25 September 2010, Saturday
Thanks, Jaclyn. I’ll share my anticipation and some thoughts about this trip too.
I just read Jaclyn Friedman’s blog “Anticipation” on our Nobel Women’s Initiative website. Parts made me smile. Jaclyn, why wouldn’t you be invited on this delegation? I look forward to meeting you. I’m a grassroots activist, a writer and an educator – at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where I hope my students in the “Global Justice” class will find time to take a look at our journey from time to time. (Maybe I’ll try to give them extra credit if they do! Ha! Not likely…..)
I think Jaclyn and I will be part of a good team that makes up our delegation. Mairead Maguire has long experience with Palestine; she will be a good guide. If Israel lets her into the country. Although Mairead has been to Palestine many times, more recently she has participated in the humanitarian flotillas trying to break the blockade of Gaza and it is now not clear what her status is with the Israeli government.
Although in my various work over the years – or, more accurately, decades – has taken me to more than 70 countries, I’ve never been to Palestine. Or to Israel…..
26 September 2010, Sunday
…..I’ve been to Lebanon. To Cairo and the still heavily mine-and-other-explosive-device-contaminated battlefield of El Alamein of World War II. To Jordan as well. But this will be my first trip to Palestine and Israel. I look forward to sharing my perceptions with Jaclyn and everyone else on the delegation – and those who follow the blogs. Like Jaclyn, mostly I look forward to listening and learning from those who live there.
I worry that I won’t do an adequate job leading this group. Not because of the members of the delegation, who I very much look forward to meeting and working with on this trip and after, but because of all that Palestine and Israel seem to be, are and symbolize both to people who live there and also to people all around the world. How possible is it to put aside preconceptions of all types and be as open as we can be to what we see, hear and experience while there? And what do we do with what we experience after? We can’t just go, experience, return and then….nothing. But what might we do individually and together?
I just heard that a boat organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus for Gaza. I checked it out on the website “Jews for Justice for Palestinians”, which reads:
“The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying nine passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist.
The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza’s hospitals.
The receiving organization in Gaza is The Palestinian International Campaign to end the siege on Gaza, directed by Dr. Eyad Sarraj and Amjad Shawa, Director of PNGO…
Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.
‘Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,’ said Kuper. ‘We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.’”
How will this boat be treated by the Israeli government? Surely it won’t be another “Mavi Marmara” incident – that boat from a flotilla earlier this summer which was assaulted by Israeli Defense Forces, leaving nine activists dead. This has lead to controversy, worldwide condemnation of the Israeli raid and investigations into the incident. Just google “Mavi Marmara” and there is more information than you can read about it all – and from a variety of perspectives.
If this boat, the “Irene,” is boarded and hauled to Israel like other boats, the people on it will likely be detained, deported. But what about the Israelis on the boat? What will happen to them? I read one commentary from a reader on a website carrying this story who referred to those on the Irene as “self-hating Jews.”
Why would people who actually believe in human rights for all, in peace, in solidarity, in the illegality of collective punishment – and act on those beliefs – be “self hating”? If we accept that others have the same rights as we do; if we believe in international law; if we struggle to accept those we might, in our ignorance, be fearful of, does that make all of us who do “self haters”? If so, then I must be one, but I must say that no one who really knows me would ever accuse me of self-hatred. In fact, they would scoff at such a notion.
Given Mairead’s experiences on peace flotillas, this is certainly interesting at this moment as we are just a couple of days now from arriving there and beginning our trip.
Ok. That has to be it for now. I think it is time to go start packing and thinking through what I’ll need for this trip. I leave for the airport in about 24 hours. More later… Oh, hey, Jaclyn. See you soon and thanks for your blog, which I enjoyed reading and which spurred me to start writing too…..