29. More on imperial power at work

While the non-violent peace and human rights advocates on the Freedom Flotilla put their bodies and personal safety on the line, out in the open, the agents of imperial power function as they always do, behind the scenes, under cover, in the shadows.

Further to my previous post, sketchy details are emerging about why/how the authorities are blocking the US boat to Gaza from departing.  This bulletin arrived today from Athens:

Passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, The Audacity of Hope, are asking Greek government officials to clarify whether the boat they are leasing is being blocked from leaving Greece because of an anonymous request of a private citizen concerning the seaworthiness of the ship, or whether a political decision has been made by the Greek government in response to U.S. and Israeli government pressure.

They specifically want to know if the U.S. is using its leverage at the International Monetary Fund over the implementation of an ongoing bailout of European banks with massive Greek debts to compel the Greek government to block the U.S. Boat to Gaza from leaving Greece.

The passengers are wondering if Israel, which has extensive economic trade and investments in Greece, is using its clout to pressure the Greek government.  “Israel has said openly that it is pressuring governments to try to stop the flotilla, and clearly Greece is a key government since several of the boats plan to leave from Greece,” says passenger Medea Benajmin.  “It is unconscionable that Israel would take advantage of the economic hardship the Greek people are experiencing to try to stop our boat or the flotilla.”

[MR: On the other hand, for the agents of imperial power this would be a chance to kill two birds — a major participant in the Freedom Flotilla, and the people of Greece — with one stone, and thus cause for a promotion, or at the very least, a bonus.]

Given the very close relationship between Israel and the U.S., and the public efforts by Israel to denounce and try to stop the flotilla, the passengers on the U.S. boat want to know if the Obama Administration is using U.S. leverage at the IMF to compel the Greek authorities to stop the U.S. boat from leaving Greece.  Greece’s economic and political crisis is a result of extreme austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the largely U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund.  Past U.S. governments have used their influence at the IMF to impose political conditions on indebted countries that have nothing to do with restoring economic growth.

“We are guests here,” said Robert Naiman, a passenger on the U.S. boat. “But we ask the Greek authorities to be honest with us.  What is the origin of this complaint?  Is the decision to stop our boat from leaving truly due to legitimate technical issues that can be resolved, or is it a sign that our boat will be stopped from leaving no matter what we do?  What is the role of the Israeli and U.S. governments in the Greek decision to stop our boat from leaving?”

“We have a right to protest the blockade of Gaza,” said Ann Wright, an organizer and passenger on the U.S. boat.  “To its credit, the Greek government, like the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Oxfam, agrees with us that the blockade on Gaza must be lifted.  But for years, the only effective international action to challenge the illegal blockade has been freedom flotillas.  We call upon the Greek government, which agrees that our cause is just, not to stand in the way of our peaceful protest in pursuit of our shared goal of lifting the blockade.  The boat we are leasing for this journey, after its refitting for the voyage to Gaza, was surveyed by a professional surveyor and successfully completed its sea trials.  There is no reason for any further delays on this matter, we are ready to sail.”

For regular updates on the Audacity of Hope, go to Twitter,  or the US Boat to Gaza website.

About Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.
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2 Responses to 29. More on imperial power at work

  1. Mary Hart says:

    This is so appalling. Can you remind me where I can send contributions to help the flotilla? I can’t think of anything else to do.

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