Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bon Voyage to the Estelle!

But is Guardian heading on to rocks?
A SHIP has sailed from Sweden on an international mission to bring hope and humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

The S/V Estelle passed through  the Skaggerak today, heading out into the North Sea, at the start of its 5,000 mile voyage which aims to tell the people in Gaza they are not forgotten and challenge the Israeli blockade, making sure that is not forgotten either. 

After passing Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, the Estelle will sail through the Channel. then west to Brittany.
" When we put into Douarnenez in about a week’s time, the town’s Film Festival will be on, to which Ship to Gaza has been invited in order to talk about our action. It is particularly appropriate since the theme of the film festival this year is 'international solidarity', and the event includes guests from the Basque Country..

"The Basque Country will then be Ship to Gaza’s and the Estelle’s next stop. We are expecting to reach San Sebastian around 26 August – we have been promised a grand reception there by both the town’s notabiliities and activists from our Spanish sister organisation, Rumbo a Gaza.".

"There are activists from Sweden, Norway and Finland on board the Estelle from Kristiansand to Douarnenez.

There will be a passenger exchange in San Sebastian, and in other ports. The stage after that is a one-day trip to Bermeo, harbour town next to Guernica, which was devastated by bombing from Nazi Germany’s air force while the outside world looked on."

The steering group’s representative on board the Estelle to Douarnenez is Staffan Granér, who can be reached on his mobile: +46703549687.
Ship to Gaza Sweden

I am grateful for this message to my friend Dror Feiler, an ex-Israeli para and now a Swedish citizen earning his living as a musician., and a dedicated peace and solidarity activist.  A founder member of European Jews for a Just Peace, Dror was on board the Freedom Flotilla for Gaza, captured on the high seas by the Israelis
h. Nine Turkish crew members were killed. Dror himself was roughed up by his captors. But they have not weakened his resolve. Perhaps it owes something to his upbringing. He grew up at Yad Hannah, a kibbutz that takes its socialism seriously. His mother, in her eighties, perseveres with her internationalism in a practical way with health work in Palestinian communities. It is something to live up to. 

It is ironic in a sad way that this item which Dror proudly posted to friends on Facebook he other day came from the Guardian. Some people I know complained this week that the Guardian's Comment is Free page was not that free, because it had censored out remarks by Moshe Machover concerning the Israeli government and the threat of war against Iran. Professor Machover himself has written to the Guardian rightly taking umbrage that he or what he had to say should be considered so objectionable.

I might not have paid much attention to this, thinking it just showed the liberal paper's succumbing to pressure from certain hypersensitive readers (such as those at the Israeli embassy), had it not been for an item on the Electronic Intifada site which suggests the Guardian is less concerned about offending other people.

In a sad sign of its deterioration, The Guardian has hired a new contributor who openly called on the Israeli army to kill Americans sailing to Gaza, including Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker and Kindertransport refugee Hedy Epstein. In a statement on its website the newspaper says: Today the Guardian announced the addition of Josh Treviño to their editorial team. Formerly of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Treviño will be the newest Correspondent for the Guardian’s growing US politics team through his column “On Politics & Persuasion” which launches on Monday, August 20.
“We are pleased to have Josh join the Guardian,” said Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of the Guardian US. “He brings an important perspective our readers look for on issues concerning US politics,” added Gibson.
Apparently, one of those “perspectives” is that those who disagree with Treviño should be brutally murdered. In June 2011, as several dozen Americans, including Walker and Epstein attempted to set sail from Greece to Gaza, to break Israel’s blockade along with boats from other countries, Treviño tweeted, “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.” Joshua Treviño @jstrevino

Flippant remarks like that on Facebook last year earned young people visits from PC.Plod, not promotion to serious news organs.

The Jerusalem Post reported last Thursday that a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry had commented for the first time on this year’s Ship to Gaza action involving the S/V Estelle with a yawn: “One ship does not a flotilla make.”

I would like to think that airy dismissal means the IDF is not going to interfere with the Estelle, and that Israel will not even use its lackeys in some European governments to interfere, as happened with the Jewish boat Irene in Greece.

But on previous form I am not optimistic.

If the arrival of Mr.Trevino is any indication of what attitude the Guardian might take or the course on which that venerable newspaper is now headed, I think the paper could be about to wreck its own reputation and already dwindling sales. Sorry for the decent members of the paper's staff, but I think most readers, including me, would be cool with that.

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