I've written here before about the two years when I lived in the Gaza Strip, working at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. So it won't be a suprise to anyone who knows me that the killing of so many Palestinians this past weekend has filled me with grief, anger and despair.
If (not suprisingly) your local or national media hasn't been covering the massacre in Gaza in much detail then read Laila's post about it here
Read Heba's post here
Read a joint blog by a Palestinian and Israeli man (Peace man and Hope man) here
Read what Jews sans Frontieres have to say over here
Or read Tara's post here
Or just look around the internet for some independent news sources (if your news is anything like ours here in New Zealand you won't find much of the story by reading the papers or watching the television).
I can't ever get used to the way that the world allows this kind of killing to carry on in Gaza without raising our combined voices against it. Today I feel that cloud of guilt hovering in the corner of my sky.
After living and working there for two years I left Gaza. I left my friends and colleagues to carry on the fight. I came home to New Zealand to devote four years of my life to strengthening my ties with family and friends and to developing the "New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights".
Because we all know how much New Zealanders need my passionate defense of their rights, right? Or maybe not. Sigh.
Actually I do believe that working for the better promotion and protection of human rights in my own country is an important part of my life work. There are too many people here in New Zealand who are denied access to their rights. Children live in poverty in New Zealand. Maori land rights (indigenous rights) continue to be violated. Disabled New Zealanders face daily discrimination, as do trans-gender and inter-sex New Zealanders. Refugees and migrants face racism as they try to find work and accomodation. There was work for me here, but it was hard to leave Gaza.
It was just as hard as it has been to leave Afghanistan. Maybe even harder. I was younger.
For the first few years after I left Gaza I tried to remain politically active on Palestinian rights. But the barrage of emotional attacks I sustained from people who misunderstood my passion for the lives and basic rights of Palestinians took a toll. I couldn't summon up the energy to argue with people who had already formed their firm opinions on the basis of news headlines.
I looked for ways to support my Palestinian friends and colleagues without having to have pointless and emotionally exhausting arguments with people who have never stepped a foot in Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ultimately I think I have failed to find the right path for me and during my two years in Afghanistan I wrapped all my passion for Palestine up in a ball and tucked it away in the back of my mind.
I let Afghanistan consume me and comforted myself with the thought that whilst I might be failing my Palestinian friends I was doing the best I could in Afghanistan. Hey - how much can one girl do?
But coming home and letting Afghanistan's grip on my heart ease just a little has allowed room for my love for Gaza to come flooding back in and along with it this desire to find a way to do more.
So here I am again. Knowing full well that my guilt won't help anyone and that I can make a difference here, in some small way today I'll find a way to show my support for the right of people in Gaza to live in peace, security and freedom. Maybe writing this post was the first step.