Interview with a Sydney Flotillian 16Jun11 June 17, 2011

Galus Australis -  16 June 2011

Vivienne Porzsolt, a spokesperson of Jews against the Occupation Sydney, is taking part in “Freedom Flotilla 2”.

Galus Australis conducted a one-shot (i.e. no follow-up) email-based interview with Ms Porzsolt. Below is the interview, completely unedited:

Galus Australis: We understand that you are planning to take part in the “Freedom Flotilla 2” to Gaza. Can you tell our readers when the flotilla is leaving and what is the route that your boat is taking?

Vivienne Porzsolt: For security reason, the details of the time and place of departure and the route are not announced.

Galus Australis: We understand that the flotilla organisers claim that their goal is to break the siege on Gaza and deliver goods to Gazans, but how do you respond to detractors who argue that  in addition to the Israeli government continuing to ensure the supply of humanitarian aid, the new Egyptian regime has already broken the siege by opening the borders on their side of Gaza. Thus why is a flotilla necessary when goods could simply be transported across the Rafah Crossing from Egypt into Gaza?

Vivienne Porzsolt: While the Rafah Crossing was eased for a few days to allow women, children and older people through, men between the age of 18 and 40 were not. Now only 400 people a day are allowed through. This is the same as before the easing and much less than the 1200 before the closure. The Rafah Crossing even when fully open, cannot take goods, particularly industrial goods. The siege of Gaza is not just a matter of humanitarian aid. The people of Gaza must have freedom of movement and be able to build an economy, not continue to be mendicants reliant on charity.

Galus Australis: Detractors also argue that the humanitarian situation in nearby Syria is far worse than anything in Gaza. How would you respond to their claims that any aid flotilla ought to be headed to Syria and not Gaza?

Vivienne Porzsolt: The situation in Syria is very bad and I very much hope that the Syrians will be able to overthrow the brutal regime. But the situation in Syria is far less brutal than Gaza under the onslaught of Operation Cast Lead which killed 1400 people, injured many more, and destroyed housing and infrastructure. It has not been possible to re-build because of the siege. Besides, this is a matter of human rights not just humanitarian aid. The siege is illegal and causing significant suffering.

Galus Australis: Do you have any maritime experience?  What skills do you personally bring to the ship that you will be sailing on?

Vivienne Porzsolt: Like a passenger on any boat, I have no maritime skills. Our boat Tahrir (Arabic for Liberation) owned with the Canadians, Danes and Belgians, will be sailed by a qualified crew of 5.

Galus Australis: The activists on the Mavi Marmara were famously armed. How will you respond if you become aware that activists on your ship are also armed?

Vivienne Porzsolt: This is ‘famous’ because it is based on the official Israeli government version after the Israeli commandoes had seized and smashed all communication equipment owned by all passengers on all 6 boats of the first  Freedom Flotilla 1.  A few activists on the Mavi Marmara - 30-40 of 400 activists – seized whatever was at hand such as the railings from the gangways to protect themselves when they came under attack by the IDF. This attack was an illegal act of piracy in international waters.

Galus Australis: Likwise, activists on a previous flotilla ship were recorded chanting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud,” which means “Jews, remember Khyabar, the army of Mohammed is returning.”  How will you respond if activists on your ship chant this or similar anti-Jewish chants?

Vivienne Porzsolt: This story may or may not be true. Of course, all of us sign forms committed to equality of all regardless of race, religion, gender and so on. My presence as a Jew standing up for human rights is a strong counter to any anti-Semitism that may arise in connection with the anger so many around the world rightfully feel at the actions of the Jewish State.

The bottom line is that the foundation of the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland, was founded on the dispossession of the Palestinians. Until this is addressed, there will continue to be rage even hatred of Jews. I believe in and profoundly hope for a future for Jews and Palestinians living side by side in mutual respect. This is not possible unless Israel shifts its course to one based on international law and human rights, not the ‘Iron Wall’ of military might. That is why I am sailing on the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human along with 1000 other activists from 50 nations to break this brutal, illegal siege.

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