Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Thought I Was Saying Good-bye, but...

Sometimes my body fails me and I think it is time to fall quiet, and then people take to the streets, travel thousands of miles, to remind the world that a year ago, a terrible thing happened to an already imprisoned people, the people of Gaza, a year of days has turned and still there is no let up to their suffering, their deprivations--America looks on and moves not, Egypt looks on and moves not, Israel cuts into the freedoms of its own people more and more to insure the punishment, the humiliation, the exhaustion of the Palestinians both in its borders and beyond. But around the world, women and men who cannot live with the never ending roll call of injustices, are moving--now on the streets of Cairo, 1400 people are pushing against the wall, struggling to break the siege, to enter the walled in towns of Gaza. Like freedom marchers before them, they have met phalanxes of police, of refusals, of entries denied and like the Freedom Marchers before them, they gain strength from each other and build the alliances that are needed for the duration of the struggle.
From Dorothy, "Critical Situation in Cairo with Gaza Freedom Marchers," December 28, 2009, 5:07 PM:
We are writing to call your to your attention a critical situation that has developed in Cairo, Egypt over the past week. Since just before Christmas over 1300 citizens from 42 different countries have travelled to Cairo as a transit point enroute to Gaza where they would join over 50,000 Palestinians on Dec. 31 in a Gaza Freedom March to protest the continuing siege on Gaza...after months of preparation and consultations with the Egyptian Government, Egypt abruptly announced that these peace marchers would be denied entry into Gaza, could not display any posters or banners, and could not organize or participate in any peaceful symbolic commemorations of all the civilian deaths in Gaza a year ago and the continuing suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza today..."
From 59 year-old Starhawk's e-mail out of Cairo, Dec 29, 2009:
"But finally I escaped and went off to the French Embassy, with Elizabeth, the young anthropologist I met on the plane, and Max, a cheerful young man with a giant Palestinian flag which he has managed to unveil on the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, other key monuments. They were talking about Jewish organizing and friend who had burned out and Elizabeth said, "You just have to understand that your whole life is going to be about resistance......[I think of Lepa's words a decade ago, her fist banging on the archives' table in my old apartment, "who said we would win in our lifetime, fighting fascism, we must do what we can in our own time, the struggle will continue."] ...We went back to the center of town, to the steps of the Journalists' Syndicate where our hunger strikers were holding a vigil. Twenty-two people are on a hunger strike...the steps of the Journalists' Syndicate are like a stage and it was filled with people, the hunger strikers in the center, flags and banners all around them."
From Cheryl in Cairo, December 29, 2009, 4:03 PM:
"I am having much trouble with my blackberry and anything to connect me to the outside world, nonetheless, my spirits are good. Indeed they are blocking us from entering Gaza. Yesterday we were at the World Trade Center/UN building [in Cairo] and the police surrounded us for hours--I stood eye to eye with young soldiers--most of them so very young (some no older then 16 or 17)--we taught each other how to say peace in our respective languages, we laughed, one guy even cried a little when I told him he ein halwah/beautiful eyes--but don't get me wrong--I am not naive about how dangerous this could get at any moment. It is just that, once again, I ma reminded that when given the opportunity to see each other's humanity, really look at each other and try to see each other, walls can come down.
The same walls that seem so impenetrable to get from Cairo to Gaza on this march.
When I think of the 1400 people who have come to participate in this effort from all over the world, I truly feel in my heart that one day this blockade will be lifted.
We will find a way to get the aid and the school supplies including the 12 laptops purchased by our group. I am also bringing something precious from my friend, Noura. The day before we left, she gave me her beautiful floor-length engagement dress, saying 'Some young girl will want this for herself--to celebrate her own engagement." So I have brought the dress to Cairo and am determined that it will get to Gaza...because it signifies that that young woman is creating a future for herself, that she expects to have a future. One of the most devastating affects of violence and the long lasting aftershocks of trauma is the loss of a sense of future.I stay on course to give that young woman a dress and to say to her and to you that I believe in a better future for Palestine.
Many of us are joining Hedy Epstein, an 85 year-old survivor of the holocaust, in a hunger strike--hard for me to pass by the shwarma, balawa and figs I see on the streets, but I am hungrier for this blockade of our march to get the attention of the world and I am hungrier yet for peace and justice. [Hudson Valley Residents on the Gaza Freedom March,]
Dresses, school supplies, bandages--an elderly Jewish woman sitting on a Cairo street, refusing to eat in the name of histories of injustices, young and old people brought to these streets like in other times we were brought to the streets of Selma or Sharpesville or Washington, D.C., trying to break through the killing walls of national agendas with only civilian bodies, an unarmed people, demanding that the rest of us who live our lives as if the Wall, and all that goes on in its shadow, was not our concern. I have not read one word of what is happening in Cairo in an Australian newspaper or seen one moment of coverage on the news stations. In my daily NY Times summaries, I have not see one mention of the freedom march. But in this other world, where words can soar over national boundaries and agreed on silences, words and images are pouring out. Do what you can to honor the best of the human spirit. For images, go to

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