One of the most modest yet accomplished women I have ever met is Dr. Mona El Farra. Among the many accomplishments of this selfless dermatologist who lives in Gaza is her position as the Director of Gaza Projects with Middle East Children's Alliance [www.mecaforpeace.org], Board Director of Red Crescent [Cross] Society of Gaza, and Health Development Consultant of Union Health Workers Committee of Gaza and the blogger of "From Gaza With Love" http://fromgaza.blogspot.com/.
This reporter spoke with her over dinner the night before she addressed over 5,000 activists at the historic D.C. March to End the Occupation of Palestine March on June 10, 2007.
Dr. El Farra informed me, "The children's psychology is damaged by the aggression of Israeli forces and the U.S. MECA[Middle East Children's Alliance] is dedicated to rebuild and repair it. Despite the fact that children and women and the whole population of my country has been damaged, we know that the world is not any government...The issue is the problem of the refugees and their right to return to their homeland. Israel has made the facts on the ground impossible for a two-state solution. This land should be about equal human rights for all people. Israel must take the moral responsibility for what they did in 1948!
"If we have a two state solution as things are, we are left with one strong state and one very weak one. Americans should know that their tax dollars go to support human rights abuses and occupation. This deprives both sides of dignity and humanity. Israel talks about security and safety, but their exaggerated actions damage children and civilians.
"I was 15 years old during the first year of occupation. Young kids in Khan Younis got together to say NO to occupation. We threw stones at the Israeli tanks and the IDF hit me and many others with sticks [billy clubs]. I was on the ground and the soldier beat me, but I returned to demonstrate again and again. My father wanted me to stop, but I did not. I also wrote pamphlets-a very dangerous activity!
"I went to medical school for dermatology and returned home and found myself naturally in the refugee camps. I have always been a community worker for preventive medicine and nonviolent...I strongly believe it is impossible for Palestine to have a viable state when humanitarian and inalienable rights are denied and what happened in 1948 is ignored."
On June 7, 2007, Dr. El Farrar addressed the United Nations, "First, let me say that 2007 is the 40th anniversary of 59 years of the brutal occupation of the Palestinian people.
"As we called for an end to apartheid in South Africa and the right of all people to live together and have equal rights, we must now, before it is too late, call for true justice for the Palestinians.
"Today, we heard about the economic plight of the Palestinian people. We heard about Palestinians in Israeli prisons which number close to 8,000 men and women, including approximately 350 children under the age of 14, most of whom have been tortured.
"How many UN resolutions must be passed by the UN? How many years of calling for 2 States before there is an understanding that Israel continues its aggression on the ground against women, children and men, the demolition of thousands of homes and the continued building of the apartheid wall?
"Let us not just speak of the Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza. We must never forget those who live as second-class citizens inside Israel and most of all, those who were forced from their homes and lands in 1948.
"Now is the time to call for a real peace, with justice for all the children in the region. This can only be accomplished by supporting the right of return of all Palestinians.
"Now is the time to acknowledge that the two-State solution is not the answer.
"From Gaza I came, where the children of my country have no safe homes, no safe streets, no proper and adequate health facilities, no proper food, clean water, or regular electrical power, no recreational activities and no good education. The list of deprivation of their basic needs is too long to count.
"I lived this occupation as a child, and am still living it as an adult. I can see it in the eyes of my daughter when she is afraid, tired, restless and exhausted because of the unsafe and unpredictable quality of life in Gaza under occupation. I saw it as soon as we crossed the borders on our way to Egypt, where she sensed something new and different: freedom, safety and space. Gaza is like a big, unsafe prison. And it is a very small place for 1.4 million people, half of whom are children.
"I face the occupation every day during my work when hundreds of Palestinian patients are denied permits and accessibility to proper medical treatment, outside Gaza. There are a few lucky patients who get a referral and permit for treatment outside Gaza. The majority, however, have to wait and wait. Many die while waiting.