And then there was one

The Tahrir is settled nicely into a routine at the marina in Agios Nikolaos, Greece. Our boat dog, Ringo, barks at the Coast Guard dog, Drago, but otherwise we’re on cordial terms with the handsome and polite young men who are still doing 12-hour shifts, just aft of us, aboard their blue and orange patrol vessel. They’re making sure that we don’t pull a fast one.

But a fast one, at this point, is part of the fading romance. We are literally and figuratively all tied up.

The Tahririans themselves are now “in the wild”, however, and are making trouble for Israel’s lunatic government in all sorts of unexpected places. Since this is likely to be my last posting on this adventure for at least a few months, I’m going to salt it with references to their various adventures in the hope that you will follow them at least part of the way.

Sticking with the nautical theme, one of my favorite operations in Gaza had some news. Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPS Gaza) began, a few days ago, to operate a small boat to monitor the attacks made by the Israeli Navy on fishing boats. Under the rest of the world’s maritime law, fisherman can exploit their “exclusive economic zone” to a limit of 200 nautical miles. Under the authority of the Israeli Government, Palestinians in Gaza can do so to a limit of about two miles.

So CPS Gaza thought it would be a good idea to accompany the fishermen as a witness to the attacks. On the second day of the operation, the Israeli Navy obliged them with a demonstration. While bullets are reserved for use against fishermen (several have been shot) the CPS Gaza boat was attacked with a water canon. Video was on the Internet within several hours, eliminating any hope that the fishing embargo was some invented complaint of the Palestinian government in Gaza.

CPS Gaza crew attacked by Israeli warship

Naturally, this isn’t about the fish. There are massive reserves of natural gas under the parts of the Med that belong, respectively to Gaza, Israel and Lebanon. Israel and Lebanon can argue about this at the UN. Not Palestine. Not yet. So Gaza will remain, for the time being, a land sadly lacking in millionaires.

But Ethan Bonner, of the New York Times, reassures us that things are OK in Gaza. The Times has a more musical “accentuate-the-positive” editorial stance, and Bonner is the man for the job. Point out that Gaza is a prison and he responds that the prisoners are allowed to farm.

They can’t farm on one third of the “unoccupied territory” in Gaza because that’s too close to what the Israelis regard as their border. Israeli soldiers shoot them when they try that.

But they do have a farm and can now contemplate “food independence”, Bonner tells us. This is another way of saying that we resent giving them food aid — who wouldn’t when we have homeless of our own to feed? — but we’re not ready to let them handle the problem for themselves by exporting or importing like any other place in the world … well, excepting, of course, its prisons.

David Samel takes a more precise view in his praise of the benefits of prison obedience. He suggest that if it’s working so well in Gaza, that Israelis themselves might give it a go. His detailed prescription is here:

An open letter to Israeli boycott activists

Two of our Tahririans, Sylvia Hale and Vivienne Porzsolt, left the boat a couple of days ago, like so many others who had to return to their day jobs. But at Athens Airport, Sylvia and Vivienne took a right turn and ended up at Ben Gurion Airport. They were curious to know whether it was true that Israeli immigration does not knowingly allow foreign visitors to travel to the Occupied Territories. Two days in jail dispelled any doubts.

Sylvia and Vivienne are not only unruly Tahririans, but Australians as well. Rather than be passively deported like more than a 100 other “Flytilla” activists, the two elderly travelers decided to appeal their deportation order. And they won. Their victory suddenly opens up a new legal access point for the thousands of Palestinians who are denied entry to the places where they live and work.

The legal news is here:

Somewhere in Egypt, Miles Howe makes his way toward Gaza carrying his supply of Nova Scotia honey. We haven’t heard from him for four days now. Maybe he will pop up at Heathrow for a flight home. Maybe he is the sixth man in this news story:

But my bet is that he will show up on the north side of the border at Rafah. Miles is talented and resourceful, and has touch of irrationality that has served him well. He is, after all, a one-person trade mission with the blessing of the Nova Scotia government. He’s promoting trade between the Maritime Province and the Maritime Prison. If he can’t argue his way through the Egyptian checkpoints, or slide through a tunnel, he will at least prove to his readers’ satisfaction that no, the border between Gaza and Egypt is not open.

You can read his last post for the Halifax Media Co-op.

So where are Karen and I? We are on the boat, helping keep it tidy for next time. We have a few days left before we leave for London to visit Simon. Maybe there, away from the daily news, I’ll have time to assess how far we got in this round.

In the meantime, I’ll leave it to other pundits. They claim the Israeli government of Bibi Netanyahu is firmly in place and pressing on with its expansionary agenda while the anti-BDS law, which allows anyone to shut down speech without even showing damages, is prompting serious political upheavals in Israel, and perhaps as important, among Americans who are beginning to doubt their faith in the Zionist project.

Israel has abandoned its 9.6 billion dollar trading partner, Turkey, for the worthless economy of Greece. That’s a little bit like Canada closing the border to the United States so that we can trade with … Greece.

Greece has traded its once famous national independence for an IMF bailout and some cheap military supplies and training. This is the conclusion of a trusted Israeli historian, Benny Morris. You’ll note that in the list he presents of weapons used by the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, he leaves out slingshots. There’s something in the Israeli mind that avoids talk the word “slingshot”.

Bibi’s trusted Likud partner Avigdor Lieberman struts back onto the Israeli political stage with yet more fascist legislation for the Middle Easts only former democracy,

The Quartet — trusted custodians of the Peace Process — get’s together for a smiley-graph but otherwise has nothing to say.

Maybe this Rip VanWinkle of Middle Eastern politics will suddenly wake up in September to a world unlike the one in which he fell asleep.

Finally, two of the Tahririans have jumped ship. Stephan Corriveau and Amira Hass are now aboard another vessel. After helping the Tahrir steering committee keep the passengers and the boat safe from attack by the Greek Coast Guard, Stephan has managed to find a place on another boat. Amira, the famous Israeli correspondent for Ha’aretz, is there with him. But we’re not sure where “there” is. The French boat, “Le Dignit?? Al Karama”, which might count them among its crew, is missing. If you are being watched by the Coast Guard, that’s not a bad place to be.

Well, for a time. Sooner or later they will succeed in leaving Greek waters (it takes a little longer in Greece that it would in Gaza), and will be met by the Israeli Navy. Now, if you were aboard the only ship that succeeded in breaking away from the Greek maritime embargo, and if you were a ring-leader in the Canadian attempt to do the same, and if several of the people aboard your boat had a previous reputation for sailing to Gaza, and if you were not a famous Israeli journalist, then you might expect a beating. That’s where Stephen is now. Worse still, everyone else aboard the boat is French — they argue and smoke constantly.

You may be interested in their progress. All I can recommend are the occasional tweets from @BateauGazaFr. A lack of tweets can have several meanings.

1 Comment

  1. This is 500 words too long and the links are just a distraction. And why would anyone be taking honey to the land of milk and … ?

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