If anyone knows how to throw a parade it's the Arabs. All over the middle east you can be feted in a parade of official cars with horn blowing and cheering, but nothing prepares you for what we got in Morocco. On the first day the short drive through the city of Tangier to our lunch appointment was quite short, and being the last of a stretched out set of departures, there were only several hundred people along the roadside, and after leaving lunch it was dark and we took the motorway, so, apart from some few skirmishes with well-wishers, we had to wait until the journey from Fez to Oujda to get the full force of Moroccan opinion on the subject of the convoy.
To use words like overwhelming doesn't do any of the journeys justice. It was not the crowds in the larger towns that was so impressive, although they were, it was the individuals and small groups that lined the road in the countryside and small villages, obviously delighted . ecstatic in some cases. Workmen stopped work, children stopped playing, men brought out their small children to show them the convoy hurtling past. Women washed their faces and blew kisses, teenagers shouted encouragement like 'May Allah make the journey short for you!' They would rush to shake hands if the vehicles slowed, but they were mainly shouting support and well wishes. people routinely gave small presents if the opportunity came - water, juice and the like. But there was no-one who was not involved. Perhaps the grumpies stayed in their house that day, but from single farmers leading a donkey to groups of boys in a small town, all were on our side.
It brought tears to my eyes over and over again. They were making us feel like Heroes.
Heroes, not celebrities. When you are attracted to a celebrity, you want to meet them, get their autograph; you want them to give you something, but this was the other way round. People wanted to give us their love, and they wanted it to be taken to Gaza. For this purpose, they wanted to give us, their messengers, the means to get there - food drink, encouragement, love, indeed, but especially they wanted to let us know with the universal two fingered salute, that they expect us to go on to victory.
But then it began to dawn on me. They were - are - entrusting and empowering us to get into Gaza on their behalf. They really care about the Palestinians and they really beleive that we're going to do something about it! Can you feel how much responsibilty they are placing on our shoulders? Every time the van gets mobbed by a few hundred townsfolk, or every time some woman blows kisses or touches her heart, or every time a man, like the one in the picture, waves and waves at you and shouts Allah Akbar I feel like a hero who has been given the expectations of an entire nation to carry. I hope that I can do it, though you'll understand my fear that I won't - that we can't.