I got to listen to this incredible human being speak tonight in Seattle – Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor, humanitarian and activist.
He shared his experiences working in solidarity with Palestinians at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, often while under Israeli attack. Working alongside Palestinian medical and first responder staff, Dr. Gilbert has labored tirelessly to save lives. He has been visiting Gaza since the early eighties . . . but he is no hero, he made clear, pointing again and again to the unparalleled courage and resilience of the Palestinian people.
The event focused on the children of Gaza. In addition to the ongoing occupation and siege, Israel has launched 4 full-scale military assaults on Gaza within the last 10 years. That means a small child of ten in Gaza has lived through four wars!
The scale of devastation in the last Israeli attack (summer of 2014) was unimaginably horrific. Over 550 children were slaughtered in what the international community condemned as a one-sided war against a captive civilian population. Because the average age of a Palestinian in Gaza is only 17 years, Dr. Gilbert calls the tiny enclave a "child's ghetto."
The personal images and stories Gilbert shared had grown men in the room openly weeping. Something I will never forget. On a positive note, over $20,000 was donated by individual audience members to KinderUSA's efforts in Gaza before the talk even started. I have never witnessed such generosity with my own eyes. It was incredibly moving and felt like a Christmas miracle in the middle of March.
Dr. Gilbert joked that he heard an orange man with yellow hair recently talk about the threat of radical Islam. But the real threat he reminded us, is the threat of "radical colonialism."
The core of Dr. Gilbert's message centered on the Palestinian people's inalienable right to resist the occupation and fight their oppressors. After seeing what I saw tonight, I dare anyone to disagree.