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Writings by Kathy Kelly

We Want it to Stop

 Young men from Beit Hanoun tell visitors what happened when Israeli rockets hit their neighbourhood on November 15, 2012, killing two children Young men from Beit Hanoun tell visitors what happened when Israeli rockets hit their neighbourhood on November 15, 2012, killing two children

Across the road, the home of Jamal Abdul Karim Nasser is uninhabitable. The ruins of the home face directly onto the missile crater. Young relatives explained to us that shrapnel from the missiles had killed Odai Jamal Nasser, age 15. We were standing on the edge of the crater when Odai’s brother Hazem, age 20, asked us into what remained of his home.

The missile explosions had shattered every window, and done extensive damage to walls and floors.

Hazem and his family had been sleeping in a hallway, so as to be safer from attack, when suddenly the house was falling down on top of them. “My father’s arm and head were bleeding,” said Hazem, “and he was looking for a flashlight to check on the children.” Hazem’s mother took the two youngest sons out of the house and headed for their uncle’s home. Hazem’s father suddenly realized that the son sleeping next to him, Hazem’s brother Odai, was dead. Hazem’s other younger brother, Tareq, started crying out for help and then lost consciousness. After calling for an ambulance Hazem’s father began heading for the nearby mosque to seek help. But the mosque was ablaze. They waited ten agonizing minutes for the firemen to arrive. The moment the firemen arrived, so did another rocket, injuring several of the first responders.

The missile explosions had shattered every window, and done extensive damage to walls and floors.

Hazem and his family had been sleeping in a hallway, so as to be safer from attack, when suddenly the house was falling down on top of them. “My father’s arm and head were bleeding,” said Hazem, “and he was looking for a flashlight to check on the children.” Hazem’s mother took the two youngest sons out of the house and headed for their uncle’s home. Hazem’s father suddenly realized that the son sleeping next to him, Hazem’s brother Odai, was dead. Hazem’s other younger brother, Tareq, started crying out for help and then lost consciousness. After calling for an ambulance Hazem’s father began heading for the nearby mosque to seek help. But the mosque was ablaze. They waited ten agonizing minutes for the firemen to arrive. The moment the firemen arrived, so did another rocket, injuring several of the first responders.

Truth and Trauma in Gaza

December 1, 2012

Dr. T., a medical doctor, is a Palestinian living in Gaza City. He is still reeling from days of aerial bombardment. When I asked about the children in his community he told me his church would soon be making Christmas preparations to lift the children’s spirits. Looking at his kindly smile and ruddy cheeks, I couldn’t help wondering if he’d be asked to dress up as “Baba Noel,” as Santa Claus. I didn’t dare ask this question aloud.

“The most recent war was more severe and vigorous than the Operation Cast Lead,” he said slowly, leaning back in his chair and looking into the distance. “I was more affected this time. The weapons were very strong, destroying everything. One rocket could completely destroy a building.”

The 8-day Israeli offensive in November lasted for fewer days and brought fewer casualties, but it was nonstop and relentless, and everywhere.

“Civilian services and civilian administrative buildings along with a Palestinian bank building were affected.”

Kathy Kelly Video Interview

Agust 28, 2012

Pat Taub interviews renowned peace activist Kathy Kelly. Kathy has traveled to the hotspots of war such as Kosovo, Gaza, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She has recently returned from her eighth trip to Afghanistan where she lives and works with women and children in the war-torn country.

Parting with Sister Anne Montgomery

August 29, 2012
www.wagingnonviolence.org

Anne MontgomeryAnne Montgomery

Anne Montgomery died yesterday. I remember her words to me and to our young Iraqi friend Eva, sitting in the Al Monzer hotel in Amman, Jordan. This was in 2006, and she’d waited three weeks for a visa to enter Iraq as a peace witness. Anne had crossed into zones of conflict more times than any other activist I’d known. During these weeks with us, she’d been meeting and working with Iraqi refugees, many of them undocumented and struggling to eke out a living in Jordan.

Now the wait was over. The visas were not forthcoming, and Anne had decided she was needed most in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron, where the Christian Peacemaker Team — at that point, she had been a “CPT-er” for 11 years — was particularly short staffed and had requested a month of her time. She was going to attempt the crossing from Jordan into Israel by taxi, since Israel could very well have refused her entry, and we were to save a bed for her. But for the moment, we treasured the chance to learn from her in case this was a parting.

Thirsting for Justice

August 21, 2012

Thirsting for JusticeThirsting for Justice

At Maryhouse Catholic Worker, in New York City, word arrived, on a hot August day that, due to street construction, the water would be cut off for four hours the following day. The Catholic Worker community serves scores of guests each day, and the water shortage would have to be dealt with practically. Catholic Workers are legend for being practical in their approach toward problem solving, and in this matter a decision was quickly made: fill the bathtubs on each floor with water, post a sign that none of the toilets could be used, and quickly make one hundred or so egg salad sandwiches which could be served to guests at the door since it wouldn’t be practical to invite people indoors when there wouldn’t be any running water. How could they wash the dishes? What about the women who were accustomed to coming in and taking a shower? And how could you close off the toilets to the usual flow of guests?

Seeking a Visa for Dr. Wee Teck Young

Hakim, Kathy and the Afghan Peace Volunteers Hakim, Kathy and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

June 30, 2012

“We love you!”

“Stay Out!”

Yesterday, Americans sent two very important and very different communications to our friend Dr. Wee Teck Young, a Singaporean physician and activist who lives and works in Kabul, Afghanistan. The “We love you!” was a press release announcing that the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) had awarded him their “International Pfeffer Peace Prize” in recognition of his contributions to peace working with dedicated young Afghans in Kabul. The “Stay out!” was from the American government, refusing him a visa to enter the United States with these young people, in the furtherance of this work. It seems all too likely that the actions and choices which have earned him his well-deserved award are the same factors that persuaded U.S. consular officials to deny him entry to the United States. The question is whether we can be a voice to affirm that his work, and the work of the young Afghans working with him, has value in the United States, where awareness of the costs of war, and of the lives of ordinary Afghans, is desperately needed.

No One Hears the Poor

No One Hears the Poor

May 28, 2012

Here in Kabul, Voices co-coordinator Buddy Bell and I are guests at the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APV), where we’ve gotten to know four young boys who are being tutored by the Volunteers in the afternoons, having “retired” from their former work as street vendors in exchange for a chance to enter a public school. Five afternoons a week, Murtaza, Rahim, Hamid and Sajad wheel their antiquated bicycles into the APV “yard.” They quickly shake the hand of each person present and then wash their feet outside the back door before settling into a classroom to study language, math and art, tutored in each subject by a different Volunteer. They’ve cycled here from school through heavy traffic, which worries their mothers, but the families cannot afford for the boys to take a public bus.

Today, their mothers were here to observe the class, quietly sipping tea as they watched the two youngest boys practice writing the Dari alphabet, (Dari is an official Afghan language), while the older boys, age 12 and 13, took turns reading, in Dari, a chapter about the respiratory system from an elementary school science book. The APVs hope to help the mothers learn tailoring, so they can become tailors in the community and earn a modest income.

Assembly Time

December 27, 2011

Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Voices for Creative Nonviolence celebrate Maya Evans's birthday in Kabul   photo credit:  AYPVAfghan Youth Peace Volunteers and Voices for Creative Nonviolence celebrate Maya Evans’s birthday in Kabul photo credit: AYPV

Kabul—Arab Spring, European Summer, American Autumn, and now the challenge of winter. Here in Kabul, Afghanistan, the travelers of our small Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation share an apartment with several of the creative and determined “Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers” who’ve risked so much for peace here and befriended us so warmly over the past two years.

Reflecting on Occupations

“Occupy Together” efforts proliferating across the world may yet help young friends in Afghanistan find reasons for hope.

A Pivot on the Peace Island

Kathy Kelly at Jeju IslandKathy Kelly at Jeju IslandJeju Island, South Korea – For the past two weeks, I’ve been in the Republic of Korea (ROK), as a guest of peace activists living in Gangjeong Village on ROK’s Jeju Island. Gangjeong is one of the ROK’s smallest villages, yet activists here, in their struggle against the construction of a massive naval base, have inspired people around the world.

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