By Yvonne Ridley
Valentine to Palestine
TOMORROW is Valentine's Day, a celebration rooted in paganism until
Christian leaders pegged it to the legend of a third century saint
after failing miserably to stop the annual festival.
And so, in a few hours time, millions of people of faith and no
faith across the world will be exchanging cards and flowers as symbols
of their love, so I suppose it was quite apt that February 14 was
chosen by British MP George Galloway as the day to send a gift to
the people of Palestine.
But instead of a simple card and bunch of roses, Britain's best
known politician decided his Valentine for Palestine would be a
His journey from Big Ben to Baghdad ten years ago was a mammoth
task, but nothing like Viva Palestina! which involves more than
100 vehicles, 285 people and a spectacular mile-long procession
including fire engines, ambulances and a boat all bound from London
George is sending a land convoy of aid, gift wrapped in love and
solidarity to the people of Gaza and I will be with him all the
way recording the historic trip by blog.
will be hoping to emulate the success in smashing the Israeli-imposed
siege by sea when I arrived in Gaza last August (see picture) as
a member of the Free Gaza Movement.
Tomorrow's convoy, stretching more than one mile, will roll from
central London around noon on Saturday (GMT) and head for war-torn
Gaza via France, Spain before winding its way across north Africa.
My daily diary will keep you informed of who is on the convoy, the
human interest stories around each truck and van loaded with humanitarian
aid and our adventures on the road.
Many of you who are reading this blog have donated cash and aid
to the convoy, and as stakeholders in Viva Palestina it is only
right you are kept informed of your investment in the future hopes
of those in Gaza.
We are told there are quite a few official welcomes and receptions
being planned for us on our journey which has already been described
as the largest British convoy to cross the Maghreb since the Second
So if you want to keep informed follow this column for the next
See you all in Gaza!
* According to legend, in the third century A.D.
Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to reinforce the ranks of his
army, forbade young men to marry. Valentine, it is said, flouted
the ban, performing marriages in secret. For his defiance, Valentine
was executed in A.D. 270—on February 14.