Tag Archives: David Hirst

#GoingtoGaza – July 2015

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 entries 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

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Lora Lucero in Baltimore summer 2015

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

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Author David Hirst

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

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Refaat Alareer and Rawan Yaghi meet with Congresswoman Lujan-Grisham (D-NM)

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.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #325IMPUNITY 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.

#GoingtoGaza

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GOD Doesn’t Mean You Get to Live Forever – A One Act Musical at the Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, July 25, 2015

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

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Lora with the Congressional office pooch.

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

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The Gun and the Olive Branch – The Roots of Violence in the Middle East

David Hirst – First published in 1977, second edition in 1984, and current edition (2003) – Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, New York

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Frankly, I should have read Hirst’s history book years ago, but especially before I traveled to Gaza in 2004. My appreciation for what I was witnessing on that first trip — in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, the West Bank, and Gaza — would have been so much greater. I’m chagrined by my naivety and IGNORANCE.  My only claim to an excuse is that I was an American who attended pretty good public schools in the 1950s-60s in Minnesota, but my total history lesson about Israel/Palestine could perhaps be condensed into 2 or 3 days of tidbits here and there from the Zionist perspective.

My education about the history of the Middle East has come in starts and spurts. A little bit of ancient history here, a tad of political drama there, thrown in with a morsel of religious fervor from all sides. I’m still not good with dates and names, but I certainly know the basics now. The Balfour Declaration. The Nakba in 1948 and the Six Day War in 1967. The Oslo Peace Process.

Over the past decade, my reading list has improved, and especially so during the past 3-4 years since my most recent visit to Gaza (2012-2013). I count among the best, Professor Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006) (I read his book while sitting in Cairo in January 2013 waiting to reenter Gaza — and must still write a review for my blog about it).

Now, after finishing David Hirst’s The Gun and the Olive Branch, I feel many pieces of the puzzle have finally come together into a recognizable whole.

Gun and Olive BranchIn his Foreward to the Third Edition, the author not only brings the history lessons “current” to 2003, 25 years after his book was first published, but explains the nearly universal silence in 1977 when it first came out. The Washington Post, the only major newspaper to touch it at the time, was derisive. The New Republic called it ‘the most malignantly anti-Israeli book ever to be published in English by someone who claims to be a serious commentator.’ The New York Times had commissioned what “unexpectedly turned out to be ‘a favorable, indeed enthusiastic’ review. But on the point of publication it was withdrawn by order from on high.”

Potential readers might be put off by nearly 600 pages because so many of us want to be spoon-fed our history in easily digestible soundbites, but I had no difficulty keeping focused on this tale. Hirst has a knack of combining well-researched and notated facts with the major characters and the roles they played in these historical events —- all of which makes for compelling reading. I finished it in just over a week.

I encourage anyone who has a smidgeon of hope for a peaceful future in the Middle East to read this book. We can’t begin to understand what motivates the people on both sides of the Green Line unless we have a basic understanding of the history that got them to this place today. Americans, especially, owe it to ourselves (because of our ‘special relationship with Israel’) and to future generations in Palestine/Israel to take the time to read The Gun and the Olive Branch. This is a book I will carry with me on my trek as a nomad. One of those indispensible resources that I’m sure I’ll return to many times.

Friends in Gaza

Friends in Gaza

More than a decade before Israel’s New Historians revolutionized the study of Israeli history, English journalist David Hirst wrote The Gun and the Olive Branch, a myth-breaking history of the Israeli-Palstinian conflict. Hirst, former Middle East correspondent of The Guardian, traces the origins of the conflict back to the 1880s to show how Arab violence, although often cruel and fanatical, is a response to the challenge of repeated aggression.

Described by the New Statesman as on of “the great Anglophone correspondents of our times,” Hirst’s peerless reporting has earned him curses, expulsion and respect in virtually every country in the region. Kidnapped twice, banned from six Arab countries, he is the ideal chronicler of this terrible and seemingly insoluble conflict. The updated edition of this “definitive” (Irish Times) work has a new, lengthy introduction–almost a book in itself–which brings the story right up to date. Amongst the many topics that are subject to Hirst’s piercing analyis: the Oslo peace process, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the destabilizing effect of Jewish setlement there, the second Intifada and the terrifying rise of the suicide bombers, the growing power of the Israel lobby–Jewish and Christian fundamentalist–in the United States, the growth of dissent in Israel and among sections of America’s Jewish population, the showdown between Sharon and Arafat, and the specter of nuclear catastrophe that threatens to destroy the region.

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