Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Palestinian Flag Flies atop Argentina's Aconcagua

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Palestinian Flag Flies atop Argentina's Aconcagua

Article excerpt

I DECIDED to carry a Palestinian flag to the top of Cerro Aconcagua, South America's highest peak, and hoist it on the summit in January 2010 as a way of expressing solidarity with the Palestinian quest for statehood. I wanted to climb Aconcagua, 22,841 feet (6,962 meters), located in the dry, desert region of northwestern Argentina. While not considered a technical climb, Aconcagua stands as the highest mountain outside Asia's famous Himalaya range and attracts climbing parties from all over the world, especially those whose goal is to reach each of the seven continental summits. Climbers spend from between two and four weeks on the mountain carrying backpack loads weighing up to 65 pounds while contending with extremely high elevation.

Similar to what I had undertaken five years earlier on Mt. McKinley in Alaska, (see Sept./Oct. 2005 Washington Report, p. 66), I wanted to carry the Palestinian flag to the top. In 1988, I spent part of my college freshman year studying religion in Jerusalem and later learned Arabic and completed a master's degree in Middle Eastern history at Harvard University. After living among Palestinians I, too, have yearned for Palestinians to live free from occupation, in a state of their own.

Unfortunately, uncertainty as to the realization of this dream confronts the average Palestinian on a daily basis. Palestinians spend hours waiting in the hot sun, cold rain and all kinds of weather wondering if Israeli soldiers will allow them to pass through ubiquitous military checkpoints to get to work or school, visit family members, get to a hospital, farm their land or simply shop for food. …

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