Long time Marxist activist, New Zealand born, Australian based Vivienne Porszolt, has been detained in Israel.
This week, Vivienne Porzsolt, spokeswoman for the Australian arm of Jews Against the Occupation, and a former Australian Greens MP Sylvia Hale, were detained by Israeli authorities.
Jewish activist Porzsolt, a Kiwi who now lives in Sydney, and Hale flew to Tel Aviv to participate in the “Welcome to Palestine” scheme, but were detained after four hours and now face deportation.
They were among a group of protesters who tried to travel on a flotilla hoping to break the naval blockade in Gaza the week before.
However, when the Freedom Flotilla, which included New Zealand activist Harmeet Sooden, was turned back by the Greek coast guard, Porzsolt and Hale flew to Israel instead.
The two activists had appealed their expulsion and there had been a stay of deportation until the appeal was heard.
The two protesters reportedly planned to visit Palestinian/American activist Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh in Bethlehem, but were banned from making personal visits due to their political affiliations.
In a statement on the Welcome to Palestine website, the pair’s lawyer, Omer Shatz, says the court ruled that the Ministry of Interior (MOI) had overstepped its authority by preventing passage to Palestine.
“The MOI had no authority to deny internationals entry to Palestine and that internationals should not be forced to lie about their intention to travel to the West Bank,” he says.
Australians for Palestine, another “Palestinian advocacy group,” says Ms. Hale and Ms. Porzsolt were among 120 people detained at the airport.
They had both originally intended to travel to Palestine by sea on the Freedom Flotilla 2 (FF2), which was detained in Greece last week.
Michael Coleman, an Australian member of the FF2 detained in Greece last week, arrived back in Sydney on Wednesday.
“Sylvia and Vivienne’s detention for trying to visit Palestine by air, like my arrest in Greece for trying to sail to Gaza, shows that Palestine is an imprisoned nation that is at times denied even visitation rights from the outside world,” he said in a statement.
The daughter of Czech Jewish refugees from Nazi oppression, Viv Porszolt has a long history of Marxist activism in both New Zealand and Australia.
In the 1970s, Porszolt was associated with the Wellington based Maoist group, the Wellington Marxist-Leninist Organization, a militantly pro-Palestine, anti-Israel group. She was also close to WMLO’s 1980s successor organization the Workers Communist League and traveled to China with one of the many student delegations organized by that group.
By the early 1990s. Porzsolt had moved to Sydney, working as a senior public servant and associating with the WCL’s Australian ally, the Democratic Socialist Party.
As an anti-Israeli Jew, Viv Porszolt was a leader of the Sydney Jewish Left, and in 1997 traveled to Israel representing the Australian Campaign to Free Vanunu. She was involved in international demonstrations outside Ashkelon prison, where Israeli nuclear secrets leaker Modechai Vanunu was being held at the time.
In a recent interview Porszolt stated: “I cannot abide what Israel is doing in my name and in that of all Jews. As a Jew I feel a special obligation to oppose it in the traditions of Jewish ethics abandoned by Israel and its Zionist supporters.” “I am sailing on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza to help pose a real challenge to the cruel illegal imprisonment of the people of Gaza and to make it visible to the world. We hope to shame all those governments who are complicit with this injustice and lawlessness. Ordinary people must act when their governments won’t.”