Can unarmed seaborne civilians break the siege of Gaza?

In August, unarmed Palestinians, Israelis and internationals will sail directly to Gaza without going through Israeli territory or seeking permission from Israeli authorities. They include an 81-year-old Catholic nun, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor, Palestinians from Gaza, 17 nationalities, four major religions and the international press (including Tony Blair’s journalist sister-in-law, Lauren Booth).

On Monday, August 4, 2008, the Free Gaza Movement publicly introduces its international team that will take volunteers from Cyprus to Gaza in popular solidarity with Palestinian human rights. From that day, any attempt to damage the project will be considered an act of aggression against a nonviolent international human rights mission.

A press conference will be held tomorrow, Monday Aug 4 and you can watch live streaming video coverage of it and the voyage at

PS Sue says, my dad made me promise, never stand in front of a man with a loaded gun.


  1. The largest concentration camp in the world and the nation states of the world do nothing about it, when will the Israeli government be charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide? By comparison, Karadzic, now on trial at the Hague, is no more than a street corner thug.

  2. This promises to be interesting: with continuous live coverage, the Israelis can’t do anything overt without calling attention to its crimes– something it benefits from not doing. Their best approach may be to just ignore the whole thing and pretend it didn’t happen. No story, no publicity.

    This, incidentally. is an interesting tactic in peacework. It could do a great deal to bring world attention to the combatant parties– but only if it gets big press. On the other hand, it does little to address the underlying causes of the conflict. It would bring real change only in coordination with other efforts at other levels– especially the grassroots.

    (I myself am not familiar enough with that conflict to address the underlying causes, but I have a friend, an American Jew, who spent years on the West Bank working with Palestinian groups. That’s what we need more of. Though earlier this year, Israel kicked her out.)

  3. Most of the governments of the world are aware of the situation there and do nothing, most of the media know of the situation but give it very little cover. In this country (at least Glasgow) we have weekly stalls in the centre of town giving out leaflets and information and talking to who ever will listen, as well as other events to draw attention to the situation, and this has been going on for years but the media just wont pick up on it. It would seem that the powers that be are quite prepared to accept the situation no matter the suffering of the Palestinian people. The history of the situation is well documented, however it is only the tit-for-tat violence that gets reported. How do you shift the opinion and actions of most of the world’s governments and most of the world’s media? Though in saying that it is a fact that America bank rolls the Israeli state and therfore America has the most power to do something about this brutal destruction of the Palestinian people.

  4. John: Violence sells. Analysis doesn’t. The same is true in Sri Lanka, where few people (even in that country) really understand what the war is about.

    Solutions really can’t come from outside. The Norwegians brokered the 2002 CFA deal in Sri Lanka, but without massive grassroots organization and support, it wouldn’t have happened. Other nations can exert pressure. Outsiders can help analyze and strategize. But the organizational effort itself must come from within.

    And, as we also saw, without continuous grassroots pressure, the CFA deal fell apart. I often wonder what would have happened if, after the CFA was in place, the team members (myself included) had made different choices.

  5. What more can the Palestinian people do than they have done over the last 50 years? Without outside pressure the superior forces of the Israeli state can do as they wish and the Palestinians can throw stones and send in the suicide bombers and the rockets until the last Palestinian dies in the dust, then the land will be Israel. After all they claim the land was given to them by God, it’s those pesky Palestinians that are in the way. America is still the Israeli money machine and gives them carte blanche, as long as that continues the Palestinians are doomed. Only with outside pressure can Israel be reined in.

  6. The same was said about the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. Only I didn’t work with the Tamils, I worked with a group within the Sinhalese majority, which actually drives the war. I analyzed the conflict, helped a group of anti-war Sinahlese strategize their movement, and in the process played a small part in the CFA.

    If you feel so strongly, go to Israel and work with the anti-war Israelis. There are plenty of them, but they’re outgunned by a very well organized and well funded pro-war group (if Israel is like most countries in conflict, the war’s true believers are a small minority but with control of the press and therefore the national dialog).

    It takes more than press and international pressure to end a war– it takes internal constituency pressure, and it takes people like us willing to provide assistance to the true believers on the anti-war side. Only by giving THEM a voice can the conflict end.

    BTW, I highly recommend Sharif Abdullah’s “The Power of One.”

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