This piece was published a week back, but Jack Shenker at the Guardian groks Palestine’s flotilla activism bigtime. From quoting stalwart flotilla activists congregating at a Corfu beach, to the relevance of Palestine to the Arab Spring, to “the wider status quo of power relations in western democracies” Shenker cinches it:
[Ewa Jasiewicz says] “What the flotilla does is actually bring civil society into a space where states have to deal with us. Our actions are exposing the lack of adherence to international law among nation states supporting the siege, and through that we can show that it’s only grassroots movements and people power from below that has an impact on changing policy. We’re exposing the inertia and complicity of governments and really undermining the idea that we’re living in democracies and that’s especially clear in Greece.”
In the midst of the Arab spring, Jasiewicz’s argument – that direct actions like the flotilla serve to delegitimise not only Israel’s occupation of Palestine but also the wider status quo of power relations in western democracies – is an explosive one, particularly in a country like Greece where the elected government is facing a powerful crisis of legitimacy from below.
Many of those involved in the flotilla believe that this year’s revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the ongoing battles being waged against autocratic rulers elsewhere in the Arab world, have fundamentally changed the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well. “People have had their stereotypes of Arabs smashed over the past six months, particularly when you see protesters in Sana’a wearing brightly coloured wigs and children resisting armed police in Cairo you can’t call these people terrorists,” argues Jasiewicz.
“And in TV pictures of these scenes, the Palestinian flag is everywhere. You can’t cut the Palestinian freedom struggle out from the Arab Spring it’s becoming recognised as a pro-democracy movement, and hence more widely accepted.”
The real intention of the flotilla has always been less about physically transporting humanitarian aid and geared more towards political subversion of the Israeli blockade. At this level the challenge was not so much to set sail although one small French craft has reached international waters, the only boat in the flotilla to do so but rather to win the media battle and create an opening for Palestinian voices to be heard.
Don’t miss this great article, read the whole thing.
(Hat tip Ann Wright)