Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gaza Teach-In Educates Olympia Community

Olympia - January 4, 2009
Gaza Invasion Teach-In at Traditions Fair Trade

Cindy Corrie, mother of Rachel Corrie, addresses a crowd of Olympians concerned about the Israeli invasion of Gaza; Steve Niva, professor of Middle East and International Studies at The Evergreen State College, Jen Marlowe, filmmaker, Sameh Matar, student from Gaza.

Over 100 people came to learn more about the Israeli invasion on the Gaza Strip on Sunday night. Sameh Matar, 16, a Palestinian exchange student attending North Thurston High School in Olympia, spoke about the news he has received from his family since the situation in Gaza has intensified this week. He has been living in Olympia since August. He spoke with his family just yesterday and is concerned for their safety.

"When I spoke with them, I could hear explosions around their house...everybody is hiding." Matar said that three or four years ago, everyone in his aunt's house was killed during an Israeli attack, killing everyone, including her husband and nine children. "The Israeli's said there was a Hamas leader there but there was nobody there...."

Speakers also included Steve Niva, professor of International and Middle East Studies with The Evergreen State College, who offered a policy analysis of the situation and Jen Marlow, filmmaker, who last visited Gaza six months ago. Marlow shared with the audience that she just realized, just moments before the evening's event began, that she had met and last seen Sami Matar at his home in Gaza when he was just nine years old. "Each time I go back, people in Gaza say how they can't imagine how things can get worse, but it always has, on each subsequent trip I take, and people speak nostalgically of how things used to be," Marlow said.

Marlow read emails she is receiving from friends in the region. One boy, Ali, is asthmatic and uses a ventilator, often run by a generator when the electricity goes out. She read another email from a ninth grader in Gaza whose friend of four years, Christine, died in the attack this week:"What if my parents can't protect me? An Israeli rocket hit my school this morning - every explosion shakes my house...depression and fear are filling our souls...I hope this war will end soon. Help us because we are all human beings...." Several in the crowd, including Sameh Matar, cried.

Cindy Corrie, mother of Olympian Rachel Corrie who was killed in the Gaza Strip five years ago, urged the audience to contact the media and legislators to voice their concerns. Corrie said that she and her husband Craig have been interviewed many times over the years by CNN, but the interviews have only been carried by CNN International and broadcast around the world, but not in the United States.

Corrie offered several avenues for action, handing out information sheets entitled, "25 Things to do to bring Peace with Justice" and "Make Your Voice Heard." detailing extensive contact information.Any checks made out to the Rachel Corrie Foundation with "Gaza" written in the memo section will be forwarded to appropriate medical and humanitarian relief agencies. For more information, contact the Corrie's at:

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