where the writers are
Letter to Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs about Egypt's actions against convoys to Gaza

Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Minister of Foreign Affairs

6 January 2009

Your Excellency,

Since the first Intifada of 1989, when I first visited the occupied Palestinian territories, I have been working at some level or another for the relief of the Palestinian people living under brutal and colonial military occupation. In the last 20 years, I have worked for—among others—Birzeit University, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Stop the Wall campaign, and am the cofounder of the Electronic Intifada and Electronic Iraq news websites. I worked as a journalist and was a columnist for Middle East International magazine for several years. In 2003, I won the ADC "Voices of Peace" award for my work on the Electronic Intifada and Electronic Iraq websites.

In the last month, I have watched with horror as Egypt has denied entry to both the Gaza Freedom March convoy and the Viva Palestina convoy, deployed riot police to stop protests against this indefensible measure in both Cairo and Al-Arish port, while grossly misrepresenting its activities on the website of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

What Israel is doing in Gaza, both to the infrastructure and population, clearly qualifies as genocide under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Article 2 states that "genocide" is defined as:
...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Israel has maintained a siege against Gaza for years now. Civilians are openly targeted directly through bombing and through collective punishment such as closure. Children and other vulnerable sectors of the population are dying because of lack of food and medical supplies. What is happening in Gaza is a man-made international tragedy that demands immediate and uncompromising action to save human lives.

Egypt's treatment of the two December convoys has brought a little-known fact to the forefront of the debate—that the government of Egypt is very obviously 100% complicit in the Israeli siege. Why else would 1,400 international visitors, whose visit to Gaza would educate people around the world as to the plight of Gaza's people, be refused entry to Rafah? Why would aid be prevented from reaching some of the neediest people on earth? There is no justification for such cruelty.

When Egypt conceded that 100 of the 1,400 members of the Gaza Freedom March could cross the border—attempting to spin a positive story out of your policy of denying food and medicine to the desperate—your police actually tried to force people onto the buses heading to Rafah against their will, the same police that beat and arrested protesters earlier. It is hard to imagine how Egypt could possibly be more clumsy, heavy handed, or self-defeating at public relations.

I am not writing to you to ask you to open the borders for aid to Gaza. That should be a self-evident request that no decent human being should even need to be asked. I am rather writing to let you know that myself, and many other people around the world, now consider Egypt to be a fully collaborating, full willing partner in the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people.

As long as Egypt does the bidding of the Israeli occupiers in Gaza, there is no political difference between Egypt and the genocidal Zionist regime, nor should there be any difference in how activists around the world protest against Israel and Egypt from this point on. You have made it absolutely clear that there should be no separation in how we view Egypt and Israel.

Sir, you are actively involved in preventing food and medicine and hope from reaching the mouths, stomachs, and souls of the poor, the dispossessed, and the brutalized in Gaza. You are beating and arresting people who have traveled thousands of miles from around the world out of their deep concern for the horrors that are being visited on the Gazan people. And to attempt to conceal your willing involvement with Israel's bidding, Egypt is embarrassing itself further by lying about its role in actively preventing the convoys and solidarity visitors on the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

There is no possible justification for Egypt's willing role as a Zionist border control guard dog while—across the border—human misery cries out for the very earth to hear its agony. You have brought, and continue to bring, great shame to the so-called Arab world, to the government of Egypt, to the people of Egypt who overwhelmingly support the freedom of their Palestinian brothers and sisters, and to yourself.

This is what Egypt has achieved this December: making it clear to the world that you and the Zionist regime are merely two heads attached to the same monster.


Nigel Parry
Pittsburgh, PA