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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

Boeing Overcharging?, Hawks Yawn!

A 'Patriotic' U.S. company ripping off the Army and the American Tax Payers, and military procurement officers allowing it to happen, knowing many will go to work for these defense contractors after their service, especially with two long occupations still ongoing, say it ain't so!

 

Ask Senator Kirk to Rethink His Proposal to Attack Americans on Humanitarian Aid Mission

An Open Letter to Illinois Senator Mark Kirk

from three constituents
responding to his call for U.S. Special Forces to attack a flotilla of ships that will sail to Gaza

Senator Mark Kirk

524 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

June 29th, 2011

Dear Senator Kirk,

Obama should support the Audacity of Hope, condemn Israeli naval blockade

By Ann Wright, The Hill

This week, some 40 American citizens, including myself, will peacefully attempt to break Israel's illegal naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The flotilla that we will be a part of is expected to consist of 10 boats carrying human rights advocates from around the world and humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.

The U.S. boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope, which I will be aboard, will be carrying letters of solidarity to Gazans, who live under siege in a virtual prison, cut off from the rest of the world and any semblance of a normal life. Our goal is to bring attention to their plight, and to bring about an end to Israel's illegal siege, which amounts to collective punishment of 1.7 million people.

Israeli Anti-Freedom Flotilla II Propaganda

Israeli Anti-Freedom Flotilla II Propaganda - by Stephen Lendman

On June 27, its press release headlined, "GAZA, WE ARE COMING. Despite pressure and threats of violence, flotilla will sail."

On June 27, A US Boat to Gaza Audacity of Hope press conference reiterated a determination to sail despite threats, pressure and other measures used to stop it.

Participants on board all 10 ships haven't come this far to turn back or let imperial viciousness deter them, especially when their mission is vital and just.

In response to spurious claims that passengers may have chemicals to attack Israeli commandos, perhaps the same ones responsible for the May 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre, Flotilla participants signed a declaration of nonviolence. Spokesman Dror Feiler told Army Radio that if Israel has other information, it should inform Flotilla organizers.

Gaza and Thoughts of a Starving Ireland

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has joined with other humanitarians in a small flotilla determined to sail from Athens to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s embargo of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped on that narrow strip of land. Awaiting departure, McGovern contemplates the forces of past and present that brought him to his decision.

By Ray McGovern, Consortium News

Thinking further here in Athens about how it came to be that I joined the passengers on “The Audacity of Hope” and why I feel so strongly about the oppression in Gaza, it struck me that my Irish genes (as well as my theology) may be playing a role.

During the mid-19th Century potato famine, when the starving Irish were being treated in much the same way as Gazans are today, how much my ancestors must have wished for some sign that someone abroad actually cared about them.

Staying Human: Preparing to Sail to Gaza, by Kathy Kelly

Urgent posting on behalf of Kathy Kelly, who is now on the US Boat to Gaza.

June 27, 2011

Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training.  We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, "The Audacity of Hope." Our team, and nine other ships' crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans.  The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza's sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza's economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel's staunchest ally.

Reporters hector State: Is the blockade legal? What right does Israel have to ‘defend itself’ from humanitarian aid?

By Philip Weiss

Matt Lee of AP is on fire. Be like Matt Lee, you docile bovine seven-stomached beasts of the mainstream media, grow a pair. And it looks like other State Department reporters are emulating him. Here's the video. And here's an extended excerpt from the briefing, below. Gaza is just about the first order of business. Watch State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland squirm. She's the wife of Robert Kagan, former Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney, July 2003-May 2005. And she's in the Obama administration? What does she know, when did she know it?

Be sure to listen to Lee's genius question toward the end about Saudi Arabian women driving and breaking the law. "It seems to me that's a pretty provocative act," too, but Hillary Clinton defends them. I have to believe stuff is shaking. Oh brave flotilla, be safe and make it to Gaza!!!!

READ THE REST

Staying Human: Preparing to Sail to Gaza

By Kathy Kelly

Last week, newly-arrived in Athens as part of the US Boat to Gaza project, our team of activists gathered for nonviolence training. We are here to sail to Gaza, in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade, in our ship, "The Audacity of Hope." Our team, and nine other ships' crews from countries around the world, want Israel to end its lethal blockade of Gaza by letting our crews through to shore to meet with Gazans. The US ship will bring over 3,000 letters of support to a population suffering its fifth continuous decade of de facto occupation, now in the form of a military blockade controlling Gaza's sea and sky, punctuated by frequent deadly military incursions, that has starved Gaza's economy and people to the exact level of cruelty considered acceptable to the domestic population of our own United States, Israel's staunchest ally.

Breaching Gaza's Siege Update

Breaching Gaza's Siege Update - by Stephen Lendman

Israel keeps exerting pressure to block humanitarian efforts to deliver vital to life and other essential aid to besieged Gazans.

Endorsing Israeli lawlessness, the State Department issued a June 22 "Travel Warning - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza," saying in part:

"The Department of State warns US citizens of the risks of traveling to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and about threats to themselves and to US interests in those locations," adding "avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip."

Access the full statement through the following link:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5511.html

On June 23, Secretary of State Clinton added:

Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees

Israel Toughening Conditions for Palestinian Detainees - by Stephen Lendman

On June 24, Haaretz writers Barak Ravid and Revital Hoval headlined, "Netanyahu: Israel to toughen conditions for Palestinian prisoners," saying:

On June 23, Netanyahu announced plans "to toughen the conditions of Palestinian security prisoners," meaning all of them wanting Palestine to be free, yet few committed crimes warranting imprisonment.

During his Jerusalem Israeli Presidential Conference, he said:

"We will give them all that they deserve according to international law, but nothing beyond that," despite systematically brutalizing detainees ruthlessly. More on that below. He added that:

"We will stop, among other things, the absurd practice in which terrorists who murdered innocent people enroll in academic studies. There will be no more 'doctors of terror' - the celebration is over."

Spirits of Justice Going to Gaza

“The Audacity of Hope” is a boat carrying Americans through the Mediterranean Sea as part of a small flotilla challenging the Israeli blockade of Gaza, where 1.5 million Palestinians live largely cut off from the world. One of the Americans aboard the ship is former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who describes some of his motivations and those of his shipmates.

By Ray McGovern

June 26, 2011

For those who engage in the common struggle for Justice, an invaluable grace comes from getting to know new friends similarly engaged — and equally willing to speak with more than words.

Thus, it has been a great grace to get to know folks like Alice Walker personally as well as through her writings — including some new ones. In one recent article, Alice addressed her reasons for joining the other 49 of us by putting her body on the line in sailing with “The Audacity of Hope,” the U.S. boat to Gaza. She wrote:

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