Third Gaza flotilla: ‘This is about human rights and dignity’

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London-based writer, political activist, and performance poet. His writing has been published in many prominent publications, including the Independent, the Guardian, Huffington Post and Washington Spectator. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University.
A Palestinian shepherd rides a donkey as he herds livestock past residential buildings, that witnesses said were heavily damaged by Israeli shelling during a 50-day war last summer, in Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip May 25, 2015. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem )
I never heard the word Palestine when I was in school. I can't speak for all of my former classmates, nor can I speak for all of my teachers.

But as I first began to write about the Palestinian cause a few years back, and began to understand what was happening, I became increasingly frustrated when newspapers would ask me to be ‘balanced’. On one level I get it. I understand that if a person is talking about a political event, a dispute, or a war, or something clear cut, both sides of the story must be told. The so-called Israel/Palestine question however, is not a conflict.

The Palestinians are defenseless and are constantly attacked by a state which has the unconditional support of the US. The word conflict evokes images of two even sides pitted against one another. Israel/Palestine is not a conflict, nor is it close to war. It's not even David and Goliath. It's more like a heavyweight boxer beating a small child, while people stand around like confused sheep insisting on the boxer's right to exist and defend himself. It's the kind of sickness and twisted psychology we've seen repeated throughout history, at which people gasp at in horror, but yet remains allowed to take place today. When Jews were massacred during WWII, people allowed it because they did not view Jewish people as complete human beings. Today, Palestinians are also being massacred, and people allow it because they view the Palestinians as less than human. This perception must be dealt with.

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What do you do when talking about a people who have almost no voice, the Palestinians, and who have been oppressed for decades? How are they supposed to be heard when for the most part the media, and one of the most sophisticated armed forces in the world, are constantly attacking them?

The Palestinians have nowhere to go, and are held as prisoners in what remains of their own land. We must tell the truth about the Palestinians because they are fighting for their very existence. Painful as it may be for liberal ears (and my heart bleeds for them) conditioned by a 24 hour revolving door of bulls**t from the mainstream media, people must accept the truth. Confronting the truth is necessary, and as painful as it may be for some, we owe it to the Palestinians to speak up for them. Like all wounds, there is a chance things can heal if we'd only be honest. Daily life for the Palestinians is like nothing we can imagine in Britain, or indeed anywhere in the 'developed' world. In Britain it was within the walls of the British parliament that Palestinian land was partitioned to a third party. We have a special responsibility to raise our voice for the Palestinians. Silence is no option. To ignore this issue is not the same as to remain neutral. To stay silent on Palestine is to side with the state of Israel.

Right off the bat, I want to address the fairy-tale notion of democracy many people hold, regarding the state of Israel.

Fact: Israel is no democracy. Aside from the fact they are trying to ethnically cleanse the entire holy land of Palestinians, if you're black, brown and Jewish you still don't get to join the club. You need to be white and Jewish for the VIP pass. A white colonial settler state ruling over a darker skinned majority is a defining characteristic of colonialism. Have we heard of this before anywhere? Remember South Africa and Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia? Sorry if it offends your notions of a harmonious world, in which the white country of Israel is the only 'civilised' nation and 'democracy' in the region, but this is one of the greatest fallacies of our time. It is utter nonsense, and completely racist to buy into this notion. And what baffles me, is that all the people who called for an end to apartheid in South Africa, are not calling for an end to apartheid against the Palestinians, despite Nelson Mandela himself calling Israel an apartheid state. It's almost as if some big event happened in recent history which makes people think all Arabs are terrorists. Still, it’s a good thing we have the war on terror to keep us safe, war simply for the sake of money, land, and political point scoring would be really bad, wouldn't it?

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Again, my apologies for stating the obvious, but democracy mean equal rights for all, brown and black nationals included, not just white. If you're reading this and disagree, and my words are angering you, I'll bet my bottom dollar that you're white European, or a descendant of white Europeans, perhaps living in Australia, or maybe the US, themselves countries colonized and cleansed almost entirely of their indigenous populations. And before the white power brigade come out in force, my mother is white, and I have as much claim to make this critique as anyone. So save your emails. And don't talk to me about racism toward whites, and ask me why there is no ‘white history month’. Shove it. Your privilege has blinded you to the reality, and ordinary folk no different than you are dying because of global ignorance. The world has been blinded for too long, and your inability to get over yourself is hurting people.

And again, without meaning to state the obvious I feel I have to. I wish no harm upon anybody, Jewish communities included. False charges of anti-Semitism always get thrown at you when you dare speak of the reality of Gaza, or the West Bank, despite the fact that the Palestinians are themselves Semites. This is because as you accuse me of being unbalanced and biased, you cannot see that the world's political structures and media are overwhelmingly biased and unbalanced in favor of Israel. Go ask my Jewish Orthodox brothers and sisters if you don't believe me. They can articulate things far better than I. Or maybe go talk to Norman Finklestein. You won't though will you? You'll switch on the ‘world service’ the sophisticated arm of neo-liberalism and feel all warm inside when you see the bombs drop on those uncivilized barbarians in Gaza-comfortable in the knowledge that the colonialists are right and that Palestinians deserve to die. Pretty language cannot disguise the ugly reality of how the world treats these people. When a news outfit in Paris was attacked, people reacted in horror. When Palestinians die people tend to make excuses for the murderers. That's in the same ball park as being an accomplice I'd say.

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I detest all racism, to the marrow of my bones, and I have a track record of working with and for many anti-racist organizations. It never fails to amaze me, how brainwashed people are regarding the reality how they live. They are humiliated, beaten and killed on a daily basis. But it doesn't seem to matter how many facts from credible people and organizations you cite, people's opinions are based on the prejudices they have already formed about the Palestinians. Islamophobia plays a big part in this. But the blockade on the truth about Palestine began as soon as they had their land stolen from them in 1948

This is why the battle for freedom for the Palestinians is a fight which is outside Gaza as much as it is a continual fight for those imprisoned within its walls and check points. It's a war of information, and of truth.The truth can set us free, but to maintain the status quo and to support an oppressive regime like Israel condemns all of us, not just the Palestinians.

I have joined a group of people who are attempting to break the siege of Gaza by boat as part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition of FF3. We want to reach Gaza to deliver aid and to make a statement of solidarity with the Palestinians. We want them to know they aren't alone. In the coming days we will be labeled as terrorists for trying to make this voyage from an undisclosed location in Greece. But our Flotilla is made up of activists, parliamentarians, journalists, human rights workers, volunteers, a nun, a former president, and former members of the US army and navy to name a few different backgrounds.

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We are not terrorists. We are peaceful people and are non-violent people. I ask for your support. I ask that you help spread this story far and wide and educate those who are not already informed about the situation in Palestine. Last year Israel mercilessly attacked Gaza killing thousands of innocent people whose only crime was to be born in their own land. In 2010, the Israeli army stormed a previous Freedom Flotilla campaign, attacking the Mavi Marmara, killing nine people, with one person later dying from injuries.

The Freedom Flotilla is again getting ready to attempt to reach Gaza, and we are not terrorists. Neither are the Palestinians. Many people support us, people from all nations including Israel. This is not about religion. This is about human rights and dignity. When we set sail I'll do my best to keep you informed as to our progress, but we need your assistance in getting our message out. We're relying on you. Please raise your voice in the name of freedom, and justice for the people of Palestine.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.