In Gaza, right now, millions of people are living with nearly no electricity. Hospitals are unable to function properly. Families suffer from lack of refrigeration and access to cold water.
What is the reason behind this suffering?
The simple answer is an unpaid bill. The more complex answer is a political game, with three main players:
There is Hamas, a corrupt, authoritarian regime that chooses to use money to enrich its members and purchase weapons to use against Israeli civilians, instead of worrying about the Palestinian civilians under its control.
There is the Palestinian Authority, whose decision not to pay Gaza’s electricity bill is a calculated step to bring Hamas to its knees, with the Palestinians of Gaza mere pawns in its political move.
Then, there’s Israel, which can rightfully claim it isn’t obligated to provide free electricity to those beyond its borders, and that to pay Hamas’s bill would be to support a terrorist organization and to subvert the Palestinian Authority – it’s potential partner for peace. However, there’s also a whiff of cynicism about Israel’s claim, for it too, hopes that the Palestinians will blame their misery on Hamas. Of course, there’s always a slight risk that, whether justifiable or not, Gazans might blame their suffering on Israel.
So that brings me to the next question: What can we do?
Not much. Even if we pooled our resources and gathered the funds to pay Gaza’s electricity bill, it’s not like we, as private citizens, can just call up the electricity company and offer to pay another government’s debt. Besides, Israel has legitimate reasons to not want to oppose the Palestinian Authority, which, at the end of the day, is a potential peace partner and governs the Palestinians who live in the West Bank.
But you know what?
We also can’t stand idly by while our brothers and sisters suffer.
The logistics and geopolitical factors might be beyond our power, but we do have the power to send messages of support to people in Gaza, to let them know they are not alone, and that we care.
Today, we mark the 17th of Tammuz – a fast commemorating a tragedy that, in its essence, stemmed from a lack of caring about the Other.
Today, we have the opportunity to take a stand against apathy -we have the chance to send messages of support to people in Gaza, through the #LightupGaza Facebook campaign.
Take a picture of yourself with a candle or flashlight and a #LightupGaza sign, and share to Facebook with the #LightupGaza hashtag.
That’s it. Pretty simple. A small, tiny step for a complicated quandary -but sometimes, knowing you’re not alone can make even the darkest places seem brighter, and sometimes, even the smallest spark can light the largest flame.