In 1988, when the first Palestinian Intifada or uprising was at its peak, I paid my first trip to Palestine as part of a small human rights delegation. What I witnessed there changed my life.
Among dozens of memorable encounters was one we had with a woman in Bethlehem who was standing with her children in the ruins of the family home that had just been demolished by the Israeli army.
She said to us: “When are you Americans going to realize that we Palestinians are human beings too?”
That statement still resonates with me, since so many Americans — especially those in policy-making positions — appear to have internalized the Israeli narrative that sees Palestinians not as human beings, but as natural-born ‘terrorists.’
Our government routinely gives Israel the equivalent of $10 million every day and blocks UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, even as Israel continues to demolish Palestinian homes, expand its West Bank settlements, and drive Palestinian farmers off their land by depriving them of water.
Not only that: our tax dollars and weapons have also sustained repeated Israeli bombardments of the 2 million people in the Gaza Strip, a tiny territory that it has blockaded off from the world for the last 14 years.
During the 20 or so trips to Palestine that I have made since 1988, I have seen conditions on the ground steadily deteriorate. Today, as Covid-19 surges, I find it remarkable that so many Palestinians refuse to give in to despair.
The partnerships formed with Grassroots International have helped keep hope alive, as has the understanding that the views of many Americans are beginning to shift. After 32 discouraging years of working to change US policy, I too have recently felt a new sense of hope.
Why? There are signs that a growing number of Americans, including a considerable majority of Democratic Party voters, want US aid to Israel to be conditioned on its human rights record.
Most elected politicians are not willing to embrace that position, but some of them are and are not afraid to say so.
In order to encourage the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to stand up for Palestinian human rights, my husband and I recently made this 3 minute video, ‘A Message to Massachusetts: Condition Aid to Israel.’
A Message to Massachusetts: Condition Aid to Israel
As the video describes, the $3.8 billion we give Israel every year could be much better spent at home. While U.S. military aid to Israel has been used to obliterate the humanity of the Palestinian people, the funds raised by Grassroots International for its partners in Palestine has bolstered the sense that a different future is possible. Your support is not just appreciated; it serves as a lifeline to a beleaguered population.
Nancy Murray works with several organizations, including the Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, and was for 25 years director of education at the ACLU of Massachusetts. She has been a volunteer with and supporter of Grassroots International since the late 1980s.