From Gaza, with Love

Saturday, June 09, 2007

on the 40th anniversary of occupation my statement in the UN

SPECIAL MEETING TO MARK 40 YEARS OF OCCUPATION
BY ISRAEL OF THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORY,
INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM

UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK
7 June 2007

STATEMENT BY

DR. MONA EL FARRA
PROJECTS DIRECTOR
MIDDLE EAST CHILDREN’S ALLIANCE

Red Crescent Society For Gaza Strip
GAZA

 Your Excellency Mr. Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee,
Distinguished guests and Excellencies,

It is my honour to be amongst you today, despite the gravity of the occasion being commemorated, on this 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

First, let me say that 2007 is the 40th anniversary of 59 years of the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.

As we called for an end to apartheid in South Africa and the right of all people to live together and have equal rights, we must now, before it is too late, call for true justice for the Palestinians.

Today, we heard about the economic plight of the Palestinian people. We heard about Palestinians in Israeli prisons which number close to 8,000 men and women, including approximately 350 children under the age of 14, most of whom have been tortured.

How many UN resolutions must be passed by the UN? How many years of calling for 2 States before there is an understanding that Israel continues its aggression on the ground against women, children and men, the demolition of thousands of homes and the continued building of the apartheid wall?

Let us not just speak of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza. We must never forget those who live as second-class citizens inside Israel and most of all, those who were forced from their homes and lands in 1948.

Now is the time to call for a real peace, with justice for all the children in the region. This can only be accomplished by supporting the right of return of all Palestinians.

Now is the time to acknowledge that the two-State solution is not the answer.

From Gaza I came, where the children of my country have no safe homes, no safe streets, no proper and adequate health facilities, no proper food, clean water, or regular electrical power, no recreational activities and no good education. The list of deprivation of their basic needs is too long to count.

I lived this occupation as a child, and am still living it as an adult. I can see it in the eyes of my daughter when she is afraid, tired, restless and exhausted because of the unsafe and unpredictable quality of life in Gaza under occupation. I saw it as soon as we crossed the borders on our way to Egypt, where she sensed something new and different: freedom, safety and space. Gaza is like a big, unsafe prison. And it is a very small place for 1.4 million people, half of whom are children.

I face the occupation every day during my work when hundreds of Palestinian patients are denied permits and accessibility to proper medical treatment, outside Gaza. There are a few lucky patients who get a referral and permit for treatment outside Gaza. The majority, however, have to wait and wait. Many die while waiting.

What is more heart-breaking than children who do not have adequate food and a healthy atmosphere to grow up to be well rounded adults? According to the Health Work Committees Organization, 42 per cent of children in Gaza under the age of 5 suffer from iron deficiency anemia and 45 per cent suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the experiences that they are subjected to as a result of the non-stop military actions of the Israeli Occupation Forces, which almost always affect civilians in one way or another.

I will never forget the story of a woman in labor, who had to wait several hours at a checkpoint last November, during one of many Israeli military operations in the north of Gaza. Eventually she arrived at the Al Awda hospital in Jabalia refugee camp where she gave birth to her baby. When she left the hospital with the baby to go to home in the village of Beit Hanoun, there was no home; her home had been demolished by the Israeli occupying army. There are many cases and many stories, but I believe it is not the numbers that really matter, even one incident such as the above is one enough human rights violation.

I remember a 4-year old child in the same village who was forced to stay in one room with all members of his family for 48 hours while the Israeli Army commandeered their home. The child was thirsty and the soldier was there with his bottle of water, the occupied and the occupier in the same space. The soldier offered water to the thirsty child. The child said “no, no, no”. The child’s natural reaction was a combination of fear of what the soldier represents and the steadfastness in the face of the occupation. This is what characterizes the Palestinian people: steadfastness and resistance in the face of all adversity; even small children can express it with their natural reactions more than any words or speeches. The soldier on the other hand is a human being that has been forced by the Israeli occupation machine to lose his humanity.

Whenever I think of Palestinian children and their lives under occupation, I always think of the Israeli children. As adults, we have a commitment to both sets of children to provide a safe environment for them to live peacefully. It is not the occupation or the wall or the ongoing aggression against my people that will bring safety or security for Israeli children, only peace that is based on justice will do so. Justice means that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people must be considered. Israel must recognize its moral responsibility towards the Palestinian refugees.

While Israel is physically outside Gaza, it still completely controls our lives, all aspects of our lives: health, education, economy and freedom of movement.

Life under occupation is degrading to human dignity. It has deprived us of our freedom, and only free people can make peace. It is most peculiar that we are forced to deal with the patterns of life under occupation as normal, well-established facts and when people lost hope and faith in the world or any future chances for change, and when the world turns its head away.

On the 40th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, it is fitting to call once again on the international community to put pressure on Israel to fulfil its obligations by abiding by the UN resolutions related to Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israeli occupation should be ended now and the right of return must not be forgotten.

Thank you.

***

22 Comments:

  • I applaud your honesty and strenght in speaking out against the injustices that Palestinians face daily as a people under an evil occupation: marginalised and deprived of basic human rights. I am reading several blogs writen by Palistinian women and am impressed by your individual strenght of character. Be strong. you wil overcome. Palestine will have its day!

    By Blogger John & Anthea Mullis, at 6/10/2007 1:00 PM  

  • You are not alone in your struggle for justice. Here are some photographs of the protest held in London on Saturday 9 June:

    http://ellissharp.blogspot.com/2007/06/london-sees-biggest-ever-palestine.html

    By Blogger Ellis, at 6/10/2007 1:49 PM  

  • GREAT Mona ... BRILLIANT!!
    Remain STRONG - we're with you!

    By Blogger I love Munich, at 6/12/2007 1:18 PM  

  • Dear Mona,
    Your UN Statement names the dream that all reasonable, peace loving people long to become reality; the simple right of every human being to live in peace and to pursue their own individual dreams, to realize their potential in this world, not the mythical next. It is such a basic humanitarian right that it must be beyond debate. Yet there are those who persist in doing just that. They insist that human rights are a matter of degree, with some having greater entitlement than others. Until we can put words into action we will get nowhere.

    "All people are created equal" so says the Declaration of Independence, itself borne of institutional oppression. Well, I wouldn't go quite that far. Clearly we are all different. But is not diversity among the species a thing to be celebrated and honoured? I DO categorically state that all people should be born into equal opportunity, with equal human rights. If we ever get around to institionalizing this premise then we can all move forward, in our own individual ways.

    By Blogger David, at 6/13/2007 7:30 AM  

  • 40th anniversary of 59 years of occupation? Can't you count?

    And by Whom is Gaza now occupied?

    By Blogger Bernie, at 6/13/2007 4:51 PM  

  • Very moving words. I am perhaps not as eloquent and certainly do not enjoy your public platform but in my own way as an American-Israeli Jew I remembered this sad 40 yr anniversary with a letter written from my heart to an imaginary Palestinian cousin. My prayers for health, safety and freedom in dignity are with you, your family and all who are dear to you.

    lennybruce
    www.thru-other-eyes.com

    By Blogger lennybruce, at 6/13/2007 5:24 PM  

  • Excuse me, but Israel left Gaza! And what did you people do?? You destroyed the hothouses tht had bee left for your use! You voted in Hamas! And look what they have done! Pretty soon you won't be able to have this blog because they are destroying internet cafes! Tell me, why is it that at least seventy percent of Gazans want Israel back in again?? And while I'm here I want to tell you that Jews had been in Gaza log before any Arabs lived there!

    By Blogger Chaya, at 6/14/2007 4:13 PM  

  • Well worded speech. And yet quite possibly the most one-sided, ill-conceived argument I have ever heard. I, too, share in the world's concern for the Palestinian people - particularly the children. But your speech is an all too familiar refrain of denial, accusations, and most importantly -- the unwillingness to take responsibility for the situation you find yourself. Your lack of vision baffles me.

    Elect a government of peace and understanding. Recognize your neighbor Israel. And work to better your lives from within. In so doing, you'll find the world waiting to embrace you.

    By Blogger Ron, at 6/14/2007 4:28 PM  

  • Hello, are you in Gaza now??
    How is the situation? Iwould like to talk with you.
    Regards from Spain

    By Blogger Sanfurina, at 6/14/2007 7:59 PM  

  • Dear Dr. El-Farra,
    I'm from the Belgian public radio and we would like to have an interview with you. I didn't succeed in finding your e-mail address, so I try to contact you this way. Could you send us an e-mail on dewandelgangen@radio1.be? Thanks in advance.

    By Blogger Koen, at 6/15/2007 4:08 PM  

  • How is it possible for you to blame Gaza's problems on an Israeli occupation that ended in August of 2005? Don't you realize that Israel's invasions and blockades are for retaliation and protection of Israeli citizens from the continued rocket attacks thart Gaza continues to this day? Since Israel ended their Gaza occupation, your wonderful Palestinian government (Hamas and Fatah) have been at each other's throats. The fighting you describe in the streets where you live is between Palestinians - no Israelis involved!
    The refugees from the 1948 war - whether voluntary or not is now a moot point - are all dead or close to it. Their children are living in the camps set up - not by Israel - but by Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan after the 1967 war. Why, instead of setting up these camps, did not your Arab brethren in all the surrounding Arab countries, absorb those refugees (as Israel did with the 80,000 Jews who were ejected from Syria, Iraq, Jordan, etc. during the 1948 war).
    Your problems are your own, and your Arab neighbours'. Solve them! Don't blame them on others. It would be easy: reject terrorism - elect a peaceful, responsible government - make peace with your neighbours.

    By Blogger Danny, at 6/15/2007 6:00 PM  

  • I almost agree with Ron. It's time to let the past go and move into the future. The world knows that you have suffered from crimes against humanity at the hands of Israel and her partners, but to be taken seriously on the world stage, you will need to take affirmative action.

    Tell me, how can we fully support you and move ahead with you, when your leaders are apparently all too willing to turn on each other like packs of feral dogs? Whenever your elected officials disagree, they resort to violence and murder to settle their differences. But those differences are never really settled, are they? If any of them gave a damn about the people of Palestine, and not their own self-serving interests, the occupation and the constant struggle for you to survive may have ended long ago.

    Peace,
    Fiona

    By Blogger fjb, at 6/15/2007 6:29 PM  

  • Dr. Elfarra,
    my name is William and I am contacting you on behalf of ABC news radio. We are interested in your opinion on the current situation in Gaza, and would like to speak with you about the public's reaction there as well. If you have the time and would like to offer your insight, please call our New York office at 212-456-5100. Thank you very much

    By Blogger William, at 6/15/2007 8:25 PM  

  • Welcome to Hamastan. I said to many people that the Palestinians will deeply regret electing Hamas. Now it has started. Instead of focusing on fixing the deep rifts in the society, building some kind of infrastructure, Hamas wants to spend money on weapons. So, more death and destruction.

    By Blogger naftali, at 6/16/2007 2:16 AM  

  • "Now is the time to call for a real peace, with justice for all the children in the region. This can only be accomplished by supporting the right of return of all Palestinians".

    Never in a million years

    By Blogger Jeremy Jacobs, at 6/16/2007 2:42 AM  

  • "The child was thirsty and the soldier was there with his bottle of water, the occupied and the occupier in the same space. The soldier offered water to the thirsty child. The child said “no, no, no”. The child’s natural reaction was a combination of fear of what the soldier represents and the steadfastness in the face of the occupation. This is what characterizes the Palestinian people: steadfastness and resistance in the face of all adversity; even small children can express it with their natural reactions more than any words or speeches. The soldier on the other hand is a human being that has been forced by the Israeli occupation machine to lose his humanity."

    Yes, by offering the suffering child water.

    This is the most egregious example of moral inversion I had ever read.

    By Blogger Rob, at 6/16/2007 4:14 PM  

  • As a pro-peace Israeli, Mona, your words sadden me. Playing the blame game, riddled with false accusations, is going to keep the Palestinians stuck where they are. Reading words like yours, makes me want to give up on it all. What's the use, if the intelligent professionals are so misguided? What can we expect of others.

    Very sad indeed. Others have said it in the two previous comments before me. Sigh.

    By Blogger IsraeliMom, at 6/18/2007 7:47 PM  

  • Dear israeli mom,

    In America, about 30 years ago i guess, a white man once wanted to know what it feels like to be black.

    So he used medicine to darken his skin. He shaved his head and tried to go about looking for an apartment, and eat at a restaurant, apply for work.

    If you really want to know what it's like to be a Palestinian, I suggest that maybe you try living with a Palestinian family for a little while to get a taste of their perspective.

    By Blogger paradigm, at 7/05/2007 6:31 AM  

  • Paradigm, that's an excellent idea; perhaps some Israelis should try dressing and living as Palestinians in Israel and some Palestinians should try dressing as Jews and living in Gaza for a few weeks...I suspect both would learn a great deal.

    By Blogger LogicalDave, at 7/15/2007 7:08 PM  

  • i dont think anyone is saying that palestinian life is better than it is.. but the locus of responsibility is where the debate becomes sour..

    i also dont think that anyone wants palestinian life to remain as miserable.. but its the road to improving this situation that we argue about - even though largely we invisage similar solutions..

    By Blogger Lirun, at 7/16/2007 3:51 PM  

  • Such a one-sided commentary to the point of being totaly pathetic.
    As far as the "honorable" doctor is concerned only the return of all Palestinians to the area now settled by Israel will be the right solution, meaning NO ISRAEL-got it? Keep dreaming lady and you and your grandchildren and their grandchildren will continue to live in abject poverty and misery from now to eternity.

    By Blogger Eli, at 3/05/2008 10:14 PM  

  • By Blogger seo expert, at 1/22/2009 3:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home