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End the Siege of Gaza

September 2008

We are proud to announce a new campaign, coordinated by Grassroots International and Jewish Voice for Peace, together with Global Exchange and Code Pink to raise $50,000 for the International Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza. The Campaign, led by Dr. Eyad el-Serraj, is Palestinian-run and -led, but requires partnerships with people like you to succeed.  Please give generously.

There are few people with the courage, wisdom, and moral credibility of Dr. Eyad el-Serraj. Imprisoned by both Israelis and Palestinians for speaking out against human rights violations, he is a psychiatrist, a leader of the nonviolent anti-occupation movement, a resident of Gaza, and a hero to people of all religions and nationalities.  Review his open letter calling for support to End the Siege of Gaza.

An Open Letter to Americans of Conscience
From Eyad el-Sarraj
Founder and President of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP); Leader of the International Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza

In late August, hope came to Gaza in the form of two small wooden boats and their 40 passengers who had sailed from Cyprus to break the 14-month-old Israeli siege. They had answered our call and after months of preparation, it was a triumphant moment when they entered our waters.

The passengers on the “Free Gaza” and “Liberty” wanted Gazans to know that the entire world would not stand passively by while they remain locked in a huge prison. They would not be quiet while more than a million people the majority of them children  are being deliberately deprived of urgent medical care and medicines, of electricity and fuel to run hospitals and sewage systems, of potable water and supplies of food, clothing and raw materials.

I hope that you will not stand silently by while the people of Gaza are deprived of their dignity and all the basic requirements for a decent life. I hope that you will understand that the kind of collective punishment that Gazans have endured since June 2007 is morally wrong and a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

The siege is not just killing the spirit and in some cases the lives of Gazans. It is also sowing seeds of violence, hatred and extremism and destroying all hopes for a peaceful future in the region.

Studies carried out by the GCMHP show a frightening rise in trauma, as children fall victim to night terrors, loss of appetite, insomnia, and symptoms of panic and aggression. Adults are also suffering from panic disorders, depression and psychosomatic disorders as they struggle to cope with the deeply inhuman situation. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was right to call the siege “an atrocity, a crime, an abomination.”

In the summer of 2007, GCMHP took the initiative to create a humanitarian, non-political campaign aimed at raising international awareness of Gaza’s deteriorating life conditions in order to pressure the Israeli government into lifting the devastating siege.

We thought that within a year we would have achieved our aim. We were wrong. The siege continues, and so must the campaign. We are working to bring another boat to Gaza by the end of September. In October, mental health workers and other medical professionals will travel to Palestine for a conference called “Siege and Mental Health: Walls versus Bridges.”

Through other “break the siege” solidarity meetings, cultural activities and demonstrations, we hope to nurture non-violent approaches that can peacefully transform the brutal reality of caged lives. The message to end the siege is a message of peace and an appeal for justice.

If you believe in freedom, human dignity and peace, we ask you to support our efforts by making a donation to end the siege. We particularly call for the support of Jewish people, whose history of trauma, discrimination and suffering should guide them to stand up today to help bring an end to the suffering of others.

Gaza City, September 9, 2008   

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