Marama welcomed to Messina – Gaza boat ready to sail

24 Sep

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New Zealand’s representative on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, Marama Davidson MP, has safely arrived in Messina, Sicily, after a long & tiring journey. This pic shows her being greeted at a Women’s Boat to Gaza gathering upon her arrival. [Photo: Chenaf Bouzid]

Women’s Boat to Gaza statement, Messina, Italy 23 September 2016

This morning the community of Messina, Italy welcomed the participants on board Zaytouna-Oliva as they arrived following their voyage from Ajaccio, France. The sailing boat will leave Messina in a few days for its final destination: the shores of Gaza.

Lucio Intruglio, the local organizer in Messina noted “we have been waiting eagerly for our sisters to arrive and have a variety of activities to celebrate their mission.” During their stay at Messina, the women will participate in a nonviolence training and have a chance to meet with citizens, student groups and the mayor of Messina. Intruglio adds “but we will also be sure they get plenty of rest. We know that it is a long difficult journey and we want them to leave Messina refreshed for this important next leg.”

The Women’s Boat to Gaza is an initiative of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition composed of civil society organizations and campaigns from more than a dozen countries. For more information, visit www.womensboattogaza.org.

As they head off to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade and express solidarity for the Palestinian struggle, readers can follow the Women’s Boat to Gaza with regular updates on this website and Kia Ora Gaza facebook pages. Check the sidebar to see how to donate to this historic mission.

Patti Smith supports the Women’s Boat to Gaza

23 Sep

 

VIDEO: Well-known US singer-songwriter Patti Smith supports the Women’s Boat to Gaza.

Top scholar trapped in Gaza – welcomes peace flotilla

23 Sep

 

VIDEO: SistasReZist, 23 September 2016

Raghad Salhiya is a third-year pharmacy student in Gaza who was unable to take up a scholarship to study abroad despite having a Grade Point Average of 94%. Her aim was to return after having her education, to build her country’s future.

 

Parliament passes Green Party motion of support for flotilla

23 Sep

 

VIDEO: Inthehouse.co.nz – Parliament TV on demand, 21 September 2016.

As Green Party MP Marama Davidson was about to depart New Zealand to join the international Women’s Boat to Gaza on Wednesday, her Green Party colleague, Catherine Delahunty MP, put the following motion to Parliament without notice. In a surprise move, the motion was passed in a period of confusion amid bluster from Defence Minister and Leader of the House, Gerry Brownlee:

“That this House expresses it’s support for the Women’s peace Boat to Gaza and the international coalition of women on that boat, including the New Zealand Member of Parliament, Marama Davidson, as it sails to Gaza to show solidarity and support to the Palestinian people, and highlight the contributions of Palestinian women who have been central within the Palestinian struggle in Gaza and the diaspora.”

But will the government choose to heed this motion and respond to Marama’s letter to Foreign Minister Murray McCully, (dated 19 September 2016), requesting the NZ Government “call on the Israeli authorities to allow the Women’s Boat to Gaza flotilla safe and unhindered passage to their destination”? Don’t put money on it.

 

LisaGay Hamilton: Why I’m on the Women’s Boat to Gaza

23 Sep

img_0652From Left to Right: Ann Wright, LisaGay Hamilton, Norsham Binti Abubakra, Dr. Fauziah Hasan

I won’t lie; I’m scared to death. I’m scared of getting sick, of capsizing, of being lost at sea.

I’m afraid for myself and especially for the courageous women who will try to break through the blockade.

But I’m more afraid of what might happen if we all stayed home, silent and complacent and posing for the paparazzi. Breaking the siege is not the same as freedom for Gaza, but it is a start. And we women will prevail. As my South African sisters often said in their freedom struggle, “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.”

By US actress LisaGay Hamilton: Why I am on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, CounterPunch, 21 September 2016

Sunday night, September 18, 2016. As my “industry” colleagues attend Emmy parties and dress for the red carpet, I stand on the chilly docks of Ajaccio, Corsica, in the wee hours of the morning awaiting the arrival of a small sailboat called the Zaytouna-Oliva. The boat arrives just after 2AM, and the passengers and crew, all women, disembark. The trip from Barcelona was rough. Everyone had gotten sick and it showed on their faces. One woman had become so ill she had to be taken by ambulance to the local hospital. The boat is battered and reeks of vomit, but it does not smell of despair. The women walk quietly and defiantly off the gangplank and toward the pier, where they receive a hero’s welcome. In twenty-four hours, I will join the women on the third leg of the trip to Messina, Sicily, and from there the Zaytouna-Oliva will proceed to its final destination: Gaza.

What possessed me to travel 6,000 miles from L.A. and my family in order to brave the Mediterranean Sea in what is now beginning to look like the smallest vessel on the docks? Why join yet another effort to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza?

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Huge farewell for Marama Davidson as she heads for Gaza

23 Sep

Marama Davidson departs for Gaza

Green Party MP Marama Davidson left Auckland on Wednesday night to join the international Women’s Boat to Gaza, aiming to break the illegal 10 year Israeli blockade and to highlight the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian enclave. Marama’s whanau and over 100 supporters from many different organisations & backgrounds gave her a moving send-off. The Heikura kapahaka group from Manurewa Marae performed a stunning poroporoaki.

VIDEO: Peata Melbourne reports for Te Karere.

 

Women’s flotilla to Gaza is more than mere symbolism

22 Sep
14370093_1425766677439515_1270292688172730375_nPhoto: Chenaf Bouzid

Women’s flotilla to Gaza is more than mere symbolism. Their actions blur the boundaries of nation-states, race and class, shifting loyalties towards universal rights.

The significance of these endeavours becomes apparent when viewed in the wider context of popular movements taking root around the world.

By Susan Abulhawa, Aljazeera, 22 September 2016

Amal and Zaytouna, a flotilla of two boats with all-women crews and passengers, set sail from Barcelona en route to besieged Gaza in another maritime attempt to break Israel’s illegal blockade on the tiny strip of Palestinian coastal territory.

This is a place where 1.7 million Palestinians have been locked for nearly a decade in what many describe as the “world’s largest open air prison”, a human laboratory that Israel uses periodically to test its weapons.

As with previous civilian voyages to Gaza, these boats are carrying prominent international figures who hope to use their stature to focus international attention on continuing Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

There are 11 women in each boat, including Malin Bjork, the European Parliament member, Mairead Maguire, the Nobel peace laureate from Northern Ireland, Fouzia Hassan, a doctor from Malaysia, and retired US army colonel Ann Wright. [NZ Green Party MP Marama Davidson will also join the mission on its coarse to Gaza.Ed]

Carrying a message of hope

There have been more than two dozen such voyages since 2008, with only five actually making it to Gaza. The rest have been intercepted by the Israeli military, which often confiscates the boats and other equipment, and arrests passengers.

And while the boats do often carry aid, including medical, building and educational supplies, organisers regard these costly and risky endeavours as largely symbolic. Spokeswoman Zohar Chamberlain Regev told Al Jazeera, “Mainly we are carrying a message of hope and solidarity [for the people of Gaza].”

It is perhaps difficult to see the real and material impact of international activists setting sail to try to visit Gaza, only to be intercepted, arrested and deported. But the significance of these endeavours becomes apparent when viewed in the wider context of popular movements taking root around the world.

The theft of Palestine and destruction of its native society is the world’s last vestige of settler-colonialism. It is the link between that ignominious era and contemporary neo-liberal destruction of life, lucrative war-making, and wholesale destruction of our planet for the profit of few.

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