On January 7, 2018, Ahmed Abu Artema wrote a Facebook post from his home in Rafah, Gaza that echoed an idea that has reverberated throughout Palestinian history: “What would happen if Palestinians marched nonviolently and in large numbers towards the boundary fence with Israel to demand respect for their rights and call attention to the Israeli-imposed blockade that has created hardship for millions of people for more than a decade?”
The result was Gaza’s March of Return that started on March 30, 2018 and caught the world’s attention (unfortunately mainly for the violence these marchers were met with by Israeli forces and the attempt to blame the nonviolent marchers for the violence inflicted on them).
“Hashtag to Headlines - HOW THE GAZA GREAT MARCH OF RETURN CHALLENGED THE WORLD” is a U.S. tour sponsored by AFSC that will take place in March on the eve of the first anniversary of the beginning of the march. Ahmed Abu Artema and Jehad Abusalim will share with U.S. audiences ideas about nonviolent actions Gazans, and their supporters around the world, can take to help them in their calls for justice and peace.
Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian writer, refugee, father of four, and advocate for nonviolence and will be joined by Jehad Abusalim, Chicago-based scholar and program associate for AFSC’s Gaza Unlocked campaign. Jehad Abusalim is a Chicago-based scholar and program associate for AFSC’s Gaza Unlocked campaign. Jehad is from Gaza, Palestine, where he lived for most of his life.
Their U.S. tour is scheduled for March 1-22 and will include a Congressional briefing in Washington DC. Tour sites include Chicago, Madison, WI, Berkley, CA, San Diego, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Washington, DC, and Atlanta. For details, please go to https://www.afsc.org/gazamarchtour. If possible, please try to attend an event near you and/or let any friends who live in these areas know about the event so they can attend.
The Congressional briefing will be held in Washington DC on Tuesday, March 19th in United States Capitol Visitor Center: Congressional Meeting Room South (CVC 217) at 11:30 am. Please contact your Congress person and Senators and ask them to attend the Congressional briefing Ahmed and Jehad will be giving and/or have a staff member attend on their behalf. Some sample language is noted below.
Dear (name of Congressperson or Senator),
I am writing you as a constituent and a (name a national or local faith group you are affiliated with that deals with this issue). Like most Americans, I look for ways the United States can be a more effective force in bringing peace, justice and full human rights to all Israeli’s and Palestinians.
March 30, 2019 marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of the Marches of Return for people of Gaza, aimed to be a nonviolent action to remind the world of their plight and their legal right to one day return to the home where they once lived across the fence in Israel.
The background and details of the march are in some dispute. One of the main civilian society organizers of the march in Gaza, Ahmed Abu Artema, will be giving a Congressional briefing on Tuesday, March 19th at 11:30 am in the United States Capitol Visitor Center: Congressional Meeting Room South (CVC 217). I strongly urge you, and/or a staff person, to attend this very important session so you can ask any questions you have about the march to one of the key organizers.
I hope you will be represented at this meeting. For additional information, please visit https://www.afsc.org/gazamarchtour and https://www.gazaunlocked.org/or review the articles below written after the beginning of the march.