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International Women's Day raises voices for Gaza
International Women's Day raises voices for Gaza
International Women's Day
March 7 - 6:30 PM
POCAAN, 1609 19th Ave.


As 2008 became 2009, the eyes of the world turned to Gaza, a tiny strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea. On December 27, the Israeli government launched a series of air raids and ground attacks on the occupied Gaza strip, leaving thousands dead, injured, and homeless. Progressive U.S. citizens, many of whom knew little about Gaza, viewed the situation with dismay and confusion. For those living in Gaza however, the difficulties began long before the attacks, and the effects of the devastation will remain long after the attention of international media has been diverted from their small corner of the world.

Once a thriving center of trade and travel, Gaza is one of several areas that came under Israeli authority at the end of the 1967 war. With a population of about 1.3 million Palestinians, almost a third living in refugee camps, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. In 2005, 8,000 Jewish settlers were evacuated from Gaza, but the Israeli government has maintained strict control on the borders and the movements of the Palestinians living in the strip.

On Saturday, March 7, Dyke Community Activists, a local social change group, honors International Women's Day by sponsoring a panel of women to discuss the crisis in Gaza, with a focus on what U.S. citizens can do. The event runs from 6:30-9 p.m. at POCAAN at 1609 19th Ave., one block south of Madison, and includes a lavish appetizer buffet and African drumming by Seattle's SistaBoom. The venue is wheelchair accessible, and organizers ask guests to refrain from wearing strong scents to ensure accessibility for all.

The panel of speakers includes Huda Giddens, Nada Elia, and Amal Eqeiq, Palestinian women from three different generations, and, Raya Fidel, an Israeli activist who has worked in the peace and justice movement. Along with telling their own stories, all will address the current situation in Gaza, the U.S. government's involvement, and how U.S. citizens can respond.

Huda Giddens' family left Israel as refugees in 1948, shortly after the formation of the new nation. After living in Egypt and Jordan for 10 years, Giddens came to the U.S. in 1959 to study early childhood education at Iowa State University. She made her home in the U.S., settling in Seattle in 1968. In 1972, she founded the Happy Medium (renamed the Giddens School in 2005), a progressive independent elementary school dedicated to racial and economic diversity and social responsibility. Journeys back to the Middle East have strengthened Giddens' pride in her Palestinian identity and in Arab culture and language. She has taught Arabic language classes and has served as an interpreter for Iraqi women refugees.

Nada Elia was born in Iraq, the daughter of Palestinian refugees. She grew up in Lebanon, where she worked as a journalist during a turbulent period of Lebanese civil war and Israeli military invasion. She then entered the world of academia, earning a doctorate in comparative literature at Purdue University and teaching at Purdue, Tufts, the University of Massachusetts, Brown, and Washington State. Elia currently teaches in the liberal studies department at Antioch University Seattle and is a much-published writer on such topics as activist response to institutionalized violence.

Amal Eqeiq is a PhD candidate in comparative literature and Arabic at the University of Washington. She has spoken at many forums on the Middle East, including a workshop at the 2009 Martin Luther King Day program at Garfield High School.

Raya Fidel is the daughter of Jews who made their home in Israel after fleeing anti-Jewish violence in Eastern Europe. Growing up in a segregated Israel, she learned about the social justice movement from her activist parents and became a strong advocate for peace and Palestinian rights. Fidel is a professor of library science at the University of Washington Information School and heads the Center for Human-Information Interaction there. She has also written many published works in the innovative field of information storage and retrieval.

Donations will be collected for the Women's Rights Unit of the Palestine Center for Human Rights in Gaza. Suggested donation $5-$15. No one turned away for lack of money.

All four speakers will be available for questions and discussion after the panel. Call Dyke Community Activists at 206 722 0729 for more information.

Courtesy of Dyke Community Activists

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