International delegation in support of Gaza thwarted at border 

By Margaret Kimberley

Corporate media excel at misdirection and telling outright lies. Independent media must have a seat at the table when opportunities arise to cover events such as relief efforts for the people of Gaza.

Margaret Kimberley

“We’ve come to Egypt to speak to the world directly from the border of Gaza, which we were not permitted to reach, and which we cannot traverse, and which remains closed for fuel, adequate food, clean water, medical supplies, equipment, and people, including healthcare professionals, to enter Gaza.” Statement from the International Delegation in Support of Gaza.

This columnist recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, where Black Agenda Report was among the organizations invited to participate in an effort to bring attention and help to the people of Gaza. The National Lawyers Guild played a leading role in assembling the group which also included Samidoun, International Action Center, the United National Antiwar Coalition, Black Alliance for Peace, Sanctions Kill Coalition, Workers World Party, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, US Peace Council, Veterans for Peace, Samidoun, Palestine Writes, Free Julian Assange Committee, Philly Palestine Coalition, and Association for Investment and Popular Action Committees. Black Agenda Report was joined in the delegation by other media organizations RT, The Grayzone, Real News Network, and Diario do Centro do Mundo (Brazil).

The 20-person delegation planned to travel in an aid convoy to Rafah, a city on the border of Gaza, where United States and Israeli bombs are dropped on homes and hospitals and have killed 11,000 people to date. Israel has deprived Gaza of water and electricity and uses the trope of Hamas terrorism as an excuse for committing what are clearly defined as war crimes by the Geneva Conventions.

While the case for relief to Gaza is clear, the Egyptian government’s relationship with the United States is more complex. Of course, the people of that nation are fully supportive of Palestinian rights to self-determination and the need for the occupation to end. But the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is a military regime that is also a client state of the U.S. The group had to tread very carefully in asking for permission to enter Rafah, but it was not to be. After first being given assurance of transit, word came to us that only Egyptian nationals would be allowed on the trip.

Premature babies crossing at Rafah

There was more to come after the attempt to bring aid was thwarted. When the group sought to bring a letter to the U.S. embassy and make brief public statements, they were detained by police for two hours. It would seem that the easier thing to do would be to politely receive the delegation and then proceed to ignore them. Instead, the Egyptian government was given permission to harass the delegation members. The fact that a small group of committed people would be seen as a threat to U.S. and Egyptian interests is an indication that public outcry about genocide and war crimes has made a powerful nation very nervous.

Despite having been denied permission to go to Rafah, the delegation can be called successful. In the U.S. the corporate media serve the interests of the state and spread their narrative as if it were received wisdom. The more prominent the outlet, the more likely they are to peddle lies. It is crucial that independent media have an opportunity to be on the ground at important places and in key moments.

Leaving the veil of American disinformation is difficult, even for those who wish to do so. War propaganda is all pervasive, as is the idea that it is somehow improper for individuals to question what the rulers say and do. While millions of people in this country want a ceasefire, they are told by politicians and the networks and the newspapers that saving lives is impossible and should not even be a consideration in anyone’s thoughts.

Tropes about the futility of peace have dug deep into the American psyche. We are exhorted to go to war and to believe that loss of life in some faraway place is a strange necessity. We are told that we are only “free” because of wars and that certain people should be killed off. They even use the first person when discussing giving billions of dollars more to Israel, as in, “We stand with Israel,” or say that “our” interests dictate that thousands of people die.

Being invited to participate in an international delegation as a Black Agenda Report representative is a vote of confidence in our work. After all, journalists are supposed to, “Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.” Providing “news and analysis from a Black left perspective,” is more than just a slogan. It is a calling, a commitment, to oppose the corporate media’s role as handmaiden to the powerful and to reclaim the need for truth telling.

The delegation also forged relationships with Egyptians who are working to bring aid to Gaza. These alliances are much stronger when made face to face and are excellent opportunities to show international solidarity.

While Israel embeds the press, and censors what they write and broadcast, I and others were free to be truthful and explain what is really happening on the Gaza border. Now other delegations are planning to gather and hopefully succeed in showing the world that Gaza must be open for aid. If individuals and organizations shy from doing this work, the warmongers will have succeeded in silencing the public and in normalizing war crimes. Every effort to undo their work must be attempted.

Margaret Kimberley is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report