Friday, June 11, 2010

European Jewish Group to Launch Flotilla to Break Gaza Blockade

European Jewish Group to Launch Flotilla to Break Gaza Blockade


by Richard Hall


The Huffington Post


June 9, 2010


BEIRUT: A Jewish European peace group is to launch a boat to

break the blockade of Gaza in the coming months, organizers

said, almost a week after nine activists were killed making

the same trip.


European Jews for a Just Peace (EJJP) - an umbrella

organization of Jewish groups from 10 European countries

against the occupation of Palestine - aim to deliver

humanitarian aid such as school books and medicines to the

Gaza Strip, and to draw attention to the blockade which they

call "immoral."


"We want to show that not all Jews support Israel," said

Edith Lutz, a German member of the EJJP. "We are calling for

a just solution and for an end to the blockade."


On board the ships will be activists from across Europe

including Germany and the UK, as well as an 85-year-old

Holocaust survivor from Israel. The voyage was originally

meant to carry only a small number of activists together

with journalists from Europe and Israel, but organizers say

that a huge response from the Jewish community has meant

that a second boat has been arranged, and the possibility of

a third is being discussed.


"In the beginning it was not meant to be an exclusively

Jewish trip, we had a variety of people. But many more

Jewish people came forward wanting to come on board, and we

realized this was important politically," said Lutz.


This sentiment was echoed by Glyn Secker, a member of the

British based Jews for Justice for Palestinians who will

captain the ship. "I think it will have particular

significance because it is a group of Jewish people saying

that as Jews, we are critical of Israeli policy. We believe

that there should be a just peace for the Palestinians," he said.


Organizers hope to draw attention to the injustice of the

blockade whilst delivering much-needed supplies to the

impoverished territory of 1.5 million people, 80 percent of

whom rely on some sort of food aid according to the UN

agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA.


"The supplies are symbolic," said Secker, "they include

medical supplies, books, art materials and some musical

instruments to give to the children."


"We want to make a very clear moral statement that the way

Israel is treating the Palestinians is, we believe,

extremely immoral. We want to say emphatically: 'not in our

name,'" Secker added.


Another motivation for the trip, organizers said, was the

effect Israeli policies have on the treatment of Jews living

outside of Israel.


"We are frightened that Israeli policies will help anti-

Semitism to grow. We also want to show that these actions

are not Jewish," said Lutz.


The group said they will depart from a port in an

undisclosed country toward the end of July. The current

number of people on board is approximately 40, but

organizers said this number could grow by the time they



Egypt and Israel have maintained the blockade since Hamas

won elections in Gaza in 2006, with Israel describing it as

an essential measure to stop weapons from reaching Hamas militants.


Rights group Amnesty International has condemned it as

"collective punishment" and UN High Commissioner for Human

Rights Navi Pillay last week said the blockade was illegal

and should be eliminated.


The activists planning the journey said they were shocked

when they heard about the deaths of other activists trying

to deliver aid last week, and were unsure whether they would

reach their target.


"I cannot tell you whether the trip will be a success or if

will get to Gaza. But we will be successful in telling the

world that we don't agree with the blockade," said Lutz.


Richard Hall is a journalist living and working in Beirut,

Lebanon. His work is focused on human rights, labour rights

and the far right. He writes primarily on Middle East

affairs, specifically the Israel-Palestine conflict.



No comments: