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Swedish Aid Ship Estelle Leaves Italy for Gaza

1. Report from La Spezia, Italy, prior to departure (Stefan 
   Jonsson, Swedish activist)
2. Between Naples and Gaza (Adam Keller, Israeli activist)
3. Estelle is now on course towards Gaza (Communique from on 
   board the Estelle)
4. Passengers who traveled with Estelle (from time of 
   departure in early July from Umeå in northern Sweden)

=====

Swedish Aid Ship to Gaza Picks Up Passengers in Italy

By Stefan Jonsson

October 10, 2012
War Is a Crime

http://warisacrime.org/content/swedish-aid-ship-gaza-picks-passengers-italy

Outside La Spezia train station in Italian Liguria there is an
old plane tree. The branches are not strong enough to bear
their own weight but are propped up by steel girders that are
attached to the concrete foundations. From the tree of life by
the station, I walk along winding streets through a town that
seems to be both freshly painted and public-spirited. Sheets
and garments flutter from clothes lines stretching across
backyards and alleyways.

The streets lead out into the harbour where the water shimmers
in the October sunshine. There are crowds of people enjoying a
leisurely Sunday stroll on the middle pier on their way to the
schooner Estelle. It is moored in La Spezia for a few days on
its way from Umeå to Gaza.

Three plain tables have been set up next to the gangplank. One
is selling fairtrade arts and crafts from Morocco. Another is
selling sandals produced in the West Bank. The third provides
information about a joint project in which La Spezia is
helping to build a school in Jenin.

Volunteers show their support, collect money and work to shape
opinion focusing on the plight of the poor and oppressed. This
has been a regular feature of everyday European life for
decades.

One of the most compelling features, I might add. Sometimes
people's commitment to a cause is motivated by feelings of
guilt - about the Holocaust, about colonialism and racism or
about the fact that Europe and the western world profit to an
unreasonable degree from global inequality. During the days
the Estelle is moored at the quay voluntary organisations put
on a show of strength in La Spezia, the motto being "La Spezia
resta umana" (La Spezia remains human).

"It's important to help the Palestinians to trade," says the
person selling sandals. The young woman providing information
about the school in Jenin suggests that the exchange is a
logical continuation of La Spezia's history: from anti-fascist
resistance to Mussolini to the struggle for global justice.

During a debate the same evening, Patrizia Saccone, who is
responsible for the town's international support and exchange
programme, says that "collaborazione" is a simple matter to
understand: society is improved by people helping each other.

Economic research is currently in the process of rediscovering
this truth, which is actually obvious but has long been
forgotten. From the point of view of economics, altruism makes
more sense than individualism.

This means that ethical responsibility to "others" is finding
a solid basis in economic science. Not that ethics needs such
a foundation. But it is, of course, helpful that industry and
political institutions are presented with scientific proof of
the fact that in the long run it is more profitable to
collaborate with others than to maximise one's own returns.
Nation states and companies have lacked an ethical compass for
far too long. Many large companies, such as Lundin Oil, have
taken investment decisions that indirectly condemned people to
die or to live in misery while politicians often said that
economic growth requires sacrifices or casualties. This is the
EU's current message to the people of Greece, Italy, Spain and
Portugal.

At the end of the 1990s social scientists started talking
about "upside-down states". Even if the states were officially
democracies, state power and authority had gradually ceased to
represent the interests of the people but instead were used to
make their own citizens bow down to the requirements of the
economic power.

According to social scientists, this is one of the
explanations for the loss of trust in traditional parties and
political institutions and of the attempts to invent new
political methods of working. Right-wing political parties of
discontent are one result of this, the growing global
solidarity movement another, and virtual campaign politics
over the Internet a third. Everywhere we see citizens - civil
society - shaking themselves up.

Today's solidarity movements are characterised by their lack
of borders. Even if the purpose is a national one - for
example, to remove a dictator and establish democracy, as in
the Arab spring - it presupposes extensive global
mobilisation. Another characteristic feature they have is that
they make use of the existing political machinery - not to
push through political decisions, but in the sense that having
this or that politician behind them gives them a sought after
media profile. A third characteristic is the movements'
powerlessness. They have no institutions or infrastructure,
relying instead on fundraising, and are easily crushed if the
state or capital gets tough with them.

That this happens so seldom, and that it only happens when the
situation has become urgent or revolutionary, is due in its
turn to a fourth characteristic of new movements: they
mobilise around a single principle or universal idea that is
difficult to call into question. Nation states and politicians
align themselves with them in theory, but in practice they
ignore them. Climate policy is the best example. A simple idea
- the survival of the planet and of mankind - requiring rules
and regulations that politicians are unable to carry through
because they are bound by more short-term interests.

Which, of course, makes popular discontent grow even more. And
when enough of the discontented get organised and take policy
into their own hands, popular movements emerge that strive to
renew democracy from the bottom and on a global scale. We are
in the middle of this process now, in 2012, at the beginning
of a decade which according to many forecasts is going to be
marked by popular uprisings and new political initiatives.

In La Spezia I join the Swedish Ship to Gaza, one of those
movements that, asserts a couple of simple principles - all
people being of equal value and the right to trade and freedom
of movement - and lays bare the ambivalent speeches of the
politicians and nation states. What the organisation wants to
accomplish is after all what nearly all politicians and nation
states have already decided: Israel's blockade constitutes a
breach of international law and human rights, and causes
unnecessary suffering to one and a half million people.
Everyone involved would benefit from the lifting of the
blockade.

But the matter is not just about principles - it is also about
power politics and military strategy. Can a volunteer movement
win against one of the world's strongest military powers? The
most difficult thing the passengers on the Estelle have to
deal with is not the idea or the objective; it is the
corrosive feeling of powerlessness. Israel is probably going
to stop the ship and maintain its blockade - and is the world
is going to continue to turn a blind eye to Palestine wasting
away, and pretend it isn't happening?

Ship to Gaza has been called many things - from saviour of the
world and political tourists to terrorists and puppets of
Iran. Stuff and nonsense. The organisation should rather be
seen as an example of the globalisation of political action.
So far there are no really global political institutions. But
the seed of some new patterns is to be found in the movement
of civil society and of popular movements across national
boundaries.

Everything points to the fact that human rights and justice
are going to be the focus of the global politics that is
dawning. It is hardly likely to be driven by ideologies, or by
national or regional interests - but much more likely by
different attempts to embody a reality of universal ethical
ideals. As the ideals are simple and obvious, it is easy to
fundraise around them.  The result is the "movement of
movements" that certain political philosophers identified as
the globalised world's democratic subject: people power on a
planetary scale.

An ethical action in defence of human rights is significant,
irrespective of its likelihood of success. If the Estelle does
not succeed in breaking Israel's blockade, the ship will still
be holding up a mirror to the masters of the world order and
showing that they are in breach of the rights and principles
to which they themselves have subscribed. And next year there
will be another ship.

On the first Thursday in October we reach the city of Naples,
in the shadow of the slumbering volcano Vesuvius. At the same
time Israel's efforts to stop the Estelle are intensifying.
Ship to Gaza is the nightmare of governments and nation
states: thousands of citizens of Europe and the Middle East
taking matters into their own hands, forming a unit and
reminding those in power of their shortcomings. Ethics have
the same relationship to power as the dripping of water has to
a stone. The stone gets worn away and disintegrates; the water
drains away and flows back, like life itself.

[Stefan Jonsson is an author, professor of ethnicity REMESO,
Linköping University, and a long time employee at Dagens
Nyheter's culture editors.
http://shiptogaza.se/pressrum/freedom-flotilla-ii/passagerare-
sverige/stefan-jonsson]

==========

Between Naples and Gaza

by Adam Keller

October 6, 2012
Crazy Country - Adam Keller Blogspot

http://adam-keller2.blogspot.com/2012/10/between-naples-and-gaza.html

The city of Gaza is on the shore of the Mediterranean. Like in
many other coastal cities, there are inhabitants of Gaza who
are interested in sailing as a sport and hobby. But putting
such interests into practice is far more complicated in Gaza
than in most other coastal cities. In 2006 Qatar donated ten
small sailing boats to the newly-founded Gaza Sailing and
Surfing Association, but it took until September 2012 for the
Israeli military inspectors to make up their minds and
conclude that there was no security threat involved in letting
them through.

The boats' arrival in Gaza provided a rare chance for a bit of
positive news, with the twelve-year-old Darin Kabariti
enthusiastically telling journalists that she feels completely
free when launching her sailboat off the Gaza coast.

Not long after the sailing boats' joyous entry into Gaza, the
22-year-old fisherman Fahmi Abu Rayash was shot near Beit
Lahiya and hit in the abdomen and foot. At first his wounds
were not considered fatal but he succumbed after two days in
hospital.

What did happen there? According to the Israeli military
communiqué, he had approached  too close to a forbidden zone,
arousing the suspicion that he intended to carry out an armed
attack. According to the Palestinians, he had intended harm to
nobody (at least, to none but fish). There had not been - and
it is very unlikely that there will ever be - an impartial
investigation. There had been no report of his death in the
Israeli or international media, and not very much in the
Palestinian press, either. It is too much of a daily routine.
And nowadays, Israeli officials have a ready-made answer to
anyone who asks too many questions about such things: "More
horrible things are happening all the time in Syria". Which is
a matter of undoubted, documented fact

The gunboats which are Israeli Navy's own pride and joy
continue patrolling day and night off the Gaza shore, charged
- as they had been over more than a decade with making the
siege of Gaza, so to say, watertight. It is the gunboats'
daily job to  prevent Gazan fishing boats and Gazan sailing
boats and any other kind of Gazan boat from venturing "too
deep" into the open sea, and to equally prevent any other
vessel from any other place on Earth from approaching anywhere
close to the shores of Gaza

And just now, there is such a vessel approaching besieged Gaza
from the west. Not by stealth - in fact, its approach had been
announced and heralded many months in advance. The Estelle had
been purchased by the Swedish "Ship To Gaza" association and
had set out last May from Finland by a long a complicated
route, touching at ports in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany,
Holland, France and Spain.

The seventeen activists on board - Swedes and Norwegians and
also some dissident Israelis - had had many interesting
experiences en route. There were rallies and artistic
performances in every port, and they participated in a film
festival in Bretagne, and in Barcelona the well-known artist
Manu Chao came to take part in the solidarity concert, as did
Adeila Guevara, daughter of the legendary Che Guevara. And by
now they have reached Naples and are engaged in a very full
program: a concert, and  Catholic Mass celebrated on the pier,
and an organized tour of the ship for Neapolitan school
children, and also a visit by Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris,
who has declared himself the Estelle's official protector for
the length of her stay in Naples. Meanwhile Avigdor Lieberman,
Netanyahu's Foreign Minister, is exerting considerable
pressure on the Italians to block the ship from departing -
but unlike the case of last year's Freedom Flotilla, blocked
at Athens, he does not seem to get very far.   .

So, the Estelle will shortly depart on the final lap of its
journey. It is not so far from Naples to Gaza, as nautical
miles go. The Israeli Navy gunboats are equipped with high-
quality radar, and it is not difficult to detect a ship which
makes no effort to hide (quite the opposite, in fact). And so
the outcome, sometime later this month, is fairly predictable.

Most probably, it will not be anywhere near the actual shores
of Gaza. In the past, Israeli Navy gunboats have eagerly gone
deep into the Mediterranean to intercept Gaza-bound vessels,
sometimes, as far as 65 kilometers from the shore. (In
undoubted international waters, but the Foreign Ministry's
lawyers in Jerusalem have come up with a legal opinion
explaining why this was OK, digging up some precedents from
bold actions taken by the British Royal Navy in its bygone
proud days of empire...)

The Estelle will be sternly warned to turn aside, the
activists on board will ignore all warnings, and the crack
Naval Commandos will come aboard. The ship will be towed to
the Port of Ashdod, and the Swedes and Norwegians aboard will
be remanded in custody and charged with "Illegally entering
Israel" and their plea that they had no intention of entering
Israel and that Gaza is not Israel will be ignored by the
learned judges. And the Israelis on board will be charged
with... Well, there are creative minds in the Israeli Public
Prosecution, and they will think of something.

Will it end the siege of Gaza? Definitely not. But for at
least a few days it might remind some people who don't want to
be reminded that Gaza is still under siege, out of sight and
out of mind, and that this siege is causing a considerable
daily suffering to a million and six hundred thousand people,
a large part of them children. Even though it is quite true
that at this moment there is a worse suffering in Syria.

[Adam Keller an Israeli peace activist, was one of the
founders of Gush Shalom; he was imprisoned as a Refusnik, for
refusing to serve in the Israeli army in the occupied
territories.]

==========

Estelle is now on course towards Gaza

October 7, 2012
Ship to Gaza - Sweden

http://shiptogaza.se/en/Pressrum/Pressmeddelanden/estelle-now-course-towards-gaza

Yesterday, Saturday, just after 17:00 CET, Ship to Gaza and
Estelle slipped their moorings from the quay in Naples and
took off for Gaza. A demonstration that assembled several
hundred participants marched through the central parts of the
city and then collected in the port where Estelle loaded the
last items and completed the last paperwork. An unparalleled
atmosphere of festivity reigned, and people danced, sang and
cheered uninterruptedly. When the Italian harbour board let us
load the 300 footballs that had been stored in Athens for the
last year the enthusiasm knew no bounds.

In spite of Israeli pressure to stop Estelle from leaving the
port the Italian authorities remained unmovable. During the
days in Naples the ship was a hundred percent protected. No
saboteurs had found their way to the schooner, but loads of
enthusiastic sympathizers did. That Estelle now made out for
the last stretch of the 5000 nautical miles from the start in
the Baltic Sea does of course not mean that we have reached
our goal. The blockade is still there. But the resistance is
growing, every hour, every day, every week.

Our claim sounds high and clear: stop the blockade!

Ship to Gaza - Sverige
www.shiptogaza.se

Spokespersons:

Dror Feiler +46702855777
Mattias Gardell +46703036666
Ann Ighe +46709740739
Victoria Strand +46727356564

====

Passengers who traveled with Estelle
(from time of departure in early July from Umeå in northern Sweden)

http://shiptogaza.se/aktionen-2012/passagerare

These people have traveled with Estelle during her long
journey all the way from Umeå in northern Sweden to the final
leg of Gaza. They are listed in alphabetical order.

 * Amer Sarsour-poet Stockholm
 * Anders Widell-engineer Gothenburg
 * Anders Öberg Activist Umeå
 * Andreas Persson Activist Stockholm
 * Anita Broden-MP (Liberal) Sollebrunn
 * Ann Ighe-Ship to Gaza steering committee Gothenburg
 * Anna Seldén Andreasson Activist Gothenburg
 * Arne Birger Heli-Palesinakomitéen Norway
 * Christian Azar - Professor Gothenburg
 * Camilla Lundkvist Activist Umeå
 * Carina Nilsson councilor (s) Malmo
 * Charlie Andreasson-sailors Gothenburg
 * Conny Nylén activist, photographer, firefighter, instructor
 sailing Björkö
 * Daniel Särner-engineer and activist Stockholm
 * Dennis Halvordsson activist and journalist Gothenburg
 * Dror Feiler, Gaza Stockholm
 * Elik Elhanan, activist and literary historian, Tel Aviv New
 York
 * Emma Norwegian activist Umeå
 * Eva Olofsson-MP (V) Gothenburg
 * Fakun Aznarez-Askapena Spain
 * Felix Falk-Gaza Gothenburg
 * Fermin Muguruza musician, producer and cultural commentator
 Spain
 * Mr Van der Lippen-professor of sports medicine Oslo
 * Göran Jacobsson journalist LO Work Stockholm
 * Hanan Abu Nasr Activist Gaza
 * Hanna Hanouhe Cinthio artist Lund
 * Herman Reksten Activist Norway
 * Hillevi Larsson-MP (s) Malmo
 * Imanol Agirre-professional Basque pelota players, Spain
 * Ingvar Broden-Sollebrunn
 * Jacob Johnson-MP (V) Uppsala
 * January Wollnik Activist Norway
 * Jeanette Escanilla-District (V) Uppsala
 * Jenny Wrangborg-poet and cold buffet Stockholm
 * Jim Manley, logger and minister, Nanaimo, Canada
 * Joakim Ekedahl Activist Uppsala
 * John JB Brant-engineer / sailor Gothenburg
 * John Anyuru-poet, passengers 2011 Gothenburg
 * Jonas Bergström-Journalist and Author Gothenburg
 * Jonas Jonsson Activist Umeå
 * Jonas Karlin-chef Gothenburg
 * Karin Mattsson Activist Gothenburg
 * Catherine Moberg journalist TCO Stockholm
 * Katja Alheden Activist Gothenburg
 * Kerstin Johansson-Palestinian activist, Malmo
 * Kestin Ferster Activist Sundsvall
 * Kristoffer Lundström-Journalist SVT Stockholm
 * Christopher Synnelius Activist Stockholm
 * Lars Ferster Activist Sundsvall
 * Laura Arau-Rumbo a Gaza Spain
 * Loukas Tribe Ellos Activist Ship to Gaza Greece
 * Luz Garcia Villar nurse Almunecar Spain
 * Madeleine Persson Activist Stockholm
 * Maria Solhed Activist Umeå
 * Maria-Pia Boethius, Journalist Author, Stockholm
 * Marina Duell Activist Gothenburg
 * Martin Fahlén Activist Gothenburg
 * Mattias Gardell, Ship to Gaza Sweden steering Stockholm
 * Mika Jamia captain Finland
 * Mikael Karlsson-Socialist Student League Boras
 * Mikael Löfgren, Ship to Gaza Sweden, steering Gothenburg
 * Moa Johsson Länne Activist Gothenburg
 * Mohammed Qadora-Chairman of the Palestinian Society Malmo
 * Nanna Olofsdotter Activist
 * Niklas Berg Palestinagrupperna Umeå
 * Nils Sjostrom Activist Oslo
 * Olle Katz-Jews for Israeli-Palestinian peace JIPF Stockholm
 * Paul Nicholson Vía Campesina, the leader of Basque peasant
 union EHNE
 * Per Gunnar Ahlström-mate Lysekil
 * Peter Herthelius-chair Save the Children Gotland
 * Promoe (Mårten Edh) - artist Malmo
 * Rosanna Gunnarsson Activist Gotland
 * Salamaah Abdul Karem-Gaza steering committee
 * Staffan Granér-Ship to Gaza Sweden steering Gothenburg
 * Stefan Jonsson - Professor, Norrköping
 * Stein Asthoy-Fagforbundet Norway
 * Sven Wollter actor Stockholm
 * Soren Sommelius-culture journalist Helsingborg Helsingborg
 Dagblad
 * Louie Hedlund activist Malmö
 * Wellu Koivisto-sailors Finland
 * Viktor Hariz-journalist, Umeå
 * Victoria Beach, Ship to Gaza Sweden, steering Gothenburg
 * Xabier Ezeizabarrena-Basque nationalist party PNV,
 Professor of Environmental Law Spain
 * Claudia Mitchell-activist Malmö
 * Oyvind Sagedal-cultural and social commentator, priest
 Norway

==========

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