Sunday, July 19, 2009

Patience and Hope at the Border

By Sarah Ikhmayes, Al-Awda-NY
(Written while sitting in Customs waiting to cross)

In the first minute of reaching the Egyptian Rafah border, I witness Palestinians, Americans and Europeans all waiting. Waiting to cross, waiting to eat, waiting to see the atrocities that humans can commit against each other.
I can't get the image out of my head. A father stranded for more than two weeks, holding up his baby girl crying to us through the window so we can see the pain and the suffering that they have been enduring for the past few days.
There were probably hundreds waiting to get in. As soon as our bus reached the gate, they swarmed around us. Raising peace signs, taking pictures, crying and praising Allah.
Can you imagine what I'm telling you? imagine being within a couple of hundred feet away from your home and being denied the right to return. Imagine being stranded steps away from your homeland and having to return to a foreign country. I can never imagine myself in such a situation. As tears rained down our faces, we took pictures of our fellow comrades. The brave ones withstanding the hundred degree temperatures to return home. Our beloved brothers and sisters, a few feet's distance separating us and we can't offer them water. Water, the bare necessity of survival.
Humans deprived of every possible right out here. Our people dying before our eyes and all we can do is offer them a smile. A smile that symbolizes our forever solidarity with them. A smile that symbolizes patience and hope. Patience for them to wait as long as necessary to get back home. And hope for a better tomorrow and a sooner return home.
God bless our brothers and sisters that endure such suffering on a minute to minute basis. We have not entered Gaza yet. We have only merely passed the border and I feel as if my heart has left me to be in their arms. Gaza, Palestine, gates will never keep us from our given right to return home. It just takes patience and hope. And this is what this border has given me.

The Battle at Salam Bridge

[For an eyewitness account of these and other Convoy events, come to Salam Church, 345 Ovington Avenue, Brooklyn, Monday, July 27th, 7 pm.
[Photos at bottom of post.]

By Dahlia and Dima Abi Saab (Al-Awda-NY)

After four days of attempting to leave Cairo, we were finally on our way to Gaza! These four days were truly a test for everyone's patience, determination, and resistance. However we succeeded in all categories thanks to every person's help, and all the negotiations that took place.

Saturday the 11th, a group of approximately 50 of us decided to make our way toward Al- A'areesh to wait for the people following who were in Alexandria and for some of the folks who stayed at the hotel. There were four buses that were draped in Palestinian and American flags, ready to hit the road. As we were driving on the road, people began singing and clapping at disbelief that we were actually, FINALLY going to Gaza! Most of the songs that people were singing were about Gaza, and emotions were getting high. Many people who hadn't been there for years, for they haven't been permitted to return, and many people like us who where entering Palestine for the first time, were extremely emotional, and we could not hide those emotions no matter how hard we tried.

As we arrived at the Suez Canal, Mubarak Peace Bridge, our trucks were directed towards the side of the bridge, for there was a checkpoint. An officer came onto each bus and told everyone to write his or her full name and passport number on a piece of paper. After about half an hour all that work was done and we were told we should be out of the area at 11 PM (we had arrived at 9). After waiting two hours, we were told we were not allowed to cross the bridge, and that we needed to turn back to Cairo (which was about three hours back). After arguing and yelling, the authorities agreed to allow us to stay by the bridge for two hours, just until our paperwork of passports and names were submitted to the government. (Despite the fact that all this was already submitted and done even before our arrival in Egypt.)

The authorities were not allowing us to do much by the bridge. We weren't allowed out of the buses, if we had to use the restroom, we needed an escort to walk us there, wait for us, and then walk us back. After an hour of sitting in our buses, we all slowly began coming out and sitting on the side of the street. People began conversing, and then we decided to make the best out of the situation. A group of us held hands and began doing the debka in the middle of the street, in an attempt to show the cops that our spirits would not be broken. After a little debka, someone brought out a soccer ball and a large group began playing, until the cops confiscated the ball.

The paper work was submitted and we were all just hanging around waiting for permission to go. Here and there, there were arguments because the authorities would come back and tell us to leave and we would all refuse. At one point, the security official of the bridge came and told everyone to get on the bus, that we were allowed to cross the bridge. After everyone began jumping and screaming because of excitement, we all heard loud bangs on our trucks from one of the members of VP-USA telling us to get out. One member heard the security official tell the bus driver to pretend we were heading toward Al-A'areesh but to really take us back to Cairo.

We all brought our flags out and held our American passports in our hands and began a protest at 6 AM on the side of the Salaam Bridge. We were chanting and screaming and the officials looked dumbfounded. They were all standing on the side just staring at us for about 15 minutes. The security official of the bridge told all the drivers to return to Cairo, so we all went to the back of the bus, locked hands and stood in the way of the buses. The security official was screaming at the bus driver to keep going, basically indicating to run us over, but no one even flinched.

After 12 long, sweltering, hours the convoy as a whole decided to go back to Cairo and get done the new paperwork "necessary" to be filled out before our venture onward. (That paperwork was a whole other issue that we will explain in a little.)

During our campout we called the U.S. Embassy in Egypt numerous times questioning why it was that even though we had paid for and received an Egyptian visa to stay in the country, we were being held and refused crossing over the "Salaam (PEACE)" Bridge. The answers we received were useless and did nothing to speed up the process. Our rights as U.S. citizens in Egypt were not protected or demanded by the U.S. Embassy, however we were less then surprised. A good seven to eight hours into our protest a designated convoy leader and two other convoy members attempted to cross the street in order to hop in a cab and head back to Cairo and finish the necessary paper work that the authorities demanded before giving permission to cross. It was then that three members got swarmed by Egyptian police, undercover agents and random men in suits. They did not kindly ask the convoy members to go back or explained that they could not leave, they shoved, pushed and in some cases slapped people in order to move them back to the other side.

After this disgusting display by the authorities and their blatant refusal to let us move forward, and their demand for us to "bring George Galloway and come back" (as we're assuming they did not believe we were members of his convoy we, as a group, decided the best decision would be to in fact head back, get the affidavits demanded done and come back as a larger group. We headed back into Cairo, most of us to the American Embassy where we signed affidavits that stated:

"I, name of representative, vice Consular officer, certify that on this day 12 July 2009, the individual named below appeared before me and, being duly sworn, made the statements set below:

"I have read and understood the travel warning issues by U.S. Department of State relating to travel to the Gaza Strip. I assume the risk for myself and I understand the Embassy does not recommend my travel to the Gaza Strip.

"I also understand that the Embassy cannot provide me with consular services in the Gaza Strip."

This "necessary" document took us three days to acquire for the convoy in its entirety and cost at the U.S. Embassy $30 -- 30 USD to sign off that OUR embassy will under no circumstances assist us while we are in the Gaza Strip. It will however provide the state of Israel billions of dollars annually and the weapons to be dropped on the children of the Gaza Strip, just no services for American citizens traveling to the region.

For three days after our stand off with the Egyptian Authorities at the bridge, we woke up at 6 AM and told that we were going to leave for Al-A'areesh. And for three consecutive days, we were waiting in the lobby of our hotel, after we had checked out and all, and the authorities would not let us leave our hotel lobby for several hours - and we were forced to check in again and wait for the following day to attempt to leave. But finally we had all the necessary paper work, and we finally were on our way to Gaza! Although those four days were draining and tiresome, all that we experienced would be the last thing on our mind once we entered Gaza.

Photos: 1. Doing debka while waiting; 2. still waiting; 3. Charles Barron; 4 and 5: Blocking the bus; 6: Black nationalist, US and Palestinian flags on the bus.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Twenty-four hours in Gaza

By Soozy Duncan
Allowed only 24 hours in Gaza under threat of not being allowed to return to Egypt, the Viva Palestina convoy has been a whirlwind of activity since crossing the border at Rafah Wednesday night. Organizers have attempted to compress 3 days of planned activities into a single day.

Thursday started by watching a press conference featuring Gazan Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh with members of the Neturei Karta, an organization of anti-Zionist Rabbis from Munsey, New York, who traveled with the caravan. Haniyeh emphasized that the government and the people of Gaza take no issue with Jews, but rather with Zionism and the ongoing oppression and blockade by Israel. Rabbi Dovid Weissman concurred that Jews, Christians and Muslims had coexisted peacefully in Muslim countries for centuries prior to the birth of Zionism, and asked for the people of Gaza to join him in praying for the peaceful dismantlement of the state of Israel.

The group then drove around the Gaza Strip in buses to see the aftermath of the bombing onslaught 6 months ago before attending another press conference at the Legislative Assembly and traveling to Shafa Hospital in Gaza City to deliver the medical aid which was brought from the United States and gathered in Cairo. Finally, delegates met with families of some of the 11,000 prisoners being held in Israel at the Ministry of Prisoners in Tel Alhwa, where children of parents killed in December and January also addressed the group.

Fraser Gaspard of Denver, Colorado, said of seeing the devastation firsthand, “It really shows how effective the American weapons we give Israel are, and how deliberate Israel was in its attack from the spots that were hit, schools, hospitals, a cement factory, homes in refugee camps. You could see it was a war of terror against the Gazan people.”

For Mahmoud Elayan from New Jersey, the most impressive visit was the meeting at the Ministry of Prisoners. Elayan shared, “Three little girls spoke about losing 29 other immediate family members. I have 2 little kids, and I can’t imagine them going through anything like that. To see them still keeping hope like that when they’ve suffered so much, it was touching. I had to leave the room.”

Bringing medical aid was only one of Viva Palestina’s stated purposes. The convoy also sought to learn and share the stories of the Gazans who have lived under 61 years of occupation and the severe assault from December to January. Nour Mattar, a Palestinian born within the borders of Israel who now resides in Orange County, California, said of his experiences, “With all the blockade and all the pressure, if you drive around and talk to people you find they still have great spirit. They‘re not willing to give up or stand down, even though Israel has used every possible weapon they could, militarily, economically and politically.”

Having lived in Gaza for most of the years between 1997 and 2005, the journey was a homecoming for Bethany Gonzalez of Kansas City, Kansas. “Today I realized how much I really miss living in Gaza,” said Gonzalez. “The city and the people, everyone is so kind and hospitable, even with all they’ve been through.” She intends to return with the second Viva Palestina convoy from the U.S. in December, scheduled to coincide with the first anniversary of the attacks.

Mohamad, a recent graduate from the Islamic University, volunteered to serve as an interpreter for the delegates. Asked about the current state of the people of Gaza, he said, “The children now are still suffering from psychological pain and suffering. Whenever they hear any sound they say ‘Bomb! Bomb’ and start crying. For adults it is almost the same.” Mohamad expressed excitement about the past Viva Palestina convoy from London and the plans for future caravans from Venezuela, Moscow, Beijing, and the next from the U.S. “They decrease the suffering among the Gazans. The convoys break the siege and bring us medical aid. The people of Gaza feel really grateful and proud. These convoys uplift our spirits and help us feel stronger and more steadfast.”

Asked what he hopes for himself and all Gazans, Mohamad states simply, “We hope that we will have enough to live, and be able to live in peace, just as the other people of the world.”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cynthia McKinney: I Finally Made it to Gaza; No Wonder the Israelis Didn't Want Photos Taken

The Viva Palestina convoy, led by George Galloway, is about to leave Gaza after having been permitted to enter for a period of 24 hours after waiting 11 days in Cairo for permission to enter Gaza. That in and of itself is a major story when expanded to include the inability of Gazans to exit The Strip--even if only to enter another part of their country, the West Bank or to move about freely in the fictional "Palestinian State." I say fictional because it continues to dwindle even while peace talks are underway. Fictional, because Palestinian elections deemed by international observers to be free and fair, don't count if the US- and Israel-approved party loses, and the winners get to sit for years in an Israeli jail. Fictional, because they use Israel's currency here, the shekel, and the international roaming on our US cell phones indicates calls are from Israel. Gaza is beautiful. Gaza is full of life, despite Israel's Operation Cast Lead. And now, I have seen, Gaza has been bombed to smithereens. I think I've mastered my video camera enough to share some images with you. I'll post them on the sites below when I return. In the meantime, my fellow Americans and citizens of the world, we have a lot to do to put right all the wrong things done in our name. Much love to all of you who helped me, guided me, prayed for me, to make this successful entry into Gaza happen. Viva Palestina!!Free Gaza!!--,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Photos of arrival in Gaza

Video of arrival in Gaza

George Galloway gives a speech alongside Charles Barron and Cynthia McKinney. Bus of delegates follow.

VPUS convoy enters Gaza!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Press Advisory from Viva Palestina

Press Advisory from Viva Palestina

July 14, 2009, 11 pm, Cairo

The Viva Palestina US caravan has received a permit to allow the group passage through the Rafah gate and into Gaza after spending 10 days in Cairo trying to overcome a series of bureaucratic delays.

The American convoy is mobilizing to carry busloads of supplies to the people of Gaza on Wednesday, July 15, and expects no further delays to their humanitarian mission because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had already confirmed that all 200 delegates have satisfied all technical requirements required for travel.

Weeks ago, the Viva Palestina US convoy received assurances from Egyptian diplomats that they would expedite the delivery of a convoy of trucks, medical and relief supplies and American human rights volunteers into Gaza, but restrictions were then imposed on the initial Viva Palestina plan.

“We are now on our way to complete our humanitarian mission, more determined than ever and stronger in heart than when we entered Egypt,” says George Galloway, British Member of Parliament. “We now look forward to seeing in a matter of hours the faces of the besieged people of Gaza.”

This is a victory for the people of Gaza. We were determined not to be denied in bringing humanitarian aid to the children of Gaza. The silence of the world is deafening as the people of Gaza suffer, but the two hundred Americans and over one million dollars worth of aide that is going through confirms our commitment to a free Palestine. Long live the people of Palestine.


In Arabic بالعربية

بيان صادر عن قافلة تحيا فلسطين

14 تموز 2009، الساعة 11 بتوقيت القاهرة

لقد أستلمت قافلةViva Palestina (تحيا فلسطين) تصريحا يسمح لأعضائها بالتحرك باتجاه معبر رفح و السماح لهم دخول غزة، بعد 10 أيام من التأخير و الانتظار في القاهرة لاتمام بعض الروتين الحكومي.

القافلة الامريكية ستتحرك يوم الاربعاء الموافق 15 من تموز في باصات محملة بمواد طبية. ولا تتوقع القافلة أن يتم تأخير هذه المهمة الانسانية البحتة بعد الان لأن وزير الخارجية قد صرح أن اعضاء القافلة المئتين قد أكملوا جميع المتطلبات التقنية للسماح لهم للسفر الى غزة.

لقد تلقت القافلة في الاسابيع السابقة تطمينات من دبلوماسين مصريين بتسريع دخول القافلة بما تملكه من شاحنات و مواد طيبية و اغاثية الى غزة و السماح للمتطوعين الامريكين بالدخول الى غزة، و لكن تم وضع الكثير من القيود على القافلة عند قدومها لمصر.

حيث قال جورج جالوي “اننا الأن في طريقنا لاكمال مهمتنا الانسانية، و عزيمتنا الان اقوى مما كانت عليه عند دخولنا لمصر”، و اضاف العضو في البرلمان البريطاني “اننا الان ننتظر الساعات القادمة لنرى وجوه اهل غزة المحاصرين”.

هذا انتصار لأهل غزة. و نحن كلنا عزيمة لنوصل المساعدات الانسانية لاطفال غزة. و في الوقت الذي يسكت العالم بأسره على هذا الحصار الظالم لغزة الا ان اعضاء القافلة الامريكية و ما يحملوه من مساعدات انسانية مقدرة بمليون دولار تثبت حرصها على تحرير فلسطين. تحيا فلسطين و شعب فلسطين

Cynthia McKinney, Charles Barron call on Obama to help break the siege

Viva Palestina USA calls for President Obama's Support in Breaking Gaza Seige

Cairo (July 14, 2009) - Today, one day after its expected arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Viva Palestina USA announced that it will depart for Gaza as soon as it receives the necessary clearances from the Egyptian government with whom it currently is in direct negotiation. Viva Palestina USA today contacted White House and Secretary of State offices and calls on President Barack Obama to speak to Egyptian authorities and ask that its convoy be allowed to proceed to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA yesterday provided additional information requested on the same day by the Egyptian government, such as serial numbers and expiration dates for the medical aid.

In addition to Egyptian requests for supplemental information, all U.S. participants were required to sign and pay for an affidavit acknowledging individual participant assumption of risk for travel to Gaza with the understanding that consular services will not be provided by the State Department during Viva Palestina USA's presence in the Gaza Strip. According to those knowledgeable about recent U.S. citizen travel to Gaza, the affidavit is an entirely new procedure never before required by the U.S. State Department for U.S. nationals traveling to Gaza. Viva Palestina USA has met this last-minute requirement.

Viva Palestina USA is ready to meet all requirements in order to get its humanitarian assistance to Gaza. However, Viva Palestina USA has bright lines that it cannot cross. One of those bright lines concerns the fate of some one half million dollars worth of vehicles that Viva Palestina USA purchased in Egypt and planned to deliver to hospitals and charitable organizations in Gaza. Those vehicles are now stranded at the Egyptian Freeport in Alexandria while negotiations take place.

Viva Palestina USA remains hopeful that all remaining issues will be resolved in the next few hours as negotiations continue.

The following message was sent to the White House and State Department today by Viva Palestina USA:

Dear Mr. President
Dear Madam Secretary

Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian relief effort for Gaza, is now in Egypt and requests your immediate assistance. We were supposed to have arrived in Gaza on Monday, July 13, 2009, but our arrival into Gaza was delayed because our departure from Cairo, Egypt was delayed by at least two days. Last-minute bureaucratic questions and additional requirements caused the delay. The people of Gaza can't wait.

You have noted that Israel's siege of Gaza should be eased and medical supplies should be allowed in. We are implementing what you reportedly put into writing. The people of Gaza need your help and we have important assistance for them. Please contact the Egyptian authorities and ask them to let Viva Palestina USA humanitarian assistance proceed through the Rafah crossing. We need your help today so that we can help the people of Gaza rebuild their lives devastated by occupation and brutal invasion

Charles Barron
Cynthia McKinney
(on behalf of 200 Viva Palestina USA volunteers
and thousands of Viva Palestina USA donors)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Viva Palestina: Navigating Egypt’s Obstacle Course

(For details on how to protest the outrages described here see next blog item)
Viva Palestina: Navigating Egypt’s Obstacle Course
By Soozy Duncan, Indymedia correspondent and VPUS convoy participant

The Viva Palestina U.S. convoy has been facing barrier after barrier in recent days despite having initially hoped to cross into the Gaza Strip this morning. The Egyptian government, collaborator in Israel’s severe blockade for the past 2 years, has set up a course of administrative obstacles which will delay the group’s entry into Gaza.

George Galloway, the British Member of Parliament who organized this effort as well as the first Viva Palestina caravan which drove from London to Gaza in March, sent a letter to President Mubarak of Egypt prior to the departure of the U.S. convoy. This letter informed the president that over a million dollars had been raised with the intention of purchasing vehicles, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid to bring to Gaza. Viva Palestina was also in contact with the Egyptian ambassadors in London, Washington, DC and Tripoli, Libya, who, at their request, were provided with a list of the names and passport numbers of all convoy participants.

Yet when the first contingent attempted to cross the Mubarak Peace Bridge to the Sinai peninsula Saturday evening, they were denied entry. That group spent 12 hours at the checkpoint and entered into a stand-off with authorities as they negotiated the length of their stay in successive increments. Members of the delegation demonstrated at the bridge, obstructing access to the vehicles, and also held keys and occupied driver’s seats in order that the 4 buses could not be moved. Although Egyptian officials first stated that the convoy could not pass due to unrest in the region and potential danger to the delegates, ultimately Viva Palestina was informed that each of its members required a Gaza affidavit signed and notarized by an official at the U.S. Embassy in order to pass. That contingent decided to return to Cairo to obtain the affidavits and regroup with other delegates, thereby strengthening their numbers for the next crossing.

The Gaza affidavits are essentially indemnity agreements asserting that the individual has signed away the inalienable right to the protection of the U.S. government. Previous delegations of U.S. citizens to Gaza have not been required to sign these, and these were not requested prior to reaching the Mubarak Bridge checkpoint, despite Viva Palestina’s well-publicized plan. The Egyptian government refused to accept one group affidavit on behalf of the entire convoy. Each individual affidavit will cost convoy members $30 USD.

Yesterday, Egyptian officials asked for a detailed inventory of all aid items, which has now been compiled and will be submitted to border officials at the Rafah crossing.

Late this afternoon, the Head of the Palestine Desk of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who has been tasked by the Foreign Minister with logistical planning, informed convoy leadership that only the 2 ambulances, of the 47 total vehicles which were purchased earlier in the day at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, would be allowed to enter Gaza. The people of Gaza, with whom MP Galloway has been in frequent contact, have indicated that new vehicles are sorely needed in Gaza for various public services.

Viva Palestina organizers were also informed that convoy members would be permitted to spend only 24 hours in Gaza. Individuals overstaying that time period will not be permitted to leave until the next general opening of the Rafah crossing, which has been continuously closed since June 2007.

New York City Councilmember Charles Barron, who is traveling with the convoy, believes the reason behind these new requirements and restrictions is clear. “They don’t want this to be successful because they don’t want any more convoys,” Barron said. “They want to set an example with us. They were hoping that they would discourage. That’s why the delays, that’s why adding on stipulations. Because they want us to implode.”

Viva Palestina leadership has emphasized that these tactics will not dissuade the group from its avowed purpose of breaking the siege on Gaza, nor will future convoys be canceled. MP Galloway has announced that he intends to lead caravans this year from Venezuela and Moscow, as well as a second U.S. convoy in December to commemorate the first anniversary of Israel’s brutal attack.

At a private meeting of the Viva Palestina delegation this evening, an agent of the Egyptian government was found to be present taking notes. His notes were confiscated and he was escorted out of the room by MP Galloway.

Convoy members Barron and Cynthia McKinney, former U.S. Representative and 2008 Green Party Presidential candidate, will be contacting President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tomorrow to pressure the Egyptian government to allow additional vehicles through the border and a longer stay in Gaza for convoy members. Additionally, Viva Palestina is calling for supporters to organize demonstrations at Egyptian consulates in the U.S. and to call on the White House and the State Department to support Viva Palestina’s effort in bringing medical supplies to what Obama called the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza during his June 4 speech in Cairo.

URGENT! Let the Convoy Go!

New York City demo from 4 to 6 pm, July 14th Tuesday, at:
Egyptian Mission to the UN
304 East 44th St. (@ 2nd Ave.) New York, NY 10017
Telephone: 212.503.0300
Sponsors: Al-Awda-NY, Existence is Resistance, International Action Center, International Socialist Organization, Campus Antiwar Network, New York City Labor Against War, Veterans For Peace. If you would like your organization to be a cosponsor, or for more information, please email

Full text and other cities' information below.

URGENT! Send a Message Now!
Let the convoy go! Let the aid through! Let the trucks through!

What you can do:

1) Protest at Egyptians Missions and Consulates tomorrow, from 4 to 6 (see locations listed below)
2) Sign the online petition at
3) Forward this message to your listserves, post it on your social networking sites and blogs

Let the Viva Palestina Convoy into Gaza!
As we write, the Viva Palestina Convoy is being denied passage into Gaza by the Egyptian Government.

This convoy is the largest ever US humanitarian aid convoy, organized by British MP George Galloway and Vietnam Veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic, and is carry medical supplies for the people of Gaza, who have been the targets of brutal attacks and an ongoing blockade by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

The convoy's delegation of about 200 people left for Cairo, Egypt from July 4th to July 7th, en route to Gaza to provide much-needed humanitarian aid to the people--wheelchairs, walkers and medical supplies. Participants include former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, New York City Council Member Charles Barron, and members of CAIR, Middle East Childrens Alliance, Cuba Coalition, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, MECHA, International Action Center, International Socialist Organization, Workers World Party, Answer Coalition and many more.

Sign the petition below to demand that the convoy be allowed to deliver the aid to the people of Gaza:

To: Egyptian President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Mahmoud Mohammed Nazif, the Egyptian Government, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Congressional leaders, U.N. General Assembly President d'Escoto-Brockmann, U.N. Secretary General Ban, members of the U.N. Security Council, U.N. member states, and the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet and Opposition leader of Israel

cc: Major media representatives, International Red Cross


I am writing in support of the Viva Palestina humanitarian convoy that is currently seeking to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. This convoy is carrying humanitarian relief to a beseiged population, and it is a violation of international law to deny them passage or to detain and harass them in any way.

This convoy was organized with the support of individuals and organizations from across the U.S., and is supported by people across the world, who stand with with the people of Gaza, who have been the target of a two-year blockade and numerous military strikes by the Israeli Occupation Forces.

I demand that the convoy be allowed safe passage, so that this vital medical aid can be delivered to the people of Gaza.

I further demand that the siege of Gaza be lifted immediately.


Sign the online petition at

Protest - Tuesday, July 14 - Protest from 4-6 to demand "Let the Convoy Through!"

Viva Palestina is asking supporters to protest at Egyptian Missions and Consulates tomorrow:
New York
Egyptian Mission to the UN
304 East 44th St. (@ 2nd Ave.) New York, NY 10017
Telephone: 212.503.0300

San Francisco:
Egyptian Consulate
3001 Pacific Ave. San Francisco, CA 94115
Tel: 415.346.9700- 415.346.9702

Consulate of Egypt in Houston
5718 Westheimer Road , Suite 1350
Houston, TX 77057
Tel: 713-961-4915

Egyptian Consulate
500 N. Michigan Ave. – Suite 1900 Chicago, IL 60611
Tel: 312.828.9162

*** If there is no Egyptian Consulate or Mission in your city, protest at the nearest Federal Building

*Viva Palestina's updates from the convoy -

*To donate to Viva Palestina USA -

* To follow Al-Awda-NY’s blog on the convoy, go to

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Viva Palestina Convoy updates 2 and 3

(Most recent first.)
Viva Palestina Convoy update #3
July 12, 2009, 7 pm Cairo

The Viva Palestina members who spent the night in their buses at the Suez Crossing after they were stopped by Egyptian authorities on July 11 are now making their way to the nearby city of Ismailia and are preparing to resume their travels toward Gaza imminently.

British Member of Parliament George Galloway, who has met up with former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in Cairo, was working with Egyptian and U.S. authorities to expedite the passage of the convoy over the Suez Canal and into Gaza.

New York City Councilmember Charles Barron, who led the group at the Suez Canal, says, “Whether these requirements are genuine or not, we will get around these obstacles. We are going to Gaza.”

Egyptians have held up the convoy on the grounds that it has not acquired the necessary travel permits from U.S. officials in order to cross into Gaza.

“If the Egyptian authorities want us to jump through yet another hoop, we will, even though their ambassadors in Washington, DC, London, and Tripoli, Libya were already supplied with this information, at their request. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was informed about the mission as was the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.” said Galloway. “So now we expect that there should be no further reasons for the delayed transportation of this urgently needed relief to the people of Gaza. We have hundreds of thousands of dollars of medicine, which are time-sensitive and perishable and which need to reach the children of Gaza.”

Another group of Viva Palestina delegates is in Alexandria to take possession of 47 vehicles that will be used to drive the group’s humanitarian and medical relief supplies through the Rafah border crossing. A third Viva Palestina element is continuing to gather additional aid in Cairo.

Tomorrow, Viva Palestina plans to gather all its forces in Ismailia, load all of the collected aid on its vehicles, and make final preparations for the drive through the Sinai.

The Viva Palestina convoy expects progress on all fronts tomorrow, but is prepared to call for solidarity protests at Egyptian embassies and consulates should that not materialize.

Viva Palestina Convoy
July 12, 2009, 2:45 am Cairo
Update #2
The 100 Viva Palestina humanitarian volunteers have decided to stay the night in their buses at the Mubarak Peace Bridge over the Suez Canal despite pressure from the Egyptian security officials to return to Cairo.
The official reason given at the checkpoint for refusing to allow them to cross is that the officials there did not have a list of the names of the members of the convoy. Such a list was, however, at the request of the Egyptian authorities before any of the convoy members set foot in Egypt sent to the Egyptian ambassadors to Washington, D.C., and London.
The US Embassy in Cairo has now stepped in to forward a newly provided list of those convoy members aboard the buses at the bridge to the Egyptian foreign ministry to clear the way for the convoy’s passage.
Nancy Mansour Leigh, a spokeswoman for the Viva Palestina delegation at the Suez crossing, says, “It’s going to be an uncomfortable night, but it’s nothing compared with what the people of Gaza must live through every day. We’ve already succeeded in securing internet access and are negotiating other necessary facilities. But whatever facilities are provided or not, our determination will see us through the night and all the way to Gaza.”
New York City Councilman Charles Barron is on the scene at the Suez Canal and acting as chief negotiator with Egyptian security officials. “The Viva Palestina movement has had a great success this morning with our stand at the Suez crossing. We’ve now got an agreement for us to stay until the list of our convoy members reaches the foreign ministry. It shows what can be achieved with the determination and commitment of a collective body of people. We are determined to cross onto Gaza, and no matter what happens next, out of this first small confrontation, we’ve achieved a success for the movement in support of the Palestinian people. The convoy is going to move on, and we ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around.”
British Member of Parliament George Galloway offered these words of encouragement for the delegation being held up at the crossing:“This is an American convoy. And Americans are used to refusing to give up seats on buses in the struggle for justice. I regard everyone who’s putting themselves on the line tonight at the Suez Canal for the success of this humanitarian mission as nothing short of a hero.”
Kevin Ovenden
Viva Palestina coordinator

Viva Palestina Convoy Update #2

Viva Palestina Convoy, July 12, 2009, 2:45 am Cairo
Update #2

The 100 Viva Palestina humanitarian volunteers have decided to stay the night in their buses at the Mubarak Peace Bridge over the Suez Canal despite pressure from the Egyptian security officials to return to Cairo.
The official reason given at the checkpoint for refusing to allow them to cross is that the officials there did not have a list of the names of the members of the convoy. Such a list was, however, at the request of the Egyptian authorities before any of the convoy members set foot in Egypt sent to the Egyptian ambassadors to Washington, D.C., and London.
The US Embassy in Cairo has now stepped in to forward a newly provided list of those convoy members aboard the buses at the bridge to the Egyptian foreign ministry to clear the way for the convoy's passage.
Nancy Mansour Leigh, a spokeswoman for the Viva Palestina delegation at the Suez crossing, says, "It's going to be an uncomfortable night, but it's nothing compared with what the people of Gaza must live through every day. We've already succeeded in securing internet access and are negotiating other necessary facilities. But whatever facilities are provided or not, our determination will see us through the night and all the way to Gaza."
New York City Councilman Charles Barron is on the scene at the Suez Canal and acting as chief negotiator with Egyptian security officials. "The Viva Palestina movement has had a great success this morning with our stand at the Suez crossing. We've now got an agreement for us to stay until the list of our convoy members reaches the foreign ministry. It shows what can be achieved with the determination and commitment of a collective body of people. We are determined to cross onto Gaza, and no matter what happens next, out of this first small confrontation, we've achieved a success for the movement in support of the Palestinian people. The convoy is going to
move on, and we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around."
British Member of Parliament George Galloway offered these words of encouragement for the delegation being held up at the crossing: "This is an American convoy. And Americans are used to refusing to give up seats on buses in the struggle for justice. I regard everyone who's putting themselves on the line tonight at the Suez Canal for the success of this humanitarian mission as nothing short of a hero."
Kevin Ovenden
Viva Palestina coordinator
For more updates, visit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Viva Palestina US update – July 11, 2009

Viva Palestina US update – July 11, 2009
The largest ever US humanitarian aid convoy is now gathering in Egypt to head across the border into Gaza on Monday, July 13. Vehicles are coming from Alexandria, the medical supplies from Cairo and the advanced party of nearly 100 US citizens is heading for the staging post of Al Arish, just before the border with Gaza.
That group, of four buses, has, however, been stopped from crossing over the Suez Canal and into the Sinai region, which leads to Gaza.
The buses, carrying people, medical aid and bearing US, Egyptian and Palestinian flags in a spirit of international cooperation, have been held at a security checkpoint and given various, conflicting reasons for why they cannot proceed to their destination at Al Arish.
New York Councilman Charles Barron is leading the group and is negotiating with security officials to resolve the situation. He has contacted Washington and other elected officials in an effort to clarify the reasons for the delay and address any concerns as efficiently as possible.
Former US Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney will join the convoy on Sunday, July 23, and British Member of Parliament George Galloway will also be heading to meet up with Councilman Barron and the advance group.
He and the rest of the advance group of the convoy, however, are insisting on their right to travel with their supplies to Al Arish, where the rest of the convoy is to rendezvous
with them before heading for the border crossing into Gaza.
This medical convoy is on the way to Gaza a month after US President Barack Obama described the situation in Gaza as a “humanitarian crisis.”
“Our convoy is on an aid mission,” says Galloway, “We come in peace; but we will not be stopped.”
Kevin Ovenden, Viva Palestina coordinator

Friday, July 10, 2009

Waiting in Alexandria

by Sarah Ikhmayes, Al-Awda-NY
July 9th, on our way to Alexandria
The day started out beautifully. Most of the 80 people that were heading to Alexandria to pick up the trucks that will be driving us into Gaza, were in the lobby by 8. You can really feel the excitement within the delegates. Not because we were going into a different city, but because this was really a step forward toward Gaza.
About 2 hrs later we began boarding the bus. And supposedly 2 1/2 hrs later we were supposed to be in Alexandria. But things don't always work out as you plan. We eventually reached Alexandria 4 hrs later. We stopped at a McDonalds so that everyone can stretch and get something to eat. An hour and a half later we found ourselves heading to Customs, where the Egyptians were holding the cars. But get this, they didn't give it to us. After waiting nearly 2 hrs for them, the Egyptians informed us that the Minister of Investment was visiting and was inside the building. Therefore for "his safety", we were not allowed inside to get a hold of the vehicles. The authorities told us to come back on Saturday because Friday is a holy day for Muslims and many government institutions are closed.
One of our fellow delegates was not feeling to well. So we were told that we would be taken to this hotel so that we may rest and freshen up. About an hour passed before we got off the bus and into this residential building that we were going to be spending the next 2-3 days. However, many of us were disgusted at what we saw and went Hotel Hunting.
We did not go Hotel Hunting because we can't handle hardship and dirt, but because we would rather pay the same money for something much cleaner.
And here we are, almost 9 hrs later in Alexandria. Awaiting the day the Egyptian government releases those cars so that we can make our way into the hearts of the Gazans.
Because no matter how much they try to delay us or try to make it impossible for us to reach Gaza, we will continue to stand here waiting. Time of course is not on our hands on this journey, but we will continue to stand. Viva Palestina!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Praying to Return

(photos at bottom)
Dima & Dahlia Abi Saab (Al-Awda NY)
Dozens of children were running around the streets greeting us today when we arrived at Abdullah's house, the cab driver we met a couple of nights before. He invited a group of us from the Viva Palestina convoy to his house for some tea, and we were blessed with the presence of Councilman Charles Barron.
When we arrived, we had our cameras out and were video taping and taking pictures of all the children. They all ran towards us and began posing for the camera, and jumping on top of each other and screaming take a picture of me, take a picture of me! Their faces lit up when ever the cameras came out and the dirt on their face from a long day's worth of playing covered their little faces.
The conditions of the neighborhood didn't seem much different from those in a refugee camp that we've seen in videos so many times. Tightly compressed areas (although not nearly as compressed as those in Palestine), not in great conditions and children running around playing with a soccer ball with clothing that were ripped and covered with dirt from the ground that was purely dirt and sand. All the children surrounded us and began kicking the soccer ball to us and we played a short game. The young boys began showing their talent by kicking the ball in the air, bouncing it on their knees, and then flipping it behind them. Then the elders began approaching us after seeing our bright blue Viva Palestina shirts.
People were asking us about our Viva Palestina shirts, and we told them about our mission. To our surprise, Abdullah told us that 95% of the people living in Teqseem Abu Taleb are Palestinians who were exiled from Palestine. So when they found out about the convoy, the older men of the village began telling us about their experiences, and how they left Palestine. After a few minutes of conversing, Abdullah took us up stairs.
We met his five boys, his daughter, Shaima and his gracious, beautiful wife. We all sat crowded in a room, and everyone took out their video cameras as Abdullah repeated his story for the Councilman as we drank the delicious sage tea. Mr. Barron had many questions for Abdullah, but one that stood out the most to us was when he asked if Abdullah wanted to return to Palestine. Abdullah answered with an emotional response: he said he prays everyday that he can return there with his children, and die there because he wouldn't want to die on foreign land.
Sitting with Abdullah, yet again, reminded us all of why we were here in Egypt, how important this convoy is and the value of our organization -- Al-Awda: the Palestine RIGHT TO RETURN coalition. We also realized that when four women came to talk to us as we were leaving Abdullah's home. They were asking if we can take some medicine for their family living in Gaza who are in dire need of medication. They kept saying that all they want is medication, the people of Gaza NEED medicine to survive and the criminal blockade and siege on Gaza is preventing the sick from receiving any medication and people will end up dying.
These particular women had a family member who had recently received a kidney transplant and not only was her medicine completely unavailable in Gaza but the pharmacies in their area wouldn't sell them more than one at a time due to some restrictions. They endlessly thanked us for our mission as we assured them we all desire the some thing, for a Free Palestine!
To get a real taste of life in Egypt, and see how many Palestinians residing in Egypt live, we needed to go to Abdullah's house and enter his life for an hour or so. All the people we met, young and old all wanted one thing -- and that was to return to their land and live in peace in their homes. Abdullah again reminded us of how important this mission is, and reminded us that these are conditions that we are in temporarily, but for the people living in this village, for the Palestinians living in diaspora -- this is their life.

Photos, from top to bottom: New York City Councilperson Charles Barron and Abdullah in his son's cab; some of Abdullah's children; Charles Barron with an elder from the village.

Convoy Prepares to Head for Rafah

By Soozy Duncan, Indymedia correspondent and Convoy participant
After days of gathering supplies and last-minute organizing in Cairo, the Viva Palestina U.S. convoy is beginning to mobilize. This morning 87 members of the caravan traveled to pick up 47 never-used trucks which will be loaded with medical aid to be brought into Gaza. The remaining half of the delegation will re-join the drivers near the Egyptian border before all cross together through Rafah.

This U.S. sequel to George Galloway’s original Viva Palestina convoy, which drove from London to Gaza in order to break the siege in March, departed from NYC’s JFK airport last Saturday, Independence Day. Nearly 80 delegates came in the first wave, and others have since been arriving in Cairo in a steady stream. The convoy now consists of a group of over 180 individuals from all over the United States representing a spectrum of races, religions, ages and ethnicities commensurate with its commencement in the nation’s most diverse county, Queens, NY.

Delegates traveled with carry-on bags only in order to maximize their checked luggage allowance to accommodate the wheelchairs, walkers and medicine so desperately needed in Gaza. The caravan will bring hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical aid, including already-donated materials which have been in storage in Egypt for months, readily available but barred from passing into Gaza by the Egyptian government. Gaza’s healthcare system, already near the breaking point due to the embargo and underfunding, was decimated by direct damage to health facilities and the necessity of treating the thousands of killed and injured by Israel during the 22 day assault from December to January.

Borders have been closed since June 2007 when the democratically-elected Hamas assumed political control. Fenced in and with limited resources, Gazans have been slowly starved. Even prior to Israel’s unrestrained attack, more than a million Gazans, over 80% of families, relied on food aid to survive. The bombing destroyed food stores and created conditions too hazardous to allow food distribution. At present, the Food and Agriculture Organization deemed two-thirds of Gaza’s population, of which half are children, to be “food insecure”. In January, UNICEF said over 10% of Gaza’s children had stunted growth due to malnutrition. Yet, in an ironic and illogical perversion of policy given the self-evident relationship between nutrition and health, Egyptian authorities have refused to allow the Viva Palestina medical aid caravan to transport food into Gaza.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Working for all the world's Abdullahs

Two by Dima and Dahlia Abi Saab of Al-Awda-NY:

1. People from the Viva Palestina convoy have arrived in Egypt! And what an amazing sight it is to have approximately 200 people from all across the United States coming together for one cause- Breaking the Siege on Gaza. However, while the atmosphere between our comrades on the convoy is amazing, the Egyptian Authorities aren't as friendly, and the country isn't quite as glorious as the tourist companies makes it seem.

Although we weren't expecting much less, the treatment we received upon our arrival from the authorities wasn't the best way to be greeted into a foreign country. As soon as we exited the airplane we had a bunch of men in white police uniform surrounding us attempting to inquire on our journey. They kept asking us questions and even began searching our luggage, until the President of the security team came over and put a halt on the inspection to welcome us and allowed us to go to the bus awaiting us out side. It seemed as if everywhere we went we had some sort of police escort, which we thought was for our safety. However, the Police were only following us and escorting us to keep tabs on what we're doing at all times.

While walking down the streets of Giza with our police escorts, the immense poverty cannot be hidden. Every block has five to six older men and women sitting on the floor, often times with their children, selling any and everything from fruits to cigarettes in order to merely survive. Upon taking a breath of the Cairo air, the fumes and pollution of the city left us at times breathless. Dirt, sand, and debris infested the streets we walked on. Crossing the street, however, was by far the most difficult task. A stream of speeding cars, who won't stop for anything, kept coming down the highway forcing us to literally walk inches in front of them with our hands in the air gesturing for them to please stop.

Despite the few negative attributes of the country, for instance the police badgering and the non-stop traffic jam, the people of Egypt remain a breath of fresh air with their support and positive attitude towards our mission and convoy to Gaza.

2. The Viva Palestina convoy is preparing to leave Giza, Egypt for Al A'areesh this Friday!

Things got off to a bit of a slow start, but throughout the past couple of days here in Egypt we have met some people who will forever live in our memories.

Walking down the streets of Giza, with our Al-Awda "Falasteen" shirts, we are constantly being stopped by pedestrians who want to greet us and tell us how much they love Palestine. People from all over the streets began screaming "We Love Palestine!" One man in particular stopped a few of us and stated that every time he prays, the first thing he prays for is Palestine, And how as he prays for Palestine he can't help but cry. It seems as though most of the people we have come across don't support the actions of the Egyptian government when it comes to Palestine, and are so appreciative and grateful for our mission.

While we vividly remember all of the people we've met, one man stands out in particular. A group of us were heading to the Nile River to have some dinner, so we stopped a cab. Our driver, Abdullah, was a very friendly man. While we played music on our phones he was singing along, and then a song about Palestine came up. He then explained to us his story, which was an extremely emotional one. Abdullah was from Palestine 1948 territories, and got kicked out into Gaza at gunpoint, leaving everything behind. A few years later, he got kicked out of Gaza into al A'areesh, and then got kicked out of al A'areesh and ended up in Giza. He was 5 years old when he moved to Cairo and told us of his deceased father's war stories in Palestine as well as Egypt in the mid to late 60s. He witnessed the murder of numerous friends and family throughout his early childhood years. He agreed to tell his story on camera, which left us all in tears and at a loss for words by the time he finished. Abdullah's personal history truly grounded us and reminded us that the issue of Palestine and the injustices faced by its people are not to be looked at as the bigger issue, but remembering that there are tons of Abdullah's all across the world. Abdullah's story reminded us why our mission is so crucial, and so important. And that every step we take in the struggle, we should always keep in mind the millions of Abdullahs there are in the world.

As we prepare to embark on a significant journey into Gaza, our stay in Egypt thus far has left us with tons of memories and stories that we weren't expecting to hear or find in Egypt. They have left us with a lifelong appreciation and determination to work for all the Abdullahs in the world.

Photos/video of July 1st rally against IOF kidnapping and piracy

On July 1, 2009 an emergency protest took place at the Zionist Mission in New York to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Free Gaza Movement's boat, SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, all human rights workers abducted from the boat, and the humanitarian supplies being carried to Gaza.
On June 28, Israeli Occupation Forces, in an act of piracy in violation of international law, attacked and boarded the boat, abducting 21 human rights workers from 11 countries, including Noble laureate Mairead Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
When the boat was attacked, it was not in Israeli waters and was on a human rights mission to Gaza.
One hundred protesters turned out with less than 24 hours notice for this demonstration initiated by City Councilperson Charles Barron.
As usual the cops put us across the street from the Mission -- but the first photo shows Charles Barron and the rest of the protesters right in front of the Israeli mission doors, after a spirited march across the street. As Mr. Barron, said "We'll be back!"
See also the video at
Click on photos for larger view. Thanks to Vanissa Chan for the photos.

Convoy to Cairo?

Convoy to Cairo?
by Ehab Zahriyeh, News Assistant, NY1News
I am currently in Cairo, Egypt on my way to Gaza with Viva Palestina Convoy: US Aide to Gaza. The purpose of the convoy is to bring humanitarian aide to a population suffering from war and an international blockade. It is very clear that the conditions in Gaza are sub-human, and it is also clear that the blockade is heavily responsible for that. But after being in Cairo for just a few days now, it has been harder for me to grasp how bad the situation can actually be.
The worst living conditions I can possibly think of that might be prevalent in Gaza, I have already seen in Cairo. Unpaved filthy streets, open sewage, immense frustration and poverty, hunger and lack of clean water are just some of the obvious descriptions.
In the middle of the day or late hours of the night, children are out in the streets. Sometimes with their families, but many times alone. Some are in their teens, while many are very young.
One late night, past midnight, my brother and I were taking a walk in the upscale neighborhood of Mohandiseen. Just down the street from the Tommy Hilfiger store and around the corner from the Lacoste store laid two children under the age of ten. Despite the loud noise of the traffic and whistling of the traffic police, they were on the ground locked in a deep sleep. Their clothes were so filthy, it blended in with the dusty floor. We stopped for a second. We look around. Their parents were nowhere to be found.
The next night with members of the Viva Palestina Convoy, we took a walk in the neighborhood of Giza, poor and populated, but "middle class" -- in relation to the rest of Egypt. In a bustling midnight street bazaar, we came across so many individuals and families of sadness that I cannot tell. But I have to tell of one man. Walking with his hands and arms, he lifted is body and dragged his legs to maneuver. His pants were ripped and full of dust. He finally reached his destination after a short struggle: The popcorn vendor asking him for some popcorn for his empty stomach.
Though we are on our way to help a possibly much worse-off people, I cannot help but to think, where is the convoy for Cairo? Where are the homes and clothes for the youth? Where are the wheelchairs for the handicapped? Egypt may not be suffering from war, occupation, and an international blockade, but the people of Egypt certainly are suffering.
If it is this bad in Cairo, what about Gaza?
-Ehab Zahriyeh, News Assistant - NY1 News, (917) 749-4802

Photos from the JFK departure, July 4th

George and Kevin of VP and Raja of Al-Awda

A young supporter

Unloading the truck

Next Left Notes report on sendoff rally

“Viva Palestina” Gaza Aid Sendoff
By Fran Korotzer - July 7, 2009
BROOKLYN N.Y. — July 3, 2009. On Friday evening the House of the Lord Church on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn hosted a high spirited send-off for the 200 members of the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy led by MP George Galloway and Ron Kovic, Vietnam veteran and peace activist. They will be bringing about 100 truckloads of medical equipment and medicine, through Egypt, to the people of Gaza who are in very desperate need because of the Israeli attack last winter and the two year Israeli blockade that is strangling them.
Reverend Herbert Daughtry welcomed everyone to his packed church and said that the church has always been at the center of human rights struggles. He is deeply affected by the dimensions of the humanitarian problems in Gaza and called for peace in the area. He hopes all there would soon live as members of a human family.
Some of the organizers of the convoy praised Rev. Daughtry for giving then full reign in his church. The downstairs area is full of wheelchairs, walkers and other medical necessities. They believe this is a very historic moment. Civil rights workers here are supporting the people of Gaza and the people there are aware of their support here. They have seen the huge demonstrations against the Israeli attacks on their TVs and they are hoping that public opinion will change public policy. Several rabbis are part of the convoy because of their belief in justice. The U.S. consul in Cairo has been invited to meet the 200 Americans delivering the aid because, after all, Obama has said that aid should be sent to Gaza. There will be a second US convoy at the end of this year, it will go through France and North Africa and is scheduled to arrive in Gaza on December 27th, the anniversary of the Israeli attack...
Full text and photos at:

and additional photos at:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Video of New York Send-off Rally

Featuring Lamis Deek of Al-Awda, Kevin Ovendon of VPUSA, City Councilperson Charles Barron, Rev. Lucius Walker of Pastors for Peace:
Thanks to Sue Harris of IAC

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Al-Jazeera coverage of VPUS sendoff

Coverage (in Arabic) of sendoff rally and JFK departure.
Text and photo:
(If you have trouble with the video URL above, go back to the first link and click the tiny video icon in the upper left.)

We're in Cairo!

Just landed in Egypt. What scenery. Apartment buildings in the desert? Beautiful though. Not as beautiful as the feeling we felt whilst waiting to board at JFK watching the sea of blue Viva Palestina t shirt wearers. What a show of solidarity and support for the Palestinian people, not just by the Arab americans who travelled across the states to join us but also the black, Latino, Asian, Indian, Caucasian and Native Indians that are also with us on this amazing humanitarian convoy. The flight was amazing with everyone asking what the blue shirts were about then asking us to give them one. Not to mention it was Lamont Carolina, Community Liaison Officer for Councilman Charles Barron's, first time ever being on a plane. We filmed his first experience and will release the video later today. The feeling of joy, excitment and anxiety shows however everyone is determined to make it to Gaza and show the people they are not alone. The jersey boys have taken up security for the convoy while we new york girls handle the accomodations. At the airport we were met by Rabbi Weiss, Associated Press, Al Jazeera and the Egyptian police who by the way, are not too happy about and ruined our press conference outside the airport. We will keep you updated and report back later tonight. Pictures to follow shortly.
Nancy (existence is resistance)
Sarah (al awda)

VPUS sendoff rally and departure preparations

Friday July 3rd, the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn was packed to the rafters with hundreds who came to give a warm sendoff to the convoy delegation. The rally featured Rev. Herbert Daughtry, City Councilperson Charles Barron, Father Luis Barrios, and others, and was wound up with a speech by Brenda Stokely that had the crowd all fired up!
Cynthia McKinney was scheduled to speak, but obviously couldn't as she is being held captive in a Zionist jail after being kidnapped during an act of piracy on the high seas. Needless to say the crowd responded heartily to demands that she and the others held captive be freed, and that all victims of Zionist abduction be released and the siege of Gaza ended! (see for regular updates).
During the day before the rally, dozens of convoy participants, as well as New Yorkers who came just to help, unloaded a huge truck at the Church full of medical supplies, then repacked it into bags and boxes for the plane. Then the next morning the truck was loaded for the airport and unloaded on arrival. In each case the collective wisdom and good cheer meant the task was finished in a fraction of the time we'd all expected. Just goes to show what a spirit of solidarity, love and struggle can do!