A boat organized by Jewish groups worldwide, and carrying aid for Gaza’s population, has set sail from Cyprus today at 1:32pm local time to run the siege of Gaza.
The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany, and Israel, as well as two British journalists.At a crisis point in peace talks, when Abbas is brutally suppressing dissent against a sham of a peace process and settlers continue to build with near-impunity whether the “moratorium” is lifted or not, Jews and Israelis are calling on Israel to lift the siege on Gaza and end the occupation rather than speak fatuously about endless interim steps while the occupation only intensifies.
The boat’s cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children’s toys, musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza’s fishermen, and prosthetic limbs for Gaza’s hospitals.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, directed by Gaza psychiatrist Dr. Eyad Sarraj, will be receiving the donations.The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest — and call for the illegal siege of Gaza to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.
The boat will fly multicolored peace flags carrying the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide.
Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.
“Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,” said Kuper. “We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.”
Regarding the threat of interception by the Israeli navy, Kuper said “This is a nonviolent action. We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.”
Passenger Reuven Moskovitz, 82, a Holocaust survivor, said that his life’s mission has been to turn foes into friends. “We are two peoples, but we have one future,” he said.
“It is a sacred duty for me, as a survivor, to protest against the persecution, the oppression and the imprisonment of so many people in Gaza, including more than 800,000 children.”
Activist Rami Elhanan, who is also on board, said: “We are banging our head on a very hard wall of hatred. Our hope is to make little cracks on that wall, so that in the end it will fall.
“Whatever happens, the worst thing has already happened to me, I am not afraid of what is coming next,” added Elhanan, who lost her daughter in a 1997 suicide bombing.
According passenger Lillian Rosengarten — a New Yorker who escaped Nazi Germany as a little girl:
“The small saılboat wıth engıne saıls under a British flag. Our captaın ıs Glyn Secker, Brıtısh human rıghts actıvıst. 3 crew ıncludıng wonderful Yonatan Shapira. Two other passengers are Israelı: Reuven Moskovıtz, 82 year old camp survıvor, and Ramı Elhanen (husband to to Nurit Peled-Elhanen), father of Smadar, who was killed by a suıcıde bomber in Jerusalem in 1997. Next ıs Edıth Lutz who ıs a German Jew and co-coordınator of the Jewısh boat, which is also being coordinated by the Brıtısh group Jews For Justıce For Palestıne. I left my computer ın London for securıty reasons. We hope and belıeve there ıs some possıbılıty that we can get to Gaza. We are nonvıolent but wıll practıce passıve resıstance, for we wıll not turn the boat around…
“It’s a remarkable, small catamaran. I and another woman, and seven men. Three crew. Yonatan Shapira is one of the crew with his brother Itamar. All the people are fantastic!”
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Read the AFP report here.
Satellite phone on board for contact to the passengers: 00 8821668610337
Media Contact in London for interviewing the Boat’s organizers: Yosh, 0044 7816 448307 firstname.lastname@example.org
JNews contact in Israel: Miri Weingarten 00972 549270796
Passengers and crew available for interview
Reuven Moskovitz, from Israel, is a founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace) and a holocaust survivor. Speaks German, Hebrew and English.
Rami Elhanan, from Israel, who lost his daughter Smadar to a suicide bombing in 1997 and is a founding member of the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians who lost their loved ones to the conflict. Speaks Hebrew and English.
Lilian Rosengarten, from the US, is a peace activist and psychotherapist. She was a refugee from Nazi Germany. Speaks English and German.
Yonatan Shapira, from Israel, is an ex-IDF pilot and now an activist for Combatants for Peace. Speaks Hebrew and English.
Carole Angier, from the UK, is the biographer of the renowned author, Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. Speaks English, French, Italian and German.
Glyn Secker, from the UK, is the boat’s captain and a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Speaks English.
Dr. Edith Lutz, from Germany, is a peace activist and a nurse. She was on the first boat to Gaza in 2008. Speaks German and English.
Alison Prager, from the UK, is a teacher and peace activist. She is media coordinator for the boat. Speaks English.
Itamar Shapira, from Israel, is Yonatan’s brother, and a member of the boat’s crew. Speaks Hebrew, Spanish and English.
Eli Osherov, Israeli reporter from Israel Channel 10 News.
Supporters: Jewish organizations and individuals from the UK, Holland, Germany, the US, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, Austria, Australia and Israel.
Organizers and sponsors: European Jews for a Just Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK), Juedische Stimme fuer einen gerechten Frieden in Nahost (Germany), American Jews for a Just Peace (USA), Jewish Voice for Peace (USA), and Jews Against the Occupation Sydney.
Visit www.jewishboattogaza.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter (links on site).