Gaza is one vast open air concentration camp

From Vinie Burrows

GAZA IS ONE VAST OPEN AIR CONCENTRATION CAMP

 

Open letter to the Editor

April 27, 2009

 

I spoke recently with three persons just returned from a Code Pink Delegation to Gaza. They have written and have spoken out strongly and forcibly about the intolerable situation in Gaza. They testified

in great detail about what they saw – the unspeakable and constant suffering of children, women and men.

 

What I want to do is share with you my perspective as an African American woman on the situation of the Palestinian people who have suffered now for 60 years as exiles in their homeland. ..as refugees around the world, a stateless people because their land was stolen from them. There are similarities between the situation of communities of color in the US and the Palestinians – the injustices, the suffering of our people – the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean is strewn with the whitened bones of our kidnapped fore parents. We are not exiles in these Americas; we are now sojourners; we are citizens. The Palestinians are exiles in their own land. The olive groves, the citrus groves, the almond trees they have tended for centuries have been stolen from them. The land and the water on their land is denied them. Palestinians must have Israeli permission to dig a water well; Palestinians are forced to purchase water from an Israeli water authority. In Gaza, the air is poisoned with the destroyed homes, bulldozed shops, smoking rubble and the constant whining sound of the drones. Land, Water. Air. What is left for the Palestinians? Their determination to resist with their bodies, their presence, never to leave the land, not to give up in the face of insuperable odds.

 

Those of us who were involved in the anti-apartheid struggle always understood that the situation of the Palestinians was analogous to the Black South African and to communities of color in the Diaspora. We are natural allies. In South Africa, we knew the containment of the Bantustans; here we know the containment of the ghettos, the barrios, the reservations, the tent cities.

 

It is imperative that we convince our Congressional Black Caucus to visit Gaza and witness first hand the conditions of the people in Gaza and then report back. They will render a valuable service to our Palestinian sisters and brothers. The Ministerial Alliance, also the Black sororities as women must speak out against the atrocities done with US dollars to Palestinian women and children. The Gaza Strip is one vast open air concentration camp.

 

We cannot afford to be silent… only strong, concerted, mobilized international pressure can turn this situation around. Obama must be inundated by a tidal wave of opposition to Israeli policies vis a vis the Palestinians. I think that we blacks in the USA can play a significant role in breaking the logjam, in tackling the Question of Palestine and its peaceful solution. Our relentless opposition to the siege of Gaza is an opening gambit.

 

Vinie Burrows, actor activist

member of the Granny Peace Brigade

Permanent Representative to the United Nations

for the Womens International Democratic Federation

Sao Paulo, Brazil