Jewish Boat On Its Way

Haaretz reported this week that a boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the U.S. and Britain set sail on Sunday for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s blockade there and deliver aid.

9 Jews will participate in this brave mission: amongst them is Rami Elhanan, an Israeli peace activist whose daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing in 1997. Elhanan rightly maintained that it was his moral duty to act in support of the Palestinians in Gaza because reconciliation was the surest path to peace. “Those 1.5 million people in Gaza are victims exactly as I am,” he said.

Refusnik Israel Air Force pilot Jonathan Shapira, another passenger aboard the ship, told Haaretz that “we hope that the soldiers and officers of the Israeli navy will think twice before they obey orders to stop us.” Shapira also reflected on recent Jewish history: “Let them remember the history of our people, and those who followed orders and later said we were only following orders.”

Elhanan and Shapira make a lot of sense, for they speak in the spirit of humanism and universalism.

However: when it comes to Jewish political activism, there is always one ‘righteous person’ who insists on providing a glimpse into what is still a deeply Judeo-centric agenda.

Richard Kuper, an organizer with the U.K. group, ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’, said “one goal is to show that not all Jews support Israeli policies toward Palestinians.”

Well done Richard. Let me get it right: amongst the Jewish population of 18 million people, worldwide — all you have managed to apparently represent, speak for and collate, is 9 humanist souls who are not happy with Israeli policies.

I suggest to Jews — and humanist Jews in particular — to once and for all, drop the ‘not in my name’ strategy: it is not going to work, and it doesn’t make any sense either. Implementing such a tactic is as racist as the Zionist project, for it affirms the Zionist racial and collective attribution to Jews. It basically says, ‘look at me, I am nice in spite of being a Jew’. This common Jewish left tactic is, unfortunately, not as forceful as Zionism for Zionism is supported by the vast majority of world Jewry institutionally and spiritually.

Also, I would like to advise Mr. Kuper that the goal of a humanitarian mission to Gaza should aim at helping Gazans rather than make Jews look better.

I should be clear here: of course I wish the Jewish boat all success in accomplishing its sacred mission. I certainly go along with Shapira and Elhanan’s call. It is very impressive to see heroic Israelis opposing their criminal government. Shapira and Elhanan are the seed of a future reconciliation. It is also important to see Jews around the world standing up against Israel.

However, if these Jewish activists are true humanists, they had better operate as ordinary people within the emerging solidarity movement. If these Jews are humanists, they had better accept the true meaning of universalism and stop buying into, and retaining aspects of Zionist racist philosophy and perhaps they should consider not solely operating in Jews only political cells.

Gilad Atzmon, now living in London, was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of The Wandering Who and Being in Time and is one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. He can be reached via his website. Read other articles by Gilad, or visit Gilad's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. mary said on September 28th, 2010 at 7:43am #

    Spot on Gilad Atzmon.

    PS The boat has been captured and it and passengers taken off.

    On the same site there is a breaking news item of three Palestinians killed in Gaza by an Israel airstrike.

  2. bozh said on September 28th, 2010 at 8:12am #

    Yes, to atzmon’s observation about ‘jews’ protesting as ‘jews’ or because ‘jews’ suffered in the past.
    If one is going to protest any iniquity comitted by greatest criminal minds, let her/him protest as a human being.

    Mind u, even then each of us, even when divesting self of cultishness, its misteachings, bloodthirstiness, lies, and also own culture and ethnicity one wld be still biased to some degree.

    But if one protest in name of christianity, ethnicity or cult, this only exacerbates the bad situation.

    And the label “jew” applies to a a person who may be biologicly 100% ugandan, ethiopean, russian, yemeni, iraq, pole, et al.
    So adding this mess to this problem can only split us into ‘jews’, italians, poles, irish, russian and the protest from that position further weakens. tnx

  3. mary said on September 28th, 2010 at 10:14pm #

    I am sorry to read in this piece, originally from Ha’aretz, that the passengers were roughed up and that one was tasered but there is an implication here that the Israeli military can mistreat others but should treat Jews differently.

    Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the mission, expressed his disbelief that “Israeli soldiers would treat nine Jews this way. They just hit people.”

  4. hayate said on September 28th, 2010 at 11:37pm #

    Nobody was executed, gangland style. I guess one can assume none of the crew were Turkish.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 29th, 2010 at 4:07am #

    Good on these decent people, but Mr Atzmon is, in my opinion, correct. Jews must live, I believe, first as human beings, then as Jews.That is my belief regarding all groups, whether religious, racial or cultural. Of course, they are free to reject my position, but, in that case, as with most Zionazis and other apologists for Israeli barbarity, I regard them as flawed human beings, at best, and monsters, at worst, and there are a lot of these monsters loose in the world.

  6. mary said on October 1st, 2010 at 1:29am #

    How the Israeli navy took the ‘Irene’. Particularly bone chilling is this part –

    ‘The officer came towards us, pulling out his taser ordered us to stop holding on to each other. The soldier threatened if I did not let go they would hurt me, then tasered me on my right shoulder and shot twice – it was very painful – but not as painful as the next shot where he pulled aside my life jacket, put gun on my chest and fired.My whole body lost control and I convulsed like a fit, I let out a high pitched scream. Then they took me to one of their boats.’

    PS Yonatan was not given or offered any medical attention at any point after he was shot with the taser.

  7. mary said on October 11th, 2010 at 1:20am #

    The IDF did use violence – letter from the captain Glyn Secker

    IDF did use violence on Gaza relief boat
    The Guardian, Monday 11 October 2010

    The Israeli Defence Force says that there was no resistance and no violence in the boarding of The Jewish Boat To Gaza (Report, 29 September). In fact, when boarded, we cut the engines and I held the wheel with all my strength. With one commando standing by with an electric Taser, two others removed me (I am 66) and threw me hard to the floor. I grabbed the ignition keys, but they wrenched them from me. They violently shoved aside those sitting over the switches and started the engines. On the port side, commandos singled out Yonatan and Itamar Shapira, our two refuseniks. Itamar was violently dragged backwards across the safety wires to their boat and restrained dangerously by a commando who pushed his fingers deep into Itamar’s jugular artery. Yonatan was hugging Rami Elhanan, our Bereaved Families passenger. The commander fired his Taser twice into Yonatan’s shoulder, then with deliberation moved Yonatan’s lifejacket aside, placed his Taser directly over Yonatan’s heart and fired. Yonatan’s whole body went into spasm, he let out a fearful scream, crashed across the cockpit and was dragged backwards over the safety wires to the commandos’ boat.

    As passive resistance, I turned off the fuel supply to the engines, so they towed us at very high speed through increasingly rough waters. The boat lurched and crashed about for hours to Ashdod. It was dangerous for the elderly passengers; most sustained serious bruising. There was therefore considerable nonviolent resistance by the crew and passengers to the illegal action by the IDF, and violent, reckless and very dangerous action by the IDF commandos.

    Glyn Secker

    Captain, Irene, The Jewish Boat To Gaza

  8. mary said on October 11th, 2010 at 5:39am #

    From Greta Berlin of Free Gaza

    Free Gaza’s investigation has shown the following….

    Regarding the attack on the flotilla, below is what we have found out.

    In addition, we are providing a link to the attack on the Irene from the ‘most moral army in the world.

    Please distribute to your lists and, if in the US, write to your representatives asking them why we Americans support murder on the high seas.

    The military units are “Shayetet 13” (the navy commando unit).

    The helicopters that were used to drop them on the ship (according to the media and to the army spokesperson as well) are from The IAF’s Black Hawk squadron.

    All the helicopters of the IAF, including the Black Hawk squadron, were given to Israel as part of the US military aid.

    The new black hawks given to Israel in 2002 (of the Lima model) are most likely the ones that were used in the attack on the Maramara.

    Almost all of the weapons used by the IDF are US made, and it is 100% clear that some was used to kill the passengers on the Mavi Marmara.

  9. mary said on October 15th, 2010 at 6:46am #

    I recently interviewed Glyn Secker who was the captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza, recently commandeered and seized by Israeli naval commandos.

    The video is available here:

    PLEASE SHARE this content, so we can keep the momentum alive! Please feel encouraged to embed the video on your website.

    The film’s synopsis:
    “An interview with the captain of the Jewish Boat to Gaza, which was commandeered by Israeli naval commandos as it tried to break the naval blockade of Gaza. Glyn Secker, a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, explains the philosophical and moral motivations for the poignant mission, which was to deliver symbolic consignments of aid to Gazan organisations: ‘I will not be associated with the oppression of other people… We were going to put the Israelis in a very difficult situation by being a Jewish boat’.”

    Many thanks,

    Harry Fear

  10. 3bancan said on October 15th, 2010 at 8:37am #

    I’ve just watched the video on

    Nothing special, just the usual soft zionazi blather…