Stewart Mills (NSW) responds to Rowan Dean’s “Fame not freedom is the goal of the latest bound for Gaza” SMH 22Jun11 June 24, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald: “Fame not Freedom is the Goal of those bound for Gaza” by Rowan Dean, 22 June 2011

Rowan Dean, has failed to even demonstrate some cursory understanding of Egypt’s announcement of the opening of the passage between Egypt and Gaza or of the motivation of participants on the Freedom Flotilla 2 (“Fame not freedom is the goal of the latest bound for Gaza”, 22 June 2011).

Yes, the Arab Spring has brought with it some optimism for greater democratic freedoms within the Arab World. However, the ‘opening’ at Rafah is for people only not for goods. And it excludes men aged 18-40.

Not only does Israel still control the import of goods into Gaza (via the Kerem Shalom entrance) it prohibits the export of goods out of Gaza (with some rare exceptions).  Denying Palestinian businesses in Gaza the basic right to trade and commerce contributes to 70 % of the people of Gaza being dependent on humanitarian aid and forces people to survive on an underground market through smuggling.  Israel continues to prohibit the import of cement, steel and other construction material (save in rare exceptions).

As a consequence, Gisha, Israel’s leading NGO on the freedom of movement in Gaza, identifies schools in Gaza are open in 2 or sometimes 3 shifts a day because of the lack of construction material for schools.

Dean then decrys the Freedom Flotilla as provocative but fails to mention the repeated failure of Israel to grant independence for the Palestinian people over the past 44 years or the failure to address the refugee problem for the past 63 years.  Why does he not denounce continued settlement expansion in the West Bank or the shooting at Gazan fishermen if they travel more than 3 nautical miles from their shores.

Far from seeking fame our fellow Australians embarking on this humanitarian mission should be applauded for their courage and daring to show Gazans that internationals care about their fate and cease to remain in conditions described by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron as a “ prison camp”.

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