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A Friend Loses Family in Gaza

In 2006, a lovely woman named Ghada Ageel from the Gaza Strip stayed in our home. She was taking part in a speaking tour with women of three faiths from the Holy Land. In a presentation that week, she joked about three people who landed in Hell and asked to make a phone call home. The Devil told the first two there would be a steep toll for the international calls. But when it came time for the person from Gaza, the Devil said not to worry. From Hell to Hell was not a toll call. People laughed. 


At the time, I thought programs like this one could help bring an end to Israel's persecution of Christians and Muslims by raising awareness among Americans. I was wrong. Today, Hell has literally come to Gaza. Ghada's hometown lies in ruins and much of her family has been killed. In an article published last week, Ghada describes the diabolical scenes that confront survivors in her community, where stray dogs have been eating corpses amid the ruins. This horror is being replayed thousands of times a day for thousands of families, and as Ghada reports, some of the survivors are actually dying from the shock and grief. 


Thankfully, Ghada - now Dr. Ghada Ageel - is in Canada, where she is a visiting professor at Alberta University, but she and her children return to see their family in Gaza every year. This year they may have no family to return to. If any survive, they will have no homes, no schools or hospitals, and no clean drinking water. With their agricultural land and livestock destroyed, they will rely on the slow trickle of international aid for food.


I am dismayed that my government is funding and supporting the annihilation of Ghada's people.  It's hard to acknowledge that the many programs we held to inform Americans did not stop Israel's march toward genocide. The interfaith dialog, the letters to the editor, the conferences and the direct witness from those of us who have been to the region have not made a difference in US policy. Maybe, just maybe, the students with their bold and determined movement will succeed where we failed. For Ghada's family and for the future of all our families I pray they will.


P4P Board member Susanne Hoder founded the RI Interfaith Peace Initiative, which hosted the visit by Jewish, Christian and Muslim women from the Holy Land.




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