The opinion of Haidar Eid and Omar Barghouti on the Gaza Freedom March

The following statement was released today by two leading Palestinian intellectuals and activists:

Dear Gaza Freedom March organizers and participants,

After a lot of hesitation and deliberation, we are writing to call on you to reject the “deal” reached with the Egyptian leadership (through Mrs. Mubarak). This deal is bad for us and, we deeply feel, terrible for the solidarity movement.

We initially felt that if representatives of all forty some countries can go to Gaza and lead a symbolic march along Palestinians it would convey the message to the world public opinion, our main target. However, after listening to the Egyptian Foreign Minister’s press conference last night on Aljazeera and the way he described the deal in details, we are unambiguous in perceiving this compromise as too heavy, too divisive and too destructive to our future work and networking with various solidarity movements around the world.

Mr. Abu Al-Gheit described the 100 that they graciously accepted to allow to enter Gaza as those from organizations which Egypt considers “good and sincere in standing in solidarity with Gaza the same way as we [the ergime] do.” He described the rest as “from organizations that are only interested in subversion and acting against Egyptian interests, to sow havoc on the streets of Egypt, not to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.”…  He also said that the Egyptian public was wise enough to see that those were hooligans and stayed away from them. Other than the obvious divisiveness that agreeing to this deal would cause, what’s wrong with this picture:

1) The Egyptian regime in this press conference painted a picture of the great majority of the internationals participating in the GFM as hooligans and agents provocateurs, not real solidarity groups. This is a grave insult to all of us, to all our partners and to the entire GFM, as it depicts us all as partnering with “fanatic,” “destructive” forces, not forces for ending the siege and for the rule of law;

2) The Egyptian leadership will use our agreement on this to say that their position and “way of solidarity with Gaza” was right all along, and those that saw the light and agreed with this wise way were allowed in.

3) Arab and international public pressure on the Egyptian government are rising dramatically due to the actions that you all have engages in and the excellent media messages that you have sent. The Egyptian government wants to use this deal to release pressure and re-paint itself as concerned about Palestinians in Gaza. This is all to deflect attention from the Steel Wall they are building and the fresh calls for taking the government to task over its complicity in the Israeli criminal siege.

Our longer term interests as Palestinians is not to allow the regime to get off the hook this easily. Either they allow all 1400 participants into Gaza (if they are “hooligans” best to get rid of them in Egypt and “ship” them to Gaza, right?) or we strongly urge you to reject the deal out of hand as too little, too late and too ill-conceived.

We cannot possibly decide on this matter, as ultimately this is up to ALL of you. If a CLEAR majority among you feel that you want to go through with the deal, we shall always welcome you in Gaza and deeply appreciate your solidarity. But we feel your solidarity without coming to Gaza, exposing the Egyptian siege against you and us, may bear more fruit for us and towards ending the siege, at least from the Egyptian side.

We salute you all and thank you from our hearts for the indescribable work you have all done for Gaza!

Respectfully,

Haidar Eid, Gaza
Omar Barghouti, Jerusalem

Here’s a comment released by Mohammed Omer who won the Martha Gellhorn Prize last year for his reporting from Gaza. It was sent to a journalist colleague of mine:

For us a population of 1.6 million being imprisoned and starved the gratitude we express to you, the… Gaza freedom marchers, is immense. You who have come to Egypt have shown the world that what we are living through is a inhumane injustice and those who stop your progress join with the tyrants of this world who are prepared to starve a population of women, children and elderly people because of a political difference of opinion..

Thank you all from the depth of our hearts!

In my people’s name,

Mohammed Omer – Gaza

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” Albert Einstein