Gaza: a Small Gesture of Solidarity

Photo and Gaza Prayer by Cybèle Rosa Brenner-West

When the pain can be borne no longer, something has to give. A universal acceptance of all that is might be ideal, but I am not so enlightened as to be able to watch the carnage and cruelty in Palestine/Israel, visited upon children, grandparents, artists, lovers, dreamers, workers, activists and more, with any semblance of equanimity or grace. Rage, confusion, grief pour through me by the hour. And then, either despair and despondency rush in (and they have been hard to hold back these last few days), or action simply must be taken. Action is the only way—short of acceptance—that I know to manage my response to that which is simply impossible to accept.

Maybe one day I will be wise enough to understand the greater ‘why’ of this current nightmare. And of all those that have preceded it like clockwork over the millennia: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the deliberate destruction of African bodies and lives central to the slavery, the genocide of indigenous peoples in North and South America, the pogroms and ultimately, Holocaust, which stole the lives of an unfathomable number of Ashkenazi Jews (as well as plenty of ‘others’). I’m skimming the surface, but you get the idea. We seem unable to learn, to aggregate any wisdom around this tendency we humans have to mass murder. Or maybe it is that we can’t remember for long enough to be able to grow beyond it. When—I wonder– might we understand that ‘Never Again’ must apply not just to one tribe, but to all?

Many of us are feeling torrents of grief and anger, helplessness and frustration. There are marches to go to, if you can get to one. There are endless calls to make to our see-no-evil (when it comes to the US and Israel) Congresspeople and to our barbarous administration, calling them all on the carpet for using our money to commit war crimes, begging them to employ their power to simply stop the killing. Personally, it has not been enough. I pray, I chant, I ask the Gods to stop the slaughter and to open people’s eyes to the incredible hypocrisies they are repeating, to open their hearts to one another. And yet, witnessing the madness expand, it feels like ….nothing.

After casting about in a near panic for something to more to DO, it came to me that long ago, during a massive 2012 Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, a dear friend and I started a small campaign we called FASTING ON FRIDAYS. The premise was simple: as an act of solidarity with those refusing food in Israeli jails, we and those who joined us would abstain from eating just one day a week until the prisoners were successful or their leadership ended the strike. Not much to ask of ourselves, it seemed, leading –as we were–what any Palestinian would reasonably consider privileged and well-fed lives. Within a few weeks, the Karameh Hunger Strike was ended after an agreement was reached with the Israeli Prison Services. Those of us who were fasting one day a week mostly went back to eating as usual, seven days a week. (The blog then lapsed;I include the link for information purposes alone.)

I think it is time for me to revisit FASTING ON FRIDAYS. Gazans are trying to survive against terrific odds, with virtually no food; just scant amounts of questionable water to drink. Gnawing and dangerous hunger has to be a regular companion—jockeying, I’d guess, for primacy with fear, sorrow and fury– for many. Starvation is not far off, particularly if aid is delayed further. That, though, is the point of a siege, isn’t it? Examining my own life these last few days, I wondered how it is that I can weep and wring my hands in grief and anger, and then go seek some small solace from the depths of my obscenely full refrigerator?

I’m going to be fasting this Friday and all Fridays that follow, so long as Gaza is under attack. I know full well it won’t save any lives and it won’t in itself feed any hungry children. But I will be sending a donation each week –after all, I will be saving on groceries—to help those organizations which are providing desperately needed support to the Palestinians trapped, under bombardment and siege. And I will hope that somehow the message reaches someone in Gaza that, not knowing how better to help, I will be with them in spirit every day, but particularly on Fridays.

In 2012, Ali Abunimah, the executive director of The Electronic Intifada, wrote that: “Former prisoners and hunger strikers have said that even the smallest demonstration, the smallest acts of solidarity anywhere in the world makes an enormous difference to their morale.”

So much is at stake in this moment and it is clear that we have to do more than simply being in solidarity. But as I cast around for all the ways I can stand against the unfolding genocide, I realize that I need just as much to stand with Palestinians. It is an admittedly small gesture, but I make it with all my heart, which has always been joined to the Palestinian people.

I invite you to join me in FASTING ON FRIDAYS.

Elizabeth West lives, writes and strives to find beauty and joy im the heart of DuPont country. She can be reached at or via her website.