An introduction to the Gaza Freedom March UPDATE

There is probably no better way to introduce the Gaza Freedom March now going on than through this article by the Australian peace activist Antony Loewenstein. Much has passed in the preparation of this international peace assault on Gaza, which is finally coming to fruition.

Jimmy Carter called the siege of Gaza "inhumane" and indeed it is. Everyday the siege kills babies, children, and medical patients while causing misery to the people of Gaza.

The title of Lowenstein's piece is, Call for Israel to lift siege of Gaza, written by Pam Walker, Sydney City Hub newspaper.

16 December 2009

Author and journalist Antony Loewenstein is among a group of prominent Sydney activists who will travel to Gaza to join the Gaza Freedom March on December 31, an international protest demanding the opening of the borders and the breaking of the blockade.

With him will be peace activist and Iraq war human shield Donna Mulhearn, Jews Against the Occupation's Vivienne Porzsolt and Stop the War Coalition's Marlene Obeid.

The Sydney activists will join 1000 international delegates from 40 countries, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, French Senator Alima Boumediene-Thiery, author and Filipino Parliament member Walden Bello, former European Parliamentarians Luisa Morgantini from Italy and Eva Quistorp from Germany, President of the US Centre for Constitutional Rights Attorney Michael Ratner, Japanese former Ambassador to Lebanon Naoto Amaki, French hip-hop artists Ministere des Affaires Populaires, and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.

Also participating are doctors, lawyers, diplomats, 70 students, an interfaith group that includes rabbis, priests and imams, a women's delegation, a Jewish contingent, a veterans' group and Palestinians born overseas who have never seen their families in Gaza.

They will march to demand the Israelis end the siege of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, and to protest inaction on the part of world leaders and institutions.

The march marks the one-year anniversary of the December 2008 Israeli invasion that left more than 1400 dead. Medea Benjamin, one of the organisers said the Gaza Freedom March would "go down in history as the day that people of conscience from around the world came together to demand that Israel stop the imprisonment of Gaza's 1.5 million people".

For Loewenstein, he said that whatever happens, it would be a unique and overwhelming experience. "For me it's important to say there's not just one perspective on this for Jews and it's possible to be a Jew and to object - what Israel is doing is illegal under international law," he said. "All the Jews there will be saying `this is not done in our name'. We want to highlight that what Israel is doing is fundamentally anti-democratic."

The delegates will enter Gaza via Egypt in the last week of December and on December 31 will join an estimated 50,000 Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border. On the Israeli side of the Erez border a gathering of Palestinians and Jews [Israelis are not permitted to enter Gaza] will also be calling on the Israeli government to open the border.

Loewenstein admits a march won't change the situation but said it was important to draw attention to the occupation and the three-year blockade. And while he's under no illusion about some of the things Hamas stands for and the "creeping Islamisation" in the strip, he said it was important to acknowledge this was an unequal conflict that inflicted collective punishment on the Palestinian people.

"We're not talking just about the deliberate targeting of civilian areas during the invasion last year but also that people in Gaza are living in an open air prison they can't leave. Reconstruction hasn't been possible since the invasion because Israel will not allow in building materials. It won't allow in pasta and pens. What possible security risk do these pose?"

He said it was deeply concerning that Egypt had begun to build an impenetrable wall on the border to "stop smuggling", making the three-year blockade more severe and a sign there was no hope for a solution in the near future.

And we should not forget Australia's role: "The Rudd government is no different to the Howard government on this issue - they are completely supportive of what's going on and are backing the ongoing occupation and strangulation of Gaza."

The protest will be from December 27 to January 2.

I will try to keep the community updated on this event.

UPDATE in the first comment.

Tags: Gaza, Israel, Palestine, siege (all tags)


1 Comment


An email from Anna Baltzer:

Three things in this email:

(1) The Gaza Freedom March

(2) Quick Petitions

(3) Holiday Gifts to Buy & NOT to Buy (read that today!)

I tried to make each one quick...


******Please distribute widely********

A week from Sunday will mark the one-year anniversary since the beginning of Israel's three-week attack on Gaza that left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead (in addition to 13 Israelis killed, 4 of those by other Israeli soldiers), more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless, and one third of all Gaza's agricultural land destroyed. Before, during, and since the attacks, Gazans have been deprived of adequate food, water, medical supplies, building supplies, heating, and other basic needs in a brutal siege that has reduced Gaza to an open-air prison.

On December 31st, in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and all nonviolent resistance to injustice, more than a thousand delegates from 42 countries around the world will join an estimated 50,000 Gazans in a historical march to break the siege of Gaza.

Participants will include Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, French Senator Alima Boumediene Thiery, Filipino Parliament member Walden Bello, former European Parliamentarians Luisa Morgantini (Italy) and Eva Quistorp (Germany), former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, President of the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Michael Ratner, Japanese Ambassador Naoto Amaki, and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor and research analyst at the Nuremburg Trials, Hedy Epstein (who also challenged fellow survivor Elie Wiesel to break his silence on this issue and join her:

Other marchers include doctors, lawyers, diplomats, rabbis, priests, imams, veterans, and Palestinians born overseas who have never seen their families in Gaza. And for those of us who can't make it to Gaza, there is much to be done! For all the information you could ever want about the March and how to show your support, visit

There's a petition on the website to endorse the March. Here are another handful of petitions--the first three involve dear friends of mine. If you read quickly and sign each, it shouldn't take long at all:

Sign appeal on Jewish Voice for Peace's website that Obama demand that Israel free Bil'in nonviolence leader Abdallah Abu Rahme (who is a close personal friend of mine):

Open letter to Obama to free Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions organizer and nonviolence advocate Mohammad Othman (also a friend of mine): ion.html

Two other friends of mine, Sarah Shourd & Shane Bauer, are being held in prison, not by Israel but by Iran, which is charging them for espionage. I know Sarah & Shane from Damascus and they are wonderful people, who it seems accidentally strayed into Iran while hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. Please visit this website to sign a petition for their release, and you can also learn more about them: 

Endorse the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel by writing after reading the mission statement at ement/. If you have questions about what an academic and cultural boycott entails, visit

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) petition to "End Demolitions Now: A Settlement Freeze Would Not Be Enough" -

To keep appraised of other petitions, join the email list for the US Campaign to End the Occupation, an umbrella campaign of hundreds of Palestine solidarity organizations around the United States: 

Finally... Still scrambling for Christmas presents? Or belated Hanukkah gifts? What better gifts than something that supports Palestine? Visit the Palestine Online Store ( for a great selection of gifts from or about Palestine, including:

New 2010 calendar
Olive oil & olive soap
Za'tar herb
Films, Books, & Music CD's
Maps & Posters
Lots more!
IMPORTANT NOTE: To guarantee delivery by the 24th, place your orders quickly, ideally today (Friday, Dec 18th)!

What NOT to buy??... Here are the Top Ten Brands to BOYCOTT this holiday season:

Delta Galil Industries
Dorot Garlic and Herbs (Trader Joe's)
Estee Lauder
Sara Lee
Victoria's Secret

More info on each at: ands-to-boycott/

To end on an inspiring note, check out the billboard Albuquerque activists have put up in their community: o

Also, if you haven't gotten this viral photo yet, take a look: o

by MainStreet 2009-12-17 02:05PM | 0 recs


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