gaza's ark: trade, not aid, to challenge the blockade

As I mentioned, I recently had the opportunity to hear my friend and comrade David Heap speak about his experience attempting to bring supplies to the people of Gaza, as part of the Canadian Boat to Gaza. David concluded his talk with a look at a new initiative. I'll begin there.

The new project is called "Gaza's Ark / Building Hope". Its aim is to revitalize the Gazan shipbuilding industry and its export trade - and with that, Gazan autonomy - by breaking the illegal blockade of Gaza from the inside.

The Israeli government justifies its blockade of Gaza (as it does all its illegal acts) by invoking security. No one can bring aid to Gaza - no matter who they are or how thoroughly their cargo is inspected - because this is said to compromise Israeli security, although how medical and educational supplies does that, no one can say. Gazans are also prevented from subsistence fishing. If they venture more than three or four miles off the coast, they become IDF targets. They are also prevented from exporting goods they have grown or created. How can the export of fruit or textiles be a threat to Israeli security?

Obviously it can't be, any more than Iraqi and Afghan civilians, like so many peoples before them, were a threat to the security of the United States.

Gaza would not be dependent on international aid, if its vibrant export economy had not been choked by the Israeli blockade. And so, Gaza's Ark is not an aid project. The people of Gaza don't need aid: they need freedom of mobility. Gaza's Ark aims to bring them some small, symbolic, yet useful, measure of that. David described Gaza's Ark as "a campaign to liberate liberation".

Gaza's Ark mission statement:
Gaza’s Ark, will build a boat in Gaza, using existing resources. A crew of internationals and Palestinians will sail it out of Gaza carrying Palestinian products to fulfill trade deals with international buyers.

Gaza’s Ark will be constructed in Gaza by Palestinian hands and expertise, with international assistance where requested.

Gaza’s Ark will help revitalize the dwindling ship building industry in Gaza and help ensure the transmission of this disappearing expertise (another effect of the blockade) to the younger generations.

Through Gaza’s Ark and trade deals secured between Palestinian producers in Gaza and international businesses and NGOs, a channel will be established to export Palestinian products from Gaza that are available despite the blockade.

Gaza’s Ark will provide training to Gaza’s sailors in the use of up-to-date electronic sailing equipment and techniques, which they have been denied for years as a result of the blockade.

Although it will help in a very limited manner to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment crisis by paying wages to the boat builders and providing business opportunities to traders, Gaza’s Ark is not an aid project. It is a peaceful action against the blockade which Israel unilaterally and illegally imposes on Gaza.

Gaza’s Ark stands in solidarity with the Palestinian fishers in Gaza whose ability to operate in territorial waters and to derive a livelihood is threatened by the same illegal Israeli blockade which our campaign is challenging.

Gaza’s Ark challenges the blockade by building hope on the ground in Gaza. It affirms our confidence that the Palestinians of Gaza can rebuild their economy through outbound trade that threatens no-one’s security.
Most of us can't be onboard a boat to Gaza but any concerned person of conscience can get onboard this campaign. We can invest in advance in goods to be produced and shipped from Gaza.

I'm sure I'll be posting updates on this exciting initiative as it builds. Right now, you can help spread the word or make a donation.

Web: GazaArk.org
Twitter: @GazaArk
Facebook: Facebook.com/GazaArk

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