American Jews for a Just Peace – Press Release – 16 June 2010
AJJP to Co-Sponsor Jewish Boat to Gaza
The movement to break the blockade of Gaza is “unstoppable and unsinkable” said Naomi Klein, member of the Advisory Board of the Free Gaza Movement, in a powerful statement at a demonstration in Toronto on May 31.
Building on the momentum and global outrage over the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, an international coalition of Jewish organizations working for justice in Palestine will sponsor a Jewish Boat to Gaza this summer, with AJJP as its U.S. coordinator.
AJJP joins the “Jüdische Stimme” (‘Jewish Voice’ for a Just Peace in the Near East and Jews for Justice For Palestinians (UK) in sending the boat as a call to the leaders of the world to help Israel find her way to reason, to a sense of humanity and a life without fear.
The participants on the boat will be chosen by its European organizers. In coordination with the medical, educational and mental health services in Gaza, the boat will take school bags and books, donated by German schoolchildren; musical instruments and art materials to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Program; nets and tackle for fishermen; and essential medicines and small medical equipment for the civilian population under siege. Absolutely no weapons will be on board, and all participants will be trained in the principles of non-violence.
PRINCIPLES of the MISSION
The principles of the mission are as follows:
- To protest against and challenge the blockade of Gaza, on the basis that it constitutes an illegal, collective punishment of the whole population. The blockade is a grossly immoral act subjecting the people to subsistence living by denying them basic medical services; reconstruction materials for homes, sewage and fresh water systems; and the ability and right to fish in their own territorial waters. As a result, a horrendous public health crisis and mental health catastrophe is taking place.
- To protest against Israel’s continuing occupation and settlement of Palestinian land, and the Israeli government’s self-evident intention of annexing much of that land.
- To make clear that the current policies of Israel are not representative of all Jews and that there are thousands of us who wish to say “‘Not in our name.” We uphold the proud Jewish tradition of justice to champion the rights of the downtrodden and to oppose prejudice and racism in all forms. We believe in the teachings of Rabbi Hillel: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah.” And we remember the work of Rene Cassin, a French Jew who shortly after the Holocaust, drafted the text which became the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel is now guilty of grossly violating.
- The current policies towards Gaza are counterproductive. They fuel the anger of Palestinians, their leaders and supporters throughout the Arab and wider world and perpetuate the cycle of violence, generating an aggressive response to Israel which the blockade is intended to counter. We also believe that Israel’s policies are destructive of the soul of its own people and sow fear and hatred; a people that oppresses another can never itself be free.
- The aid goods which we will carry on our small boat are necessarily symbolic: we will have small pieces of medical equipment like blood pressure monitors, insulated cool boxes for medicines, antibiotics, sterile needles and dressings at the request of medical authorities. We will be taking school books and equipment donated by German schoolchildren for the children of Gaza; art materials and musical instruments for the young to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Program; and fishing nets and fishing tackle for the fishermen of Gaza.
- The strategy is as follows: if, as we expect, the Israeli naval forces intercept us on our way from international waters into the territorial waters of Gaza, we will tell them that if they insist on searching our cargo in order to allow us to continue they may do so under our inspection, and that, on finding no weapons or goods which constitute a threat, they will afford us safe passage to Gaza.If they refuse these conditions, we will state that we do not believe Israel has the right to blockade Gaza. If they command us to divert to Ashdod, we will do so peacefully and on the basis they have offered to previous aid boats, namely to witness their inspection of the cargo and accompany the cargo into Gaza.
- We, above all, should have a deep understanding of and reject the oppression of others.
How you can support the mission
The organizers have asked for the following support from Jews and friends around the world:
- Sign the petition to President Obama asking him to ensure safe passage for the Jewish Boat to Gaza.
- Spread the word to your friends, allies and supporters to draw attention to the campaign.
- Donate to the Jewish Boat to Gaza.
The moral imperative to end the siege of Gaza is absolute. When governments fail to act, ordinary people must organize to intervene.
Also: German Jews ‘inundated’ with requests to join new Gaza aid flotilla
The complete IOA coverage of the Gaza Flotilla