Stewart Mills (NSW) writes to Malcolm Turnbill MP on his stance re Gaza flotilla 11Jun10 June 11, 2010

Dear Mr Turnbull,

Thank you for your reply to my previous email to you regarding your principled stand on Climate Change. Sadly, my present email is concerned about your stance on the Gaza flotilla as reported in the Australian Jewish News.

In contrast my personal contact with one of the organisers, Adam Shapiro is quite different from what you may perceive.  Adam is Jewish American.  He is a brave, courageous and principled man.  He is committed to nonviolent social change in the spirit of Gandhi.  I met Adam in Jerusalem at the Seeds of Peace Centre which was set up by a Jewish American to bring Palestinians and Jewish-Israelis together.  Adam is married to Huwaida Arraf.  Huwaida is Palestinian American.  She has a JD in law.   She has twice been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Huwaida is famous for showing what it means to put her “body on the line” in the name of nonviolent social change (and it is nothing like how the Israeli characterised it in his SMH opinion piece or what Viic Alhadeff would suggest).  See for yourself:

Huwaida Arraf, “Palestine Girl”, 2008

In this footage you can see Huwaida standing in front of 2 Israeli soldiers.  She has her ams outstretched (as if she was trying to stop an AFL player kicking a ball from the mark; only the soldier has his weapon aimed just above her to shoot).  If anything this footage demonstrates the humanity of both parties, Huwaida for her courage in seeking to protecting others from being fired on and the soldier for not firing his weapon.  This is the purpose of nonviolent social change, to see an end to the violence from either side.

Those who characterise the organisers as defending Hamas is a slur and speaks more of the detractors  political agenda, indifference or ignorance rather than reality.  Certainly Huwaida, Adam and Greta who have organised 9 Gaza boat trips do not defend the violence of Hamas against Israel.  And in no way does trying to bring aid into Gaza infer that the organisers support Hamas.  Israel tries to minimise the situation by saying the activists can dock at an Israeli port which will pass on the aid.  But the whole purpose of the action is to demonstrate the unfairness of the closure in the first place.

Israel’s premise for the closure is security.  But how is prohibiting chocolate, jam or potato chips or notebooks a security threat?  Yes these items can get in through the tunnels.  But what kind of existence is that? Last year billions of dollars were promised by the international community for reconstruction to Gaza following Israel’s 22 day bombardment.  However, Israel prohibits building materials so the international aid has not come through except for a trickle.  And international donors require receipts so they cannot come in via the tunnels.

The World Health Organization reports of excessive delay tactics by Israel for transporting necessary medical equipment and that Gaza’s second largest hospital has only one functioning lift as it cannot get the necessary parts in to repair the other 2 lifts. With the United States calling the situation “unsustainable” it is now just a matter of time before the closure does end.  The sooner the end to the closure the better.  Opening Gaza again to the international community will not immediately stop rockets from Gaza.  This will take time.  But the continued closure and suffocation of Palestinians in Gaza will only hurt Israel more in the future.

Mr Turnbull my final point is a sombre one.  Australia is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Australians who choose to serve in the Israeli armed forces need to be aware that Australian nationals may be held individually criminally responsible for the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity. Israel as the occupying power through its policy of closure is committing a war crime, according to Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention. That is there is the collective punishment of 1.5 million people, as evident by the three siege on Gaza.  The Israeli response is not appropriate and adapted to the military objective.   If Israel limited their action to prohibition to weapons then that would be permissible.  However, prohibitions on building products and the right to export and import basic goods  denies people livelihoods and basic needs.  This goes far beyond what is accepted in international humanitarian law
and human rights law.

Mr Turnbull I urge you as a man of compassion please show leadership by calling for an end to the extreme closure of Gaza.  Of course it is justified to continue a prohibition on weapons being imported into the country.  But Israel’s security is not compromised by the importation of items like chocolate, jam or potato chips or notebooks; or for essentials like cement; or by the export of flowers to Europe.  In fact the reverse happens.  The longer Gaza is closed off from the rest of the world the greater the insecurity for the people of Israel and Palestine in the long-term.
I look forward to your prompt action on this.


If you liked this article, please consider making a donation to Australians for Palestine by clicking on the PayPal link
Thank You.
Bookmark and Share

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address