alright y'all, things got heavy today.
From Cairo, here's what i've heard. I don't know yet if it's true, because some are saying that it's a rumor, but al-jazeera is a pretty credible news source, and they've announced it. Apparently, a French woman died today after being beaten by the Egyptian police at a protest. Again, I'm not there, so I can't confirm, but I am very clear that Egypt is a military dictatorship, and that they are capable of this kind of violence. There hasn't been any word from the GFM organizers, which is a bit disturbing, but I'll let y'all know something for sure as soon as i can. For now, the story is that a frenchwoman named Marie Renee. Different sources say that she was at the protest or she wasn't, but it is clear that she was on the trip to get to Gaza, and she never did.
Up here in the West Bank, we had quite a day. We got on a bus in the morning and headed to Eraz in Israel. It is one of the border crossings into Gaza, and there were activists from all over Israel that came to show solidarity with the marchers from the Gaza side. There were about 500 folks out there, from all over the world. The largest contingent of people were, of course, Arab Israelis. There seemed to be some divisions among the groups that were there, either political or by age/culture. As you'll see when I post pictures, there was a vibrant crew of women leading the way on the younger side of the march. very inspiring. I've got a lot more to say about this, but i'll add more with pictures later. As it stands, though, I will say that I saw the first person I've ever seen rock a Joseph Stalin t-shirt today. True!!! And those folks always look the same.
Then it was a bus ride back to Bet Sahel (sp?) and walking to Bethlehm for the peace vigil. There was a really dope program with Palestinian kids performing with a great deal of poise. Especially among kids as young as 5 or 6. The organization that has been working with them has done a tremendous job. There were about 300 folks out, and it was so awesome to be with the kids.
Then we ate dinner and came home to another meal that Mazen cooked us (we stayed here again tonight). Then we drank Ouzo and whiskey and listened to some Michael Jackson as the new years hit. It was nice, but nothing like being at home for our new year's party.
Now, obviously, I'm sending this email. There's lots of details and reflections to fill in, but I'm exhausted. I'll hit you with my revised schedule for now:
-Early tomorrow--be at bus station tomorrow at 7 am to take the bus into east jerusalem. Go to the al-asqa mosque/dome of the rock. At 10, we meet up with our guide and he's going to do of occupation hot spots for a few hours. We'll get to see more of the wall, and go to a street where settlers have very recently forced their way into Palestinian homes and pushed people out. There is a group of activists who have built a tent encampment around the house, and we're going to try to connect with them.
Again, all the internationals \i've met are just really c ool. more cool folks today.
but that says nothing about the generosity and warmth of palestians. They do so much to make you feel in good spirits.
-Late tomorrow--catch a bus from Jerusalem to the Egyptian border. There, we'll cross and spend a night in an egyptian town right across the border.
-Saturday--check to see how things are going to be in cairo and then decide whether we chill on the red sea, or go back to cairo. it remains to be seen.
-sunday-back in cairo to get our stuff and get to a bus.
So many fabulous things to share. i can't wait to talk with y'all. Please check for news on Marie Renee. It's a bit devastating to be finding this out.
I think that's it for now y'all. Hope you all have a safe and happy new year