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Palestine/Gaza: In Preparation for the Gaza Freedom March

Gaza Victory
On the 31 December, the Gaza Freedom March is taking place to mark a year passing since Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli attack on Gaza.

The International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza is mobilising an international contingent to march alongside the people of Gaza, in a non-violent show of solidarity and with the hope of ending the Gaza blockade.

Many of the participants have already arrived in Cairo in preparation.

The Freedom March has the participation of many noteworthy people, including author Alice Walker, Syrian actor and director Duraid Lahham, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and French rap group MAP, amongst others.
Amongst the participants is 84-year old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstien.

Hedy Epstein has been actively raising awareness about the march. On 01 Dec 2009, along with J’Ann Allen, the wife of a retired military officer and Sandra Mansour, a Palestinian refugee, she issued a public invitation to political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel to go to Gaza with them.
Wiesel was urged to “Break Your Silence and Come With Us”, during a speech at St.Louis University:

Hedy Epsteins participation in the March has been met with much appreciaton:
Desertpeace applauds her participation:

Seeing a survivor of those horrors [The Holocaust] struggle against today’s evils is truly an inspiration. I am speaking of Hedy Epstein, who as I write this, is on her way to Gaza to take part in the Gaza Freedom March. This is what the Holocaust should have ‘produced’ as an ‘industry’, an industry that does not allow a repetition of the past…. NEVER AGAIN!

The organisation of the march has not, however, been without its hurdles, and organisers the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza, have not been beyond criticism.

Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry and ‘dreamer’ of the march, was initially an active member of the coalition, but has since resigned. His frustration came from a much-debated change in the statement of the coalition. The original statement of the coalition was to march to break the siege in accordance with the principle of non-violence and anchored in international law. The statement was later amended to include the ‘political context,’ which Finkelstein deemed divisive as it brought in potentially contentious issues unnecessary to the original appeal.  While he does not specify the exact amendments with which he objects, he comments in his address Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition:

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration.

His high-profile departure was accompanied by the withdrawal of a number of other active members. Max at Jewbonics noted his departure from the movement with regret. As an organiser of the march he responded to fears that others would leave the movement, reporting:

I think it is safe to say that number lost will be dwarfed by the number gained, if what I've seen in-person and on-line has been any indication

Despite concerns over the numbers endorsing the march, this is indeed a mass demonstration, and is the first time that Palestinians will be coming together in such large numbers along with international support: there are an estimated 1,300 international participants participating, who will meet in Cairo and march alongside a predicated 50,000 local residents once they have crossed into Gaza through Rafah.

At the Electronic Intifada, Rami Almeghari reports that:

In recent months, people in Gaza believe the international community began to direct its attention elsewhere, neglecting the siege of Gaza. Few international media outlets pay attention to the situation here.

The march hopes to change this. Mustafa al-Kayali, coordinator of the steering committee for the Gaza Freedom March, reports:

We call on the internationals who come here not to consider their visits as tourism. Rather, they should convey a real message from the ground to their peoples, organizations or governments…
Most of local youth with whom I talked over the Gaza Freedom March expressed excitement and enthusiasm for participation. They are keen to send a message to the outside world that the Palestinian people are there and that humans should be united for the sake of freedom.

More information about the Gaza Freedom March, its participants, mission, and on-going preparation, can be found here.

36 comments

  • MERC

    *Sigh* more Zionist propaganda from Robby. Baby steps: Hamas is a resistance organisation. Gaza is under occupation. Resistance to occupation is a fundamental and legal human right. Hamas has used homemade rockets to resist Israel’s illegal blockade and illegal ongoing attacks. It tried a ceasefire in 2008 but Israel refused to lift its blockade. When, on 4th November 2008, Israel rocketed to death 6 Palestinian resistance fighters, Hamas resumed its symbolic resistance and launched its primitive, but largely ineffectual rockets. Israel then proceeded to run wild in Gaza, with the horrific consequences known to all. If Robby could suggest how else a resistance organisation is supposed to resist the depredations of a genocidal occupying power, I’m sure we’d all be fascinated to know. But please, no more bull about renouncing violence (which I notice he doesn’t expect of Israel) or recognising Israel as a state for Jews the world over, but not the millions of Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homeland in 48 and 67.

  • Kevin Charles Herbert

    Robby,

    Once again we hear the Israeli disinformation re HAMAS’s position. Let me out it so you understand:
    1. Why should an occupied society renounce violence when its occupiers have meted out extreme violence on its peoples for the past 42 years? 2. HAMAS has said many time in recent years that it will recognise Israel provided the pre ’67 borders are observed. 3. Honour which past agreements?..you have to cite the facts, not Zionist disinformation.

    I’m betting you don’t read Haaretz.

  • Robby

    Merc, Kevin – So we are all in agreement – as leaders of the Palestinian people in Gaza HAMAS has decided not to meet the conditions set upon them to open negotiations and end the Egyptian/Israeli siege, correct? As democratically elected leaders it is within their right to do so, but as leaders they must also deal with the success/failure of that decision, just like leaders all over the world do, aren’t they?

    The occupation in Gaza today is military operations, which stop when the missiles stop. It is the responsibility of HAMAS to stop the missiles or suffer the consequences, a choice I’m sure they are aware of.

    It is convenient to call HAMAS resistance fighters, but please tell me how firing at civilians is an act of resistance?

    Please show me a source where HAMAS agreed to a permanent treaty within the 67 borders. I’ve only heard of temporary agreements followed by a statement that they won’t change their charter about destroying Israel.

  • MERC

    Bobby, how much do you get paid in the hasbara unit of the Israeli foreign ministry? Can’t you find a more dignified way to make a living?

  • Robby

    Merc – Nice deflection, I’ll take your response to mean you agree with all of my statements.

  • MERC

    The dog’s still barking, but the caravan’s moved on.

  • Kevin Charles Herbert

    Robby,

    You’re just another morally blind Zionist. You’re attempts at sophistry are poorly exectued. You really are yet another reason why so many free thinking people globally have deserted Zionism as a failed movement. Hamas garners support from weakly argued positions such as that you have provided.

  • Tarcisio Romero de Oliveira

    Dear people,

    As Brazilian – in a country where catholics and protestants, jewish and muslims, everybody lives in peace – I really support this march and initiative.
    Our experience with the “favelas” – in a certain POV our “Gaza” – is: if we don´t include and support this people, don´t provide work, health, education and dignity, the violence won´t stop. One side must cede. The Lula´s experience is a real success in Brazil.
    Of course, the situation is more complex, but we can´t see another holocaust. The human kind won´t support more this.
    Freedom for Gaza. Peace for Israel and Palestine people!

    Tarcisio

  • Robby

    Kevin – What do you mean “attempts at sophistry”? I doubt anyone would support HAMAS because of me.

    I didn’t understand your question about me reading Haaretz, I do read it occasionally.

    You didn’t address any of my statements, so I assume you are also in agreement them as well.

  • Jane

    BOTTOM LINE:

    Palestine has been occupied by israel for over 60 years. They have broken ALL UN resolutions established – which means clearly theyre AT FAULT.

    Keeping the Palestinians prisoners in their OWN land is NOT ok – and whoever thinks so needs to do some research.

    Please people understand. – The basic truth is that
    this land belongs to the Palestinians, i mean COME ON they were there first – waaayy before isreael was created in 1948.
    You cant deny that, if you do ; once again PLEASE PLEASE do your research.

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