Good afternoon WESPACers,

Here are some important words from Just Vision Executive Director, Suhad Babaa:

I write this letter after a sleepless night checking in on our team in Israel-Palestine. Like so many in our community, I’ve been glued to the news and deeply worried about family, friends and loved ones.

My colleague, Fadi Abu Shammalah, has spent the last three days huddled with his wife and three children in Gaza. This morning, he shared that he and his wife waited at the Rafah border crossing a few hours ago with hopes of getting out of Gaza before the blockade was enforced, only to have Israeli bombs drop within 100 meters of them as the Rafah border shut down. They narrowly escaped back to their family home in Khan Younis with their three children.

In Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramallah, our team scrambles to get their families to safety in between sirens, rocket fire and attacks on multiple fronts. Israeli and Palestinian civilians have been killed, kidnapped, tortured and arrested. This includes a 74-year-old Israeli feminist who we came to know nearly twenty years ago for her work with communities in Gaza, taken hostage by Hamas on Saturday, and a Palestinian community organizer and human rights defender in Hebron who was detained and beaten severely by the Israeli military. In the midst of it all, our team of journalists is relentlessly working to cover the reality on the ground, putting their own lives in danger so that their coverage might provoke everyday people to recognize that deep systemic change is the only lasting solution to the current reality. 

This reality is not fair. It is not just. It is not humane. And, importantly, it need not be this way. 

Just Vision is entering its 20th year, rooted firmly in the belief that every human being deserves freedom, dignity, safety, equality and the ability to determine their own future. This has steadied us over the last several days, grounded in human rights and guided by international law. Imperfect as it is, that framework unequivocally condemns targeting civilians, military occupation, apartheid, arbitrary arrests, forcible displacement and extrajudicial killings, which are not only immoral and illegal but also cruel and inhumane. That must not change or bend in hard moments – it is meant to serve as an anchor precisely in difficult times. 

Building that future requires that we act with courage and stay rooted in context: prior to the horrors of the last few days, this has been the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in decades. The occupation is a daily repressive apparatus that Israeli leaders have only promised to deepen. The siege of Gaza is brutal and all-controlling. The apartheid reality for Palestinians is oppressive and degrading. 

Rather than confronting these truths, our political leaders opportunistically beat their chests and their war drums. That is not courage – it is unchecked power. I watch as our mainstream media and social media feeds are filled with sensationalist, ethno-nationalist rhetoric and videos, genocidal calls for war, revenge, collective punishment and blind tribalism. 

If we truly wish to see a future where every child in Israel-Palestine is able to live a life of dignity in a rights-respecting reality that is free and safe for all, then we must choose courage. We must redouble our efforts to demand an end to occupation and apartheid and to fight for that future collectively. It is also in this moment that we must not lose our sense of humanity, reminding ourselves that our struggles are bound to one another.

Let us take this moment to steel our resolve, commit to our values and take care of ourselves and one another – because the coming weeks will be painful and frightening, especially for the most vulnerable communities in the region. Then, let us stand steady in the struggle ahead of us. Our team will be in touch soon with more updates. For now, we are sending care to each and every person in our community.

With focus and determination,

Suhad Babaa

President & Executive Director, Just Vision