Israelis – Not all support this war on Gaza.

Ah, excuse me… Yes, over here. Yesterday, I heard on TV news that 84% of the Israeli public supports this current war on Gaza. Today, I’ve found an article that reports on this recent survey (click here). We need to look critically at this statement.

Israel has a diverse society, in many dimensions. And, in that diversity, people are trying so hard to speak against the horrific hostilities (for example, click here). This non-violent effort has been going on for years and also is diverse (click here). And the effort is shared with parts of Palestinian society in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

Let’s let the parts of Israeli society and Palestinian society who are seeking non-violent ways in Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel know that we know about them. That we see them. That we hear them.

Then, please write to your Canadian Member of Parliament here and here to ask that our federal government stop supporting the Israeli government’s attack on Gaza. Please write to Paul Dewar, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, to urge the NDP to object to the federal government’s support for the Israeli government (click here).

Thank you.

Check out these various websites as a reflection of just some of the efforts to co-create peace among Palestinians and Israelis:

Breaking the Silence (click here and here)

Combatants for Peace (click here)

Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam – Oasis of Peace (click here)

New Profile (Click here)

Open House in Ramle (click here)

Other Voice (click here and here)

The Parents Circle Families Forum (click here)

Peoples Peace Fund (click here)

Windows: Channels for Communication (click here)

Young Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli Defence Force (click here , here, and here)

Stepping out of a destructive cycle – Together

Are you there? World?

Life in Gaza is like this (click here).

Canadians are part of the international community. Growing numbers of us are starting to object (see here and here). In the following, I offer an excerpt from a thoughtful leader in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek. We met in December 2010 (click here ). For Rev. Dr. Ateek’s full letter, click here:

“1.    The international community needs to empower the UN to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We have been caught in a destructive cycle. Every few years the situation reaches its boiling point, warfare begins, and thousands of Palestinians are killed and injured, mainly civilians – women, children, elderly, and disabled. The international community has been lethargic, impotent, and unwilling to implement its own resolutions on Palestine. The international community has the responsibility to resolve this seemingly intractable conflict. The UN needs to be empowered to do its work.

2.    International law unequivocally gives occupied people the right to shake off the yoke of the occupier through various means including the armed struggle. While this is true and needs to be remembered in considering this situation, Sabeel has always stood for the moral right of liberation through non-violent means.

3.    The Palestinian rockets from Gaza have an important message that Israel refuses to understand and the western powers, especially the United States, are unwilling to comprehend. The message of the rockets addresses the core issues and the root causes of the problem – STOP THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND FREE PALESTINE. If this does not happen, the war will occur again and again and again, and the casualties will be mainly women and children. This conflict will continue to flare up, despite anyone’s best efforts to contain it, unless the systemic injustice of occupation is dismantled. A recent statement from Israeli academics cuts straight to the point: “Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement” (

4.    Our plea is to all people of conscience in Israel. You need to become engaged. The present political course is driving Israelis and Palestinians further apart and is leading us to an impending disaster worse than we are witnessing today. We all must stop nurturing extremism. Israelis and Palestinians have to live together in this land. God has put us here, we need to share it. The alternative is untenable.

5.    A stable peace can only be realized when justice, in accordance with international law, is achieved for both Israel and Palestine.

Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem
July 30, 2014″

Warning to evacuate – Help? Now!

Date: Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 10:46 AM (in Mountain Standard Time)
[Time in Gaza: 7:51 pm!]
Subject: Gaza – Catholic Church – a shelter – Please tell Israel not to bomb it.

“Dear Minister Baird,
I have just learned that a Catholic Church in Gaza has been contacted by the Israeli authorities with a warning to evacuate prior to a plan to bomb the local neighbourhood this evening (click here).

However, the church is a shelter for various people including older adults and disabled children. They cannot be moved from the church.

Please contact the Israeli authorities, explaining the situation and asking that they not bomb the church or any other such shelter for civilians.

Thank you for considering this request,

Sherry Ann
Edmonton, Alberta”

Action: Please write to Foreign Minister John Baird (see email address above) and use Twitter, and other social media as soon as possible.

Understanding others’ needs – How?

In this video posted by the Emergency Fund board (click here) in Israel, Robi Damelin, expresses a shared perspective that, “We must understand the needs of the other and find a way to stop this never ending cycle of violence”. She describes that her son, David, died as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.The Emergency Fund has been initiated as a collective effort by Combatants for Peace (click here), The Parent’s Circle (click here), and The Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum (click here).

To understand each other, here’s what you can do ‘here’. Because here and there only exist by virtue of the other. In other words, without “here”, “there” cannot exist.

We talk in Bethlehem beside the Israeli government's Separation Wall_16Dec2010 Photo credit: M.J.

We talk in Bethlehem beside the Israeli government’s Separation Wall_16 Dec. 2010 Photo credit: M.J.

-In Edmonton, join the 4th Rally and March for Gaza on Wed., 30 July 2014 at 6:30 pm (click here).

-In Canada, learn more about Canadian Friends of Sabeel and consider supporting their work for peace (click here). As a reminder, Sabeel is the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The centre was founded by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek in 1990 and works for justice, peace, and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel. The word, sabeel, is Arabic for ‘the way’ and also ‘a channel’ or ‘spring’.

-Sign this international petition (click here).


What inspires…amid each day’s news?

I’ve just read a reflective posting at the website of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI) (click here). I found the posting inspiring – about Haneen Majadhle. She is a young woman on a journey with an insight about how “dialogue has helped her maintain hope that there can be change in this world”.

Wall art in TelAviv: Inspiration Art Festival_30 Dec. 2010 - Photo: Sherry Ann

Wall art in TelAviv: Inspiration Art Festival_30 Dec. 2010 – Photo: Sherry Ann

What inspires you?

Compassion for each other…

Have you heard about the Charter for Compassion? I find it helpful in times like these. I’ve endorsed it. If you wish to learn more about it, click here. If you wish to endorse it, click here.

Through the Charter for Compassion’s website, I found this short video (click here) that offers insight into compassion that is held by and between Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost family members as a result of the conflict. Together, they are known as a group as “Palestinian Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace” and as the “Parents Circle Family Forum” (click here). The group is a Charter Peace partner of the Charter for Compassion.

Charter Peace partner
Charter Peace partner

The video is titled, “We Don’t Want You Here.” “Here”, in a place of suffering. These families don’t want you to know the kind of suffering that they’ve known. What might we do to help them in that desire?


Human Rights – Here is a hand to help all stand up for Gaza.


Al-Quds Day Edmonton, AB_25 July 2014 – Photo: Sherry Ann

Edmonton, Alberta. 25 July 2014. We stood up, in support of international humanitarian law and international human rights law on the International Day of Al-Quds (click here); Al-Quds is also known as Jerusalem. We stood up to demonstrate our concern for those who are suffering and dying in Gaza. One person who spoke, Dr. Ghada Ageel, is from Gaza and spoke in personal terms (click here for her recent article). We were not at risk of dying, through this rally. But people died when they protested yesterday, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and near East Jerusalem (click here).

Some commentators are trying to make sense of the “sides” and who is to blame (for example, click here) regarding the hostilities in and around Gaza. However, I perceive that “sides” are no longer the point. Human suffering is the point.

Here, here is a hand…to help all stand up:

Globally, citizens are speaking out. See here. Sign this petition here.

Gary Paterson, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada (UCC), has begun to cry out (click here). I am hopeful still that the Moderator, representing the UCC, will release a public statement to Canadian society and to the federal government to speak on the world stage against the killing of civilians in and near Gaza. And to offer humanitarian and medical assistance to those who are suffering. Please consider contacting the Moderator via this page (here). Please write to Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and to your Member of Parliament here and here.

So much more is possible for our world (for example, click here).

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is another way to ‘stand up’ (click here). The United Church of Canada’s campaign, “Unsettling Goods: Choose Peace in Palestine and Israel”, is an economic action in support of clear labelling of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements. By refusing to buy mislabeled products, people in one part of the world can support the growth of a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

To learn how you might choose to participate in the Unsettling Goods campaign:
Information about the campaign (here)
Choose how to participate (here)
Fact sheets regarding the three manufacturers (here): (i) Ahava; (ii) Keter Plastic; (iii) SodaStream
Letters for four Canadian retailers carrying the products of these three manufacturers (here): (a) Canadian Tire; (b) The Bay; (c) Home Depot; (d) Walmart Canada.
Map showing settlements, from Peace Now (here)
Information about the Israeli settlements (here)
Zatoun – Learn about fair trade olive oil and other products, in support of the Palestinian economy (here).

Action: Please share this posting and the postings of these past few days with family, friends, on Facebook, Twitter… The more that we know, the better.

Al-Quds Day 109 St. Edmonton_25 July 2014 Photo: Sherry Ann

Al-Quds Day 109 St. Edmonton_25 July 2014 Photo: Sherry Ann

Gaza – Ubuntu – “It is in each other’s shadow, that we flourish.”

We are in this Israeli-Palestinian conflict, together. In this posting, I quote Mary Robinson (more info here and here) who is one of The Elders, the group of independent leaders who work globally for peace and human rights (click here). In a recent interview in celebration of Mandela Day 2014 (here), Robinson offers an observation about the meaning of life in terms of the African concept, ubuntu, (“I am because you are”) and a similar expression in Irish: “Is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.” It means, “It is in each other’s shadow that we flourish.” (quoted from here)

As described on The Elders’ website, Mary Robinson was the: “First woman President of Ireland and [is a] former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a passionate, forceful advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity.

“Part of the wisdom of the Elders is to remind the world that we actually have universal values that are accepted by every government in the world and yet they are not being implemented.” ” (here)

People in civil society in Israel are calling for peace and dialogue (for example, here). People around the world are calling for an end to the violence and the phrase, war crimes, is used increasingly (for example, here).

Navi Pillay is the current UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. On 23 July 2014, she stated: “A seven-year old Palestinian child in Gaza has never known life outside occupation and is already living through her or his third experience of a major Israeli military operation, including the so-called operations ‘Cast Lead’ in 2009 and ‘Pillar of Defence’ in 2012, with all the unimaginable death, destruction, terror and the life-long consequences that they inflicted.

Both Palestinians and Israelis deserve better than a life of chronic insecurity and recurring escalation in hostilities.” (for Pillay’s full statement, click here) Commissioner Pillay is also quoted as saying that “… ‘147 children have been killed in Gaza over the past 16 days. They had a right to life, just like children in any other countries.’

Pillay said Israeli children shared these rights and should also be able to live without fear of rocket attacks from Gaza. The indiscriminate nature of Hamas rocket fire, Pillay said, also clearly went against principles of distinction and precaution when identifying military targets.” (For the full article and video, click here.) (Click here for an article in The Guardian.)

Commissioner Pillay ended her statement with the following: “I, and my predecessors and successors as High Commissioner for Human Rights, can only offer the facts, the law, and common sense. This we have done, and — I am sure — will continue to do, however much we are criticized for it.

We, as the International Community, the United Nations, the Human Rights Council, States, and as human beings, are obliged to do everything in our power to protect all civilians and ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled worldwide.

In Israel and Palestine, the politics of conflict, peace and security are constantly leading to the downgrading, or setting aside, of the importance of binding international human rights law and international humanitarian law. International law is not negotiable. No individual or state can be considered exempt, if they violate the law.” (for Pillay’s full statement, click here)

I am glad that Commissioner Pillay is speaking out. I am glad that Mary Robinson continues to speak out.

I was asked recently about why I blog, why I participate in EAPPI. If people like these women hadn’t spoken out, I might not exist. Surprised? Well, one of my sets of grandparents and my parents had, in some people’s eyes, “mixed marriages”. From extreme perspectives in the midst of the Irish Troubles, news of a Catholic woman and a Protestant man could set off violence (click here). For most of my life, I’ve grown up wondering how I could have both identities within me. Thankfully, with immigration to Canada, my family members could choose to marry. When I visited Palestine and Israel in 2009, I recognized some dynamics in that conflict that were familiar to me, from what I knew about the Irish Troubles. I realized that I could choose to respond to what I saw, to help someone else. It’s about looking and learning, and choosing to act. Here’s another helpful article about the conflict in Palestine and Israel (here).

Thanks for being there. We, as humanity, do impact each other and the rest of this amazing planet. Together, we can flourish.


80% of Gazans were refugees before July 2014. End the seige.

And, now the children of the children of the children are running with nowhere to hide…in Gaza. Many of the people in Gaza are refugees, several times over, living in refugee camps in Gaza (more info here and here). Tyler Levitan offered the 80% statistic in a prime-time TV interview with CTV (Canadian) this week (to watch the interview, click here). Tyler represents Independent Jewish Voices, a group that represents progressive Jewish voices in Canada (more info here and here). Tyler observes that this “siege” on Gaza is not about security for Israel, as the Israeli government would have us believe. The Israeli government is disregarding international law. The siege and blockade of Gaza must end. Once Gazans have life necessities, then thoughtful dialogue can happen. Mainstream Israelis, including some neighbours of Gaza, want to talk with, not bomb, their neighbours.

B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (click here), is publishing the names of the children who have been killed during the current hostilities.

For more information on how to support the children in Gaza, read about the Middle East Children’s Alliance (here and here).

Action: Please share this posting and the postings of these past few days with the thoughtful voices that are out there…please share this info with family, friends, on Facebook, Twitter… The more that we know, the better.

Note: IJV works with various groups like the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI, click here).

Note: To read about international law and how it is being ignored in Palestine and Israel, please enter “international” in the Search box of this blog. Or, enter any term (like “Gaza”), to read entries that date to December 2010.

Thump. Thump. Boom. Missiles? Hearts? In Gaza

Last night, on The National (CBC TV), Paul Hunter, a CBC journalist, described how his body felt the blast of a missile on a nearby apartment building in Gaza. Reverberations. Shaking. In this clip (here), he describes the “thump, thump, thump” of strikes and the “booms”. He describes “anguish” as experienced by the “village” of people gathering at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Where to go, away from the thump? Thump. THUMP.

From an inspiring song, I hear the words of Xavier Rudd, “What does your heart say?” (from Follow the Sun, here) Is it yet beating? Artists, Nobel laureates, and public intellectuals, internationally, are expressing what their hearts are feeling. See this article in The Guardian on 18 July 2014 (here) in which they observe, “Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world. Over the period 2008-19, the US is set to provide military aid to Israel worth $30bn, while Israeli annual military exports to the world have reached billions of dollars.”

Guess what? The Canadian government is one of those complicit ‘leaders’. Click here, here, and here. Call on Canada to stop the assault (here).

Add your name to this international petition (here), calling for a military embargo on Israel (here). This fact sheet offers additional information (here).

More info – 8 crucial points (including how international law relates to the conflict) are here. Here are the numbers as of this morning (here). Here are some insights when engaging in discussion (here). Here are tips for reading the news with a critical/thoughtful eye (here). Here’s info for locating your Member of Parliament for engaging him or her in dialogue (here).

Watch this page for Uri Avnery’s comments as a long-time Israeli peace activist, here.

More news is available at Maan News (here) and The Electronic Intifada (here).

If you are in Edmonton on 25 July 2014, consider sharing what your heart says at this International Day of al-Quds’ Rally for Palestine (here); Al-Quds is also known as Jerusalem. This brings to mind an association with the phrase, ‘Jerusalem in my heart,’ with the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (more here and here).

Hmmm, yes. Thump. Thump, thump, thump…beating, go our hearts…