RAMALLAH, June 5 (JMCC) - A ship carrying 34 Americans, among them writer Alice Walker, will join the flotilla headed to Gaza later this month to break Israel's naval blockade on the coastal territory, reports the New York Times
The Americans have named their boat “The Audacity of Hope,” lifting the title of a book by President Obama to make a point, said Leslie Cagan, a political organizer who is the coordinator of the American boat.
“We’re sending a message to our own government that we think it could play a much more positive role in not only ending the siege of Gaza, but also ending the whole occupation” of Palestinian land, she said. “The phrase does capture what we believe, which is that it is possible to make change in a positive way, and that’s a very hopeful stance.”
The American passengers say they support the Palestinian people, not Hamas. They liken their strategy to that of the Freedom Riders, who 50 years ago rode buses to the American South to challenge segregation.
Gabriel Schivone, a student at the University of Arizona who is joining the flotilla, said, “It’s in the tradition of Dr. King’s direct-action principles, to create a situation so tension-packed that it forces the world to look and see what’s happening to the Palestinians.”
To explain why she was joining the flotilla, Hedy Epstein, the 86-year-old, said, “The American Jewish community and Israel both say that they speak for all Jews. They don’t speak for me. They don’t speak for the Jews in this country who are going to be on the U.S. boat, and the many others standing behind us.”
The American boat is owned by a Greek company and registered in Delaware, Ms. Cagan said. It will carry letters from Americans to Palestinians, not aid. About a quarter of the passengers are Jewish. Among the crew is a former captain in the Israeli Air Force who refused to fly missions in Gaza.
The flotilla comes nearly one year from a previous attempt
to break the sea blockade. Then Israeli commandos boarded the boats, leaving eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American dead.