Here are a few articles on Gaza and the Flotilla. One thing that was interesting was how many women were going and why. Kind of a lame "hook," I suppose, but things that need to be said since a penis has been too much in the news and not enough about peace:
Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to GazaJune 25, 2011
By Alice Walker
Source: The Guardian
Alice Walker's ZSpace Page
Why I'm joining the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza
The GuardianWhy am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: what else would I do? I am in my 67th year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content. It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one's understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise?
Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done?There is a scene in the movie Gandhi that is very moving to me: it is when the unarmed Indian protesters line up to confront the armed forces of the British Empire. The soldiers beat them unmercifully, but the Indians, their broken and dead lifted tenderly out of the fray, keep coming.Alongside this image of brave followers of Gandhi there is, for me, an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the American south in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help – our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protesters – and came to stand with us.They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few "good ol' boys'" of Neshoba County, Mississippi and were beaten and shot to death along with James Chaney, a young black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our president's latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorised, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the US Congress to the prime minister of Israel?I see children, all children, as humanity's most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.As adults, we must affirm, constantly, that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the Christian child, the American child, the Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc, is equal to all others on the planet. We must do everything in our power to cease the behaviour that makes children everywhere feel afraid.I once asked my best friend and husband during the era of segregation, who was as staunch a defender of black people's human rights as anyone I'd ever met: how did you find your way to us, to black people, who so needed you? What force shaped your response to the great injustice facing people of colour of that time?I thought he might say it was the speeches, the marches, the example of Martin Luther King Jr, or of others in the movement who exhibited impactful courage and grace. But no. Thinking back, he recounted an episode from his childhood that had led him, inevitably, to our struggle.He was a little boy on his way home from yeshiva, the Jewish school he attended after regular school let out. His mother, a bookkeeper, was still at work; he was alone. He was frequently harassed by older boys from regular school, and one day two of these boys snatched his yarmulke (skull cap), and, taunting him, ran off with it, eventually throwing it over a fence.Two black boys appeared, saw his tears, assessed the situation, and took off after the boys who had taken his yarmulke. Chasing the boys down and catching them, they made them climb the fence, retrieve and dust off the yarmulke, and place it respectfully back on his head.It is justice and respect that I want the world to dust off and put – without delay, and with tenderness – back on the head of the Palestinian child. It will be imperfect justice and respect because the injustice and disrespect have been so severe. But I believe we are right to try.That is why I sail.
From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives URL: http://www.zcommunications.org/why-im-joining-the-freedom-flotilla-to-gaza-by-alice-walker
Preparing to Sail for GazaSocial activist Stephan Corriveau warned all of us due to set sail on the Canadian ship dubbed the Tahrir - one of the boats participating in the upcoming Gaza flotilla - that we would have no opportunity to bathe during the three-day journey to Gaza but would have drinking water. There was no point in bringing a change of clothes, the Montreal-based Corriveau noted, because there would be nowhere to change, encouraging us to take as little as possible. In the best case scenario, we will make it to Gaza and can buy some clothing there, he said.There are about 50 of us, men and women, due to sail on the Tahrir, whose name is a reference to the Cairo square where protests earlier this year led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Several hundred other activists, from about 20 countries, and several dozen journalists are currently preparing to set sail for Gaza.At several Mediterranean ports, ships await their participants for the upcoming flotilla. The vessels were acquired in a transatlantic fund-raising effort which began about a year ago, immediately after the Israeli Navy killed nine partcipants aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, last May. The new flotilla has been organized by a coalition of organizations, all of which refuse to accept the Israeli argument that the Gaza Strip is no longer besieged and that if there is a siege, it is only because of the arms Hamas has been smuggling into the territory. The activists' participation is designed to apply popular pressure on their own governments to stop cooperating with the Israeli policy.Canadian activists raised about $350,000 over the past year for the operation, setting up an account in the name of a group called Turtle Island Humanitarian Aid. The Canadian government has announced it does not support the flotilla, viewing it as a provocation against Israel. Other governments have had a similar reaction to the effort in response to the participation of their nationals. Only the Irish government has called on Israel to refrain from violence in response to the flotilla.Last Thursday, the Greek port authority announced it had received a claim contending that the the Amercian boat, whose delegates are mostly from the U.S. but some are Israelis, was not seaworthy and the ship's departure would be delayed until the claim was investigated. Flotilla organizers say they believe the claim to be politically motivated. Their lawyer is currently negotiating with authorities over the issue but the plan is to set sail with the rest of the flotilla.Although the Tahrir has been generally referred to as Canadian, it was purchased for about $500,000 with contributions that also came from Australia, Denmark and Belgium; nationals of all of these countries will be on board when it joins the flotilla. The donations came primarily from individuals and non-governmental organizations, said David Heap, a Canadian professor of linguistics and French who has a history of activism against apartheid in South Africa and on behalf of native peoples in North America.Heap said he was not surprised by the Canadian government's opposition to the flotilla, and claimed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been a founder of a think tank that supported South Africa during the apartheid regime and that opposed sanctions against the regime and the release of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.In advance of the departure of our ship, we - the particpants - sat in a Greek hotel, getting to know one another and rehearsing the prospect that the Israeli Navy would take control of the ships in the flotilla. In simulation drills over several hours, about 50 civilians - ranging in age from 20 to 69 - attempted to imagine themselves facing Israeli warships and M16 rifles with fighter helicopters hovering overhead, along with water cannon, tear gas and Taser stun guns. The participants also imagined verbal abuse along with physical blows, dogs, and masked commandos.The activists concluded from the exercise that they should acknowledge their fears and learn as a group of people, mutually responsible for one anther, how to confront their fears.
From: Z Net - The Spirit Of Resistance Lives URL: http://www.zcommunications.org/preparing-to-sail-for-gaza-by-amira-hass
Crossposted from Ha’aretz
You might wonder what would motivate a Jewish American college student to participate in what may be the most celebrated – and controversial – sea voyage of the 21st century, one that aims to nonviolently challenge U.S.-supported Israeli military power in the occupied territories. I simply cannot sit idle while my country aids and abets Israel’s siege, occupation and repression of the Palestinians. I would rather use my personal influence and power, in concert with other members of American civil society, to actively and nonviolently resist policies that I consider abominable. So, next week, I and more than 30 other American civilians will be sailing on the U.S. ship the Audacity of Hope, to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
A moment before boarding the next flotilla
I’d rather use my influence and power, in concert with other members of American civil society, to actively and nonviolently resist policies I consider abominable.
By Gabriel Matthew Schivone
I am one of a growing number of young American Jews who are determined to shake off an assumed – and largely imposed – association with Israel. Prominent advocacy organizations, such as the American Jewish Committee, which proudly proclaim their unconditional support of Israel, for several years have been declaring their “serious concern” over the increasing “distancing” of young American Jews from the state.
But what Israel apologists like the AJC view as a crisis, I see as a positive development for American Jews, who, like other parts of U.S. society, are shifting from blind support for Israel to a more critical position that reflects opposition to our country’s backing for Israel’s policies.
If Israel’s apologists in the U.S. are alarmed by a falling off in unconditional support for Israel, they should be even more concerned that such a diverse range of youth – especially young Jews – are joining up with constituencies that actively organize against America’s role in the occupation. Today, the so-called crisis has expanded from the coasts to such places as Arizona. It probably was just a matter of time before a Jewish anti-occupation group emerged in my home state, given that a fairly substantial portion of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on the University of Arizona campus (in Tucson ) were Jewish. For our part, we Jews launched an initial chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace at the UA campus in spring 2010 – one of nearly 30 JVP chapters throughout the country, which has a mailing list of 100,000 – and thereafter branches in the general Tucson and Northern Arizona communities, and at Arizona State University, in Phoenix.
Through JVP, I discovered there were a great many others like me, who were experiencing profound internal conflicts regarding Israel. They included people who had been intimidated from expressing public criticism of Israel, and others who were afraid to speak out in defense of Palestinian rights for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
It was clear that a campus JVP opened up a powerful, organic outlet through which Jewish students could safely exchange and process – without fear, intimidation or a need for self-censorship – their critiques, concerns, ideas, knowledge, questions, discoveries and plans to promote achievement of a genuinely mutual peace in Palestine/Israel. Before JVP came along, it wasn’t possible to have an open discussion, or feel that we as Jews had an alternative to either unquestioning support of Israel (the status quo ) or staying silent and thus supporting it by default. I myself was silent and timid for much too long.
We are committed to acting out of Jewish ethical traditions, while holding Israel to the same standard as any other state in the international system – no more, no less. Before JVP, there was nothing on my campus that was critical of Israel from an American Jewish perspective. Zero. The group’s success demonstrated that young Jews – moved by their cultural or religious values, which include a belief in universal human rights – have been on campus all the while, ready and willing to join a human rights-based cause for justice in Palestine/Israel. All it took to gain support on campus and elsewhere in the state was a potent sprinkling of opportunity, initiative and political will.
In Athens, as I write, waiting to board the Audacity of Hope, I am wearing a Star of David amulet around my neck, which was given to me the night before I left Arizona by a dear friend and fellow JVP organizer. She got it from a silversmith in Haifa while on a “Birthright” trip as an adolescent. For her, it had always been the reminder of the crude brainwashing she felt she had encountered on that trip. But when she came across the star recently, she decided it might be put to good use if I were to wear it on my journey. And so that’s what I’m doing.
I wear it as a symbol of the basic values of Judaism that I feel are not emphasized sufficiently today: the imperative to welcome the stranger as you would want to be welcomed; and of helping to free the slave from a bondage that you would not wish to suffer.
As a consequence of various nonviolent actions undertaken all over the world, led crucially by Palestinians on the ground, the Israeli occupation will one day end. Those of us who face up to the unavoidable choice of either tolerating or resisting these crimes will determine how long the death and suffering of mainly Palestinian noncombatants continues, and how long a lasting peace in Palestine/Israel remains out of reach.