Sunday, November 2, 2008

Abetting the Enemy

OK - I need to 'fess up: I smuggled dangerous forbidden goods into a hotbed of terrorism.

Couple weeks back, I got an opportunity to visit Gaza.

The day before, someone had to let go of a second pair of shoes before going inside the Gaza Strip. Why? As always in Israel, "security concerns" can justify anything. (By the way America, when "security concerns" are used to justify the unjustifiable, start being concerned.)

Another time, an international aid worker was prevented from bringing a laptop into Gaza. This created outrage and some commotion. Maybe the outrage helped me, because I was able to bring my dangerous goods (must be dangerous if they are forbidden due to "security reasons") inside Gaza without any problem. Baruch Hashem, Al hamdou lillah and Praise the Lord!

And so, me, my food processor and my toaster (yes - that's what it's about) entered Gaza. As it turned out, it was on the same day as the Free Gaza boat sailing from Cyprus.

I got to hear speeches from some leaders of this initiative at a reception organized by Gazan civil society organizations. What a breath of fresh air these people were. They had the credibility of people who took action, defied the mighty state of Israel to come bring hope and encouragement to a population where children are born in prison. Yet, they spoke of non-violence, of respect for all neighbors, including the Jewish neighbor of tomorrow (today's occupier). And they questioned why we let Gaza be choked and strangled.

We--the world--sanction this state of things, presumably because the group which runs the place (Hamas) is a terrorist organization. I, for one, have no sympathies for fundamentalist religions (Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Marxist, Capitalist, or Muslim); and even less for violent religions (plug in same list). But Hamas made an agreement with Israel: if Israel would stop sending military assassination teams in the Gaza Strip at night and shooting civilians (aka "militants" and presumably "terrorists" including one 9 year old girl who was decapitated by an F-16 strike 6 months ago), then Hamas would stop shooting Qassam rockets (which also -- though with very poor efficiency -- kill innocent by-standers). The agreement was made, and so far it has held. (Read here for more details.)

Anyway - for a brief moment - as I handed over the food processor and toaster to my friends, I felt I was part of this Free Gaza movement, I felt I was a non-violent heroic peace activist slowly changing the world for the better.

Then Firyal made cake with the processor and we ate it. Al hamdou lillah.

Photo caption: Firyal and future Palestinian football (soccer) chamption with illegal goods behind them.

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