Every Palestinian has become a prisoner. Gaza is surrounded by an electrified fence on three sides: imprisoned like animals, Gazans are unable to move, unable to work, unable to sell their vegetables or fruit, unable to go to school. They are exposed from the air to Israeli planes and helicopters and are gunned down like turkeys on the ground by tanks and machine guns. Impoverished and starved, Gaza is a human nightmare.
Hope has been eliminated from the Palestinian vocabulary so that only raw defiance remains.
Palestinians must die a slow death so that Israel can have its security, which is just around the corner but cannot be realized because of the special Israeli "insecurity." The whole world must sympathize, while the cries of Palestinian orphans, sick old women, bereaved communities, and tortured prisoners simply go unheard and unrecorded. Doubtless, we will be told, these horrors serve a larger purpose than mere sadistic cruelty. After all, "the two sides" are engaged in a "cycle of violence" that has to be stopped, sometime, somewhere. Once in a while we ought to pause and declare indignantly that there is only one side with an army and a country: the other is a stateless dispossessed population of people without rights or any present way of securing them. The language of suffering and concrete daily life has been either hijacked or so perverted as, in my opinion, to be useless except as pure fiction deployed as a screen for the purpose of more killing and painstaking torture - slowly, fastidiously, inexorably.
That is the truth of what Palestinians suffer.
The late Edward Said wrote these words in August 2002. How can it be that his words remain accurate six years later?
The week's events in Gaza have overshadowed whatever joy or peace one can have at this special time of year. However the resounding demonstrations around the world have helped give us some relief from helplessness. Apart from these acts of public outcry at the terrible suffering in Gaza, we in North America feel powerless, without means to oppose the moral bankruptcy of bombing densely-populated areas with impunity or our governments who positively approve of it with similar disregard for civilians and ongoing suffering.
Zatoun has been sent direct donations for Gaza and received inquiries for organizations able to lend immediate aid in this most recent crisis. Zatoun is not setup to accept funds for emergency humanitarian aid and has no means to get them to Gaza, quickly and efficiently. Zatoun's work is of a different kind with a long time horizon. One that has to do with trees, farmers and livelihoods - things that grow slowly and build enduring roots for genuine understanding towards peace.
Our mission is to create experience, awareness, and healing in North America using olive oil from Palestine. Necessarily this focus keeps us outside the daily fray - however horrible the events might be. Zatoun may be silent at the level of direct advocacy however we support the people of Palestine and especially in Gaza at this time.
To help Zatoun supporters wishing to donate directly at this time of dire need, we offer the following organizations for your consideration. They are ready to accept your contributions (and provide a receipt for income tax purposes) and able to direct funds to humanitarian efforts in Gaza. Many offer online, telephone and mail options.
- The Canadian Red Cross (www.redcross.ca) - no specific Gaza Appeal page online - donors can specify "ICRC Gaza Response" at the end of donation form.
- Islamic Relief (www.islamicreliefcanada.org)
- UNWRA - United Nations Works Relief Agency (www.un.org/unrwa). Revenue Canada recognizes donations made to UN agencies even if outside Canada.
In Canada, the Palestinian Child Sponsorship Program (www.cpfq.org/child) supports children in Gaza. Established in 1999, it provides desperately needed financial assistance and hope to needy Palestinian children and their families living in the West Bank and Gaza. The program operates similarly to "Foster Plan" providing updates and communication with the child and their family. Donations are tax-receiptable in Canada.
You may like to know that Zatoun has been helping in Gaza for the past three years. Zatoun has sold about $8,000 of small embroidery items and pottery made by people living in Gaza. These items have been sold mostly at fairs and event tables (not available for online ordering). The beautiful items (bracelets, bookmarks, glass cases, sachets, etc.) are made by the parents and students attending The Atfaluna School for Deaf Children (www.atfaluna.net) which provides sign language schooling, hearing aids and services as well as vocational training to the deaf in Gaza.
In closing, Zatoun wishes immediate relief to the people of Gaza and a peaceful future for all.