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Why is Jim Manly sailing to challenge Gaza blockade? - by Eva Manly
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Eva Manly of Nanaimo B.C. is married to retired NDP MP and United Church minister Jim Manly who is sailing to challenge the Gaza blockade.
Why did Jim accept the invitation to be the Canadian on board the Estelle, the Freedom Flotilla boat sailing for Gaza to break the blockade?
Our decision was a joint one, a result of 53 years of working together as a team and supporting each other in both individual and joint pursuits. I have always been attracted to Jim’s sense of humour, his ability to think “outside the box” and the fact he did not fit my stereotype of clergy! After all these years we still make each other laugh and are still able to surprise each other.
Another thing drew me to Jim: he has the courage to follow his convictions and the guts to act on them – even when these actions are unpopular. He is also one of the least confrontational people I know.
Jim and I have worked together on many human rights issues. We are grateful to the Haisla people of Kitamaat, with whom we spent the first four years of our married life and whose friendships and influence we still cherish, for opening our eyes to the issues facing First Nations people and other indigenous peoples. This led indirectly to our involvement with other human rights struggles: Mexican American farm workers, refugees from the coup in Chile, the people of Nicaragua and El Salvador, the Maya of Guatemala, and refugees from Colombia and Nigeria among other places. It also led to our involvement in Church Sanctuary for refugees and accompaniment of people facing death threats. Through all this we avoided the issue of Palestine/Israel, accepting the line that “it is too complex”, too divisive and likely to alienate friends.
So, people ask, when and how did that change? We read Drinking the Sea at Gaza by Amira Haas, the Israeli journalist who lived in Gaza and reported for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. We heard Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and for the first time we began to understand the true nature of the “Separation Wall”, known among Palestinians as the “Annexation Wall”. We learned all we could on the issue (much of it written by Jewish Israelis) and helped form Mid-Islanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, and more recently in the United Network for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. We participated in a Pilgrimage of Solidarity, visiting Israelis and Palestinians who work together for a just and peaceful future. They inspire us to work with them.
Jim has always avoided the limelight (strange for someone who went into politics). It was only his strong engagement with this issue that led him to agree to sail. He is on the Estelle to bring attention to the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza.
He is there out of a commitment to human rights and social justice. He hopes to bring awareness to Canadians about what is being done to the Palestinians in the name of Israeli security.
He is there in the hope that his actions may bring Canadian MPs from all parties, but especially the NDP and particularly the younger generation of NDP MPs who were elected with the hope for change, to break the walls of silence and speak out.
If there was room for another Canadian I would be there with Jim. There is no other place I would rather be now. May he come home safe.
About the poster
Member since December 1969