Four Triangle residents, including a history teacher from Hillside High School, will travel to the Gaza Strip next week to participate in an international protest to call attention to turmoil there resulting from Israel’s blockade of Gaza’s borders, according to a news release from two Triangle organizations helping publicize the effort.

The foursome is part of about 1,000 people from the U.S. who will travel to Cairo, Egypt, on Dec. 27 and join with an estimated 50,000 other protestors for the Gaza Freedom March, timed to the one-year anniversary of an assault by Israeli forces that killed more than 1,300 people and wounded thousands.

According to a joint news release from the Coalition for Peace with Justice and the Triangle Campaign Against the Israeli Occupation, the participants are:

  • Bryan Proffitt, the Hillside teacher who attended N.C. State University and has worked in the formation of several Triangle-area anti-war groups
  • Jodeen Olguín-Tayler, a Durham-based organizer for
  • Waleed Elhantaty, a small-business owner from Raleigh and current vice president of the Muslim American Public Affairs Council
  • Burhan Ghanayem, a retired environmental health scientist and entrepreneur who lives in Raleigh

The protest is garnering support from notable figures from writer Alice Walker to Howard Zinn to Noam Chomsky. Read more >>

Proffiitt, who has been a teacher at Hillside for three years, said he has been compelled to participate to draw more attention from his community to the Israeli occupation, which he compares to South Africa under apartheid. Some of his students and fellow teachers are also learning more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from his experience.

Proffitt said he raised money to help pay for the $2,000 trip and that almost everyone he knows has been supportive of the endeavor, despite the controversy surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the inherent danger in traveling to Gaza.

“I’m much more concerned about the safety of Palestinians,” Proffitt said. “I’m not naïve enough to think it’s 100 percent safe. But I’m still pretty secure in the level of the organization that’s involved in us going.”

We’ve asked the four Triangle residents to update the Indy on their travel experience. Meanwhile, read Proffitt’s blog, which includes some pre-trip posts.