A s a group of Israeli peace activists gathered near the Erez crossing on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, 1200 international activists with the ‘Gaza Freedom March’ held a rally in Cairo to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion of Gaza. The Cairo march was attacked by Egyptian police, injuring several demonstrators.
After over 1200 international delegates with the ‘Gaza Freedom March’ were denied entry into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday (100 members of the delegation were allowed to enter), the group organized a protest march and rally in Cairo Thursday, which was attacked by Egyptian riot police. [continued…]
There was very little discussion of political ideas, and what Mick offered was pithy and inspiring: We were here because it was “an obscenity in the 21st century” that the people of Gaza did not have the freedom to come and go. The walls had come down in Berlin and South Africa, they must come down here.
A lot of the questions were about violence. The Egyptians had shown little appetite for hurting westerners, but you did not know. And what if you felt uncomfortable with the idea of being arrested or clubbed? “The demonstration is for everyone,” Mick said. “There’s always the option of walking away and saying, enough is enough.” Those who wanted to observe and support could do that. There would not be “a scintilla” of pressure on anyone to do what they did not want to do.
Sitting on the stairwell, I wondered what I was doing there. The jammed space had a romance, an air of the many freedom marches before this; and the word “provocateurs” was redolent of socialist activism. I’m not a radical, but a left/liberal; the doorways for my engagement here was not solidarity with suffering people but good old self interest: my concerns about American militarism in the Middle East and Zionism in Jewish life. And yet here I was; and it occurred to me that certain injustices become so disturbing to some people, to their understanding of history, that they must take a stand, and are willing to make great sacrifices to do so; and in that sense I was also a radical, if a reluctant one. [continued…]