before i left al quds my friend took a break from writing her proposal to fund psycho-social programs for the children of gaza. to help to deal with the trauma. she said two more interesting things. the first was that she is writing up plans for gaza not as if she were dealing with trauma in another (so-called) post-war context; instead, she is using models from programs run after a hurricane or an earthquake. why? because children who are dealing with the trauma of a natural disaster cannot be promised that the disaster won’t happen again. likewise, these children–and palestinians in gaza more generally–cannot be promised that the israeli terrorists won’t bomb them again. because the siege is not over. because the borders are not open. because the damage is massive and won’t be back to “normal” anytime soon. but then again, what is “normal” in gaza. and yet palestinians there are endlessly resilient. this was the second thing she reminded me of. indeed, the people there are craving to get back to some sense of normalcy. this is why people came to work the day after the ceasefire at her ngo’s office in gaza. and this is why, amazingly, children in gaza went back to school today:
Thousands of students were seen heading to class throughout the Strip. Some of the schools have been repaired by the de facto Education Ministry and UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees.
Israel’s bombing destroyed 35 public schools out of 384 facilities, which serve 250,000 students. Israel also damaged several UN schools. At the Fakhoura School in Jabaliya, Israeli shelling killed some 50 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the school. During the height of the war, tens of thousands of Gazans took refuge in UNRWA schools across Gaza.
Schools in the northern Gaza Strip were targeted by Israeli forces more than other area. In the north, 24 schools were completely destroyed and only 10 of these schools have been repaired.
Students who used to study at the destroyed schools were distributed to other schools which will operate two or three shifts.
Because of the reduced amount of classroom space, schools will have to merge two or three classes together, raising class sizes to 120 students in some cases, the Education Ministry says.
As students sit down for class, many of them discovered that their classmates have been killed, injured, or disabled.
The Education Ministry and UNRWA asked teachers to dedicate the first week of school to psychological support in order help children recover from the trauma of 23 days of total war. Teachers have been advised to let students talk about what they experienced with teachers and fellow students.
They were also given directives on how to treat families that are still living in schools temporarily after their homes were destroyed.
Families now residing in UN schools complained of bad living conditions, especially after resumption of classes, appealing to the government and humanitarian organizations to provide them with tents or other places to live.
it is amazing that schools are re-opening given that so many palestinian refugees are having to live in them because their houses were destroyed by israeli terrorists as zeina awad reports on al jazeera:
i meant to post this in my last post on trauma, but jess had sent out a call for helping the psychological sector in gaza. here is the call for those who wish to donate:
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) urges our members and friends to contribute to the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, a new PsySR fundraising campaign to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), which has suffered extensive damage to its headquarters at a time of escalating demand for its services.
To Donate Now: http://www.psysr.org/gaza
Psychologists for Social Responsibility joins with other advocates of peace, social justice, and human rights in calling for an immediate, concerted, and unrelenting effort to end the devastating violence and the tragic humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
As an organization focused on psychology’s contributions to positive social change, PsySR is also painfully aware of the profound psychological impact of the aerial and ground assault on the individuals, families, and communities of Gaza. Several important short-term and long-term psychological consequences of living in a war zone – which undoubtedly describes Gaza today – are now well-documented. They include the following:
* Psychological distress in war zones is often as great as the physical suffering that receives more widespread attention. For some, including children, coping with issues of family separation, multiple losses, and bereavement can be even more unbearable than other health-related concerns.
* The adverse psychological effects of first-hand exposure to the horrors of war are often exacerbated by pre-existing conditions. People already under stress before an attack –from severe poverty, chronic exposure to harsh imposed restrictions, and past bloodshed – are likely to have stronger and more overwhelming reactions to violence.
* Prolonged fears of attack, powerful feelings of helplessness, and deep worries about family and community heighten the damaging psychological effects – such as depression and PTSD – of life-threatening events and can contribute to ongoing cycles of violence.
* The magnitude of psychological suffering in war zones is determined not only by exposure to life-threatening events but also by people’s immediate and continuing access to individual and family supports, along with broader efforts that are locally, culturally, and psychologically-informed.
Ultimately, a just and lasting peace and a brighter future for Palestinians and Israelis alike will require that these psychological consequences and considerations also receive serious and sustained attention.
It is within this context that the recently reported massive damage to the headquarters of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program is particularly distressing. With a special emphasis on vulnerable groups such as children, women, and victims of torture and human rights violations, the GCMHP’s staff provides crucial and irreplaceable mental health services to thousands of Gaza residents. These services will be even more broadly and desperately needed in the days and months immediately ahead. Throughout its history, the GCMHP has also been firmly committed to nonviolent resistance and to working for a world where Palestinians and Israelis can live together in peace.
In recognition of these urgent circumstances, PsySR has initiated a fundraising campaign to provide support to the Gaza Community Mental Health Program as it rebuilds and adapts to meet escalating needs. The GCMHP receives funding from a consortium of the Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish governments, but that funding is specifically targeted for programs favored by the consortium. For years, independent groups such as the Gaza Mental Health Foundation in the U.S. and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, have provided independent funding that can be used more flexibly. Our initiative will supplement these efforts in this time of heightened need.
Organizing help for the GCMHP is one way that we, as psychologists and mental health providers, can counter the despair and hopelessness bred in all parties by this renewed outbreak of seemingly irresolvable violence. In so doing, we make a statement in support of human rights, mutual recognition and security, and pathway to the reconciliation that must underlie a sustainable peace in this region.
We strongly encourage other organizations and individuals to join us in this effort. Today through March 1st, tax-deductible contributions can be made online through our website at http://www.psysr.org/gaza or by check made out to “Grassroots International” (please write “GCMHP” in the memo line) and mailed to PsySR’s national headquarters: PsySR, 208 “I” Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.
All donations will be processed through Grassroots International, which has received a four-star rating from independent charity evaluator Charity Navigator, and its online partner Democracy in Action. For more information, please email our Project Coordinators at gazamentalhealth [at] psysr.org or contact PsySR’s executive director Colleen Cordes by phone at 202-543-5347.
PsySR gratefully acknowledges Psychoanalysts for Social Responsibility and our other coalition partners in this fundraising campaign.
To Donate Now: http://www.psysr.org/gaza
the work of organizations like the gaza community mental health program is needed now more than ever. here is just one more story of a family that will have to deal with severe trauma for who knows how long:
Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.
He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.
A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a “massacre”.
Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.
meanwhile the bbc is refusing to air public service announcements on television to raise money to help people in gaza ( i love that in the television broadcast of this story on al jazeera that they gave the websites and information so their viewers could donate! ).
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has defended its decision not to participate in a television fund-raising appeal for Gaza, saying it did want to avoid compromising public confidence in its impartiality.
Normally all broadcasters show Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeals without charge, but in a statement on Friday, the BBC said: “Along with other broadcasters, the BBC has decided not to broadcast the DEC’s public appeal to raise funds for Gaza.
“The BBC’s decision was made because of question marks about the delivery of aid in a volatile situation, and also to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC’s impartiality in the context of an ongoing news story.”
but of course charity is not enough and will never be enough to change the root cause of the problem, to create an environment where trauma can be treated. where children–and adults–can be told that this will never happen again. this is why it is so inspiring to open up my email every day and to see new boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and organizing for war crimes tribunals growing, gaining steam, from so many sectors of society across the globe. here is a new statement on war crimes tribunals from a group of lawyers and human rights activists:
International Federation for Human Rights
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
International Commission of Jurists
Gaza/Operation cast lead
Final statement of a mission of prominent lawyers and activists
Paris, Geneva, Copenhagen, January 21st 2009
We are appalled at the horror of the war launched in the Gaza strip, the major loss of civilian lives and the wide scale destruction of civilian property and infrastructure in the context of the operation « Cast Lead, » as well as by the failure of the international community to prevent this tragedy.
Based upon the information our delegation received from Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, who have been monitoring the armed conflict, we have strong reasons to believe that Israel has grossly violated international humanitarian law, including the IVth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Populations in Times of Conflict and customary international law governing the conduct of hostilities. Some of these violations constitute crimes under international law. In particular, the Israeli army has engaged in indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks and has failed in its legal obligation to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure from such attacks.
The operations have also gravely impaired the civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights of the people of Gaza.
No violation of International Humanitarian Law – as perpetrated by Palestinian combatants – can ever legitimise similar or aggravated violations committed by Israel.
Therefore, the members of the mission call for the urgent establishment of an independent commission of investigation into all the alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, which would bring to light the individual responsibilities involved and pave the way for mechanisms of accountability and redress. All parties to the IVth Geneva Convention have a legal obligation to deploy such investigation
The members of the mission also condemn the inability of the United States and of the European Union, partners of the Israeli government, to take strong measures aimed at preventing or stopping the war.
We urge the European Union and the United States to give their immediate and full support to the independent investigation that should be organised immediately.
We urge the international community to exert pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza and end its occupation of all Palestinian Territory.
We call upon the Israeli and Egyptian authorities to ensure prompt access of human rights observers into the Gaza strip.
In the context of the operation « Cast Lead », the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) deployed a joint mission in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Egypt, from January 17th to 21th, 2009.
The mission was composed of prominent and renowned human rights defenders and activists from European countries and the United States of America.
The objective of the mission was to call the parties to the conflict authorities to:
* an immediate cease fire, in application of UN Security Council resolution 1860,
* enable access of NGOs and Journalists to the Occupied Territories,
* lift immediately, unconditionally and permanently the siege on the Gaza strip
* deploy an international fact-finding mission under UN auspices, documenting the grave violations perpetrated in the context of the conflict,
* prosecute the authors of the international crimes.
The mission also aimed at addressing support and solidarity with the civil society organizations, in particular human rights organisations, operating in Israel and the Occupied Territories at this time.
rami has a piece on boycott in al akhbar this week:
تمثّل المقاطعة عنصراً أساسياً في نضال تحرر الشعوب والأمم من الطغيان والعدوان، وقد لعبت دوراً هاماً في هزيمة نظام الفصل العنصري في جنوب أفريقيا. وللمقاطعة أوجه عدة، تتناول المحاور التجارية، والثقافية والأكاديمية. كما أنها تفسح المجال أمام المواطنين العاديين للمشاركة في العمل السياسي المدني من خلال ممارسة حقهم في الاختيار: من ناحية السلع والمنتجات بحسب مصادرها، والتعامل مع الجامعات ومراكز البحوث ومن يمثلونها بحسب انتماءاتها.
تحاول الدول المستهدفة بالمقاطعة، وعلى رأسها «إسرائيل وشركاؤها»، ترويج فكرة خاطئة عن عدم جدوى المقاطعة. لكن الوقائع تشير إلى غير ذلك، ما دفع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية إلى إنشاء مكتب خاص لمنع مقاطعة إسرائيل.
لا يزال لبنان يعتبر إسرائيل دولة عدوة ويلتزم مقاطعتها.
ويمنع القانون اللبناني الصادر في 23 حزيران 1955 إقامة أي علاقة معها، بما فيها أي اتفاقية مباشرة أو غير مباشرة مع أفراد ومؤسسات إسرائيلية أو غير إسرائيلية لكن تعمل لحساب إسرائيل، أو حتى لديها مصانع أو فروع أو ممثلون فيها. كما يحظر الإتجار بأي منتج إسرائيلي أو حتى بالسلع المصنعة خارج إسرائيل لحساب شركات إسرائيلية. يسهّل هذا القانون على اللبنانييين عملية الالتزام بالمقاطعة، ويلزمهم بها. فكل اللبنانيين مقاطعون بالمبدأ، وعلى رأسهم دولتهم وحكومتهم.
إلا أن من يراقب الأسواق في لبنان، قد يفاجأ بدرجة الاستهتار بهذا القانون، وإهمال الحكومة واجبها القانوني في توعية المواطن عبر تجهيز لوائح المؤسسات والشركات المحظور التعامل معها ونشرها. المطلوب اليوم من الذين يتذرّعون بدولة القانون لتبرير نزع سلاح المقاومة، أن يلتزموا بها، عبر المطالبة بتطبيق قانون حزيران 1955.
and rami posted this statement presented in rome last week:
We , representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations, fisher and farmer movements, indigenous peoples and activists gathered here in Rome on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) express our deepest condemnation of the atrocities and genocidal actions committed by the Israeli Government against Palestinian civilians, their environment and sources of livelihood under the so called “war against terror”. The excessive use of power is by no means a justification for any action or reaction. Every day, tens of people of all age groups are being slaughtered, mutilated and butchered while hundreds are wounded, most of whom can never resume their lives as they did before.
We observe with great concern the systematic destruction of farms, crops, water systems, wells, stables etc… which are the main source of livelihood for the majority of Palestinians in living in Gaza.
In view of this, we demand the following:
* An Immediate ceasefire,
* Lifting of all forms of siege and the restrictions of movement of people and supplies to the civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank,
* Insist on Palestinian Food Rights and Food Sovereignty
* Boycott and obtain sanctions against Israel
* Initiate a campaign asking the UN to claim compensation for damages caused by the State of Israel – as obtained by Kuwait after the 1990 Iraq war
* Establish immediately an International Mechanism to assess and report technically the aggressions against human and natural environment in Gaza
* Initiate an international process for the prosecution of the political and military leader in Israel responsible for the mass murder of innocent civilian population of Gaza.
* Launch a worldwide solidarity campaign with the devastated Palestinian people.
the oxford city council also passed a resolution this week (where are the u.s. cities passing such resolutions?):
1) This Council is extremely concerned and saddened, as are many Oxford residents, at the tragic loss of life in Gaza and Israel because of military action. We deplore the violence on both sides but believe that that the Israeli military response had been and continues to be disproportionate.
2) We condemn the loss of civilian life and the destruction of homes, mosques, schools and infrastructure, including United Nations facilities, by Israel in Gaza. These attacks will not bring peace and act as a recruiting ground for extremist groups.
3) This Council welcomes the UK Government’s call for a ceasefire and asks the Leader to write to the Prime Minister urging him to act urgently to ensure:
* An immediate end to Israel’s military assault on Gaza
* An immediate end to the blockade and siege of Gaza
* Action to end Israel’s violations of international law
* Support to address the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
* Israel should compensate the victims for the loss of the life and property resulting from this unprincipled aggression
4) This Council wishes to see:
* An immediate ceasefire
* The withdrawal of the Israeli military from Gaza
* Greater international pressure through the UN on Israel and the Palestinians to reach a political agreement
* An end to the isolation, impoverishment and virtual imprisonment of the people of Gaza
5) To this end we recognize the importance of:
* Boycotting Israeli products and companies
* Increased support for the friendship links between Oxford and both Neve Shalom/Wahat el Salam (Oasis of Peace) and Ramallah
* An immediate arms boycott of Israel by Britain and other countries
6) We welcome:
* The practical support by Oxfam, Medical Aid to Palestine and others to assist the people of Gaza
* The efforts of both Oxford MPs to persuade the Government to do everything possible to press for an immediate ceasefire, to challenge the blockade and help to bring peace to the people of Palestine and Israel.
ali sent me this letter written to the irish times and signed by over 100 irish academics:
There has been widespread international condemnation of Israel’s bombardment and subsequent invasion of Gaza, which has been defined by international lawyers as a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. No civilians, Israelis or Palestinian, should be subjected to attack, whether from rockets from Gaza or bombs and bullets from Israel. However, while every government has both the right and responsibility to defend its civilian population, we believe that Israel’s violent actions are disproportionate and constitute collective punishment of a civilian population.
We also note that Israeli spokespersons themselves have admitted that prior to Israels killing of six Hamas members in the Nov 4th attack on Gaza, Hamas appears to have abided by its ceasefire agreement with Israel, firing no rockets and trying to prevent other groups from doing so. This begs the question: what is the real reason behind the onslaught?
In addition, we note that during its recent offensive Israel expressly targeted educational institutions, including the Islamic University, the Ministry of Education, the American International School, and three UN schools which were destroyed with massive loss of civilian life. During the illegal sealing off of the Gaza Strip that preceded the current aggression, Israel had prevented numerous Palestinian students from leaving Gaza to avail of Fulbright scholarships to the USA.
We believe that it is time to renew the call made by Irish-based academics in September 2006 for a moratorium on the funding of Israeli academic institutions by national and European cultural and research institutions, and an end to the EU’s practice of treating Israel as a European state for the purposes of awarding grants and contracts. Such a moratorium should continue until Israel ends its repressive policies against Gaza, and abides by UN resolutions (which include the ending of the occupation of all Palestinian territories).
We believe that opposition to such a move based on the principle of academic freedom has lost the last semblance of validity in view of the above-mentioned violations of the right to education enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 26), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 28 ) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 14). – Yours, etc,
and i received this email yesterday about a protest in minnesota targeting trade relations with the terrorist state of israel:
At 10am this morning, January 23rd, 2009, approximately 20 local residents entered and sought to occupy the Minnesota Trade Office in downtown Saint Paul demanding an immediate end to all trade between Minnesotan companies and the State of Israel. They have issued the following statement signed by some of the participants and their supporters:
“We are here at the Minnesota Trade Office today, as we should be every day, demanding an end to all business between Minnesota and the State of Israel. While the recent devastation of the Gaza strip weighs heavy on
our conscience, the violent occupation of Palestine and the systematic killing of Palestinians is unfortunately nothing new. Although Palestinians, and all people, deserve sovereignty, justice, and peace, we are here today as residents of Minnesota, many of us Jewish, because state-sanctioned genocide in the occupied territories continues without
Over the past three weeks the Israeli army has freely dropped white phosphorous and 300 meter shells over the schools, hospitals, and refugee camps which house the majority of the almost 2 million residents in Gaza. Over the past three weeks more than 400 children have been killed under the pretense of self-defense. And over the past three weeks politicians from both the left and the right have remained passive spectators to the indiscriminate killing of the indigenous people of Palestine. In this absence of a democratic process to implement a politics of ethical accountability we are left with no choice but to take direct action to shut down the business that finances the genocide in Palestine and the military arms that carry it out.
The Minnesota Trade Office is the bureaucratic middleman in the economic relationship between Minnesota and Israel, facilitating the economic collaboration of the nations and their corporations that exceeds $125 million in domestic exports annually, of which $4 million alone comes from military contracts with local arms merchants such as Napco International in Hopkins, and Alliant Techsystems in Edina. Funding over 70% of its total military spending alone, the United States’ continual sponsorship of the State of Israel places its tax-paying residents in a position of direct complicity in the continuation of atrocity, and its corporations in a position of direct profit from mass suffering.
We come here today to demand the immediate end of all Minnesotan business with Israel because it is the business of massacre, it is the business of killing children, of killing doctors, the business of chemical warfare, of starvation. We believe that demanding an end to all economic collaboration with nations violently enforcing policies of racism and dispossession is legitimate and necessary. This demand is part of the urgent project of ending all economic relations between the United States and Israel, relations that directly enable the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian land, people, and culture. We refuse to be obedient in the face of mass murder, and we refuse to allow Minnesotan business to remain unaccountable for the actions of the nations from whom they draw their profits. When a population is being routinely killed on the basis of their race, ethnicity, and nationality, we have not only the right, but the obligation to stand in its way.”
There is an emergency support rally occurring now outside the Minnesota Trade Office on the corner of Minnesota and Fifth Street in downtown Saint Paul. Media inquiries should be directed to liaisons Flo (612.850.4942) and Raphi (847.207.6356).
and in england there was an op ed on boycotting israeli terrorist produce yesterday:
If you’re not in the habit of checking the country of origin on fruit and vegetables to minimise food miles, you may not have noticed just how much Israeli produce is in our shops and supermarkets. At the moment, there are piles of new potatoes (though it’s hard to see why anyone with a scrap of environmental awareness would buy these when our indigenous main crop spuds are still firm and abundant), and that’s just for starters.
If you go out today and buy avocadoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, Medjoul dates, sharon fruit (persimmons), chillies, oranges, pomegranates, grapefruit or fresh herbs, it’s extremely likely that they will be Israeli. Most of this produce carries country of origin labelling or is branded as Carmel, Bio-Top or Jaffa. In the herb category, there’s room – intentional or otherwise – for confusion. Increasingly your dill, tarragon or basil may be labelled as ‘West Bank’. This is not a Palestinian alternative to the Israeli option; it comes from Israeli settlements in Palestine’s occupied territories.
a note to people who want real liberation, however, for palestinians: you must boycott ALL israeli products, not just those that come from the west bank. a much stronger statement–like all statements it seems on this subject–came from a trade union in lambeth:
The Lambeth Branch of UNISON, the second largest trade union in the UK, has voted to condemn the recent slaughter of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation by Israel at a meeting of its Branch Committee this morning.
At its monthly meeting of representatives, the Branch called for, “an immediate end to the slaughter of defenceless people and the [ongoing] siege of Gaza.” The Branch concluded that, “Israel is an…apartheid state,” and has advocated academic, economic and cultural boycotts of Israel in an effort to delegitimise the Occupation of Palestine, and build international and domestic pressure against the state.
For over 6 decades Israel has carried out policies of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people.1.5 million people live in Gaza, which is now effectively open air prison. For years Israel has blocked the transport of food, medicine and vital supplies forcing the people of Gaza to live in inhumane conditions and the vast majority of people are unemployed.
Palestinian medical sources say at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed and 5,500 injured as a result Israeli’s latest military offensive. The United Nations states that some 50,800 people are now homeless and 400,000 are without running water. Staff in Gaza report that many more people could die as medical equipment runs out.
Nationally, UNISON has committed to send a donation of 10,000 to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Lambeth Branch is raising its own donations locally. The Branch voted to affiliate with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and to work towards submitting an emergency motion to the UNISON National Delegate Conference in July, demanding diplomatic sanctions and boycotts against Israel. The Branch also resolved to build links with Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians who oppose the assault on Gaza and to send messages of solidarity to those students at British universities who have undertaken occupations demanding support from their institutions for the Palestinian right to education.
Lambeth UNISON’s International Officer, Gurmeet Khurana, stated: “The British trade union movement played a crucial part in denouncing and delegitimising the racist ideology of Apartheid in South Africa, and now it must do the same for Israel. The only peaceful solution is one brought about by political and economic equality in the Middle East, and as such the policy of the Israeli state in carrying out ethnic cleansing needs to be condemned unequivocally.”
on a final note, my friend adam produced this video called “gaza calling” with checkpoint 303 and dj lethal skillz: