Stay Strong, Stay Human: A Letter from a Palestinian Friend Regarding My Refusal

This is an excerpt from a letter I received from a Palestinian friend of a friend. I was deeply moved by it and my resolve to refuse strengthened and increased. It is also particularly moving and fitting, in that the horrific War on Gaza in 2008-9 was the beginning of a long process that led to where I am today, exactly two weeks before my draft/refusal date.


As soon as Olivia told me about you I felt Immediately connected to you and your action. I take my hat off to you and to those Israelis who actioned this before you…

Let me tell you why I felt an instant connection with you and your brave action.

On December 28th 2008 during the operation cast lead on Gaza I lost 15 members of my beloved family in one single blast 11 were children under the age of 12, the eldest was a smart 12 year old football lover called Mohammed and the youngest was a beautiful 2 years old baby girl called Aya. A few months later I lost further 7 beloved ones due to shrapnel sever injuries and extreme lack of medical care, equipments and medications due to the siege.

Those 22 loved ones are not a number but names and lives to worthy people just like you and your family. They lost their precious lives due to an irresponsible decision followed by a blinded action made by another human who was not “you” and didn’t take your position nor actioned your decision…

…I just wanted to share my feelings with you and to tell you that even though my family are no longer alive but with your action you managed to bring their spirits back to me.

Mori, we may not look the same nor have the same belief but one thing I’m sure we share,  that is humanity.

Stay Strong, Stay Human

With love and respect,

Manal Timraz.” 

In a later conversation with Manal over the phone, we discussed the need for a world in which Martin Luther King and Gene Sharp are our prophets, in which humanity and love are placed above all else, in which activism is done creatively and nonviolently and together, in which we recognize that all of us here are occupied, some of us, as Manal put it, are “occupied with benefits,” but we are all oppressed by the oppression, all hurt by the violence, all made a bit more homeless by housing demolitions and all made a bit smaller and sadder and more alone by all of the hate and nationalism and anti-otherism. Thank you, Manal.