By Jane Stoever
Palestinians and others in the Kansas City area brought four requests to an aide of US Rep. Sharice Davids Nov. 1. They spoke via Zoom with DC-based foreign affairs executive aide Eric Dunay for an hour, with personal stories from their family members in Gaza and the West Bank. Fatima Mohammadi spelled out these “asks” for Dunay to share with Davids:
- Make a public statement acknowledging the suffering of Palestinians under siege and bombardment.
- Sign onto the ceasefire resolution for both Israel and Palestine.
- Vote No on more military aid to Israel.
- Meet with concerned constituents in person.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said by 8pm Nov. 1 that the casualties include 8,805 Palestinian deaths in Gaza (about 2/3 of them women and children) and 22,240 injuries, with Israeli casualties in Israel including about 1,400 deaths and about 5,400 injuries.
Davids’ recent statement, which acknowledged only Israeli casualties, “did not acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian people, with 8,000 lives lost, so many of them children,” said Fatima Mohammadi. With Israel’s cutoff of electricity, water, and food for Gaza, Dr. Yolanda Huet-Vaughn said, “The babies on ventilators are probably dead now. People are dying now because of lack of electricity. Why are we not supporting a ceasefire? There is no safe place in Gaza.”
Dr. Mohamed Odah told Eric Dunay, “We understand the delicate position Sharice is in. We ask that she call for an immediate ceasefire—consider everybody’s life precious, not just the lives on one side of the conflict.” Noting that he has consistently supported her in elections and called on others to do so, Dr. Odah said, “I’m sure she sees the deaths of thousands of children.” He added, “I have just received the news that there are three more of my cousins who have been killed last night. We want this genocide to stop!”
Dr. Moussa Elbayoumy said several speakers had referred to Jewish persons in Johnson County. He observed, “Many of these persons, including those in Jewish Voice for Peace, stand against the atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza and the West Bank, and it’s not just at the hospitals.” He said a woman told him today that her family moved from North Gaza to South Gaza because of Israel’s warning to leave North Gaza, but now she has lost 26 members of her family. “Our government is committing this crime,” he insisted.
Dr. Huet-Vaughn said one of her daughters-in-law has lost 18 members of her family in this conflict. “The consequences of this bombing will be long-lived,” she said, noting that the Geneva Conventions make it illegal to target civilians.
Maha Odah asked for Rep. Davids to listen to her Palestinian constituents—Rep. Davids had dinner at their homes during her campaigns, she took their money, she took their votes. Maha Odah charged, “What is Rep. Davids doing” to try to end the bombings?
Dr. Tayiem said he was born in Palestine before the creation of the Israeli state and wanted to remind Rep. Davids, “You promised us to be fair. Treat us like human beings.” With Northern Gaza already demolished, he asked, “What are you waiting for, Ms. Davids? Do you want this to be done to your children, your neighbors? Be one of us,” not one of those in Washington, DC, who forget their duty to represent their constituents.
Eric Dunay promised to take the Palestinians’ requests to Rep. Davids, who was flying back to DC during the Zoom meeting. “We have concerns about the package the House Republicans are bringing,” he said. “It does not include humanitarian aid in the Middle East.” He said Rep. Davids’ Oct. 16 private letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken focused on the humanitarian crisis and demanded humanitarian aid in Gaza and the creation of safe zones.
Dr. Elbayoumy objected, “Her Oct. 10 statement gave total support for military aid to Israel.”
Ann Suellentrop, a vice chair of PeaceWorks KC and a retired nurse, reported, “The World Health Organization says 65% of health facilities in Gaza are non-operational. It is a desperate situation.” She said two KC-area rabbis have publicly supported the ceasefire resolution pending in the US House of Representatives. She reminded the group, “Israel is nuclear-armed. This conflict could lead to World War III.”
Fatima Mohammadi chimed in, “That is the fear within the community. I had to tell my children, ‘You know how you studied World War I and World War II? This could lead to World War III.’ This is not a fair fight.”
The Palestinian speakers promised to send Eric Dunay educational information and updates from their family members.
—Jane Stoever is a writer for PeaceWorks KC. © 2023, Jane Stoever, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.