Song for the Mavi Marmara

In ’48 they were driven out at the point of a machine gun
Families fled in fear to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon
They fled around the globe, firmly held in terror’s grip
And about a million refugees ended up in the Gaza Strip
In 1967 the IDF moved in
And the refugees in Gaza became refugees again
Settlers took their farmland, soldiers took the ports
And the people were surrounded by military forts

In 2007 they cut it off completely
No access to the borders, no access to the sea
The world began to see this unavoidable stamp
The most crowded place on Earth was now a concentration camp
Israeli jet fighters bombed Gaza from the air
And they kept out the supplies needed to rebuild and repair
They kept out the convoys of humanitarian aid
Anemic children going hungry, crushed and burned in bombing raids

From around the world good people tried
To get across the border to the other side
Almost all of them were turned away
Deported back to Turkey, Jordan, France, the USA
They were barred from ever coming back
Adam and Huwaida decided on a different tack
They loaded up a boat and managed to get through
That’s when activists in Istanbul decided what they had to do

Armed with food and wheelchairs
And prosthetic limbs for victims of the bombing raids to wear
They packed cement by the ton
They had a few kitchen knives but not a single gun
They were determined to reach the bay
To break the siege of Gaza and not be turned away
As they left Turkish waters everybody wished them well
As for what would happen, only the Apartheid state could tell

All aboard the Mavi Marmara
Sailing toward Goliath’s kingdom armed with nothing but a stone
All aboard the Mavi Marmara
Tell the children of Jerusalem you are not alone

Seven hundred people on board this Turkish ferry
They were sixty miles from the shore out in the open sea
In international waters with no plans for turning back
That’s when Netanyahu told his soldiers to attack
They came down from helicopters, fired guns from Zodiacs
They shot some people in their heads and shot others in their backs
The captain raised a white flag high into the air
The soldiers kept on shooting beneath the floodlight’s glare

The soldiers kept on shooting, it was a free fire zone
So many dead and wounded, just how many isn’t known
So many dead and wounded, blood flowing on the floor
The soldiers kept on shooting sixty miles from the shore
Medics tried to treat the wounded, all they could do was watch them bleed
The soldiers wouldn’t let them get the urgent help they need
Masked troopers held their hostages, the Navy towed the ship
Just for trying to sail to the Gaza Strip

Chorus

They took every laptop, every camera and cell phone
This is what Goliath does to those who dare to throw a stone
The ghost of the Exodus is shouting at the sky
But Netanyahu isn’t listening, he’s just watching people die
For days nobody knew just what happened on that boat
Because everyone was held in jail and dead men do not float
All the world will remember what happened on that night
And to end the siege of Gaza more will go and join the fight

Chorus

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Sheet music:
Song for the Mavi Marmara

“Song for the Mavi Marmara” appeared originally on the Soundclick album, then on Ten New Songs (2010), Troubadour:  People’s History in Song (CD, 2010), Big Red Sessions (CD, 2011), and Falasteen, Habibti (CD, 2014).

Like many people, I followed events with this flotilla more than with other ones, given the special stakes involved with this one — a Muslim-majority country (Turkey) was the originating place for by far the biggest of the ships involved, the Mavi Marmara.  As with other flotillas, I had personal friends on board several vessels.  As it happened, the Israeli response to this larger-scale challenge to its deadly embargo on Gaza was proportionately deadly.

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