A year after the tragedy aboard the Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza is getting ready to set sail. This time around it will include a US-flagged boat, “The Audacity of Hope,” that will carry dozens of American activists. Click above to watch an interview with two such Americans: attorney Richard Levy and my friend Kathy Kelly, from Voices for Creative Nonviolence.
It isn’t just a matter of humanitarian cargo being brought into Gaza. It’s a matter of people having been subjected to a state of siege, isolated, 45 percent unemployment, inability to reconstruct after the terrible assaults in Operation Cast Lead, people being trapped, young people not being able to get out to avail themselves of education. There are so many reasons why this siege is wrongful. And so, I think it’s misleading to think that we’re people that are trying to be charitable. We’re people who are trying to say that it’s wrong to impose collective punishment on a civilian population because you want to affect their governance.
(Click here for a full transcript of the interview.)
Joseph Dana will be aboard “The Audacity of Hope” and will report on his experiences for The Nation, blog on +972, and, as usual, send out his ubiquitous tweets via @ibnezra. Medea Benjamin will also be on the boat and will be posting reports on the Code Pink Blog. Other American passengers include Gabriel Schivone, a young Jewish Voice for Peace member, and novelist Alice Walker. (Click here for her essay, “Why I’m Sailing to Gaza.”)
Readers of my blog know how I feel about Israel’s immoral, illegal blockade of Gaza. I also remain firm in my agreement with the UN Human Rights Council report findings that the Israeli military attack on Mavi Marmara passengers amounted to “extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution.” (Among those killed was an American, Furkan Dogan, who was shot while videotaping the attack. The US has thus far refused to hold Israel accountable for killing an American citizen in international waters.)
The IDF is already holding military exercises in anticipation of Flotilla II. We can only hope and pray for a peaceful conclusion to this peaceful act of civil disobedience.
For their part, the American passengers of “The Audacity of Hope” have sent the following letter to President Obama:
As U.S. citizens we expect our country and its leaders to help ensure the Flotilla’s safe passage to Gaza – as our country should support our humanitarian demand that the Gaza blockade be lifted. This should begin by notifying the Israeli government in clear and certain terms that it may not physically interfere with the upcoming Flotilla of which the U.S. boat—The Audacity of Hope — is part. We—authors, builders, firefighters, lawyers, social workers, retirees, Holocaust survivors, former government employees and more—expect no less from our President and your administration.
Our boat will sail from the eastern Mediterranean in the last week of June. We shall be grateful to you for acting promptly and decisively to uphold the rights of civilians to safe passage on the seas.