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.
That you get justice and show mercy.
That you can find deep wells of courage to rise and lead a world you deserve, to live as free beings.
Ozioma Egwuonwu (USA/Nigeria/Portugal: Founder of BurnBright and Dream Day)
“Ozioma, born of Nigeria, Raised in New York, Living in Lisbon stands in Solidarity with Palestine.
May the rest of the world rise up in truth and Justice.
May the truth shine!
You are a strong people and I am committed to our collective awakening and rising up in the name of justice!
We love you and we will not give up.
May this message provide the hugs we cannot give you.
May this message demonstrate our love and support.
I am grateful for what I have learned and will share this awareness with others! Stay Strong!
Abdallah Gad (Egypt: working with SwissPeace, Switzerland.
May strength, resilience, and resolve be your way. May the heaviness of the heart and pains of the body find release, and solace. May the dignity and grace you embody be a source of healing to all. In presence, thoughts, and prayers.
May the divine presence engulf you in ways beyond reason, and may your souls find reserves of resilience in all your affairs.
Elaine Lazaro (Philippines, MA student in Transitional Justice at Geneva Academy for Human Rights)
"My being-in-the-world or my ‘place in the sun’,
my being at home, have these not also been the
usurpation of spaces belonging to the other man
whom I have already oppressed or starved, or
driven out into a third world; are they not acts of
repulsing, excluding, exiling, stripping, killing?"
(Emmanuel Levinas, “Ethics as First Philosophy,” 1989:82).
Jóhanna Vilhjálmsdóttir (from Iceland - living in Germany, Executive Director of Spirit of Humanity Forum).
It is totally agonising and devastating to follow what is happening now in Gaza. So many in Iceland stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Palestine. My heart is with you who are living this horror. I will do what I can to influence the international community. I am praying with you and for you. And praying for HUMANITY to rise in the hearts and minds of those who are currently inflicting suffering on others and being blinded by their own self deceptive narratives. I believe the majority of the people of Israel and Palestine wants to live in peace together.
Breaking the evil cycle of pain and revenge is the biggest challenge humanity is having to deal with. We need such a deep shift of heart that we can recognise that we are all brothers. It requires tremendous inner strength and humility. It can only be found through a source beyond ourselves. We must come to a point where we go beyond our differences and see the same shared sacred reality.
Sarah Ghzawi, (Jordan) . it is so hard to be voiceless, why does a few people have the right to do all of that, and then it is only defences itself, from who?? from children!!! while those children and the citizen in general doesn't have that right...
Jeannie Amash (USA/Gaza)
My father walked 73 years ago. We, his children, my children, we remember. We are here.
hadeel al yaseen (Jordan: working at UNRWA)
My message is that it is our right to establish an independent Palestinian state, liberation and independence
Zeina Sahyoun (Jordan: Medlabs)
Such an important discussion. So important to hear truth and not the rehearsed one- sided narrative that is mostly presented through mainstream media. Thank you 🙏
Dr. Temor Shah Alizoy (Afghanistan / Belgium)
Palastinians have the right to survive and to live !
Do we believe in it? If yes, then lets stand against this injustice and voilence
If the answer is no, then we are not human being but animals in the shape of human without feelings!!
Zina Khoury (Jordan: Tanweer)
This is Zina Khoury, from Jordan. We Jordanians stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine. Words fall short yet we will continue to speak the truth so that everyone will know the narrative. This is ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, and war against humanity. We will continue to speak the truth until our people reclaim their homes and land, fully 🙏🏼
Thank you so much for putting this together. Standing strong in solidarity with Palestinians is key to their narrative. Thank you again
Neima Shifa (Ethiopia, MA student in Transitional Justice at Geneva Academy for Human Rights)
I stand with you!
I stand with your truth!
I pray that you find peace and justice.
I pray you find strength and resolve. May this demonstrate my support and standing in solidarity with you!
I am Helena born in Germany, calling from Portugal:
THANK YOU for sharing reality! Thank you for sharing this space! For sharing humanity all together! I feel, I pray, I cry with you and with us - with humanity. May we all dare to open, break separating narratives and return to the uniting essence: to humanity. And stand up for it. And speak up for it. And act upon it. To make true what I learned when I spent time in Palestine 2017: Refuse to be enemies.
Kajsa Liedén (Sweden)
Listening in from Sweden. We are holding all of you in our thoughts. Praying for your safety, freedom and justice and a peaceful future where you can live a free and safe life. We Stand with you and hold you in our hearts. With love, Kajsa
Thais Corral (Brazil: founder of SINAL)
sending my profound respect for Palestian people !
Karen Tse (Switzerland: Founder of International Bridges of Justice)
Love and blessings
Ama Jones (Germany/Uganda-Ghana)
I am lost of words! my solidarity and support goes out to the people of Palestine🇵🇸!
May there will be justice and healing for Palestine!
Zeina Sahyoun (Jordan: Medlabs)
This is Zeina from Jordan, my love and respect to our brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine. Your resilience is incredible. I hope the world will finally start pushing Israel towards justice and rights for Palestinians. What we need is a unified narrative because truth is on our side and anyone with any humanity will eventually see it and empathise and work to make things right. We have UN resolutions on our side and human rights watch and much more. Together our voices will be heard. They must be heard. Hope is not lost.
We can all make a difference. We can speak up. Write to our governments. Support charities that help Palestinian children. Share truth online. Engage people’s humanity around the world. Thank you Alexander and Rama for this incredible moving platform. 🙏
Professor Adel Rasheed (Jordan)
i deeply appreciate home for humanity sincere concern of the Palestinian cause and your protest of the continuing overriding and the precluding of Palestinians legitimate rights of respectful life including the establishment of their own independent state .
i have reflected on this occasion by posting special and admiring greetings of the courageous unified Palestinian people standing and fighting the outrageous domination and oppression of the Israelis with their unparallelly military capacity and for keeping their voices heard worldwide and for rejecting the continuous dehumanizing practices by the Israelis over them. the post was sent to my student and my personal Facebook pages in the first day of Eid a few days ago
i wish that you read and understand Arabic but this does not prevent reproducing the post here and i kindly ask you to convey this post to Zahira in Jerusalem on behalf of me wishing all the Palestinians the realization of their legitimate rights of stopping the oppression of the Israelis and by enabling them to live their life with dignity
عيد فطر مبارك للجميع
يتزامن عيد الفطر المبارك مع حدث جلل يشعرنا بالغبطة والزهو والكرامة وهو صمود الشعب الفلسطيني البطل المقدام الموحد في وجه الاحتلال والبغي والقهر والقمع والتمييز العنصري وتقديمه قوافل الشهداء دفاعا عن حقه المغتصب وعن وجوده وعن كرامته وكرامة الامة المستلبة كرامتها.
تحية الى الشعب الفلسطيني المناضل والمنافح عن حقه في الكرامة والحرية والوجود بكل فئاته في الداخل الفلسطيني وفي الضفة الغربية وفي غزة وفي الشتات.
تحية محبة واجلال وتقدير لهذا الشعب الفلسطيني النموذج والرمز الذي لم ترهبه الة القتل والتدمير الصهيوينة وتكنولوجياتها المتطورة ولا الدعم غير المحدود الذي تقدمه لدولتها العنصرية المغتصبة المسماة اسرائيل جل الدول الغربية بامكانياتها الهائلة والمتحكمة الى حد كبير بمقدرات الكوكب، وايضا الدعم الذي تقدمه العديد من دول الشرق لهذا الكيان العنصري الدموي الذي زرع في ارض فلسطين منذ وعد بلفور منذ اكثر من قرن.
تحية للشعب الفلسطيني الجبار الصامد الصابر الواعي والقادر على الاحتمال الذي لم يفتت عضده كل اساليب التدمير والقهر والتمييز والبغي والعدوان وبقي عنيدا وعلى اصراره في مقاومته للاحتلال الصهيوني عبر الاجيال والعقود، حتى بعد ان انفردت دولة الاحتلال به بعد ان اقصت هي وزبائنيتها ممن يقدمون الدعم غير المحدود لهذا الكيان المغتصب عديد الدول العربية المناهضة لهذا الاحتلال وبعد ان هرول المطبعون من الدول العربية غير المناهضة لهذا الاحتلال واقاموا التحالفات معه وقدمو ايضا الدعم له .
تحية اعتزاز واجلال ومحبة للشعب الفلسطيني الاسطورة الذي جعلنا نشعر بان كرامتنا المسلوبة يمكن لنا ان نستردها وان نشعر بوجودنا وبان العدل والانصاف واسترداد الحقوق يتطلب التضحيات والوعي والمجاهدة وعدم النكوص وعدم الاستكانة. وان المقاومة والصمود والدفاع عن الوجود صنوان للكرامة والعزة واسترداد الحقوق المغتصبة.
تحية عز وكرامة وشموخ الى الشعب الفلسطيني البطل المقاوم الذي سطر مواقف شجاعة نادرة واستمر في تقديم الشهداء عبر الاجيال الذين نالوا الجزاء العظيم في ارتقاءهم الى السموات العلى راضين مرضيين.
تحية محبة واجلال وبهاء واحترام وتقدير للشعب الفلسطيني البطل الذي ننحني امام صموده ومقاومته الشرسة للاحتلال وامام اسطورته.
ADDITIONAL MESSAGES from PEOPLE WHO COULD NOT JOIN THE MEETING IN PERSON
Arjuna Hiffler Mani (France, India, Netherlands: Doen Foundation)
It breaks my heart to see our brothers and sisters in Palestine suffering and dying on this ‘International day of living together in Peace’. The violent apartheid seems now more obvious than ever, yet the confusion and inaction of the political class remains. In solidarity I stand, witnessing, learning, speaking out against atrocities andd violence that have torn apart this holy, unforgettably beautiful land.’
Dr. Rain Annie Lim (Canada/Malaysia: founder of WeWorld)
We will be standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine and Gaza. They have been in my heart. We are with you all in spirit. We send you our love.
Thanks to everyone who is taking a stand on this issue.
Virginia Bergamosco, Italy
I send my thoughts and prayers over in solidarity
Poems offered at the Solidarity Hour
“I can’t breathe”
“We can’t breathe”
-dedicated to Palestine
today we stand as brothers
feeling the pain of others
freeing our hearts from ice
bred out of hubris, born from sacrifice
grown over hundred thousand years
of violence, injustice, fears
it’s time to pierce
through all this suffocation
it’s time for tears
of true reconciliation
it’s time for justice, healing, peace
time for a world where everyone can breathe
- By Alexander Schieffer
The ceasefire was announced.
Everyone, young or old,
Dropped whatever they were doing,
Helped each other over the hills of rubble
And danced together in the streets.
Thousands had died.
Tens of thousands were maimed.
Hundred thousands had seen their homes destroyed,
Their streets were littered
With the remnants of their former lives.
Nothing was left standing
On this narrow strip of land
They’d built up brick by brick
From nothing, with their sweat and toil
And made their own.
Yet, today they danced
Today they held hands and sang.
“We lost so much, so many
But we will never lose
(- 26th August, 2014, dedicated to the citizens of the Gaza strip,
who say, ‘We are not all Hamas. We just want to live like everyone else.’ )