And so it begins …

For a long time one of my favorite sayings has been, The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We are (i am) all to often easily overwhelmed by the feeling that something is too big to tackle. Or that something is too preposterously complicated to even consider. My decision to travel to Gaza at the end of May falls into both categories.

Many of you reading this will no doubt recall my announcement in July 2008 that i would accompany a Global Exchange delegation leaving for Iran in October. At that time, the drums of war were beating more loudly than they are now for an attack on Iran, which i felt would have been even more unjustified than the attack by ex-President Bush (i just love the sound of those words!) on Iraq. i was strongly attracted by the citizen-to-citizen aspect of the trip, and the hope that where nation-to-nation contacts (i.e., diplomacy) had so spectacularly failed for so long, people-to-people contacts would at least draw the world’s attention to another way of doing things. Don’t you feel that, especially in times like these, business-as-usual needs to be shown the door?

Unfortunately, i was unable to follow through on making that trip. Planning a trip to a place like Iran is one thing, but doing so without the benefit of being ensconced in one’s own home — without, for example, one’s own computer hooked up to the internet — made going on that trip seem impossible. In any event, as readers of my other blog know, after many months of hoping for the right place in southern Humboldt to materialize (near the community radio station where i’m a music-DJ), i finally realized that Spirit had plans for me elsewhere, and i have been happily enthroned in my new home up here in northern Humboldt, where the housing market is much livelier, since the end of March.

So when the email in mid-April from Code Pink announcing that international delegations, at the invitation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) would attempt to enter Gaza (one from Egypt through Rafah, the other from Israel through Erez), i was .. catalyzed. i’ve attempted to come up with a few answers for anyone who might be wondering why am i going to Gaza?Latuffe

because  i’ve emailed and made phone calls for a long time now, about a range of issues, and have felt for some time that i’ve wanted to do something more visible, hopefully more meaningful;

because i realize that my previous experiences .. as a world traveler, and as a teacher of English and manager of a corporate library in the Middle East for six years, who has Arab, Jewish and Muslim friends in several nations  .. have produced a set of interests and personal skills that make a trip like this imaginable;

because my skills as a writer, photographer and editor can perhaps be put to use more effectively in educating Americans about the realities of the Palestinians’ struggle for self-preservation if i can talk about what i’ve seen with my own eyes. And finally, not least

because the casual way the world regards the plight of the Palestinians (and the Darfuris, and the Kashmiris, and the Congolese, ad nauseam) seems in itself an injustice. i want to play a part, however seemingly small or insignificant, in bringing the attention of the international community back to Gazans, especially the children of Gaza.

This might be a good place to stop for the first post. i’m thinking i’ll try to include a bit more about the chronology of events over the past ten days or so, and then just update on a regular basis. Thanks for tuning in. Hope you’ll be with me for the rest of the trip, at least in spirit. i close now with some food for thought, until the next time we engage.

My friend, take care. When you recognize the concept of ‘Palestine,’ you demolish your right to live in Ein Hahoresh. If this is Palestine and not the land of Israel, then you are conquerors and not tillers of the land. You are invaders. If this is Palestine, then it belongs to a people who lived here before you came. ~ former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Yediot Ahronot, 17 Oct. ’69, cited in Roane Carey, ed., The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid, p. 176.

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One Response to “And so it begins …”

  1. Sylvia Olson Says:

    Doug, thank you for sharing your story of your time in Gaza. I look forward to future installments.

    I have been feeling so apolitical lately: appalled by the situation in the U.S. and the world, but hopeless and helpless to do much to improve it. Your passionate involvement may spark my latent activism to new life.

    Thanks for making my 4th of July more meaningful.

    Big hugs! — Sylvia

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