Missing the point Michael - at a symbolic and practical level. This is where an understanding of peace studies is important including nonviolent direct action. You can get a perspective of this from social, political and environmental justice campaigns in the 20th Century.
Bringing about social change through symbolic actions
Symbolism is a powerful tool to bring about social change.
Gene Sharp, is your best help to understand this tactic of nonviolent direct action. Also see the principles used by King and others in the US civil rights campaign or the push to end British rule of India by Gandhi and others (eg the salt march)
Sharp, Politics of Nonviolent Action
The practical question
Rafah gate is almost exclusively for people only, not goods. Goods are restricted to the Kerem Shalom entrance (Israel). Exports are essentially prohibited. Imports continue to be restricted by flow rate and types of materials. eg cement and construction materials are still prohibited (with the exception of some specific projects).
To learn more about the effect of the closure on Palestinians see Gisha
83% of Gaza's factories are closed or working at 50% or less capacity
Israel forbids export from Gaza: not a single truck allowed since May
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - As the flotilla approaches, Gisha warns that the focus on humanitarian aid by both flotilla organizers and the Israeli government is infuriating and misleading. There is no shortage of food in Gaza, but economic recovery is blocked by sweeping restrictions on the movement of goods and people. The continued ban on export, construction materials, and travel between Gaza and the West Bank contradicts the 2010 Israeli government decision to facilitate economic recovery in Gaza.
At least 83% of Gaza's factories are either closed or working at a capacity of 50% or less, according to the Palestinian Federation of Industries. The manufacturing sector cannot recover under the present Israeli ban on export; not a single truck has been allowed to leave Gaza since May 12. Even during the winter agricultural season, when Israel allowed the export of agricultural produce, the quantities were economically negligible: an average of two trucks per day, compared to the 400 trucks a day agreed upon in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.
Israel has banned completely goods destined for Israel and the West Bank, even though prior to 2007, 85% of the goods leaving Gaza were sold to Israel and the West Bank.
Sari Bashi, Executive Director of Gisha, says it is infuriating that residents of Gaza are being deliberately reduced to recipients of humanitarian aid. "The problem in Gaza is not a shortage of food but rather a violation of the right to productive, dignified work. There is just one solution that will respect the rights of Gaza residents to freedom of movement and livelihood while protecting Israel's legitimate security interests: Israel must lift the ban on construction materials, exit of goods and travel between Gaza and the West Bank".
More than 70% of the population currently receives humanitarian aid
● The official unemployment figure is 30.8% (compared to 18.7% in 2000).
There is a shortage of 250 schools in Gaza, among other things because of a ban on construction materials
● Classes are taught in two and sometimes three shifts.
You again are trying to inundate me with worthless propaganda. THERE IS NO HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN GAZA.
If you are so good with comparisons than 1. Comparative facts and figures on Gaza prior to 1967 and facts and figures before 2000 when there were no checkpoints or fences and no HAMAS government.
In my University days I was told of a truism by one of my professors:
Figures LIE and LIARS figure, but that was an economics course so I wander as to the correlation.
I prefer to look at reality and ignore propaganda.
In response to Shimon Klein's comment shared at:
- The Israeli occupation is unjust and colonialist. Israel's settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian Lands are proof of this.
- Hamas is oppressive and anti-democratic and their human rights record is poor.
I disagree that
- The peace activists in the flotilla are not concerned with human rights or the spirit of the Arab uprisings.
- are hypocritical, ill-informed and manipulated by Hamas
“Why are there no flotillas sailing to Syria to protest against the despotic Assad regime that has massacred close to 2000 demonstrators”?
This is a generic question that was asked during the debate about a boycott of South Africa in the 1980s. The argument at the time was why protest apartheid in South Africa when communist Russia was party to far greater atrocities and examples of tyranny.
The response to this was that South Africa would be more susceptible to western civil society action than Russia. The same it is argued in the case of Israel.
Israel wants to be seen as a member of the free democratic world. Then it has a responsibility to behave as such. Maintaining control of 4 million Palestinians is not an example of best democratic practice. International civil society has a place in holding Israel to account for this.
By all means civil society supports any action to bring freedom to the people of Syria and Iran. The question is strategically: what is the most effective action at a particular time and personally what do people have a personal capacity and resources to achieve.
Of course civil society would seek the release of Gilad Shalit, but so too does it seek release (or at least recognition) for the more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
An update on the Flotilla
Greek boarding of the Tahrir, 4 July 2011
Greece the new frontline in Israel’s blockade of Gaza
One peace activist: “I feel sad that we could not challenge the illegal blockade of Gaza…But it is only a matter of time, so if we did not get here on this path, we are a step in the road, we are a stone in the path.
Peace groups express support for Gaza Freedom Flotilla, 4 July 2011
Statement of Support for the Gaza-Bound Freedom Flotilla
July 4, 2011
"We, Israeli organizations, Jewish and Arab, full-heartedly support Freedom Flotilla, aim of sailing to the Port of Gaza with the proclaimed goals of breaking through the sea and land siege and blockade of Gaza, which is a manifestation of a continuing occupation by Israel.
We condemn the campaign of slander which the government of Israel is waging against the flotilla and those who take part in it. There is a very real reason to worry that such lies might be designed by the government as a pretext and justification in advance for further acts of violence against activists taking part in a legitimate political act of protest…. At present the Gaza Strip is little more than a giant open air prison where a million and half residents are held, deprived of their fundamental rights. It is the right of Gaza Palestinians to maintain direct contact with the outside world; it is their right to open and maintain sea port where vessels might freely dock and depart, to import and export all goods, for the benefit of their economy and in fulfillment of its needs. The Palestinians have all these rights – not one whit less than Israel has them. The state of Israel is obliged, under International Law, to put an end to its control over the Gaza Strip - indirect as well as direct - which is part of Israel's wider obligations to out an to the occupation of Palestinian territory and facilitate the independence of Palestine… We strongly condemn the the Government of Greece for its decision of block the flotilla boats from leaving Greek ports in the direction Gaza. This decision is in violation of International Law concerning Freedom of the Seas, and is highly unreasonable. Reports in Israeli newspapers regarding contacts between the governments of Israel and Greece create the impression that Greece in fact caved in to political pressures of an unacceptable kind, applied by the government in Israel."
Contact: Adam Keller: +972-54-2340749 Yaakov Manor: +972-50-5733276
Alternative Information Center (AIC) * Coalition of Women for Peace * Combatants for Peace * Gush Shalom * Hithabrut-Tarabut * Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) * New Profile * Rabbis for Human Rights * Ta’ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership * Yesh Gvul * Ma'avak Socialisti
Richard Falk, “Sabotaging Flotilla II: Waging War against Civil Society, 4 July 2011
“The reports that two of the foreign flagged ships planning to be part of the ten vessel Freedom Flotilla II experienced similar forms of disabling sabotage creates strong circumstantial evidence of Israeli responsibility. It stretches the imagination to suppose that a sophisticated cutting of the propeller shafts of both ships is a coincidence with no involvement by Israel’s Mossad, long infamous for its overseas criminal acts in support of contested Israeli national interests. Recalling the lethal encounter in international waters with Freedom Flotilla I that took place on 31 May 2010, and the frantic diplomatic campaign by Tel Aviv to prevent this second challenge to the Gaza blockade by peace activists and humanitarian aid workers, such conduct by a state against this latest civil society initiative, if further validated by incriminating evidence, should be formally condemned as a form of ‘state terrorism’ or even as an act of war by a state against global civil society… The most relevant precedent for such government-sponsored sabotage is the Rainbow Warrior incident of 1985. There French agents detonated explosives on a Greenpeace (an environmental NGO) fishing trawler docked in the Auckland, New Zealand harbor prior to proactively challenging the French plans to conduct underwater nuclear tests off the shore of the nearby Pacific atoll, Moruroa. Fernando Pereira , Greenpeace photographer for the mission, was killed by the explosions, although the devices were detonated at night when no one from Greenpeace was expected to be on board the vessel. At first, the French government completely denied involvement, later as incriminating evidence mounted, Paris officially claimed that its agents who were identified as being near the scene were only spying on Greenpeace activities and had nothing to do with the explosives, and later still, as the evidence of French culpability became undeniable, officials in France finally admitted government responsibility for this violent undertaking to eliminate activist opposition to their nuclear test, even acknowledging that the operation had been given the bizarre, although self-incriminating, code-name of Operation Satanique.”
Joseph Dana, 26 June 2011
Israeli American journalist
Greece suggested and Abbass and The UN concurred that all aid on the "flotilla" should be delivered via Greek ships to either Ashdod or El Arish.
ISRAEL AGREED TO THIS
FLOTTILLA LEADERSHIP REJECTED THIS.
What are they afraid off?
The purpose of the flotilla is to high-light the plight of the people of Gaza. Delivering the aid is only a part of the process.
There are some very good reasons for not delivering the aid via Israel. To start with, all the construction materials from the last flotilla - amounting to more than half of the 10,000 ton cargo - has never arrived in Gaza. Some of the cargo from that flotilla was reported to have been sent to landfill in the Negev Desert. It would also appear that the sewage pipes which the MV ‘Spirit of Rachel Corrie’ tried to deliver to Gaza are lying in a warehouse in Egypt instead. Meanwhile spare parts legally purchased by Palestinian utilities for the electricity, sewage and water systems in Gaza are deliberately delayed by Israeli bureaucrats at the “legitimate crossings”, while Israel charges for the storage of the same items in Israeli warehouses.
Where is the “legitimacy” of any of this?
The "flotilla" has disintegrated under its weight of hypocracy and its transparent motives. Israel has the right and obligation to protect itself and prevent materials that can be used to attack it from reaching Hamas whether through its ports or through activists that sympathize with Hamas.
This is the reality. Stop trying to kill Jews and use your resources to build a State instead of.
Michael, the rest of us live in a free world where it is considered normal to do what you like, provided you do not interfere with the freedom of others. Eccentric activities like organizing a Mediterranean flotilla are common, in the FREE world.
Israel did itself a serious disservice by not welcoming that flotilla. This was a big opportunity for Israel to get a reprieve for the hideous mistakes they made with the last flotilla. In fact, if the Israeli leadership had any wit left, it would have provided pontoons to help land the goods, as it is only with goodwill gestures of this kind that Israel can hope to keep considerable portions of land that was illegally acquired prior to 1950. Without a lot of skilful backpedalling, Israel could potentially lose the lot.
People in Western countries are starting to make parallels between the problems Palestinians experience and the lack of action on behalf of the UN in many places such as North Korea and Burma, where modest intervention would have made a massive difference to the personal lives of millions and millions of people.
Controversial interventions by the IMF are bringing down the reputation of the UN to the point of completely discrediting the entire UN.
You fail to see that what I say is an offer of a lifeline. Israel is becoming the boy who called wolf way too many times.
"The rest of us" do not live in a free world and especially those in the Arab world. I presume that you are referring to both Assad and Khadaffi as they seem to be "doing what they like" and it would seem that the peacemakers all over this universe are silent to the cries of their victims. Gaza currently seems to be doing quite well as compared of all the Arab States even though it is shackled by a terrorist organization that limits their democratic and human rights. THERE IS NO HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN GAZA
There is no International right to break a legal ,though benign, blockade of Gaza. "Flotillas' are not eccentric or common in the FREE world and especially not in the intolerant Arab world.
Both the "Flotilla" and "Flytilla" are now history and its repeat is highly unlikely.
Negotiate in good faith with Israel and stop those silly childish games. That is the way to statehood and the rest is just theater of the absurd. Israel is a Democracy where majority rules and no outsiders or fringe group insiders can effect change other than through the ballot box and not through stunts.
This is what ISRAEL – NOT HAMAS - has done to Gaza, by the blockade:
In 2007, unemployment in the Gaza Strip reached 40%. many businesses went bankrupt. Of the 110,000 workers in this sector, approximately 75,000 lost their jobs. 95% of the city's industrial operations were suspended due to the inaccessibility to inputs for production and the inability to export products.
In June 2005, there were 3,900 factories in the city employing 35,000 people. By December 2007, there were 195 factories left, employing 1,700 people. The construction industry was also affected, with tens of thousands of labourers out of work. The blockade damaged the agriculture sector and 40,000 workers dependent on cash crops are left without income.