Like many people, we have struggled to sort through and live with our feelings of grief, anger and despair as a result of the events unfolding in the Middle East. As leaders of a healthcare workers organization, we can’t offer a simple response that represents all the feelings and diverse beliefs of our membership. Our hope is that we can provide some points of unity that the majority of our members can embrace.
First, we recognize that our strength is in our unity and in our diversity. Since October 7, we are seeing a disturbing increase of Islamophobia, anti-Arab racism and anti-Semitism around the world and in the United States that has taken the form of verbal and physical threats and attacks. We condemn, in the strongest terms, these forms of hate and want to express our full support for our members and patients in the Palestinian, Muslim and Jewish communities.
Second, we are healthcare workers who believe in healthcare justice. We are dialysis techs and nurses learning about dialysis machines in Gaza shutting down mid-treatment because of fuel shortages. We are medical assistants and LVNs reading about babies on life support being displaced from hospitals without an alternative place to receive care. We are ER and OR techs who saw people with limbs lost from grenade attacks being taken hostage, instead of being taken to the nearest hospital. We are advocates of women’s health disturbed to learn of the destruction by Israeli airstrikes of the only Planned Parenthood clinic in Gaza. We are healthcare workers still living with the trauma of facing a wave of deaths during the Covid pandemic in anguish imagining what healthcare workers in Gaza are experiencing. It is simply unacceptable for human beings in need to be denied medical care. We call on all parties to shield healthcare facilities from bombing and combat, to ensure the safety of healthcare workers and patients and to enable the secure transport of medicine, supplies and fuel to hospitals and clinics.
Finally, we call on our government to use its influence to achieve humanitarian outcomes. Our elected leaders must act with urgency to minimize civilian death, displacement and misery. We urge our government to re-double efforts to reach short- and long-term diplomatic solutions, completely cease bombing, attacks, hostilities and all other violence against civilians and ensure the safe delivery of healthcare and other necessities of life.