My Week in Gaza

When people heard I was going to Gaza there were two common comments. Why are you going there and will you be safe? In fact, I was very safe in Gaza. I was protected by Gaza hosts and my White, Male, American privilege. The Gaza people were happy to meet and talk to any Americans who were allowed into their prison home. I am told the Israeli weapons control systems were so sophisticated that they could tell who they were killing. They would probably not risk an incident by firing on an American, unless of course my name was Rachel Corrie.  If asked why the Israelis murdered her, I answer the way some Palestinians would respond to questions of Israeli motivation, “I don’t know,” because anything is pure speculation.

“I’ve seen the bombed-out buildings, the tunnels that are used to bring basic supplies, food, clothing, fuel, medicine, into Gaza from Egypt, saw where Rachel was murdered, talked with a farmer who could not ship his strawberries outside the border of Gaza, talked with people who, like the strawberries, could not leave Gaza, learned that structures cannot be rebuilt or replaced because building supplies are not allowed by Israel to enter Gaza. I saw a destroyed juice-processing plant, an industrial facility destroyed by illegal white phosphorus, talked with workers who did not speak English (I don’t speak Arabic), but somehow we connected. I learned to love the Palestinian people.  They do not know why they were attacked last year or why they are now imprisoned in there own country. My goal was to keep caring, listening and to show that I understood, to learn more and commit to return to the US to tell what I had learned in Gaza. That was the first full day. There were four more to experience.

We went to the House of Wisdom where several of us had dialogue with Gaza intellectuals. From the 11th floor, it was a long walk to the ground because a normal power failure disabled the elevator. The daily 4:00 am Muslim chanting, the 5:00 am coffee with the hotel staff, the friendly black uniformed Hamas guard who laid down his AK-47s to have morning coffee with us. Often called “Terrorists,” this nice young Hamas soldier gave me souvenir to bring home, but absolutely refused the t-shirt I tried to give him in return.

In conclusion, I found the People of Gaza very polite. ”Welcome,” “Sir” and “Thank You” were words I heard frequently. Departing was usually accompanied by a hug and perhaps a kiss (by men only). That is a very warm memory.

The other side is not as pleasant. I came to the realization that when I completed an IRS Form 1040, my check was supporting the 3 to 5 Billion dollars we send each year to Israel. Much of that money buys  arms from American companies, American manufactured weapons such as F-16 fighters, Apache Helicopters and other weapons of destruction. In the Siege of December ’08 to Jan ’09, there were about 1400 Palestinians killed compared with about a dozen Israelis. Out of balance? Add to those statistics the fact that 300 women and 400 children are included in the Palestian Figures. American involvement? We sent money and manufactured weapons. The fact that we did not send troops does not relieve me of the blame as enabler-country of this gross massacre that took place last year. They best I can do for now is remind you that there are lies that must be tested by truth. There is much to learn and I hope you do. Write your Congress people and ask for a complete public evaluation of America’s involvement in Israel-Palestine.

Peace to all of us,
Jack
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One Response to “My Week in Gaza”

  1. nancy Says:

    As you remind us, we in the US are contributing to this situation with huge sums of our tax money. We are responsible.

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