In 2010, Israeli forces stormed the Mavi Marmara which was trying to bring needed medical supplies to blockaded Gaza. Nine people were killed (a tenth died later) and dozens were wounded. The boat was seized. But Israel got a lot of bad publicity. This September, another boat with a female crew and passenger complement, will try again. Read more.
Gaza has been under Israeli military blockade for more than ten years. Israel has almost completely stopped the flow of goods and people into and out of Gaza. As a consequence, as Bernie Sanders recently pointed out to Hilary Clinton in their recent CNN debate, the unemployment rate in Gaza is over 40%.
The blockade has received widespread international condemnation. But in the face of Israeli military power, backed up by the diplomatic and economic protection of the USA, little seems to be done about it.
Israel would like the issue to go away. But a group called the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has been keeping the international spotlight on the inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza.
Canadians have been deeply involved in this. Kevin Neish of Victoria was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was attacked by Israeli forces in 2010. In 2011, several Canadians were involved n the Canadian Boat, the Tahrir ,when it was seized by the Israeli navy in international waters. The participants were “merely” tasered and severely beaten by Israeli authorities. Canadians aboard the Marianne met a similar fate at the hands of Israeli forces in 2015. And Canadians helped sponsor Gaza’s Ark, a boat which was to break the blockade by sailing out from Gaza. In 2014, Israel bombed Gaza’s Ark while it was in port.
This September yet another attempt will be made to breach the Israeli blockade – this time by an international group of courageous and determined women. Delegations of women from seven different countries, including Canada, will be involved.
Here is an interview with Wendy Goldsmith of the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”. (Apologies for the quality of the audio on my end, but Wendy’s message comes through very clearly.)
More information on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, including how to get involved or make a financial contribution is available on the Canada Boat Gaza website.
Comments? Is the WBG likely to get through to Gaza this time? Want to share any ideas on how to maximise the impact of the WBG in Canada? Agree or disagree. Any thoughtful and respectful comments welcome
My prayers are with you for blessings on your fund raising and safe sailing to Gaza. Like Ruth you are remaining faithful to Palestinian women and their families.
Your phrasing here is kind of odd. One of the primary purposes for having a navy is to be able to utilize blockades against enemies. Saying that in the face of Israeli military power little seems to be done [about the blockade] is like saying “in the face of Canada’s large fishing community little seems to be done about their fish exports”.
So for example one of the primary strategies in World War I had been a blockade of Germany (a tactic the Germans underestimated the effectiveness of BTW). The British navy mostly avoided fighting the German navy so that they wouldn’t risk losing the density of ships needed to maintain the blockade. That is the British seeing a choice for their navy between the blockade, sinking enemy ships or bombing enemy coast choose the blockade (and rightfully as well). In World War II one of Germany’s most important objectives was not fall into a similar trap as they had in WWI which is why they moved so quickly to establish access to the Atlantic coast via. the conquest of France.
The main point whenever I read about the anti-blockade stuff is that it seems like the whole debate is talking past one another. The blockade exists precisely to accomplish the objectives the opponents complain about. The point of a blockade is to damage the economy of the country being blockaded. Their use for millennia has always been what liberals call “collective punishment”. And that applies to most aspects of war when the armies have the backing of the respective societies. To break the enemy army’s will to fight is to break the enemy civilian’s will to fight. And that’s a fairly brutal process.
One can of course object to using a navy to harm a civilian population, that meets at least some of the definitions for terrorism. What I don’t quite understand is what objection a BDSer could have to a concept of blockade. Assume BDS were successful and their were a sanctions regime imposed on Israel that was mostly global. At that point Israel’s international trade volume would still be around 1/2 of maximum possible via. triangle trade and to some extent smuggling operations. Most BDSers don’t want to stop at just the diminished trade of poor trade relations but rather want to bring Israel “into compliance with International law”. To meaningfully bite Israel on trade, would require a blockade. Isn’t the whole point of your movement to eventually starve the Israelis into abandoning their desire to live as free people? How exactly do you intend to get the people of Israel to agree to destroy their society via RoR without war or a fairly ferocious set of sanctions? The blockade of Gaza is far less than what would be required to induce the kind of starvation needed for a society to totally abandon any desire to ever live in freedom and agree give to the 3 BDS demands. Iraqis being asked to do little more than replace Saddam Hussein (end weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism) decided to live with a massive depression rather than agree. The Germans in WW1 didn’t realize how brutal the peace terms would be but still they agreed to enter into starvation rather than submit. What BDS asks for far exceeds Versailles in its punishment of the enemy. How much worse do you think the Israeli sanctions would need to be to get Israel to agree to what you ask? I don’t know that the death by starvation of 1/2 the population would get then to agree. And frankly like Germany I suspect that after even they agreed they would hate the new regime so much you would have an ethnic civil war in Palestine after the food returned and their would be multiple cycles required to get the Israelis to agree to their enslavement.
You tell me what you think it is going to take. How are you going to break the Israelis without blockades and if so, then what are you complaining about. You are going to sink plenty of ships attempting to run your proposed future blockade.
You are correct that a blockade against a civilian population is an act of terrorism against a civilian population: illegal under the Geneva Conventions. However, the rest of your “arguments” have no fundament, notably:
1. “One of the primary purposes for having a navy is to be able to utilize blockades against enemies.” The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is not, nor has it ever been, an “enemy” or a threat to Israel. All sailings have been civilian shipping, heading towards Palestinian territorial waters from international waters. They have never posed a threat towards Israeli security: in fact, in 2008, the Free Gaza voyages which succeeded in reaching Gaza and leaving again, did so peacefully with absolutely no risk to Israel.
2. Successful sanctions do not require a naval blockade: there was never a naval blockade of South Africa, nor was one required to bring down the apartheid regime there.
Nobody has ever asked Israelis to accept “enslavement”, but rather a democratic state of all its citizens. One step towards that is to restore freedom of movement, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I’m not sure how you can believe the Gaza blockade is definitely terrorism and a BDS sanctions regime is not. What is the distinction you are making? In both cases you are harming the civilian economy to force a change of policy.
— The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is not, nor has it ever been, an “enemy” or a threat to Israel.
Of course it is. If it were friendly to Israel it would be coordinating shipping with the IDF not acting contrary to the IDF’s wishes. The Freedom Flotilla are quite openly blockade-runners. That is their whole point is to undermine IDF operations.
During the American civil war all sorts of semi private organizations organized shipping from Cuba, Mexico and other neutral ports into the Confederate States of America in opposition to the Northern blockade. Those blockade-runners weren’t planning on attacking Northern ships (in fact they were often barely armed) much less Northern territory. Blockage runners were treated as auxiliary to the Confederate Navy by both sides because they were auxiliaries.
— Successful sanctions do not require a naval blockade: there was never a naval blockade of South Africa, nor was one required to bring down the apartheid regime there.
I’d disagree and most other analysts would as well that South African sanctions were particularly biting. They caused mild financial dislocation and focused on psychological harm. No question Israel is susceptible to those sorts of sanctions. But the whole point about blockade is the aim of BDSers is not slightly diminished trade.
As for bringing down the regime I’d give the South African blacks credit. Secondly: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe’s terror and wars against South Africa deserve the “credit”. Those states kept the pressure on. The financial from sanctions helped make it harder for South Africa that’s all. The 1.5m Africans who died in those wars against South Africa deserve the credit for foreign assistance not a bunch of college students.
What actually worked, keeping the border hot with financial pressure is what the Arab states tried in the 1950s. Unlike the African states they weren’t willing to lose many hundreds of thousands in protracted warfare. Israel is now vastly stronger relative to its neighbors than it was then.
In real life South Africa was not brought down by sanctions. The types of sanctions that do bring regime change do require blockades. I’ve never even heard of a society being willing to voluntarily replace itself with another even under sanctions so I can’t imagine the level of horror required to implement BDS’s full goals. We know from history that the level of destruction to the Confederacy (only a tiny fraction of which came from the blockade) wasn’t enough.
— Nobody has ever asked Israelis to accept “enslavement”, but rather a democratic state of all its citizens.
Wanted to fork this one. Because it is simply not true. A democratic state is not now nor has it ever been BDS’s goal. It is true this is consistent with the 2nd of the 3 goals that the Israel’s agree to a democracy of all residents in territory they control. But there are 2 more goals you’ve skipped. The BDS goals each in isolation are all reasonable. It is together, in combination, they destroy the Hebrew society. None of the 3 steps of:
a) take an unloaded gun and put a bullet in the chamber
b) put the gun in your mouth
c) pull the trigger
are suicidal in isolation. But in combination they are obviously suicidal.
When BDS goals are described to Hebrew/Israelis something like 98.5% of the population says they would rather unending war or death to those policies being implemented. Do you think they are lying and only mildly object with those goals? Is that really your theory? That you apply mild sanctions and the Israelis say “ I guess we didn’t want a free independent state. Let’s go live in a Muslim majority state instead. That will be no big deal.” You aren’t that stupid. Stop pretending you are.
A free people will resist their enslavement and once enslaved will fight for their liberty. That applies to Hebrews as much as to French, Canadians, Arabs, Vietnamese… The Israelis will never agree to live under a Muslim government and if they do they will rebel against it at every opportunity for centuries.
The horrors that Israel has inflicted on the Gazans fall far short of what would be required to get the Gazans to passively live under Israeli rule. The Israelis have never lived under anything other than self rule. Israelis will war repeatedly to avoid living under Sharia. Creating a Muslim majority and then a majoritarian system (what most BDSers have in mind is not a democracy) is creating a Muslim state.
You can have sanctions that don’t come close to getting the Israelis to agree to their destructions. Or you can have a blockade that kills hundreds of thousands and leaves millions weeks (at most) away from starvation. Under those sanctions the Israelis capitulate and during the intervening months the society is flooded with a hostile population who takes the reins of power forever. A UN peacekeeping force somehow keeps millions from rebelling against this new government. I’ve never really been able to get you guys to walk through how the sanctions bring down Israel. So I can’t paint this picture.
— One step towards that is to restore freedom of movement, as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The reason the Gazans are at war with the Israelis is because the Gazans make territorial claims inside Israel. The Gazans have freedom of movement within Gaza which is the territory that Israel has relinquished. They don’t have freedom of movement in Israel because Israelis doesn’t want them in Israel. They don’t have freedom of movement in Egypt because the Egyptians mostly don’t want them. They are subject to a navel blockade because they’ve declared themselves to be at war with Israel. The moment they relinquished all claims to territory outside Gaza there wouldn’t be anything to fight about. That won’t change the situation of freedom of movement.
You don’t even make any sense. You contridicte yourself. Nice attempt at obfuscation and trying to compare apples to oranges. The good people of the world are against Israeli apartheid and occupation of Gaza. This freedom ship brings nothing but aid to those suffering under Israel’s tyranny.
Reblogged this on QCpal.
Reblogged this on PAJU – Palestiniens et Juifs Unis and commented:
This September yet another attempt will be made to breach the Israeli blockade – this time by an international group of courageous and determined women. Delegations of women from seven different countries, including Canada, will be involved.
In 2012 met Haneen Zoabi, elected member of the Knesset, who in 2010 participated in the Gaza flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara, which you depict above. She is a hero to me. I applaud these subsequent attempts to enter Gaza from the sea to resist the inhumane and illegal blockade imposed by the state of Israel.
Reblogged this on Anno Domini 2016 / News.
@CD-Host: “I’m not sure how you can believe the Gaza blockade is definitely terrorism and a BDS sanctions regime is not. What is the distinction you are making? ”
I am making the same common-sense distinction that any fair-minded person who considers the question would make: it is the difference between going on strike (a legal right which unionized workers have in Canada and elsewhere) and blowing up an employer’s plant, or threatening to (=illegal everywhere). BDS tactics fall in the first category, naval blockades in the second. Simple difference.
Boycotts, divestment and sanctions do not entail violence nor do they require it to succeed: César Chávez (to name but one example) led a campaign that was both nonviolent and successful. Terrorism, by definition, does entail violence and/or the threat of violence, as does the blockade (which is one of the reasons why five UN special rapporteurs, specialists in human rights law, have declared it illegal: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/un-independent-panel-rules-israel-blockade-of-gaza-illegal-1.384267)
In the case of South Africa, you will note (if you actually read what I wrote) that I did not credit the boycotts, divestment and sanctions with bringing down apartheid alone: I merely pointed out that in that case, as in many others, they did not require a naval blockade, and they were effective. When the college students you like to sneer at were joined by faith groups, then trade unionists, then institutional investors, then local and regional governments, then states (including the US Congress, the French & other European governments) who imposed financial sanctions, the documented annual losses for the apartheid economy ran into the billions of rand. Within a few years of that, the SA elites were ready to negotiate with the ANC in exile.
Were there other factors? Of course there were, including the armed conflicts you mention, and the Cuban-Angolan efforts at Cuito Carnavale, among others. Nobody here has claimed otherwise. But this does not mean the BDS requires naval blockades or any other form of violence in order to be effective.
The tactics that Palestinian society asks us to undertake, in particular, do not require violence in any way. Will they be successful? It is a bit early to tell, but in 1960 (11 years after starting) the SA boycott was not even remotely close to having e.g. Dutch and Scandinavian financial companies divesting — things that happened within the first decade since the Palestinian BDS call. The fact that the Israeli government devotes millions (including special ministerial tasks forces) to combatting BDS suggests that they are already feeling something bite.
As Mandela said: it always seems impossible until it is done.
But you apparently believe you know South African history better than South Africans do, just as you seem to know the minds of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews, so I will leave off — little point in arguing mere historical facts with the omniscient.
— I am making the same common-sense distinction that any fair-minded person who considers the question would make: it is the difference between going on strike (a legal right which unionized workers have in Canada and elsewhere) and blowing up an employer’s plant, or threatening to (=illegal everywhere). BDS tactics fall in the first category, naval blockades in the second. Simple difference. Terrorism, by definition, does entail violence and/or the threat of violence, as does the blockade (which is one of the reasons why five UN special rapporteurs, specialists in human rights law, have declared it illegal:
OK well I consider myself a fair minded person and tend to use neutral definitions for terrorism for precisely that reason. Legal / illegal is about what a government asserts. Since a population tied tightly to a government is either the agent or the recipient of the acts that are potentially “terrorism” I would never talk about legal.
That being said “violence of the threat of violence” is a fair distinction. The problem with violence in my mind is the distinction between war and terrorism. If you are ruling out violence entirely in handling Israel though I will agree you are being consistent.
— Boycotts, divestment and sanctions do not entail violence nor do they require it to succeed: César Chávez (to name but one example) led a campaign that was both nonviolent and successful.
That being said my argument is not that all boycotts fail. My argument is that regime change much less a change in the inhabiting nation (which is that BDS asks far) is far too much to ask of a boycott. Your example is terrible. What huge success do you believe Chavez had and when did it happen? Chavez was noisy and got lots of attention but in the end his two main goals were never achieved. Low end farm work is still done today in 2016 by illegals who are not unionized on products grown using pesticides.
— In the case of South Africa, you will note (if you actually read what I wrote) that I did not credit the boycotts, divestment and sanctions with bringing down apartheid alone: I merely pointed out that in that case, as in many others, they did not require a naval blockade, and they were effective.
Effective in what? How can you not be crediting them with bringing down apartheid and at the same time calling them effective? What are you claiming they did if you don’t believe they led to the regime change?
— When the college students you like to sneer at were joined by faith groups, then trade unionists, then institutional investors, then local and regional governments, then states (including the US Congress, the French & other European governments) who imposed financial sanctions,
That’s not the correct order sanctions happened. The sanctions regime started in the 1960s. The movement was popular with business and government in the 1970s. The divestment push by college students didn’t happen until the later 1980s. The exchange rate falloff happened and the financial dislocation happened in the early 1980s. The version of history you are presenting where the college movement led to the fall of South Africa is the fiction the BDS preaches regarding South Africa, a rewrite of history.
— But this does not mean the BDS requires naval blockades or any other form of violence in order to be effective.
Actually yes it does. If BDS by itself isn’t effective at inducing regime change and thus isn’t going to be effective at the much greater task of inducing the underlying nation to destroy itself and replace itself with another nation then BDS isn’t going to be effective. The goal of the BDS movement is population replacement and regime change. The argument that it can be successful is based on claiming that BDS accomplished regime change in South Africa. Once you concede that BDS in the case of South Africa merely did some moderate financial damage then you have undermined the claims of the BDS movement. The currency fall off that South Africa experienced 2002-3 is greater than the falloff 1984-7 which is where you are getting the billions of rand from. ANC didn’t fall out of power as a result.
The suicide bombing campaign of the early 2000s did tremendous financial damage to Israel. No one denies caused a severe recession. That severe recession didn’t break the Israeli spirit to the extent they were willing to give up their freedom. The level of damage the sanctions regime did (I’m assuming proportional to GDP) under best case is far less than what Israel endures regularly from military costs associated with handling the Palestinians.
— The tactics that Palestinian society asks us to undertake,
Palestinians support violence. What they have asked for is military intervention against Israel same as they have wanted for 70 years. Neither Fatah nor Hamas, the groups that seem able to represent Palestinians society has asked for nor organized BDS. The organizers are mainly (exclusively?) 2nd and 3rd generation Palestinian ethnics in the west, many of the Arabist lobbies and disgruntled hard-left Jews. Actual Palestinians when asked about this sort of activism express mixed opinions. First off many of them that support the 2SS object to conflating the anti-occupation pressures and desire for international enforcement with RoR and the quest of internal civil equality. Others object to the secular and UN centered nature… Palestinians if asked and polled might prefer BDS to nothing, but even that’s unclear as anti-Zionism has a long track record of driving Jews out of their native countries and getting them to move to Israel.
This is not something they asked you to do, this is something you (the global left) decided on your own was a good way to handle Israel.
— But you apparently believe you know South African history better than South Africans do,
No I believe I know South African history better than you do. My knowledge of South African history is pretty terrible. I do however remember the debates from the Reagan administration and I’m not going to let today’s BDS movement rewrite a history I witnessed. When I’ve talked to South Africans about those years they mainly despise the NP for handling the situation so badly and by poor policy choices giving their country over to the ANC. They talk about the strikes and the loss of control of black territory. They don’t talk about the sanctions much at all and every South African I’ve met would believe the damage the ANC did the country far outweighs the damage from the sanctions regime. There is obvious selection bias at play since I’ve never been to South Africa, but no mostly I don’t accept the BDS’s summary of South African history as being at all reflective. It contradicts my own very clear memories of the debates in the Reagan and Bush-41 administration as well as everything I’ve ever heard from many South Africans.
South Africans I know who know about Israel reject any kind of comparison between their system which was dependent on black labor and Israel’s which avoid the dependency on Palestinian labor. I’ve never met any who support the ANC’s line on this.
@CD-Host: Again, your grasp of real facts is very limited. The BDS movement call comes from Palestinians living in Palestine, as represented through 170 civil society organizations: https://bdsmovement.net/call and not from anyone in the diaspora, or supporters in the West. It is not a project of political parties, it s a movement of grass-roots organizations.
As for Chávez’ legacy, the United Farm Workers are in the best position to judge his successes, since they continue to build on his work, rather than carp about it.
You chronology of BDS campaigns against SA apartheid are also similarly skewed WRT facts. Scattered leftists of conscience (including some students) heeded the initial ANC call in 1959, joined by e.g. the United Church of Canada in the 1960s and some trade unions. Their calls were steadfastly rejected by Western governments in those decades. The first NA campus divestment successes came in the 1970s, and the comprehensive US government anti-apartheid legislation not until the mid-late 1980s. The effects of the resulting losses of billions of rand in bringing successes SA governments to the table has been well documented by SA sources.
It always seems impossible, until it happens.
Comments are closed.