Local author reflects on trip to Gaza amidst conflict - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local author reflects on trip to Gaza amidst conflict

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- An Eau Claire author who spent the last week in the middle of a reignited Israeli-Palestinian conflict returns to Wisconsin to share her experiences.

"There has to be a change in the way we dictate policy," notes Cathy Sultan.

Sultan is an Eau Claire author, best known for her books about life in the Middle East.  She's been there many times, and even lived in Lebanon for 15 years.  She returned home Monday night from a week long trip to Gaza, which has been engulfed in a bitter conflict between the Israelis and Hamas.

"There were 22 people in our delegation," Sultan remembers.  "Two of whom were the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was the American who was bulldozed to death by an Israeli driver on March 16, 2003 when she was trying to save the house of a Palestinian."

She says both groups want to control Gaza and in some ways, they do.

"Gaza is controlled by air, sea, and land by Israel.  It's governed by Hamas," Sultan explains.

She says her biggest takeaway was just how self-less the people in Gaza were.  She says they were more worried about getting the Americans out alive; saying, we are used to this because this is how we live.  This isn't how you live.  Those words will stick with Sultan.

"These people are strong and they have resilience," she says smiling.  "My God do they have resilience; with a capital R they have resilience."

Sultan doesn't like the way the conflict is being depicted in the United States.  She says with Israel being such a close ally, Americans in general immediately side with the Israelis. 

She says worldwide, many other countries side with Hamas. But no matter who started it or who's to blame, in her opinion, there's only one way to come to an understanding.

"The solution is you talk to your enemy.  You don't talk to your friends.  That's what solves problems," she explains.  "You talk to your enemy and you resolved your issues.  First response is not military force."

Sultan says her travel group was treated so kindly by the Palestinian people during their visit.

She says Rachel Corrie's parents, who were in the travel group, are viewed in the highest regard because of what their daughter did for them a decade ago.

A cease fire, if it can be reached, would bring a halt to the worst violence there in four years.

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