Jean Athey reporting from
Letter Three—December 29
This morning, I was at the U.S. Embassy with a group of about 40 other Americans. We went hoping to see the Ambassador, but instead we were surrounded by Egyptian police in riot gear and kept penned in for some five hours. The police told us that they did this at the behest of the American Embassy, but later the “political security officer” of the Embassy denied it. So, who is lying? It is interesting that the French ambassador spent the night outside with the French protesters when they first occupied the sidewalk in front of their embassy, but the American ambassador refused to see us and apparently had us detained, and for no reason.
We went to the American Embassy to ask the
For centuries, black people in
The Gaza Freedom March embodies that “peaceful and determined insistence” about which the President spoke. I wonder if the Ambassador heard his speech.
In that same speech, President Obama acknowledged the dire circumstances of Palestinians in general, and Gazans in particular. He said,
So let there be no doubt: the state of the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. . .
And yet, it seems that we Americans have turned our backs on the people of
In his Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama said,
As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life's work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak -nothing passive - nothing naïve - in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
Our President thus applauds nonviolent action and recognizes its strength. The Gaza Freedom March was conceived as a nonviolent response to what President Obama characterized as an intolerable situation and a humanitarian crisis—a crisis that has become increasingly dire since he spoke here in June.
Thus, we are attempting to do exactly what President Obama recommended, and yet when we went to our own Embassy for intervention with the Egyptian government, we were surrounded by police and detained for hours in an open-air pen, an appropriate symbol for
President Obama said in
It is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
President Obama ended his eloquent
So let us reach for the world that ought to be - that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. . . Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.
Let us live by their example.
And yet, when we
We ask our government to live by the words of our President and to help us end the illegal and immoral siege of