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The 'Audacity of Hope' boat to Gaza

by shergald Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 10:59:59 AM EST

The next US boat to break the siege of Gaza is named, appropriately, the 'Audacity of Hope.' after Obama's book. Its purpose, obviously, is to remind us of Obama's backtracking on the cause of the Palestinian people for freedom and self-determination, and ending the brutal siege of Gaza. But it also reminds us of US government complicity in the continuation of Israel's occupation, colonization of Palestinian lands, and the siege, as well as Obama's total capitulation to the will of Israel's fight wing PM, Netanyahu and his Likud agenda. Who is not embarrassed by seeing our nation taken over by a foreign government and its agents in the US.

The Press Conference shown above (video) at the start of the U.S. Boat to Gaza fund raising evening on New York City's Harbor and rivers on August 5th, 2010 fills in the blanks as well.

Chris Hedges talked at the New York City fundraiser, which was covered in an Alternet article entitled, It's Israeli Officials Who Are Terrorists, because 'those who send tanks and fighter jets to bomb the concrete hovels in Gaza with families crouching, helpless, inside -- they are the terrorists.' Hedges provided an interesting glossary for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is instructive:

Let me call things by their proper names. Let me cut through the jargon, the euphemisms we use to mask human suffering and war crimes. "Closures" mean heavily armed soldiers who ring Palestinian ghettos, deny those trapped inside food or basic amenities--including toys, razors, chocolate, fishing rods and musical instruments--and carry out a brutal policy of collective punishment, which is a crime under international law. "Disputed land" means land stolen from the Palestinians. "Clashes" mean, almost always, the killing or wounding of unarmed Palestinians, including children. "Jewish neighborhoods in the West Bank" mean fortress-like compounds that serve as military outposts in the campaign of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. "Targeted assassinations" mean extrajudicial murder. "Air strikes on militant bomb-making posts" mean the dropping of huge iron fragmentation bombs from fighter jets on densely crowded neighborhoods that always leaves scores of dead and wounded, whose only contact with a bomb was the one manufactured in the United States and given to the Israeli Air Force as part of our complicity in the occupation. "The peace process" means the cynical, one-way route to the crushing of the Palestinians as a people.

(Read the rest of Chris Hedges moving speech at the link.)

Phil Weiss (via Mondoweiss) earlier provided some background on the "Audacity of Hope" boat:

On Thursday (last) week, the group that is planning a US boat to Gaza (had) a sunset cruise in New York harbor to raise money. There is a lot of excitement about the boat.

A group of Americans opposed to Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is raising money online to pay for a ship from the United States to take part in a new protest flotilla scheduled to set sail for the Palestinian territory in September or October.

In an appeal for money posted on the Web site UStoGaza.org, the activists say they are "planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East."

The evolved Times ledeblog has covered it, and so the cruise is almost sold out, 400 passengers. Look at the list of people who are behind the US boat: Phyllis Bennis, Leslie Cagan, the Corries, Russell Banks, Anna Baltzer, Rashid Khalidi, Donna Nevel, Felice Gelman, Michael Ratner, Michael Smith, Judy Walker, Alice Walker, Noor Elashi, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Iara Lee. Good people.....There are rumors that Iker Casillas, the amazing Spanish goalie who reportedly expressed outrage over the siege even in the midst of the Spanish victory, and Rafael Nadal (currently No.1 ranked tennis player), will also be on that flotilla.

(Other links and information in the full article.)

How is life in Gaza for children? This video, Where-should-birds-fly??????, tells the story:

A young girl sits among the rubble of her family home. She talks of the many people she knows who have been killed. When asked if she lost many family members she says: "Not many. Just my mother, my father and my brother." Mona is 10 years old.

Omar stands before the rubble of the house he began building on the day his first son was born. Over the next twelve years he painstakingly added brick upon brick, wiring, plumbing, a new room, another floor. A fine house for his growing family, filled with precious mementos, well-kept furniture, wall hangings, children's toys, all the necessary silver and flatware for daily meals and special dinners. Twelve years to the day of his son's birth the bulldozers plowed into his home, destroying his family's shelter, possessions and security. As the camera attempts to record the effect of this devastation, to read his emotions, he raises his hands gently: "What are we supposed to do now?"

Here is a note from Laurie Arbeiter on the importance of the US boat to Gaza, and below that, an appeal from the organizers:

First I think that it is important to note that the name of the boat, THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, has captured the imagination of people all over the country because the phrase succeeds in expressing the political will and collective desire to challenge the U.S./Israeli alliance... In order to challenge such a stronghold on power held by governments that have this much military might it requires audacious nonviolent acts such as the freedom flotilla sailing to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.

It requires us to face the facts of the blockade head-on, placing ourselves in the presence of an illegal criminal regime, asking ourselves to have the courage to face a condition constantly being faced by the Palestinian people living under occupation and siege.

Gaza is an open-air prison, without a doubt, when you consider that the definition of a prison camp is a place where people and goods cannot go or come without the say so of the guards -- in this case Israel. One can argue whether the guards are nice guards or mean guards -- or the prisoners well treated or poorly treated. But there can be no argument that Gaza is a prison for 1.5 million people who are being collectively punished. The mission of the flotillas is to sail to the walls of the prison and demand that they be taken down.

Also the U.S. government has sent and continues to send boats to that region carrying aid, only it is military aid. This will be a U.S. boat carrying a U.S. delegation with the message that the U.S. government has treaty obligations to obey universal human rights and international law and therefore it must stop all military aid to Israel, a country whose government has abused power and committed war crimes.

And here is an excerpt of the appeal:

This is an important moment in history. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre and increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has mounted a huge public relations campaign spreading the lie that by letting a few more items into Gaza the blockade has been lifted. This is not the reality. Gaza is still under siege...

We are planning to launch a U.S. boat to Gaza, joining a flotilla of ships from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa and parts of the Middle East due to set sail in September/October of this year. In order to succeed in this essential but costly human rights project, we need significant financial support.

Citizens around the world have responded to the plight of the Palestinian people and are taking action to help break the blockade which is suffocating the lives of the people of Gaza and denying them their liberty. The U.S. government is complicit through established policies that uncritically support Israel in its brutal attack on the Palestinian people and on those who attempt to intervene on their behalf. We in the United States must continue to step up and do our part. We must join with others from across the world to support an end to the collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

We turn to you to help make the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope, a reality. We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month. These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat. In addition, the funds will subsidize some other costs of sending a U.S. delegation.

Impressed. Well, there goes another hundred, every dime worth it. Join the peace movement in any way you can.

Footnote for Obama: Al-Walaja villagers stop construction of the Wall while soldiers attack protesters, including children

This is everyday stuff we don't hear about in the US or Europe.

Do you know if The Audacity of Hope is a US-flagged vessel? The Mavi Marmara was re-registered in the Comoros, a flag of convenience country, and because of this Israeli forces were not, strictly speaking, attacking a Turkish ship.
by Gag Halfrunt on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:32:20 AM EST
Looks as if they haven't actually found a ship yet, so my question has no answer.
by Gag Halfrunt on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:35:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is some confusion on that point because as part of the appeak, there were trips around Manhattan island after the press conference. Deserves some looking into.

by shergald on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This morning Phil Weiss published this portion of Hedges' speech:

Hedges: `The arc of the moral universe is thundering down upon Israel'

Chris Hedges today posted his speech the other night on the Gaza boat fundraiser, at truthdig. Beautiful. Read it. Excerpt:

I would like to remind them [the Israeli government] that it is they who hide in darkness. It is we who stand in the light. It is they who deceive. It is we who openly proclaim our compassion and demand justice for those who suffer in Gaza. We are not afraid to name our names. We are not afraid to name our beliefs. And we know something you perhaps sense with a kind of dread. As Martin Luther King said, the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, and that arc is descending with a righteous fury that is thundering down upon the Israeli government.

You may have the bulldozers, planes and helicopters that smash houses to rubble, the commandos who descend from ropes on ships and kill unarmed civilians on the high seas as well as in Gaza, the vast power of the state behind you. We have only our hands and our hearts and our voices. But note this. Note this well. It is you who are afraid of us. We are not afraid of you. We will keep working and praying, keep protesting and denouncing, keep pushing up against your navy and your army, with nothing but our bodies, until we prove that the force of morality and justice is greater than hate and violence. And then, when there is freedom in Gaza, we will forgive ... you. We will ask you to break bread with us. We will bless your children even if you did not find it in your heart to bless the children of those you occupied. And maybe it is this forgiveness, maybe it is the final, insurmountable power of love, which unsettles you the most.


by shergald on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:32:43 AM EST
Who is Chris Hedges?


Chris Hedges is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than fifty countries, and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News, and The New York Times, where he was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years (1990-2005).

In 2002, Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism. He also received in 2002 the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently writes a column for Truthdig and is married to actress Eunice Wong. They have one son together and Hedges has two children from a previous marriage.

by shergald on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 11:40:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Latest from the Jerusalem Post: `The Audacity of Hope' to set sail

An initiative is under way to add an American ship to the effort to break the IDF blockade of Gaza. The vessel, to be named The Audacity of Hope after US President Barack Obama's best-selling book, is being organized by an American group called "US Boat to Gaza." It is expected to sail in the fall.

The links to Obama do not end there. Prof. Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, and a friend from Obama's time in Chicago, is among the supporters of an appeal launched by the group last week.

"We must raise at least $370,000 in the next month," a statement on US Boat to Gaza. "These funds will be used to purchase a boat large enough for 40-60 people, secure a crew, and cover the licensing and registering of the boat....together we will contribute to the great effort to end the blockade of Gaza and the illegal occupation of Palestine."

The Lebanese-Saudi Arabian- Palestinian-American Khalidi, an outspoken critic of Israel, garnered attention in 2008 when his friendship with Obama became a point of controversy during the US presidential campaign. Sen.

John McCain, Obama's opponent, portrayed Khalidi as a Hamas sympathizer.


That bastard McCain would have said anything to get elected. Now Palin, the dunce VP candidate he selected, is saying similar things.

by shergald on Tue Aug 10th, 2010 at 04:37:06 PM EST
U.S. Boat to Gaza Almost Halfway to Fundraising Goal
By Ellen Davidson
August 10, 2010

In only five weeks, organizers of a U.S. boat to Gaza have reached 40 percent of their ambitious $370,000 fundraising goal. The campaign got a major boost last Thursday, when more than 400 people crowded onto the Paddle Queen for a sunset cruise around Manhattan. The evening raised more than $50,000 toward the amount needed to buy, license, outfit and staff a boat that would attempt to break the illegal Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza. . . .


This is a great effort, both the name of the boat and the cause itself. Thanks for publicizing it.


by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Aug 11th, 2010 at 12:21:33 PM EST
Thanks for this update. Someone asked whether the boat was already purchased, and I guess that your post answered the question.

by shergald on Wed Aug 11th, 2010 at 01:03:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
bon voyage


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Aug 13th, 2010 at 08:19:51 PM EST
Your source leads to,

How Barack Obama learned to love Israel
Ali Abunimah
The Electronic Intifada
4 March 2007

by shergald on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 08:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]

That was secret, need-to-know information.

SHAME! Shame on you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Aug 14th, 2010 at 10:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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