Boats — an enemy evoked by major Australian political parties to win elections — have become a symbol of international resistance to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
This is particularly the case since Israeli commandos attacked an aid flotilla headed for Gaza in May, killing nine people.
With this in mind, the Berlin Coalition for Gaza (BCG) launched a one-boat “flotilla” through an inner-city Berlin canal on October 15.
With pro-Palestine banners and hypnotic Roma melodies from a live band, activists handed out leaflets highlighted the severity of the Gaza blockade and the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel.
Palestine shirts were sold and money raised with the aim of sending cement and building materials with the next flotilla to Gaza.
Israel destroyed and damaged tens of thousands of buildings during its 2008-2009 bombardment of Gaza. It continues to block materials desperately needed to rebuild from entering the strip.
BCG organiser Sophia Deeg said the BDS movement could be built in Germany, despite what she described as an “opportunistic reluctance to criticise Israel by public figures”.
“Germany has a strong peace movement”, said Deeg, “so as people see Israel is a military state, they are open to questioning Germany’s military cooperation”.
Interest in Germany in ecological food production is helping. Deeg said: “We find that people are open to changing their buying habits when they hear that [Israel’s] occupation involves uprooting whole olive groves and other harmful agricultural methods .”
The BDS campaign is seeking support from German trade unions. “We want to inform them about other countries where unions are taking more action for Palestine”, Deeg said, “so they feel the movement against Israel’s apartheid policies is not isolated, but universal”.