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There will be Hope in Gaza

category galway | rights, freedoms and repression | press release author Tuesday September 23, 2008 14:45author by TD - Free Palestine Campaign Report this post to the editors

"Hope is the greatest of all virtues, even greater than Love. For Love only teaches us what should be, while Hope teaches us what will be."

(LARNACA, 22 September 2008) - The Free Gaza Movement announced today that an international delegation of doctors, parliamentarians, and human rights workers will sail to Gaza aboard the SS Hope on Wednesday, September 24th. A press conference will be held on Wednesday at Larnaca Port prior to the ship's departure.

The passengers on board include:
- 5 physicians from 4 countrieS
- human rights lawyers and monitors
- Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli Knesset
- Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
- Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work in Belfast

Mairead Maguire after being gassed and shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Occupation Forces in Bil'in, April 20th, 2007.
Mairead Maguire after being gassed and shot with a rubber-coated steel bullet by Israeli Occupation Forces in Bil'in, April 20th, 2007.

According to Maguire, a world-renowned human rights campaigner, "This mission carries with it the hopes and wishes of many people around the world."

On August 23, two of the Free Gaza Movement's boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty arrived in Gaza Port to the jubilation of tens of thousands of Palestinians gathered there. It was the first time in over forty years that international ships had docked in Gaza Port.

Since Israel tightened its blockade two years ago, malnutrition and unemployment rates in Gaza have soared. In May 2008, several international aid organizations, including CARE International UK, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, and Medecins du Monde UK, stated that, "the stranglehold on Gaza's borders has made ... the work of the UN and other humanitarian agencies ... virtually impossible. Only a trickle of medicine, food, fuel and other goods is being allowed in…making people highly dependent on food aid, and brought the health system and basic services, such as water and sanitation near to collapse."

Huwaida Arraf, the delegation spokesperson and a law lecturer at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, said, "The world cannot stay silent as the Palestinian people are deliberately starved and humiliated; Palestinians have a right to life with dignity. Last month, on August 23rd, our two, small, wooden boats, the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, sailed to Gaza and did what our governments would not do - we defied Israel's illegal collective punishment of 1.5 million men, women and children living in the Gaza Strip. On September 24th, we're sailing back to Gaza to challenge it again. Our boats are very humble, but what they represent is hope, and hope is what mobilizes change the world around."

The SS Hope was named in recognition of St. Augustine, who wrote that "Hope is the greatest of all virtues, even greater than Love. For Love only teaches us what should be, while Hope teaches us what will be."

For More Information, please contact:
(Cyprus/Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, +972 59 913 0426 / huwaida.arraf@gmail.com
(Cyprus) Greta Berlin, +357 99 081 767 / iristulip@gmail.com

Related Link: http://www.freegaza.org

Cartoon by Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff
Cartoon by Brazilian artist Carlos Latuff

author by DenisMacpublication date Wed Sep 24, 2008 01:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I do not understand the meaning of 'hope' used in this context, nor, I expect, do any of the people involved in this latest outing of a 'peace' boat. The Hamas Charter, a relevant document in all this, does not once use the word hope (or, in Arabic, amal). Instead, it rejects out of hand peace conferences and compromise, wiping out in one stroke any hope at all for anyone, Israelis or Palestinians. Since you are in Gaza as bearers of hope and since you are such chums with Hamas, will you not also carry a message from those of us who believe the Charter is one of the strongest obstacles to hope and peace?

In another sense, hope has never been out of this equation. It has been there since 1948 and before, when the Arabs of the region were offered a state of their own to administer much as they wanted. The Israelis have never taken that hope away, and today it still lies on the table. But it can only be picked up and turned into reality by those willing to agree to peace conferences and compromises. In all areas of life we employ compromise as the best means to our ends. Why, then, do you choose to ally yourselves with those who reject compromise and deny their people any hope of a future. The Israelis will not harm the Palestinians if they give up the use of violence. Doesn't that carry more real hope than merely daubing a boat with the word and using it for a publicity stunt? Lives are lost every day, and just because one side insists on everything, and insists the other should have nothing. That is not how the world works. In the concentration camps, men and women survived because they shared: a ration of bread, a blanket, a pair of old shoes. In the act of sharing, they knew hope. The Palestinians have a right to hope, as much as anyone, yet their leaders for well over sixty years have denied them that one great thing. It's the same as the blandishments of so many leaders in the past. In Soviet Russia or East Germany leaders said 'you may suffer now, but it's for the best, one day there will be a workers' paradise', and the paradise never came, and there was only room for hope the moment the leadership realized the paradise would never come. The Nazis promised a Thousand-Year Reich and lives of unsurpassed magnificence for the Aryan race, and it ended in endless suffering and death. Hamas promises an Islamic theocracy from the Mediterranean to Iraq, and all it has brought so far is suffering and all it promises is generation after generation of young dead Palestinians. And all the time, the reality of a Palestinian state slips past like a ghost. When Palestinian leaders say 'The Jews love life, but we love death', it snuffs out hope, because there can be no hope in the love of death.

I want Palestinians to have hope, but I know they cannot have it, do not deserve to have it, if that means extinguishing Israeli hopes for peace and a secure future for their children. Hope, like love, is generous. We Irish have seen enough of hatred burning them both. Why should we, of all people, head off in boats to support the one side that will not embrace or offer hope? Can't we bring something better than support for terrorism? Can't we talk about the compromises that led to a better life for the Northern Irish? Or the difficult compromise that created a Free State and yet led, in the fulness of time, to a prosperity and a political role my grandparents would only have stared at, mouths open, eyes agape?

If I were to wake one fine morning and steer my 'wee bonny boat' over the sea to Gaza, with whom would I talk about hope, with whom might I discourse about peace. Imagine I were an Israeli peace delegation, bearing hope. With whom could I reach an agreement? Who would give me hope in return? Who would guarantee me peace in exchange for the peace I would bring? The Israelis, on whose behalf I would offer this peace, are not Nazis, otherwise there would be no Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank. They want peace and have made that clear time after time. But to find peace I would first have to find a partner, someone who shared my hope that Jews and Arabs could lie down together like sheep. Who would that partner in peace be? A commander from Hamas? A spokesman for Islamic jihad? Come along, I speak Arabic, I can cut the mustard. But who exactly will cut the mustard with me? I bring hope with me, dreams. Business partnerships in agriculture, in medicine, in hi-tech developments. Just sit down with me and listen to what I have to say. Within weeks, Gaza could be transformed. Its peoples sufferings would soon come to an end. Who will speak with me? Who will be the Palestinian Martin Luther King, and speak with me, and break bread with me and share his dreams with me? Do not send me someone whose dreams are of bloodshed and conquest, he brings nothing out of so much suffering. Do not send me someone who wants to kill me when my back is turned. Do not send me someone who finds greater solace in suffering than he does in hope. And do not send me someone for whom Islamic dominion is more precious than the lives of his own brutalized children. I have a dream, but I cannot share it with men of blood.

You love Palestine, and I do not find fault with you for that. It is a beginning. But you do not love Palestine enough. You take a deeply partisan view, and you distort the conflict out of all recognition. If you can only see that the Israelis want peace with their hearts and souls, you will see that there is hope, that there is a way to bring about peace and reconciliation. Why not? You have won their confidence. Go to them in your boats, bring them whatever you have brought, and tell them they have got this thing wrong, that there is a way out for everyone. Tell them they are greedy, that they want everything, and that nobody can have everything. Tell them the people of Israel are waiting for an answer. Not for missiles, not for suicide bombers, not for bulldozers in the street. That is no way to win men's hearts. If you are sincere, if you sail with the tide to Gaza to bring hope, then think much harder than you have done about what hope in that context means. Please think and then become a force for peace. If you cannot do that, please don't even disembark, for you will have brought nothing, least of all hope, least of all peace.

author by Nodinpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The Israelis will not harm the Palestinians if they give up the use of violence. "

Really.

So why are they still building and expanding "settlements"?

So why don't they control their "settlers"?

Why, indeed, do they allow "settlers" to colonise outside Israels borders in the first place?

And its a bit rich to mention missiles and bulldozers to score points against the Palestinians.

author by sylvia - none.publication date Wed Oct 01, 2008 20:58author email sylvia_m at hotmail dot co dot ukauthor address UK and Eire.author phone n/aReport this post to the editors

The PEACE that Israel promotes is exemplified by the following 2 accurate statistics.

20% of ALL deaths of children under 1 year old in the Palestinian territories arre as a DIRECT result of checkpoints.
Of the 73 pregnant women waiting to be ALLOWED to pass through an Israeli checkpoint for medical attention, one third of these died in
childbirth AT THE CHECKPOINTS.

These figures are for the last 2 years.

author by Sean Ogpublication date Fri Oct 10, 2008 00:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sylvia - have you the details of the report/ link for these statistics ?

 
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