On July 19th, the American Friends Service Committee held a symbolic morning commemoration on Montrose Beach in Chicago to remember the children killed by the Israeli military in the summer of 2014. In the summer of 2014 Israel invaded and attacked Gaza in a 51-day military assault “Protective Edge” which killed over 2,100 Palestinians and left over 11,000 injured. 521 of those 2,100 Palestinians were children. Many are still suffering from the traumatic experiences they faced and continue to face due to the blockade on Gaza.
The American Friends Service Committee’s morning remembrance on Montrose Beach consisted of placing black pinwheels in the sand. Each pinwheel symbolizes a child killed, and is labeled with their name and age. One pinwheel was included to remember the one Israeli child that was killed last summer, and pinwheels represent children and innocence. Attendees placed pinwheels in the sand in a formation that wrote out “GAZA” and heard a poem read by Rabbi Brant Rosen. Following the poem, a litany for Gaza was read. AFSC was inspired to use the pinwheels by Gazan artist Mohammad Hassona.
AFSC chose the location of a beach to symbolize the loss of the four Baker boys who were killed by the Israeli military while they were playing soccer on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea on July 16, 2014. Interns Sanah Yassin and Ruby Macsai-Goren made a video and a Storify of the event to share widely, in hopes that people in Gaza will see it and know that neither AFSC nor Chicago have forgotten about the trauma Gazans have endured, and continue to endure.
“It is important to me that we continue to humanize Gazans and not reduce their suffering to numbers and statistics. Pinwheels represent the childhood that was stolen, and the hope that the spirit of these children will continue in the Palestinian resistance movement. In filming this video, I deliberately included the pinwheels spinning quickly as a symbol of this continuing spirit. Holding this event on the beach was an essential connection to the shores of Gaza that are so essential to its people, and the tragedy of the four Bakr boys that were just playing soccer, trying to having fun during the World Cup, but were stopped from doing so in the most brutal way.”
-Sanah Yassin, AFSC intern
“As a young person living in the US, I often notice my peers’ ambivalence towards global conflicts. I am not excluded; last summer, I marched with ten thousand other Chicagoans to protest the siege on Gaza. Over the past year, the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza slowly left my mind. Helping to form this event was a turning point for me. I realized we cannot forget when the guns stop firing. Instead, it is imperative for the people of Gaza to have American allies who will stand up for them when their rights are violated. Now, I will remind myself that even though I am removed from the violence, I must be an active participant in the struggle for freedom and equal rights, not a passive bystander.”
-Ruby Mascai-Goren, AFSC intern