From the Gaza Freedom March--in Cairo!

Meeting in the hotel

So I’m here in Cairo, in a seedy but supportive hotel.  The décor is peeling kitsch, but the beds are clean and the politics are good.  To be honest, the part of these trips I hate the most is packing and getting ready.  There’s the stress of trying to find my missing good pair of jeans, organizing all the details of our upcoming Earth Activist Training and instructing the people who will stay at my cabin on the vagaries of the hydro system and the four electrical meters, none of which work, wrapping presents and desperately trying to thwart the Snatchers, those little creatures that live between the worlds, stealing single socks, twitching your passport out of the drawer where you know you left it, burying your Iphone under the bedclothes—and helping to cook a Christmas Eve dinner for thirty people, “How are you?” “I’m a little fried—leaving first thing in the morning.”  “Oh, where are you going?” “Gaza.”  Now, there’s a conversation stopper!  Then after dragging myself away from our lovely tree and crèche and crammed-full stockings on Christmas morning to slog through security lines and crunch myself into two-small airplane seats—once I actually get to a destination everything else seems relaxing by comparison, except possibly getting detained at the airport and sent right back again.

As long as that didn’t happen—anything else short of rendition and actual torture is bound to be fun by comparison.   We had lots of people from the march on the various planes I was on, kind of shyly checking each other out in the waiting area—“Hmmn, a student with a bracelet in Palestinian colors, possible.  A middle-aged woman who looks like a nun—maybe.”  Somehow we found each other.  I sat for eleven hours next to a young soldier on his way back to Iraq. He seemed so young and vulnerable, making all his last Christmas calls to his family.  He has two other brothers in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, and his arms were all covered with squiggly military tattoos. On his other side was a vegan anthropology student also on her way to the march.  “We’ve got you surrounded,” I told him.

Just before I left, I got a call from Lisa and Juniper who were already in Cairo.  The Egyptians have closed the border in Rafah, and revoked all our permits to meet.  Chances of our getting through seem dim, and the risk level of the adventure has suddenly climbed higher, as we may now be arrested just for meeting and demonstrating even in Cairo.  But hey, why would that surprise us—just because for five months they’ve been negotiating with the organizers and telling them we will be let in.

After too brief a sleep, we had a meeting this morning in our hotel.  Our big orientation meeting for this evening has been cancelled, its permit revoked.  So we’re doing smaller briefings in hotels, and we have a couple of ‘soft’ actions planned for today.  We have now heard the border will be open to Palestinians and Egyptians later this week—although no one has said it will be open to Internationals.  Still, in various ways we will attempt to get in.  I will keep you posted as I can.  I have also opened up a Twitter account—seems like this is the sort of thing Twitter is made for.   My user name is Starhawk17 (Starhawk was already taken, don’t know by whom) and my profile is  You can sign on to get Tweets and that will probably be the most up-to-the-minute news as we attempt to get in.

Okay, hope to get this out and posted.  We really, really need your help today to continue pressure on the Egyptian embassies and government.  Please go to the Gaza Freedom March website and contact the Egyptian Foreign minister, if you haven’t already.   Check for solidarity actions in your town and please, please, join them if you can.  The uncertainty that we are experiencing is just a tiny taste of what life is like every day for Palestinians who are prevented from traveling freely, from leaving Gaza at will and from getting home if they do manage to get out, from rebuilding their bombed and destroyed neighborhoods and the means of life.   Thanks!  Starhawk


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