Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

US Activists Head to Gaza

On my way to a restaurant in Brooklyn, I ran into two New York activists who would be heading to Gaza Saturday morning to deliver medical supplies and other “humanitarian goods.” While I had no time to conduct an interview with college students Christopher Westing and Rishi Ghosh, it appears they arrived safely in Egypt today.

The Associated Press reports,

About 100 U.S. activists arrived in Egypt Sunday on their way to Gaza, hoping to deliver medical aid, trucks and support for lifting a 2-year old Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the territory.

The activists are part of a charity group called “Viva Palestina” that aims to send a convoy of at least 200 people _ all Americans _ to Gaza by July 13. If their convoy is allowed to proceed, it would mark one of the largest groups of U.S. activists to reach the strip since the Islamic militant group Hamas wrestled control of the territory from its rival Fatah in 2007.

Aid going through Egypt must first be cleared by the Egyptian government. It was unclear whether authorities would approve this convoy. Most convoys going over land have been allowed to pass but usually after delays and bureaucracy at the borders.

The activists that arrived in Cairo Sunday will wait in Cairo for the rest of their group and supplies to assemble before heading to the border. The group is organized by British lawmaker George Galloway, who led a convoy that entered Gaza in March.

At the Cairo airport Sunday, the eclectic group of volunteers from different states, including rabbis and Christian activists, congregated in their blue T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Viva Palestina.”

Organizer Mansour al-Barbari, from Boise, Idaho, said the group so far has raised more than $1 million to pay for the shipment of trucks, small vans and medical and other supplies. He said the trip was designed to open up Americans’ eyes to what is happening in Gaza.

The success of the mission is challenged as well by the interception of the Israeli navy, which intercepted a ship Tuesday carrying foreign peace activists who were trying to break the blockade.

— Tina Carter, Trinity ’10
Categories: Israel-Palestine Tags: , ,

Music and Tennis Offer Differing Persepctives on Israeli-Arab Relations

February 20, 2009 Leave a comment

With a right-wing government forming in Israel and violence continuing in Gaza, prospects for peace between the Jewish state and the Palestinians seem to be dimming. Yet against this backdrop, the selection of a Jewish-Arab duo to represent Israel in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest offers a ray of hope for peaceful coexistence.

The selection of the Jewish-Israeli singer Achinoam Nini, who goes by the name Noa, and the Arab-Israeli singer Mira Awad to represent Israel  marks the first time an Arab will sing for Israel in the highly popular musical competition, which will occur in Moscow in mid-May. Noa and Mira Awad have previously performed together (Click her to see the duo on YouTube), and they told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that they plan to perform a song with lyrics in Hebrew, Arabic and English at the competition to emphasize the importance of coexistence.

“Some people will see an Arab girl who looks Jewish and a Jewish girl who looks Arab, which is what we are,” Nini told Haaretz in an interview. “Maybe it will open some people’s minds.”

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Already losing steam in the Arab world?

February 10, 2009 Leave a comment

In Sunday’s New York Times, Egyptian novelist Alaa al Aswany writes that by failing to speak up on the situation in Gaza is causing attrition to President Obama’s political capital in the Middle East.

While the Western media–and perhaps this venue included–were labeling Obama’s bold intiative in reaching out to Arabs and Muslims by speaking with Al Arabiya, Aswany says the reaction in Cairo was… well, muted at best:

But while most of my Egyptian friends knew about the interview, by then they were so frustrated by Mr. Obama’s silence that they weren’t particularly interested in watching it. I didn’t see it myself, but I went back and read the transcript. Again, his elegant words did not challenge America’s support of Israel, right or wrong, or its alliances with Arab dictators in the interest of pragmatism.

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A central question for the Barack Beat

January 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Where does the United States go first to shape then sustain Muslim world policy in the Barack Obama presidency?

The argument for Gaza becomes weighty if the index is human misery, misery on a level, even without international coverage (limited by Israeli censors). It is pitched most poignantly in the Will Youmans blog posted on the Palestine Center website.

As President Barack Obama assumes office, his first diplomatic overture to the region should be to immediately address Palestinian suffering in Gaza. Treating Gaza’s health care crisis with action would go a long way to address the urgent medical needs of Gazans and re-position the United States, whose image suffered tremendously due to the government’s complicity in the recent Israeli offensive, as a force of good in the region.

As Palestinian hospitals and doctors struggle to care for the wounded, any medical relief steps by the United States would help fill an urgent shortage in medical care, and send a powerful message to the Arab world. Amjad Atallah, director of the Middle East Task Force at New America, proposed early on that the United States should “do something to show everybody, the Arab world, the Muslim world, that the US cares and empathizes with the casualties that have resulted from this conflict.”[1] He recommended the United States set up a field hospital on the Egyptian-Gaza border with the International Committee of the Red Cross shuttling the injured out of Gaza.

Is Youmans, a 24/7 Palestine watcher, right? What would be the consequence of this bold act for other steps forward in hearts and minds diplomacy, with George Mitchell, he of Irish peace fame, in the driver’s seat for the Obama administration?

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