Mustafa Barghouti: ‘Israel is trying to blackmail the world, and outsource the siege of Gaza’ 8Jul11 July 9, 2011

by Annie   -   Mondoweiss -   8 July 2011

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian Member of Parliament who went on the second international boat to Gaza in October 2008, was visiting Athens for a meeting of the Socialist International and took time off to visit the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, and talk with the passengers. His comments were reported to us by Medea Benjamin of Code Pink.

What you are doing in this flotilla is precisely what Martin Luther King struggled for, what Gandhi struggled for—it is a struggle for justice, freedom and equality. Nonviolent resistance is powerful. I want to let you know that we had a wonderful victory recently in Bi’lin, where after 6 years of non-violent resistance, we managed to push back the wall. You are doing the same thing here in the waters of Greece–you are pushing back the siege, you are pushing back an apartheid regime.

I was with the Greek Prime Minister Papandreou today at the meeting of the Socialist International and had a chance to talk to him about the flotilla. Unfortunately, the Greek government announced it will not allow boats to sail to Gaza. Israel is trying to blackmail the world. They are trying to outsource the siege of Gaza.

I was loudly applauded at the meeting of the Socialist International when I said that this flotilla was a nonviolent act for the freedom of the Palestinians and it was time for the world to stand with the Palestinians. I said if you really support the Arab spring, you should support the flotilla.

One day we will all celebrate the victory of the Palestinians and this chapter of the flotilla will be written with the ink of dignity. I will tell people in Palestine about what you are doing, but rest assured that they are all watching you.

I have been banned from going to Gaza since 2007. This was my punishment for pushing a Palestinian unity process. So I had to go into Gaza through Egypt, which I did recently. Instead of a 1 ½ hour trip, it took 1 ½ days. But I got in and had a chance to visit some of the 25,000 houses and schools demolished by the Israelis, buildings that are still in need of repair. It is terrible what the Israelis did—and continue to do—to the Palestinians in Gaza.

I hope the ships will finally reach Gaza. But whether or not they do, you, as Americans—by pressuring the Israeli government—have helped to get construction materials into Gaza, helped the people get healthcare. And you have helped change the image of the people of the United States. The fact that this is an American ship means a lot to us. And the presence of many Jewish people in this group has a big impression, and makes me very happy and optimistic about the future.

Popular non-violent resistance is the only way. It is so powerful, and that’s precisely why the Israelis are so afraid of this movement. Israel’s heavy-handed efforts to stop the flotilla are not a reflection of strength but of weakness and fear. Look at what’s happening in campuses around the United States with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement–BDS. No wonder the Israeli government is fearful!

Whether or not your boats sail, you have already made a huge difference. And please know that the Palestinian people await you with open arms no matter how you enter—by sea, by land, by air, or simply by your hearts.

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