Traveling to Gaza is challenging, as my daily, monthly, yearly journal illustrates. I’m thankful I visited Gaza in 2004 (10 days) and again in 2012-2013 (9 months). When I return to Gaza, I’ll think twice about leaving again considering the obstacles in traveling across the border.
The following entried are from July 2015 when I was in Baltimore awaiting approval from Egypt to cross the Sinai. Earlier entries can be found on my blog.
Day #299 – Reading David Hirst’s book about the history of Palestine. Wish I’d read it many years ago. #GoingtoGaza
Day #300 – Feeling depressed. Lack of sleep contributing to my depression. Not much hope getting into Gaza. No plan B. #GoingtoGaza
Day #301 – Met Maurice Jacobsen online. He’s started a new video project called WE ALL LIVE IN GAZA. www.wegaza.com He’s hoping to get into Gaza. #GoingtoGaza
Day #302 – Good chat with Hamza from Gaza on Skype and spent time reviewing his paper. I need to be more disciplined about my own writing. #GoingtoGaza
Day #303 – The 4th of July, overcast and raining in Baltimore. I have never felt patriotic or full of national pride. Don’t care to wave flags and sing songs. Thinking America’s birthday celebration should be accompanied by some sober assessment of the need to mature and grow up. #GoingtoGaza
Day #304 – Trying to figure out Plan B if I can’t get into Gaza. How much longer do I wait? Can I help from “outside”? What does “help” mean? #GoingtoGaza
Day #305 – “Helping Gaza from the outside” could possibly mean:
(1) raising $$ for a good cause
(2) writing about Gaza and getting published
(3) working for an NGO outside of Gaza focused on Human Rights in Gaza
(4) helping – working with the legal effort at the ICC?
(5) speaking about Gaza in USA What else? #GoingtoGaza
Day #306 – “Why should Americans give a damn about Gaza?” I need to answer that question before I meet with Rep. Lujan-Grisham later this month. #GoingtoGaza
Day #307 – I sat next to a young woman on the bus who asked me about the book on my lap. David Hirst’s “The Gun and the Olive Branch“. I felt very comfortable and confident talking about the book, Israel and Palestine. Wish it was always that easy. #GoingtoGaza
Days #308-309 – Saw my hero from a distance tonight (July 9, 2015). President Jimmy Carter was autographing his book “A Full Life – Reflections at Ninety” for 200+ people standing in long line at Politics & Prose in DC. I took the bus, Amtrak, Marc, Metro and walked a couple miles to get there. It was worth the effort! #GoingtoGaza
Day #310 – Traveled to NYC on Bolt Bus. Connections were easy. No waiting lines. We take our mobility for granted. #GoingtoGaza
Days #311 – 312 – I had an aha moment on Saturday when I was standing on the platform waiting for the subway to go to Crown Heights. I cherish the experiences of immersing myself in new places, new cultures, new people. Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights, poor blacks at Enoch Pratt Library, Palestinians in Gaza. Many more. I love observing them all. Guess I’ve traded my future security and stability for these types of experiences. #GoingtoGaza
“You must accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles.” Pres. Carter’s school teacher – Miss Julia Coleman
Day #313 – Paint nite in Manhattan with sis and the nieces. Tired (had not slept nite before) and 2 gin & tonics. When my camera fell behind the bench, I felt awful. Upset and wanted to cry. Left and took subway home by myself. Sis and girls took taxi and beat me home. They tried to console me in front of the house. I felt more miserable for ruining the evening. What lesson(s) did I learn? That family is very important for my sanity and I’m lucky to have nieces who are so loving and empathetic. Chanie talked about positive affirmations. #GoingtoGaza <~~~~ is my positive affirmation.
Days #311 – 319 – Catching up on the days when I was not connected to social media and technology. Spent time with my family in NYC and Florida, and celebrated Ramadan and Eid with my Palestinian friends in Florida. Off of Facebook for the month of Ramadan helped me redirect my focus and energy away from the “drama” and towards real relationships that I want to nurture more. #GoingtoGaza
Day #320 – A young Palestinian from Gaza announced on Facebook a conference in Gaza and invited everyone to come to Gaza. :-) :-) :-) No theme for the conference. No dates for the conference. No idea how participants might travel and get into Gaza. Dreaming of normalcy in an abnormal place. #GoingtoGaza
Day #321 – Watching how natural allies are fighting each other.
Example #1 – The PA in Ramallah is contributing to the suffering in Gaza by withholding fuel for the power plant in Gaza. Families are limited to 4 hours/day of electricity.
Example #2 – Groups in the U.S. working on educating Americans about the Israel/Palestine conflict are now in conflict with each other.
Is the human condition just designed to remain in conflict? #GoingtoGaza
Day #322 – Walking in the bowels of Baltimore’s Basilica, the oldest cathedral in the U.S. A middle-aged woman from Jamaica asked me my age. I asked “Why?” She said her mother was over 100. WTF?!?! When did I turn into Old Age, the Ancient One, or Wise Old Fool? #GoingtoGaza
Day #323 – Met with Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham’s staff today in her DC office. She returned to ABQ this morning because her daughter gave birth. Congratulations! We talked about:
1) Anniversary of Operation Protective Edge and the facts on the ground in Gaza today.
2) My petition to Congress asking them to send an invitation to Jimmy Carter.
3) The new group Friends of Khuza’a New Mexico and their invitation to attend the event in September with Palestinian musician Issa Maluf.
4) Rep. McCollum’s letter to Secretary Kerry
5) BDS and H.Reso. 318
6) The DARK Act
Hope to sit down with Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham during the last week in August in her ABQ office. #GoingtoGaza
Day #324 – Watching a good number of “peace” activists fighting, calling each other names, verbally attacking and disrespecting each other, and I’m thinking……
(1) With friends like these, who needs enemies?
(2) Will they gain any insights into their own behaviors?
(3) They appear to be reenacting the Israel-Palestine conflict on another stage and a different scale.
(4) Would Palestinians be better off if all the “peace” activists just burned out and quit their activism?
(5) We all need to get our own house in order before trying to “fix” another’s house.
Day #325 – IMPUNITY should be the new word of the day, week, month, year!
Israel and IDF act with impunity against Palestinians
Cops act with impunity against blacks
Big oil, fossil fuels industry acts with impunity against our children and future generations
Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street Banks act with impunity against all of us
We (you and I) need to end all of these acts of impunity, or else we get what we deserve.
Day #326 – My friend helped me get out of my box yesterday. She took me to a musical in a black Baptist Church in DC with loud gospel singers. Getting out of my box —- that’s been an unstated lifelong mission. Might also explain why I went to Gaza the first time in 2004. Why do some people prefer to live in their boxes and others don’t? #GoingtoGaza
Day #327 – Nowhere else on the planet does one have to jump through as many hoops to visit, as Gaza. Speaking from experience — not USSR/Russia, Mongolia, China, Egypt, Norway, Cuba, Mexico etc. Israel is the jailer. Israel holds the keys. Israel decides who can & cannot enter Gaza. DON’T TELL ME THAT GAZA IS NOT OCCUPIED!!!!! #GoingtoGaza
Day #328 – Hope that staff from the offices of my Congressional delegation attend the briefing on Capitol Hill tomorrow about Gaza. Makes me think: You can lead a horse to water but can’t force it to drink. #GoingtoGaza
Day #329 – Today Israeli authorities refused to allow a Palestinian-American to enter Israel-Palestine to visit her family. Why? After hours of answering the same questions again and again, the last official decided she was being uncooperative. I can’t begin to imagine the anger and hatred she must be feeling tonight. #GoingtoGaza
On this day a year ago, Glenn Greenwald wrote the best piece about “terror” – “terrorism” and “terror tunnels” here.
In American media discourse, when Palestinians overwhelmingly kill soldiers (95% of the Israeli death toll) who are part of an army that is blockading, occupying, invading, and indiscriminately bombing them and killing their children by the hundreds, that is “terrorism”; when Israelis use massive, brutal force against a trapped civilian population, overwhelmingly killing innocent men, women and children (at least 75% of the Palestinian death toll), with clear intentions to kill civilians (see point 3), that is noble “self-defense.” That demonstrates how skewed U.S. discourse is in favor of Israel, as well as the purely manipulative, propagandistic nature of the term “terrorists.”
Day #330 – I have several Palestinian friends who have studied in Malaysia, and I hear good things about their experiences in Malaysia. I also read about the human rights abuses in Malaysia…..specifically human trafficking…..and wonder what my Palestinian friends think about that issue. #GoingtoGaza
Day #331 – American news is focused on the public’s anger over the killing of a lion in Zimbabwe by a Minnesota dentist. How can we mobilize the same anger and attention towards Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza? I’m genuinely puzzled. Why are Americans roused off of their recliners to rant about Cecil the Lion (he even has a name!) — while the Palestinians launch a campaign “We Are Not Numbers” (WANN) to remind Americans and the rest of the world that they are more than mere statistics and they have names? Why? Please NPR, NY Times, and CNN — tell Americans about WANN. #GoingtoGaza