Why We Must Look at Gaza

Trish Ahjel Roberts
5 min readOct 27, 2023

I follow journalist and activist, Shaun King on Instagram. Since the Hamas attack in Israel on October 7, he has shared videos of the devastation in Gaza. At first, I could barely look at the images of dead babies, collapsed buildings, and doctors treating patients on hospital floors. I removed all the social media apps from my phone — something I’d never done. But then I realized:

  1. I have to bear witness, and
  2. If me and my family were being killed and my community destroyed, I would want someone to help us.

It’s hard to imagine without viewing the images. It’s apocalyptic. I had to figure out what to do. How could I turn my trauma and distress into action? I gave it some thought. I could share on my social media platform even as Harvard students were being doxxed and threatened for standing with Palestine. I found Jewish organizations that were against the violence like Jewish Voice for Peace. I shared their position and their rallies. I shared a relief fund on my social media. I decided I couldn’t back Joe Biden’s administration and was grateful Marianne Williamson is running for office. I decided to back her candidacy. I reached out to volunteer and later learned she is Jewish as are many of my mentors and friends.

I continued to look at the images. I started to wonder if I was watching the same way people slowed down to watch a car accident or did I intend to help. Was I rubbernecking? The images are awful. I’ve had friends say they can’t bear to look. And then it hit me. I’ve had conversations with white women about race issues and they nearly began crying. It is frustrating, but it’s real.

Hearing about or watching someone else’s trauma can be traumatic. It can create collective trauma, but we cannot hide — we must process it.

We know that when a soldier goes to war to kill other people, a part of his soul dies too. Causing trauma to someone else is also trauma. Our continued violence magnifies our own pain. It is not a solution.

In my upcoming book The Anger Myth: Understanding and Overcoming the Mental Habits That Steal Your Joy, I teach how to transform anger and outrage into constructive action. It is the way we affect change. It is also the way we heal. As author Alice Walker wisely said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

The civilian people of Palestine are no more responsible for the Hamas terrorist attack than the average American is for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

I want the hostages to come home and I don’t see how that’s possible if Gaza is being flattened. I want healing.

If you haven’t been following the story, here are a few points:

  • People in Gaza were told to evacuate to the south, then Israel bombed the south anyway.
  • Access roads to the south and to hospitals have also been bombed.
  • A hospital, Christian church, and mosque have been bombed.
  • Journalists have been targeted. Veteran Al Jazeera journalist, Wael Dahdouh’s entire family was killed.
  • Electricity, fuel, food, and water have been cut off.

Ethnic cleansing is defined as the systematic elimination of an ethnic group from a region, whether it is by deportation or genocide. Some people say this is a genocide, a widespread extermination of a people. No matter what you call it, Israel is committing war crimes with the backing of the United States. We are sending much of the weaponry and military aid. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tax dollars spent on war crimes or genocide. The protocols of the Geneva Conventions are supposed to limit the barbarity of war by protecting civilians, medics, aid workers, the sick, and the wounded.

Be clear, Hamas is not a nation. This is not a war between two nations. Gaza and the West Bank are part of Israel as constructed in 1948 by Britain. Gaza is dependent on Israel. Over the years there have been talks to create an independent state but that has not happened. Currently, Israel is an occupying force.

I learned of the atrocities of the Holocaust as a pre-teen, long before I understood the barbarism of the Middle Passage or the Transatlantic Slave Trade. If you don’t understand the history, I encourage you to learn. That’s what I have been doing these past few weeks.

As the late author, activist, and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” We must take sides. I am on the side of peace and justice.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please don’t look away, especially if you are Jewish. Your voices are needed most. Follow @ShaunKing on Instagram. Watch Democracy Now or AlJazeera news. Over 7,000 Palestinians have been killed by airstrikes. 70% are women, children, and elders. Over 3,000 are children. Israel is planning a ground invasion.

You are not helpless. Share this article. Ask your local representative for a ceasefire. Support Marianne Williamson’s candidacy. Speak out against hate in any form. The Jewish and Palestinian people in the U.S. are both suffering. Escalation of this violence will only make matters worse.

If you need help to process your emotions and determine how you can be helpful, ask me about coaching or reach out to another qualified practitioner.

I REMEMBER “MAMMA”

Back in the 1980s when my grandmother whom I called “Mamma” (MUH-ma) was alive she said to me, “They took those people’s land. They need to give them their land back.” It is a fact that land was taken from the Palestinians to form Israel after the Holocaust. Is the solution to displace, imprison, or kill everyone who lives on the land? Or can we find a humanitarian solution? A fair and peaceful resolution? We must at least try.

Many people don’t care until something hits them at home. Have no doubt, this conflict hit home on 9/11, it hit home with the murder of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois two weeks ago, and it will continue to hit home in larger ways if something isn’t done to stop it. This could become World War III. Is that when we will pay attention?

Trish Ahjel Roberts is the Founder and CEO of the Mind-Blowing Happiness™ coaching company and the Black Vegan Life™ event brand. She is a transformational coach, bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and soul-healing retreat leader. She speaks and teaches on the topics of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Compassion, and Happiness. Her fourth book, The Anger Myth, is scheduled for release in April 2024. Learn more at TrishAhjelRoberts.com and follow @TrishAhjelRoberts. For speaking inquiries, email Hello@TrishAhjelRoberts.com.

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Trish Ahjel Roberts

I am a transformational coach, DEI educator, soul-healing retreat leader, and bestselling author of 12 Steps to Mind-Blowing Happiness.