December 23, 2010

Remember Palestine This Christmas

If you're able, I strongly encourage you to give to the Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund this Christmas.

By donating to The Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund, you can save lives, increase hope and provide the means for Palestinians to work for a better future. The Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund exists to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon. Partnerships with individuals and aid agencies on the ground in Lebanon, Gaza, in Europe and the United States will assure that your tax-deductible contributions get to the people for whom they are directly intended.

You can make a difference.

GAZA: War, siege and sanctions in the Gaza Strip mean that children suffer from food insecurity and are often malnourished. Some suffer from stunted growth. Many others, perhaps a majority, suffer from some level of post-traumatic stress disorder. Others need costly rehabilitation because of war wounds. An electricity crisis continues to plague the people of Gaza daily exacerbating the difficulty of obtaining clean drinking water and services most of us take for granted. The Gaza Strip lives an environmental nightmare. Cut off from the outside world, Gaza's internal deterioration has affected its physical, social and economic infrastructure pushing Gaza and its 1.5 million people backwards to where they are forced to survive and subsist in ways that hearken back to an earlier century: donkey carts pull wagon-loads of goods to market; a once thriving fishing industry has been ruined by the occupation as fishermen are forced to stay closer inshore where fish are smaller and contaminated from raw sewage pouring into the Mediterranean sea. Businesses are failing, schools are overcrowded and lack sufficient supplies and adequate facilities at all levels. Hospitals and clinics barely function with inadequate medical equipment and supplies. Businesses are failing even as farmers are forced off their once arable lands, lands that now comprise the latest "buffer zone" -- a no man's land patrolled and guarded by Israel 3 kilometers into the Gaza Strip along the entire landed border of the territory. Israeli gunboats patrol the border by sea. Inside the Gaza Strip human rights and solidarity groups work overtime in an effort to help a society purposefully wrecked and impoverished maintain a collective sense dignity.

LEBANON: In the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, close to 300,000 people live abandoned even by the society that acts as their host. As war and economic hardship hit the Gaza Strip and the West Bank more severely than in nearly 6 decades, the Palestinian refugees of Lebanon remain confined to a state of psycho-social and political limbo by their status as voiceless, stateless people lacking the most fundamental rights. In the squalid, still war-ruined refugee camps across the country and unwelcome by many outside the boundaries of their condemned homes, these non-people live ostracized or disqualified from receiving the most basic services provided by the state and even some aid agencies. The Palestinians of Lebanon, prevented from returning to their homes in historic Palestine, are banned from working in over 70 professions inside the country. Without the requisite, nearly unobtainable travel documents, they often cannot leave to seek better lives elsewhere, and if they were to obtain them where would they go? No less are they prohibited by law from repairing the crumbling camps to which they have been condemned like common criminals since the Nakba or Catastrophe of 1947-48. These refugees are the forgotten people of the Middle East. The struggle to maintain a viable, dignified present is offset by the future-less void in front of so many of them. Education, the chance to develop one's individual and creative potential is one of the few avenues open to these non-people -- especially if we can improve their chances of success.