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Conscience their lodestar, Israeli violence their sword of Damocles,the Boats of Mercy sail for Gaza
rights, freedoms and repression |
Monday August 18, 2008 17:39 by TD - Free Palestine Campaign
Creating "a dangerous precedent" whose "fate will be the same."?
More the decks of a Noah's ark than a cobblestoned trading emporium, Free Palestine Campaign activists took to rain deluged Shop Street last Saturday in solidarity with the brave women and men who presently will be sailing from Cyprus in two boats to break the medieval siege of Gaza and on what Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire, calls a "pilgrimage of justice and peace."
Already, activists from the Free Gaza Movement have received phone calls, warning them that their boats will be blown up and asking them if they know how to swim - chilling, when one recalls that in 1988, a day after three Palestinian Liberation Organization officers were killed in the Cypriot port of Limassol by a bomb planted in their car, the PLO ship the Sol Phryne, on a similar mission of sailing to Haifa was damaged in a mine attack . PLO officials accused Israel of planting the mine, which ripped a six-foot hole in the ferry's hull. Israeli officials did not deny it, and the transport minister at the time said that if the PLO gets another ship "its fate will be the same." PLO officials accused Israel of planting the mine, which ripped a six-foot hole in the ferry's hull. Israeli officials did not deny it, and the transport minister at the time said that if the PLO gets another ship "its fate will be the same."
Already the Israeli newspaper Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1012171.html is reporting that: "According to the Foreign Ministry, Israel is within its rights to use force against the seafarers ... A position paper by the Foreign Ministry's legal department says Israel has the right to use force against the demonstrators as part of the Oslo Accords ... the Foreign Ministry's paper means that security forces could detain the vessels upon entry to Gaza's territorial waters, arrest the passengers and haul the ship to Israel, where the detainees could be interrogated.” as Ramzi Kysia on the Free Gaza website points out (see Related Link): "The Oslo accords expired in 1999, but even when they were in place they never advocated or allowed Israel to use deadly force against nonviolent human rights workers. However, Israel has decided to interpret the now-defunct accords as giving them permission to act violently against us.
Given this situation, we, the members of the Free Gaza Movement, would like to make two things very clear to the government of Israel:
1) We are nonviolent human rights activists and we have vowed to take no violent action, in either word or deed, against any other human beings - including against Israeli government and military officials who, apparently, wish us harm.
2) The threats and intimidation that we have received these past few days, though disturbing, do not even come close to the suffering imposed on 1.4 million Palestinians through the illegal and immoral Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Given the enormity of this crisis, we will not be deterred.
We will sail to Gaza, and this siege will be lifted".
It is also chilling to remember the Gaza-based Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS) last reported the number of victims who had died preventable deaths as a result of unattainable medical care under the siege as 212, the latest two victims including an 11-month-old infant and a44-year-old father of eight. Both died after being denied permits to exit Gaza for treatment. and that PCAS lists 107 classes of basic medicines that are depleted in Gaza, 97 more nearing depletion, 136 halted or not functioning medical instruments and over 1,500 patients who need to leave the Strip for medical treatment.
The Boats of Mercy will be carrying humanitarian relief in the form of 100 hearing aids, etc, they will also or should be carrying the conscience of the world but won't, not when it comes to Israel and its curious anesthetizing effect on, for the want of a better phrase, "the morality of the 'international community,'" for when and if Israeli violence is visited on the human rights activists, Israel and the west will, inevitably, be seeking refuge beneath the white of the sepulchre or what Richard Falk terms "the self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen with positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence"? Anyone for Ground Hog Day? : from Barack Obama again reasserting "Israel's right to defend itself" (his justification for Israel's 2006 attack on Lebanon) to our current Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, blaming the victims (same as the then MfFA, Dermot Ahern blaming Galway based activist, Treasa Ni Cheannnabain as the manufacturer of her own dire straits, when called on to assist the beleaguered Treasa, trapped in the Gaza Strip by the Egyptians,
As Noam Chomsky pointed out in a November 8, 2007 article, Hypocrisies and Hope in Annapolis: "The crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere ... are so shocking that the only emotionally valid reaction is rage and a call for extreme action. But that does not help the victims, and is likely to harm them", the Free Gaza Movement has chosen nonviolent action, for the beauty of it, according to one of the participants, Jeff Halper; “If we break the siege, we win, and even if they arrest us, we win, because this will expose the face of the occupation and prove Israel is still an occupier in Gaza." - the besieger of an open air prison with destruction and genocide in mind: "To persist with such an approach under present circumstances is indeed genocidal, and risks destroying an entire Palestinian community that is an integral part of an ethnic whole" (international law scholar, Richard Falk).
At least, occupied Ireland through the centuries had the the hope and luxury of Spanish and French military assistance and succour:
O! The French are on the sea
Says the sean-bhean bhocht
Will Ireland then be free?
Says the sean-bhean bhocht;
Yes! Ireland shall be free,
From the centre to the sea
In comparison, Palestine's hopes or at least some of them are nailed to the masts of two frail boats bound for their D-day/their Mercy-day and probable Israeli violence on the Gaza beaches, we wish them safety and success.
Caption: Embedded video Youtube Video