Freedom Flotilla II: Red Tape, More Sabotage, Snakes in the Grass
Red Tape, More Sabotage, Snakes in the Grass
American boat grounded, Irish boat sabotaged, lip-readers in local cafe.
By Miles Howe; June 30, 2011 - Halifax Media Co-op
[See also the Media Co-op's Dispatches from the Tahrir as Halifax Media Co-op journalist Miles Howe sails with the Canadian Boat to Gaza and will be reporting regularly from the Tahrir.]
GREECE – In an effort to run a tightening net of security, port police, and legal mumbo-jumbo, the American boat in the Freedom Flotilla II, The Audacity of Hope, this afternoon revved up its engines and headed for the open seas. Unfortunately, the legal implications of such a getaway were too great for the captain, who at the last moment refused to head towards Gaza. Whether peace activists aboard the Audacity, Pulitzer prize winner Alice Walker among them, stay on board in a 'lock-down' protest remains to be seen. For the moment, the American boat is out.
Another tragic blow to the Flotilla has taken place. The MV Saoirse, sailing out of Turkey, has been sabotaged in almost exactly the same manner as the Greek-Swedish ship was a few days ago. However, in this instance the gouge to the propeller shaft was discovered while sailing. The results of such sabotage on the high seas could well have been fatal to all aboard, and shows the world that the definition of the word 'terrorist' is indeed a fluid one. Because the sabotage was discovered after the ship was moving, the damage was far more extensive, and the Irish effort is sadly over. Space for 6 of the 20 participants has been found aboard other Flotilla boats.
All it takes is one bad apple to spoil the bunch, and Allan Sorensen thinks he's found a sour one.
Yesterday, I noted that a Danish journalist (Sorensen) had doubts about the totally peaceful nature of all those aboard the Tahrir. I also noted that I hadn't similar worries. The Danish peace activists aboard the Tahrir have stated that they were misquoted in Sorensen's article. Compounding all of this is an almost simultaneously-released, IDF-sourced report stating the possible presence of people aboard the Flotilla who have terrorist ties. Might we have a snake in the grass? Or is Sorensen on to something the Canadian Boat to Gaza steering committee has overlooked?
Sorensen's allegations are all the more serious given the current situation. Today the world learned that the Irish Boat to Gaza, the MV Saoirse, was sabotaged in Turkey, proving that the saboteurs, whoever they may be, are quite willing to murder Flotilla participants without sourceless allegations questioning their commitment to non-violence.
Word of violence towards other Flotilla participants on the streets of Greece, in particular by seizing their means of communication and their identification, has also filtered through the communication channels. And today, reports surfaced of Israeli spies, right outside our hotel, attempting to conscript locals. Death threats have also circulated to the children of Canadian Boat to Gaza participants.
“The issue is whether people are ready to abide by the 'Red Lines'.” says Sorensen. “Let's just say (there's) no clear-cut answer.”
The Red Lines are a series of strict rules, to which every participant aboard the Tahrir, and every other ship in the Flotilla, must abide by if their boats are illegally boarded by the IDF. A signed, written contract, which includes the Red Lines, is a necessary precursor for anyone--including members of the media--wishing to participate in the Flotilla. The Red Lines state there may be no violence of any kind towards the IDF, no jumping in the water, etc. The fact that everyone must sign the document suggests that there is a clear-cut answer.
But not to Sorensen.
“Maybe I did a background check that people here didn't do,” he says. “And its quite obvious. Intentionally I didn't name any names (in the article), because I thought that wouldn't be fair. But the question seems to come up again and again...Every day, one guy or one woman asks, what can we do if not everyone is abiding by the rules? And its not being addressed.”
In a sense, this is true. In the moment when the proverbial shit hits the fan, anything could happen. But is there any value in conjecture of this nature? Or does it merely serve the purpose of planting suspicion?
It should be noted that Sorensen is not going to be aboard the Tahrir. Indeed, he asked to be aboard the IDF-sanctioned press boat that will apparently accompany the IDF boarding vessels if/when they do illegally board the Flotilla boats. His request, apparently, was refused by the IDF.
It should also be mentioned that Sorensen mustn't take his own allegations of 'dangerous characters' aboard the Tahrir too seriously, as he mentions that he'd feel “entirely comfortable” on the Tahrir. If he had the opportunity to go, that is.
However, suspicions duly planted, the best person to quell such fears among the Canadian Boat to Gaza steering committee is Stephan Corriveau, who for all intents and purposes is the de facto security chief.
“For me, someone who would be behaving like that would actually be agents provocateurs from the Israeli Army and the Israeli government.” says Corriveau. “We tried to select carefully the people who are on board. On top of that we had a training program where we had an eye on everyone to see if anyone was not reacting properly to the training. We got everyone to make a personal commitment by not only saying it, but by signing an agreement on their behaviour. And they will be peer pressured by everyone to keep in line. Over that, for me its clear: either it is an Israeli provocation, and there will be nothing I can do to control someone who is trained and paid by the Israelis to behave that way, because we're not paying people to be on our boat. So, for me the answer [if something violent happens] if boarded by the IDF will be that the Israelis sent agents provocateurs. They did it with the Mavi Marmara, they had 9 of them on the boat. But as I said, we've taken all the measures we could to control that.”
Since questioning Sorensen with a recorder earlier today, he has been noticeably absent.
Amidst heightened security precautions, and a 24-hour unbroken watch on the propeller, the Tahrir remains ready to sail at a moment's notice.