"She woke at midnight. She always woke up then without having to rely on an alarm clock. A wish that had taken root in her awoke her with great accuracy. For a few moments she was not sure she was awake. Images from her dreams and perceptions mixed together in her mind. She was troubled by anxiety before opening her eyes, afraid sleep had deceived here. Shaking her head gently, she gazed at the total darkness of the room. There was no clue by which to judge the time."
~Naguib Mahfouz. Egyptian Writer, the first Arab to receive Nobel Prize for Literature.
Today in Cairo everything happened. And nothing. Depending on your viewpoint, by which I mean the point from where you viewed this day's events.
Many of you, no doubt,have seen few if any images, read few if any stories, have heard of few if any of the people who defied Egyptian public assembly laws in an attempt to secure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Palesinians in Gaza. Over 300 French citizens have created a tent city outside of their embassy. A multinational group of approximately 300 (my best eyeball, maybe a little high) people from 43 countries demonstrated outside of the United Nations while Walden Bello negotiated with the UNDP Resident Coordinator (James Rawley). The among the request/demands Bello was making were:
1. Coordinate the delivery of aid from Cairo to UNRWA in Gaza.
2. Mediate between Egypt, Hamas and the other powers for the delivery of this aid to the Palestinians in Gaza.
3. Ensure that the full delegation accompany the material aid to Gaza.
A consensus decision was made by representatives of (some of the) delegations present to stay outside the UN until the request/demands were met. This decision was scuttled when said request/demands were not met, and instead Rawley suggested that we go to our own embassies and pressure them, as the UN has no power in this matter.
Indeed, there is a concentration of power that is overwhelming. How else can a nation of 70 million people be ruled and subdued at the whim of one man for nearly 30 years? I mean, just think about it, Egypt has been in an official state of emergency since 1981, and they have not had an actual election in longer. Egypt is a police state. It is nearly impossible to organize people here, and that's one of the points, isn't it?
We have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that the tons and tons and tons of humanitarian aid, secured by people you know, may never be delivered to Palestinians. The criminal siege of Gaza may not be broken by what may be the largest grassroots solidarity mission in the history of human be-ing.
If we fail the Palestinians, who make living happen in the largest open-air prison in the world, they will continue bear the brunt of morally bankrupt governments and their policies, and our inability to strategically confront/negotiate these blackwaters.
In short, we are stalled, but we have not lost. The next few days may bring new developments, and each of you can play a role--for we are 1300 here, but literally millions back at home.
Sally Struthers Moment: You can call your local representatives and apprise them of the situation. You can tell them that all the aid, and all the delegates should be allowed to enter Gaza, with haste. You can call your Senators with the same message. You can call the Egyptian embassy in your city. Or call and/or fax the US embassy in Cairo: Telephone: (20-2) 2797 3300 Fax: (20-2) 2797 3200