Craftsbury, Greensboro, News

Greensboro Event Joins Global Solidarity with Gaza

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Israeli air strikes continue to bombard Rafah, Gaza, where 1.5 million people are seeking refuge after being forcibly displaced months ago. Heptatis A, dengue fever, and malaria are on the rise as Gaza’s sanitation infrastructure crumbles. The death toll in Gaza over the last 7 months is approaching 35,000. The Director of the UN World Food Programme has declared that Northern Gaza is experiencing a “full-blown famine.” These are just some of the most recent news coming from Gaza, Palestine.

photo by Hal Gray
A pro-Palestinian encampment was erected at Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, on May 6.

In the face of these stories, however, a global movement has emerged that is refusing to accept these things as a permanent reality. The town of Greensboro has joined in its own way.

About 75 community members gathered under the light of yellow stained-glass windows in the sanctuary of the town’s United Church of Christ for a program in honor of “Palestinian Culture and Resilience” on Saturday, March 4. Palestinian poetry, live Palestinian music on violin and guitar, keynote speakers and updates from student encampments were shared.

photo by Paul Fixx
Jason Hirsch, one of the Jewish voices at the Celebration of Palestinian Culture and Resilience on May 4, gave the second keynote talk, “Two Roads in Hope,” emphasizing his belief that the founding of Israel as a colonial state, displacing Palestinians, will not provide deliverance for the traumatized Jewish people.

Keynote speaker Hamed Bakir, a Palestinian-American living in Fairfax, illuminated the optimism he feels in the face of inhumane suffering. He explained that, while South African scholars visiting Palestine felt as though the South African apartheid system was “so merciful compared to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians,” there is still hope. He feels that Palestinian liberation is within reach for three reasons: 1. the Palestinian people’s love of life and land, 2. the current global solidarity with Palestine that has never been seen before, and 3. the growing Jewish voices that are joining the call for Palestinian liberation.

One of those Jewish voices, Jason Hirsch was also at the event to share how the founding of Israel could not be of service to Jewish and Palestinian liberation. In his words, the “movement that proposed the development of a nation-state,” such as Israel, may have provided a homeland for Jewish people experiencing antisemitism throughout Europe; however, its fundamental logic of colonialism, of displacing Palestinians to create a Jewish majority, will not provide deliverance for the traumatized Jewish people.

Three Sterling College students later joined the program to share news from their encampment erected in solidarity with Gaza. They listed the encampment’s five demands of the college, which include 1. financial transparency and divestment from the Israeli occupation, 2. an institutional call for ceasefire and a free Palestine, 3. cultivation of Palestinian affiliations, 4. academic and cultural boycott of Israeli institutions and businesses, and 5. amnesty for student protesters.

photo by Paul Fixx
Emily Lanxner, Sarah Hotchkiss and John Mowad lead traditional Palestinian Dabke dancing outside Greensboro’s United Church of Christ during a Celebration of Palestinian Culture and Resilience with musical accompaniment, Saturday, May 4. Far left, first keynote speaker, Hamad Bakir.

The event included an auction on items donated and bid upon by hundreds of people in the greater Greensboro and Hardwick area. By the end of the event, the auction had raised roughly $6,500, which will go towards the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and Medical Aid for Palestinians.

As one Sterling College student said that Saturday, “Global solidarity is the answer, and I believe that global solidarity begins in our own communities, no matter how small.”

Avani Pisapati

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