Three Australian activists joining the Freedom Flotilla 2 were given a heartfelt sendoff by Green Left Weekly at the Resistance Centre on June 15.
The three will soon join activists from 50 countries taking part in this latest international action to pressure Israel to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza. They have partnered with a Canadian organisation and their boat Tahrir (Liberation) will carry about 50 passengers and crew.
Vivienne Porzsolt, spokesperson for Jews Against the Occupation, said she could not abide what Israel is doing. “As a Jew I feel a special obligation to oppose it in the traditions of Jewish ethics abandoned by Israel and its Zionist supporters…
“I am sailing on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza to help pose a real challenge to the cruel, illegal imprisonment of the people of Gaza and to make it visible to the world. We hope to shame all those governments who are complicit with this injustice and lawlessness. Ordinary people must act when their governments won't.”
Sydney youth worker Michael Coleman said, like so many others, he was outraged by Israel’s attack on the first Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. Having spent three months in Nablus, in the West Bank, around the time of Operation Cast Lead, Coleman said he was witness to the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their own land”.
“It's not an Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said. “It’s the oppression of Palestine by Israel, and it's got to stop.”
Sylvia Hale, a former NSW Greens MP, said: “Israel sells itself as 'an island of stability and democracy in the Middle East'.
“But while we cheer on the ‘Arab Spring’ — the uprisings for democracy and economic justice across the Middle East — Israel shows up its hypocrisy by opposing moves by Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing.”
Hale said she had four reasons for taking part in the flotilla: to challenge Israel’s right to impose a blockade; to help exert pressure on Israel to lift the blockade; to expose the conditions the people of Gaza have to endure; and to pressure the Gillard government “to do something for the Palestinian people”.
“Israel has been able to count on the US and Australia — in particular — as loyal allies,” Hale said. “We’ve sent a letter to the PM calling on her government to use its influence with Israel to lift the illegal blockade and ensure that the flotilla is not harmed in any way. We hope you will help us.”