The U.S.-backed blockade of the Gaza Strip is “collective punishment” – a war crime under international law, as established in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It must end. That is why I will shortly be setting sail in the Freedom Flotilla II — Stay Human.
We will be departing on our trip very soon. I will be in New York for a press conference with other passengers on Monday morning, and flying to Athens in the afternoon.
Last Day to Send Letters to Gaza!
If you have not done so already please write a letter to the people of Gaza for carriage on The Audacity of Hope. This is our only cargo on the boat. Writing a letter is no simple thing – it requires time and thought – which is why we often don’t do it. Please take 20 minutes and compose your own. They must be received today (Friday) – therefore they will have to be emailed. Send them to [email protected]. If you prefer to handwrite them, or include illustrations, scan it as an attachment to your email. And when you send your letter, please let me know! I’d like to tally how many people have participated. There is a very real chance that we will not reach Gaza. However, if nothing else gets through, the letters will!
If you have any doubts, Tarak Kauff explains briefly why the letter writing campaign is such an important part of our mission and includes his letter as an example. For background on the campaign and ideas for your letter, visit UstoGaza. They will eventually be collated into an exhibit and perhaps also a book. Exhibition of Letters to Gaza Being Prepared.
“We have sent copies of some of the Letters to Gaza via email to the Qattan Centre for the Children in Gaza City. They are using those to prepare a display that will be put together once they have the letters being brought on The Audacity of Hope.”
One idea for your letter is to tell the people of Gaza what you are doing to challenge U.S. complicity. One such letter was recently posted on Facebook:
Dear Friends in Gaza,
I follow with great sadness the news of Israel’s continuing siege of the Gaza community. I visited Gaza twice between 1988-1992, and saw what a beautiful land it could be IF you were allowed the freedom to make it so. Freedom to fish, tend your citrus groves, build up your economy, rebuild the damaged homes and infrastructure.
I participate in a small Friday afternoon vigil on a busy street. We have several signs, including END THE SIEGE OF GAZA and HONK FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE – this is mine; the honks are heartening.
I greatly admire your resilience and steadfastness. Know that you are remembered in my prayers.
As another example, here is my letter:
To the people of Gaza,
As a taxpaying U.S. citizen, I have been deeply troubled by the role my government plays in oppressing the people of Gaza for many years. In that time I have been vexed by how best to oppose the policies of Washington. How to make an impact? Strange to say of what people call a ‘democracy,’ but it is a challenging thing to change government behavior – even when most people are on our side.
Many in my country feel totally powerless towards such things. Not to mention isolated and surrounded by the mundane pressures of a consumerist society that effectively discourages substantive political involvement of any kind. I am, therefore, grateful to be able to participate in the Freedom Flotilla 2 as a passenger on The Audacity of Hope.
I mention these things by way of attempting to explain how it is that the U.S. has gone on enabling Israeli crimes year after year. It is not that the American people agree with what is being done to Gaza – though the corporate press does what it can to shape opinions, and not without effect – but rather, it is that our society strongly discourages manifestations of solidarity between peoples. People do not know, or if they know, they feel powerless.
However, it is not hopeless. In recent years, slowly but surely, I have seen Palestine solidarity movements in the U.S. grow stronger and inspire ever more people. When I first became active in organizing awareness-raising events at my university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp had just occurred. We formed a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. In the years since, greater coordination and hopes for change have snowballed with groups like U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation and Jewish Voice for Peace. And the Arab Spring has given us all a new sense of possibility.
I speak for many of my fellow Americans when I write: we do not consent to what the U.S. government is doing to the Palestinian people. Our hearts are with you!
Video statements from individual passengers on why they are participating are being posted daily, here. Keep checking back for more, including one from me, in the coming days.
It is quite likely that there will be periods of time when I am unable to communicate. The boat is equipped with satellite communications; however, the Israelis have in the past used electronic jamming equipment. It is also more probable than not that our ship will be boarded, and that we will be detained in an Israeli port. Organizers will be working with land teams in New York, Athens, Israel, and Gaza. They will have the most up-to-the-minute information on what is happening to us. The above links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the U.S. Boat to Gaza are thus the best resource. You do not need to have accounts with these sites to follow the updates at the links.
I will post my own updates as I am able at Scramble for Africa.