Viva Palestina!

Report from John Parker, West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center.

Parker is one of four IAC activists participating in the Viva Palestina delegation to Gaza.

A delegation of about 200 people left for Cairo, Egypt from July 4th to July 7th, en route to Gaza to make the political demand of breaking and defying Israel’s illegal and genocidal siege of Gaza and to provide much-needed humanitarian aid to the people–wheelchairs, walkers and medical supplies.
We are currently split up into two groups.  One group is made up of the drivers of the vehicles that will transport some of the aid from Alexandria, Egypt, through the border of Gaza.  I am part of this group.  The other group is gathering and organizing other medical supplies in Cairo, and they will meet up with us at the border.
New York City Councilmember Charles Barron has already joined the group in Cairo and will also be at the border for the crossing.  Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney will also be joining us at the border of Gaza before we cross.  McKinney was released only a few days ago from an Israeli jail, where she and 20 other activists were held after being abducted by the Israeli navy from the Spirit of Humanity boat which was carrying aid to Gaza.
I am proud to be a part of building and participating in this tremendous effort to expose the horror of Israel’s war against the Palestinian people, which the media tries to hide from the world.  As Ron Kovic, one of the initiators of this campaign in the U.S., along with British MP George Galloway said, “We are going there to offer a hand of friendship and solidarity, not bombs and terror.”
Israel’s bombing of Gaza for 23 days starting last December caused an immense and terrifying amount of damage.  At least 20 percent of the children there suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the bombing.  Half of the hospitals in Gaza and 47,000 homes were damaged.
However, one thing wasn’t damaged–the will of the people of Gaza to survive and to strongly demand self-determination.  This is what inspires us to do all we can.
Judging from the reaction we receive here in Egypt from people who see our Viva Palestina USA T-shirts, many of the Egyptian people are proud and inspired by the courageous people of Gaza.  For example, a young woman who spoke English asked Judy Greenspan, another IAC organizer on the trip, what her T-shirt meant.  After Judy told her, she replied that a family member of hers works in a pharmacy and she wanted to donate medical supplies for the convoy.
This delegation is the second such convoy initiated by British MP George Galloway.  He organized the first in the UK.  The second one, which left from the U.S., was organized in collaboration with Vietnam veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovic, author of “Born on the Fourth of July.”
However, in the U.S., this effort is the result of the work of many in the Arab community, in the Mosques, in organizations like Al-Awda and others, in addition to anti-war and social justice organizations. On the delegation are members of CAIR, Middle East Childrens Alliance, Cuba Coalition, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, MECHA, International Action Center, International Socialist Organization, Workers World Party, ANSWER Coalition and many more.  All of the organizations participated in making this campaign possible.  However, along with the UK team of Viva Palestine, the lion’s share of the credit must go to the Arab and Muslim communities in the U.S., which raised much of the funding for this effort.
Media coverage of our trip has been good.  Photographs here are from the most recent press conference in Cairo.  The press conference held on July 9 was covered by Al Jazeera and by one of the largest media outlets in Egupt.  In addition, there have been many interviews of individuals on the trip.   With Cynthia McKinney joining us at the border and the presence of Councilmember Charles Barron, that coverage will increase.
I should also mention the very impressive showing of support by members of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement represented by four Black youth.  One of them, Brandon, is shown here holding a red, black and green African Liberation flag.  He began his remarks at the press conference by giving a “shout out” to the people of Africa on the continent and referenced the people of Africa on the U.S. delegation, who were showing their solidarity with Palestine.  He made the links between the racism and repression faced by Palestinian people and the occupation of Gaza with the repression faced by Black people in the U.S. by police brutality and occupation of their neighborhoods.  He said he was inspired to come on the delegation by the actions of Cynthia McKinney.
Delegates here in Alexandria are anxiously waiting to load up and decorate the vehicles and begin their journey to Gaza.  These vehicles will be donated to the people of Gaza.

One Response to “Viva Palestina!”

  1. William Freeman Says:

    Greetings to the stricken People of Palestine, my heart is with you.

    First off, a bit about myself: I have a marketing background, having worked in public relations for a long time. Working in this field, I know that to sell something you need to get your core message over to the person you want to move, with the slightest possible means.
    The man who put down the ground work for public relations was called Edward Bernays. A puppet of the exact people who are killing and repressing you.
    Let’s use their own mans work against them!
    The trouble I see, is that you are not getting your core message out to the people of the world. The controlled media is successfully suppressing any news of the Israeli atrocities against you. Even the kidnapping of Cynthia McKinney was easily blocked out.
    The work of everyone involved in helping Palestine is invaluable, but there should be an additional key.
    And there is.
    The letters SOS (save our souls) are the international signal for distress. If anyone was ever in distress, it must be the Palestinian people.
    Three simple, but effective letters.
    My advice: Use these letters!
    Use them everywhere; On every field, wall, window, rooftop, road, shirt, dress, wherever there is a space. The bigger the better.
    This way, whenever anything is filmed by the media, the message is omnipresent.
    At some stage, people worldwide will see this message and they will ask what it is about.
    Imagine the disgust of the world, when seeing Israeli pilots bombing a building with an SOS sign on it, or a soldier shooting a woman with SOS written on her clothing.
    In the west we are brought up to think that you don’t harm people who are in distress.

    It may, and I’m not saying it will, but it may even have a long term effect on the so called soldiers committing these crimes…..even when it is only in their darkest hours, when they are alone with their consciences.
    Make them feel guilty, the way they make others feel guilty.

    I’m not saying it’s the big solution everyone has been waiting for, and it’s not a bringer of miracles, but it could be an added opportunity of attention.

    It would be the worldwide first of it’s kind.

    Ask the world for help.


    Good luck

    William Freeman

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