Ashley, who now is 23—the same age as Rachel when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of a home in Rafah, Gaza—is currently touring the United States in the play, and I caught up with her just before her performance in Mt. Ranier, MD. This interview was shot by Maurice Jacobson, a mentor for We Are Not Numbers from Inshallah Media Productions, who currently is working to organize a multi-media exposition called “We All Live in Gaza,” planned for Washington, DC, on the second anniversary of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza.
The writers in We Are Not Numbers range from 16 to 29 years old—all were very young at the time of Rachel’s murder, say this about how they came to know of her death, and their reaction to Ashley’s efforts to keep her memory alive:
Aya Nashwan, 19
“Actually, I only learned about Rachel through your post (my announcement about Ashley Malloy’s talk). It attracted me! I went directly to Google to search for more details about her and watched a video. Then I read her emails to her family while she was in Gaza, which were online.
“Hearing Ashley speak was a great chance to know more about Americans and how some really sympathize with our cause. Knowing that supports my dream to continue on my way, to convey more true facts about Palestinians. She motivates me and gives me hope that Americans can be with us, not always against us.”
Israa Suliman, 20
“I heard about Rachel just a few months ago, maybe five months, while studying Caryl Churchill’s play ‘Seven Jewish Children’ in university. There was a scene in the play talking about bulldozers and demolishing houses in Gaza. So we related this to Rachel and what happened to her.
“Hearing Ashley speak motivated me to proceed on my path of writing, since she reinforced that it is an effective way for our voices to reach the outside world, to let people know the hidden truth about the horrible Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people. Words and stories are the most moving way to express ourselves and to make change. So we are on the right path. I’m so excited!”
Besan Aljadili, 21
“I also knew about her from ‘Seven Jewish Children.’ We studied it at the university and we related what was written in the play to Rachel’s death.
“I had never thought there is an American who has such passion for defending the Palestinian cause. She is a source of inspiration who gives us hope that there are people thinking about us and feeling our pain. Drama is a brilliant way to open people’s eyes?”
Karama Fadel, 26
“I didn’t learn about Rachel until three years ago, when I heard about her from a few volunteers with the ISM (International Solidarity Movement, the same group to which Rachel belonged) in Gaza. I taught some of them Arabic.”
Mahmoud Khalaf, 20
“I learned about Rachel when the Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed in Gaza in 2010. People shared his photos and compared him to Rachel. So, I became enthusiastic about reading about her.”
Jehad Abu Jazar, 26
“Rachel rented a flat with other ISM members in my neighborhood, when I was about 13. I used to watch them taking photos. I didn’t know her personally, but we were all devastated when she was killed.”
Salsabeel Zeineddin, 22
“Four years ago, when I was 19, I asked my uncle to give me a book in English to read, and the one he gave me was her book with her letters to her family. After that, I did more searching on Google about her. Her story inspired me to express myself more.
“And then I heard Ashley. She turned a light on inside me. She really fights for her perspectives. It is really inspiring that a girl who is just 23 years old stands for an issue and has this strong personality, raising up her voice like Rachel did.”
Baswan Derawi, 26
“I heard about Rachel several years ago, when the anniversary ofher death was in the news. I pray the world can see and understand what we have been through. Thank you, Rachel, and I am happy there are people like Ashley who follow your steps.”