We are going to Palestine
Lubna Masarwa, a Palestinian from Israel, is an activist and board member of the "Free Gaza" organization. These past days she was in Berlin to present a new initiative, "Welcome to Palestine," a call by 15 Palestinian civil society organizations to travel en masse to Palestine on July 8th. Elsa Rassbach spoke with Lubna Masarwa for Neues Deutschland.
Ms. Masarwa, you traveled five times on the Freedom Flotilla ships, most recently on the "Mavi Marmara," to break the Gaza blockade by sea. You were on the steering committee of Gaza Freedom March, which brought 1400 activists from 42 countries to Cairo to break the blockade at the Egyptian border. Now there will be an attempt via the airport in Tel Aviv. How will this work?
Israel controls all the borders and all access to Palestine, also by air. When you arrive at Ben Gurion airport, if you say you want to go to the West Bank, you will quite probably be denied entry. That's why many claim that they are only going to visit holy places and the like. On the 8th of July, everyone will say openly, "We are going to Palestine."
But won't they simply be deported?
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire, for example, did not simply allow herself to be deported. She spent a week in an Israeli prison and then came to trial. We have experienced attorneys working with us who will contest any possible deportation orders. The international media is prepared. Israel will have to explain why hundreds of foreign visitors should be deported.
In Gaza, Ramallah, Haifa, Jerusalem and elsewhere we will demonstrate for our right to receive visitors. Dozens of Palestinian organizations are backing this call. We very much hope that our guests will be able to come to take part with us in various actions: in Jerusalem, where our houses are being demolished; in Hebron, where we are terrorized daily by aggressive settlers; in the Negev Desert, to help rebuild a village that has already been destroyed by the Israelis twelve times.
Together with our guests we will deliberate regarding the next steps of our nonviolent movement to end the occupation.
But in case the participants in this action aren't allowed into Palestine after all -- won't the Palestinian hosts be very disappointed?
Donations for schoolbooks and the like are surely well meant, but humanitarian aid does not bring about fundamental change. Why not instead invest in a direct action to throw a spotlight on the blockade of the West Bank and Israel? People bought flight tickets to Cyprus or to Egypt in order to participate in a Flotilla or in Gaza Freedom March without knowing in advance whether they would be able to get into Gaza. When we broke the blockade with our ships, thousands received us enthusiastically. Often, however, we did not succeed: yet these actions were all the more effective, because they brought the brutality of the occupation even more into focus. Israel was put under greater pressure to loosen the blockade. In addition, Gaza Freedom March was like an earthquake for the Egyptian people. We don't need further statements about the evils of occupation. We need concrete actions like the one on July 8th.