I have a meeting scheduled at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday. Going to hand-deliver my petition and try to speak with Deputy Chief of Mission Goldberger about my request to travel across the Rafah border.
Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza
Lora’s passport stamp from Palestinian Authority.
January 12, 2016
Deputy Chief of Mission Thomas Goldberger
Embassy of the United States of America
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo
Dear DCM Goldberger,
I’m an American citizen, currently in Cairo, attempting to return to Gaza to teach.
As you know, the U.S. Embassy in past years provided a notarized release of liability and responsibility to Americans wishing to travel to Gaza. This year, your office has refused to assist me or even meet with me to discuss this matter.
Your experience on the Israel/Palestine desk at the U.S. State Department in DC as well as your years of service as Deputy Chief of Mission in Tel Aviv would certainly provide me with very valuable insights. Perhaps you could give me some guidance about how to get permission from Israel to cross the Erez Checkpoint into Gaza.
As of Monday, January 11, 2016, 972 people have signed a petition urging the U.S. Embassy not to block Americans from traveling to Gaza. The comments are very informative about how Americans feel about the 10 year siege on Gaza. A sample of the 291 comments are reprinted below. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Americans-travel-gaza
“Freedom to travel is, or should be, a right of all Americans.”
“Dear Ambassador Beecroft and Deputy Chief Goldberger:
I am a Jewish American who is very concerned about the state of affairs in Gaza and the Middle East generally. While we can never abandon our commitment to the State of Israel, we need to adopt a more even handed policy that will truly promote peace and not just enable extreme elements in Israel if we want to stem the tide of violent Islamists. Citizens like Lora Lucero help to promote good will, inform the American public, and create pressure for a resolution of the Palestinian dispute, which has gone on for far, far too long. Please resume issuing waivers to American citizens like Ms. Lucero who wish to travel to Gaza.”
“Don’t prevent anybody form going in and out from Gaza. Stop the inhumane treatment of Gazans. They are pushing Gaza to more violence and bloodshed.”
“It’s so important to have an international presence in Gaza. Please provide documents for those Americans wanting to travel there.”
“I am appalled that Lora Lucero cannot travel to the Gaza strip BECAUSE, as I understand it, the US Embassy in Cairo refuses to grant the necessary documentation.”
“We as Americans want to be able to cross the borders, to bring aid, and let the world know what the Palestinian plight is about.”
“U.S. citizens should not be blocked by the U.S. OR Israel from traveling to the Palestinian Occupied Territories and Gaza. Our work and witness in extremely important to Palestinians living under occupation.”
“Please assist Lora Lucero and other Americans who want to in going to Gaza and showing that Americans can help those in need. If Americans are to be truly safe and true to our professed values, we need to help make the world a better place instead of approaching everything as a military issue.”
“In November 2012, I traveled to Gaza from Egypt, and I received the written waiver from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Also, the Egyptian Press Office at that time provided press credentials to travel to Gaza, which I also received. It was so important that we (a delegation organised by Code Pink and Free Gaza) were able to witness and to share what we experienced. It is frightening to think that U.S. citizens will be denied the ability to show support and report on the situation in Gaza. The current U.S. policy is an outrage and only serves to further isolate the people of Gaza.”
“Stop supporting the blockade of Gaza Strip. Lora Lucero is a most peaceful person and she and others should be allowed entrance.”
“Palestine/Gaza is occupied territory and is being isolated by Israel. There is no valid excuse for this. Allowing teachers to help out is the least that can be done.”
“Whatever can be done to help support people in Gaza must be done – they are in an open air prison. The world needs witnesses and the US must change its , or the US will be considered a terrorist.”
“I’m ashamed of the US government’s discrimination against Palestinians and the activists who want to help those in need.”
“If an American University teacher teaches in Gaza, this is effective personal Peace work. The US Consulate in Cairo should do everything helping her to finish her job!”
“The consulate’s refusal to provide support to Lora Lucero’s decision to travel to work with the people of Gaza, who are suffering from bombs and other munitions supplied by the U.S. is an unacceptable infringement on her rights as an American and a shocking failure of our government to stand for freedom and compassion.”
“All Israelis should be banned from entering the USA until this illegal siege is ended!”
“Urge you to do all within your power to end Israeli boycott of Gaza — please.”
“Humane and productive policies should define our country. Isolating, blockading, and punishing the people of Gaza is neither. Act like an American and allow volunteers to help with the humanitarian crisis there. It’s truly the least we can do.”
“I’ve been to Gaza — perhaps the most important travel of my life.”
“As an American Jew I find your blocking people from entering Gaza abhorrent. It is reminiscent of Hitler’s behavior toward Jews.”
“Our American passport says: the cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.”
“Lora Lucero and many other Americans are doing great humanitarian work by bearing witness to the reality of life in Gaza. Preventing them from travelling looks bad.”
“The U.S. Embassy in Cairo should at the very least meet with American citizens wishing to travel to Gaza, and resume the issuance of waivers to travel there.”
“Give people what they need to enter Gaza!”
“Ridiculous that I have to sign this (PETITION). Shame on you.”
“For how long are you planning to keep this inhuman practice?”
“These people have been collectively punished continuously for over a decade. Unbelievable.”
“It’s so sad that Egypt complies and buckles to Israeli pressure. Please allow those willing to dedicate their time helping humanity to enter Gaza. God bless.”
“By preventing people from going to Gaza, you’re showing the world that you condone all the hardships that the Gazans go through everyday of their lives. As long as some American citizens want to go for humanitarian purposes, I don’t think it’s wise to prevent them.”
“The U.S. Embassy in Cairo is totally neglecting their responsibility to an American citizen.”
“Do let people in to areas they wish to travel. It is their life and choice. If they do not intend any illegal activities toward other human beings, let them be.”
“It is good that persons with big Heart as Lora go to Gaza, it will help people in their “open jail”!
Lora A. Lucero