As I’m getting ready to leave, I’m reading the graphic novel (actually graphic photo-journalism book) FOOTNOTES IN GAZA, written and illustrated by Joe Sacco. There’s an interesting review of the book in this Sunday’s New York Times. It vividly illustrates (literally) two Israeli massacres in Gaza in 1956. One (as far as I have read as of this posting) documents the Khan Younis massacre vividly, humanly, giving voice to the victims and the survivors. Little known to the world, these events are foundational to understanding the current situation in Gaza and Palestine, the nature of Israel and its backers.

The political struggle to get into Gaza intensifies

The political struggle to get the Egyptian authorities to grant international delegates to the Gaza Freedom March permission to cross into Gaza is sharpening up. Egypt’s decision, at this point, to close the border crossing into Gaza during the time we are scheduled to cross is a significant event in international news (BBC, Hindustan Times, Brunei World... In the US, unless you listen to Democracy Now, you haven’t heard about it. The BBC reports that Egypt warned that anyone attempting the crossing from Egypt would be "dealt with by the law." I’m not familiar with this publication, but a fellow-delegate sent me a link to an interesting analysis of Egypt’s position at a publication called Faster Times titled “Egypt Builds Walls and Bans Protests to Navigate the Gaza Border.” One thing that is becoming more and more clear to me is how ferociously, and yes, desperately, the world’s powers (and those whose strings they pull) are determined to suppress any news of the actual situation in Gaza and the conditions of the people there, and crush any expressions of outrage and opposition to that. The situation is unfolding rapidly, so again – stay tuned, subscribe to this blog, and send links to everyone you know.

A brief note on the status of our delegation

Over the past few days, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed march organizers that the crossing into Gaza from Egypt will be closed during the time we are scheduled to cross. It is very important that the march organizers, and participants, have responded that we are not changing our plans. This march is so important, and it is also critically important that we are able to witness, and then share with the world the situation the people of Gaza face. This is a story that all the great powers in the world today want suppressed, in particular “our own” government that backs and supports Israel’s crimes. The March organizers are calling on people to contact representatives of the Egyptian government and call on them to allow our delegation to proceed. I encourage all of you to do this (info is in the previous posting), and to follow events closely. And, to email my blog address to all your lists. I’ll be updating this blog as events develop.

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Let's all start thinking and organizing now on how to maximize the impact of this trip. I'm ready to speak to groups large and small when I get back. It will also be important to schedule talks to student groups who have budgets for speakers, as a way for me to pay back substantial money that was lent to me for this trip. Contact me:

Urgent update on status of Gaza Freedom March

From the organizers...
For Immediate Release: December 21st, 2009
Contact: Ann Wright
019 508 1493 (Cairo),

Gaza Freedom March is determined to break the siege
1,360 International Delegates appeal to Egypt to let the March proceed

Citing escalating tensions on the Gaza-Egypt border, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry informed us on December 20 that the Rafah border will be closed over the coming weeks, into January. We responded that there is always tension at the border because of the siege and that if there are any risks, they are risks we are willing to take. We also said that it was too late for over 1,360 delegates coming from over 42 countries to change their plans now...
Read entire press release plus what you can do

Getting ready to go to the Gaza Freedom March

I'm preparing to go on the Gaza Freedom March – in Gaza, Palestine – on New Years Day. And, to spend time in Gaza learning first hand about the lives of the people and the conditions they face. This march marks the one-year anniversary of Israel's horrific assault on Gaza. A UN delegation led by Richard Goldstone said the blockade that preceded the assault constituted "violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," and that in the war itself, Israel's target was "at least in part… the people of Gaza as a whole.” (for an insightful summary of, and analysis of the Goldstone report, how it has come under attack, and why it was ignored by the U.N, see " Gaza UN report: The U.S. and Israel vs. the truth," by A World To Win News Service).

I'll be reporting from Gaza for Revolution and beyond, and I'm going to use this blog to share news as it happens, bounce my thoughts off of you, and pose questions that I'm investigating or thinking about. So, here we go with missive #1…

Preparing for the trip has been inspiring, and eye opening. I've had a chance to meet dozens of people from the U.S. who are going – religious activists (including Muslims and Jews), people from the Middle East, activists who have been protesting Israel's crimes against the Palestinians for years, and a significant number of college students – many of them women.

It's very heartening to hear people from the U.S., from many walks of life, talk about their motivation to brave dangers and make this trip. The courageous example of Rachel Corrie came up at an orientation meeting, and that is a factor that inspires people. In future postings, I'll be sharing more about the people going, and their motivations and stories. There are, of course, lively and intense discussions, exchanges and disagreements among those going over politics, religion, culture and our various understandings of the foundational factors and causes that have led to the intolerable situation in Gaza – even as we all oppose the blockade of Gaza and stand in solidarity with the people there (the march as a whole takes no position on the current Gaza administration).

I've also had a chance to network with, and get valuable advice from artists and writers with ties to and deep knowledge of the Middle East – including an influential artist in the region whose work explores with sensitivity the experiences of women discovering sexuality, the oppression of women, and homosexuality – not topics one might associate with popular culture in the Middle East these days. I'm curious to learn more about what this represents.

Finally – and importantly -- I want to make you all aware that our trip depends on the Egyptian authorities allowing us to enter Gaza. This will be touch-and-go until we cross the border. Those going are mobilizing public opinion in Egypt, and around the world, to create a climate where the Egyptian authorities do not impede or delay us. If there are well known or influential people among those reading this posting, or people who know such people, letters to the Egyptian government affirming the importance of allowing our delegation expeditious and unhindered crossing into Gaza will be helpful, maybe critical. Those letters can be emailed to me, and I will make them available to the march organizers, or they can be sent to the march's Government Liaison and Logistics coordinator in Gaza/Egypt -- Ann Wright -- at

Stay tuned!
Alan Goodman