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Update from the Audacity of Hope

By Ann Wright

Yea, Greek activists visited the Audacity of Hope yesterday and today.  Several returned from Crete with the Greek-Swedish boat Julianno and didn't even go home, but came to see how we were faring.

Other activists who didn't realize we were still on the boat (or even where the boat was), facebooked into the early morning hours about how they could support us.

Israelis cannot make the Gaza reality disappear

I admit I overestimated the strength of Greece’s democracy. Or let me put it this way: I didn’t see how thin the varnish of what we call Israeli democracy really is.

By Henning Mankell, Haaretz

I will try to summarize this year's Gaza flotilla. Everyone knows that the goal this time was to return with more unarmed ships and a more representative selection of people and organizations. Last but not least, we would return with more MPs. We succeeded in organizing this.

French boat Dignite of Freedom Flotilla II leaves Greece

The French boat "Dignité/Karama" (Dignity) left the Greek island Kastellorizo around 8:30PM local time on Saturday July 16, 2011, heading south. The ten passengers onboard view themselves as representatives of the whole Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human. The rest of the Flotilla's ships have been detained in different Greek ports, through bureaucratic obstruction, sabotage, sudden restrictions and withdrawals of flags.

The Dignité, sailing under a French flag, left Corsica on June 25th, and has, over the past weeks, been in Greek waters. It has now left- so far without being followed by the Greek coast guard or Navy.

We "Audacity of Hope" Boaters: From "High-Seas Hippies" to "Fools & Knaves"

Neocons Fume Over US Boat to Gaza

Editor Note (Consortiumnews): At the behest of Tel Aviv and Washington, Greek authorities stopped a small flotilla from sailing to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s four-year blockade of the narrow strip of land and its 1.6 million people. Now, apologists for Israel’s right-wing Likud government are heaping scorn on the passengers, as Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

July 16, 2011

My co-passengers and I of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have now gone from “High-Seas Hippies,” according to the right-wing Washington Times, to participants in a flotilla full of “fools, knaves, hypocrites, bigots, and supporters of terrorism,” says Alan Dershowitz in his usual measured prose.

Gaza rejects Greek government charity

The following letter was delivered to the Greek Government on July 12, 2011 making it clear that the people of Gaza seek freedom and respect for their human rights, including their right to lead a dignified life, not charity. Seemingly deaf to their call, yesterday a spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Delavekouras, repeated the Greek Government's "generous offer" to deliver limited humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza - instead of helping them gain the freedom that is rightfully theirs.

Gaza Flotilla: American and Spanish Activists Hunger Strikes & Israeli Flag flying over the US Embassy

By Ann Wright

American Hunger Strikers at US Embassy in Athens, Greece, Met with Detention

Late in the day on July 3, 7 Americans began a peaceful, non-violent hunger strike across the street from the US Embassy in Athens, Greece to protest the July 2 arrest and imprisonment of Captain John Klusmire, the captain of the US Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope for his challenge to the Greek government’s capitulation to Israeli demands that boats of the Gaza flotilla in Greece not be allowed to sail to Gaza.

Captain John was put in a police lockup without food, water and a bed on the first day/night and subsequently was transferred to two other police jails in the four days he was held. He was not visited by US Embassy consular officials for four days until the morning of his hearing on July 5.

The hunger strikers were also protesting the imprisonment of the boat itself at a US Embassy/Greek Coast Guard base in the port city of Keritsini.

Keep Calling Greece! Get on the Phone!

By Felice Gelman

Each time you call, they provide a little electricity to The Audacity of Hope. Then it is cut off. Our calls are effective and, if we can keep them up, can free the boat to go to another, civilian marina where it will be safer.

Please keep calling and forward this email. All the facts are below in a letter sent to the harbourmaster by Ann Wright.

You can call and email:

The Greek Embassy and Consulates and the U.S. State Department today! Tell them to free our ship from the military dock! Hillary Clinton will be visiting Greece later this week. One word to her Greek counterparts and our boat would be free.
Greek Embassy: 202-939-1300
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: 202-647-5291
Greek Desk, US State Dept: 202-647-6760
US Embassy in Athens: 011-30-210-721-2951
US Consular Services: Kim Richter 202-647-8308 -- write or text

Sample Phone Script

The Gaza Flotilla and the Blood-Dimmed Tide

By John Grant

What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? ... You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.

--Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

Lately, I find myself reading “noir” crime fiction and thinking about the genre as a way to explain the world. It may have something to do with the fact I’m an American critical of my government and losing hope that positive change is even possible. As hope evaporates, there seems less and less space between political reality and the criminal underworld. Or maybe it's the obverse of a militarist obsession with Tom Clancy and War On Terror thrillers.

The adherents of wealth, power and violence seem so entrenched and in control that those without power become doomed to ineffectual marginalization and, if they poke their heads up too far, in danger of having their intentions and actions criminalized.

Freedom Flotilla II: Final Thoughts

Freedom Flotilla II: Final Thoughts - by Stephen Lendman

Palestinian analyst/advocate/author and former journalist Nadia Hijab is right, saying "(i)t was never about aid."

In her article titled, "Freedom Flotilla II: No to a Kinder, Gentler Siege," she said like earlier and new initiatives to come, it's "a political act" against Israel's illegal occupation/Gaza blockade - forced isolation, in fact, since 1988 "permit system" terrorism was instituted.

In 1991, closures began, "institutionalized" in 1993, then a 1994 electronic wall, and continued repression by lawless incursions, air attacks, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, mass arrests, daily intimidation, Cast Lead, and virtually anything Israel can dream up to collectively punish 1.6 million people, guilty of being Arabs, not Jews.

Electricity Cut off to Imprisoned US Boat to Gaza

By Ann Wright

This morning at 10am, the shore electricity was cut off to the Audacity of Hope, the US Boat to Gaza , that has been impounded at the US Embassy/Greek Coast Guard dock, near Piraeus, Greece, just outside of Athens.

Its over 100 degrees and a Russian grain ship loading grain is spewing grain and dust over the entire.area-it is miserable! Six women that are staying onboard to protect the boat' four are over 60 years old.

The Greek Coast Guard is probably caught in the middle--they are probably ready to release us, but the political part of the government wants to keep us in port to suck up to the Israeli government even more!.

Call the Greek Embassy in Washington and .the Greek consulates around the Country and the State Department-Kim Richter Write a text message 202-647-8308

Embassy of Greece
2217 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Tel. 202.939.1300
Fax. 202.939.1324
Office Hours:

Consulate General - New York
69 East 79th Street

Dueling Flotilla I Commissions

Dueling UN Flotilla I Commissions - by Stephen Lendman

Two earlier articles discussed them in detail, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/from-goldstone-to-uribe.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/from-goldstone-to-uribe.html

Last September, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), issued its damning findings on Israel's Flotilla I massacre, killing nine and wounding dozens of peaceful humanitarian activists heading for Gaza with aid.

As a result, HRC:

"concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."

Gaza and a Liturgy for Justice

The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. boat among a small flotilla seeking to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza, was turned back by Greek authorities doing the bidding of Washington and Tel Aviv. However, for ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who was among the passengers, the endeavor demonstrated the commitment of Americans from a variety of backgrounds to fight injustice.

By Ray McGovern, Consortium News

We passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza represent a cross-section of America. Yet, if there is an emblematic trait that sets us apart from “mainstream” America, it is a common, radical determination to take risks to bring Justice for the oppressed — in this case, the 1.6 million people locked in an open-air prison on a narrow strip of land called Gaza.

Freedom Flotilla II: Blocked but not Defeated

Freedom Flotilla II: Blocked but not Defeated - by Stephen Lendman

On July 7, Israel National News writer Elad Benari headlined, "Failed Flotilla: Only 2 Ships Leave for Gaza," saying:

Only "two ships have so far been able to leave (Greece) on their way to Gaza." On July 5, the French boat MVDignite/Al Karma broke out and sailed. On July 7, Press TV, Gaza TV and other news sources said Greek commandos on Crete blocked it from proceeding.

Organizer Claude Leostic told AFP that their vessel "was taken to Sitia in Crete by the Greek Coast Guard after being stopped in a nearby port (for) refueling. The authorities (gave) various administrative reasons" for doing so, none of which are justified.

On July 6, Ynet News.com writer Aviel Magnezi headlined, "Juliano ship (with Greek, Norwegian and Swedish activists on board) heads for Gaza," saying:

Activists conducting 'fly in' to Israel

This Friday, July 8, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are planning to fly to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport in a display of solidarity with Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

According to organisers, at least 500 people have already scheduled flights to Israel, including Palestinians that will fly from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa.

READ THE REST.

Let Us Sail to Gaza

Let Us Sail to Gaza - by Stephen Lendman

Freedom Flotilla II participants demand their lawful right to deliver vital humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, an Israeli/Washington/Greek conspiracy block them. Nonetheless, they persist, trying to overcome imperial ruthlessness and succeed.

A June 27 Jerusalem Post (JP) editorial called their mission "Ships of fools," saying:

Organizers "seem to be foolishly throwing caution to the wind, and appear bent on pushing ahead with plans for a confrontation on the open seas with the Israeli Navy."

Of course, they want nothing of the sort. Israel's Navy plans confrontation with them if they sail, perhaps intending another high-seas massacre like in May 2010, and regularly through air and ground attacks against occupied Palestinian civilians.

French Protest Boat Heads for Gaza

ATHENS — A small French pleasure craft slipped out of Greek waters Tuesday in an attempt to break Israeli's naval blockade on Gaza, reviving an international campaign that appeared to have ground to a halt.

Greek Coast Guard Seizes Canadian Ship Bound for Gaza

'Thirty captains' on intercepted Canadian boat for Gaza

Thirty pro-Palestinian activists on a Canadian boat bound for Gaza that was stopped out of a Greek port Monday for breaking a ban, defied authorities by claiming they had all captained the ship.

Oh Canada! To Gaza!

Canadian boat to Gaza just escaped the port in Greece by putting kayaks in the way of Greek military ships that had tried to pen them in!

Greek Coast Guard is closing to their ship FAST!!!!!! Hope they don't have the commandos on their tail!

Go CANADA!!!!

--Ann Wright

*****

USTOGAZA, Sunday, July 3, 2011

Action Alert Update

http://ustogaza.org/latest/action-alert-update-2/

Just got word from Athens: the 8 people who were fasting in front of the U.S. Embassy have been arrested. They are Ken Mayers, Carol Murry, Medea Benjamin, Paki Wieland, Ray McGovern, Brad Taylor, Kit Kitteridge and Kathy Kelly. We will not have any more news until the morning.

In the meantime, let’s keep the pressure on Washington. They need to pressure the Greek government to release our captain, our boat and now these 8 people as well! Let them sail to Gaza!!!

Throughout this country people have responded to our call to contact the U.S. State Department to demand that they take the steps necessary to ensure that the Greek authorities immediately release the captain and let our boat sail to Gaza. In fact, there has been such a strong response that we are hearing their voice mailboxes are full! That’s great, but of course frustrating for those of you trying to make those calls.

Here are some other numbers and email addresses to try:

* State Department general number: 202-647-4000 – ask for the Overseas U.S. Citizen Services Duty Officer and you’ll get a live State Dept. official who has to hear you out.
* The voicemail for Kim Richter – also at the State Dept. – says she’s out of the office for several days, and that callers with urgent issues should contact a colleague at 202-647-4578.
* You can email the U.S. Embassy in Athens at: athensamemb@state.gov or you can send an email to them at: athensamericancitizenservices@state.gov
* If you can place an international phone call, the number for the U.S. Embassy in Athens is 011-30-210-721-2951.

Please also try to call, fax or email your members of Congress as well.

Help us keep the pressure up!!
__________________________________

USTOGAZA, Sunday, July 3, 2011

On eve of U.S. Independence Day, U.S. passengers on flotilla start open-ended fast at U.S. Embassy in Athens

Demand that U.S. government pressure Greece to free their boat and captain, and allow boat to sail to Gaza

http://ustogaza.org/latest/on-eve-of-u-s-independence-day-u-s-passengers...

July 3, 2011, Athens, Greece

Members of the U.S. boat to Gaza have begun an open-ended fast calling on the U.S. government to defend our right to sail out of Greece. The fast has begun in front of the U.S. Embassy at 91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue in Athens. Fasters delivered an urgent letter to the Embassy and plan to sleep overnight outside the Embassy gates.

Passengers and U.S. boat organizers participating in the fast are: Medea Benjamin, Ken Mayers, Paki Wieland, Kathy Kelly, Ray McGovern, Helaine Meisler, Nic Abramson, and Carol Murry.

Passenger Kathy Kelly said, “We call on officials at the U.S. Embassy in Athens to publicly acknowledge our right to sail and to call on the Greek government to free our ship and its captain immediately.”

There will also be a march in support of the flotilla beginning at 7 pm organized by Greek activists who have been protesting the government’s austerity measures in Syntagma Square. The march will include a demand on the Greek government to let all of the boats in the Freedom Flotilla 2 sail to Gaza and to free the captain of the U.S. ship, who has been held in jail.

The departure of the U.S. boat to Gaza – The Audacity of Hope – was first delayed by a complaint filed by the Israel Law Center and shown to be frivolous. Greek authorities then inspected the boat but, until the boat set sail five days later, the results of that inspection has not been shared with the captain and his crew.

The Greek Coast Guard stopped The Audacity of Hope some 20 minutes after it had left the dock on Friday, July 1. The Coast Guard ordered the captain to stop the ship, which he did. Commandos with drawn rifles ordered the ship to return. It is now impounded at a military dock in Athens and the captain has ben arrested.

Over the past two weeks, two boats of the international flotilla to Gaza have been sabotaged while docked at Greek ports. The potential danger to the U.S. boat was obvious to the captain, the crew and the passengers: there was a clear possibility that the U.S. boat would be sabotaged next.

Greek consular officials in the U.S., when besieged with calls by angry Americans, told callers that they should direct their protest to U.S. officials because they were ultimately responsible. “We know that the U.S. government has been supporting Israel’s underhanded efforts to thwart the flotilla, and has been pressuring the Greek government to stop us. This is a disgrace,” said passenger/faster Medea Benjamin. “On July 4, it’s time for our government to declare independence from Israel and start supporting its own citizens.”

We note that on June 24, passengers on the U.S. boat to Gaza visited the Consul General in Athens, Deputy Consul General Kate Brandeis agreed that the U.S. boat “had a right to sail to Gaza.”

Brandeis assured the passengers that the consulate was there to assist U.S. citizens that run into difficulty while in Greece. To date, we have received no assistance from the U.S. Embassy and the captain of our boat, a U.S. citizen, remains in jail and has yet to be visited by anyone from the U.S. Embassy.

Thoughts on July 4th: Our Incredible Shrinking Constitution

By Dave Lindorff

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that the nation’s founders, gathered in Philadelphia a few miles from my house (which as it happens was already standing and about 28 years old already at the time), at great personal risk, signed the Declaration of Independence, with its ringing declaration that all men--Americans and everyone else, too--are born equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Five years ago at this time, I was just starting my road trip promoting my book, The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), which documents the wholesale assault, by then President George W. Bush, and his chief consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney, on those bold concepts and on the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights which those same founders set up as the guiding principles of this nation.

Israeli Freedom Flotilla II Terrorism

Israeli Freedom Flotilla II Terrorism - by Stephen Lendman

Daily, Israel keeps proving its lawless rogue credentials, notably by blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza. As a result, it finds new ways to show contempt for human rights, rule of law standards, civility, fundamental Judaic tenets, and its very legitimacy as a nation state, established by mass slaughter and displacement of indigenous Palestinians from their homeland.

Today, its war against humanity dirty tricks/state terrorism arsenal includes propaganda, intimidating lawsuits, pressure on other governments, sabotage, subversion, cold-blodded murder, and whatever else it takes to ruthlessly commit slow-motion genocide against nearly 1.7 million Gazans, besides daily crimes against others in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

No wonder growing numbers of fed up Jews are leaving, voting with their feet, including studies showing half or more there actively consider it, and why not.

A July Fourth Shame on the Founders

A group of American humanitarians and activists are still trying to make their way to Gaza in protest of the harsh Israeli embargo on the 1.6 million Palestinians confined there. However, an attempt to set sail from Athens on Friday was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard, apparently at the behest of Washington and Tel Aviv. Onboard the ship is ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Yes, that was I standing before the U.S. Embassy in Athens on the eve of the July Fourth weekend holding the American flag in the distress mode — upside down.

Indignities experienced by me and my co-guests on “The Audacity of Hope,” the American boat to Gaza, over the past ten days in Athens leave no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama’s administration has forfeited the right to claim any lineage to the brave Americans who declared independence from the king of England 235 years ago.

Flotilla Update

U.S. Boat to Gaza Seized by Greek Authorities
and Captain Jailed

Passengers Determined to Free Captain
and Set Sail Again

Athens--After a two hour stand off at sea, the U.S. Boat to Gaza - The Audacity of Hope - was seized by the Greek Coast Guard and forced to return to the port of Piraeus under military escort. The boat's captain has been put in jail, charged with disturbing sea traffic--which includes endangering the lives of those on the ships-- and disobeying a police order to remain at dock. The crew is being detained on the boat, which is being held at a military dock just outside Athens. Most of the 36 passengers remain on the ship in solidarity with the captain and crew.

The Gaza Flotilla: Fear of Unscripted Non-Violent Action

By John Grant

Israel and its international operatives are working overtime to stop the 10-ship Gaza flotilla from leaving Athens. The Audacity Of Hope, with 40 Americans on board, tried to leave the harbor Friday only to be chased down and threatened by an armed Greek Coast Guard boat and forced to return to a dock. Trumped-up charges may be brought against the captain of the boat. Greece is now prohibiting all boats from leaving. Another boat had a propeller shaft cut and a third was equally disabled by some kind of sabotage. Others have suddenly been plagued with questions about their insurance or their seaworthiness. Israel has openly threatened to bar news organizations with reporters onboard a flotilla boat from entering Israel for ten years. The US government has made vague threats that it might charge US citizens in the flotilla with something.

Obama Wants More Dead Rachel Corries to Boost AIPAC Standing

By Craig Murray

I am proud to call Ray McGovern a friend. He is a retired senior member of the CIA, and was so valued as an analyst that he used to give the US President his daily intelligence briefing. Ray and I both had senior government service careers, in the course of which you make personal friendships that last, hopefully as long as you do. So sometimes we both get told things from the inside of government.

As Ray sets out on the US Gaza peace flotilla ship, he has been warned in the starkest of terms that the Obama administration will do nothing to protect their US flagged vessel, or the US citizens on board, against attack by the Israelis.

I also have been cautioned by a source with access to very senior staffers at the National Security Council that not only does the White House plan to do absolutely nothing to protect our boat from Israeli attack or illegal boarding, but that White House officials”would be happy if something happened to us.” They are, I am reliably told, “perfectly willing to have the cold corpses of activists shown on American TV.”

While I know Ray to be an extremely honest man, motivated by a genuine activist christianity, I tought it was possible that his source was exaggerating. I therefore set my own diplomatic sources to work in Washington, without giving them any indication of Ray’s information. They came back with an independent report from a different source – close to Clinton rather than the White House – with exactly the same result of which Ray was warned. I was told that Obama will welcome an Israeli attack on the US ship, as giving him a chance to confirm his pro-Israeli credentials and improve his standing with AIPAC ahead of the Presidential election race. Fatalities would be “not a problem”.

There was no information that the Obama regime has quietly given Netanyahu a green light to attack the ship. But I strongly expect they will; by deniable means, of course.

Call the Greek Embassy Now!

We urge you to immediately contact the Greek Embassy in Washington, DC at 202-939-1300 and the Greek consulate in your city. Tell them to let The Audacity of Hope leave Athens safely and sail to Gaza.

Right now there is a stand off between the boat and the Greek Coast Guard. No one is moving and it is not clear what will happen next.

Check our web site and sign up to receive Twitter alerts.

http://www.ustogaza.org

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