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Special Peace Team to Gaza, March 2, 2009


Here are some of insights and conclusions gleaned during our Special Peace Team to Gaza:

As we stood at the Erez and Rafah Crossings (borders in and out of Gaza) and as we talked by phone with friends in Gaza these things became clearer:

  • The grip of the occupation of Gaza is intense:
    Gaza is a walled prison. By land Israel encircles Gaza with walls electrified fences, and gun towers. Also, Israel retains control of Gazan air space, territorial waters, off shore maritime access, the population registry, the supply of electricity, water, fuel, gas, medicines, merchandise, entry and exit points regarding both people and goods, and the tax system.
  • The goal of the most recent bombing and invasion of Gaza was to terrorize the people.
    This bombing and invasion of Gaza (during December 27-January 18, 2009 AND continuing to the present day) was and is the most horrifying attack on Gaza in recent history.

As we talked with Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian people and internationals on the street and in bus stations, taxis, hotels, and restaurants these things became clearer:

  • Israeli citizens got behind the war, according to conversations and polls. Palestinian Israeli citizens who objected to the war have been harshly criticized, with the extreme right saying they should be expelled from the country.
  • The United States Government was and is a partner in the most recent siege against Gaza. Some people actually call this December 27-January 18, 2009 siege against Gaza “The United States and Israeli War against Gaza. The United States funds Israel’s military Occupation, including this invasion and closure of Gaza.
  • A key to change, that includes freedom and justice for Gazans and all Palestinians, is a change in the United. States’ relationship to Israel. The United States must stop funding and protecting Israel’s closure of Gaza and its ongoing attacks that kill children, women, and men.
  • There is a growing hatred of Americans in the Arab world that has roots in the United States unwavering commitment to Israel regardless of what Israel does.
  • The failure of the international community to stop or even restrain Israeli aggression and violations of human and political rights of Palestinians is a repeated scenario year after year. Israel is not held accountable by the international community so Israeli attacks and invasions of Gaza continue unabated.

At the same time, here are some positive things that fill us with hope and commitment:

  • The strength and resolve of Gazans and other Palestinians we know is incredible and inspiring.
  • We stand in solidarity with other international peace activists, NGOs, and all who work to assist Palestinians in their crisis and their cause for justice. We are not alone.
  • Palestinians appreciate all support they receive from the international community, and give us the mandate to tell the world the truth about the oppression they suffer.
  • We celebrate every change in the new Obama administration that can turn the tide toward peace for Palestinians and Israelis. They can live side by side. Palestinians and Israeli Jews we move among say so.
  • The work we feel mandated to do as MPT calls forth in us a relentless persistence to keep on.
  • ** We strive to change United States policy, believing a sea change will come.
    ** We continue to place our teams here in Palestine, at the request of Palestinians.
    ** We recruit new volunteers to be on our teams to Palestine.
    ** We educate the people of the United States about the reality of the Occupation.

With Gratitude …
Thank you for your continued commitment to Michigan Peace Team and thank you for your support – You are at the heart of Michigan Peace Team and your support helped to make possible this important SPECIAL PEACE TEAM TO GAZA!

-- Peter and Liz


Fred Schlomka said...

Keep up the good work.

The statement in the post "There is a growing hatred of Americans in the Arab world" is not entirely accurate. The hatred is for the US government and its policies. The vast majority of people in the Arab world will show traditional hospitality to US citizens, and are eager to hear their stories, even as they sharply criticize their government.

Nicole said...

Fred- Thanks for your wishes that we keep up the good work, as well as your constructive feedback! We appreciate your comments (I'll make sure they get to the writer(s) of the post, and the office). Best wishes to you, and keep reading.