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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

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freedom flotilla

Yonatan Shapira, Former Israeli Air Force Pilot, Describes Why He Joined Gaza Aid Flotilla

[youtube http://youtu.be/P26y8SZnQQE?]
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Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 getting ready to sail

June 22nd, 2011 

Here’s a video of two of the activists aboard, courtesy of Democracy Now!

[youtube http://youtu.be/dbZ_OX_bM9A?]

The Only Democracy? will bring you posts from Gabe Schivone, a Jewish Voice for Peace member aboard the “Audacity of Hope.” Here he is being interviewed by the Arizona Republic about his globe-spanning border activism.

Mahalia Jackson-I’m on my way

French Boat for Gaza

Ken O’Keefe on the Mavi Marmara

Former US marine & former US citizen Ken O’Keefe speaks here about being on board the MV Mavi Marmara when it was attacked and boarded by Israeli commandos in international waters on 31st May 2010.
The ship was one of a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid from 37 countries to the people of Gaza, who have suffered more than three years of privation under the internationally condemned Israeli blockade.
During the attack 9 people were killed by the Israelis, two of whom were shot as they lay injured, a UN report found.

Belgium to Gaza

Benefit for the Belgium to Gaza project

 

 

Mavi Marmara Witness

Chicago Activists Rally to send a U.S. Boat to Gaza and Oppose FBI Raids

Activists Refuse to be        Intimidated

CHICAGO, October 30,    2010

In the aftermath of FBI raids in Chicago and elsewhere directed at peace activists in Chicago and elsewhere around the U.S., activists will gather in Chicago on Wednesday, October 6 at Grace United Methodist Church (3325 W. Wrightwood) to raise funds to send a U.S. Boat to Gaza as part of the next Gaza Freedom Flotilla (www.ustogaza.org/).

Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla earlier this year has increased international scrutiny of Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza. Activists internationally are working to send another flotilla to break the blockade and highlight Israel’s violations of international law before the end of 2010.

One of the speakers will be Colonel Ann Wright. Colonel Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. She was a passenger on the Challenger 1, which, with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked in international waters while trying to break the blockade and take humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Due to the recent FBI raids targeting peace and solidarity activists across the U.S., a member of the legal defense team for Chicago activists will also address the audience.

Perhaps one of the more dramatic points in the program will take place when Kevin Clark, Midwest coordinator for the Free Gaza Movement, issues a challenge to those attending the event regarding responding to intimidation from the FBI and other governmental agencies.

While the program will start at 7:00 PM with musical entertainment, the news media should plan being present no later than 7:45 PM.


Activists aboard Gaza-bound ship ‘Irene’ counter IDF version that the vessel was taken over in a peaceful manner.

By Yanir Yagna

Israel Defense Forces soldiers used excessive force while taking over a Gaza-bound aid ship organized by Jewish and Israeli activists, the boat’s passengers said Tuesday, countering the military’s official version claiming that the takeover had been uneventful.
Irene Gaza boat – AP – Sept. 26, 2010

A boat with 9 Jewish activists aboard sets sail from Famagusta harbor in the Turkish-occupied north of ethnically divided Cyprus in a bid to breach Israel’s blockade of Gaza, Sept. 26, 2010
Photo by: AP

Earlier Tuesday the IDF reported that Israeli naval commandos peacefully boarded the Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, saying “IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht ‘Irene’, and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers.”

However, testimonies by passengers who were released from police questioning later in the day seemed to counter the IDF’s claims, with Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira saying that there were “no words to describe what we went through during the takeover.”

Shapira said the activists, who he said displayed no violence, were met with extreme IDF brutality, adding that the soldiers “just jumped us, and hit us. I was hit with a taser gun.”

“Some of the soldiers treated us atrociously,” Shapira said, adding that he felt there was a “huge gap between what the IDF spokesman is saying happened and what really happened.”

The former IAF pilot said he and his fellow activists were “proud of the mission,” saying it was organized “for the sake of a statement – that the siege on Gaza is a crime, that it’s immoral, un-Jewish, and we have a moral obligation to speak out. Anyone who stays silent as this crime is being committed is an accessory to a crime.”

Eli Usharov, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 affirmed Shapira’s version of the events, telling Haaretz that the takeover was executed with unnecessary brutality.

“They used a taser gun against Yonatan. He screamed and was dragged to the military boat,” Usharov said, adding that both Yonatan and his brother Itamar were handcuffed.

The Channel 10 reporter also said that the activists managed to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with the troops once they were all placed on board the military vessel, and that “overall the atmosphere was good.”

Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the mission, expressed his disbelief that “Israeli soldiers would treat nine Jews this way. They just hit people.”

“I as a Holocaust survivor cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences,” Moscowitz said, adding that “it’s just immoral.”

“What happened to me in the Holocaust wakes me up every night and I hope we don’t do the same thing to our neighbors,” Moscowitz said, adding that he was comparing “what I went through during the Holocaust to what the besieged Palestinian children are going through.”

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