[News] Gaza Freedom Flotilla - A force more powerful
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 17 13:47:56 EDT 2010
A force more powerful
Ewa Jasiewicz, The Electronic Intifada, 17 May 2010
Later this month, ships from all over the world will converge in the
Mediterranean and set sail for the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip.
This international coalition is called the Freedom Flotilla.
The Free Gaza Movement has sailed eight missions to Gaza in the past
three years, five of them successful. The last three were violently
stopped by the Israeli Navy; the boat Dignity was rammed three times
and the Spirit of Humanity turned back in January 2009, then seized
and all aboard arrested.
This time the Freedom Flotilla is upping the ante and instead of one-
and two-vessel challenges, will be breaking Israel's siege with an
In the past, the Israel Navy could pick us off as individual boats.
Now, including Free Gaza's four ships, 700 passengers and some 5,000
tons of reconstruction materials and medical equipment. This includes
Free Gaza's MV Rachel Corrie, which was purchased through generous
donations from Malaysia's Perdana Global Peace Foundation.
The Israeli government has responded to the "sea intifada" coming its
way with saber rattling and accusations of serving Hamas. Israel has
proscribed the Turkish human rights and relief group Insani Vardim
Vakafi (IHH). IHH is responsible for sending a cargo ship and
passenger ship in the Freedom Flotilla. Israel has accused it and
Free Gaza of "supporting terrorism." Half the Israeli navy is set to
challenge the mission, with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at
the helm commanding the operation in person. The air force is on
standby and "diplomatic pressure" is being applied behind the scenes.
The message is clear from Israel: "We will stop you and we will use
force to stop you."
At no point does the Freedom Flotilla enter Israeli territorial
waters. The journey starts in local European or Turkish waters,
courses through international waters and ends in Gaza's territorial
waters. No checkpoints interrupt us. No walls daunt our sight. We've
proven that it's possible to sail a clear line with no borders, as we
want the world to be, until we get to Gaza.
Free Gaza is best described as a tactic but in practice, a tactic
within a score of tactics active in the global solidarity movement.
But it is an expensive one -- and many have criticized the hundreds
of thousands of dollars that have been spent on the missions for
boats and finding boats, flagging, registration, legal costs,
management costs, port fees, crew pay, mooring fees, repairs,
renovation, GPS, warehouses for cargo, crane and forklift hire.
Collectively the cost of the Flotilla runs literally into the
millions of euros. Some ask: "Isn't that money better spent on 'aid'?"
Every Palestinian family we met in Gaza, particularly after Israel's
invasion last winter kept saying to us: "We don't want aid, we need a
political solution; we need our rights. Our issue cannot be reduced
or swapped into bags of flour or food parcels. Palestine is not a
humanitarian issue -- it is a political one." This reality, of the
need for justice, tests the aid industry in Palestine, and the false
"objectivity" and lack of political will in the face of human
suffering with the claim: "We don't take sides. We want to continue
to keep giving our humanitarian aid."
Well, we do take sides -- that of direct democracy over occupation
This flotilla is an interruption to a discourse of power that says --
governments know best, leave it to us to negotiate new "freedoms" and
realities; a continuation of not even top-down but top-to-top
processes of keeping power out of the hands of ordinary people.
Leaders fly from continent to continent, round table discussions go
round and round, elephants in the room stamp their feet and roar
ignored. This flotilla puts that power back into our hands -- to
interrupt this ongoing Nakba.
We will not stop. From 1948 until now, history keeps repeating
itself, colonies keep expanding, corporations keep reaping the
rewards of reproducing repression; daily dispossession and casual
killing is normalized, and alienation from the consequences of our
work and actions keeps us compartmentalized. The occupation is
reproduced on a daily basis in factories, classrooms, courtrooms,
cinemas, art galleries, supermarkets and holiday resorts. Radical
refusal, radical transgressions can make change happen. Refusing to
be alienated from our brothers and sisters and recognizing our
community is the essence of solidarity.
This flotilla represents radical solidarity and a force that can be
realized when people from all over the world act on their conscience.
It's a force made real through stepping out onto the streets or into
occupation-supporting businesses, through speaking out, through
fundraising in mosques, churches, synagogues, schools; through
writing, singing, sharing, relaying and promoting, and packing and
driving boxes of materials and cement, and cheering on and praying
for and protesting any attack.
Israel may well succeed in stopping us -- but this is an unknown and
here is power in that. We can affect that which hasn't happened yet.
When Rachel Corrie stood in front of the bulldozer driver that killed
her, she acted on radical trust -- that the soldier would see her
humanity. She lost, because the soldier had lost his humanity. Yet
Rachel's faith abides in each of us. Because if our oppressors are
losing their humanity then we must never stop showing them that we
have it. We are undertaking this mission in the spirit of those who
have fought and sacrificed their lives for our collective humanity,
and to remind everyone who can see of the need to act on it.
Ewa Jasiewicz is a coordinator with the Free Gaza Movement
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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