Tag Archives: #GoingtoGaza

#GoingtoGaza – August 2015

On my journey back to Gaza, I spent the summer in Baltimore with a visit to Albuquerque in August. I wish I could travel without adding to my carbon footprint.  The following entries are from August 2015. I started my journey one year earlier.

Day #332 – I shared a bit about my experience in Gaza yesterday with the Baltimore Women-In-Black group.  The lunch meeting was in a house of worship shared by 5 different congregations (including both Christian church and Jewish synagogue) and lasted until 5:00 pm because everyone was so engaged and interested in learning more. I realized that I can only share the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to share. How?  #GoingtoGaza

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The House of God is the Home of five congregations. Rev. Carol Lynn Cook.

Day #333 – Jewish/Zionist/settlers/terrorists burned a Palestinian baby to death 2 nights ago. The Israeli collective guilty conscience is feeling a twinge of remorse. But the IDF killed 521 children (including many babies) in Gaza last summer and that was greeted by Israelis as a source of national pride. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.  Thx Mati Milstein for putting it so succinctly. #GoingtoGaza

Day #334 – While waiting and exploring options for returning to Gaza, I’ve decided Plan B is walking Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.  (500 miles – 5 weeks) Sept/Oct timeframe. #GoingtoGaza

Day #335 – My roommate and I each received emails this morning. His urged him to call Congress and tell them to defund Planned Parenthood. Mine urged me to call Congress and tell them to support Planned Parenthood.  We both made our calls and canceled each other out. Fortunately, Congress sided with me this afternoon. Abortion is an emotional issue but my roommate and I remain civil and respect each other (I think). #GoingtoGaza

Day #336 – ISIS (aka Daesh) proclaims jihad in the name of Islam. They want to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. Netanyahu and the Knesset fight terrorists (aka Palestinians) in the name of Jews worldwide. The want to establish a Homeland for the Jews in the Middle East. Simple question: What’s the difference?  #GoingtoGaza

Day #337 – Learned today of another Palestinian from Gaza who was denied a student Visa to pursue her education in the U.S. despite the fact that she had been accepted to a university and received a scholarship. Stated reason? Because the embassy officer doesn’t think she has enough ties to Gaza to ensure that she will return home! The same reason given for the denials of all the others. This reminds me of the Palestinian student who was granted a Visa and is currently studying in the U.S.  He is now seeking asylum and does not wish to return to Gaza despite having family there. I wonder if his asylum request has harmed the chances of other Palestinians who wish to study here. 😦   #GoingtoGaza

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Professor Noam Chomsky (r.) and Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj (l.) in Gaza, October 2012.

Day #338 – Recalling Noam Chomsky’s visit to Gaza in October 2012. Chomsky is a Jew. Some Americans are puzzled because of the hate-filled venom they’ve been fed by the Zionists.  Jews (not Zionists) are welcomed in Palestine. Jews (not Zionists) are treated respectfully by Hamas and other Palestinian factions. I believe Jews (not Zionists) have a secure future in the Middle East. #GoingtoGaza

Day #339 – I’m puzzled why professional journalists don’t connect the dots. This week they should’ve connected the dots between the nuclear weapons used 70 years ago, and Israel’s current threat to unilaterally and preemptively bomb Iran to prevent that country from getting nukes. Haven’t we learned any lessons? Really?  #GoingtoGaza

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Red Emma’s in Baltimore

Day #340 – Just following my heart today I ended up @ Red Emma’s in Baltimore, a self-proclaimed radical bookstore.  Pleased to see copies of “Gaza UnSilenced” on the table!   #GoingtoGaza

Day #341 – I’m seeing very little difference between the Jewish extremists/Rabbis/settlers and the Muslim extremists (aka ISIS) except for the way that the mainstream media portrays them. Oh, another difference — one acts under the cloak of legitimacy by a nation-state while the other doesn’t. Oh, another difference — one receives protection (both $$ and security) while the other doesn’t.  #GoingtoGaza

Day #342 – The Egyptian Embassy in DC informed me today that they will process my Visa application to travel through Egypt to Gaza.  Al-hamdulillah!   Doing the happy dance tonight. Of course, “process” doesn’t necessarily mean “approve”. But this is a big improvement. A few months ago, they wouldn’t even consider an application.

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Day #343 – Searching for travelers’ health insurance while abroad, I came across this program online that compares different policies and prices depending on the variables you input. Travel destination is one variable. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Palestinian Territories is a destination option in this program. I was not surprised to learn that there are absolutely no health policies available for travelers to that destination. #GoingtoGaza with or without travelers’ health insurance.

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President Jimmy Carter signing his new book

Day #344 – Learned today that Jimmy Carter has liver cancer that has spread to other parts of his body. First thought: I wish he could live long enough to see peace in the Middle East, something he’s worked tirelessly to achieve. Second thought: I wish Congress would act on my petition and request that Carter address a joint session. He deserves their respect. Third thought: I’m going to write to Jimmy Carter. THANK YOU!  #GoingtoGaza

Day #345 – Submitted my Visa application with the Egyptian Embassy in DC today.  Purchased my ticket to Cairo.  Feeling like the roller coaster ride is just beginning.  A friend asked me “Why apply to Egypt, not to Palestine, for a Visa to visit Gaza?” Answer: Gaza, Palestine does not control its own borders because it is OCCUPIED by the State of Israel. You can’t fly to Gaza. You can’t take a ship to Gaza. You can’t drive to Gaza.  Either Israel or Egypt must grant you permission to enter Gaza. #GoingtoGaza

Day #346 – I think I may understand why some Jews can’t accept the truth about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. It’s human nature to want to be right – not wrong – and to be on the winning side – not the losing side. So when Israel is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, it’s human nature to turn eyes and hearts away from the Occupation. Just a thought. #GoingtoGaza

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Lora with the Blue Crab on the Baltimore Inner Harbor

Day #347 – On this journey as a pilgrim, I need to learn how to be grateful today and every day.  My current grade is probably D-   #GoingtoGaza

Day #348 – “He who has a why can endure any how.” ~ German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. WHY am I going to Gaza? Because my heart calls me and because Justice and Human Rights demand it. HOW am I going to Gaza?  Only Allah knows. #GoingtoGaza

Day #349 – I think I know the biggest anti-Semite of them all. It’s Netanyahu. Palestinians = Semites, and Bibi is killing them with impunity. Jews = Semites, and Bibi’s actions are delegitimizing the State of Israel, “the home of the Jews”. Yep, Netanyahu is the biggest anti-Semite today. #GoingtoGaza

Day #350 – People have preconceived notions about their neighbors hardwired into their brains. Two examples today. On Facebook, a Zionist responds to my post from an Israeli newspaper about Palestinians building new tunnels into Gaza — “Only one logical reason . . . to kill Israelis.” It never occurs to him that there may be other reasons for building new tunnels—-a military defensive measure (Gaza’s version of the Iron Dome) is one example. I’ve never seen or read any evidence that showed Palestinians used the tunnels to enter Israel to kill Civilians. But this Zionist won’t acknowledge the humanity in the “other”. Second example happened to me on the bus today. Waiting at the bus stop, I sat on the bench next to a young Native American man who appeared inebriated. I was in the sun, he was sitting in the shade. He stood up and said “Sit in the shade.” I moved over and thanked him and held out my hand to introduce myself.  He took my hand and we had a very cordial conversation until the bus came. You can imagine the stereotype I had in my head, and the reality I learned after I met him. #GoingtoGaza

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Federal Hill, Baltimore

Day #351 – I often told my Palestinian friends in Gaza, when they asked me my religion, that I simply live my life by the Golden Rule (treat others how you wish they would treat you). A fact of life – not everyone follows the Golden Rule, and I can’t expect others to treat me the same way. That’s where the challenges lie. #GoingtoGaza

Day #352 – Writing today — putting pen to paper — trying to figure out the best way to share my pilgrimage with the most # of people.  Any ideas? Thinking of sharing a sample “column” with local newspaper to see if they might be interested in a regular monthly column. #GoingtoGaza

Days #353 & 354 – A friend I hadn’t seen in 10-15 years told me yesterday that she’s very confused about the Israel-Palestine conflict. One person tells her to read about one side and avoid the other side. Another person recommends she read the other side and avoid books about the first side. I told her “Read books from ALL sides and sit quietly and meditate about the questions those authors raise inside you.” It took me 10+ years of actively reading and searching for answers before I started seeing some clarity about Israel-Palestine. #GoingtoGaza

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Delicious meal at Cyndie Tidwell’s house

Day #355 – Attended a presentation tonight at the Jewish Community Center in Albuquerque about environmental peace building in Israel & Palestine. Lots to share in a blog post soon, but the take-away message for me was: There are people (Americans, Israelis and Palestinians) working together on some exciting joint environmental projects in Israel and the West Bank (including plans for a regional sewage treatment plant, rainwater harvesting, and more.) The people on the ground want the projects, the technocrats want the projects, the politicians on both sides (Israel and the PA) do not. I asked if they had worked in Gaza, and they said “No, because we can’t get access to Gaza!” #GoingtoGaza

Day #356 – I rode my yellow bike with the cute basket all around town today.  Downtown, then up 4th Street to Menaul, back downtown, over to Rio Grande, and back to my old neighborhood. When the sun went down, my friend showed me how to turn on the flashing lights on the front and back of the bike. (I never knew how!) If we could import 1000s of bikes into the Gaza Strip, we could (1) reduce reliance on fuel, (2) reduce air pollution, and (3) improve physical health.  I wonder . . . #GoingtoGaza

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New Mexican jeweller in Old Town showing off his beautiful jewellry

Day #357 – Today I sat with an old neighbor (96 years old) and we talked. His eyesight is bad but he can hear very well, and his mind is as sharp as a tack. He lives with his daughter who has cared for him for many years. My friend and his daughter remind me of many of the Palestinians I met in Gaza. Family caring for family. He built his adobe house with his own hands just as many Palestinians build their own homes. I can sit and talk with my old neighbor for hours about my experience in Gaza, and he “gets it”. Is there wisdom with age or is it something else? #GoingtoGaza

Days #358 & 359 – This Spring an American was told by the Egyptian Embassy that he would not receive permission to travel to Gaza through the Rafah border unless he got a letter of approval from the U.S. Consulate’s office in Cairo.  But that office told him they would not issue any such letter. The typical Catch-22. Me?  The Egyptian Embassy accepted my Visa application two weeks ago and said they would process it.  No mention of needing any letter from the U.S. Consulate in Cairo. #GoingtoGaza

Day #360 – Had lunch with a long-time reporter from the local newspaper of record. She acknowledged that the industry is changing drastically. And I have serious disdain for the Editors’ politics.  Thinking about which media venue to approach with my idea for a monthly column about Palestine.  Maybe ABQ Free Press. www.freeabq.com #GoingtoGaza

Day #361 – I walked an hour for a great candidate running for Albuquerque City Council knocking on doors and telling people about why Pat Davis will serve them well. Palestinians haven’t had an election in 8 years I think. The people are stuck with the same old farts with no way to boot them out of office. Americans take our elections for granted. Most of us don’t even bother to vote.  Shame on us! #GoingtoGaza

Day #362 – Sitting in the Houston airport today watching travelers walk past me to their next flight. There’s no fear here, no despair, no humiliation, as there is in Rafah or Erez — the ONLY two checkpoints where Palestinians may travel in and out of Gaza, IF Israel grants permission. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #363 – Trying to figure out why it’s so frustrating to talk with some people with whom I disagree. 1) a very good long-time friend finds #BlackLivesMatter offensive and divisive. 2) a Zionist I’ve never met in person refuses to see the impacts of the Israeli occupation, and the Apartheid system of laws and regulations. Spending time trying to explain my position just ends in frustration. #GoingtoGaza

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#GoingtoGaza – June 2015

Keeping a daily journal of my efforts to return to Gaza helps me retrace my steps. This pilgrimage certainly isn’t easy and my gut tells me the path is just as important as the destination.  For previous months, check out my blog posts: September 2014, October 2014, November 2014, December 2014, January 2015, February 2015, March 2015, April 2015 and May 2015.  What follows are entries for the month of June 2015.

Day #273 – Communicating about hot button issues (religion, politics, Israel-Palestine) is so challenging.  Rethinking my whole approach (especially after reading “The Righteous Mind” by Haidt). Going to write a book review today. Take away message—-we try to convince the “other” person with our rational arguments but the “other” person can’t hear or appreciate rational arguments when his/her opinions originate from intuition. Likewise, our opinions very likely originate from intuition, followed by strategic reasoning. Haidt says that conservatives understand this, but liberals typically don’t. #GoingtoGaza

Ballot-Box

Day #274 – Thinking electoral politics is for the birds!

Fact No. 1 – Palestinians haven’t had an election in 9 years and the old farts in office don’t seem eager to hold another.

Fact No. 2 – Israeli P.M. Netanyahu wins his election by warning Israelis that the “Arabs are coming to the polls in droves” thus proving Israel is a racist state.

Fact No. 3 – Millions of Palestinians living under occupation can’t vote in Israeli elections despite the fact that Israel has so much control over their lives.

Fact No. 4 – Elections in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, NM, USA run like clockwork but the elected officeholders prove like clockwork that they are corruptible or corrupted.

Fact No. 5 – My generation has screwed things up so royally that future generations will feel the full blunt force trauma of our actions, despite having no voice and no voting power.

I agree with Tracy Chapman — We’re Talking About a Revolution. #GoingtoGaza

Day #275 – News from Gaza. Some militants in Gaza fired something (rockets?) into southern Israel today. No fatalities or damage reported. ISIS claimed responsibility. Hamas has been battling ISIS operatives in Gaza. Tonight Israel’s jets scrambled; lots of noise and several air strikes were reported. No fatalities. I’m thinking of the young children who survived last summer’s assault on Gaza that lasted 51 days. While Bruce Jenner commands too many soundbites and photo spreads documenting his “freedom to be himself/herself” — these Palestinian children have no freedoms and can’t just be innocent kids. What a screwed up universe. #GoingtoGaza

Day #274 – Watching “activists” on FB and Twitter, I’m struck with our ineffectual communication skills. (I include myself.)

1) Some activists refuse to have an exchange with anyone who disagrees with them. “Unfriend” option is so childish.

2) Some activists prefer to lecture or “educate” but are clueless about what others think.

3) Some activists really believe that meaningful change can occur via social media alone, and it sounds like they are stuck on their divans.

Here’s a book I hope activists will pick up. If we want to change the status quo, which I presume we all do, we have to understand the other side. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt (2012)  #GoingtoGaza

Day #275 – On this day in 1967, Israel launched an attack against Egypt, known today as the Six Day War but to the Palestinians as the Naksah. I wonder how many of my American friends know about the attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967. #GoingtoGaza

Day #276 – Here is a good account of the difficulties traveling across the Rafah Border from Egypt to Gaza, written in 3 parts. Part 1  –  Part 2  –  Part 3  Very discouraging!  #GoingtoGaza

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Days #277 – 278 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Zivotofsky family and said they will not get “Israel” marked as the place of birth on their son’s passport. Kennedy’s opinion said that the President has the sole responsibility for recognizing a sovereign nation. Time for Obama to recognize the State of Palestine. #GoingtoGaza

Day #279 – “Confirmation bias” … a new phrase that a psychologist-friend recently taught me. Confirmation bias is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. I clearly see it among pro-Israeli activists, pro-Palestinian activists, and with greater scrutiny, I can now see it with myself. We want to find the “facts” to support our world view, and we disregard facts that may negate our world view.  This is very interesting stuff….   #GoingtoGaza

Day #280 – Feeling very pleased that over 600 letters have been sent to members of Congress asking them to invite former President Carter to speak about his recent visit to Israel & Palestine.  I’m planning to visit Capitol Hill with these signatures once we reach 1000+ letters.  Check out the petition here. Add your signature!  #GoingtoGaza

Carter in DC

Day #281 – Netanyahu and his cabinet are doing everyone a favor by using blunt and vulgar language concerning their real intentions towards the Palestinians. Nothing new, of course, except that they aren’t pretending to hide behind a veneer of reasonableness any longer. Obama is going to find it increasingly difficult to side with the Israelis or pretend to be a peace broker. #GoingtoGaza

Day #282 – Palestinians in Gaza may be blockaded and under Israel’s lethal siege, but they are CONNECTED to the world.  Case in point. Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the “Fast Track” bill which many Americans opposed. I waited for news about the vote. I sat in Baltimore about an hour from the Capitol listening to public radio and watching news sites for the results. Finally, my friend in Gaza half way around the world posted a message on Facebook with the good news! The Fast Track bill was defeated! Thank you Internet. Thank you social media! Thank you friends!

Day #283 – As much as I want to return to Gaza, this weekend I’m praying that my young friend in Gaza will exit the Rafah gates when they open for 3 days. He was accepted abroad to pursue graduate studies but Israel has treated him like a prisoner all of his life in Gaza. May Allah protect him in his travels! #GoingtoGaza

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Day #284 – Al-hamdulillah! My young friend made it out of Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. He said there were many military checkpoints through the Sinai, and the place looked like a military zone with all of the tanks, etc. But his bus made it to the Cairo Airport. Now I’m saying prayers that he makes it on to a plane. I can’t imagine what his family back home must be feeling. #GoingtoGaza

Day #285 – Lots happening this week. Yesterday Israel released its 250-page report about its investigation of Operation Protective Edge last summer … as a preemptive move against the pending release of the UN Human Rights Council investigative report. This week marks the 8th anniversary of Israel’s siege on Gaza. Ramadan begins Sundown on Wednesday, I think. Denny Cormier and my young Palestinian friend both left Gaza. #GoingtoGaza

Day #286 – What is the difference between me wearing my “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt and Rachel Dolezal changing her hair, eye color and skin pigment to look like she is African American? Answer: I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. I’m standing in solidarity with African Americans. I’m acknowledging the injustices. But I’m not pretending to step into their shoes and understand their life experience, their reality, their oppression. Same goes for the Palestinians. I won’t pretend to stand in their shoes, but I wonder if some zealous activists have tried to cross that line. #GoingtoGaza

Day #287 – First day of Ramadan. I de-activated my Facebook page. Started listening to the audiobook The Haj by Leon Uris. #GoingtoGaza

Days #288-289 – Going cold turkey from Facebook might not be as hard as I thought.  I’m checking Twitter more often and don’t really miss the FB clutter. Today I submitted application for UN Human Rights Officer in Gaza.  I really, really, really hope I’m selected. #GoingtoGaza

Day #290 – The closer one is to realizing his Personal Legend, the more the Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: fear of failure. The Alchemist #GoingtoGaza

Day #291 – Felt very good today to talk with Basya and, later, Jeremy.  Connecting with family is the glue that keeps us all together! #GoingtoGaza

Day #292 – Spent the day reading the UN Human Rights Investigation into the war in Gaza last summer. Utterly devastating to read. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have felt to live through it. #GoingtoGaza

Days #293-294 – Taking a month off of Facebook is a good thing. But I may have substituted one addiction for another. Now I find myself checking Twitter every few minutes. Uh-oh! Finished reading the UN’s report on the Gaza 2014 war. Devastating words! #GoingtoGaza

Days #295 – 298 – Disconnected from Facebook is a really good thing.  But it also feels good when friends from Gaza and NM reach out to me to find out if I’m OK because they’re worried that I’m not on FB.  #GoingtoGaza

 

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#GoingtoGaza – May 2015

I was in Baltimore in May 2015 as the community was in turmoil. The following entries are from my journal for that month on my pilgrimage back to Gaza. Check my blog for the previous months’ entries.

Days #242-243 – Sitting in Baltimore now, watching the #Baltimoreuprising and #Baltimoreriots. The thread that runs between Gaza and Baltimore is giving me pause to think about 1) how I communicate and 2) how I can best use my gifts (privileges) to change the status quo. #GoingtoGaza

Day #245 – Met Tom Hayden at the Baltimore Library today where he was talking about his new book “Listen, Yankee!” He’s 75 years old and human. I imagined him younger and verging on super-hero. Some people fit into their skin early in life. Others (me) still haven’t. #GoingtoGaza

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Tom Hayden and Lora in Baltimore (May 2015)

Days #246-247 – Shifting my focus from Egypt to Israel and the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. I crossed through Erez in 2004 (before Hamas was elected) and remember the feeling I had walking through the long cage between Israel and Gaza. It felt inhumane then. Wonder what it must feel like now. #GoingtoGaza

Day #248 – I learned this morning that a very good friend from Gaza has been accepted into a program this summer in DC. !*!*!*! Now he must apply for a Visa to travel which requires an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. No big deal, right?  Except that Israel will either allow him to travel to Tel Aviv, or not. Israeli apologists – PLEASE don’t tell me that Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza. That’s bull shit. I wish The New York Times would finally come clean on that point. #GoingtoGaza and praying that my friend is #GoingtoUSA

Day #249 – Nearly reached my fundraising goal for the #Gaza5K to support UNRWA’s work with children in Gaza. And making progress on getting books for the backpacks that will be shipped to Gaza. Feeling very jazzed!! #GoingtoGaza

Day #250 – Feeling more hopeful today. There are more ways than one to skin this cat…..and get back to Gaza. #GoingtoGaza

Day #251 – ISIS (aka Daesh) in Gaza?! I just read this short article that says ISIS is battling Hamas in the Gaza Strip. If true, my plans for returning to Gaza just took a sharp detour. #GoingtoGaza maybe

Days #252-253 – Spending time with family is like taking the car into the shop for a tune-up or recharging the batteries. This weekend with family recharged my personal batteries. #GoingtoGaza

Day #254 – I know I’m not alone. I’m trying to return to Gaza and my friends in Gaza are watching and waiting and hoping I’m able to return. Thank you my friends. #GoingtoGaza

Day #255 – Watched a video on Netflix last night called #ChicagoGirl about how citizen journalists are using technology to organize the revolution in Syria. I thought about the occupation of Palestine. Finished reading Tom Hayden’s book today – “Listen, Yankee! Why Cuba Matters”. I thought about the blockade of Gaza. Everything seems connected to Gaza, at least in my mind. #GoingtoGaza

Days #256-257 – Spent Thursday preparing for meetings in DC. Friday is Nakba Day (Catastrophe) when Palestinians remember 1948 – the beginning of their forcible expulsion from their homes, lands and communities at the hands of the Zionists. More than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled and more than 500 villages were destroyed to make room for the new State of Israel. Today I’m meeting with staff in Senators Udall and Heinrich’s offices, and staff in Rep. Lujan-Grisham’s office to tell them about the Nakba and give them some papers. #GoingtoGaza

Day #258 – Walked the #Gaza5K in 1:03:34. Met some new friends — a retired doctor from Pittsburgh who worked in the West Bank and Gaza for a time, and a new young eye doctor who visited Jordan and the West Bank for a few days. The energy at this UNRWA event was very positive with 900+ signed up. I took pictures and posted them online because I want my friends in Gaza to see how many Americans care about them. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #259 – I’ve been walking so much the past few months that my big toe seems to be permanently bruised. I wonder if I’m going to lose the toenail. At least I don’t have any blisters. Whew! #GoingtoGaza

Day #262 – After a couple of recent trips to Capitol Hill, there’s no doubt in my mind that the pro-Israel lobby has almost every member of Congress in a head vise. Senate and House staff have the jargon down pat — “Hamas is a terrorist organization” and “Israel has a right to defend herself.” I don’t think they understand that their worldview of Israel-Palestine doesn’t match how most countries view Israel-Palestine. How does a constituent have a conversation about the occupation in a 15-30 minute meeting?  #GoingtoGaza

Day #263 – A Palestinian friend from Gaza decided not to participate in a program in DC that brings Palestinians and Israelis together to listen and learn from each other.  Her decision is based on a concern, I think, about “normalization“. “It is helpful to think of normalization as a “colonization of the mind,” whereby the oppressed subject comes to believe that the oppressor’s reality is the only “normal” reality that must be subscribed to, and that the oppression is a fact of life that must be coped with. Those who engage in normalization either ignore this oppression, or accept it as the status quo that can be lived with.” #GoingtoGaza

Day #264 – Memorial Day weekend – when Americans remember those killed in combat, those maimed and disfigured, and those who committed suicide because the horrors of war are too much to bear. Families will be BBQing, waving flags and drinking beer!  While the Obama Administration has approved a $1.9 Billion sale of weapons to “replenish” Israel’s stock depleted last summer in Gaza.  Kill, kill, kill, die, die, die, $$$, $$$, $$$ — the credo of the Military Industrial Complex. And we play along like good suckers! #GoingtoGaza

Day #265 – I walked 13.2 miles today and finished listening to an audible book on my iPod called “A Flowering in Palestine” written by Andrew Reilly. A true story about an American Jew who grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. When his daughter has finished school and is ready to leave home, he decides to visit Israel. (1999). There, he learns the story of the Nakba and the Occupation and is so moved by the injustices he sees that he decides to accept a short-term teaching job in Bethlehem. Within a few weeks, he is shot and killed by an Israeli soldier while walking and singing with Palestinians who are peacefully protesting the murder of a Palestinian. Walking for fitness or walking to change the world—–as a Pilgrim I feel I’m doing both.  #GoingtoGaza

Day #266 – Beginning a new day. Nothing that a little Aleve won’t fix. Thinking a lot about tribalism and its destructive impacts. Is Memorial Day an opportunity for Americans to share one form of tribal affiliation? #GoingtoGaza

Day #267 – When will “service to our nation” refer to Americans doing good deeds at home and abroad, instead of Americans killing and dying? Answer: When our defense budget is aligned with our values, not our fears, and not what the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) demands. Take a look. The MIC is actually making us less secure. #GoingtoGaza

Day #268 – Rocket fire from Gaza provoked a response from Israel. And the cycle of violence continues. Two thoughts: Mainstream media is quick to report about the rocket fire from Gaza but has failed to report about Israel’s persistent violations of the truce over the past 10 months, and there have been many. There’s a new acronym that applies to nearly every child in Gaza. PPTSD = Permanent Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. #GoingtoGaza

Day #269 – Currently reading “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” (a 2012 social psychology book by Jonathan Haidt). He makes the point that Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (forming the acronym WEIRD) people see the world full of separate objects, rather than relationships. People in a non-WEIRD society are more likely to see relationships, contexts, groups, and institutions — not focused on protecting individuals. Today I heard that Bernalillo County Commissioners are likely to approve a badly-conceived development plan and have conveniently divided the land use / water issues.  Reminds me of what I read in Haidt’s book last night. #GoingtoGaza

Day #270 – Surprised and disappointed by 3 recent posts on Facebook — (1) a plea by a long-time American activist for Palestine that people stop a whispering attack against her, (2) a response to her plea that maybe the criticism against her is justified, and (3) a petition today asking people not to engage in such divisive attacks online against fellow activists. I’m surprised because I was unaware of this “internal” strife until recently. I’m disappointed because pro-Palestine activists are human after all. Maybe everyone has good intentions but we’re individuals with our own ideas and ways of doing things.  May all activists (regardless of your goals) model peace, tolerance and compassion. #GoingtoGaza

Days #271 – 272 – A new insight came to me yesterday as I was sharing with a friend. As a Pilgrim, I’ve been feeling some measure of discomfort about not being able to see the future. Where will I be this time next year? What will I be doing? Pre-Pilgrim days, I had a vision and greater certainty about my path, and felt some comfort in knowing what lay ahead. Now I realize, those days were really a delusion — a false sense of security but not reality. As a Pilgrim, I’m living a life more appreciative of the present. #GoingtoGaza

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#GoingtoGaza – January 2015

Haven’t made it back to Gaza yet, but four out of five resolutions isn’t bad. What follows is my daily log for January 2015 in my journey.

Day #124 – My 2015 Resolutions

1) Get to Gaza

2) Say “thank you” more often

3) Smile more often

4) Listen more deeply

5) Get to Gaza

#GoingtoGaza

Day #125 – I saw a list today of the top 25 censored stories in 2014. See here. Gaza is on the list. The 1.9 million inhabitants of Gaza will run out of drinking water in 2016. The article doesn’t explain why this story has been censored. Maybe it just hasn’t made it on MSM’s radar screen.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #126 – Today 2 young children died in a house fire in a refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. Their family (as most families in Gaza) were forced to use candles because there is only 4 hours of electricity per day available in Gaza. Tragically, these deaths by candles are not uncommon in Gaza. The Israeli 8-year siege on the Gaza Strip is the proximate cause of these deaths and American taxpayers are complicit because we subsidize the illegal military occupation over $3 Billion/year.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #127 – Took a friend to the train station tonight. As he said “goodbye” to me, he added “I hope you make it into Gaza!” I know I have many friends and family sending me positive vibes on this Pilgrimage. I don’t feel alone.

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Day #128 – Friends and family ask me “Why are you always writing the President and other elected officials. It does no good! They don’t even read your letters.”

Today I wrote Obama + my two US Senators + my Congresswoman again.

Will they read my letter? Probably not personally but I bet a staff member is assigned to read all constituent correspondence and keep a tally.

My voice counts! My opinion matters! It helps shift his/her consciousness on a topic. One drop in the bucket, added with many other drops, adds up. I have no excuse for keeping silent.

So here is my letter. Will you read it?

The status quo in the Israel-Palestine conflict must end. Through our policies, U.N. vetoes and significant financial support, the U.S. has been enabling Israel’s destructive settlement activity in the West Bank and genocidal assaults on the Gaza Strip for years!

Not in my name. I join thousands of Americans who oppose our government’s counterproductive actions in the Middle East, and call upon you to oppose AIPAC’s demand to punish the Palestinians for signing on to the Rome Statute and seeking the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

When did America lose its moral compass so that our leaders actually oppose attempts by the Palestinians to abide by, and to seek the protection of, international law?

I call on you to support the Palestinians in their efforts to use lawful measures in their quest for peace and justice.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #129 – I don’t understand the crazy machinations in foreign affairs.

Why is my country opposed to the Palestinians’ actions to abide by international law and seek redress through the International Criminal Court? Why is Israel aiding and abetting ISIS?

Has the world turned upside down, inside out? All of the norms I took for granted appear to have been thrown out the window.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #130 – Skyping with my friends in Gaza requires some planning and coordination. Today I learned I could talk with my friend using the Messenger App on my iPod. At 61, I really don’t understand all of this technology, but I think it’s very exciting to hear my friend’s voice on this little device. Just like he’s in the next room.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #131 – Sent a message to the young woman I met who works at the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations.  I congratulated her for the recent step Palestine has taken to sign on to the Rome Statute. Obama’s Administration says Palestine is not a state and so it can’t claim the protection of the ICC.  But it really doesn’t matter what Obama or anyone else thinks. The ICC Prosecutor has already announced that Palestine will formally be part of the ICC on April 1, 2015. Yeah!!

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #132 – Tonight a good friend died peacefully surrounded by family. He was a sincere and gentle soul. He always thought about others. When he heard I was returning to Gaza, he asked me “why do you want to do such a dangerous thing?” and warned me to be careful. I’m saying a prayer for him tonight.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #133 – My Facebook feed has been blazing today with articles from mainstream and alternative Western media spinning what I should think about the terrorist attack in Paris this week. My FB friends have also weighed in — some quite vociferously — and I’m left wondering.

Why doesn’t the US drone strike in Pakistan that killed innocent civilians? – or the Israeli missile that targeted and killed 2 Palestinian journalists in Gaza? – or the firebombing of the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs?or the myriad of other terror attacks around the world? – consume the same raw energy and emotions?

The only answer I can see: Westerners know terror and terrorists when we see them — and they ain’t us!

God, Allah, Hashem must be sorely disappointed with the whole lot of us.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #134 – I’m hearing rumors that Egypt may be opening the Rafah crossing on a permanent basis. Is it true? Can I get my hopes up now?

Someone reported that Abbas is in Paris sharing his solidarity with the French. I’m resentful that he can apparently travel with ease while so many Palestinians are prevented from setting foot outside of Gaza.  #WhereistheJustice ?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #135 – A little shocked that some highly educated Palestinians in Gaza are opposed to working with (collaborating with) other Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans who they believe are advocates for “normalization.” I want to learn what “normalization” means in this context. I also want to understand how this insularity “protects” them or serves their goals. If Palestinians cannot compete in the exchange of ideas, are they capable of building a nation-state?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #136 – Sitting in the local library today, I heard an old man talking to himself — loudly. He went on and on for some time. He was sitting alone on the floor between book shelves.

Nothing unusual about emotionally-disturbed people seeking respite in public libraries. But when he started talking in an angry voice about “Muslims” and “Allah” and “death”, I started thinking he was going off the deep end.

I informed the librarian, and then returned to my work. Crazy people do crazy things.

#GoingtoGaza

 

Day #137 – A friend suggested I keep pen and paper next to me when I fall asleep so I could write down my first thoughts in the morning when I wake up. I never, ever remember dreams.

This morning, my first thought on waking was “I’m cold.” My second thought was “The children and families in Gaza who are living in makeshift shelters now are freezing and dying from the cold.”1948

#GoingtoGaza

Day #138 –  from “The Art of Pilgrimage” by Phil Cousineau.

Pilgrimage is a transformative journey to a sacred center.

Pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise, an act of devotion to find a source of healing, or even to perform a penance. Always, it is a journey of risk and renewal. For a journey without challenge has no meaning; one without purpose has no soul.

Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindless.”

Uncover what you long for and you will discover who you are.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” said Albert Einstein. The art of pilgrimage is the art of reimagining how we walk, talk, listen, see, hear, write, and draw as we ready for the journey of our soul’s deep desire.

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” – philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.

#GoingtoGaza

Days #139-140 – I’m feeling very tired. In October, United Blood Services rejected my blood donation because I was too low in iron. My doctor tested my blood and found my iron level was very low so I’ve been taking heavy duty iron pills for 3 months now. I still feel tired. 😦

#GoingtoGaza

Day #141 – Does anyone know of any foundations or organizations that would be interested in funding my work in Gaza?  Here’s the catch. The last time I went to Gaza, I volunteered my time. I can’t afford to do that this time. I’m also committed to not accepting a job or $$ that a qualified local Palestinian would be eligible for.

And I really want to do 3 things:  1) Work with Palestinian lawyers in Gaza on Rule of Law projects. 2) Help with the reconstruction or building resiliency into the community. AND 3) Observe and write about what’s happening on the ground in Gaza to share with Western audiences.

Anyone want to fund my efforts? :-). I’m committed to remaining in Gaza for the long-term (years). Putting it out there to the universe.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #142 – Thinking about the similarities between the civil rights struggle in the U.S. in the 1960s and the Palestinians struggling against the Israeli military occupation today.

Both seem impossible to overcome because there is a whole infrastructure built to constrain the struggle.

Both have a dominant people intent on dehumanizing another people.

Both have leaders advocating and working for justice using nonviolence.

Both have members of the dominant people who reject the values and actions of the dominant people, choosing to stand on the side of justice.

Go see Selma.

#GoingtoGaza

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Day #143 – Feeling sad after learning that a friend from Gaza is seeking asylum in the U.S. when his student Visa expires.

— Sad, because there are no job opportunities in Gaza and not much hope for the future.

— Sad, because his wife and children have been separated from him for so long, and will they ever be reunited?

— Sad, because if he’s granted asylum, Gaza will be losing a bright and talented young man.

— Sad, because I think this is exactly what Israel is planning — to expel Palestinians via attrition.

— Sad, because future Palestinians may have a difficult time obtaining Visas to study in the U.S. if the State Department sees a trend in students seeking asylum.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #144 – Words matter!

I’ve been chastised for my words on Facebook that demonstrate “lack of empathy”.

I’ve also called Hamas “either stupid or indeed a terrorist organization” for its praise of the lone Palestinian who stabbed innocent Israeli civilians.

Words have consequence. I may lose a friendship over “lack of empathy”. I may lose my chance to return to Gaza over my criticism of Hamas.

I will live with the consequences.

#GoingtoGaza maybe

Day #145 – “You are welcome”

Every Palestinian from Gaza with whom I have talked (Skype, Facebook, in person) tells me “You are welcome.”  Everybody. Old, young, English-speaking or not. They all know “You are welcome” and they all say that to me.

It means something different in Gaza than it does when an American says “You’re welcome.”

A Palestinian is welcoming me to his/her home or land. “Please come visit and share in our hospitality.”

An American uses that phrase almost like “Afwan”.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #146 – I just had a diplomatic brainstorm about airports!

Passengers traveling through Ben Gurion airport cannot mention the words Palestine, West Bank, Gaza without fear of being strip-searched and deported. (Seriously!)

A friend told me that there is a map on the wall in the Cairo airport that omits Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. I know that the airport authorities routinely put Palestinian passengers into a large holding cell below the airport where they spend hours or days waiting for their connecting flight.

My brainstorm!  Airport authorities at Ben Gurion and Cairo should treat their neighbors with dignity and respect. They might receive some in return.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #147 – Watching 8 episodes of “An Honorable Woman” (BBC) on Netflix with a friend in Gilroy.

A wealthy Jewish Baroness from the UK inherits the family’s empire after her father is killed by a Palestinian. She leads her family company with the goal of transcending Israeli-Palestinian tensions and borders which takes her to Gaza and the West Bank. A lot of death, suspense and intrigue. If the Middle East politics even remotely resembled this drama, I would avoid the area.  I won’t share how it ends, but not as you would expect.

#GoingtoGaza

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Cairo Skyline

Day #148 – Four years ago, I remember clearly where I was and what I was doing.  I was sitting on my couch at home mesmerized with the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square on Al Jazeera TV 24/7. I watched it day after day … and also followed events on Facebook. An autocratic dictator was toppled.

Today? The revolution is dead and buried. The military has regained control of their country and installed one of their Generals (Al-Sisi) as President. The millions of youth who succeeded 4 years ago are either 1) dead or 2) in prison or 3) in hiding for fear of being arrested or 4) walking Zombies.

Yep, the Zombies have come to Egypt. Mindless, soulless, cheerless robots who have been thoroughly indoctrinated and fed propaganda so they won’t question authority ever again.

And since the Egyptian economy is in tatters (unless you’re a member of the military), the Zombies sit quietly in their rooms or in the alleys smoking.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #149 – Just shy of 3,000 friends on Facebook. 2,937 to be exact.

Don’t know most of my “friends” personally but I have one piece of advice to anyone who sends me a friend request.

If I accept your request, don’t send me a private message that reads “I hate America”.  Not a good first impression. LOLOL

#GoingtoGaza

Day #150 – The Great Turning (From Empire to Earth) by David Korten.

40+ years ago – I started on the path of sustainable communities, urban planning.

30+ years ago – I started on the path of peace-building, ending nuclear war.

20+ years ago – I started on the path of climate change education, mitigation & adaptation.

5+ years ago – I started on the path of seeking justice in the Middle East.

I never left one path to pursue another.

Today – all of these paths have converged. “The Great Turning” helped me understand that humanity has been on a destructive path for the past 5,000+ years and I need to help humanity shift to a new path.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #151 – Who started it? Here’s the chronology.

Last Sunday Israel launched an air strike that killed 11 people in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. Six were Hezbollah leaders and 5 were Iranian.

On Wednesday, an anti-tank missile killed 2 Israeli soldiers and wounded 7 near the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah claimed responsibility.

Israel responded and during the tit-for-tat a Spanish UN Peacekeeper was killed. No one knows if Israel or Hezbollah killed him.

Who started this skirmish? Keep the chronology in mind when you read how the media portrays it.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #151 (again) – More news

Seems like a full scale war is breaking out in the northern Sinai today. Egyptian officials claim its Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, with absolutely no evidence provided to support that claim.

At least no one has blamed Hamas — yet. When will I ever get across the Sinai into Gaza?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #152 – Noticing that several FB friends who were/are vociferous climate deniers have been silent about climate change the past few months. Is reality catching up?

And I’m feeling very, very pleased that a friend from Gaza has been invited to participate in a training with Al Gore on the Climate Reality project in India next month.  Alhamdullilah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #153 – Feeling so terribly helpless and ineffectual. So many people in Gaza asking me for help ($$ and other types of help to pursue graduate education).  Many, many, many Palestinians.

I know from experience how devastating it can be to try to help and fail. Devastating for the Palestinian whose hopes are dashed, and devastating for me.

What is the best response when someone asks: “Please help me. My life is very difficult in Gaza. There are no jobs. We don’t have any hope.” How do I respond?

#GoingtoGaza

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#GoingtoGaza November 1 – 30, 2014

I made a lot of progress in September and October 2014 on my journey to return to Gaza. I left my hometown Albuquerque in November. The following is my chicken-scratching during November 2014.

Days #60 – 65   Tonight is my last night in my house. I’ve been so utterly overwhelmed with this move to Gaza that I haven’t kept my daily journal current. No way could I get my house ready for a new tenant without the help of a handyman to make repairs in the bathroom, a painter, a house-cleaner, a mover, and many friends. In the morning, my bed goes into storage and I’ll be living out of two suitcases for the next few years.   #GoingtoGaza

Days #66 – 68   So now that all of my “stuff” is out of the house, the deep cleaning really made a difference. Two funny things happened.

1) We couldn’t get my very large desk out of the house (note–it came into the house when there was a large hole made in the Adobe wall before the window was installed). But the carpet cleaning man figured out an ingenious way to get it through the door! So I gave him the desk to reward him for his spatial brain. Yeah!

2) Today a yard worker helped me pick up a load of crusher fine. He was very interested in my travel to Gaza. Then I learned that he believes in the “end of times” which will come very soon. Jerusalem figures into that story. Before he left, he said he wanted to say a prayer for me on the porch. He proceeded to praise the Lord in a very loud voice for a very long time — asking the Lord to give me guidance in my travels (and a whole lot more).#GoingtoGaza

Days #69 – 71   My final days in Albuquerque were a whirlwind of meetings, farewells, hugs, and finishing everything on my TO DO list. Scattered my wonderful black lab’s ashes at the UNM Duck Pond yesterday. Feeling now like I’m closing a chapter of my life so that I can open a new one. Waiting at the airport for my flight to Phoenix. Goodbye Albuquerque. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #72 – Family is the glue that keeps us human in an inhumane world.  I’m with family in AZ today and feeling very blessed. #GoingtoGaza

Day #73 – Looking for prayers, strong healing thoughts, meditation and whatever other form of spiritual guidance might be helpful for a loved one in surgery today.

Day #74 – I’m sitting at the bedside of my family member in the Phoenix hospital, aware how fortunate we are to be together in this hour of need; while a Palestinian friend in Florida sits alone in anguish because he knows he can’t get to the bedside of his dying father in Gaza. The Israeli-US blockade of the Gaza Strip tears apart much more than the economic life of Palestinians. It tears about families and the social fabric of the community. #ShameonIsrael   #ShameonUSA   #GoingtoGaza

Day #75 – Details, details, details. Leaving ABQ requires tying up so many loose ends, such as utilities, banking, etc. I can do a lot of it via Internet. Al-hamdulillah!  #GoingtoGaza

Day #76 – Well, 3 out of 4 boxes that I shipped via UPS last week arrived in CA. Might have been too much to hope for 100% delivery.  Now I must spend hours (it seems) on hold waiting to see if the UPS folks can find it. #GoingtoGaza with fewer items than I thought. 😦

Day #77 – Israel issued a lifetime ban against the Norwegian doctor (Mads Gilbert) from ever entering Gaza again, citing “security concerns.”  I’ve had friends who learned about a 1 year, 5 year, 10 year ban when they arrived at Ben Gurion Airport. They were immediately deported on the next flight out. I wonder if my name is on some Israeli list. An IDF soldier told me it was, but I need to get some confirmation. A friend in Gaza told me it might be easier to enter Gaza from the north (Israel) through the Erez Checkpoint, rather than from Egypt. #GoingtoGaza

Day #78 – This week Israel refused to allow the UN commission investigating Israel’s Operation Protective Edge into Gaza. Israel also imposed a lifetime ban on a Norwegian doctor from entering Gaza because he’s a security threat.  Last week Israel closed ALL of the borders with Gaza (both commercial and pedestrian crossings). And Netanyahu’s government continues to say Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza. What weed is he smoking? #GoingtoGaza

Days #79 – #80   Very touched by all of the birthday greetings yesterday from family and friends (near and far). The big 61 feels much better than 60. Last year, the milestone was unsettling because I still had eye problems, and had no focus about the next chapter in my life.  This year, I have good eye sight, good health, and focused on returning to Gaza. There was a lot of work involved in getting to this point. In the past 2+ months, I’ve made repairs to the house, put my things into storage, and turned the house over to a property manager. Now I feel like that albatross is off my neck, and I’m freed up to focus on returning to Gaza. Alhamdullilah!  #GoingtoGaza

Day #81 – Observing from afar each side mourn their losses, praise their martyrs, and condemn the killers. The exact mirror image of each other . . . with one BIG difference that’s never mentioned in the news reports.  One side is the occupier (the oppressor) and the other side is the occupied (the oppressed) resisting the occupation. Until the occupation ends, there will be no peace & security for either side. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #82 – Continuing to talk to a lot of people (both inside Gaza and outside) about how to get in. No easy answers. EVERYONE says it’s very arbitrary (both at the Erez Crossing and Rafah Crossing). The fact that everyone talks about getting “in” to Gaza, rather than going “to” Gaza, indicates that everyone I’ve been talking with considers Gaza an open air prison. Is there anywhere else in the world where people are trying to get “in” ?  I can’t think of it. #GoingtoGaza

Day #83 – Becoming a nomad requires thinking about many ordinary things that we take for granted in new ways. Snail mail. Think about all of the junk mail and solicitations, and other mail we get every day. As a nomad preparing to travel to Gaza, I can’t have tons and tons of mail waiting for me when I return. I’ve spent the last 3 months contacting every business and organization that sent me snail mail, and asked to be removed from their mailing list. It was quite an effort. I hope I was able to stop a lot of it. Nomad or not. We should all be cutting down on snail mail. #GoingtoGaza

Day #84 – An American friend advises me to learn more about what’s going on in the West Bank. She probably thinks my focus on Gaza has left me with a deficit. Another American friend suggests if travel to Gaza doesn’t appear feasible by mid-January, we plan to visit the West Bank instead. I AM GOING TO GAZA NO MATTER WHAT! Screw Netanyahu! Screw El-Sisi! (Or maybe they should just do us all a favor and screw each other.) #GoingtoGaza

Day #85 – The State of Israel has been a militarized country since its founding. I recall seeing many people in 2004 walking the streets of Jerusalem with large weapons hanging over their shoulders — not in uniform but I thought they might be security personnel. Restaurant doors were locked and patrons had to ring the doorbell to be admitted, and then purses were searched before we were shown to our table. From all accounts, Jerusalem is much more militarized today. And Israeli politicians have just passed a law allowing civilians to openly carry weapons. Live by the sword, die by the sword, in the Holy Land. Land of “Peace”. #GoingtoGaza

Day #86 – “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”– Ursula K. Le Guin  Israel’s military occupation seems inescapable but it’s only a human construct that can fall as rapidly as a pile of bricks. Palestinians must be ready to answer the question: “what happens after the occupation?” I’m worried that the next generation of leaders are not prepared to answer that question. I haven’t seen anything written about it. #GoingtoGaza

Day #87 – Feels like I’ve embarked on the next phase of my life as a nomad. Or maybe better yet — a revolutionist. Thanks to an ABQ friend for sharing this thought-provoking piece from Chris Hedges. I’m going to spend time digesting the links at the end of the article this afternoon.http://www.opednews.com/articles/Why-We-Need-Professional-R-by-Chris-Hedges-Movement_People_Political_Power-141124-676.html  #GoingtoGaza

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Day #88 – Everywhere I go, I can’t help but think how different life is in the USA compared to life in Gaza. Today there were several examples.

1) Valet parking at the hospital.

2) Recycling gets picked up.

3) Electricity is on 24-7 which means the refrigerator works all day AND all night.

4) The new bike-share program was launched in Phoenix.

5) Public library has 30+ computers available for the public.

The only thing preventing Gaza from having these things is Israel’s illegal military occupation. #GoingtoGaza

Day #89 – Netanyahu may cry “terrorists” and “security” and the biggest hoax of all “Hamas” to justify his 7+ years blockading the Gaza Strip but I’m convinced that those are mere distractions from the truth. Netanyahu wants to tear families apart, he wants to destroy the fabric of Palestinian culture and he wants “those animals” to disappear. Unlike natural disasters (such as the earthquake in Haiti), Netanyahu is the architect of this man-made disaster in Gaza. He must take full responsibility. Well, maybe 95% responsibility. The U.S. and other Western governments that are subsidizing Israel’s military occupation must own up to their despicable part in this tragedy. #GoingtoGaza

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Day #90 – A note to my friends in Gaza. Thank you for sharing so much with me when I was there in 2012-2013.  Thank you for opening your homes to me, and educating me about the impacts of the occupation on you, your families and neighbors. Thank you for demonstrating SAMUD and showing me the importance of community and helping each other. Thank you for always treating me so graciously, and not holding my government’s destructive policies against me. Thank you for your continuing friendship. #GoingtoGaza

Day #91 – Last night sitting in the Phoenix airport ready to depart to CA, and thinking I have a lot to learn about being a nomad. Like how to travel LIGHT. One suitcase and one backpack, that’s all I can reasonably carry around the world. Americans have so much STUFF. I have a lot of things to discard to resize my lifestyle. #GoingtoGaza

Day #92 – A quandary.  How do I reconcile my desire to travel to Gaza with my concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes?  #GoingtoGaza

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#GoingtoGaza – Oct. 1 – Oct. 28, 2014

I actively started on my journey to return to Gaza in the summer of 2014 and kept a daily journal of my efforts.  The first month is posted here.

In December 2015, I find myself stuck in Cairo and feeling discouraged about my efforts to return to Gaza, but it helps to review my “progress” over the past year.

Day #33 – Lessoned Learned – I need to stay focused on my goal. #GoingtoGaza. I have a bad habit of over-committing myself and trying to be in too many places at the same time, maybe because I have so many interests. This morning I awoke and realized sadly … I can’t do it all. 😦

#GoingtoGaza

Day #34 – Meetings today to get my business affairs in order so that everything will run smoothly in my absence. One thing on my TO DO list is to get rid of (or minimize) all the junk mail. I feel very “accomplished” after spending a couple of hours on the phone to stop different solicitations. Junk mail clutters the mind as well as the mailbox.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #35 – Nothing went right today! I showed up at the United Blood Services office an hour late, and after they tested my blood, they decided I didn’t have enough iron and refused to accept a donation. I then tried to take the bus to a meeting but I got lost, and walked and walked — forgot the address of the meeting — and a good friend came to pick me up. She drove me to the meeting but no one was there. A sign on the door said it began at 6:30, not 5:30 as I thought, so she took me out to dinner. While we were sitting together and eating, I began to choke on a piece of meat. I threw it up eventually but my esophagus hurt. 😦  So my friend drove me home. Thank goodness for wonderful friends.  But I’m especially sad I missed the meeting because I was asked to share about my experience in Gaza.  Darn!

#GoingtoGaza (if I don’t choke on my meat first)

Day #36 – A coincidence? Or synchronicity? Today is Eid for the Muslims and Yom Kippur for the Jews — holy days that have special significance to the faithful. Since I’m neither Jewish nor Muslim, I don’t pretend to understand the deeper meaning in each. A friend from Gaza posted a photo of his friend who was killed by Israel this summer; they will never share another Eid together. I spent the evening with an elderly Jewish friend who is recuperating from serious health issues. She told me that Yom Kippur is the day when Jews are supposed to atone for the sins and mistakes of all Jews everywhere. That’s a pretty tall order, and my friend said it was “too much” for her to try to atone for Israel’s massacres in Gaza this summer. I wonder how Jews worldwide atone for Israel’s actions. Do they really have to “take on” the guilt and responsibility of the actions of the State of Israel? Or do they use this time to explain & defend Israel’s actions, and assuage their guilt?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #37 – #GoingtoGaza means I’m leaving ABQ.  I’m imagining that I will be in Gaza 2-5 years (that’s my dream but who knows?) This morning I started updating my address book with the names and contact information of friends in ABQ with whom I hope to stay in touch when I get to Gaza.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #38 – Storage unit – signed up for a storage unit today to put my things in while I’m in Gaza.  Now I need to finish packing up, giving away, and selling stuff. Couldn’t do all of this without Marianne’s help. Her counsel is priceless. I’m going to miss her.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #39 — I met with Rodrigo from SWOP to talk about food justice issues in Gaza.  At the end I said “I stand in solidarity with Palestinians because they are people just like you and me.” Now I wonder if that sounds a little lame, but it’s absolutely how I feel. Netanyahu and the Israeli government and the extremist-Israeli settlers do their best to dehumanize the Palestinians so that Americans won’t feel guilty about the inhumane military, economic and psychological actions Israel takes against Palestinians.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #40 – Cleaning out storage shed. I’m opening old boxes with papers, files, and articles that I thought were so important at one time in my professional life. Now I feel like I’m in the pupa stage of my personal growth and development. Shedding those files is liberating.  (Don’t worry — I’m recycling the paper!) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupa

#GoingtoGaza

Day #41 – Warnings & concern – Nearly everyone to whom I’ve told my plans about #GoingtoGaza have expressed concern and warned me about the danger. Family and friends are well-meaning and I respect their concerns. They remind me that I’m no longer a spring chicken and I should be thinking about my health. They note that the conditions in Gaza today (after Israel’s 51-day assault this summer) are much more difficult than they were in 2012-2013 when I was in Gaza. They mention bombs and kidnappings. I take their concerns seriously. I love each and every one. The thought in my head — if the danger and conditions in Gaza are so serious, then there are 1.8 million people exposed to those dangers and conditions. How can we turn our backs on them?!  What can we do to relieve the suffering and danger for everyone in Gaza today?

#GoingtoGaza

Day #42 – Max Blumenthal (author of Goliath) and Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) were at the Lensic Theatre in Santa Fe tonight speaking to a sold out audience. Although I have his book on my Kindle, I decided to buy a hard copy tonight and asked him to autograph it to Refaat Alareer in Gaza.  Max mentioned Refaat by name during his talk, and I told him I would take this copy of the book to Refaat in Gaza. The take-away message for me: Israel will not end the military occupation or its descent into hell by itself. Change will only come from the outside.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #43 – So many friends I want to say goodbye to before leaving Albuquerque. Can’t sleep — making lists in my head.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #44 – Reading two books (side-by-side) — Max Blumenthal’s “Goliath” and a novel by Claire Hajaj “Ishmael’s Oranges”. Blumenthal recounts the historical impacts of Israel’s Absentee Property Law – placing all of the property belonging to Arabs who had fled Israel (1947-1948) into the hands of the Custodian of Absentee Property, who then redistributed the property to Jews based on the Land Acquisition Law.  He also shares the horrific facts and figures of the attack on Jaffa on May 13, 1948 by Zionist militias. Hajaj’s novel begins with that attack on Jaffa and how it impacted a 7-year old boy Salim, whose family home and orchard were taken from them because of these two laws. Hajaj’s description of the hopelessness that Salim’s family feels in 1948 gives life to the history that Blumenthal shares.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #45 – With help from a friend who has a truck, I’m moving boxes into storage today. I think it will feel good to get them out of the house. It will certainly be easier to move around in my house with these boxes out-of-the-way. Learned today that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) insists that I provide a letter from the American Embassy in Cairo asking for cooperation to allow me to cross the border between Egypt and Gaza. In January 2013, the American Embassy in Cairo told me it would no longer issue such letters.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #46 – I’m feeling very hopeful after spending the evening with the family of a good friend.

They invited me over to the house to talk about Gaza. The extended family was there — about 8 adults — who were very interested to hear about my time in Gaza. They were already extremely knowledgeable about the history and current events in the Middle East — and asked very thoughtful questions. Up until now, I thought the people who really cared about the Palestinians were the “peace activists” and we spent our days talking to the choir. This family gives me a renewed feeling of hope because they’re Americans who aren’t “activists” and not in the same circle as the choir, but very well-informed and want to make a difference. They’re committed to social justice. I bet there are many more Americans like them. Yeah!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #47 – I’m getting my “dog fix” before I leave. Dog-sitting a cute husky … her name is Luna but I keep calling her AnnaBelle after another dog I know well in California.  Luna turns around and looks at me like “You’re nuts lady! Can’t you remember MY name?” I’m really thinking about Cocoa who has been gone 4 years but I still miss him.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #48 — Ten years ago this month I visited Gaza for the first time. It was a very short visit but it left a very big impression on me. My friend and I took an award to a well-known psychologist in Gaza (Dr. El-Sarraj) because Israel would not allow this man to leave Gaza to accept his award at an international conference in Australia. He was being recognized for his groundbreaking work with children who suffer PTSD.  He died last year. http://m.aljazeera.com/story/20131218102323309644

#GoingtoGaza

Day #49 – My family thinks I’m nuts (at least one family member does). My plans to return to Gaza indicate I’m depressed, even suicidal — and a family intervention might be necessary! I know such concerns come from a place of love, but it angers me nevertheless.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #50 – Wow! Fifty days since I started this journey of packing up my house to leave the USA and travel to Gaza. Yesterday I signed up with a property manager who will look after my house in my absence. I feel good about her – not like one of those large, impersonal property management companies.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #51 – A word to the wise. Don’t collect 1000s of photos over 30-40 years and store them haphazardly in boxes, and expect to organize them in one afternoon. It just ain’t gonna happen. I need to finish packing up this weekend so the mover can put this stuff into storage. I never thought a large walk-in closet could be a curse. I imagine I will put all of these wonderful photos into albums someday when I’m sitting in a rocking chair.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #52 – Amazing how much you can accomplish when you have a team working together. My team includes a property manager, a painter, a mastermind/ coordinator, a gardener, a cook, a carpenter/ repairman, a mover, and a plumber. This is a well-oiled machine with everyone working together.  Lolololol

#GoingtoGaza

Day #53 – Feeling seriously overwhelmed today. I’ll never be ready for the “Estate Sale” this weekend. So much to do —- it seems impossible today. But check in with me on Saturday!  Ha!

#GoingtoGaza

Days #54 and #55 – getting ready for my Estate Sale tomorrow (Friday and Saturday). I’ve been so slammed with everything, I haven’t had time to check email, Facebook or Twitter. OMG! Keeping my fingers crossed that my junk is someone else’s treasure!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #56 – Feeling very grateful for all the good friends who made my sales day so successful!  Thank you! Looking forward to tomorrow’s sale from 8 am – 2 pm.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #57 – Saturday night was my farewell party to say goodbye to friends before I leave Albuquerque. I feel very blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. All I could think of as I talked with one and then another was “I’m not saying goodbye! I’m going to stay connected to each and every one via email, Facebook, Skype.” This is such a small world.  Imagine if I was my Dutch ancestor sailing away from family and friends in the 1600s! THAT would be a very sad farewell. But mine is a very joyous one!

#GoingtoGaza

Day #58 – Egypt has announced it is closing the Rafah border between Gaza and Egypt for 3 months after 32 Egyptian policemen were killed by a suicide bomber near the Rafah border on Friday. Egypt is also suspending talks between Israel and Hamas re. ceasefire truce. Predictably, blame is being placed on Palestinian militants from Gaza, and Egypt says the “only solution” is to create a “safe zone” presumably near Rafah to protect Egyptians. I find this very offensive and I’m going to write a blog post to explain why.

#GoingtoGaza

Day #59 – Less than two weeks until I leave ABQ. Now that the “Estate Sale” is finished, I’m tying up a zillion other pieces to make this transition a success.

#GoingtoGaza

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