Dear URI community and friends,
Here's what I am doing...
I called and wrote this week to Senators Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi to ask them to contact the U.S. State Department and Israeli government officials to urge them not to halt the latest shipment of aid and doctors and MPs and Journalists traveling with the Free Gaza movement that set sail - again - yesterday from Larnaca, into Gaza port. Sadly, I learned today that the Spirit of Humanity was turned back after the Israeli navy stopped the boat off the coast of Lebanon and threatened to open fire on this ship of unarmed civilians, in violation of international maritime law and the UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is frustrating to call and speak with staff members in the Congressional representative's offices who merely say "I will pass it along" and to not have any idea if this ever reaches the person with the power to do something. But I will keep calling and writing! I am also frustrated that Congress passed the bill “Recognizing Israel’s Right to Defend Itself Against Attacks from Gaza, Reaffirming the United States’ Strong Support for Israel, and Supporting the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.” The measure passed by a vote of 390 for, five against, twenty-two representatives voting “present.” How is a military attack against an occupied nation where 1000 die, 40% women and children, considered "defending itself?"
I learned yesterday that the UN is blocking access of its staff members to go on the Free Gaza website. Why?? I am writing about these things on Facebook, to let all my friends know about what is happening, and updating them on the latest news.
I sent a donation by Western Union to my friend Maali in Jerusalem who works for the Youth Development Department - to deliver winter coats to children. She told me today she has received it and was able to buy 7 winter coats and 2 blankets with this. She will tuck into the pockets of the coats a letter from me.
We are having a respectful, diverse dialogue about the situation on the uri-youngleaders08 listserv. There are many different viewpoints, yet no one is accusing the other or blaming the other... At least, I don't think so.
We are going to promote a time for collective prayer for the URI - every Sunday at 7 PM in whatever time zone you are. Light a candle and visualize yourself a part of this global community. Launching this initiative this week... Look out for it soon!
Honestly, I feel pretty helpless as one person - a citizen of a nation that does have the power to influence others, and yet does nothing, well more than nothing, shows support for an offensive that is killing off innocent people every day. And not even allowing journalists in to report on what is happening. And blocks humanitarian aid from entering. How is this in keeping with international law??
But I keep doing these little things. URI needs to look at the big picture and think about how we want to be responding to these situations in the future. I would love to see us training interfaith peacebuilders, who have contacts with policy-makers in all nations, and who would be allowed to enter and help mediate a ceasefire, bringing in religious leaders to wield their influence and moral imperative on the lawmakers. How can we build on the Moral Imagination project, and the work that Mussie has been doing in Africa, and take more effective peacebuilding action as a global community?
Praying every day for my Palestinian brothers and sisters, You are not alone! We love and care for you...
p.s. My letter to the Palestinian children in Gaza:
“My dear sisters and brothers of Palestine,
Salaam. This is your sister from San Francisco, United States. I am a witness to the suffering of your people and I am praying for the day when all Palestinians will live safely and freely, in peace, with equal rights for all. I hope these jackets help to keep you warm and I am praying for the health and safety of you and all your family and friends. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever want to talk about anything. I would love to get to know you and hear from you.
You are not alone! We love you and care for you!
Love from your sister across the sea,