In my last posting I criticized some of my true heroes, for seemingly offering their "solidarity and support" not just to the people of Lebanon, but those using violence to resist the Israeli invasion. At the end of the post I said that those of us who are really committed to resisting empire, and in this case Israeli colonialism in Lebanon, should be willing to put our bodies on the line by going to Lebanon to stand with our Lebanese sisters and brothers against this aggression. Gnawing at the back of my head when I wrote this was the fact that it isn't so easily to get to Lebanon these days, although one can go by road from Syria, if you're willing to risk death by Israeli artillery or missile fire to stand up for your beliefs.
But then I remembered the "peace ship" that was a fixture of the eastern Mediterranean for twenty years from 1973 till 1993. The Peace Ship was the brainchild of Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan, who sailed from New York to the international waters of the Israeli coast, with an international crew, in 1973 and began broadcasting as a "pirate" radio station featuring music, news and commentary that Israelis and their neighbors weren't being exposed to through official media outlets. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and numerous well known newspeople supported the endeavor, which continued until 1993, when blinded by the signing of the Oslo Accords in Washington, Nathan had the ship sunk in international waters. He thought his work was done.
Now that Oslo has been revealed to have been an empty dream, and Israel, Lebanon and Palestine have returned to circa 1987, it is time to resurrect the Peace Ship, but in a much more proactive form.
I am calling for progressives, particularly those whose deaths might be an embarrassment to the Israeli government--that means you George, Brad, Bono, Angelina and the rest of the Live 8 crew -- to come together, charter a ship filled with medical and other relief supplies, and sail from Cyprus or another coast close to Lebanon, straight into the Beirut Harbor, thereby breaking the Israeli blockade. We can use the time on the ship to plot strategy, do historical broadcasts to the world via the web that would feature scholars and activists of and from Muslim world explaining the history of the region and its contemporary dynamics, bring in leading artists and newspeople to perform and discuss events, do training sponsored by the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ruckus Society, Code Pink, Non-violent Peace Force and other groups with experience doing this kind of work, and otherwise cause as much trouble as possible to those who seek to profit from this war politically, militarily, strategically or financially. Then we can go to Haifa and bring supplies to the civilians, both Palestinian and Jewish, who've been affected by the Hezbollah attacks. And then we can go to Gaza and bring supplies and show solidarity with the million plus Palestinians imprisoned there.
I have no idea how to pull this off. But as my colleague the globalization scholar Amory Starr explained to a class of American University of Beirut students whom we had the pleasure of lecturing to earlier this year, in the Direct Action movement, you don't make suggestions, you do them (sorry Amory if I'm massacring you much more eloquent words).
I hope that Noam, Howard, Arundhati, Tariq, and many others will join me, because I sure can't afford to rent a ship by myself. And if anyone has an uncle in the Mediterranean shipping business, please don't hesitate to contact me (seriously). There is a way to stop this war through non-violence if we're all committed enough and don't remain satisfied to blog and commentate while people are dying.