Sunday, 4 January 2009

What can we do about Gaza?

posted by kathy

It was inevitable, I suppose, that the first subject mentioned after Meeting was Gaza. We've been following events separately and wondering if there's anything we can do at this distance. It didn't seem that, individually, we could achieve much.

As pacifists, we have a responsibility to act as best we can. Pacifism isn't a matter of sitting at home and saying "Oh dear."
Pacifists are obliged to act for change. John Woolman, the 18th century American Quaker, urged us to look for the "seeds of war" in our possession and daily life. He also set us the example of acting to bring about change for justice. John Woolman was one of the people responsible for Quakers' opposition to slavery as a body. But he didn't see the end of slavery in his lifetime.

Thinking about Gaza, we decided to use this blog to share knowledge and ideas in the hope that it would help. There's considerable ignorance about the Middle East. Even our Member of Parliament, writing for his constituents and the Guardian newspaper, wasn't aware that Hamas had won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority elections in January 2006, nor that the response of the West to this victory was to freeze humanitarian aid. Many people are unaware of the effects of Israel's blockade of Gaza. This imprisons the residents in a tiny area. Those who wish to leave have been forbidden. Students were for a long time denied visas to take up scholarships abroad. Attempts were made to stop Gazans from representing Palestine in the Olympics. People needing medical treatment outside Gaza were prevented from leaving.A year ago, UNICEF reported their serious concern for the safety and well-being of children in Gaza.

We can't undo the events of past years but any attempt to improve the situation must take them into account, both factually and by considering the effect these have on all the individuals involved. We need to know what's happening now as well. The local blogger and poet Litterbug posted a helpful link to the Oxfam site which includes reports from an Oxfam worker in Gaza city. (To look at reports as they arrive, go to the Latest from Oxfam page and check regularly - or follow Oxfam on Twitter for more general news.)

This post isn't an exhaustive list of information - I'm asking Beeston Quakers and others to contribute ideas and, in particular, knowledge, by posting comments. Please add what you can.

If you are relatively new to blogs and/or the internet, it may be helpful to know that the text in green is "hotlinked" to the relevant pages or sites. You can post a comment by clicking on the word "comments" at the foot of this post and then following the instructions.