You can change life in Gaza — that's what Artist Maysa Yousef and her husband came up with when we asked Gaza artists to design a logo for the #GazaLightMessage campaign.
I am honored to announce that the Local Staff Union - Gaza is co-sponsoring this campaign each Wednesday night and, via Facebook and email, is inviting its 13,000 members to participate from their homes, then post photos and messages using hashtags, غزة_رسالة_ضوء# #GazaLightMessage. The members of the LSU are employees of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and with their commitment, professionalism, and expertise, they are a key to Gaza's future.
Gaza's social media activists have joined too, another key to Gaza's future. (see the article below).
Over the next seven weeks, I invite you to click "Going" to our Facebook event, and respond to the weekly hashtag messages posted by the people of Gaza (to do this, go to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and paste #GazaLightMessage or
or غزة_رسالة_ضوء# to see them and post a comment). After January 3rd when the new Congress is sworn-in, we'll send you an Action alert to help you press Congress to restore the U.S. aid cancelled by President Trump, recognize Palestinian planning rights, keep the U.S. Consulate open in Jerusalem, and lift the blockade on Gaza.
This campaign creates a message that Americans and our new Congress can readily see and hear. It will build momentum as we urge Americans to invite the new Congress to the Palestinian children's briefing in DC on Feb. 6th, and the Congressional Leadership Learning Mission to Jerusalem and the West Bank, March 15-23rd. It will press them to take-up the cause in budget bills and legislation.
Please join us. Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, New Year.
Founder and Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance
P.S. If you would like to support our work, please click here.
Gazan social media activists join Rebuilding Alliance ‘speak-out’ campaign:
By Omnia Ghassan, WeAreNotNumbers.org
Gazans are struggling in the wake of U.S. President Trump’s elimination of all American aid for Palestinians, and Rebuilding Alliance is helping them speak out in response. The American NGO has launched a campaign to bring attention to their plight, and to kick it off, its Gaza team brought together groups of social media activists in the Gaza Strip to recruit local participants and build awareness among the American people. As Americans learn what is happening and meet Gazans on social media, we hope they will press Congress to restore the funding and work to end the Israeli blockade once and for all.
Families in Gaza are invited to join in a series of eight events in Gaza, culminating in a February 6th briefing presentation to Congress by Palestinian youth. That's when a 14-year-old from Gaza will address the new Congress at the invitation of a senior Senator, along with a teen and a child from the Palestinian village of Susiya, and their moms. Children from the Palestinian Bedouin Village of Khan al Ahmar will connect through teleconference. All of them will present their visions of peace to the new Congress — this form of advocacy is especially effective.
The activists were mostly Instagrammers, along with some YouTubers and Facebook “heavyweights” who are well known among Gazan youth. Alaa Abu Mostafa, a special-effects artist who transforms people’s faces, posts photos of her work on Instagram and has about 50,000 followers. When asked about her message, she said, “I want the world to see that even with limited supplies, we still evolve and create. Imagine how good my work could be if I had access even better tools?” Another social media activist, YouTuber Anas Fahjan, said, “It’s very important to show solidarity with people from all social classes, especially the poor and voiceless, because we are all in this together.” He focuses on a wide range of social, psychological, and religious issues.
These and other activists agreed to join Rebuilding Alliance in a new campaign to issue a call to action to the world. Rebuilding Alliance conducts a variety of activities to support the development of Gaza, with one of its other major programs called “It’s Time for Light.” Through the program, solar-powered lights are distributed through local NGO partners to families in dire need who are especially impacted by the shortage of electricity. The latest design, called Little Sun, requires only five hours of charging in the sun to provide up to 50 hours of light.
The public-awareness campaign calls upon Gazans to take and share selfies of themselves holding up lights to catch the world’s attention at 7 p.m. every Wednesday, and will use the hashtags #GazaLightMessage and, in Arabic, غزة_رسالة_ضوء#
A Little Sun was distributed to each of the social media activists to use in their homes. A video also was shared. Filmed locally by Gaza’s own New Scene Media Company, the video invitation features Palestinians who will lose their UNRWA benefits if funds are not found to replace the U.S. aid: a man who would lose his work as an engineer, a boy who would no longer attend school, a mom who will not be able to access medical care when her child is ill, and a grandmother who won’t be able to bake bread when there’s no more flour.
Kareem Nasrallah, (the tall one in the picture by photographer Mohammad Mansour) is the program manager for the Rebuilding Alliance in Gaza’s city of Rafah. Kareem draws his inspiration from Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli soldier who was driving an armored demolition bulldozer towards his family’s home. Their neighborhood was demolished, house by house, street by street until all 2200 homes were destroyed. Rachel Corrie had been living with his family and on that day, she stood in front of their home with her red vest and megaphone, trying to stop the bulldozer. Kareem says that because he knew Rachel, it is important for him to help change how Gazans view Americans.
“Rachel was killed as she sought to protect my family’s house. She died for us. It is my responsibility to keep her commitment alive, as a way to honor her memory and her sacrifice,” he states. “Not all Americans are like Trump. Many Americans are willing to help just like Rachel Corrie. We just have to reach out to them.”
After Kareem's impassioned remarks, Noor Al-Najjar, one of the Instagrammers with more than 100K followers, said, “This event has really enlightened me; it made me realize that media misrepresents the West just as it misrepresents Palestine. I have a tongue that can’t be silenced. And I aim to keep using it.”
Walaa Safi, another Instagrammer, commented, “I know Trump doesn’t represent the Americans, because our authorities don’t represent us either. It’s very important to believe in the people and raise our voices.”
The weekly #GazaLightMessage events will continue every Wednesday from now through February 6, when Rebuilding Alliance is bringing Palestinian youth and children to America to address the U.S. Congress. If you would like to join the campaign, please click “Going” on this Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/535515690257048/
— then shine your light on Wednesdays once darkness falls, reply to others, post your message, and contact Congress.
About the logo for this campaign, Artist Laila Kassab wrote, "What do you think of this design? ... It is very simple. A candle, though simple, is capable of conquering darkness.
I chose a collection of photos about life after the Gaza power cut. In fact, we must call the world to join our experience — it's a bold idea. I invite the American people to stop using electricity for three days in solidarity with Palestinian families. This experience will help you realize that life will stop. Not to use electricity means no phones, laptops or food. What do you think ?!
The world must live our experience with electricity stopped, to feel what it means to be us."