Gabriel Ash, Mich Levy and Sara Kershnar, The Electronic Intifada, 9 September 2009
"One result of CODEPINK's delegation to the Gaza Strip in May was the idea to organize a large march through the territory with a significant international presence including well-known personalities. In the spirit of nonviolent direct action, the march would challenge the appalling and inhumane siege of Gaza. The idea, which immediately captured the imagination of many organizers, was the brainchild of Norman Finkelstein. We are truly grateful for Professor Finkelstein's creative thinking and willingness to put forward big ideas that generate enthusiasm and engagement.
However, after the initial call, the framework of the march was challenged by highly-respected Palestinian activists Omar Barghouti from Jerusalem, and Haidar Eid from the Gaza Strip. Their criticism, expressed with the utmost respect for the courage and good will of the organizers, challenged the organizers' decision to delay engaging in a wide conversation with Palestinian civil society and activists until after the call was made and the framework formulated. As Barghouti and Eid noted, that also led to a number of problems with the framework and the call. The call failed to provide historical context to the current siege, barely referred to the occupation and picked and chose from the history of Palestinian nonviolent resistance. It also used language that inadvertently reflected Israeli propaganda strategies, isolating Palestinians in Gaza from their counterparts in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Israel and the Diaspora.
Ultimately, these criticisms led to a compromise that satisfied both the Palestinian critics and most of the initial organizers. This compromise was reflected in a context document that is now part of the call. We welcome the concerns of prominent Palestinian activists who represent significant grassroots organizing. We see in the exchange, negotiation and outcome, a model example of how solidarity work can deepen and improve through giving full attention to honest and constructive criticism from those most impacted by the horrors we are challenging........
In supporting this compromise, we are mindful of the original aim of the organizers for large and "ecumenical" participation. We share that goal. However, our conversation would benefit from honesty about the meaning of "ecumenical." It never means "everybody." We don't just want the maximum number of marchers; we want the maximum number that can be achieved without compromising the visions of the diverse organizers and solidarity groups participating in this particular project........"