Nader and I took to the streets of Al Jundi, and it was a night when thousands and thousands came to celebrate. The mood was infectious - for a few hours, the war was left behind, and the future looked brighter.
There were joyful prayers from every mosque in the city... the prayers filled Gaza and were the first reactions to the cease fire... and then came celebratory firing of rifles in the area - cries of Allahu Akbar.
Children filled the street - released from a too long confinement.
Parents and others followed close behind.
Banners were hung at Al Meena. Firecrackers were all around us.
Cars and trucks passed by in parade almost immediately - filled with young men who waved banners, shouted slogans announcing the end of war - holding hands up in the sign of peace.
I was immediately overwhelmed.... tonight was a night for joy but I also wept from the pure joy of seeing my Palestinian friends at this special moment in this journey to Gaza.
I will remember this night forever.
The people of Gaza have suffered horribly during these last 50 days. So many have died and been seriously injured. We have witnessed the photographs of so many martyred and injured children. Many villages have been destroyed altogether.... thousands and thousands of homes and mosques and buildings now lie in rubble. Many residential towers lie in ruin.... with another joining them in Gaza City last night.
Some might wonder how Gaza could celebrate in the face of such great loss and destruction...
But there is much that we have yet to learn about this people of the resistance.
Gaza celebrated its survival, its resistance, its relief, its innate love of life tonight - its strong belief in a merciful and loving Allah - and took a few hours to celebrate the end to this war, and the hope of a new beginning.
And I swear to you - I truly believe that even those who lost their lives and are now in Jannah also joined this celebration.
But this is just a beginning, my dear friends.... the celebration of the evening is fading - and now the real works begins.
The final ceasefire agreement is still filled with question marks and unresolved issues - years of reconstruction lie ahead - the dead are still being buried - the injured may have months of recovery and rehabilitation before them - the infrastructure has been destroyed - raw sewage still pours into the sea. More then 50% of the working population is unemployed (and that number will rise in the coming days).... many people have become homeless (hundreds of thousands of them).... and many of them have no place to go - no home to return to..... thousands and thousands are without food and water (or are food insecure)....
As one astute observer in Gaza wrote tonight - We have won the war but there is still no electricity and water tonight... the city is mostly dark, my dear friends.
There is reason for celebration in Gaza tonight because nearly 50 days and nights of bombing were a horrific experience for many who thought that they might die at any moment... that their children would meet the same fate.
Children will look to the sky for many weeks to come and run to their mother or friends hoping to find protection.
The drones are still in the sky over Gaza tonight.
Gaza is still an open air prison.
More than at any other time - the good people of Gaza need our support.
They need protests in the street until their freedoms are won.
They need us to learn more about their heritage and their future.
They will need us to dig deep in the coming days.
They will need us to continue the work of boycotting Israeli goods and investments in Israeli corporations (and those corporations that have supported years of apartheid in the West Bank and years of siege and blockade in Gaza).
There is still much to be done.
The bombs and destruction have ended for the moment - but please remember that little has changed yet - and it will not change at all without our support.
Israel is still the Occupier. The blockade and siege remain in place except for a piece of paper and promises.
One of the world's largest armies is ready to attack again at any moment.
Thanks to Allah, I am alive - thanks to Allah, the nights are quieter - thanks to Allah, there is "temporary" peace in this land of beautiful people.
Thanks to Allah for your prayers and support and for your sacrifices, dear friends.
Gaza is still under attack.
And it will be for years to come unless we continue our work.
I need to express my horror and absolute condemnation of those that believe that there can be any justification for resorting to industrial strength violence, war or genocide as may be the case here. People using deadly weapons on people is WRONG. The civilized, humane means of resolving conflicts are negotiations.
Peace Is Possible
The human race got this far, not by waging war, but by cooperation.
My photos here were taken from a July 23. 2014 rally held in Santa Fe, New Mexico in protest of the unanimous support of Israel (to the detriment of the Gazan civilians) and resolution 498 co-sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich and not objected to by Senator Tom Udall. The letter below was delivered to both Senators amidst the usual singing and chanting, even while it slightly rained.
"Each year, the United States gives Israel about $3.1 billion in military assistance, a commitment that stems from the 1978 Camp David accord that led to peace between Israel and Egypt. Those billions are roughly divided into two funding streams. About $800 million underwrites Israeli manufacturing of weaponry and military products. The rest finances what is essentially a gift card that the Israeli military uses to procure arms and military equipment from US military contractors. It can be safely assumed, says a US expert on aid to Israel, that all units of the Israel Defense Forces benefit from US assistance—and this obviously includes those units fighting in Gaza. So to a certain degree, the destruction in Gaza does have a made-in-the-USA stamp." - Mother Jones
My Mom, a WW II veteran used to iterate in unbecoming cynicism I thought, but have come, not to accept, but slowly understand:
War Is Profitable!
US taxpayers are in the absurd place of partly paying for the Israeli military action in Gaza and funding the cleanup. No doubt the US profits from war, New Mexico's National and Sandia labs are our major players, invested still too much in defense and too little in green technology. Place people and their lives above profit and greed. Sign the Amnesty International Petition for the US to stop arming Israel: "All states (particularly key suppliers, for example USA for Israel) must suspend all transfers of weapons, munitions and other military equipment and technology to all sides until there is no longer a substantial risk that such items will be used for serious violations of international humanitarian law or serious human rights abuses. The suspension should include all indirect exports via other countries, the transfer of military components and technologies and any brokering, financial or logistical activities that would facilitate such transfers."
Inflammatory rethoric, signs and chants I personally do not deem very helpful,
but standing up and speaking out for what we believe is of the essence.
If we don't, we simply are complicit.
"All of us,who consider ourselves friends of Israel, must call on the Israeli government to use its wisdom to change course and to stop this escalation, to demonstrate a level of compassion born of moral clarity, not only for the benefit of innocent Palestinians, but to protect Israel from the destruction of its own reputation which would deprive it of world solidarity necessary for its own survival." - Dennis Kucinich
Hamas dropped call for the destruction of Israel in 2006! It is imperative for Hamas to update their outrageous preamble of their founding document: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it." The state of Israel needs absolute acceptance. Once clearly stated Israel will no longer have the excuse of self defense in their attacks, which currently looks a lot more like genocide (most certainly expressed in comments in the Jerusalem Post: "Barak Tom Salakoff - Wipe Hamas off the map.)
The right to defend ought to be a last resort only. Israel has by far not exhausted it's options to respond to the Gazan rebellion, understandable when we hear of their horrific conditions they have to endure.
Surprise, Gaza seems to have great oil potential of which some corporations seem well aware of!
I was shocked to learn only the other day that the denial of the holocaust was not just a hair raising notion coming from the prior Iranian president, but a position still held by many, including factions that make up Hamas. With todays technologies such absurd notions ought to be able to be corrected with relative ease. Hold town hall meetings where such nonsense is challenged by real people with real feelings and experiences, rather then through more propaganda. Candid, civilized conversations can be part of the solution.
Follow Denny Cormier's live report from Gaza and find him on facebook, twitter and flickr. Denny is a Santa Fean I seen last this spring, right before he left for Gaza where now he found his home and where he chose to stay even as the war started.
Proportionality applies with numbers like 1000 Gazan fatalities - 40 Israeli soldiers.
We mourn for every life lost regardless of nationality, race, color or faith.
War is a barbaric, outdated mode of inflicting suffering through generations yet to come.
Finally, an oppressed people will rebel, they will undermine, literally, unfair boundaries and no doubt will seek to liberate themselves. End Israel's control over Gaza, it's borders, waters, space and goods,
End The Occupation!
New Gallup Poll: 42% of Americans say Israel's actions in Gaza are justified; 39% say unjustified.