PALESTINE REFLECTION: Gaza Freedom March
by Drew Herbert
One year after Israel's three-week war on Gaza, around-the-world protests took place to re-center Israel's continuing siege on Gaza in the minds of the global public. Six members of CPT's Palestine team attended a Palestinian-led rally at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Dec 31st, 2009. With over one thousand people in attendance, the messageâ€”solidarity with the entrapped people of Gazaâ€”was evident. A familiar chant at rallies, "the people united will never be defeated" resonated particularly clearly with me as I listened to the songs and chants in Arabic and envisioned the rally that was simultaneously taking place on the other side of the twenty-four-foot cement wall. United in purpose and spirit, these rallies were more than isolated acts of resistance; they are symbolic gains for the movement towards peace.
On the Israeli side of the wall, green, red and black Palestinian flags waved, with the wind synchronizing their movement. The bearers of these flagsâ€”children, women, and menâ€”came to the Erez crossing with varied pasts, but a common purpose united their voices as they called out in support of friends and family locked behind the walls.
Seeing this unity was a healthy experience for me and other non-Palestinians present. The dominant narrative of Palestinian resistance, which depicts Palestinians as violent and unorganized was proven false here. Palestinians led their own peaceful nonviolent rally and conveyed a clear message to the worldâ€ť the people, united, will never be defeated.
Protruding above the wall, beyond the concrete and barbed wire, the rolling hills of Gaza exposed the fraudulence of the artificial border. Though the size and scope of the wall causes immense pain and suffering, it cannot block Gaza from our conscience. From our vantage point we were able to peer into a region that the Israeli government has attempted to make invisible to its own people and the rest of the world. A government can attempt to make people invisible, but it cannot make them silent. After the rally concluded with a prayer, and chants turned to casual conversations, we could hear Gazan voices lofting over the wall. The lyrics of their songs and chants were indecipherable at this distance, but the message remained clear, â€śthe people united will never be defeated.â€ť
Footage of the march is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQ7-SeswKas