an equal conflict. Soldiers and children are not EQUAL!
    Regarding a 12 hour ceasefire, well Israel turned down another one two days ago…so there you have it.
    In regards to your other questions, I would be more than happy to answer them individually via email.
    To wrap this up, I will never hold my own people responsible for the hate, murder or lack of peace because I know for a fact that these are the people who are promoting love, tolerance and equality between all. I strongly advise you to diversify your reading materials and open your mind and heart to the other. At the end of the day, we just want peace.
    In regards to your other questions (If Israel is so terrible and so hateful then why doesn’t Israel just destroy everyone in Gaza? If Israel is so evil then why do Israeli hospitals help Palestinians? If Israel wants to see Palestine destroyed then why does it provide humanitarian aid to Gaza despite the conflict?), I would be more than happy to answer them individually via email or in person. I don’t want to start a novel on here but I do have an answer for everything you are curious about.
    Again, thank you for reaching out. If you wish to continue this conversation elsewhere, please feel free to email me majd.baniodeh@gmail.com

    Peace to you both,

    Majd

  3. Majd, thanks for writing this piece, it is always nice to hear what can be done for a situation in which so many civilians are loosing their lives. As a pacifist the situation in Israel confused and frustrates me and I will always hope that a solution can be found. Killing children and especially targeting children is not okay, no matter what the situation!

  4. Majd, I found Seattle Globalist recently and when I looked for perspectives on Gaza I was not disappointed. Rather than providing historical information that Israelis know but most Americans do not, you talked about your own family and that struck a chord with me. My children’s greatgrandmother was Palestinian, and their extended family is in Lebanon. During the lives of these parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, the region that Israel has claimed and where Palestinians live today has been protected by the League of Nations, then the United Nations, which created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Without the cooperation of Israel, there has not been and cannot be the safety, rights, and freedoms these charters meant to guarantee. As a US citizen I have a duty to inform myself, so I appreciate the Globalist as another source for news. Thank you for the link to Jewish Voice for Peace.

    Carol

  5. Dear Carol,

    Thank you for your kind note. Together, we can educate people about this critical issue and the importance of seeing the conflict from a human perspective.

    Feel free to reach out to me anytime. majd.baniodeh@gmail.com

    Peace,
    Majd

  6. I would like to attend any demonstrations that educate people about the current situation in Gaza, and how the U.S. is supporting the bombardment and killing of innocent people. I’m a semi retired educator and want to advocate for the people of Palestine.

    Thank you for your work, your time, and your consideration,

    Patricia Pedersen

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