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January 6, 2009

Gaza/Egypt Border Crossing

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Zoriah Cairo.jpg

By BAGnewsNotes contributer, Zoriah Miller

I am standing on the balcony of my Cairo hotel room, once again taking in the view of a city shrouded in what seems to be a nearly permanent haze of mist and pollution. I am exhausted; the only reason I am awake at all is to take advantage of the hotel’s free breakfast. Since I pack my pockets with boiled eggs, fruit and lunch meat for my meal later in the day, missing breakfast means I actually miss two meals.

I have just returned from the Gaza/Egypt border crossing at Rafah where I spent a miserable two days in rain and Third World transport in a futile attempt to make it into Gaza. My mood is pretty low, as there are few people in Gaza reporting right now at a time when it is essential to show the suffering that is occurring there. These moments feel like personal failures, although logic tells me that there is not much I can do to cross into a country at war whose borders are not only closed but have the armies of two countries amassed along them. Not only are the tunnels in Rafah now destroyed, but the Egyptian army is trying to block Palestinians from entering Egypt and keeping anyone and anything from entering Gaza apart from small shipments of aid here and there. Even my ideas to sneak in on an ambulance, pay off a border guard or SCUBA dive across the ocean border were all foiled by the military, which covers literally every road in and out of the area.

And now I am back in the luxury of Cairo, trying to figure out what to do next.

January 4, 2009

(image: © Zoriah Miller. Cairo. December 2008)

  • Eric -NotMyTribe

    Thank you for your efforts. Your report satiated a restlessness I imagine many of us have, sitting stateside, feeling powerless to intervene for the Palestinians, wanting to get over to Gaza by whatever means possible. I’ll look more soberly for ways to help here.

  • mse

    Zoriah would sound a tad less racist if he qualified his statement, “as there are few people in Gaza reporting right now at a time when it is essential to show the suffering that is occurring there” with the mention that there are almost no Western, international, white, first-world or what have you reporters reporting from Gaza right now as Israel has barred entry to all foreign journalists for many, many months.
    Amazingly enough, there are reputable Gazans who are currently reporting and have been functioning as brave and independent journalists for many, many years.
    Perhaps he didn’t himself mean to negate the existence/validity of such eyewitness reporters but was only mirroring the dominant belief that the Palestinians who are on the ground aren’t trustworthy or reliable in the eyes of the world. Perhaps if more people followed the situation in more depth and sought out sources beyond those of the mainstream news, they’d discover the voices of journalists who do report the truth. And I’m not referring to people with a non-critical view of Hamas. I’m referring to people who grasp and explain the whole of what they see and experience.

  • Karen

    Thanks for posting this report. I’ve only seen gaza photographs from AP and Al Jazeerah. Good luck getting through and stay safe.

  • Karen

    mse: Interesting that you would assign racism to this post. Palestinian reports and photographs are hard to find in major news sources right now, except for a couple of organizations. I wouldn’t be surprised if those organizations use Palestinian journalists to get articles and photos, however, the fact that they exist doesn’t convince me that Zoriah is racist or unaware of the situation in Gaza.

  • lytom

    One suggestion to all is to boycott all Israeli products. The bar code for all goods starts with 729….
    Boycott all US, UK, etc. companies who do business with Israel.
    There should be no business as usual.
    Be part of protests and speak up.

  • yg

    is that really a current photo? remarkable.
    please give more detail as to the location.

  • GeorgeRF

    Let me just say: I am disgusted! Within the net and within the international media there are tons of pictures and clips about dead, malmed and diying men, woman and children in Gaza, promoted all over the world. The intent of this reporter is: “….when it is essential to show the suffering that is occurring there”. What is it really, what he intends? Get more pictures of torn bodies? Get the ulimate shocking image of blood and bones? Make a lot of money for such pictures? Doesn’t the worldwide audience hasn’t seen enough splatter?
    OMG – “journalism” can even expose it’s exaggerations by itself.

  • jtfromBC

    lytom, fyi
    Jewish leaders blast CUPE
    “A proposal by the president of the largest union in the province to boycott Israeli academics at Ontario universities is being labelled as anti-Semitic and an affront to civil liberties by prominent members of Canada’s Jewish community.
    Ariel Salzmann, an associate professor of Islamic and World History at Queen’s University, said it’s important to put the boycott into context. “I think this is really very small and symbolic considering what is going on,” Salzmann said.
    CUPE Ontario has “a right and duty to speak out when they see colleagues in other parts of the world who are not being able to pursue their education,” she said, adding similar means of non-violent protest were used to bring attention to apartheid in South Africa.
    “I think these expressions of concern are very good and should be applauded and more organizations should take part and consider ways in which they can express themselves or their solidarity with peace.”

  • Zoriah

    Thanks everyone. Yes, the photo is current, shot about two weeks in Cairo from the balcony of where I was staying. The Nile is just out of frame on the right side.
    mse: My lord, that’s really a stretch! I have many Palestinian journalist friends who are working in Gaza as I write this, and doing a wonderful job. One just wrote me the other day and asked how he could get his photos published in non-Arabic publications around the world. I gave him some info and he wrote back a few hours later asking if it was normal for newspapers to say that they could not pay but they would put his name in the paper!! Obviously I told him that they were trying to rip him off and to not take the “deal.”
    Aside from that experience (local journalists without the resources or training to get images published in the western media) very few have access to things such as satellite phones, ftp programs and even electricity to edit and write stories. The bottom line is that when a government does not allow journalists in, there is something that they do not want the world to see.
    GeorgeRF: I am very happy you are disgusted, that’s a good start. Maybe when people are disgusted enough, they will begin to act…that is usually the way things work. Hasn’t the world seen enough?…well, since the situation is still going on, obviously not. And you may want to do a little more research before you say things like we are making a lot of money from images of war, as you are sorely mistaken.

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