Public Call to Fasting for Gaza

” …in prayer I have peacefully come to hear what I believe is a public call to Fasting, to allow God’s unconditional love for each human being—you, me, Palestinian, Israeli—to come through more purely, more intensely for all who suffer this horror in Gaza.”  –Sr. Paulette

A letter from Sr. Paulette

Dear friends,

The situation is now desperate in Gaza. In so many ways we have pleaded with Congress and  the President to have the guts to speak the truth about Israeli aggression against the Palestinians, about the “truth on the ground.”  No matter how many marches, demonstrations, risks for arrests people have taken throughout the world in huge numbers to beg for human compassion and justice toward the Palestinians, the people who are supposed to represent us to the world have failed in courage, in human rights, in common sense.

Therefore, in prayer I have peacefully come to hear what I believe is a public call to Fasting, to allow God’s unconditional love for each human being—you, me, Palestinian, Israeli—to come through more purely, more intensely for all who suffer this horror in Gaza.  The greater love and energy of God must empty me out, all of us who choose to fast, to be better, stronger, larger receptacles for God’s grace and love to pass to the Palestinians and to all involved in the peace negotiations.

This first week of liquid-only-fasting (or any form of fasting meaningful to you) is not meant to be a political statement.  This week of fasting is not begging any admiration or pity from anyone.  It is begging for truth and justice to drive our country’s relationships with Israel and Palestine.

Please join me if possible for any part of this liquid-only-fast or for the whole fast beginning Sunday July 27 1:00pm. until Sunday August 3 1:00pm.  If anyone wants support or more conversation about this effort please call sr. Paulette 419.447.0435 ext. 136.

There will be a prayer hour on Tuesday 7:00 pm. in St. Francis Chapel for justice and peace and end to all violence in Gaza.  Please join us for any/all of the hour.  Most of the hour will be in silent prayer.

If you will be joining in on this fast on any level, please respond (, and I will try to write once or twice to you during this time with pertinent material or articles on the situation.  Thank you.

Sr. Paulette Schroeder osf/Tiffin

STATEMENT: Pax Christi USA official statement on the violence in the Middle East

This statement comes from Pax Christi USA, the parent organization of Tiffin Area Pax Christi, one of Project Peace’s supporters and partners.

Pax Christi USA

“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”

~Pope Francis, June 8, 2014

As the number of dead and wounded continues to rise in Gaza, Pax Christi USA calls for an immediate cease-fire by all parties in order to open the possibility for negotiations to end the senseless violence and address the underlying causes which fuel the decades-long tragedy in the Middle East.

Pax Christi USA mourns the loss of life on both sides of the conflict. We stand with all those who have been victimized by violence. Our hearts are broken over…

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Mazin Qawasmeh Speaks of Gaza

Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery

Ali al-Halabi just wanted to focus on learning French. He graduated high school this fall, and dreams of one day seeing the Eifel Tower for himself, but on his first day of French lessons the bombing started. Ali, 17, is from Al-Zahraa in the Gaza Strip, and for the past week he hasn’t been able to leave his home, let alone attend French lessons. Leaving the besieged area alive feels more and more unlikely as each bomb is dropped.

For young people in Gaza, whom make up over 50 percent of the population, this latest military assault on the Gaza Strip is the third in their recent memories—but that does not make it any easier. 

Operation Protective Edge has already killed over 170 people in seven days, and the Israeli bombings remain relentless across the strip. Mondoweiss spoke to three young Gazans about their new daily reality.

Lara Abu Ramadan

Lara Abu Ramadan, 22, lives in the center of Gaza city. The last few days have been filled with a feeling of complete helplessness and terror, as she hopes an Israeli airstrike will avoid the houses of her family and friends.

“We don’t sleep well, we wake up suddenly because of huge bombings here and around the city, we see the smoke of bombings everywhere,” Lara told Mondoweiss. “We are scared not only because of the sounds but also because we’re afraid to lose our beloved ones from family and friends. Yesterday night Israeli warplanes bombed heavily in our area and it was so close and we were so close to death. We were laying on the ground and the sky was lightened as if we were in the middle of the day.”

Staying inside in the hope of staying safe has become routine for Gazans now. Dalia Zuhair Lababidi, 21, is also from Gaza City. Her room has become her safe place during the latest Israeli military aggression, although she is well aware that civilian houses are also under threat from Israeli air strikes, and that in reality her room isn’t so safe at all. 

“I’ve been sitting in my room since the beginning of the aggression,” Dalia said. “People here can hardly go to mosque during this holy month because they’re being targeted too. Everywhere you can expect a bomb so I prefer to stay at home hoping to not get harmed. I miss the smell of the streets.”

Ali al-Halabi with a younger relative.

Ali also admits he is terrified of what could happen, aware that civilian areas such as houses and mosques have been targeted by Israel since the beginning of the military campaign.

“They are bombing civilian houses, farmlands, and people when they are together, mosques when people are praying in them, any civilian place. I am scared. It’s possible for a bomb to happen any time. I can’t sleep knowing I am might not stay alive for tomorrow.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with other Israeli officials have defended the practice of targeting civilian homes due to Hamas’ alleged practice of launching its homemade rockets from civilian areas. According to the United Nation’s OCHA, 77 percent of all deaths have been civilian. 

The belief that anyone could be killed at any point is a real one for Lara, Dalia and Ali, having lived through Operation Cast Lead in 2009, and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Their flirtation with death and destruction is well established. All three believe Israel is targeting all Palestinians in Gaza and punishing them, rather than targeting certain individuals.

“They bombed an NGO institute for the disabled and two women were killed, I don’t see how they can be seen [by Israel] as terrorists when they can’t move,” Lara said. “And 36 children were killed by bombing their houses and that doesn’t make sense. They bomb whatever they want, we’re like toys for them.”

Ali also believes Israel’s recent bombardment of Gaza is due to ulterior political manoeuvrings, rather than protecting Israeli citizens. Like many Palestinians, Ali told Mondoweiss that he thinks Gaza is being bombed in order to but a wedge in the recently formed unity government between Hamas and Fatah. 

“They are hurting us because there was a plan that the West Bank and Gaza would combine again in a unity government.” Ali explained, “I guess Israel didn’t like this so they are bombing Gaza and trying to say that Gaza started this war, to make the world believe that we don’t want peace, but in fact we want it but Israel doesn’t.”

The fervour for war in political and social circles in Israel has not gone unnoticed in Gaza. Especially in the online sphere, where there have been a spate of Facebook pages set up advocating the death of Palestinians, and thousands of pictures and statuses calling for similar on individual pages—including the encouragement of a genocide of Palestinians on a Facebook status of an official in the Jewish Home party, part of the ruling coalition in the Knesset, which received 5000 ‘likes’.

“I saw many posts from Israeli people about wanting Israel to “Kill Arabs” who are living in Gaza,” Lara told Mondoweiss. “I think their government and military have the same principles. They see Gaza as a terrorist land. They don’t differentiate between civilians and militants. I feel sorry for saying this because I’ve never thought about Israeli civilians the way they think about us. I see that we’re all humans. But they seem to hate us.”

With Israel gearing up for a possible ground invasion, having called up 40,000 reservists, Ali fears that in the coming days things will only become more dangerous.

“I think it will get worse. It will be more mass destruction and massacres,” Ali said. “Maybe the soldiers will come in, I’m not sure but that would be so bloody and the war would get worse.”

These young Gazans are all part of the Internet generation. Like most young people their age, they follow what the world is saying about their country, they are aware of the news around the world, and they know whether people care about the images coming out of Gaza. Like any millennial would in their situation, Ali, Dalia and Lara watch from Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as people gather together around the globe to protest against the Israeli assault on Gaza, but as the death toll continues to rise, the frustration with the outside world, continues to build.

“As long as the whole world keeps watching and condemning without acting, nothing will be changed,” Dalia said. “It’s getting worse. Many people from different countries are standing with us and praying for Gaza. But I’m fed up with people and governments who watch and condemn what’s going on here without acting. Shame on everyone who has the power to change something and is still sitting silent, and who condemn what’s going on here without acting. Shame on everyone who has the power to change something and is still sitting silent. So I call on everyone, wherever you are in the world, it is time to mobilize for Gaza. Please do what your governments don’t do, please act, please boycott Israel.”

Advertiser Tribune prints sr. Paulette’s article “Israel’s Response Has Been Unjust and Disproportionate”–disproportionate.html?nav=5004

I write often of Palestine and Israel and the injustices perpetrated through the Israeli Occupation.  At times I know the reader may wonder whether there is anything else on my mind.  The truth is that when a grave injustice happens in Palestine, I feel compelled—seeing before me the faces of so many children and people whom I love there—to share the information I’ve received, differing from the popular media explanation given to the crisis.

Such is the case with the three Israeli teenage boys who were allegedly kidnapped two weeks ago.  Now two days after finding the dead bodies of the three youth, and with no evidence for the claim, the Israeli Government and the Military have raided and demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes, and have arrested over 500 Palestinians, including  24 members of Parliament, with no due process.  The military has invaded hundreds of schools and universities and have killed ten Palestinian children.  (I wait impatiently for the day when each Palestinian child’s life has the same value in the mind of the media as do the Israeli children.)

The United Nations Security Council called a special meeting in response to the horrific punishments Israel has been foisting upon Palestinians in response to the kidnappings—it seems to matter not a bit whether the Palestinian is guilty or not.  The Under Secretary General to the United Nations called (before the boys’ bodies were found) the situation “alarming.”  The Permanent Palestinian Observer to the U.N. called for the United Nations to act on behalf of the Palestinians.  No statements could be made to the world community from the U.N. because the criticism toward Israeli actions was blocked “by a certain few.” 

In the words of Juan Cole, a highly respected Professor of History at the University of Michigan, and an expert on Middle East history:

In the way of politics, the killing will be used by the Israeli Right wing to demonize all Palestinians and to justify collective punishment of innocents among them, and as a pretext to take further property and rights away from them. Mr. Netanyahu seems to think he can use the murders as a basis for a campaign to destroy the Hamas Party-Militia in Gaza altogether. But Hamas is a side effect of Israeli brutalization of Palestinians in Gaza, who live under an economic siege, and if it were destroyed, something worse would take its place. Intolerable situations produce resistance, and resistance movements are often fanatical. Of course, the Israeli crackdown actions will produce a backlash from Palestinians in turn.

For more information from Juan Cole go to:

              Sr. Paulette Schroeder

              419.447.0435 ext. 136






wise words from a man on the ground in Palestine these tragic days


World leaders and diplomats, who don’t know the names of any of the Palestinian kids killed on an almost daily basis, deplored in the strongest terms the killing of the three settlers, mentioning them by name. But what about Youssef Shawamra, 15, who was killed in March while harvesting the wild thorny vegetable gundelia (Akkoub) in Deir Al Asal, south of Hebron; or Ahmad Sabarin, 20, who was watching a World Cup match when the Israelis came to arrest people at Al Jalazoun refugee camp and shot and killed Ahmad as he went out to see what was going on? Saker Daraghmeh, 16, was killed in Tayaseer village near the Jordan Valley while shepherding his cattle. Mahmoud Odeh and Nadeem Nawara, the two teenagers k while commemorating the Nakba, did not receive anywhere near the international attention bestowed on the three young Jewish settlers! The killing of a Palestinian is not seen as horrific as that of an Israeli; our pain is not sensed as acutely as is theirs. The unfair equating of Palestinian responsibility for the alleged acts of a few individuals with the formal responsibility of a democratically elected Israeli government for the actions of its army is yet another insult to logic and reason often committed by the friends of Israel.

In fact, no Israeli has ever received a serious sentence for killing a Palestinian. Today, following the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Israeli troops are invading Shuafat—not his killers’ neighborhood! They likely will remain anonymous, their homes will not be demolished, there will be no closure imposed on Israeli neighborhoods, nor will Israeli settlers be prevented from going to work or traveling abroad. The rabbis and settler leaders who incite their followers will continue to do so with impunity.

Since it first occupied our land, Israel has kidnapped our freedom, our lives, and our opportunities. As long as the killing of a gentile is taken more lightly than the killing of a Jew, as long as there is this huge discrepancy in human worth and lack of validation of the Palestinian experience, as long as Israel remains the only author of this land’s narrative and the only political player who counts, death and nihilism will continue to kidnap our life opportunities—Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Washington Report contributor Samah Jabr



Three Israeli teens’ killing–such repercussions on the Palestinians—by Mazin Qumsiyeh

A sadly familiar scene over the past two weeks here in occupied Palestine: 10 Palestinians (including a 7 and 15 year old) and three Israeli settlers (16 – 19 year old) were killed. Dozens of Palestinian homes were demolished in the past two weeks. Over 570 more Palestinians were kidnapped in these two weeks making more than 6000 abductees languishing in Israeli gulags/prisons. 1500 Palestinian homes invaded without due process. 12 million native Palestinians still await their freedom from colonial occupation and displacement. And Israeli leaders are promising to “do more” (genocidal mayhem?).

But the question remains when will this insanity end? Can it end by negotiations between occupied and occupier; negotiations that have been going on for 22 years while Israel gets $12 billion profit every year from its occupation? (that is not counting the billions from US taxpayers). When will Israel be led by people like the previous speaker of the Israeli Knesset Avraham Berg instead of  racists like Netanyahu. Listen to the wise words of Berg: “Here are Israel’s shallow prime minister and the bumbling police, the masses who cling to futile prayers and not to a moment of human peace. Here are the country’s hypocritical chief rabbis, who just a month ago demanded promises from the pope regarding the future of the Jewish people, but in their daily lives remain silent about the fate of the people who are our neighbors, trampled beneath the pressure of occupation and racism under the leadership of rabbis who receive exorbitant salaries and benefits….Despite the enormous and inspiring success of Breaking the Silence (an NGO that collects testimony from soldiers who’ve served in the West Bank), our own total silence is still the loudest thing around us. We are willing to go out of our minds over one odd and troublesome Pollard, a lone kidnap victim or three kidnap victims, but we are incapable of understanding the suffering of a whole society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us. This, too, needs to be said and heard during this moment of clarity — and as loudly as possible.” “The Palestinians: A kidnapped society: We are incapable of understanding the suffering of a society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us” By Avraham Berg

And how about the inspiring and wise words of Catholic Patriarch Michel Sabbah writing from Jerusalem congratulating Muslims on the start of Ramadan: “We all are sectarian, Christians or Muslims. We all need to continuously purify the faith in us to overcome the sectarian. The believer is one who remembers God and sees all as his creation, So he worships God and respects all his creation no matter any religion they are. ..He sees any other as a brother or sister. The sectarian has strife in him and is distant from God. He sees only himself or his family or his clan. … I hope that we all become believers, and our faith overcomes all sectarian tendency.” I am reminded of the good spirited picture someone shared on Facebook, a family where the father carries a sign that said “I am Sunni”, the mother a sign that said “I am Shia”, and the little girl carries a sign “I am Sushi”. In another video I noted fraternizing between members of the Syrian army and the opposing “Free Syrian army” that reminded me of 1914 when opposing German and British soldiers disobeyed orders of their commanders in WWI and decided to get together in Christmas and become friends. (see

The war mongers do not stop unless the people stop them. But at this moment is when we see candles of light in this darkness being lit everywhere. Palestinians and Israelis working together to achieve peace (e.g. Israeli and Palestinian association of bereaved families).  A small group of activists including Jewish Voice for Peace and Palestinian Americans recently managed to outmaneuver the well-funded movement that hijacked US policy. These good people managed to get the Presbyterians to divest holding in three companies that profit from the Israeli occupation. The whole world is getting tired of this apartheid  and is starting to shake-off the intimidation

. Netanyahu can only kill more people, can only create more false flag operations. He has decided to speed-up the Judaizing of Jerusalem and removal of its native people. He can work for what he calls “Kurdish independence”. The US and Israeli governments can continue to try and fund sectarianism and create divisions. They pursue the silly and dangerous notion that creating other sectarian states will finally give legitimacy to the “Jewish state” and its systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestine. They produce few “successes” like strengthening the Mujahideen to remove the soviets from Afghanistan or strengthening the “Sunni” Mujahideen to fight the Iran/Shia Boogie man. But beware of the monsters you create and instead try to create the peace that will be only based on justice. And beware of the sophistication and power of people who are increasingly not buying all your propaganda. Peace in Jerusalem = peace on earth. Ramadan Kareem to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters And to all: Stay human! Mazin Qumsiyeh Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine