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I read the latest news this morning in tears.

The headline: “Israeli forces struck a U.N. food distribution facility in Gaza.”

I kept asking myself, How can we do this to each other? Whether it’s Haiti or Ukraine, Gaza or our own communities, witnessing the suffering and death of our neighbors is devastating. It destroys hope that the world could be a safe and just place for all. If you’re like me, there is anger and outrage, fear, grief, and dispair. 

We want things in the Middle East to be right, right now. I certainly do, and unlike some of the 29 members of the AoCC team, I don’t have young friends being called to serve in the Israeli army. I don’t have Palestinian family members watching the news with horror from America. I don’t have the lived experience of going to temple past a security check and armed guards.

The crisis in the Middle East has devastating effects on all involved. This violence radiates out to the world in increased intolerance and hostility. In the U.S., hate crimes against Muslim and Jewish people are dramatically rising. Our elected officials have written legislation that would ban refugees seeking safety here and would curtail constitutional rights like free speech and public protests. 

We had to do something.

How we got to this special edition: AoCC offers non-partisan actions to improve equality, democracy, immigration, and environmental justice in the U.S. For this special edition, every team member was given the opportunity to propose and research actions. We were extremely thorough and repeatedly referred back to our vision, mission, and values for guidance. We disagreed a lot. Our editorial team met into the wee hours and discussed every single word. In short, we worked very hard to ensure this Checklist focuses on people who are suffering, not a political agenda.

Who we are and why it matters: It’s important to know that the volunteers and staff who make up the AoCC team are not a monolith. We are liberal, moderate, and conservative. We have many lived experiences—biracial, nonbinary, queer, disabled, rural, Quaker, immigrant, expat, from newly graduated from high school to retired from public education and law—just to name a few.

What we created: Because of our diversity, this edition does not please everyone on our team. Some think we went too far, others say not far enough. It may not satisfy you either, but we did something rare in the process of creating it: we listened to each other. We shared personal stories. We advocated for our views, even when we differed. It was hard and messy at times, but again and again, we chose to use our guiding principle: CoRK. We worked with Collaboration, hOnesty, Respect and Kindness to create something that can help. We know this is what democracy can look like. It’s what the world could be like. 

This special edition offers what AoCC does best. It gives you things you can do. We don’t claim to know how to solve a complex and pervasive conflict and make it stick forever. We are not international policy experts. Instead, we offer you ways to support humanitarian aid for people facing violence, how to help affected communities in the U.S., and ways that you, as an American, can use your voice.

You don’t have to like or agree with every suggestion. We offer this special edition because our hearts are broken, and we want to alleviate suffering. Take the actions you like and leave the rest.

Open our special edition to support people affected by the Middle East crisis.

With collaboration, honesty, respect, and kindness,

Jennifer Hofmann and the AoCC Team

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