Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 20

It is not every day a boat gets an official escort into port but the Free Gaza and the SS liberty were given the VIP treatment by the Cypriot Coast Guard during the early hours of this morning as we headed towards Larnaca.
By 8.30am we pulled into the commercial port and there we were finally re-united with the rest of the Free Gaza Movement activists.
But the moment for me was tinged with sadness as I gazed around looking for Hedy Epstein, the Jewish, Octogenarian Holocaust survivor who is one of the main personalities in our team.
The bad news is that Hedy fainted yesterday in the searing heat of Nicosia and was taken to hospital. The good news is that she signed herself out and is taking things easy for the moment.
I am still hopeful she will join us on board our mission to smash the siege of Gaza, but she apparently has left that decision to the rest of us ... that, in itself, is a true act of selflessness and solidarity: qualities which I have evidenced several times since joining the FGM group.
So keep your fingers crossed - I hope Hedy still joins us, but I understand there could be a few more surprise guests coming on board which will make it impossible for the Israeli authorities to deploy their usual style of jack-boot management should they wish to stop us.
I know my column is read closely everyday by assistants to politicians in the Knesset to try and gauge the mood of those on board our two boats.
Well, for their benefit, I can tell you we are determined more than ever to smash the medieval siege of Gaza which is denying basic humanitarian aid, food and medicines to the Palestinians in what can only be described as collective punishment.
This is our mood despite the personal threats to our safety, that of our families, friends and supporters. I can't go into too many specifics but the dirty tricks that have been deployed to subvert and undermine this mission have been numerous and without result.
Why is the Zionist State so determined to stop a group of peace activists sailing into Gaza? It is a burning question and one which the Zionist State does not want to answer.
You see they do not want Press TV cameras, or anyone else's media organisations going in to the world's largest open air prison to reveal the true horrors being endured by the Palestinians.
Israel is overseeing the slow genocide of a people who have never wronged the Jewish people but are being made to pay for the sins of Europeans who did.
If we can get our boats through the Israeli blockade safely to show our support to the Gazans, then everyone's a winner.
The latest tactic being used is that we peace activists are at risk of being shot at by Palestinian terrorists if we enter Gaza so, for our own safety, we can not go.
Look! if we are prepared to face down the Israeli gun boats then we are prepared for anything. We are all sensible, responsible adults who are prepared to do whatever it takes to get to Gaza.
I would have more to fear wondering into any one of the illegal Israeli settlements - we know from recent events, these settlements shield violent and dangerous thugs.
Should, however, the Zionist State use force against a peaceful mission it will reveal its true, ugly nature to the watching world - and believe me the world will be watching through live streaming on board.
I've no doubt we will be talking tactics tonight, but in the meantime we are so happy to be finally united as one group.
Paul Larudee, one of the leaders of the FGM, said: "We've been waiting a long time to unify our group, which has been split between Cyprus and Crete. We are excited to combine both groups who have worked so hard on this project and are so enthusiastic about setting out for Gaza.
"On the way in today, we had the Cypriot authorities escorting us. Now, it's time for the world to escort us to Gaza."
After a thorough inspection of both boats, the port authority let the 20 passengers from Cyprus on board to make final preparations, including a memorial service for the more than 5000 Palestinians who have lost their lives since September 2000 as well as the 34 sailors aboard the USS Liberty who were assassinated by Israel in 1967.
They, like the Palestinians, will not be forgotten. That service should be on Thursday, August 21 just before the boats begin their final journey to Gaza.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone in the region with a boat joined our flotilla of peace and descended into Gazan waters?
Just imagine, if the Israeli Navy does get stroppy which boat will they try and stop?
Please allow me to remind you of Pastor Martin Neimoller's poem, it is so relevant to what is happening in Gaza today:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists ,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Please, remain silent no longer. Shout out your support to the Free Gaza Movement, shout out your support for the Palestinians and help us in any way you can ... trust me we will hear you and be encouraged.

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