MAY 15TH, 2017 PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKE SOLIDARITY &
NAKBA DAY OBSERVANCE
Durham, North Carolina
A message to the imprisoned
We, a group of inter-faith citizens from the Triangle
area of North Carolina, would like to express our deep respect and
solidarity with you – the 1,500 or more Palestinians who have embarked
on a collective hunger strike to demand your basic rights. We
draw inspiration from your courage and determination as well as from
past hunger strikers such as Nelson Mandela, Bobby Sands, Alice Paul,
and other outstanding figures who had confronted their oppressors to
liberate themselves and liberate others. We stand with you in the
struggle for freedom, equality, and justice, until the fall of
apartheid. (Modeled after and excerpted from the longer letter http://mondoweiss.net/2017/04/israelis-palestinian-prisoners/
A message to the Israeli Government
watching, the world is watching, to see if Israel will stand by its own
moral and ethical standards, called for in its scripture "to do justice,
love kindness and walk humbly with God" and to be "a light unto the
nations" (Micah and Isaiah)
More photos (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
Many thanks to professional photographer
In commemoration of #NakbaDay,
we held an interfaith vigil in Durham, NC on May, 15th— al-Nakba
Day, in solidarity with the ~1600 Palestinian political prisoners on
hunger strike. We did the #saltwaterchallenge and
heard poetry from Muslim,
Jewish and Christian speakers.
thanks to Jewish Voice for Peace, Triangle- NC https://jvptrianglenc.wordpress.com & Coalitionfor
Report from JVP: We
held a vigil in solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers and
marked al Nakba together in the central plaza in downtown Durham, NC.
Over 60 people of all ages and faith backgrounds attended. We opened the
vigil with the words of Mahmoud Barghouti and read the hunger strikers’
demands together and heard from a representative of the Inside/ Outside
Alliance about the harsh realities faced by prisoners in Durham. This
was followed by poetry by local Palestinian poets, JVP members and
others and then we all took the salt water challenge together. Muslim,
Jewish and Christian community members shared their reflections on the
strike and Palestinian liberation and we closed at dusk by lighting
candles and sharing key facts about the Nakba (and its continuance
today). As the event was winding down, some of the Muslim people
attending prayed Maghrib together. photos
To be part of the ongoing conversation go to the
Prisoner Solidarity Facebook page:
Quick Facts: The Palestinian Nakba | IMEU
STATEMENT OF CHRISTIAN SUPPORT
FOR PALESTINIAN HUNGER STRIKERS
May 15, 2017 by Rev. Mark
Davidson, Church of Reconciliation, Chapel Hill, NC
Beginning on April 16, as many as 1500 Palestinian
prisoners in Israeli jails have voluntarily deprived themselves of food,
hurting no one but themselves, in order to call attention to matters of
grave moral concern. They demand an end to the inhumane practice of
administrative detention, whereby Palestinians are arrested and held
against their will in prolonged imprisonment without charge or trial.
They demand an end to solitary confinement, which is a form of torture.
They demand an end to arresting and transferring Palestinians from the
West Bank to prison facilities within Israel, thereby making family
visits all but impossible, a violation of international law. They demand
an end to the practice of arbitrarily restricting telephone contacts
with family members. And they demand an end to the practice of denying
prisoners’ access to legal counsel, which Israel’s High Court has
informed the Israeli Prison Service is illegal. B’tSelem, Israel’s own
human rights monitoring organization, has urged Israel to meet the
hunger strikers’ demands.
Subsequent to the commencement of the hunger
strike, Palestinian hunger strikers further demand an end to the Israeli
Prison Service waging “psychological warfare” in an effort to break the
spirit of the hunger strikers, including such practices as increasing
solitary confinement, shutting down attorney visits and telephone
contacts with family, seizing money from prisoner accounts, thereby
undermining their ability to purchase salts from the commissary, denying
them a vital nutrient for their survival, and fining hunger-striking
prisoners for not standing during roll call, despite the fact that it is
medically observed that around the 18th day without food, human beings
have difficulty standing.
This Palestinian hunger strike occurs within the
context of a long history of dispossession and injustice. 2017 is the
100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the 70th
anniversary of the Nakba, the 50th anniversary of the Israeli
military occupation of Palestinian lands, the longest continuous
occupation in modern times. The bravery of these hunger strikers moves
us to act in solidarity with them, to support them with our prayers and
faithful actions, and to call upon Israel to meet their demands for
improved prison conditions. As justice-minded Christian clergy, we
understand that systems of “mass incarceration” whether in our own
country or, in this case, in Israel, constitute a systematic denial of
human dignity and must be challenged on moral and spiritual grounds, as
well as part of faithful social witness. Our tradition calls us to give
special care and attention to the most vulnerable among us. Jesus
specifically named prisoners as “the least of these my brothers and
sisters.” So deep was his identification with them that Jesus taught his
disciples that caring for the dignity of prisoners was exactly the same
as caring for him personally. Accordingly, we stand in solidarity with
the Palestinian hunger strikers, and pray that their heroic
self-sacrifice will bear fruit in improved conditions.
W Written for Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike.
by S T Kimbrough, Jr
For years I’ve sat behind these bars,
no food received but dirty rice.
No one could come to visit me;
my mat of straw is filled with lice.
Scarce daylight is there I can see
through yellowed, tiny window glass;
there is no toilet, just a hole,
and here I’m forced my days to pass.
What had I done to earn this fate?
Stood by the road when soldiers came
to take the land my father owned,
showed them the title with his name.
“Stand back,” they said, “or you will pay.”
I said, “We’ve farmed this land for years.”
And then the tall one struck my head.
I fell completely filled with fears.
I pleaded still, “Don’t take the land!”
They boldly laughed and bound my hands
and took me to this wretched place,
and said, “Young man, you’ve no demands!”
“Demands?” I said, “Just take me home.
No single thing have I done wrong.”
I’m just a boy of fourteen years.”
But here I’ve been for six years long.
No charge, no trial, no legal help,
I’m now a man of twenty years,
My family has not heard from me—
my mother daily sheds her tears.
If now I join a hunger strike
to fight injustice and this wrong,
I’m judged the worst of criminals,
but I am weak and they are strong.
If they would look me in the eye
and say, “Young man, this is unjust.
Can somehow you forgive our crime?”
I’d have the right to doubt or trust!
© 2017, S T Kimbrough, Jr. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The
poem may be downloaded for personal use. The publication of the poem in
any form must be by permission of the author. Address: 21 Susanna Drive,
Durham, NC 27705. Email:
Peace, Shalom, Salam:
I want to thank you for attending the event yesterday and taking time
out of your day to listen to me recite two of my poems. You have
specifically asked for me to share them with you and I’m absolutely
honored. I hope you enjoy. I would also be honored if you shared this
poem with friends and family as I feel this is an issue that should be
raised in awareness. Thanks!
How many guns have been fired
How many stones have been thrown
How many soldiers have been hired
To murder an innocent soul
We live in a society where it's all about taking sides
But what about all the innocent children who never had the opportunity
My country is Palestine
And with the trust in My Lord I pray everything will be just fine
Palestine is not a national issue
It's an international issue
Because what these kids go through is nothing but a crime
Waking up not knowing whether their best friend will be there to walk by
Where is the humanity and where is the help
When homes become cells
Life becomes hell
And the occupations become so routine regardless of how loud they yell
We live in our homes feeling safe
But let me ask you, let me ask you, what have the Palestinians done to
be denied this same place
Are we not all a part of the human race
Where is your humanity while you turn your face
And this is when I turn to Allah, All Giving of grace
Testing my people
But never do we deny You, and never do we call You evil
Surely this life is a test
And You test the best
Not to bring us down
But merely to remind us that this world won't always be around
So we call upon You as we fall
Not only for Palestine
But for all
We call upon Your mercy
When men claim land
And fire bullets with a demand
In the name of liberation
In the name of a nation
Not realizing with their Lord there is no argumentation
And this argument being made that Israel belongs to the children of
Israel carries with it so many fallacies
How a select few from a nation chosen by their Lord can commit so many
And what about Rachel Corrie
What's her story
Neither a Palestinian nor a Jew
Who traveled alongside her crew to pursue peaceful negotiations
In hopes of creating a dialog between nations
What about her
I mean have you even heard of her
Maybe not because she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer, while trying
to protect a Palestinian's home
Just so they wouldn't feel so alone
But I'm sure the media left that out
Instead taking shots of my people left and right as they shout
Illegal settlements are a crime
But crime will always be reciprocated with time
Regardless if the people deny
When will we all wake up
When will we realize the killing needs to stop
Innocent children on both sides
Born into their lives
While men plan murders allowing the blood to reach the skies
Stop with the lies
There's no reason for the children to cry
There's no reason Rachel Corrie had to die
So take this poem as you desire it
Go ahead and ignore it
As soon as the calendar turns November
Right around the corner lyes December
And Allah will ultimately be our ultimate defender
I am nobody wise
But I just don't understand how a human being can see what I see and not
Who are we to ignore an innocent life
How can we ignore a nation, let alone a single soul who no longer
1,500 on a hunger strike
9,000 plus suffering in this life
When will see an end to a genocide
When will open our eyes, past the lies and truly synthesize what they
feel like on the inside
How many of us will go home tonight
And smile brightly with family members in sight
How many of you have a cell phone right now
And have the ability to hear your loved ones sound
How many of us will fall comfortably asleep in our beds
How many of us tonight will be fed
How many of us will acknowledge Palestinian rights
And how many of us will stand and fight
Palestine you have not been forgotten this time
Palestinians you will no longer be ignored for these crimes
But How? How do we combat evil
Step one we do not stoop down to an enemies level
Step two before acknowledging an enemy as an enemy
Prayer must be realized that it is the greatest remedy
Surely it is better for everyone to submit to The Creator of the heavens
and the earth
Then to go around this world and create so much hurt
But In the words of Malcolm X:
Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if
someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery
Now I'm not advocating violence
But I sure as hell am not advocating silence
Again I'm not the wisest
But it is time our voices be heard
From the bees to the birds
All we have at times in this life are our words
Fight in the name of peace
Fight for the Middle East
Fight for all from the west to the east
And to my brothers and sisters, who are amongst The People of The Book
Know that I do not look to you as an enemy or a crook
Know that I hate Zionism
And not Judaism
We must all stand together
As sisters and brother
All acknowledging the same God
You are not the enemy
And Islam is not the enemy
We need to realize our true enemy is in the unseen
And this life is but a dream
And I know, I know when we see the truth and open our minds sometimes we
desire to scream
So today call upon Allah
So today I call upon the father
Today I call upon YHWH
Set the difference aside
Throughout this journey in life
We have to stand by each other's side
I come here today, not a scholar nor someone wise
Just a poet with some words of advice
Palestine Is (1989-2017)
by Ellen O'Grady
Palestine is people whose names I don’t yet know inviting me in for tea,
and taxi drivers who will not let me pay the fare.
Palestine is Dr. Haidar Abdel-Shafi, founder and director of the Gaza
Crescent Society, bringing me a branch of dates from his yard, a day
had asked what price I had paid at the market and asserting I paid too
Palestine is the
of the first intifada, throwing stones then running from
soldiers, like they had wings, like they were too fast for bullets.
young men sleeping in the hills to avoid arrest.
okra cooked with tomato sauce and onions,
and tea with fresh mint leaves.
It is walking
in East Jerusalem, hearing
the shooting of the Al-Aqsa Mosque
massacre and thinking it must be construction.
every single person I meet having a loved one killed or in prison.
is bullet canisters with MADE IN SALZBURG, PA embossed on
the side (a city not far from where I grew up).
bride in a sequined gown a size too large.
Palestine is sympathy for the donkeys of Gaza City that do a lot of
and whose loads seem too large.
it is muddy streets in Gaza during the rainy season.
And Munir crushing wild thyme between his fingers to put on his bread.
And a beauty salon where women go because Nabil gives a shampoo that is
good as any massage.
cold winters, sitting next to the kerosene heater to stay warm.
And dry, hot summers,
when domes and minarets throw welcome shadows onto
is a glass blower
working glass, his fingers moving deftly despite
Thafer catching a pigeon and making a stew.
It is Samir after being imprisoned in an Israeli detention center for
His body has become thin, his hands nervous, his eyes will not meet my
It is a
street in Hebron where I draw portraits of children on their way home
from school, and a young girl who positions her pony tails to mirror
Palestine is old men in cafes smoking arghiles and playing backgammon,
and young boys kicking spent sound grenades in an alleyway.
flying through the air like soccer balls as shop owners
hurriedly unpack their stock after a long curfew.
green soap from
Nablus and blue glass from Hebron.
Basil arrested for throwing rocks. He confesses but refuses to
name the others with him. He is sentenced to over six and a half years
and a fine of over $21,000.
Palestine is notices left pinned to trees announcing that land will be
to make way for the wall.
Israeli politicians saying, “Why do you incite your children against
don’t you teach them to love us?”
Palestine is people rejecting armed struggle and choosing non-violent
because it has a greater chance of working.
It is where non-violent resistance still gets you killed.
is Bassem Abu Rahme, known as “Pheel,” elephant, because of his
large frame and joyful demeaner, flying a kite at a demonstration in
being killed by a high-velocity tear gas canister fired at his chest.
Palestine is twenty-four-year-old Rasha, killed at a checkpoint after
a knife in her hand. In her bag is a note apologizing to her family and
doing this with a clear head. I can’t bear what I see and I can’t suffer
children going to protests
and their parents letting them because there are no safe places anyway
and at least they feel they are part of something.
Palestine is a woman who speaks to the sea because her son is no longer
© 2017, Ellen O’Grady. All rights reserved. Used by permission. The
poem may be downloaded for personal use. The publication of the poem in
any form must be by permission of the author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org