‘We have to support it, what else can we do?’ I was talking to a teacher last night at a huge gathering to commemorate the first anniversary of the incident involving the Mavi Marmara, the aid ship that was violently stopped on the way from Turkey to the Gaza strip, which led to the death of nine people. Thousands of people gathered, and supported the plan to send another ship to Gaza this June. The answer to the teacher’s question was not so difficult for me: you don’t have to support it. You can support Palestinians without supporting the Mavi Marmara mission.
IHH, the organizing body, held a press conference yesterday at which they said they will be peaceful. I believe that, at least in the sense that I don’t think they will carry arms or the like. For the rest, it depends on your definition of ‘peaceful’. Willingly sending out a ship that has no chance whatsoever of reaching its destination when you know it can lead to serious violence with a number of deaths, is not a peaceful mission. It’s a provocation.
That’s also why it surprised me that Mr. Davutoglu, Turkey’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said he hoped that if the Mavi Marmara sets course for Gaza again, ‘Israel will not make the same mistake’. Of course, we all hope that, but I’m sure Mr. Davutoglu is smarter than that and he knows the initial mistake is sending the Mavi Marmara out. He can’t say that because it wouldn’t be smart with less than two weeks to go to the elections – many Mavi Marmara supporters arealso AKP supporters.
Let’s do some logical thinking. IHH says their aim is to send aid to Gaza. They are not going to get to Gaza, that’s already clear. Also, they say they want to break the ‘siege’ – but Gaza is not closed off anymore, since the Rafah gate between Egypt and Gaza is now open. IHH turned that around by stating that it’s thanks to them that Rafah is open: Israel is afraid of the next Mavi Marmara and that’s why they allowed Rafah to open. Which doesn’t make sense to me: I think Israel is aware of the fact that plain logic is not going to stop the Mavi Marmara from sailing.
Another thing: if aid is the aim, why take as much as 1500 people, as is the plan? Couldn’t that space be better used for sugar, flour, construction materials etc? Why put the lives of 1500 people in danger? Yesterday at the demonstration I heard that Israel won’t react violently again now that the eyes of the world are on them. Aren’t the eyes of the world on Israel already? They were last year, and Israel got away with killing people on the Mavi Marmara. Why would they hesitate this time? No major regime change has occurred in Israel, has it?
And imagine the worst, which would be that the whole mission impossible leads to deaths again. Who’s going to benefit from that? Not the people of Gaza. They might even suffer from rising tension. Also if Israel doesn’t react like they did last year, the Palestinians have nothing to gain from the Mavi Marmara mission. The goods will not arrive. If you genuinely want to help the people in Gaza, try to send goods through the opening that has recently become available. I’m not sure if that’s possible, I’m not informed enough to say anything about that, but an opening at least has more chance than the non-opening that Gaza harbour is.
So, who does benefit? Anti-Israel propagandists. And in the short term the religious parties in Turkey: the AKP and the smaller Saadet Partisi (it looked huge yesterday at the demonstration though, I guess practically all Saadet Partisi supporters showed up). However it turns out, the people of Gaza will be left empty-handed. They deserve more sensible and more sincere support.