Liz Barger's Letter from Gaza
Elizabeth Barger (Eliz or Liz to her friends) is a poet, peace activist and
deeply caring grandmother who lives reasonably close to where I live, in
Nashville, Tennessee. We first met at the Nashville Peace & Justice Center when
Rose Davis, a Nashvillian who had recently visited Gaza, spoke about the
conditions she saw (generally terrible) while she was there. Liz and I met again
at a Nashville Freedom Walk for Palestinian Equal Rights, which was sponsored by
a mutual friend of ours, Lynn Grassmeyer. To make a long story short, Liz wanted
to be one of the 1,400 peace activists to enter Gaza for a Peace March just
after Christmas (2009), and when she began raising funds I agreed to contribute,
asking only that she let me share her words with our readers. Here's her first
letter about what happened when she tried to enter Gaza, bearing gifts and hope
for the Palestinian people, who have suffered so much and have so little, thanks
to the reprehensible collusion of the governments of Israel, the United States
and Egypt.―Michael R. Burch
I am sending this to everyone I can because my connection here is so tenuous. Excuse, please, the typing. I am on a borrowed computer and
shaky internet connection and don't know how long I can stay up here. Folks are beginning to awaken and I will need to get a shower
and get on the road. Two personal messages:
Doug, can you send me the connecting info for my blog. I am having difficulty accessing it and may not have the address and password
And Jethro, contact Verizon and get my phone straightened out. I have no phone access at all.
Thanks, Linda, and thanks Starhawk, for getting the word out. I am staying at the same hotel, and experiencing many of the same
frustrations and difficulties. My equipment has just not been cooperating, although the recorder that Alan loaned me seems to be doing well.
The computer that Pete loaned me worked for a little while before it went dead because the adapter connection that I had from my
stolen Mac does not fit the old Mac―a mighty machine, but
slightly larger connection port. Who knew!
I had a beautiful flight and, while sometimes tiring, rather
with only the kinds of glitches one runs into while traveling.
so many interesting and kind people on the way. In the very
connecting to Royal Jordanian in JFK, I met an American
whose daughter was flying to visit her married sister. The
girl was on
break from college and the mother had a wedding planning
she had built herself.
One of my seat mates was an electrical engineer on his way to
convention in Alexandria. The plane was an Airbus with seats 8
and across from me was another peace marcher from Arizona.
several on the flight and were treated very sympathetically by
everyone we met. The food was a surprise. It was very good. We
served dinner at midnight our time by very pretty oriental
had a challenging job serving so many people in a short time.
gave out food and drinks with polite commands, "Water,
please!" My vegetarian breakfast was epicurean, a lovely
garbanzo beans with perfect spices and fruit and cheese and
tea. What a pleasant surprise.
After the sun came up and we were flying over the
looked out on a blue sea with dabs of clouds and a golden
thick clouds covering all the inland hills. It was Greece! A
had never seen in person! Even from 39,000 feet, I felt so
We had a very short time between planes in Amman, Jordan and I
with a young artist who was traveling to the Dead Sea to do
contract work with a commercial company. He realized that
closer to the sea than Cairo, and that he would have a long
ahead of him, but the company had arranged the travel. He was
interested in the Gaza Peace March and we may meet again in
my way back from Cairo, as I had some sight seeing time in
before catching the plane to JFK, and he wanted to hear about
Cairo is so exotic to me. At the airport, I met a woman who
to the same hotel and we struck up a real friendship. It
that our reservations had been lost, or something, and Tighe
bless his great efforts, got us a bed at the Select hotel that
Starhawk describes so well. We are in a room with 4 beds and a
bathroom with the shower, washstand, and toilet all together.
But I am
so happy to have clean inside plumbing!
The people are so sweet, and although we know we are under
surveillance, I find the gentle treatment we receive to be
a great pleasure. I will try to write with more detail, but I
am on a
borrowed computer that has a strange type pad that jumps
strangely, and I just don't have time to go back and correct
everything. It is a little before 7AM here and when everyone
is on the
computers here, and we all are working to communicate with
home, and with the media connections we have, that it is
get internet service. I would like to find a cyber cafe near
have had little time to do that.
I would like Cairo so much more if the air weren't so
see the pollution and feel it in your eyes and throat and
lungs. I love the creaky elevators and Arabic writing on every sign, even though
can't read it. The people are caring and helpful, but language
barrier to exact communication, like telling cab drivers where
want to go. But, amazingly, we get where we intend. Most of
I am amazed at the respect (and real respect) peace marchers
from people around here. And it is so beautifully
international at this
time. I have met people from around the world who have no
to the march, but who seem to feel what we are doing is
As you have heard, there is great resistance to our going to
Gaza and the French contingent of 300 has set up camp in front of their
embassy. They are under great police guard and the threat of
confinement and deportation. I am in awe at their organization and
determination. We held a large demonstration in front of the UN building,
called the World Trade Center here. Such irony. I got several good
interviews that I will be sending to edit as soon as I can. The
representative from the Philippines, Ann Wright, and Medea [a Code Pink peace activist] were negotiating
with the consular general there, but the best they could do, it
seems, is maybe getting some of our supplies delivered for the Gazan
people. Many are adamant about no compromise, but the pressure from
Israel, and especially from the USA, is very antagonistic to our efforts.
We as internationals are treated gently by the police and
but our mission is very dangerous to sympathetic Egyptians,
admire their courage and willingness to risk supporting us.
been incidents and it is mostly Egyptians who have been hurt.
We are going to the US embassy this morning. We went
yesterday, and a
few people were allowed in and got appointments to speak to
ambassador today. I am so ashamed of my government at this
have a huge representation of many countries who are concerned
the plight of the people in Gaza, but we are being used as
pawns in a
political game of power and control. We must focus on the goal
lifting the blockade and real peace talks and free movement in
tragic situation. It becomes more and more clear that
criminal operations. If we are to bring peace and justice to
world, we must be more active in overseeing the actions of our
governments. The situation is dire, and America is the frog in
of heating water. Our freedoms are being boiled away and we
terrible peril of losing everything we hold dear. That sounds
and I wish it were not true.
This is a short summary of my time here, and so unevocative of
am experiencing. I will try to get out more information as it
and pray you will be patient with my typing. I have much to
so little time. Love, Eliz