#GoingtoGaza – December 2014

I began my journey to return to Gaza in September 2014 marking each day with a short snippet of what was going on in my head. See here, here, and here. I knew it was going to be a long journey – distance and time – but I really thought I’d be in Gaza by Christmas 2015. Sadly, I’ve been sitting in Cairo for 2 months waiting for permission to cross the Rafah border which opens very infrequently. The U.S. Embassy refuses to assist me. Please check my petition for details.

December 2014

Day #93 – Feeling very conflicted. Dinner with Jewish friends who had recently traveled to South Africa and they wanted to share their pictures. Most of the conversation was about the flora and fauna (the animals they saw on the safari) with a brief mention of the apartheid and boycott that supposedly ended the apartheid, although for all practicalities — the society remains divided today. I had an internal discussion with myself about whether I should take this opportunity to mention the BDS movement and Israel/Palestine since there are so many comparisons between South Africa and Palestine. I stayed silent. It wasn’t a “political” conversation tonight, and I didn’t know this Jewish couple very well. But then I had regrets afterwards. Shouldn’t I use every opportunity to talk about the Occupation?

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #94 – Woke up this morning in California to heavy rainfall. My first thought, “we need to build an ark.” Second thought, “imagine the children and families in Gaza living outside in tents with the tremendous downpours they have been experiencing.” My friend, Isra, made a short video that describes the current situation in Gaza. http://youtu.be/AVjWPFEWusY

#GoingtoGaza

Day #95 – Two friends of mine are transitioning between this life and the next, a journey we must all make one way or the other. I’m honored to share this journey now with one, and I’m feeling grateful that I was able to spend some quality time with my other friend last month. I wish I knew more about what my friends in Gaza believe about death and what follows. That’s something I will have to ask them about when I get to Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #96 – Reading “40 Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak, a book I picked up in Istanbul. I wouldn’t have been ready to understand and appreciate the book in May 2013, but I’m captivated by it now. One of the 40 rules that has me really pondering today is — “East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond. And this one. “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”

#GoingtoGaza

Day #97 – Listened to the Diane Rehm show on NPR today. Many topics but I was particularly interested in the discussion about ISIS, Islam, Israel and the upcoming election in Israel. There are many Islamophobes in the USA. http://thedianerehmshow.org/audio/#/shows/2014-12-05/friday_news_roundup_domestic/@00:00

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #98 – Good friends of mine have given me a wonderful gift — an opportunity to think very carefully about how to communicate with Americans about the situation in Gaza. I began a blog post yesterday about it, but their message to me has really gotten me thinking. Maybe this challenge of effective communication (especially for an American audience) is the ultimate challenge. https://loralucero.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/friends-talking-to-friends/

#GoingtoGaza

Day #99 – Watched Rick Steves’ new documentary about Israel & Palestine on public television tonight. The purpose of his film was to give viewers a Holy Land 101 history class. He traveled to cities in Israel and the West Bank — not Gaza — and I thought he did a fairly good job of explaining the consequences of the Israeli occupation (he even used the word) and the reality on the ground today. However, when I found a description of the documentary online, I was dismayed to see a correction noting that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and so the term “occupation” was incorrect. I was really disappointed to learn that Steves decided not to travel to the Gaza Strip because “he doesn’t agree with Hamas, an Islamist group that governs the Gaza Strip, which “endorses violence” and believes Israel ‘can’t exist.’ On the other hand, the West Bank, the region that Steves did explore, is governed by the Palestinian Authority.” “You didn’t go to Gaza, which has 1.8 million people, simply because you have your view of what Hamas thinks,” the audience member said. “Many people in the world hate George W. Bush, but they don’t think all Americans are bad. So why did you [avoid] going [to Gaza] simply because of Hamas?” Branding Hamas as a terrorist organization is probably this generation’s greatest marketing achievement. http://dailyuw.com/archive/2014/09/24/news/rick-steves-shows-new-documentary-israeli-palestinian-history-conflict#.VIVGXYQ77CQ

#GoingtoGaza

Day #100 – It has been 100 days since I officially started on this journey to return to Gaza. Most of the past 3 months have been busy getting my house in Albuquerque ready for a new occupant, and to unload my “stuff” (sell, give-away, storage). Now I’m a full-time Nomad.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #101 – The long-delayed CIA torture report was made public today (or at least a heavily-redacted summary) and there were no surprises (at least for me). I have a heavy heart because I know American leaders and Israeli leaders have a badly distorted notion of “security”. Torture and a brutal military occupation don’t improve anyone’s “security.” Holding those responsible for these inhumane actions accountable would be a step in the right direction. Maybe some empathy for our fellow human beings might help.

#GoingtoGaza

Days #102-103 – Nomad or pilgrim? Which am I? Might seem silly, but I’ve been mulling over this question. Finally decided I’m more of a pilgrim than a nomad. Why? Because a “nomad” conjures up “rootlessness” but I feel more grounded than I did when I had a home to return to each day. I’m rooted inside, if not outside. And “pilgrim” conjures up a personal, spiritual journey. Regardless of the miles I travel, the journey inside feels profound.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #104 – Caring for a very sick man, a good friend who has returned home from the hospital. This amazing stock of medical equipment and supplies and medicines at the home would make any doctor in Gaza green with envy.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #105 – My friend in ABQ passed away tonight with her family around her. Feeling sadness because I know I won’t ever “see” or “hear” her again. But my feeling of gratitude overtakes the sadness because I know I “see” – “hear” – “feel” her in my heart and nothing can take that away from me. Also feeling gratitude because her health was failing her and she said she was ready to journey on. I’m glad my last week in Albuquerque was spent talking with her each evening. She changed my life. I love you Luria.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #106 – In another curtsy and genuflect to AIPAC, this weekend the U.S. Congress passed H.C.R. 107 condemning Hamas for using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Check it out here. https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-concurrent-resolution/107/text Doesn’t anyone at the U.S. Capitol do their homework or do they simply genuflect to AIPAC’s tune? A friend in Gaza responded with the following post. https://www.facebook.com/LoraLucero/posts/10205556024485864 This is why I want to return to Gaza. I’m tired of the Bullshit and Lies that my government spreads.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #107 – Sitting next to a bedridden man in California, watching him sleep, and thinking there is no way we could move him outside to safety if Israel decided to destroy this house and gave us only a 10-minute warning as they did in Gaza this summer before bombing many families’ homes.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #108 – Living as a pilgrim requires living simply, with far fewer “things” than I had when I lived in Albuquerque. I LOVE LIVING SIMPLY! I don’t need a closet full of clothes to feel satisfied and comfortable. There’s a saying I love and repeat to myself often, “live simply that others might simply live”

#GoingtoGaza

Day #109 – I feel like an idiot. I mailed some of my homemade pumpkin bread to a Palestinian friend from Gaza who is currently living and working in the USA. Inside the box, I added a bag of chocolate coins wrapped in gold silver. He called me to thank me for the pumpkin bread, and asked me if I knew that the chocolate coins came from Israel! No! I hadn’t looked at the labeling. Even though I’m trying to boycott Israeli products (eg. Coca Cola, Starbucks coffee) in order to put economic pressure on Israel to end its military occupation, I failed to look at the labeling of the chocolate coins. I feel like an idiot.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #110 – The big news today is the EU court’s ruling that Hamas must be removed from the EU’s “terror” list on procedural grounds. EU politicians responded that they will not remove Hamas from the list. I wonder which groups or countries would be on the “terror” list if Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq was compiling the list. Hmmmmm! Keeping a list, checking it twice, to see whose been naughty or nice.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #111 – Another big news day. President Obama has unilaterally (without the help or hindrance of Congress) opened up diplomatic channels with Cuba despite the 100,000s of Cuban Americans in Miami who vehemently objected. Why couldn’t he do the same with Palestine and, specifically, with Hamas (elected by the Palestinians fair and square)? On a side note, I realized today one of the sad notes about being a Pilgrim on the move. I’m not home to receive Christmas cards which I’ve always enjoyed so much.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #112 – As a pilgrim, I’m feeling much lighter. Not weight loss but discarding “things” extraneous to a meaningful life.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #113 – Brainwashing is an insidious evil because the victim can’t possibly see or understand it. I’ve been sitting up nights with a very sick man who is delusional sometimes — and he really, really believes what he sees or hears is reality. I’ve also been responding to readers of the Times of Israel, some of whom appear to be just as delusional as my sick friend, but I know it’s due to a lifetime of hasbara (brainwashing). My response to both —- calm, compassionate listening and correction.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #114 – The UN issued a report in the summer of 2012 explaining why Gaza would be unlivable by 2020. As I recall, it was a perfect storm of rapid population growth, poor drinking water, not enough schools and basic infrastructure to support the population, and not enough electricity or fuel. Today I read an article that said the UN was wrong. Gaza is unlivable NOW due to the massive and disproportionate destruction caused by Israel this summer.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #115 – Can’t explain it really. Earlier this year I had a very difficult time with someone. It felt like we were constantly getting on each other’s nerves. Frankly, I was happy to leave and hoped never to see her again. When we found ourselves thrown together again months later, I decided I would stop focusing on the things she does that irritate me, and instead focus on the things I appreciate about her. Wow! What a change. Not in her. Rather in me. Today I wrapped a Christmas gift for her.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #116 – Remembering Christmas Eve in Gaza.

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Days #117-118 – Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, but death and dying consume my days now. Birthing is painful for mother and child (believe me) and death can be painful too. Birthing is a transition. Death is too. Birthing is usually accomplished with the help of family and friends both in preparation and also at the time of birth. I think people who are dying should also receive help — and be surrounded by love. Birthing includes an element of fear and the unknown, just as death and dying. I’m not a religious person, but I wonder if the birthing transition could open such wonderful possibilities for the baby-child-adult, then maybe the death and dying transition could similarly open up wonderful possibilities.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #119 – Follow your heart but take your brain with you. Good advice for a pilgrim.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #120 – An American friend is traveling to Egypt in January and she paid about $200 USD for her round trip tickets. Unbelievable! She told me about the website http://travelisfree.com I have to check this out!!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #121 – Time has changed for me — gradually and almost imperceptibly. Now I focus on a day at a time. When I was younger, life was all about the future (my career goals, my kids growing up, etc). Now I have the luxury of being present. It just happened, not sure how. But this realization just hit me.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #122 – More and more articles like this one are appearing; Gaza sounds like a pressure cooker ready to explode. And the FUCKING United States of America votes against the UN resolution today to set a deadline for Israel’s occupation to end. The FUCKING USA is complicit in Gaza’s misery. http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/12/31/opinion/roger-cohen-gaza-is-nowhere.html?referrer=
#GoingtoGaza

Day #123 – I hope 2015 brings Justice and Security for my friends in Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

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