Monday, July 11, 2011

Sail to Freedom

The Battle To Sail To Gaza

Is About The Freedom Of Palestine

By Salim Nazzal

08 July, 2011

Israel rapidly understood that the message behind the Freedom Flotilla was more than lifting the Israeli siege on Gaza, but rather to convey a message to the world that the silence about the Israeli occupation has given Israel a pretext to continue its war crimes.

The world, represented by intellectuals, human rights organizations, pro peace and justice forces and solidarity men and women of the four corner of the earth, is currently sending a powerful message to the western governments that unless there is a collective action against Israel there is no way to stop the occupation, and no way to stop the suffering of Palestinians without a strong international action against the Israeli occupation.

The freedom flotilla campaign reveals clearly that there is no indication that western governments, which have to take a major responsibility towards the creation of the Palestinian tragedy by supporting the ethnic cleansing in Palestine in 1848 and in 1967, are doing anything to correct the grave injustices against the Palestinian people. This is obvious in the cowardly position taken by some European countries towards the freedom flotillas, which illustrates the growing gap between the western masses, particularly in Europe, which supports the Palestinian freedom, and their governments.

In the past Israel shot and murdered peaceful solidarity personnel, as seen on the flotilla ship ”Marmara" last June ,when it was attacked by Israeli gun boats and helicopters an action that was condemned by the whole world. This time Israel seems to be trying rather cunning methods to hinder the solidarity friends of Palestine by claiming that they are “Islamic terrorists” an allegation which naturally convinces no one .

It also launched a psychological attrition war to exhaust the peaceful activists in order to give up their humanitarian efforts .

Then, it played on the Turkish/ Greek differences by upgrading its relationship with Greece which did not resist the Israeli pressures. Using most likely to its advantage of the vulnerable economical position of Greece.

The president of the «European Campaign» said that the activists "will continue their efforts by all means, to break the siege, which violates all international and humanitarian law and is considered a crime according to the laws of war".

The International activists accuse Israel of sabotaging participating ships in the fleet, one Irish and the second a Greek, and of exerting pressure on the Greek Government to prevent the Flotilla from leaving for Gaza.

The Greek coast guard intercepted the American ship sailing from the port of Piraeus, near Athens. The ship «The Audacity of Hope», which is carrying about 40 American activists, had reached a distance of two miles off the coast of Piraeus, when stopped by a ship belonging to the Coast Guard, which ordered the captain of the boat to return.

The US «The Audacity of Hope», its name is inspired by the book title written by President Barack Obama, is carrying a number of peace activists., including Alice Walker (86 years), a Jewish writer, who holds a prize «Pulitzer» for Literature, whose parents were killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

It is also noteworthy that among the participants on the Canadian boat are, a member of the Committee of the Foundation «Jewish voice» Dylan Penner, Vevina Borzsult ,of the Foundation «Jews Against the Occupation» in Australia, and activist Mary Howes Thompson,, who was on board the ship «Free Gaza» in the "Freedom Flotilla" .
The freedom flotilla 2 comes this time amid the historical changes in the Arab region. The ongoing Arab spring means that Arabs can no longer be ruled by despotic regimes .The paradox is , that while the Arab region is witnessing historical changes achieved by globalized youth , who internalized the values of human dignity, freedom and human rights, the state of Israel is moving towards theocracy and towards religious fanatism. This week the Jewish Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira calls to kill non Jews, including infants, if they pose a threat to Israel.

Even though there are some Jewish voices who protest against Shapira, it is difficult to ignore the fact that his call reflects the extent of a growing tendency towards fanatism amongst jews in Israeli society which is witnessing a significant withdrawal to secular values .

Moreover, the freedom flotilla comes at a time when Palestinians are preparing themselves to take the question of Palestine to the United Nations in September . Israel's reaction was strong and its diplomacy has been very active in trying to prevent Palestine from becoming a full member of the UN, whilst the United States informed Palestinians that it will to its veto to block Palestinian full membership.

A fact that the Israeli generals are not able to see, is that the international Armada for justice, sailing towards Palestine, is reflecting an international concern about Palestine . Israel might be able to postpone the freedom of Palestine, as it might do with the freedom flotilla 2 ,but the question is how long Israel will be able to crash with the new spirit of age which goes towards human rights and freedom? However the news from the Flotilla is promising . The international solidarity activists are still determined to sail to Palestine. And despite the Israeli Greek efforts a French solidarity boat escaped the “Greek siege” and began sailing towards Gaza. A media source in the freedom flotilla said that the solidarity passengers are determined to overcome all the obstacles created by Israel. She added that, in the worst scenario, if the freedom flotilla could not sail to Gaza its message that its time that Palestine becomes a free country has reached the world.

Dr. Salim Nazzal, a Palestinian-Norwegian historian on the Middle East, He has written extensively on social and political issues in the region.

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