Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Day 11

Apologies to all, I was just too depressed to relay my latest news about the Free Gaza Campaign ... our seaborne mission to smash the Israeli siege has been delayed yet again, by bad weather.

Ken O'Keefe, one of the several captains to skipper the SS liberty and SS Free Gaza, reckons that conditions in the Mediterranean would prove too risky to set sail from Crete for Cyprus until later in the week.

"Safety comes first," he said in his coffee smooth, American accent.

The irony was not lost on several of us who fully expect to be facing down Israeli gunships very soon.

I was absolutely crestfallen and being told to swab the decks, clean the heads (toilets) and empty the rubbish bags did nothing to lift my spirits this morning.

After carrying out my chores along with everyone else, I decided to have a word with Captain Ken and he turned out to be just as amazing as many of the passengers.

He is a striking man with an amazing array of politically inspired tattoos. He also insists he is an Irishman with a passport from the Emerald Isle to prove it.

However, I can reveal he was actually born a US citizen and periodically burns his American passport to symbolically disown his country of origin.

The good captain describes himself as a citizen of the world and has no time for such a war-mongering, imperialistic entity as the United States, hence the change of nationality - lucky man has an Irish granny.

The funny thing is it seems the US does not want to let go of a potential tax payer and so his passport is renewed as a reminder of his fiscal obligations. Uncle Sam refuses to let him go.
We talked in the old harbor of Chania, Crete yesterday about the tactics he may have to employ when we sail into the waters off Gaza.

I will not go in to detail, but suffice to say he is as committed to this project as everyone else on board, and it seems putting his life on the line for humanity is nothing new.

Ken was one of nearly 100 human shields who went to Baghdad before 'Shock and Awe' was unleashed during the illegal invasion of Iraq, and although he was deported just before the war started, he was prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice.

"I don't want to die, but there comes a time when you have to take responsibility as a citizen of the world. I am not a violent man but I can not stand by and watch the sufferings of others and do nothing," he told me.

And, of course, like all of us out here in Crete and Cyprus, he does not want to die. In fact, Captain Ken has a great deal to live for - his Palestinian wife is five months pregnant.

Well I might have blisters on my hands, housemaid's knee and bleach stains on my clothes, but talking to the captain of our ship yesterday really cheered me up.

That and the news hundreds of people turned out to a press conference in Gaza earlier this week to discuss the arrival of the Free Gaza boats which will, Insh'allah, smash the Israeli blockade to break into the world's largest open air prison.

We are not going to let high winds get us down too much - so please keep the faith and see you all soon in Gaza.

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