By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Anyone with $2,000 to spend on a vacation has several options, perhaps taking it easy on beaches, climbing mountains or visiting any of the world’s wonders.
Or a person could accompany Kit Kittredge of Quilcene on a two-week tour of the Gaza Strip to witness the effects of a steady diet of war, occupation and religious conflict firsthand.
The Gaza Strip, which is bordered by Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north, is a 139-square-mile parcel which houses 1.5 million people, 1 million of them refugees.
Tours of Gaza
Kittredge, 52, will speak about her five tours of Gaza in two free presentations, at 7 p.m. Thursday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Port Townsend Masonic Lodge, 1338 Jefferson St.
Kittredge supports the Palestinian Civil Society’s call to boycott, divest and sanction Israeli products until what she calls “Israeli apartheid” ends.
“Israel is breaking international law, and America shares complicity in this,” Kittredge said.
“They are plowing down houses and are not allowing farmers to use their own land.”
Kittredge leads trips to Gaza, which she books through the Code Pink anti-war organization.
The trips cost about $1,000 for a plane ticket from Seattle and less than $1,000 in expenses, she said.
Each participant must secure individual permission from the Egyptian government, which has been known to change its mind.
“We have gotten to the border and people are not allowed in,” she said. “Or we can be in Gaza, and they are not allowed out.”
Those on the trip spend time shuttling from place to place and talking to people in all walks of life through a translator.
Kittredge has been a leader in urging a boycott of Israeli goods at the Port Townsend Food Co-op.
The co-op is scheduled to address the proposal at a meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Church, 2333 San Juan Ave., Port Townsend.
Members will vote on the proposal, in which the co-op would boycott products from Israel and the occupied territories “until Israel stops violating international law and the rights of the Palestinian people.”
Kittredge said that, during the visits to Gaza, people are eager to talk. They hope that people who go on these excursions will talk about what they saw and spread the word to their neighbors.
“The kids are everywhere,” Kittredge said.
“It’s like you are the Pied Piper because anyone who is not from Gaza is a novelty.”
Her overall goal is to see Gaza returned to the boundaries designated after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Kittredge offers some local perspective, saying that the Gaza strip “is about the same size as the Quimper Peninsula so we can relate to its size.”
Kittredge began protest activities while a student at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
She said that modern protesters are no less committed than in the 1960s but are fewer in number.
She works as massage therapist and is also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician with the Quilcene Fire Department.
She has three children and two grandchildren.
“I don’t want to look my grandchildren in the eye and say ‘I knew about this injustice but I didn’t do anything about it,'” she said.
To contact Kittredge, e-mail marnykit[at]gmail.com.