Yesterday, a group of Jewish activists and people of conscience staged a die-in organized by Jewish Voice for Peace at the Hewlett Packard headquarters in Palo Alto, California. This action was a response to the Palestinian civil society call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against companies that profit from the Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza. Hewlett Packard provides biometric ID cards for Israel’s population registry, which includes the occupied Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. Just two days ago, four boys were killed playing on the beach in Gaza by the HP-powered Israeli navy.
As we lay there on the lawn of the HP campus, representing some of the 200 deceased, 80% of whom were civilians, Rabbi Alissa Wise led a mourner’s kaddish (Jewish prayer for the dead). She read the names, and when she got to the name of an 18 month old, she started to choke up, as a mother of a child similar in age. I felt a tear run down my cheek as I lay motionless.
Suha Hamad was the name I wore on my chest. Suha was my age, 25. Every name matters.
“HaShem,” the Hebrew word for God, also means “The Name.” It is also the last name of a women named Youssra Hashem, an Iraqi civilian killed during US occupation. I have this name tattooed on my body to remember civilian death in war. She was 35 and a doctor.
Palestinian life, like all life, matters, and the people of Gaza have been suffering under inhumane and unlivable conditions of siege and collective punishment for years. We learned after our action today, that in addition to over 1800 air strikes, Israel is now carrying out a ground invasion. Israel has bombed Al-Wafa hospital and created a new refugee crisis in the North of the Strip for people who are still refugees from 1948 and have nowhere to hide.
This brutal assault on an imprisoned population by a nation claiming to speak for Jews and funded by the United States is shameful. I came out to confront Hewlett Packard because I feel helpless here while Gaza is burning. As an American, whose government continues to support and fund Israel unquestioningly, I can no longer be silent. As someone who grew up in the Institutional Jewish community, which urges its people to “stand with Israel,” with no regard for Palestinian life, I can no longer be silent.
Rabbi Heschel said, “Few are guilty, all are responsible.” As the names of the dead were recited, we responded with an “Ashamnu” “we have become guilty.” I feel heartbroken and outraged. Enough is enough. We are all guilty and we must all, Jews, Americans and witnesses around the world, speak up and end our complicity in violence and injustice.