4m Gaza 2 NYC: Mission Impossible
Gaza, October 14, I have been hesitating about writing this post or waiting. But I actually might not make it to NYC so I decided to write everything that happened to me since the 1st "4m Gaza 2 NYC" post, so you better buckle up because it’s a hell of a bumpy ride.
Hmmm I don’t even know from where to start. Ok, so after definite guarantees from a news agency in the West Bank that I wrote for, I decided to go ahead and apply through Jerusalem. I didn’t know what was waiting for me. In fact, many were commenting on how confident and assured I was. They made fun of my optimism but it didn’t affect me at all.
I sent all the required documents to the news agency and I had strong faith that I will DEFINITLEY get a permit to visit Jerusalem. After all, I am not affiliated with any Palestinian faction, I don’t have any security issues and I am a journalist. Many other Palestinians cross Erez, so why wouldn’t I cross to?
September and October were loaded with Jewish holidays so I collected some needed patience (You must know that patience isn’t one of my virtues) and waited with a smile. The number of people who thought I was crazy for applying through Jerusalem increased, but I didn’t care and I never lost confidence.
Ofcourse, during my waiting period, I skipped job interviews and cared less for any job opportunity since I will be leaving to NYC soon, or so I thought. I only went to an UNRWA job interview and I took the whole thing lightly although I did really good.
I let all my friends in Jerusalem know that I am coming soon. I wanted to meet them all and I was very excited that I will be visiting Jerusalem. Honestly, my excitement about Jerusalem topped my excitement for NYC. I would sleep and dream about walking in the streets of the old city and the alleys of Eastern Jerusalem and wake up the next day with a smile on my face.
I googled some amazing hotels in eastern Jerusalem, took addresses of some interesting places I want to visit and made a schedule that contains the names of places and people I wish to meet and see. It was crazy that I will have only two days but I was determined to make it work.
A few days ago I got a call. I was asked for an interview by Israeli authorities on Erez check point so they can determine whether I should be given permission or not (a permission to visit my own land, no comment). I kept an open mind until I learned that the interview was on October 22nd. I will not have any time for my interview in the US consulate in Jerusalem and will def. have no time to get to Cairo on time if I was ever granted the visa. And this interview won't guarantee me a permit.
So I quickly shifted all my plans and efforts to the US embassy in Cairo. I thought it will be just like the one in Jerusalem and boy I was very very very wrong.
Now I have a few days to finish the procedures of a new US visa application, pay again, schedule a meeting in US embassy in Cairo, get there to do it, wait and then make to NYC in time. You might think its possible, but trust me its not.
I decided to take today off to consider whether I wanna go through this anymore or not. I decided that I wont go down without a fight. Cairo sounds like a long shot but I am gonna do it even if I am gonna waste time, energy, nerves and money and even if I know that there is a 90% chance of failure. I am Palestinian, we never give up and we never go down without a fight.
The death of your dream\s is a price you have to pay for living in besieged Gaza. Its not your fault yet you have to pay the price anyway. But what I am trying to tell the world is: Living in Gaza doesn’t mean we are not allowed of having dreams and making those dreams come true. That is why I am not giving up no matter what.
I got an email with an important yet not final\guaranteed book offer but I couldn’t be happy about it because all I can think about now is whether I would be able to make it to NYC or not. I have seen support and I am very thankful but with all due respect to everyone no one feels what you are feeling or goes through what you are going through but you.
This is so major for me on so many levels. I try to explain it sometimes but I feel. This is linked to so many things that I will mention later but the most prominent issue that I see from everything I went thru lately is that: People in Gaza are humans too; they have the right to dream\travel without going through hell and back. Gazans get scholarships\training and many other offers to travel but they cant, they are trapped. Not only Erez is impossible and Rafah is hellish but also the battle of obtaining a visa is a crisis by its own self.
This inspired me to send this email to the US consulate in Jerusalem:
I write you today hoping to have my voice heard. My permit to Jerusalem has been denied and I have only a week to get to Cairo, schedule an appointment and go through it. This means that there is a 90% chance that I will no longer be able to get a US visa.
I applied for a US visa because I was invited by the UN for a media training. Only a few elite Palestinians are chosen each year and they chose me this year because they saw in me a prominent journalist, social media pioneer and a public figure from Gaza (per to what they said). New York has been the city of my dreams for a long long while because NYC is a dynamic, passionate yet serene city and we are very much alike. NYC is the city of dreamers and I am a dreamer.
But thanks to the fact that I live in besieged Gaza, this dream has ended before it even started.
I hereby send you an urgent request to try to find a solution for the people from Gaza who wish to apply for a US visa because they were chosen for a scholarship, training, tour .... etc. Why dont the US consulate consider opening a representative office in Gaza? or maybe interview the people from Gaza through skype (which is a method used internationally and professionally).
Its devastating to struggle for a couple of months to make ur dream come true but its even more devastating to watch your dream die without being given a chance even. My dream and the dreams of many young people here in Gaza have died because of the hardships we go through to try to obtain an interview at a US consulate here or in Cairo and we failed for reasons that have nothing to do with us and that arent in our hands.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider my request. Atleast my dream wouldnt have died for no reason. You have the chance to help many people realize their dreams so please just consider discussing my suggestions.
Just because we live in Gaza it doesnt mean we dont have the right of dreaming and realizing our dreams.
I have confidence in you.
My best regards of gratitude, respect and hope.
I am waiting for their response. If they don’t respond, then I will start a petition.
We have the right to live, have equal rights, have dreams and be respected like everyone else and its about time we demand this.
I hope this sparks a change. If I got to NYC or not, atleast I would have made a change that will lead to facilitate a person's life in Gaza in his\her pursuit to make dreams come true.
Omar from BESIEGED Gaza.