Cycling for Palestine

International group of cyclists campaign for Palestine

A group of PEDAL cyclists ride on a highway in İstanbul. The group wants to create awareness about Palestine.
A group of international cyclists calling themselves PEDAL have been on the road to send out a message in favor of the people of Palestine since they set out on April 21 from the UK, creating awareness about the unjust policies of Israel and asking for support for a people under occupation.
Along the route, all they wanted to see is a bit of human sensitivity, and some seeds. No, you didn’t read incorrectly, they want seeds. PEDAL members will sow seeds they gather along the road when they reach Palestine at the end of their journey.

People living under occupation lose much, but most importantly, they lose their ability to stand on their own feet. The Palestinians, who have earned their bread in the fertile soil of their own country, today look to humanitarian aid groups for help. What they need first and foremost is to become, once again, and independent nation that can stand up on its own and catch the proverbial fish rather than just depend on others.

A group of 15 cyclists are aware that enabling a nation to stand up on its own feet again is more important than simply giving out donations. As opposed to their “modern” counterparts in the West, who do feel for the Palestinians but are satisfied with sending credit card donations online, PEDAL members have chosen a much more difficult and also physically challenging approach: They are trying to pedal to Palestine in 100 days from London. PEDAL is not only concerned about the plight of Palestine, but also with the environment. Their primary target is to raise awareness about the situation in Palestine, but in doing so they also want to get a message out about the environment. They are collecting seeds in each city they ride through to plant them later in Palestine. PEDAL decided to start its 100-day tour in support of Palestine after nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed in May of last year by Israeli rangers aboard a passenger ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was part of an aid flotilla bringing supplies to Gaza, a strip of land under Israeli blockade. PEDAL also stands in solidarity with other environmentalists, refugees and communities that face persecution all over the world.

Last week, PEDAL bikers rode through Turkey. Joe Phillips, one of the cyclists, responded to Sunday’s Zaman’s questions on the group’s campaign. He said: “We are part of a group called the Boycott, Divestment an Sanctions against Israel [BDS] movement made up of 170 pro-Palestinian civil society groups. Our main target is to raise awareness about what the BDS is trying to achieve.”

He said the group’s members were predominantly English and Scottish, but they also had Irish, Australian and Canadian cyclists. The group also reflects a variety of professional backgrounds. There are artists, journalists, writers, teachers and even farmers among them.

Phillips said the group really enjoyed riding their bikes in Turkey — until they entered İstanbul. However, to the city’s credit, they were impressed by the willingness of the residents to help and their generosity. They were also happy to learn more about Turkey’s vibrant and interesting political scene and intriguing history.

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