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Vivid Snapshots of Israel’s Impossible Cruelty: Our New Team Member Shares How Mondoweiss Stories Power Her Activism

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For our summer fundraising drive, “One Story At A Time,” Mondoweiss staffers are sharing stories we’ve published that inspire their work to share the truth about Palestine. Today’s message is from Olivia Katbi Smith, a dedicated activist who joined our team just last month. Read on to learn what keeps Olivia fighting for solidarity — and please give now. A loyal donor has pledged $20,000 if we can raise $60,000 by August 1.

In April 2018, Gazan journalist Hamza Abu al-Tarabeesh came to a horrifying realization. He had started reporting on the Great March of Return under the belief that Israeli soldiers would comply with international law and avoid hitting journalists. But after two Palestinian reporters wearing clearly visible “PRESS” vests were shot fatally within the first few weeks of the protests, Hamza understood: he, like his colleagues, was a target for Israeli snipers.

This is one of so many valuable stories Mondoweiss has brought you and me. Day after day, we get vivid snapshots of Israel’s impossible cruelty —and how Palestinians struggle to cope with it and retain their humanity. As a long time reader and supporter, I’m very proud to have joined the Mondoweiss team last month. And I’m asking for your support so we can keep telling the stories that can change minds

Perhaps, like me, you read Hamza’s account in Mondoweiss this March of how last year he stopped wearing his press vest because he believed it put him in greater danger.

Hamza Abutarabesh

Hamza Abutarabesh (Photo: Abed Zaqout)

If you’re like me, you may have understood intellectually that journalists have been targeted. But nothing compares to the sinking feeling, reading Hamza’s story, when you get a glimpse of his wife begging him not to go to the protests—and of him kissing his infant son as he leaves. Every Friday, when he goes to cover the border, he says goodbye to his family in case it’s the last time.

Growing up Arab in America, I was always aware of the Palestinian struggle for justice. Members of my extended family have their own stories of Israeli oppression. But I first took action for justice in Palestine only in 2014. I joined a march in Chicago where thousands of people protested the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and my interest in activism and organizing took off from there.

Since then, I have been a Palestine solidarity activist organizing mainly with the Democratic Socialists of America, but also working with many other groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign for Palestinian Human Rights, and the BDS National Committee. We’ve taken on Caterpillar, G4S, a local sniper scope manufacturer, and even an NBA team. And in our fights, we’ve relied on coverage from Mondoweiss to help us share the stories that no one else is covering.

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A loyal donor has pledged $20,000 if we can raise $60,000 by August 1.

Our movement has been gaining momentum, but we need all hands on deck. I’m asking you now to join the fight by making a contribution (tax-deductible in the U.S.) to ensure we can keep getting the truth out there.

As an activist, I often run into people who aren’t informed on Israel/Palestine, or have a half-baked opinion based on mainstream media. That’s where the work Mondoweiss does is crucial: I know firsthand that just one story could change someone’s mind, because I’ve seen it happen over and over again, when talking to people who just want to learn more. In fact, I often find that they’re hungry for more information, but just didn’t know where to look. And Mondoweiss is able to fill that gap thanks to reporters on the ground like Hamza, and thanks to your support

Hamza’s story is one of hundreds Mondoweiss has brought you and me—hundreds that restore humanity to those the mainstream media portrays as less than fully human. Activists like me rely on these stories to help gain support for our cause. Because what changes minds—what changes policy—isn’t numbers, data, or statistics. What you need are stories. And all it takes is one. 

If you, like me, rely on the stories Mondoweiss shares to help tell the world the truth about Palestine, please contribute to keep this work going. The people featured in these stories depend on Mondoweiss to tell them, and we depend on you. Together, we can change the world—one story at a time.

Olivia Katbi Smith

Olivia Katbi Smith is the Individual Giving Manager for Mondoweiss and is based in Portland, OR. You can follow her on Twitter @livkittykat.

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2 Responses

  1. Misterioso on July 19, 2019, 10:27 am

    Greetings Ms. Olivia Katbi Smith

    My donation is en route.

    Bon chance to you and Mondoweiss!!

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