Sunday, June 26, 2011

26-Jun-11: Longing and loving... and standing up for the terrorists of Gaza

Under the title "Why Alice Walker shouldn't sail to Gaza", the celebrated British writer Howard Jacobson - who won last year's Man Booker Prize for his comic novel The Finkler Question - asks some questions of his fellow cultural icon.

Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning African American author and poet, is best-known for her critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple.

Jacobson notes that the flotilla boats now sailing towards Gaza and intending to challenge and preferably break the Israeli-imposed naval blockade will be carrying, according to Walker "letters expressing solidarity and love." But...
Not, presumably, for Israeli children. Perhaps it is thought that Israeli children are the recipients of enough love already... What interest or aspiration do Alice Walker and her fellow travelers share with the people of Gaza? A desire for freedom? Well we all aspire to that. A longing to live in peace? If they have such a longing we must be solid with them in that too, though the firing of rockets from Gaza is not, on the face of it, an expression of such a longing. And what about the declared hostility of Hamas to the very existence of Israel? Hamas, we are often told, is the elected government of Gaza, a government that fairly represents the wishes of its people. In which case we must assume that Hamas's implacable hostility towards Israel fairly represents the implacable hostility felt by the people of Gaza. Are Alice Walker's letters of love and 'solidarity' solid with the people of Gaza in that hostility? [Source]
Alice Walker will be joined by other cultural figures on this week's flotilla boats, some of them Jewish. In making their decision, they ignore what the US government, to its credit, has warned them not to do:
The US State Department on Friday warned American activists planning to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza that they risk criminal prosecution if they go through with their attempt... “Delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement. “Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers,” she said. “Established and efficient mechanisms exist to transfer humanitarian assistance to Gaza... We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla.”  [Source]
Alice Walker and her fellow travelers from several nations appear certain to ignore what Victoria Nuland said. And it's likely they have never heard of a sailing vessel of the same name - the Victoria - a container vessel (IMO 9290165) operated by Peter Döhle Shipping that made headlines here in Israel during March 2011. The affair of the Victoria was almost totally ignored elsewhere. This is a pity because it has some some instructive and relevant aspects.

That Victoria was a ship (like the flotillarati, having  multi-national origins: German owned, French operated, Liberian flagged) whose journey originated in the Syrian port of Latkia. It docked in Turkey's Mersin port en route to Alexandria, Egypt. Shortly after it sailed from Alexandria, and acting on intelligence, the IDF forcefully boarded the Victoria on the high seas 200 nautical miles west of Israel. The ship's paperwork, the bill of lading, said the containers were filled with cotton and lentils.

Some cotton.

Though the ship's crew, innocents like Ms Walker and her pals, had no idea, 39 of its one hundred shipping containers held a massive stockpile of weapons, some 50 tons of C-704 anti-ship missiles, rocket launchers, radar systems, mortar shells and rifle ammunition [source, includes the full shopping list of arms]. Israeli sources  say the Victoria was yet another joint Syria and Iran production, cooperating to send weapons to the terrorists of Hamas in Gaza.

We'd like to say 'happy sailing' to Ms Walker and her cultured and love-minded friends, but it would be insincere. We think they are naive and silly dupes whose actions are bound to produce more deaths and misery thanks to the relentless terrorism of the Hamas regime in Gaza.

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