York University Professor and widely respected award-winning Toronto filmmaker John Greyson went to Egypt with Tarek Loubani, an emergency doctor from London, Ont., to film his work training staff at the Al Shifa hospital in the neighbouring Gaza Strip.
He arrived late July in the midst of a military coup which had begun July 3. The military leaders in Egypt were so concerned about Mohammed Morsi's connection to Hamas via the Muslim Brotherhood that they deposed him. Egypt is so concerned about Hamas in Gaza that they have barricaded the border, and bulldozed Egyptian homes in order to develop a partition with a moat between Gaza and Egypt, and have destroyed almost all the tunnels through which most trade from Egypt arrived-illegally.
Since the ouster of Morsi, who did everything he could to bolster Hamas's standing and assist it in tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians have imposed severe restrictions at the Gaza border crossing, allowing through only a few dozen Palestinians every day.
"The Egyptians are strangling the Gaza Strip," complained Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. "They are punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip by denying them medicine, food and fuel."
Aid is coming from Israel.
But, Professor Greyson and Tarik Loubani went to Egypt despite the unrest. And seemed not to know about the animosity between Egypt and Gaza, between the Egyptians and Hamas. Now, we Canadians will have to get him out of jail where he has been incarcerated since August 26.
Today, Sept. 10, a panel of artists at the Toronto International Film Festival is calling for the "immediate release" of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani.
"We all fiercely defend his right to speak his mind," said Egoyan, suggesting Greyson, who has a history of supporting Palestinians in Gaza, may have been working on a documentary film about Loubani's work in the territory.
Mr. Greyson is an outspoken advocate of the BDS movement against Israel.
"He was trying to tell a story, and was stopped," said Egoyan. "We are very, very worried about them."
And rightly so. He is in a jail in a country that was just recently relieved of its Muslim leadership bent on imposing Sharia law.
I have to wonder, did he know the facts and choose not to believe them? And if he didn't know the facts why not? He's a professor going to the Middle East in the middle of uprisings everywhere. He went to Egypt to make his way into Gaza. He must have thought that he would be welcomed -- perhaps with open arms -- because he wants to tell the story of the "victimized" Gazans;the ones needing help from a flotilla in 2010.
This was Gaza in 2010
He would have been safer going through Israel because Israel is the primary supplier of aid to Gaza. More importantly, why is he so stuck on Gaza that he didn't think to go with Dr. Loubani to Syria where its citizens are exposed to chemical warfare, millions of people are refugees, there's a dearth of medical care.
But Israel, "the pariah state", the only stable country in the area is there providing much needed aid.
I suggest that Professor Greyson elevated political correctness to the level of idol worship because of his need to see the world through the lens of moral relativism. That led him to Gaza where he is not needed, rather than Syria where he is. Where he could give first hand reportage of the horror taking place there. Instead he is so locked into the Palestinian propaganda, the story of the victimization of the Gazans by Israel, that he went to a war zone and is now in jail -- and I'm guessing it isn't pretty.