Sitting in a cafe not far from her Darlinghurst home, Vivienne Porzsolt recounts the story of her detention by Israeli authorities.
As the spokesperson for Jews against Occupation and a Darlinghurst resident, Ms Porzsolt and her friend, former Greens MP Sylvia Hale, were part of an international crew who set out to visit Palestine on the Freedom Flotilla II.
Their aim was to highlight the blockade imposed by Israeli authorities.
“When nine people were killed in the flotilla [in 2010] and so many were injured and the Israelis behaved so brutally it sort of increased the determination of international supporters to try and break this blockade,” Ms Porzsolt said.
But their boat was stopped from leaving Greece by the Minister of the Interior.
“Fortunately we had a number of great marine skills on the boat and we made a decision to make a break for it,” Ms Porzsolt said
Two of the group held up the coast guard in kayaks and they almost reached open seas before being forced to turn back.
“It was very clear they [the coast guard] were with us in their hearts. Even the harbour mistress was with us. The Greek people were clearly with us and against what their government were doing,” Ms Porzsolt said.
Undeterred, Ms Porzsolt and Ms Hale flew to Tel Aviv to join the Welcome to Palestine campaign. They dubbed it the ‘flytilla.’
Most visitors to Palestine don’t state their intention to Israeli authorities. The campaign encouraged people to do this and over 100 protestors had been arrested, detained or deported from Israel so far, according to Ms Porzsolt.
“Sylvia and I marched up to the passport control and say ‘we want to go to Palestine’ and the woman’s jaw dropped,” Ms Porzsolt said.
They were detained for 36 hours, receiving advice and support from the Australian embassy.
“We found these two great young eager human rights lawyers who were very keen to use the law to push the breaches of human rights,” Ms Porzsolt said.
The deportation order was annulled on the condition they paid 2,500 shekels bail and applied to go to the West Bank within 24 hours.
Ms Porzsolt is unsure if their release means an international precedent has been set. But she believes they have drawn important attention to the issue.
“It sort of exposes a lot when all we said was we wanted to go to Palestine and we’re detained. I think that says an awful lot.”
By Victoria Craw