on gaza delegations


the savagery that the zionist entity unleashes on gaza regularly may be quieter in the international media, but of course it has never died down. today, for instance, there were palestinians shot at from israeli terrorist warships in the mediterranean sea:

Three Palestinians were when Israeli warships fired on a car driving near the beach at the As-Sudaniya neighborhood northwest of Gaza City on Tuesday evening.

According to Muawiya Hassanein, director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, medics evacuated three moderately-injured people to Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

The Israeli military says that it launched an airstrike on three men who fired a homemade projectile into Israeli territory in the western Negev desert. Minutes later another projectile landed in the area, the military said.

A military spokesperson said she was not aware of naval forces firing on the Gaza Strip.

the siege on the air, land, and sea borders imposed by the zionist entity, but maintained and supported by egypt, the european union, and the united states has made it impossible for more ships to sail to gaza to break the siege. so now people are challenging the closure at the rafah border. of course, for palestinians the border is closed; they may not leave, and often may note enter either. but people from the empire may enter. so now people are coming to gaza via car. it was rather incredible watching george galloway’s viva palestina convoy travel from england to gaza. it reminds me of my fantasy of all these borders being open, of people in this region being allowed to travel freely. it reminds me of stories friends tell me, who are old enough to recall, what it was like when they could just drive to beirut from palestine, for instance. or anywhere inside palestine for that matter. here is what the viva palestina folks posted on their website:

We have broken the barriers, we have opened closed borders, we have defied the odds,we have overcome the challenges across thousands of miles and three continents. We are here to be with you, to embrace you, to share your tragedy with you.

After another morning of intense negotiations, a deal was reached to allow all of the members of the convoy to go through. In the end, Viva Palestina had to make the sacrifice of agreeing that some vehicles will have to cross the border from the Al Ouja Israeli controlled crossing point. This includes our mascot, the fire engine and the boat. This was due to the restrictions imposed by Egyptian law governing the Rafah Crossing.

A tearful Talat Ali told me that ‘Rafah is the most beautiful crossing in the world’, he also said that the time , effort and sacrifices put in by all the Viva Palestina family meant that history has been made today – on the day the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was born.

and george gallowy made a very powerful speech when he arrived honoring the resistance in gaza and the heroes of gaza, which is beautiful:

paul woodward has an article about the convoy’s passage, which is worth reading, especially for the way it shows solidarity and the type of solidarity the people on the viva palestina convoy offered–one that supports the democratically-elected government, one that supports resistance, and that does not support normalization:

After negotiations with the Egyptian border authorities, aid brought by the Viva Palestina convoy will be split into medical and non-medical category.

While trucks carrying medical aid are to enter through the Rafah border, the rest of the non-medical goods is to enter from Awja, a border crossing controlled by Israel and lies 43 miles away from Rafah.

“The convoy goods will split in order to allow medical aid through Rafah border and the rest will pass through Awja,” General Muhammed Shusha, governor of north Sinai, told AlArabiya.net.

However, all Viva Palestina convoy members including leaders Galloway and Sabbah al-Mokhtar will enter Gaza through the Egyptian border with Gaza.

“Under no circumstance will members of Viva Palestina convoy coordinate with Israel,” Mokhtar told AlArabiya.net. “We shall all gain safe passage into Gaza from the Egyptian/Gaza border tomorrow as agreed upon with the Egyptian border authorities,” he said….

Bringing together volunteers from different ethnicities and religions, Viva Palestina hopes to bring aid to 1.5 million residents in Gaza who still subsist under a 19-month crippling siege Israel refuses to ease almost one month after its all-out assault.

“The material we are carrying is only a drop in the ocean but the goodwill of volunteers and the people from the countries we have passed through is tremendous,” Mokhtar, one of the leading members of Viva Palestina involved in negotiations with border officials, told AlArabiya.net.

“This convoy is extremely diverse consisting of men, women, Muslims and non Muslims from across England,” he added.

“We truly care and we’ve driven across continents to prove it,” is the message 500 ordinary volunteers plan to deliver to Gazans, according to the Viva Palestina website.

“This is a movement of the streets,” Galloway told AlArabiya.net.

Such a movement wrought unexpected results as Algeria and Morocco opened the border between them for the first time in 15 years since 1994— something which Condoleezza Rice failed to do—to allow the convoy through in clear testament to people power outdoing politics.

i talked to caoimhe last night who told me that she was at the rafah border when the convoy arrived. she said that it was both exciting and at the same time so demoralizing knowing that palestinians cannot come in and out anywhere near as easily. she told me that many of the people came were working class british muslims who were crying upon arrival they were so filled with joy. the group that traveled with viva palestina that arrived in gaza, from everything i’ve read and everything i’ve heard from coaimhe clearly came armed with knowledge and solidarity with the people of gaza and their right to resist. by contrast, code pink’s mission to gaza was remarkably different in tone and style. they were on democracy now! yesterday with amy goodman (can someone please tell amy goodman that the u.s. is not giving one damn dime of the $900 million to gaza?)

MEDEA BENJAMIN: We’ll be here for five days. We have come with a sixty-person delegation, I think the largest mostly US delegation to visit Gaza. And our purpose was to connect with the women for International Women’s Day to show our support and to educate ourselves so that we can go back to the United States and work hard on our policies. And we’ve been told by so many of the people we met with that one of the greatest obstacles to any kind of improvement in their lives is the United States government. So we know that our real work happens when we get back home.

AMY GOODMAN: And the response, Medea, to the $900 million that the US has promised? Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton just in Egypt at that donors conference.

MEDEA BENJAMIN: People say, “Well, that’s all well and good, but what about the $3 billion that the US keeps giving to Israel to destroy us, to bomb us?” We’ve been here just these last couple of days, and there is supposedly a ceasefire, and yet we know that the bombing has continued along the Rafah border, and you hear the sonic booms, and people still live in a state of fear. So they say, “The best thing you can do to help us rebuild is to force Israel and Egypt to open the borders, allow a flow of goods and services back and forth, and then we can rebuild our own country.”

AMY GOODMAN: And the news of the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad submitting his resignation, paving the way for a possible formation of a Palestinian unity government with Hamas, the response in Gaza right now, Medea?

MEDEA BENJAMIN: People feel that there is a popular pressure for unity, and it’s that popular pressure that is paving the way for this unity government, and then the pressure will be on Israel. And hopefully, the United States government will have less of an excuse once there is a popular government, and then we’ll start forcing Israel to do some real negotiating. But they also are saying that they don’t want Israel to get away with the impunity for what it did, and they want some accountability.

AMY GOODMAN: Alice Walker, can you tell us why you chose to go to Gaza at this time?

ALICE WALKER: Well, because I really love people, and I wanted to be here with the women who have lost so much in their lives. They’ve lost their homes. They’ve lost their children. And they just seem to be people I wanted to spend International Women’s Day with, so I made sure to call up Medea and get on the—in the group.

i have not really been a fan of alice walker’s since she got all spiritual and new agey about ten years ago or so. i still love her early fiction and poetry, but after tricia and i went to a reading of hers in the early 1990s we both felt like she lost it. you can see this sort of sentiment in the statement she made about why she went to gaza above. it is sort of a strange answer, which she basically reiterated on press tv:

“It’s very important that they understand what is happening, and that we hold our own administration accountable,” she said.

Tel Aviv waged war on Gaza on December 27. Three weeks of ensuing airstrikes and a ground incursion left nearly 1,350 Palestinians — at least 1100 of whom were civilians — dead and around 5,450 people injured.

The war has also cost the impoverished residents of the sliver at least $1.4 billion in damages to the infrastructure.

“I feel that what is happening in the Middle East is very important because the situation is so volatile,” Walker told Associated Press via telephone from the Rafah border crossing.

“I love people, and I love children and I feel that the Palestinian child is just as precious as the African-American child, as the Jewish child,” added the author of The Color Purple.

this idea that palestinian and jewish children (i am assuming she means in the zionist entity and not her daughter…) are equal is deeply problematic. would alice walker think that the children of slaves and the children of slave masters in antebellum u.s. be equally precious? if that doesn’t give you a sense of what i mean check out what code pink does at the rafah border and compare it to the powerful punch that galloway delivers above. no comparison.

you can read about code pink (a “peace” group in the u.s.) and on their blog pink tank. one of their delegation members, ann wright, was on laura flanders’ grit tv today and she, too, is all about “peace.” to talk about “peace” in palestine without mentioning the refugees in gaza or elsewhere, without mentioning justice for palestinians, colonialism, the need to liberate the land is both ignorant and ineffective. you can watch the clip on palestine vlog. to be sure, benjamin’s desire to educate more americans about what they saw, as i am sure all of the code pink delegation will do when they return to the u.s., and their desire to put pressure on the u.s. government is necessary and important. but i also think that part of understanding the context means understanding, respecting, and supporting palestinian resistance in various forms.

by another way of contrast listen to what the children of aida refugee camp in beit lahem are asking us to do during this global month to educate the world about israeli apartheid and boycott, divestment, and sanctions:

Dear Sir,
We are students of your school who have hereby signed this letter. We ask for your permission to give us the chance to express our point of view concerning a very crucial and important subject which is our campaign for Boycotting Israeli products. We ask that our school supports our campaign by also boycotting all Israeli products.

By doing so, we hope that we can help to put an end to dominance and Occupation and to have our Palestine full of development, prosperity, and above all, freedom.’

The above text is part of a letter written by a group of children from Lajee Center, a group of children who are employing strategic tactics to defend their rights and their country. Whilst bombs were being rained down on Gaza, these 14 and 15 year old children decided they must work together in defence of Palestinian rights. They decided that active participation in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign against Israel (BDS) was the path they must follow.

The Headmaster of the UN Basic Boys School in Aida Camp, Mr Ahmad Swaylem, had already over 12 months previously taken the decision to ban Israeli products from his school, but he received the request from his students with pleasure and respect and applauded them for their stance.

The letter was then taken by students from the UN Basic Girls School in Aida to their headmistress, before other children who attend schools outside of the camp followed this lead. The children of Aida Camp were taking a moral and principled stand…

i wish everyone would listen to these kids, even here in falasteen. we were supposed to have a lecture on boycott, divestment, and sanctions tomorrow at the university. apparently someone thought it would be better to have someone from the u.s. consulate come lecture palestinians about abraham lincoln instead (we only have one big auditorium). that is just what we need…i can see it now…trying to pretend like america is so great, look at what abraham lincoln did, he freed the slaves. nothing about the fact that all the u.s. did was transfer slaves from the plantation to the prison.

prisons in the u.s., and then, of course, the prison that is gaza supported by the u.s. and it seems that the success of these international convoys and delegations is encouraging others to follow just as people did with the free gaza movement boats to break the siege on the world’s largest prison:

The European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza asserted on Tuesday that their “lifeline” convoy project would not be the last, according to a statement.

The first convoy reached the Gaza Strip on Monday, after two days of negotiations with Egypt.

Dr Arafat Abu Madi, the head of the campaign, said in a statement that the success achieved by the convoy, which traveled some 8,000 kilometers from Europe to Gaza’s Rafah crossing, was “a triumph for conscientious people of the world, and will have consequences.”

“Europeans are exerting efforts to establish an important political pillar in the issue of lifting the Gaza siege,” Abu Madi said.

He highlighted that pressure should be placed on the Israeli occupation by Europe and the international community in order to “end aggression against the Palestinian people for the third consecutive year.”

Madi also pointed out that people “would always find a way to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it.”

He pointed out the successes of anti-siege ships such as the Lebanese Brotherhood vessel.

“Those people of conscious will always be able to send a message affirming the Palestinian people are not alone,” he said.


One thought on “on gaza delegations

  1. Ditto on Alice Walker’s weird behavior. I mean, support is support, but I just wish she sounded… sane…

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