As we consider where Rachel would want us to focus now, Gaza still remains high on the list. The UN Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the number of weekly civilian injuries in Gaza was recently higher than it has been for any week since May 2010. The number includes injuries to five children. During the week of February 20-26, imports from Israel into Gaza were only 36 percent of the average amount that entered weekly before Israel imposed its blockade of Gaza in 2007. Exports and movement of people in and out of the Strip remain severely restricted. Collective punishment of the 1.7 million residents of Gaza by the Israeli government and military continues. We must, therefore, continue to focus on improving their situation and ending the blockade and siege under which they have suffered for so many years.
Rachel would want us to remember the courageous activists whose lives were claimed this past year in nonviolent actions against Israeli policies and those who have found themselves in prison because of their nonviolent resistance. They are American, Palestinian, Turkish, Israeli, and from elsewhere. We had the privilege recently of meeting Ahmet Dogan, the father of Furkan Dogan, the 18-year-old American citizen executed by the Israeli military aboard the Mavi Marmara in international waters. We spent an evening in Istanbul with the wives, children, and grandchildren of others struck down on the same ship. We have followed the stories of Jawaher Abu Rahma. fatally injured by teargas during protest in the Palestinian village of Bil’in and of Ahmad Suliman Salem Deeb, the 19-year-old Gazan shot and killed as he participated in a demonstration against the no-go zone east of Gaza. We have read of the fishermen and farmers injured and killed while grazing their sheep and plying the waters just off the shore of Gaza. We have followed the Israeli court actions against our friends Abdullah Abu Rahma of Bil’in and Jonathan Pollack of Tel Aviv, imprisoned in Israel because of their leadership and nonviolent actions to resist Israeli confiscation of land and the continuing presence of the wall in West Bank villages. With admiration, we have watched the courageous pursuit of freedom and democracy unfold and spread throughout the Middle East. We have celebrated the victories and mourned the losses. In keeping with our memory of Rachel, we are listening to the voices of young people as they struggle worldwide to assert their visions for a democratic, free, and peaceful future – in Gaza, the West Bank, in the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, in Kabul, Cairo, and beyond. We call on U.S. officials to listen, too. We ask for them to be consistent and strong in their demands that foreign governments and militaries be accountable for their actions, that they respect the right of people to assemble and protest, and that they respond only nonviolently to such protests.
Some of you – in Madison, Wisconsin, Marin County, California, in Turkey, in the U.K. and elsewhere – have told us that you, too, plan commemorative events for March 16th or during the upcoming weeks. Thank you for remembering Rachel with us. As you do, we hope you will, keep in mind the community-building, education, and action so important to her. We hope, too, that you will recall those others who have stood and been struck down, those imprisoned for their nonviolent action, and those who carry on the work – and that you will do what you can to support them all. With events this week and beyond that keep compassion, humility, and love at their core, together, we will honor Rachel’s commitment and spirit.
Cindy and Craig Corrie