A Message from Gaza to US Policymakers
Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei with Nancy Murray and Rep. Ayanna Pressley
An Israeli missile strike murdered 28 members of his family, but Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei is tireless in taking Palestine’s call for justice and human rights global — and all the way to Washington, D.C.
Last month, Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, Director General of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), a Grassroots International partner, traveled to the US to deepen relationships with allies and to convey a message of urgency to US policymakers. His packed agenda included visits to 35 congressional offices, including meetings with Representatives Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. In each meeting, Dr. Yasser described the inhumane conditions of life in Gaza, under economic blockade and ongoing military attacks by the Israeli government, facilitated by US taxpayer dollars, and called for immediate changes in US policies.
Dr. Yasser’s accounts were informed both by his leadership of GCMHP, as the foremost Palestinian non-governmental organization providing mental health services in the Gaza Strip, and by his own lived experiences. In July of 2014, the Israeli military killed 28 members of Dr. Yasser’s extended family, including 19 children, in a single missile strike. Other GCMHP staff members have also suffered terrible losses. Such experiences are tragically common for the people of Gaza, who have endured five major military attacks since Israel imposed its suffocating blockade on Gaza more than 15 years ago.
Dr. Yasser and allies called upon US elected officials to: work to end the cruel and illegal economic blockade against Gaza; urge Israeli authorities to activate an existing electricity cable to permit Gaza more than 6-8 hours of electricity a day; and hold Israel accountable for additional ongoing human rights abuses against Palestinans, among other demands.
As Dr. Yasser has expressed previously:
I am a father first and a psychiatrist second. My dream is for my children to live, to grow, to learn, in safety. This is the same dream as that of every one of the clients I see…It is my job to give hope. I will tell them what I tell my children and my wife: “[Just] because this injustice for Palestinians has gone on for seven decades, that does not make it normal. The world is increasingly full of people who do not accept it as normal. There will be change.”
Those of us in the US, as the top provider of military aid to Israel, have a particular responsibility in bringing about this change.