During this season, as many of us are making plans for the coming holidays, a time when we are grateful for family and friends and encouraged to think of others, we want to extend our deepest thanks to you for your generous participation in this campaign, U.S. TO GAZA. We briefly want to look back so that we may remember how, together, we began to organize to send a U.S. BOAT TO GAZA.
On May 27th of this year, only days before the fatal attack on Freedom Flotilla I by the Israeli military, Retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, a passenger on one of the boats, wrote in Common Dreams:
“Many of us would like to see our boat renamed
The Audacity of Hope as that is what we want to see from the Obama administration– courage to challenge the Israeli government on the siege of Gaza. It would be a really brave, bold move…
In less than 48 hours, the Israeli Navy will probably fire U.S. made ammunition and rockets in international waters over the bows of two U.S. flagged boats and one Greek boat with U.S. citizens aboard as well as citizens from 13 other countries and over the bows of the Turkish 600 passenger ship.”
In a few short days after that article was published, nine people were dead and many others severely wounded and harmed by the brutal attack in International waters by the Israeli military. Attacks like this were nothing new for Palestinians, who suffer this brutality every day under occupation, but it was a new level of brutality against internationals, exercised by the Israeli regime and met with complicit silence by the U.S. government.
This was a galvanizing moment. In our shock and outrage at this criminal attack, many shared the idea that the next time boats would sail, there had to be a U.S BOAT TO GAZA. Both the irony and the poignancy of Ann Wright’s suggestion, to call the boat
THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, helped us to organize, capturing the imagination of so many people throughout this country.In October, after three months of a successful effort to build a national network and to raise funds, we knew that we had a viable campaign and we were invited to join our international counterparts as members of the coalition forming to organize Freedom Flotilla II.
We sat at the table in Geneva with representatives from Free Gaza, Switzerland, Ireland, Greece, Turkey, Sweden, Italy, Holland, Norway, Malaysia and the European Union. The decision was made for the mission to be launched at the end of March 2011.
This will be a larger Freedom Flotilla, that will engage more people worldwide, both to send people by sea and to have people on land vigilant as the boats sail. We in the U.S. are preparing to take our place in this Flotilla and to realize our unique position, to hold the U.S. government accountable for its relationship to the Israeli government’s crimes of occupation.
We need to carry on with the logistics of this operation, both nationally and internationally, but more importantly, we need to feed the inspiration that has taken hold of our imagination as we prepare forTHE AUDACITY OF HOPE to sail. It is in this realm that we have the potential to capture more attention and the hearts and minds of others to this cause.
It is up to all of us and through our networks to create the U.S. BOAT TO GAZA, for what it could be, its worth to the Palestinian struggle, as well as the universal struggle for human rights and justice for all of us, as THE AUDACITY OF HOPE sails in our names.
This struggle is transformative, this struggle for Palestine and Palestinians throughout this world to be free of U.S. sanctioned Israeli-military occupation and apartheid policies and to have their human right to thrive, in peace, restored. We are no longer in the realm of our imagination; together we are joining to make this reality.
As this year comes to an end and we are all looking toward the future, with a renewed sense of purpose and conviction, we are asking that you continue supporting this campaign in every way you can. If you have not given a contribution yet, please consider doing so before 2010 comes to a close. If you have already sent in your donation, thank you again.
Please spread this appeal to others you know who care, or consider giving a gift in their name during this holiday season. We also encourage you to go to ustogaza.org and buy yourself a t-shirt and also give it to someone you love so the message of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE will be embodied by all of us as the boats sail to the shores of Gaza in March 2011.