Monday, February 14, 2011

U.S. Boat To Gaza: Report from Madrid

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We have recently returned from the Madrid meeting of the international flotilla and want to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on the U.S. Boat to Gaza campaign. 

Enthusiasm and support for the international flotilla has continued to build with representatives from 22 countries at the meeting.  Current plans are for the flotilla to sail in the second half of May. Of the 22 countries, only a handful have a boat and are ready to go now, others have raised substantial amounts of money and will either have their own boat or will be ready to join up with others to float an international boat. 

We are thrilled by the success of the people's revolution in Egypt.  Over time, we think this could be a tectonic shift in the environment in the Middle East and change the situation in Gaza as well.  Right now, though, we are not expecting major changes in the siege of Gaza.  Israel has, in fact, stepped up its attacks on fishermen and workers along the land border and has been bombing urban areas in the strip.  Our mission, to break the siege of Gaza, is as necessary as ever. 

Hedy Epstein, human rights activist and Holocaust refugee:  "It's important to break the siege of Gaza which has been imposed by Israel for so many years.  People in Gaza have the right to travel.  People in the world have the right to visit Gaza.  Gaza needs a two way street for its economy."

Medea Benjamin, co-founder CodePink Women for Peace:  "When governments and international institutions fail to pressure Israel to lift the siege of Gaza, it's up to civil society to act.  The flotilla is a lifeline between 1.5 million imprisoned people and the world community."

Anna Baltzer, author, human rights activist and organizer:  "The US Boat to Gaza and the rest of the flotilla exemplify true international solidarity that refuses to wait for permission from Israel to do the right thing and support freedom for the men, women, and children in Gaza.  These defiant boats show that creative people of conscience united around a just cause can be stronger and more resilient than a military superpower."

The U.S. Boat to Gaza has raised more than $300,000 to date.  We are working  in Europe to find the right boat.  Boats we have looked at would accommodate 40-60 passengers and our applications committee has been very busy working through the large number of wonderful people who want to be passengers.

The challenges of organizing and managing the U.S. Boat campaign have led us to create a decision making council comprised of representatives from the active working groups.  

Those groups are:  Applications, Outreach, Legal, Media, Endorsers, Fund raising, Boat/International, Trainers, Webwork, and Finance.

This is a huge effort and, to date, entirely a volunteer effort.  We are hoping to hire one paid staffer as a coordinator.   We welcome participation from anyone who wants to help.  We could use help particularly on fund raising, planning support actions, and working on local media across the country but we would welcome support and ideas in any of the committees.  

To help with the campaign,  contact Nell Hirschmann-Levy at

US Boat to Gaza Council Members

Nic Abramson
Laurie Arbeiter
Lisa Fithian
Felice Gelman
Jane Hirschmann
Nell Hirschmann-Levy
Abdeen Jabara
Ismail Khalidi
Gail Miller
Hannah Schwarzschild
Brad Taylor
Sarah Wellington
Brandon West
Ann Wright




Thank you for your support.


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