26 February 2010

Going Beyond Charity

I asked a local group that I belong to recently, "What could we do as Americans to lift the seige on Gaza?" I had a few ideas of my own pertaining to the activities we have already accomplished so offered them up. I was shocked that at first, some members were reluctant to move past the charity work we do into activism. One asked me why I wanted to go in that direction? Its a simple answer: Because if we don't keep trying to break the seige, we will be providing charity well into future generations. This is not what any of us want.
While our work and the work of others is noble and should not stop, we should also be putting up a bigger fight, especially as taxpaying Americans, to end the blockade and the occupation. We do a lot when it comes to providing aid but we have yet to find a winning formula in the realm of political pressure. That is where we need to focus. Some agreed but many grumbled.
That was just a few short days ago. Today, a member of my group forwarded the following to the rest of us:
Gaza Not A Charity Case
Kuala Lumpur, Feb. 25, 2010 (Pal Telegraph; appeared in Malaysia Star)- Palestinians in Gaza want the world to come together to end the Israeli siege instead of just looking at them as a charity case.

Free Gaza Movement leader Huwaida Arraf said that while Palestinians appreciated the aid, their main concern was for the siege to end and their suffering to cease.

"A lot of people think that Gaza is a charity case. If we just keep giving aid, it (the suffering) will go on forever. We must address the root cause.

"Israel has placed a complete blockade of Gaza Strip and no one is doing anything to stop it. We need political solidarity and hope more people will challenge Israel's policy," she said recently during a brief visit here to talk about their next Gaza boat mission in April.

The Palestinian-American activist has met former prime minister and Perdana Global Peace Organisation chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who spearheaded the Humanitarian Appeal Fund for Gaza war victims. The fund, of which Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor is the patron, has pledged to donate RM1.5mil.

Huwaida, who briefed Dr Mahathir of their latest plan, said Malaysian funds had enabled Free Gaza to purchase a cargo ship and at least one small passenger ship.

Funds, she said, were still needed to buy supplies.

Free Gaza, an international voluntary human rights movement, together with the Turkish Relief Foundation and organisations from countries such as Malaysia, France, Germany and Greece, would be heading to Gaza in a fleet of boats this April on a humanitarian trip.

She said their last three boat missions were "violently stopped" by Israel with their boat confiscated last June. The cargo ships would transport building supplies into Gaza besides education materials and generators to help Palestinians rebuild their lives, she added.

"Israel has not allowed reconstruction supplies to enter Gaza. We hope the supplies can be used to rebuild destroyed homes. Many families are still living in tents amid the rubble of their homes," she added.

She said generators were also needed as besides the area experiencing frequent power cuts, Israel also limited fuel into Gaza,

She also thanked Malaysians for their donations, adding that Malaysia would play an important part in the mission.

Huwaida urged Barisan Nasional and opposition MPs, whom she met last August, to join their mission in April, which would comprise an international parliamentary delegation, civil leaders and the media. Source