I started an online petition yesterday directed at the US Ambassador to Egypt and his Deputy. The goal is to convince them to resume issuing waivers to Americans who wish to travel to Gaza – like me – so that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will approve our crossing the Rafah border.
My friend, Eric Maddox, posted my petition on Facebook and shared some important insights which I copy below.
No matter what your politics are, or your interest in geopolitics or the affairs of states, it is a fundamental right of all nationalities that we should be unhindered by our governments in our desire to travel freely and experience other cultures through direct experience. The ignorance that leads to fear that leads to hate that leads to violence is reinforced by policies that restrict freedom of movement and freedom of intercultural experience.
Whether it concerns access to Cuba, Gaza, Iran, etc, small groups of politicians (themselves with no direct experience of the cultures in question) have no business telling any of their constituents how large their worlds are allowed to be. Life is full of risks and accidental revelations. I demand the right to assess those risks and seek edification from wherever in this big messy world that I choose to throw myself.
Besides, anyone who has ever traveled anywhere that is on the U.S. State Department’s travel warning list realizes what an absolute joke our political establishment is at assessing security risks, and how little risk actually has to do with informing most U.S. “security” policies. If I listened to the U.S. State Department’s travel warnings on Lebanon, I would have spent close to a year of my life hiding in my bathtub in Beirut, with a blast blanket over my head waiting to get air lifted at any moment.
When I went to Gaza in 2013 I had to pay $50 to my own embassy for the privilege of having them notarize a document that said they took no responsibility for my safety if I entered Gaza. I am firmly convinced that a lot of travel restrictions (no matter the country) overwhelmingly exist for the purpose of preventing people from piercing the bubble of their state propaganda machines.
If more Americans traveled to places where we are told that we won’t be safe more of us would be outraged by the truths that we discover, and these policies quickly revealed for the farces that they are. Please sign this, even if you don’t agree with my views on Palestine. While I have a particular passion for that issue, this petition addresses a much larger and more fundamental right than travel to Gaza. Thanks for putting this together, Lora Lucero.
Please review my petition, sign and share with others.