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A Brief Thought on the Gaza Freedom March

Israel/Palestine
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      I lived in southern Africa from 1978-83, and published a book about the anti-apartheid struggle (Freedom Rising, 1985). When I visited the Palestinian West Bank in May 2001, I witnessed both similarities and differences.  Possibly the biggest difference between anti-apartheid southern Africans and Palestinians was that the southern Africans knew much of the world was on their side, and that they would probably eventually win (even though most of us thought the fight would take much longer and be even more violent than it was).
     I found a different attitude among Palestinians: the conviction that the rest of the world stigmatized them, dismissed them as homicidal savages, or ignored them altogether. When I got back to the United States, I wrote a couple of modest articles for the alternative press, (and I was censored from the opinion page of the Washington Post, which had published me on southern Africa and other subjects).
     After my articles appeared, I got some moving e-mails. One man wrote, “As an Arab-born U.S. citizen for over 32 years, this is the first time I have read within the boundary of the U.S. media somebody with guts to say something fair about the problem in Palestine.”
     Today, thanks to this website and other venues, awareness here in America is growing. But I’m sure that Palestinians, even more so in Gaza, still feel stigmatized and isolated, quite in addition to the terrible physical privations caused by the blockade.  The arrival in the New Year of more than a thousand Gaza Freedom Marchers should have the intangible but vital effect of showing them they are not alone – and that there is a movement in the outside world, so far still too small, and that there may be a way to achieve justice in Palestine without turning to total violence.

James North
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