Public Witness

Baptists Demand: Permanent Ceasefire Now!

Allison Tanner

December 8, 2023

Early Wednesday morning, Lakeshorians gathered at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge to join an Interfaith Action for a Permanent Ceasefire Now! Over 500 people of faith and conscience joined, beginning from both sides of the bridge, and converged in the middle for a time of prayer, song and united protest. Thank you to Sirries Smith, Bryant Johnson and Jesse Lucas for joining me in representing the baptists!

The march was lead by interfaith clergy, linking arms as a symbol of our solidarity in this moment. It was modeled after the march across the Edmund Pettus bridge, when interfaith leaders demanded that African-Americans have basic human rights – specifically, voting rights. Aligning ourselves with a long movement of interfaith actions for justice, we joined together to demand that Palestinians have basic human rights – specifically, the right to live in safety. As I marched, I carried in my heart other Lakeshorians who were a part of the historic Selma march: Sondra Price and Dick Jones. Their stories have inspired my commitment to Public Witness and I was proud to carry forward the work of demanding human rights for all people. You can hear me interviewed by ABC News about the march.

This march honored the more than 16,200 Palestinians killed, more than 7100 of whom were children, in the past 60 days. Yesterday, beloved Palestinian author and English professor Refaat Alareer was added to the number. Refaat was a co-editor and contributor to the book Light in Gaza. He was originally scheduled to join Yousef Aljamal on his book tour, which Lakeshore hosted in October, but was denied travel permits. Refaat was a story-teller and taught Gazans how to tell their stories. This is likely why he was targeted by Israeli intelligence, who warned him a day before his death that they would kill him. Refaat left the shelter where he was staying, to protect those around him. The next day, bombs fell on his sister’s home, killing him, 2 siblings and 4 nieces. In a poignant interview Yousef shares of his mentor and friend, “He paid with his life for the story of Gaza to get out around the world.” Below is a poem Refaat shared on social media days before his death.

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up
above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale

Onward toward freedom and human rights for all,

Pastor Allison