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End the Israeli Occupation of GreecePaul Larudee for Salem-News.com
It seems that if Israel tells the Greek government to jump, they will ask, ?“How high?”
(ATHENS) - On June 2, 2010, the Greek government sent one of its C-130 transport aircraft to bring thirty-one of its citizens from Tel Aviv back to Greece. It also carried three French and one American. I was the American. We had all been attacked and taken prisoner by Israeli forces in international waters as we tried to sail to the coast of Gaza, an ordinary act in any other part of the Mediterranean, but denied to Palestinians.
It was a great honor to be invited by my Greek colleagues to be part of their evacuation. An even greater one was the extraordinary reception given to me by the Greek people upon my arrival in Greece.
A year earlier, I met George Papandreou, when his party was in opposition and running for election. I was one of the founders of, and a participant in, the successful project to sail two small Greek boats to Gaza in 2008, which is the subject of the documentary film Gaza, we are Coming, and he wanted to show his support.
Later, I was present at the home of Greek friends in Kifissia when Papandreou’s PASOK party won in the elections. We all had high hopes.
I'm sorry to say that the Greece that I knew then is not the Greece of today. Although its people are still the same courageous, independent defenders of freedom and democracy at home and on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Palestine, its government appears to have lost its way.
As I write, Greek forces and officials – in violation of Greek law – are preventing boats of the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla from continuing the tradition of traveling to Gaza in friendship and solidarity with the Palestinian people.
They have even jailed an American captain, John Klusmire, who sailed one of the two first boats into Gaza in 2008, for trying to sail a one of the boats in the Flotilla.
Of course, we all know the reasons for this. No one believes that Prime Minister Papandreou happily supports the violation of Palestinian human rights. However, he is under great pressure from Israel, the United States and the European community to comply with Israeli instructions.
This brings great sorrow to me. Although my own country, the United States, bears most of the responsibility for supporting Israeli abuse of Palestinians, until now Greece has been a beacon of courage in defending their rights. Indeed, Greeks have acted on the principle that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King, Jr.).
When we sail to Gaza we not only defend Palestinian sovereignty over their waters, but our right to use them, at Palestinian invitation, and our right to invite them to sail from Gaza into our waters. The Israeli blockade therefore violates our rights, as well.
More obviously, the Israeli occupation of Palestine has now been extended to Greece, where it seems that if Israel tells the Greek government to jump, they will ask, “How high?” This is not the Greece that I know, although I will always be in solidarity with all Greeks who demand independence and control over their own destiny.
It is often said that we are all Palestinians, but this is true for Greeks even more than other peoples. And it is why the time has come to end the Israeli occupation of Greece.
Paul Larudee is a founding member of the Free Palestine Movement.
Special thanks to: Free Palestine Movement News
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