Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

Gaza’s Ark – the unquenchable yearning for freedom

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Inspired and inspiring:

In cooperation with Palestinians in Gaza, and partners in the US, Australia and other countries, the Canadian Boat to Gaza has just announced a new, very creative challenge to the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Gaza fishing boat after Israeli naval attack  (Photo: Saed Bannoura)

The Gaza’s Ark project will build a boat in Gaza, using local resources.  The boat will be constructed by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance.  Then a crew of Palestinians and internationals will sail it out of Gaza, carrying Palestinian products to fulfill trade deals with international buyers.  Gaza is the only Mediterranean port to and from which shipping is forbidden.

The Gaza’s Ark project will help revitalize the ship building industry in Gaza, badly damaged by the invasion and blockade, and help transmit this disappearing expertise (another impact of the blockade) to younger generations.

Through trade deals negotiated between Palestinian producers in Gaza and international businesses and NGOs, a channel will be established to export Palestinian products still available despite the blockade.

Gaza’s Ark will also train Gaza’s sailors in the use of up-to-date electronic sailing equipment and techniques, denied to them for years by the blockade.

Although it will help in a very limited manner to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment crisis by paying wages to the boat builders and providing business opportunities to traders, this is not an aid project.  It is a peaceful action against the blockade which Israel unilaterally, unreasonably and illegally imposes on Gaza.

Gaza’s Ark also stands in solidarity with the Palestinian fishery in Gaza whose ability to operate in territorial waters and to derive a livelihood is threatened and attacked by the Israeli naval blockade.

This project will challenge the blockade by building hope on the ground in Gaza.  It affirms that, given the chance, the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no one’s security.

With your support, work on Gaza’s Ark will start this summer.   Contact information follows below.

By the way, in case you were wondering what happened to the Canadian boat Tahrir: Along with its cargo of medical supplies the Tahrir was seized by the Israeli navy in international waters last November while it was sailing peacefully toward the Gaza Strip.  Such seizures are considered acts of piracy under international law.  Though Israel has never found nor even claimed to find anything dangerous or prohibited on board, it continues to hold the Tahrir.  Despite many requests, the current Canadian government has consistently refused to ask Israel to release the Tahrir and its cargo of desperately needed medical supplies.

For now the Tahrir (Arabic for freedom) remains under arrest.  On the other hand, try as it might, Israel can’t arrest the unquenchable yearning for freedom.

Follow the progress of Gaza’s Ark via regular updates here on the web, here on Facebook. and on Twitter (@GazaArk).

For more information, contact Gaza’s Ark at info@GazaArk.org.

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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