Sunday, June 20, 2010

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The Virgin Mary: Protector of Lebanon-Gaza Flotilla?

The ship is now ready," Samar al-Hajj, the organizer of the flotilla ship, destined to sail from Lebanon to Gaza, told AFP on Thursday. Women activists—from Lebanon and other countries—plan to sail on this humanitarian vessel, which will carry food and medical supplies to people in Gaza. Israeli officials were clear about their opposition to this campaign; they reported to the UN that they are determined to stop the ship from reaching its target. Despite these threats, al-Hajj remains determined to carry on with her objective. Israeli authorities are not the only concerned party; a UNIFIL report reveals the UN’s concern, and states clearly that they are ready to stop this campaign in the case of a breach in the 1701 Resolution. The organizers, on the other hand, reassured (see video below) that the sole purpose of the flotilla is to offer humanitarian aid to Gaza. A statement by Hezbollah also came as a pledge of peace. They stated that they will not be participating in this event because they “do not want to give the Israeli enemy an excuse to carry out an aggression against Lebanon.” 

The courage and dedication displayed by the participants in the flotilla, despite the Israeli threats, is really the sort of admirable strong-mindedness we all appreciate. However, the events of May 31st should have taught us that perseverance alone is not enough to ensure the safe arrival of these humanitarian sailors to shore. Hence, some of these women activists seem to have realized this fact and decided that more should be done in order to guarantee a safe journey to Gaza. But, instead of seeking diplomatic support, they resorted to the Virgin Mary, hoping to reinforce their campaign via prayer. The ship was christened “Mariam” (Arabic for Virgin Mary) in her honor. The activists believe that this will convey both a message of peace and of holy power.  

Women activists praying to Virgin Mary.The sail date of the flotilla is still unknown, but according to the organizers it won’t be long. In my opinion, there is still time for the activist to seek out realistic sources of support. If not, I really hope that mother Mary will be able to protect the passenger of the flotilla from another clash with Israeli commandos. An increase in the tensions between Lebanon and Israel is the last thing we need right now; war is only a few nautical miles away!

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