Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

32. Israel’s Gaza blockade reaches Canadian boat in Greece.

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From the Canadian boat Tahrir, July 1, 2011:

Greek coast guard officers are now on board the Tahrir attempting to arrest Sandra Rush, Jewish Canadian member of the Canada boat to Gaza Steering Committee, who is refusing to surrender the boat’s registration papers.

Efforts to stop Freedom Flotilla 2 from sailing have included diplomatic pressure and manipulation, economic blackmail, bureaucratic obstacles, baseless and slanderous allegations against the flotilla and the delegates, and sabotage of at least two vessels.

“The world watched as an intensive campaign to prevent the Tahrir and the entire Freedom flotilla II from sailing was underway.  We have been unjustly and duplicitously treated,” said Irene MacInnes of the Tahrir organizing committee. “The government of Israel, shamefully with the tacit support of the Harper government, is doing everything in its power to maintain the blockade.  Today, as a result of the concerted efforts of the 4th largest military power in the world and its backers, we have been prevented from sailing to Gaza.  Yet we will persevere in our attempts till the blockade is lifted.”

“Israel has in effect extended the illegal blockade of Gaza to Greek ports, using Greece’s economic difficulties to influence the government’s position”, said David Heap of the organizing committee.

“We remain absolutely clear that the Canadian Boat to Gaza has not been, is not, and has no intention of, breaking any laws.  It is the blockade of Gaza that is illegal under international law.  We have a legal and moral obligation to challenge the blockade, given the failure of the international community to act”, said Dylan Penner of the organizing committee. “This is why we must continue our attempts to sail to Gaza: to challenge the illegal and immoral blockade and to equally challenge the Canadian federal government’s support for it.”

Meanwhile the US boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, is at a standoff with Greek Navy boats, refusing their orders to return to shore.

Sadly for the people of Greece, Canada and the United States, current governing elites serve as accomplices to the Israeli regime in its illegal occupation of Palestine.  The blockade of the Freedom Flotilla is a spectacular demonstration of their power.

By contrast, the Canadian boat Tahrir and the international Freedom Flotilla embody a courageous popular resistance, and ultimately a viable path to a just peace. They need our continuing support, in whatever form that might take.

In the longer term, for citizens who share the objectives of the Freedom Flotilla, to break the illegal siege of Gaza and ultimately to end the illegal occupation, I would contend that the growing international campaign for BDS — boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel continues to be the most effective long-term tool available to us.

For exactly that reason, this week the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed a law to criminalize BDS.  Clearly the campaign is having an impact.

The fight goes on.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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