Friday, January 02, 2009

End the Siege of Gaza

Protests against Israeli attacks on Gaza, photo posted by activestills on Flickr

I thinks some of you may remember that while I was teaching in S. Korea in 2005, I made contact, through a friend, with Hendrik Taatgen, the director of a school in Gaza. I was thinking of heading to the ME next.

Anyway, long story short Dr. Taatgen told me there were no positions open. Moreover, he wasn't sure how much longer the school would remain open since the IDF were engaged in low flying missions over Gaza which were causing school windows to be blown out. The sonic booms were wreaking havoc on ear drums and the general well-being of students and staff.

After this recent siege on Gaza, I sent an email to Dr. Taatgen to see how he was doing. To see if the students and staff were surviving. He wrote me back informing me that he left with his wife at the end of that academic school year.

Dr. Taatgen also sent a link to a paper he wrote with his wife and other colleagues in order to attract world wide attention to the plight of the Palestinians along with a succinct history of the Israeli view point.

The story is chilling yet inspiring at the same time. I did not know that Dr. Taatgen had been kidnapped. Nor did I no know the school had been closed down. Students were being "home schooled" in the apartment building where the teachers lived to finish out the school year. Amazing courage and strength from all involved.

I am pasting a synopsis of the paper below. I have the link listed on the left of my blog entries under organizations working to make the world a better place.

Please take a moment to visit the link and sign the petition, Educators for Ending the Siege of Gaza. You do not have to be an educator to sign the petition. Just someone interested in peace and social justice for all.

And if you have time, I strongly encourage you to read this well-written paper which explains the situation in a way that anyone can understand with no prior knowledge of the conflict.

I encourage my educator friends, Stephanie in particular, who is the director of a progressive school, to forward this information on to your staff. You might be able to use it in a lesson plan. Thank you in advance.

One last thing, if interested, check out the blog listed in my blog roll on left, Life Goes on in Gaza and Sderot. it is written by Peace man in Gaza and Hope man in Sderot, a border town in Israel. It is their perspective from both sides of this conflict.

Synopsis of "Siege and Obstruction to the Right of an Education"

Edward Said repeatedly commented that there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East if Israelis and Palestinians do not recognize each others' history and the pain and suffering that are so much a part of it. Said's observations articulate a daunting challenge in the form of a project we believe is within the reach of international school teachers. International education can contribute to peace in the Middle East through the international scope of its curriculum in the humanities, a broad range of subjects, and the efforts of teachers educated in the traditions of humanism and multiculturalism. We were among the last westerners to teach at the American International School in Gaza, who were forced to halt their efforts in June 2005 as a result of the unending siege compounded by unchecked internecine violence.

The intensification of the suffering of the Gazan people in the past years has been striking, at times unimaginable. The mainstream media persist in refusing to make the point that Gaza's losses are nobody's gain. Who wins if an entire population is being deprived of food, medication, and electrical power? Who benefits if a student receives a scholarship to study abroad, but is not permitted to leave? A country that is occupied cannot properly educate its children, but education in a country that is under siege will only produce hatred.

With a growing number of people we demand that Israel lift the siege of Gaza and end the occupation of the Palestine. Innocent children should not be made to suffer from lack of food, medical help, and economic opportunity; they should not have to give up on their aspirations for the future because they happen to live in or near the target zone of Israeli missiles.

We ask that colleagues, all over the world, join us in delivering the message to the governments of Israel and the United States to lift the siege and end the occupation. We ask that by this measure, Israel give ordinary Palestinians a chance to live a decent life and create a future for themselves and their children. This is the moral and humane thing to do. If Israel takes this step, there's a good chance that its people will live in peace because responsible Palestinian leaders can, and will, effectively make the case against extremists that violence does not work. A peaceful future lies in our capacity to recognize and identify with the human being in one another.

To sign the petition, we ask that you type in your first name, last name, educational affiliation, and your email address. After you have submitted this information you will receive an email asking to confirm your signature. Please click on the link provided in the email response to ensure that your signature is counted.

Again, Dr. Taatgen's website is listed on left. You can sign the petition if you click on the link.


TRoom Neern said...

I also do have friends In Gaza, they saying almost the same as he does, but its a shame that he is not saying loudly, and its obviuos why, that HAMAS is the cause for the reasons why Innocent children suffer from lack of food, medical help, and economic opportunity.
The HAMASH will to destroy Israel, and by doing that, he force The Gaza Civilians to suffer.
My friends in Gaza says, the Hamas attacks any Israely factor, even if its supporting food, medical, water and electricity. The more the Civilian in Gaza Suffer, the more the Hamas reason to fight and exist are getting Stronger!

Mary Cuevas said...

hi troom neern,
dialogue and diplomacy are what i hope will happen very soon. the palestinians have suffered enough.

please know that the israelis close the borders and do not allow food, supplies to enter into the gaza strip. can you imagine?

please know the israelis are also known to exploit their power against the palestinians. with funding from my country.

it is my sincere hope that my new president listens to both sides and assists in a solution to this conflict.

lastly, please know that i know there are two sides to every story.

i just read the school where dr. taatgen was the director and his wife taught was bombed and leveled. please tell me why?
thank you for your comments.

Mary Cuevas said...

one last thing troom neern,

i am pasting an email i received from dr. taatgen after i enquired about his old school in gaza. please feel free to visit his website listed in my post if you want to dialogue with him.


Yes, this is, or rather was, my old school.

The Israeli justification is that it concealed Hamas weapons.

If this is what they believe, nobody, not even the 200 students of the school and their teachers, are safe.

Everyone in Gaza becomes a target or if they are lucky, collateral damage in a murderous plot, while the world is watching- “helplessly.”

Where have we seen this before? Which occasion elicited similar bitter commentary?

How long will it take before the holocaust of one people has become the fateful destiny of another?


daniel brezenoff said...

thanks for posting this mary. If you havent seen this Greenwald piece in Salon, I hope you'll check it out, it's right on.