16 May 2021
JERUSALEM HOUR- EXPRESSING OUR SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE
– International Day for Living Together in Peace
Home for Humanity
On 16 May 2021, the International Day for Living Together in Peace, as the shelling of Gaza continued, Home for Humanity convened a gathering to express Solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.
Zahira Kamal, the former Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs, Secretary General of the Fidah Party, and host of ‘Home for Humanity in Jerusalem’ set the context by describing the historical background and current situation in Sheikh Jarrah, across the West Bank and in Gaza. Zahira was a core member of the Women’s Committee of Palestinian and Israeli women leaders who met for over 20 years in the 1990s and 2000s to further peace not only in the Middle East but also in conflict zones worldwide like in the Balkans. As a respected Palestinian leader she has always been a protagonist of non-violence, tolerance and co-existence. She underlined that defending justice for Palestinians is in no way anti-Israeli or anti-semitic but is about universal human rights. Her brother Dr. Abdallah Kamal, a mathematician and life-long advocate for Palestinian rights also spoke passionately about the historical and present context, and what was required for a change to happen.
We were joined from Gaza by Jamal Sozzi, a leading theatre director, actor and cultural activist. Jamal has collaborated for the past two decades with film director Jonathan Chadwick and the ‘War Stories Project’. Jamal provided a harrowing account of the impact of the shelling and the state of profound terror, insecurity and fear in which all Gazans live. The shelling exacerbates the precarious living conditions, penury and suffering caused by the devastating blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza.
We can only fully understand the impact of violent conflict when we experience it through the skin of a young person. Yara, Jamal’s 19 year old daughter spoke to us with immense dignity and tenderness about the impact of the current wave of violence on the lives of young people like herself. She shared how her mother had packed a small bag of essential clothing and left it beside the door of their house, in case they were forced out of their beds by shelling while they slept and had to flee for shelter in the middle of the night. She recalled the devastation of the 2014 violence, when she was only a child, and the horror that it was beginning all over again. She voiced her heartfelt appreciation for the solidarity and support of all the participants at this online gathering. The unshakeable humanity of this young woman facing recurrent waves of violence and unremitting deprivation in the open-air prison of Gaza with such composure made a profound impression on all of us.
Palestinians from across the West Bank and Jordan also shared their experiences. Ratibeh spoke “live” from the streets of East Jerusalem showing us on her phone the sites on the roads.
From Ramallah, Faraj Ghannam affirmed that what was unique was that this time all Palestinians across the West Bank, Gaza and in the diaspora were united.
Samer Abujazar from Gaza said that Gazans were willing to pay the price for freedom, and that they were suffering but were not afraid.
The circle was then opened for all participants present to express their solidarity and support, as they called in from the four corners of the Earth: from Zimbabwe to Sweden, from Brazil to India, and many more, united in their concern for Palestinians – as for all victims of violence and oppression.
Zahira Kamal concluded the gathering by affirming that there is a perceptible change this time as the world opinion seems to be shifting. Zahira’s ultimate conclusion was that this was a fight not just for Palestinians, but for our common humanity.
This eloquent message written by Nour al Saleh, a Syrian humanitarian activist exiled himself from his homeland due to the Syrian war, captures the essence of our solidarity gathering for Palestine.
A Young Woman Called Yara (by Nour al Saleh)
* For decades we have lived and witnessed the Palestinian struggle, a nation of people who lost their land, their home but not their identity. Palestine has been and will always be the heart of our world, and Jerusalem will always be the heart of Palestine. * A young woman called Yara, from Gaza She speaks with confidence. She hides her pain and fear for her family and countrymen. She smiles, hoping for justice and Humanity that will one day overcome all Governments, War-machines and borders. *Palestine is wounded. An action is to be taken to heal her wounds. Humanity is watching and interacting. A beacon is now lit, called Home For Humanity and has chosen Jerusalem to be the first Home For Humanity abroad. * Your voice will be heard now Yara. Your Home For Humanity is there for you, to send your message to the world. We are all here and we are all with you. Home for Humanity is with you, Yara.
Your voice will be heard.
Note: Our online gathering coincided with the ‘Jerusalem Hour’, a call launched by over 80 human rights organisations worldwide to express solidarity with Palestine at 4pm Jerusalem Time on 16th May.
Expressing our Solidarity with Palestinians
16 May 2021 – International Day for Living Together in Peace
Home for Humanity
I Am From There
by Mahmoud Darwish
I come from there and remember,
I was born like everyone is born, I have a mother
and a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends and a prison.
I have a wave that sea-gulls snatched away.
I have a view of my own and an extra blade of grass.
I have a moon past the peak of words.
I have the godsent food of birds and an olive tree beyond the kent of time.
I have traversed the land before swords turned bodies into banquets.
I come from there, I return the sky to its mother when for its mother the sky cries, and I weep for a returning cloud to know me.
I have learned the words of blood-stained courts in order to break the rules.
I have learned and dismantled all the words to construct a single one:
محمود درويش – فلسطين
أنا من هناك. ولي ذكرياتٌ . ولدت كما تولد الناس. لي والدة
وبيتٌ كثير النوافذِ. لي إخوةٌ. أصدقاء. وسجنٌ بنافذة باردهْ.
ولي موجةٌ خطفتها النوارس. لي مشهدي الخاص. لي عشبةٌ زائدهْ
ولي قمرٌ في أقاصي الكلام، ورزقُ الطيور، وزيتونةٌ خالدهْ
مررتُ على الأرض قبل مرور السيوف على جسدٍ حوّلوه إلى مائدهْ.
أنا من هناك. أعيد السماء إلى أمها حين تبكي السماء على أمها،
وأبكي لتعرفني غيمةٌ عائدهْ.
تعلّمتُ كل كلام يليقُ بمحكمة الدم كي أكسر القاعدهْ
تعلّمتُ كل الكلام، وفككته كي أركب مفردةً واحدهْ
Messages from Participants from Palestine
Jamal Alrozzi (Gaza)
We're scared, lost and terrified. And now we're only hoping for no more loss..
Hopefully it's not for nothing
your voice matters.
-Jamal & Yara
Ratebeh Natsheh (E Jerusalem: Chair of Sharek)
watch my screen
Faraj Ghunaim (Ramallah)
We are not heros, we are ordinary humans.
we are in pain but confident that freedom is closer than ever.
For the first time since too many years, we are united in all of palestine, west bank, Gaza, occupied 1948 and greater syria
Solidarity Messages from all Participants who attended worldwide
Jonathan Chadwick (UK) (Co-host of this gathering, Theatre director-script writer and Founder of AZ Theatre, has worked in Gaza and led the War Stories Project)
Our friend and colleague in Gaza, Hossam Madhoun is here with us but can’t join us. His message: “There is bombing around us now. So hard. Let me see. I need to be with Abeer and Salma. We are afraid. They got mad. They bomb everywhere.”
Jonathan Chadwick’s solidarity message:
This is my plea: I have known and worked with my friends Hossam and Jamal for 19 years. I know them and through them I know something about how things are in Gaza. I have ‘been with’ them and their families through three ‘wars’. I spoke to them this morning. My plea is that you who read this message do everything in your power to exert influence on the ‘international community’ through all means possible to stop the current military action of the Israeli state. In the immediate situation it is only nation-state action that can stop this murder and terror. Please see clearly and support the right of the occupied people of Palestine to resist by all means the terror being perpetrated against them. Nation-states will only move if there is intense popular pressure. Please exert this pressure to the ultimate degree in any way you can.
Nilima Bhat (India) Founder and author of Shakti Leadership
May Jerusalem become a Home for Humanity
May we refuse to be enemies with anyone, except that which seeks to destroy our Humanity.
Our fellow humans, brothers and sisters in Gaza and Palestine.
Please know that you are NOT alone.
The Divine is always with you.
And all peace-loving people everywhere, too.
Our prayers are with you. For you to be safe.