Report from the Middle East

I have been in Amman, Jordan, for a day, as it’s the entry point for our delegation to the West Bank and Gaza, to begin on Saturday. And what a day…. Amman is quite extraordinary and beautiful. From the heights of the ancient Citadel (AD 180) to the bowl of the Amphitheatre in the depths of the city, you experience the layers upon layers of sandstone buildings and steep, narrow streets, connected vertically by ribbons of stairs. It is dry and hot, and a cool breeze every now and then is relieving. By chance Kim and I attended a free concert in the ancient amphitheatre and watched as the sky darkened, sitting on one of the time worn tiers of steps, the stones so smooth they seem polished. On our way home we ate a sweet kanafeh, an Arabic dessert, and coffee.

My Dad, Peter Davies, was a frequent visitor to Amman, and entered the West Bank many times from here, in his work for a just settlement for Palestinians. He worked for many years with the Middle East Council of Churches, before his death in 2008.

Our delegation of 3 MPs, 2 members of CODE PINK, and a filmmaker is almost gathered in Amman, about which I will write more later. We are still working through logistical issues.

As I travelled here from Copenhagen, at the conclusion of the Human Rights Conference on LGBT issues, I finished reading Monia Mazigh’s powerful book “Hope and Despair”. Maher Arar, her husband, was sent to Syria via Jordan in 2002. Her tenacity and sense of purpose to support her husband is something we can all learn from. I am mindful that as I work to raise awareness about the situation in Gaza and the West Bank, as a result of Israeli occupation, and the siege of Gaza, we must also be vigilant about the human rights of Canadians, such as Maher, who endured and survived immense violations and suffering also perpetrated by the state. What exactly is our understanding of “terrorism” as defined by the state? These are some of the questions I think about and hope to understand better.