May 29, 2010
There are currently two flotillas of ships at sea and the contrast could not be more different.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk that gave us the term the “Dunkirk spirit”. It was a crucial moment in World War Two.
Between 27 May and 4 June 1940 338,000 British and French soldiers were rescued from the beaches of northern France having been pushed back by the invading Germans.
700 vessels ranging from pleasure craft to fishing boats worked under a hail of German bombs to take the Allied troops off the beaches and ferry them to larger ships so they could be brought home.
Winston Churchill called it a “miracle of deliverance” and the evacuation is seen as one of several events in 1940 that determined the outcome of the war.
To mark the anniversary a flotilla of 60 small ships set sail from southern England and will return on 31 May.
Then there is another flotilla supported by Viva Palestina and a Turkish charity. This one has just set sail to try to break the so-called “siege of Gaza”.
The website of Viva Palestina, which has conducted past convoys to Gaza, states in its narrative on the current flotilla: “The Israeli government has turned Gaza into a prisoner camp and has been carrying out a genocide. This camp and genocidal acts very much resemble Hitler’s actions in history.”
Israel and Egypt have imposed restrictions on Gaza to stop Hamas, the Islamist resistance movement, firing thousands of Kassam rockets into Israel.
Any such comparison of Gaza to the Holocaust, in which six million Jews and four million gays, communists, gypsies and disabled people were systematically murdered, is purely sickening.
The people of Gaza should blame Hamas for their suffering, not Israel.
But then we know what happens if they so much as protest against Hamas. Hamas is notorious for binding the hands and legs of so-called “traitors” before throwing them off the tops of buildings to certain death.
Either that or the “traitors” are shot in both knees.
Hamas doesn’t do trials.
When Viva Palestina conducted a convoy to Gaza in February/March 2009 George Galloway, according to the Charity Commission, confirmed that £25,000 of personal money was handed to Hamas along with 100 vehicles.
I hope the current flotilla will at least bring something constructive to the area but when Viva Palestina tried to enter Gaza from Egypt in January an Egyptian border guard was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.
While Israel does in fact let in necessities and aid to Gaza it is Islamic extremists who are making life in Gaza intolerable, even to the extent of destroying a United Nations summer camp for children. They accused the UN of promoting immorality.
The current convoy is trying to enter Gaza via sea instead of land after the extended trip Viva Palestina was sent on by the Egyptian authorities in January.
So we recall today the brave men and women of the Dunkirk evacuation for their bravery 70 years ago while under heavy bombardment from the Nazis.
There will never be enough gratitude that we can show them for what they did.
The same may not be said for the activists on the convoy currently en route to Gaza*.
* The father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit asked the current convoy to carry a parcel and letter into the Gaza Strip for his son, who has been kept in isolation by Hamas for coming up to four years now. The activists refused.