August 14, 2011
Dear Friends and Supporters,
…Please accept our apologies for the long delay in reporting to you on developments concerning the Free Palestine Movement and its participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla with our partners in the International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza (ICBSG). Until now, our partners asked us to say nothing about our ship, and they were right to do so, because our silence allowed the ship to quietly leave Greece with the hope of placing the passengers on board at another location.
The Nour al-Haqiqa (Light of Truth), is a fine vessel, the largest in the Flotilla (not including the Mavi Marmara). It is approximately 40 meters in length and licensed to carry 120 passengers and crew for overnight travel.
The Nour is currently berthed in a secure location where it can receive fuel, provisions and servicing. Unfortunately, however, we have been unsuccessful until now in finding a country in the Mediterranean that will allow our passengers to go on board. In addition, there is a technical matter (not mechanical) to be resolved, which makes it difficult to move the vessel.
These difficulties are similar to those encountered by other boats in the Flotilla. There is, in effect, an international conspiracy to deny boats the freedom to sail to Gaza, regardless of who is or is not on board or what the boats may or may not be carrying, however harmless.
Nevertheless, there are problems for those who would try to stop us.
First, the means of stopping the Flotilla left the boats in the possession of the organizers. If Israel had used tactics similar to those of 2010, it would presumably have confiscated the boats and not released them again, ending the story. However, the longer the boats remain in our hands, the more pressure there is to use them.
Second, the sequestration of the boats is not popular with the people of the countries from which we are trying to sail. The people of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, for example, are in deep solidarity with the people of Palestine, and take pride in their countries’ previous role in challenging the Israeli siege of Gaza. Their actions to stop the Flotilla are not popular at home, and make their people ashamed of their government. The only thing stopping the boats is the heavy pressure on these governments from the U.S. and Israel.
Third, the sequestration of the boats is illegal and unsustainable. The reasons given for preventing the boats from sailing are probably not justifiable in a court of law, and the boats will have to be given permission to be used at some point. There is no basis for preventing the boats from ever sailing anywhere at any time in the future.
For these reasons, all of the participants in the Flotilla are currently reviewing plans and options. It is our intention and that of our partners, to use the Nur al-Haqiqa to challenge the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza through peaceful, nonviolent and non-threatening means that harm no one, as intended by all boats in the Flotilla. One Flotilla boat, the French vessel Dignite al-Karama actually used these measures to successfully take 16 passengers and crew toward Gaza, only to be captured by Israel, as expected. No harm came to anyone.
We hope that all parties will agree that such nonviolent means should be encouraged, not blocked. We pose no danger to anyone, so there is no need to use force or coercion to prevent our ship or any other in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla from sailing to Gaza.
Our peaceful intentions, however, do not diminish our resolve to defend and exercise Palestinian human rights, regardless of threats against us and regardless of the belligerent actions of those who violate human rights. We will respond with nonviolence to attacks against us, but we will not respond with indifference to human rights abuses. We invite all who believe in this course of action to join and support us.
The FPM Team
Our share of the boat purchase ($6000 per person), plus all the other costs of organizing and bringing our delegation to Athens has completely exhausted our funds. In the past, donors have quickly replenished our coffers after we set to sea and began to report on our experiences.
This time we have had no such opportunity – yet – and we don’t even have enough funds to attend strategy meetings, much less to send a delegation if and when the opportunity arises. We don’t even have operating funds for more than two weeks, which affects other projects besides the Flotilla.
Please help to keep us going. We’re trying to raise at least $20,000 for operating costs until the end of the year, but will use part of it to send a delegation to the Nour if the opportunity arises, in which case we will also do a special appeal for that purpose.
Thank you for your support for our work. Please click here to make a donation.
About our delegation
Ambassador Sam Hart, American Indian Movement spokesperson Jimbo Simmons, Sister Patricia Chaffee, USS Liberty veteran and survivor Joe Meadors, FPM founder Paul Larudee and FPM Coordinator Deppen Webber returned to the US on or about July 10. Since then, we have all been engaged in speaking and writing about our experiences, and if the Nour sails, most of us will again try to be on it.
If you wish to schedule a speaking presentation by any of us in your area, please let us know. We would be happy to come.
Donate Raffle Prizes
Can you donate an item for the upcoming FPM fundraising raffle? We will be accepting donations from business owners and individuals to be listed as prizes on our raffle website and flyers. The drawing will be held in Pacifica on December 3, 2011 and we hope to have the prizes finalized in 2 weeks. Some popular items in previous raffles were air tickets, vacation accommodations, dinners, and massages. To donate an item please call +1 510-232-2500 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The value of your donation is tax deductible.