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Cries of rage and truth

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Cries of rage and truth
Anayat Durrani heard a fiery speech in California defying US complicity with Israeli war crimes

As part of the Siege-Buster Tour of America 2009, long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause, veteran British MP George Galloway spoke in San Diego, California on "Resisting War From Gaza to Kandahar". Galloway, the leader of the recent successful Viva Palestina Aid Convoy to Gaza, author and talk show host, spoke to a crowd of 400 at one of two36hosted by Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.

"I came here to recruit you to the next stage in the saving of Gaza, which is dying. And to forward the liberation of all Palestine and the right of all Palestinians to return to it," said Galloway to loud applause.


Galloway passionately spoke about the "injury" of Palestinians having lost their homeland, their country "wiped off the map", scattered as refugees worldwide and forbidden to return, while "foreigners play with their houses and their gardens". This is made worse by "the insult that they — the victims of terrorism — are the 'terrorists'. And that the terrorists, the perpetrators of terrorism, are called the victims of terrorism," he said.

Galloway praised the Palestinian resistance and condemned Israel's 22-day offensive launched in December, in which more than 1,400 Palestinians died. Galloway characterised the firing of rockets by Palestinians as a "cry of despair" and a "cry of rage" over decades of Israeli apartheid.

"The wonder is not of why some people are sending rockets but of why all people are not firing rockets everyday because they've been locked up for the last 60 years in refuge camps that are no more than open air concentration camps," Galloway said, "the entrances of which are guarded by the very same people who on 27 December rained down death's destruction on the million and a half living on this tiny piece of land."

Galloway scoffed at the notion that Israelis want peace and said that if this was the case, why did they vote for Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman. Galloway called Lieberman "the closest thing to a fascist that Israel has ever produced."

"A man who wants not only to ethnically cleanse the occupied territories but wants to ethnically cleanse Israeli citizens of Arab origin inside their state asking them to sign an oath that the country is a Jewish country. Can you imagine someone asking in the United States of America black people to sign an oath that the USA is a white country?"

The Viva Palestina Aid Convoy — completely ignored by US media — finished its 5,000-mile journey from England, with 220 trucks and vans loaded with more than $2 million worth of relief supplies. As it crossed three continents it gathered supplies and support along the way. The Libyan-based Gaddafi Charitable Foundation doubled the convoy's size by adding 100 large trucks filled with 4,000 tonnes of aid, additional drivers and support staff.

The arrival of the Gaza relief convoy marked the successful breaking of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. "As we enter this land of heroes, we are embraced by heroes," Galloway said.

The convoy entered Palestine 9 March and was greeted with tears of joy. Galloway, who has visited Palestine many times, said he had never seen a situation as bad as he found in Gaza. He described the situation as looking like an earthquake scene. "The difference being if it had been an earthquake all the governments in the world would be airlifting aid to the victims and the means of rebuilding," said Galloway.

He described the situation in Gaza as dire and the people of Gaza as starving. He witnessed women wandering Gaza looking for food to eat, many of them eating from garbage piles. While he was there he said he was repeatedly asked the same question: "Where are the Arabs? Where is the Ummah?"

While he was in Gaza he was taken to a site 100 yards from the Egyptian border. It was the ruins of an orphanage and mosque that had been hit by seven missiles. He said he picked up all the missile pieces he could find, noting the words "Made in the USA" stamped on them. Galloway urged American supporters to start their own aid convoy to help break the siege.

"Your flag can be associated with life for the Palestinian people rather than death with which it is associated now," he said.

Galloway's California engagements are the last of his US tour. Galloway was supposed to visit Canada for a three-city speaking tour organised by anti-war activists, but was banned by the Canadian immigration minister, Jason Kenney, who claimed that Galloway was supporting "a terrorist organisation" by delivering relief aid to the democratically-elected government of Palestine, led by Hamas. Hamas is listed as a banned terrorist organisation in Canada.

Galloway gave $45,000 in relief money to the Hamas government, but said he did what any aid group or non- governmental organisation trying to assist suffering Palestinians would do. "I am not a supporter of Hamas but I am a supporter of democracy and no one has the right to choose the leadership of the Palestinians but the Palestinians themselves," he said.

Supporters called the decision an attack on free speech that was motivated by political interference by the Conservative government. His supporters in Canada appealed the ruling but the appeal heard on 30 March was denied. The unprecedented denial of a sitting British MP from entering Canada was clearly made in compliance with the Canada-Israel Public Security Agreement signed 23 March 2008, though the government denied that it was a political decision.

Galloway has made several visits to Canada before, most recently in 2006. Despite the ban, Galloway still delivered his speech in Toronto through a live broadcast from New York. He said the ban has only brought him more supporters and interest in his tour, and brought more Internet traffic to his speeches. "The speeches on the Internet reached an audience 1,000 times bigger," he said.

Galloway plans to bring a defamation lawsuit against the head of the Canadian Jewish Congress and the CTV television network. He said he would sue if he fails to receive an apology, reimbursement for administrative costs and payment for damages. A spokesman said Galloway also plans to sue Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and a government official over comments made about him when they announced he was denied entry into Canada. He vowed to return to Canada to give his speech.

 Sourced from Al-Ahram Weekly  9 – 15 April 2009