Citizen Action Monitor

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 11

Planning international conference in locked down Gaza Strip keeps sliver of hope alive.

No 1660 Posted by fw, May 3, 2016

As a reminder, scholar and educator Herbert Thelen inspired this protest project: “To act ignorantly when knowledge is available, to deny realities that patently exist and make a genuine difference, is the worst crime of civilized man.”

Israel’s crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are realities that patently exist. Why, then, when this knowledge is readily available, would Premier Wynne decide to lead a trade mission to Israel? I suggest this was not a responsibly informed decision.

Today, Day 11 of my letter-a-day, 19-day campaign to share with the Premier information gifts from alternative online news sources not readily found in North America’s mainstream news media, I sent the following message.

Although I conclude all my emails welcoming a reply, to date, not one has been forthcoming.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dear Premier Wynne,

Below is my information gift for you on this, Day 11, of my intended 19-day project to fill in some possible gaps in your knowledge base with respect to life and death in the Israeli Occupied Territories.

Introduction to today’s information gift –

Planning an international conference in the locked down Gaza Strip was itself an exercise in optimism.  For nearly a decade Israel has imposed a devastating chokehold on the territory, subjecting its 1.8 million inhabitants to collective punishment for Hamas’ victory in the 2006 legislative elections and its rout of US-backed Fatah forces the following year…. This year, German efforts secured Israeli permits for the entry of just over a dozen Europeans and Americans. We were given a warm – even joyful – reception, as if our presence was in itself life-giving oxygen from the outside world.

In this information gift, Nancy Murray, an advocate for Palestinian rights for nearly three decades, co-founder of the Gaza Mental Health Foundation in 2001, asks:

“Who could possibly think that psychological well-being could withstand so many decades of unrelenting violence, killings, mass arrests, torture, closure, the destruction of homes and livelihoods and the absence of all the freedoms that are taken for granted by the Western world? And how could the mental health needs of Palestinians be fully met without a social, economic and political transformation, beginning with an end to Israel’s dehumanizing occupation and siege?”

Below are two passages from Nancy’s article selected from the opening and closing sections. To read the full piece and view her accompanying photos, clink on the following linked title.

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Keeping hope alive in the Gaza Strip by Nancy Murray, Mondoweiss, May 2, 2016

“Planting hope is our main duty.”

So declared Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, the head of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), during his April 19th keynote address to the 800 people who attended the organization’s 6th International ‘Mental Health and Human Rights’ Conference in Gaza City.

This is a tall order in the Gaza Strip’s crushing conditions.  But Dr. Abu Jamei – who lost 28 members of his extended family in a single missile strike during Israel’s 2014 military onslaught – is determined to build on the legacy of the late Dr. Eyad el Sarraj, who founded the GCMHP in 1990 to instill hope and heal the spirit of a people who were exposed to violence and the loss of freedom and human rights on a daily basis.

Planning an international conference in the locked down Gaza Strip was itself an exercise in optimism.  For nearly a decade Israel has imposed a devastating chokehold on the territory, subjecting its 1.8 million inhabitants to collective punishment for Hamas’ victory in the 2006 legislative elections and its rout of US-backed Fatah forces the following year. Internationals, other Palestinians and Israelis were blocked from entering Gaza for the 5th International GCMHP Conference held in October 2008, and had to participate via tenuous video-link from Ramallah.

This year, German efforts secured Israeli permits for the entry of just over a dozen Europeans and Americans, an accomplishment presented by conference organizers as a harbinger of the day when Gaza’s intense isolation would be at an end.  We were given a warm – even joyful – reception, as if our presence was in itself life-giving oxygen from the outside world.

The presentations made at the GCMHP conference took stock of the damage that has been done to individual psyches and the collective social fabric, focusing on the impact on children of three military onslaughts in six years, the psychological stress imposed by the lack of freedom of movement, mass unemployment and current political realities, the upsurge of depression, suicide and domestic violence.  While various forms of treatment were evaluated, the vital connection forged by the GCMHP between mental health and human rights was never far from the discussion.

Who could possibly think that psychological well-being could withstand so many decades of unrelenting violence, killings, mass arrests, torture, closure, the destruction of homes and livelihoods and the absence of all the freedoms that are taken for granted by the Western world? And how could the mental health needs of Palestinians be fully met without a social, economic and political transformation, beginning with an end to Israel’s dehumanizing occupation and siege?

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In his introduction to his 2015 book Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assaultthe courageous Gaza journalist Mohammed Omer describes his sources of hope:

“Despite all this, we’re still here.  It’s true: In Gaza we find ways to survive… Our women recycle the spent tank shells that have destroyed our homes into flowerpots…  Students return to bombed-out schools determined to complete their education…the resilience of Palestinians is intact, despite being constantly hit hard with daily despair…”.

Omer’s second source of hope lies within the United States. He writes of being heckled during his first trip to the US.  But now, he thinks, the truth is getting out and “the tide is turning towards justice and equitable peace.  I know it is a slow process, and may take years, but it feels right.  Change is coming.  And that is a good thing.”

The ball is in our court.

END OF EXCERPT — To continue reading, click on the above linked title…

Response to my emails are always welcome.

Kindest regards,

Frank White, etc.

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Previous posts in this series –

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 10: Israeli moral compass so twisted that even most decent people now justify ruthless killing of Palestinians.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 9: Ignoring its own founding rights, U.S. has aided Israel in denying those same human rights and dignity to Palestinians.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 8: Open season on Palestinians — pregnant mother of two and brother, 16, gunned down at Israeli checkpoint.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 7: Palestinian youth reportedly in critical condition after being run down by young Israeli settler.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 6: Alarming rise in Palestinian children seized and prosecuted by Israel.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 5: Survivor of 1948 Israeli-led expulsion of Palestinians to tell her story in upcoming Canadian tour.

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 4: Israelis and their supporters are in the process of learning the price of following the dictates of “Netanyahu’s mind.”

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 3: US accuses Israel of ‘excessive use of force’ in human rights report

Life and Death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 2: Israeli Minster Calls for “Civil Targeted Killings” of BDS Leaders

Life and death in Palestine: Information gift for a Premier — Day 1: Israel policy of expelling Palestinians from West Bank

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