I look forward to joining the Estelle on its voyage from Naples to Gaza and I am aware of my responsibility as the only Canadian on this international crew of volunteers.
We want to bring a message of solidarity for the Palestinians of Gaza and to remind them that they are not alone in the struggle.
While we will be carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid, the basic goal of our trip is to continue pressuring the Israeli government to lift the blockade of Gaza. International aid is not a solution but a symptom of the problem whereby Israel keeps Gaza from developing its own economy.
We are firmly committed to non-violent resistance but the movement behind the Freedom flotilla will not quit until the Israelis lift the blockade.
Growing public opinion around the world recognizes that the Israeli blockade is not only illegal under International Law, it is also morally wrong. The blockade deliberately denies 1.6 million people of the essentials of life: adequate food, water, and shelter. It denies people the right to make a living through international trade and even trade with their fellow Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank. It denies them the freedom to live with dignity.
If we believe in human rights we must be prepared to take a stand when these rights are so flagrantly violated. It is time for Canadian politicians and the Canadian people to speak up against this illegal and inhuman blockade.
As part of Canada’s contribution, the Estelle will be carrying an anchor for Gaza’s Ark, which, like the Estelle, is a project of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition. The Gaza Ark project is rebuilding a boat within Gaza to carry Palestinian goods to the outside world. In this way it will challenge the blockade from the inside just as the Estelle and other boats challenge it from outside.
While I want to thank you for your interest and support, I know that even more the Palestinians of Gaza thank you for your support and solidarity.
Jim Manly is a retired United Church minister who served as a New Democratic Party Member of Parliament from 1980-88, representing Cowichan-Malahat-the Islands, a BC Coastal riding. As MP, he was NDP critic for Indian Affairs and later critic for Fisheries and also International Development. As a United Church minister, Jim served mostly British Columbia congregations and has been active in the Church’s social justice work in Canada and the Americas. Ordained in 1957, he retired in 1997. He lives near Nanaimo, B.C. with his wife, Eva, and together they continue to be active in a number of areas including United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), and Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. This past spring he and Eva took part in a Pilgrimage of Solidarity to the Occupied Territory of the Palestinian West Bank.