Reflections on Fasting For GazaDecember 12, 2008
The siege and the blockade of Gaza, and the suffering of the people there is something that is deeply concerning to me and I have been feeling the need to do something, say something… show some solidarity with the people of Gaza. And in some small way hold their suffering in my own life to keep myself more aware.
And so On Wed. December 10 in honor of human rights day I fasted for 24 hours (through Thur. Dec. 11) in Solidarity with the people of Gaza whose human rights are being violated by the Israeli government’s blockade. A fast seemed an appropriate symbolic gesture because the blockade created a situation where the people in Gaza have no choice but do without enough food.
It was just a day long fast, something that I was able to do fairly easily. I drank a crazy lot of water. I mean really – a lot of water. Partly just ‘cut it made me feel not hungry. Partly ‘cuz I figured as long as I was fasting anyway I might as well get some health benefits from it. Somewhere along the line I realized how much water I was drinking. And more to the point I realized that if I were actually in Gaza I couldn’t do that. Water supply is so limited. People don’t get enough to drink. There is no fuel for the pumps for the wells. When there is water it is often contaminated as the sewage and waste treatment centers have no fuel for their pumps, infrastructure has been damaged by Israeli attacks, and there is not water purification chemicals getting in past the blockade. Wow. How can people do this to each other? It makes my heart ache. Sounds so dramatic. But really it just does.
I also found myself explaining to a number of people why I was fasting. Perhaps it is because of the holidays so many in my life celebrate around this time of the year, but it seemed several people offered me cookies, or some other treat. Which meant I got to explain what I was doing and why. Of course, this was one of the main reasons for the fast – to provide the opportunity to talk about the situation in Gaza.
It was particularly meaningful when I found myself trying to explain to the children in my life. As children do they often cut to the heart of the matter “but why are they punishing everyone, if only a few people did things they don’t like?” I was asked when I explained the blockade. And my 8 year old friend who pointed out “yeah, ‘cuz if you were eating today we wouldn’t be talking about this.” – Yep!
A week from human rights day (a week from the first part of the fast) I will start the second phase of the fast. On Wed. 17 December I will begin a 4 day fast through Saturday 20 December. The 20th is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, representing the long night that those in Gaza continue to suffer.
December 21st is the day when those of us honoring earth based spiritual traditions celebrate the returning of the light. I will use this day to break the fast and celebrate my re-commitment to peace and justice in Palestine and Israel, and to being in Solidarity with all those who have their human rights violated – particularly being aware of my connections with those in Gaza and the suffering of the people there in the current situation.
Won’t you join me?!
My fast will be a water fast, but should you desire to join you should create an experience that is meaningful – and realistic – for you. Perhaps a juice fast? Perhaps “liquids only” – including fruit/yogurt smoothies and such? Perhaps not a fast at all but time spent in silent solidarity. The goal is not so much to duplicate exactly the fast as I have planned, but to do something that gives us a physical reminder and pushes an awareness of the suffering to the front of our consciousness.
As I said, one of the goals of the fast is simply to raise awareness to start people thinking and talking about what is happening to the people in Gaza. To bear witness by making the suffering visible. Are there ways you can do this? Post a blog on your own site? If you are on myspace, facebook or other social networking sites can you change your status to read “fasting with Gaza” or “thinking of Gaza” from the 17th – 20th? Is there a public space you can vigil in your community? Letters to the editor? Each of us can do something.
The fast is being sponsored by the Michigan Peace Team. (http://www.michiganpeaceteam.org)
In Peace for Justice, Sheri W./MPT
PS: For more information on the situation in Gaza check out:
And to read eye-witness accounts from Gaza: