Dear Hope Fund Students,
No doubt being away from your family and friends during this period of violent conflict and unrest is wrenching. Those of you from Gaza must be especially stressed and anxious for the safety of your families and all those left behind. I can completely empathize with you, but I am not able to fathom your pain and the trauma of seeing such a horrendous bombardment and perhaps flashing back to your own hellish experience in 2014 and 2008. As you know, your colleges and universities have a range of student support facilities. You should not hesitate to seek counseling or mental health facilities—U.S. students certainly do so. Ultimately, Amideast is here for you. Please let us know if you are struggling. We will do our best to help.
The prolonged or permanent control and occupation of one nation over another is unjust and unacceptable. As the dominant nation seeks 100% security, the other is left with no security at all. Hence, we have witnessed women and children comprising almost half of those killed in Gaza. Seventeen additional Palestinians have been killed by Israeli Security Forces on the West Bank. Unguided missiles fired from Gaza have killed 12 Israeli citizens or residents.
The context for all of this violence, suffering, and trauma is an unjust state of affairs. Recent Israeli governments have not been willing to negotiate seriously the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state established on the territories captured over 50 years ago or, alternatively, grant the six million Palestinians in Israel or under their control in the Occupied Territories the full and equal rights that Israel’s Jewish citizens enjoy. Meanwhile, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions and international law, legal sophistry is used to seize Palestinian homes and lands in Shaykh Jarrah, “Area C”, and elsewhere. As long as this state of affairs exists, horrific violence and gross injustices will continue.
If there is any glimmer of hope, it is that many U.S. citizens, particularly the young, including many Jewish-Americans, believe that social justice and universal human rights standards cannot be applied to all other situations but be ignored in the case of Palestinians under prolonged occupation. Yesterday, a distraught teacher in Gaza said her students asked her why they should strive for an education when they can see no future for themselves. Even prior to the latest round of violence, Gazans suffered from scarce, brackish water, intermittent and unreliable electricity, and mass unemployment. What now, after so much infrastructure has been destroyed? But the ultimate deprivation is the lack of hope. Ironically, you are supported by the Hope Fund at Amideast because you didn’t give up despite all the challenges you faced throughout your lifetimes.
Amideast will continue to pursue its mission to provide and expand opportunities for young people throughout the region. Certainly, we will continue to operate facilities to educate, train, and provide inter-cultural opportunities for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
I know that all of you will strive to do good in this troubled world and give back to your homeland once you have completed your higher education. We could not be more proud of you.
Theodore H. Kattouf |President & CEO
Amideast | Washington DC