French boat to Gaza sails to Egypt: Greek coastguard

 

ATHENS (AFP) – A French yacht carrying activists hoping to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza has sailed to Egypt after a troubled stay in Greece, the Greek coastguard said late on Saturday.

The Dignite/Al Karama sailed to the Egyptian port of Alexandria from the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo, where it had berthed for the past few days, the coastguard said.

While there, it was prevented from sailing on Friday after colliding with a Greek coastguard rescue vessel and causing limited damage, authorities said.

The yacht had previously been taken to the port of Sitia on Crete after being stopped whilst sneaking away last week in defiance of a ban on any ships setting sail from Greece in an attempt to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Other boats which had been expected to participate in the 10-vessel international aid flotilla were similarly blocked from leaving Greece.

The flotilla had been due to set sail in early July but was hit by a wave of administrative obstacles which organisers blamed on Israeli political pressure.

Officials in Athens say they imposed the ban for the “safety” of the activists on board in the wake of last year’s bloody showdown when Israeli commandos raided a six-ship flotilla in a confrontation that left nine Turkish activists dead.

More than 300 activists from 22 countries had signed up to participate in this year’s flotilla, among them dozens of middle-aged and elderly Americans and Europeans.

Greece has offered to forward the aid to Gaza through its own resources, but claims that the activists have not taken up the proposal.

Israel has made no secret of its determination to prevent the Freedom Flotilla II from reaching Gaza, which has been under a blockade since 2006 after militants there snatched an Israeli soldier who is still being held at a secret location.

(mideastnews-danmike.blogspot.com / 16.07.2011)

Helen Thomas: ‘Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine’

Helen Thomas, an American author of Lebanese descent, who has been White House reporter and columinst for decades, said her peace before announcing her retirement from journalism. On May 27, while covering the Jewish heritage outside the White House, she was asked by Rabbi David Nesenoff about her advice to the Israelis. Helen Thomas replied: “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember these people are occupied and it’s their land”. She was then asked where the Israelis go, to which she replied: “They should go home to Poland, Germany… America and everywhere else”. Her remarks were taken out context by the ‘Israeli lynch mob’ and made it look like the old mantra “Wipe Israel Off Map“. Helen was referring to the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and the West Bank since 1967.  Watch video below.

With Helen Thomas gone – the Washington press corps is finally free of patriotic reporters asking politically wrong qestions, such as, at Obama’s first press conference as President, Helen tried to pin him down on Israeli nuclear weapon arsenal – by asking Obama if he knew of any country in the Middle East that possessed nukes. Obama stumbled in response saying he doesn’t like to “speculate”. Since that incident – Obama has refused to meet her.

The World Jewish Congress website reported on June 9, 2010 that Barack Obama has welcomed the immediate retirement of Helen Thomas 89, following her call to the Israeli Jew settlers to “get the hell out of Palestine”. Obama in a TV interview called Helen’s remarks “offensive” and “out of line”. Obama, as expected, has a very short memory. After Cairo speech in which he boasted of his “Muslim roots” and advised Palestinians to abandon “terrorism (Resistance)” – he was also called an “anti-Semite” and “a “Jew-hater” by the pro-Israeli ‘lynch mob’. Now, the same ‘lynch mob’ in the US media is after Helen Thomas for saying the truth.

Ari Fleischer, the Israeli Hasbara front, who lied for the Bush administration for as long as his Jewish soul can stand it, was one of the first to criticize Helen Thomas for using her ‘freedom of speech’ rights.

Roger Tucker in his praise for Helen Thomas, titled God Bless Helen Thomas, wrote:

In preparation for my bar-mitzvah I attended Hebrew School at a place called Temple Emeth in Brookline, MA. Emeth is Hebrew for truth, and I was young enough, 11-12, to be curious what that meant. What I mostly discovered was an ancient cult dedicated to telling old wives tales meant to frighten and cajole its adherents into becoming and remaining loyal members of the tribe. The “truth” indeed. But I do remember that some of the old texts frequently mentioned something called “righteousness,” which was somehow supposed to be the bedrock of the whole thing. Of course, no one actually believed in God. The “enlightened” Jews of Europe threw out that retro concept generations ago. Their new faith was Zionism, which can be summed up with the words, “God does not exist, but he gave us the Land.” In replacing the old faith with the new, that old notion of “righteousness” conveniently disappeared – the baby got thrown out with the bathwater. What did remain was the actual faith of the Pharisees going back to biblical times, the worship of the Golden Calf, the belief in and absolute devotion to money and power.

She has seen it all, and if there’s anyone who knows what the truth is, it is Helen Thomas. She saw the pressure and treachery applied by the Zionist mafia that led to the birth of Israel as an American protectorate in the Middle East. She saw her country that she so loved fall prey to a ruthless fifth column that has turned America into an obedient puppet of what a French diplomat once called “that shitty little state.” She watched as the Chicago Jewish political mafia picked out and groomed a nobody for the Presidency, the perfect Uncle Tom with a silken tongue who would smoothly carry out Massa’s orders

Who knows what the “rabbi” said to set her off, but whatever it was, she could no longer contain what she (and hundreds of millions of others who have not been duped or seduced by the Zionist) have felt all along, so she said what is so obvious – a bunch of genocidal settler-colonialist Eastern European fascists have no business being in Palestine in any other capacity than as tourists and should just get the hell out.

(June 10, 2010 / rehmat1.wordpress.com / 16.07.2011)

De islam preuts? Echt niet

De Duitse arabist Thomas Bauer wil graag een wijdverbreid misverstand uit de wereld helpen. Volgens hem is de preutse en verkrampte omgang met seks in islamitische landen een westers importproduct. Met de oude islam heeft het niets te maken. De islam wordt altijd weer neergezet als tegenbeeld van het Westen. Het Westen, zo wordt beweerd, is tolerant, verlicht en democratisch, de islam ontbreekt het juist aan verlichting, hij kent de scheiding tussen kerk en staat niet, is totalitair, intolerant, preuts en homofoob.

Maar pas op voor de val van het culturalisme! Culturalisten geloven dat culturen makkelijk van elkaar af te grenzen zijn, waarbij elke cultuur een bepaalde ‘kern’ heeft, die ook in de loop van de tijd nauwelijks verandert. Voor de culturalisten telt religie meestal als de belangrijkste cultuurbepalende factor.

Maar juist met de islam als voorbeeld valt aan te tonen dat culturen niet in apartje hokjes weg te zetten zijn, hokjes die los van elkaar bestaan. Veel wat wij vandaag de dag karakteristiek vinden voor de islam zou zonder westerse invloed ondenkbaar zijn geweest. De veelgeciteerde slogan die de islam als ‘Din wa-Daula’, dus als ‘Religie en Staat’ typeert, is pas in de negentiende eeuw opgekomen, toen de islamitische landen een ideologie wilden oprichten die tegenwicht kon bieden aan de sterke westerse ideologieën van die tijd.

Überhaupt komt de gepolitiseerde islam van vandaag de dag voort uit een geesteshouding die niet te herleiden valt uit traditionele islamitische geschriften. Bij zijn ontwikkeling stonden westerse voorbeelden model. Voor Said Qutb (1906-1966) – de ideoloog van de Egyptische Moslimbroederschap, ‘grondlegger’ van het islamisme in de Arabische wereld en inspirator van Osama bin Laden – was bijvoorbeeld de Franse arts Alexis Carrel belangrijker dan willekeurig welke een klassieke islamitische theoloog. Carrel deed pogingen om katholiek fundamentalisme en biologisme tot een nieuwe ideologie te versmelten. Vandaag de dag is zijn belangrijkste werk ‘De onbekende mens’ (1935) in het Westen – geheel terecht – vergeten. Maar waar zijn ideeën in het islamisme verder leven worden ze nu juist als typisch islamitisch gezien. Want geen auteur die Qutb zo vaak citeert als Carrel; zijn veroordeling van de moderniteit als ‘barbarij’ bijvoorbeeld met de benaming djahiliya, oorspronkelijk een begrip om de voor-islamitische ‘tijd van de onwetenheid’ mee aan te duiden. En het verlangen van Carell naar een allesomvattend, op religie gebaseerd systeem waar maatschappij, wetenschap en cultuur in op zouden kunnen gaan stond model voor de ‘islamitische methode’ van Qutb.

Er zijn nog ettelijke voorbeelden voor deze ‘asynchroniteit’, een ongelijktijdigheid waarbij een cultuur geleidelijk de waarden en voorstellingen van een andere cultuur overneemt, maar dit proces komt tot stilstand als de waarden in de broncultuur alweer achterhaald zijn. Vooral de morele opvattingen die in de hedendaagse islamitische samenlevingen heersen zijn in geen geval zo islamitisch als veel mensen denken.

De islam staat in het Westen te boek als ‘middeleeuws’ en preuts; moslims hebben, zo heet het, een seksuele revolutie naar westers voorbeeld nodig. Maar wie een blik op de geschiedenis werpt ziet een andere, totaal niet-middeleeuwse islam. Al in de negende eeuw vervaardigden Arabische artsen handleidingen op het gebied van seksualiteit. Daarmee zetten ze een antieke traditie voort, die pas door de opkomst van het christendom was doorbroken. Eeuwenlang ontwikkelden zich zo allerlei Arabische richtlijnen rond lichamelijkheid en hygiëne, die zakelijk en zonder moralisme de thema’s liefde en seks behandelden. Pas toen zulke teksten in de negentiende eeuw in het Westen werden opgemerkt (de Franse schrijver Guy de Maupassant was een van de pioniers), werden ze als pornografisch afgeserveerd.

Dit ernstige misverstand is alleen te verklaren wanneer je bedenkt dat het christelijke Europa sinds het einde van de heidense antieke tijd niet meer over teksten beschikte waarin ongedwongen omgang met seks werd gekoesterd zoals dat in Arabische boeken wel voorkwam.

Zo absurd als het klinkt: door zulke werken (en hun receptie in Europa) gaf de islamitische wereld een vroege aanzet tot de seksuele bevrijding van het Westen. Maar toen deze ontwikkeling in Europa ten einde was gekomen, waaide de wind in de islamitische wereld allang een andere kant op – ze waren daar bijvoorbeeld net bezig om de preutsheid van het victoriaanse Westen na te bootsen. En vandaag de dag is het wederom het Westen dat de seksuele revolutie in de islamitische wereld opeist.

Een vergelijkbare ontwikkeling doet zich voor in de omgang met homoseksualiteit. Ondanks een religieus verbod op seksuele handelingen tussen mannen kende de klassieke islamitische wereld geen homofobie. Tussen 800 en 1800 ontstonden ontelbare homo-erotische gedichten, erkend als hoogstaande literatuur. Ze werden voor een deel zelfs geschreven door godsdienstige geleerden. Het einde kwam tamelijk abrupt – en het kwam niet door de islamitische religie. Rond het midden van de negentiende eeuw hield de productie van homo-erotische gedichten ineens op. In toenemende mate moesten homoseksuelen het licht van de openbaarheid schuwen. En vandaag voelt het Westen, waar eeuwenlang homo’s vervolgd en onderdrukt waren, zich geroepen om te eisen dat homorechten in de islamitische wereld geëerbiedigd worden.

Hoe kwam het tot deze in de tijd verschoven ontwikkeling? Tot in de moderne tijd stond de islamitische wereld bekend als een bedreigend oord van seksuele uitspattingen. Dit had de mensen in de islamitische wereld koud kunnen laten, ware het niet dat het Westen in de negentiende eeuw dankzij zijn militaire en economische dominantie enkele islamitische landen gekolonialiseerd had, en op de andere landen sterke invloed uitoefende. En zo kon het gebeuren dat tegenwoordig bepaalde ideeën ‘islamitisch’ worden genoemd, terwijl het in werkelijkheid de verplaatsbare decorstukken van een negentiende-eeuwse victoriaanse moraal zijn.

Het proces van verinnerlijking van westerse burgerlijke waarden in islamitische landen valt tot op de dag van vandaag waar te nemen. Zo zorgde in 2009 de scheiding van de Egyptische oppositieleider Aiman Nur voor een schandaal in het land, omdat hij een liberale, pro-westerse politicus is en hij en zij vrouw samen een ‘droompaar’ vormden, dat zich gedragen had geheel volgens de conservatieve fatsoensnormen waar grote delen van de Egyptische middenklasse zich door laten leiden. En weer waren het niet islamitische waarden (scheiden is volgens de islam geen probleem) die het schandaal veroorzaakten, maar de burgerlijke westerse waarden die de islam vertraagd heeft overgenomen.

Terwijl islamitische landen de waarden uit het Westen omarmden, verloren die waarden in het Westen langzamerhand hun geldigheid.

De omwentelingen in de twintigste eeuw, vooral de beweging die we met het symbolische jaar 1968 verbinden, veranderden het waardenlandschap van het Westen fundamenteel.

Aan de islamitische wereld ging deze ontwikkeling voorbij. In de meeste landen waren militaire dictaturen voor koloniale machten in de plaats gekomen en was een klimaat van geestelijke onderdrukking geschapen dat eerder leidde tot een morele herbewapening dan tot een kritisch onder de loep houden van geïmporteerde zienswijzen.

Toegespitst geformuleerd: het probleem van de islamitische wereld is niet het vermeende ontbreken van de Verlichting (die het Westen in de achttiende eeuw beleefde), maar het ontbreken van de revolte zoals die hier in de zestiger jaren plaatsvond. Door de vele dictaturen in de islamitische wereld te ondersteunen is het Westen aan het uitblijven van deze culturele ontwikkeling niet geheel onschuldig.

Het is te hopen dat de ‘wet van de asynchroniteit’ nogmaals in werking treedt en de in Tunesië ingezette democratiseringsbeweging nu – al is het dan laat – alsnog een weg naar meer vrijheid en ook naar meer liberalisme kan scheppen.

Thomas Bauer is arabist en islamoloog. Dit artikel is eerder gepubliceerd in het Duitse tijdschrift Geo.

Van aardig verdraagzaam naar extreem intolerant

De Duitser Thomas J. Bauer (1961) is als hoogleraar islamologie en arabistiek verbonden aan de Wilhelms-universiteit van Münster.

Deze week is zijn boek ‘Die Kultur der Ambiguität. Eine andere Geschichte des Islams’ verschenen (ISBN 9783458710332, Verlag der Weltreligionen). Bauer poneert in deze studie dat de islamitische cultuur vóór de moderne tijd veelkleuriger (‘ambigue’) en aanmerkelijk toleranter was dan nu. Dat bespaarde de islam toen veel crises die het Westen wel teisterden.

Maar vanaf de negentiende eeuw verdween volgens Bauer geleidelijk aan de tolerantie uit de islamitische cultuur. Wat volgde was een omslag zonder precedent en met ‘verstrekkende gevolgen’. De islam ontwikkelde een ‘extreme onverdraagzaamheid tegenover elke vorm van pluraliteit’. Bauer noemt de varianten in koranteksten die in de veertiende eeuw nog in omloop waren en de ruimte die toen aan de interpretatie van Koran en traditie werd gegund. “Dat gold toen als een verrijking. Nu beschouwen moslims dat als aanstootgevend.”

Volgens Thomas Bauer veroorzaakt deze omslag de huidige conflicten tussen de islamitische cultuur en de moderne westerse wereld.

(THOMAS BAUER − 22/05/11 / www.trouw.nl / 16.07.2011)

Pro-Palestine ‘flytilla’ activists vow to return to Middle East

FOUR pro-Palestine activists from Wales who were detained in Israel last night vowed a return to the Middle East after staging hunger strikes and enduring hot and cramped conditions in jail.

The women were the only remaining British detainees from a so-called “flytilla” protest who had been arrested when they arrived at Tel Aviv airport a week ago.

Pippa Bartolotti, 57, the deputy leader of the Wales Green Party; Dee Murphy, 56, from Swansea, a founder member of Swansea Palestine Community Link; Fiona Williams, 46, from Mumbles; and Joyce Giblin from Newport were among 124 people arrested on their way to the West Bank

They were part of a “flytilla” protest in response to flotilla of ships being prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.

After being arrested, the women had resisted deportation from Givon prison in Ramle and Ms Williams and Ms Murphy had briefly gone on hunger strike in solidarity with male detainees who were denied a phone call.

The Welsh women, alongside one other German woman, were the last people to leave the jail.

Now Ms Murphy has spoken about her week in captivity and explained she still doesn’t know what crime the group committed.

And she said she was ready to return to Israel – despite running the risk of being arrested again.

An hour after arriving at her home in Swansea yesterday, Ms Murphy said: “I’m absolutely determined. I can’t see how but I know I’m going to find a way.

“If we take this lying down those people in the West Bank have lost more friends. They have lost enough.”

She said they were detained as soon as they handed over their passports.

“We were never given a reason,” said Ms Murphy. “We asked again and again what law have we broken, what crime have we committed, why are we in this deportation centre?

“We were never given an answer. We don’t really know now.

“The Israelis said we were in transit and we weren’t actually in Israel which is why we didn’t have normal detainee rights.

“We weren’t allowed phone calls or food to be brought in because we were not in Israel they said.”

Ms Murphy said she believed had the group been less honest about their intentions they would have been successful, something she emphasised with a T-shirt protest in jail.

“If you knew the average age of the group… it was about 55 to 60 including a lot of retirees and old people,” she said. “They gave us T-shirts and I wrote on mine: ‘I’m in an Israeli jail because I refuse to lie’.

“If I had said I was on a Christian pilgrimage I would have got through. Of course it is political.”

The flytilla party was heading for the Aida Palestinian refugee camp where a week of activities had been specially organised for them.

Ms Murphy said: “If they had said: ‘Go to Bethlehem [in the Israeli occupied West Bank],’ none of this was going to happen.

“This was a week of cultural activities at the Aida refugee camp.

“They were looking forward to us coming and had organised for us to stay with Palestinian families and put on a hall for overspill. Everything was in place, it was heart-breaking.”

Conditions in the prison were cramped at first with between six and eight people sleeping in the same cell. “I don’t want to dramatise it,” Ms Murphy said. “It was basic. We had a shower in a room. It was warm and we had toilets in the room – it wasn’t very pleasant.”

The prisoners’ road home began when the fellow German female prisoner was put in front of an Israeli judge at her request.

She was told she had been held because she had come to Israel to provoke and was duly deported.

Ms Murphy said the group felt it was “closure” by getting into court and in front of a judge and that paved the way to go home.

“There was kind of a feeling of closure. I spoke to my lawyer. He said: ‘She has been the test case for you. To stay now you will only get the same results.’

“I’m just so glad to get out of there.”

(www.walesonline.co.uk / 16.07.2011)

Pro-Palestinian group in Holland calls for boycott of Israeli bus company

Egged wins a public tender to run bus services in Waterland region, north of Amsterdam; Action group ‘Working Together for Palestine’ says Egged ‘makes money from trampling on the rights of Palestinians.’ 

A Dutch pro-Palestinian group has expressed its opposition to Israel’s Egged bus company, after it won a public tender to operate bus services in Holland. 

The action group ‘Working Together for Palestine’ opposes Egged running bus services in the Waterland region, north of Amsterdam, because they say the company supports Israel’s settlements policy, according to a report by Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

“Egged makes money from trampling on the rights of Palestinians,” Radio Netherlands Worldwide cited one of the groups’ activists as saying.

Dutch daily Trouw also wrote that local activist groups see Egged winning the tender as indirect Dutch support for Israel’s settlements policy in the West Bank, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

‘Working Together for Palestine’ would like to call for a boycott of Egged’s bus service in Westerland, but as it is the only company running bus services in the region, boycotting is not a viable option, Radio Netherlands Worldwide said.

Egged’s Dutch subsidiary, EBS, responded saying it is not involved in politics, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

An official of the Dutch FNV trade union federation said some of their drivers fear the buses will become the target of terrorist attacks, Radio Netherlands Worldwide said.

(www.haaretz.com / 16.07.2011)

Gazan found dead after Israeli strike

Palestinians search for the remains of bodies after an Israeli air strike destroyed a tunnel near the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip on January 8.
Palestinian medics have found the body of a Gazan who was killed during an Israeli air strike on a tunnel on the Gaza border with Egypt.

The Palestinian lost his life on Thursday when Israeli fighter jets carried out five airstrikes against targets in the central and northern areas of Gaza, a Press TV correspondent reported.

After the Israeli attack, Palestinians conducted a rescue operation to find those trapped in the tunnel that was being used to bring in basic living supplies.

Israel carried out similar airstrikes on Gaza on Friday and Saturday, injuring a number of Palestinians.

The Israeli military frequently bombs the Gaza Strip, claiming that the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, disproportionate force is always used, in violation of the international law, with civilians often being killed or injured.

The Israeli regime laid an economic siege on the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after the democratically-elected Hamas lawmakers took over the administration of the enclave.

The blockade has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the impoverished territory.

Some 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including the freedom of movement and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education.

Following Israel’s assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters on May 31, 2010, that killed nine civilians, Tel Aviv slightly eased the land blockade of Gaza, allowing in more consumer goods.

However, the naval siege of the Gaza Strip remains in place, exports are banned, and imports of raw materials and construction materials are restricted.

(www.presstv.ir / 16.07.2011)

Medewerker PVV op non-actief wegens filmpje op internet

De PVV-fractie in de Tweede Kamer heeft medewerker Sam van Rooy vandaag op non-actief gezet wegens een filmpje op internet. Dat heeft een woordvoerster van de fractie laten weten.

Voor het filmpje volgde Van Rooy stilzwijgend enkele vrouwen in boerka, terwijl zij door een winkelcentrum in Scheveningen lopen. Volgens de site van Elsevier heeft hij in zijn uitleg op Facebook de vrouwen als ‘tuig’ betiteld. De PVV gaat dat te ver. Inmiddels is het filmpje op YouTube afgeschermd.

Boekje te buiten
De PVV-leiding vindt dat de medewerker zijn boekje te buiten is gegaan. ‘We hebben de heer Van Rooy direct op non-actief gezet’, aldus de zegsvrouw. ‘Dit filmpje gaat ons veel te ver. Het is jammer dat deze vrouwen boerka’s dragen en we zien graag een boerkaverbod, maar deze vrouwen zijn geen tuig. We betreuren de gang van zaken zeer.’

Islamitische zandbak
Elsevier heeft op de afgeschermde Facebookpagina van Van Rooy gekeken. Op die site geeft hij uitleg bij de beelden. Zo noemt hij de vrouwen ‘tuig uit de islamitische zandbak’. ‘Opeens kwam dat tuig langslopen’, beschrijft hij. ‘Dus besloot ik ze maar gelijk te filmen. Of moet ik het maar normaal vinden dat mijn rust in Scheveningen wordt verpest door dat soort geïmporteerde achterlijkheid van de islamitische zandbak?’

Tuig
Volgens Elsevier wordt Van Rooy op Facebook gevraagd waarom hij het woord tuig gebruikt. ‘Wat een onzin dat je mensen niet tuig mag noemen’, antwoordt hij daarop. ‘Mensen die de westerse waarden afwijzen ten faveure van een racistisch, fascistisch en inhumaan systeem als de sharia is gewoon tuig, net als nazi’s en andere fascisten.’

(www.paool.nl / 16.07.2011)

Gaza rejects Greek offer to deliver humanitarian aid as it stops the freedom flotilla

The following letter was delivered to the Greek Government on July 12, 2011 making it clear that the people of Gaza seek freedom and respect for their human rights, including their right to lead a dignified life, not charity. Seemingly deaf to their call, yesterday a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Delavekouras, repeated the Greek Government’s “generous offer” to deliver limited humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza – instead of helping them gain the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

We, members of Palestinian civil society in Gaza, have been watching the actions your government has taken to block Freedom Flotilla 2 from setting sail towards the biggest open air prison – the Gaza Strip – to challenge Israel’s criminal blockade. Israel’s closure of Gaza has deprived us of things that most people take for granted, first and foremost, our freedom of movement. We are not allowed to pursue adequate health care or educational opportunities because we cannot travel freely. We are cut off from our families in other parts of the occupied territory and abroad; and we are not allowed to invite people to visit us in Gaza. Now, you have imported this restriction on the people whose main mission is to stand in solidarity with us.

The people of Gaza are not only in need of humanitarian aid because we are prevented from building our economy. We are not allowed to import raw materials or to export; our fishermen and farmers get shot at when attempting to fish or to harvest their crops. As a result of deliberate Israeli policy, 80% of our people have become food aid dependent, our infrastructure is in shambles, and our children cannot imagine a day when they will know freedom.

Your offer to deliver the cargo of the Freedom Flotilla entrenches the notion that humanitarian aid will solve our problems and is a weak attempt to disguise your complicity in Israel’s blockade.

We are so sorry not to accept your charity. The organizers and participants of the Freedom Flotilla recognize that our plight is not about humanitarian aid; it is about our human rights. They carry with them something more important than aid; they carry hope, love, solidarity and respect. Your offer to collude with our oppressors to deliver aid to us is totally REJECTED.

While it is clear that you have been under enormous political pressure to comply with the will of the Israeli regime, to collaborate with Israel in violating international law and legitimizing the siege, we refuse to accept your breadcrumbs. We crave freedom, dignity and the ability to make choices in our daily lives. We urge you to immediately reconsider and to let the Freedom Flotilla sail.

Finally we recognize the historical relations between our people and your country’s support for our legitimate rights. With this history in mind and your previous acknowledgment of the freedoms denied to us, we are calling on you to allow the freedom flotilla boats to leave for Gaza, thus challenging Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

Sincerely,
Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO)
Representing over 60 non-governmental organizations in Gaza
www.pngoportal.net

Palestinian International Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza
General Society for Rehabilitation
Deir Al-Balah Cultural Centre for Women and Children
Maghazi Cultural Centre for Children
Al-Sahel Centre for Women and Youth
Rachel Corrie Centre, Rafah
Rafah Olympia City Sisters
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya Camp
Ajyal Association, Gaza
Al Karmel Centre, Nuseirat
Local Initiative, Beit Hanoun
Beit Lahiya Cultural Centre
Al Awda Centre, Rafah
Middle East Children’s Alliance – Gaza office
Alshomoa Club for Women
General Union for Public Services Workers
General Union for Health Services Workers
General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
General Union for Agricultural Workers
General Union of Palestinian Syndicates
General Union of Palestinian Women
Palestinian Congregation for Lawyers
Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU)
Union of Health Work Committees
Union of Synergies-Women Unit
Union of Women’s Work Committees
Palestinian Association for Fishing and Maritime
Palestine Sailing Federation
Fishing and Marine Sports Association
Palestinian Women Committees
Progressive Students’ Union

For further information go to: freegaza.org

(mondoweiss.net / 16.07.2011)

3000 March Through Jerusalem for Palestine

Jerusalem – PNN – Earlier today, 3000 Palestinian supporters marched from Jaffa Gate through East Jerusalem to Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in support of an independent Palestinian state.

ImageThe march organised by the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement had hoped for just over 1500 participants, but by the end of the march organisers stated that the reality was double the original estimate.
Healthy numbers of Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals all participated; this global nature added a cosmopolitan feel to the march as it snaked through Jerusalem. Participants played drums and chanted slogans in Hebrew, Arabic and English; chants included ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Occupation is a crime, freedom now for Palestine’.
Many cars passing the march beeped their horns in support of the marchers who ranged from young and old as well as from varying ethnicities and religions.
Matan Feak, a megaphone wielding Sheikh Jarrah activist and Jewish Israeli citizen from Jerusalem told PNN he hoped today’s action would ‘demonstrate to the Israeli government and governments of the world that there are many Jewish Israeli citizens who are concerned about the occupation and the racist legislations passed through the Israeli government. I hope this march and others like it will help the Israeli government and governments of the world support the founding of a Palestinian state.’
International activist Alan Turner from California believed todays actions were ‘almost like an opposition to Jerusalem day’ where pro-Palestinian activists could show that ‘we are here and are not going away’.
Two small counter-demonstrations of little more than a dozen right-wing Israelis were also present along the route. Although these demonstrations ran close to the march, no confrontations took place as the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement upheld their promise to Israeli police of maintaining peaceful protest. Israeli police lined the route of the march but were never called upon as the steady stream of protestors acted peacefully and enjoyed their opportunity to protest on the streets of Jerusalem.
The march ended with a festival atmosphere at Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood with music being played, speeches being made and fireworks being let off.
Today’s march hopes to promote the idea of a two-state solution resulting in an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. Palestinian leadership has made clear their intentions for a statehood bid at the UN in September. This is after the Israeli government has rejected the possibility of peace talks based on the 1967 borders claiming they are ‘indefensible’.
An Israeli family who had made their way from Tel-Aviv for the days actions summed up the battle for left-wing Israelis who support the Palestinians and an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders: ‘We are a very small minority in Israel and so being here is more for our own conscience. It will always be hard to change things when the majority of Israelis are against you.’
(english.pnn.ps / 16.07.2011)