Friday, January 1, 2010

Some Analysis

Photo - Left: Egyptian security enforcing a "Stop! You may not move forward" rule leveled against the Gaza Freedom March. Not pictured but on the sidelines are rows of military personnel ready to enforce his command.

In the sharing that follows we lift up six points that we believe are foundational to events surrounding the Gaza Freedom March. This information is documented by means of eye witness accounts, field notes, photos, and official reports. Due to limited space, our sharing here is brief. Upon returning to Michigan we hope to be invited by you and other readers, to give longer documented presentations at scheduled events.

POINT ONE:United States, Egypt and Israel collaborate in the closure of Gaza.

The short listing of Gaza border openings during the past two and a half years attests to the fact that the Egyptian Government assists Israel in sealing Gaza off from the rest of the world. In addition, Egypt's restrictions regarding the Gaza Freedom March and hundreds of other social justice or humanitarian groups illustrates that Egypt prevents entry of aid and support from the outside world into Gaza. For example, after months of negotiation between organizers of Gaza Freedom March and the Egyptian Government, only 100 of 1,360 GFM participants were permitted a two-day visit to Gaza. Moreover, Gaza Freedom March participants are forbidden to gather on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border for evcn a one-minute rally.

While many embassies around the world embrace the goals of the Gaza Freedom March, the USA Gaza Freedom March delegation did not appear to be welcome at the United States Embassy in Egypt. Also, Egyptian Armed Forces were employed to block all entrances to the embassy and to intimidate and abuse USA citizens attempting to visit the embassy.

POINT TWO: An Egyptian Police State apparatus is used to control citizens and visitors alike.

Banned from the Gaza border area, and blocked by checkpoints, soldiers, and police, the Gaza Freedom March had little choice but to remain in Cairo. All GFM planned events were rendered impossible by Egypt because a "no right to assemble" rule was imposed. GFM participants were watched by goverment agents morning, noon, and night. We experienced survellance, questioning, orders from headquarters, filming by authorities, hotel lockdown, and other intimidation tactics. The Egyptian police state apparatus was at work on the streets and in taxi cabs, restaurants, hotels, bus stations, and many other public and private places. After being vilified in the Egyptian press as "hooligans and troublemakers," internationals were not welcome by local merchants.

POINT THREE: The Gaza Freedom March is committed to nonviolent action.

During the Gaza Freedom March, diverse nonviolent communities from 42 nations worked together to connect in harmony with friend and foe, and to call for an end of the siege on Gaza. It was amazing to witness the diversity and unity at work.

The inner workings of participating communities is nonviolent at every level. Each person has a voice in decisionmaking if they choose to use it; every person is needed; working in nonviolent teams is essential. We are committed to helping one another maintain a nonviolent spirit and the integrity of the nonviolent action.

The conflict that arose over whether or not to participate in the Egyptian Government's decision to allow 100 of the 1,360 GFM participants into Gaza for two days presented an enormous challenge to all of us. Although deeply divided over this issue, everyone kept speaking and seeking the truth. Some were deeply offended in the process, but we continue to move in the direction of unity, agreeing to disagree on the most sensitive points.

POINT FOUR: There is power to nonviolence!

The Gaza Freedom March demonstrates time and again the power of nonviolence.

Nonviolent action gives power to the ordinary people. It calls us to truth and fills us with love of both friend and foe. Belonging to a nonviolent community diminishes fear; it helps us to tap into our inner strength. The tools and skills of nonviolence free us from the so-called need for violence and weapons, including manipulation and retaliation.

Because we believe in the interconnectedness of all life, because we are disciplined, committed, and well schooled in the skills of nonviolent action, because we work in communities where every person is valued, nonviolent action continues. Nonviolence cannot be stopped. Even in the the face of violence, obstacles, distortions and lies from the powers, nonviolent action continues.

A nonviolent community requires shared leadership. There are no leaders to target or remove so the movement cannot be crushed.

POINT FIVE: The organizers of the Gaza Freedom March are doing a great job!

We are grateful beyond words for the organizers of the Gaza Freedom March. Your preparations during the past months required thousands of hours of work. In spite of the fact that actions by the police state neutralized much preparatory work, your creative last minute planning and adjustments brought the Gaza Freedom March to life.

For Michigan Peace Team the Gaza Freedom March is a tremendous experience. Thank you.

Special thanks from Michigan Peace Team to organizers from Code Pink. You have touched our hearts and inspired us deeply.

POINT SIX: Exodus!
Our MPT experience in Cairo with Egyptian security constantly following us, limiting our every move helps us to connect with the dire situation of the people in Gaza. In Gaza the borders are sealed by outside authorities. Gazans are locked in and their access to basic human needs for survival and quality of life are dependent at the WHIM of the powers that be: that is, Israel, Egypt, and the United States. What a biblical experience! Gazans are locked in and, the Gaza Freedom March is locked out by Egyptian armed forces and Israeli and USA power/ influence. What is needed is a 21st Century Exodus. ... LET MY PEOPLE BE FREE! FREE GAZA!

MPT Peace Team to Gaza Freedom March

From Left to Right: Liz Walters, Kim Redigan, Yusif Barakat, Isabella Rowan, Dorothy Ritter, Sheri Wander

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