We salute you

22/08/2008

By Khalid Amayreh in al-Khalil (Hebron)

As I write these words, two boats with some 46 peace
activists from many nationalities onboard are sailing from
Cyprus to the Gaza Strip in a symbolic effort to break
Israel’s cruel blockade of the coastal Palestinian
territory.

The Free Gaza Movement, the organizer of the bold mission,
includes people from various religious and cultural
backgrounds who are united in their dedication to the cause
of freedom for the estimated 1.5 million Gazans, thoroughly
tormented by a nearly hermetic blockade that has
effectively reduced the originally impoverished enclave to
a virtual concentration camp.

Among the people taking part in this brave endeavor are an
81-year-old Catholic nun and the sister of former British
Prime Minister Tony Blair as well as Muslim, Jewish and
Christian activists.

If all goes well, the two boats, “SS Liberty” and “ SS Free
Gaza” will deliver urgently-needed medicine and other
humanitarian aid to the children of Gaza.

Hundreds of Gaza children and other civilians have died due
to the acute shortage of medicine and food resulting from
the year-long siege.

Israel, which is obviously embarrassed by the publicity
surrounding the humanitarian mission, has threatened to
violently prevent the two boats from reaching Gaza.

Some Israeli officials have even hinted at the possibility
of using violence against the two boats.

Israel has not stopped telling the world that it no longer
occupies Gaza. However, this claim is obviously a
scandalous lie since the Israeli occupation continues to
exercise tight control over the Gaza Strip’s sea, air and
border crossings.

There is no doubt that the continuation of the Gaza siege
is a stigma of shame on the conscience of humanity as a
whole.

It is a stigma of shame upon the United States which
shamelessly conspires with Israel to savage and torment
these innocent Palestinians whose only “crime” is their
audacity to elect a government that rulers of Tel Aviv and
Washington don’t like.

It is also a stigma of shame upon the states of Europe who
are watching passively a predator state gang up on helpless
civilians very much like the Nazi Third Reich did nearly
seven decades ago.

But the greatest shame falls upon Arab countries,
especially Egypt, which is effectively complementing the
Israeli siege of the shut-in Gazans by refusing to open the
Rafah border crossing to allow them to buy food and
medicine as well as travel abroad.

I really can’t understand how we, Arabs and Muslims, can
blame Israel, a cruel and criminal state that would like to
see Palestinians wiped off from the face of earth, while a
so-called brotherly Arab country is closing the borders in
the face of thousands of desperate Palestinians seeking
urgently needed health care.

Indeed, I want to ask the Egyptian leadership how many
Palestinians must die before Egypt will listen to the
helpless cries of the starving and dying Gazans?. Shame on
you.

We salute you

To these brave men and women onboard ‘SS Liberty’ and ‘Free
Gaza’, I would like to say the following.

I salute you for your courage, humanness and
self-abnegation. You undoubtedly represent a point of light
in a world overwhelmed by darkness. Your selfless efforts
on behalf of the oppressed men, women and children of Gaza
show that there are still brave men and women in this world
who wouldn’t give in to brut power.

I salute that elderly nun, Anne Montgomery, of the
religious Order of the Sacred Heart, for her brave
determination to take part in this challenging and
dangerous mission, despite her old age.

I salute broadcaster and journalist Lauren Booth for
demonstrating that journalism is not a “morally neutral
job” and that true journalists must also be true human
beings who should take a pro-active stance for justice.

I salute Jeff Halper the Professor of Anthropology and
Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions (ICHAD) who by taking part in this sublime
endeavor is making an important statement, namely that
there are Jews in this world who don’t support Israel’s
Nazi-like repression of the Palestinian people and that
starving and savaging innocent civilians for political
reasons is incompatible with true Jewish morality.

I salute Greek MP Tasos Kourakis who has voiced a
determination “to break the wall of silence surrounding
Gaza” by exposing the scandalous siege of a people Israel
is trying to crush for wanting to be free.

I salute Dr. Paul Larudee, a co-founder of the Free Gaza
mission for his fearless, unflinching determination to
carry out this daunting task despite all the threats and
intimidation coming from Israel.

I salute Yvonne Ridley, TV Presenter, author and peace
activist, for her tireless dedication to the cause of
justice in Palestine, Afghanistan and around the world.

I salute all of you, one by one, for your moral commitment
on behalf of humanity.

May God bless you all.

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