Monday, May 16, 2011

Why We Must Sail to Gaza

Mr. Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, and is a U.S.-based activist scheduled to sail to Gaza in June on the U.S. boat, The Audacity of Hope. We're continuing to blog news and commentary here on the U.S. Boat to Gaza (a US Campaign member group) every few days, with high hopes for a peaceful and historic voyage about to take place.

By Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy
14 May, 2011

A year ago, peace and solidarity activists tried to break the blockade of Gaza with an international flotilla of ships. They failed, in the sense that the Israeli government attacked the flotilla, took control of the ships, and brought the ships to Israel. They succeeded, in the sense that the flotilla and the Israeli attack brought attention to the Israeli-US-Egyptian siege of Gaza, dramatically increasing political pressure on the three governments, leading to a partial easing of the siege.

Now an even larger flotilla, with the participation of more ships and more activists from more countries - including, crucially, the U.S. ship Audacity of Hope - is preparing to set sail in June.

And - God willing - when the Audacity of Hope sets sail, I will be on it.

It is our hope and expectation that the Israeli government, after all the negative publicity it received for its attack on last year's flotilla, will allow our ships to pass to Gaza unimpeded. It is our hope and expectation that the Obama Administration will pressure the government of Israel not to attack us, especially with a U.S. boat with well-known American peace activists on board participating in the flotilla.

Nonetheless, there is certainly some risk of confrontation with the Israeli authorities. I can say with absolute confidence that everyone on the American boat is committed to nonviolence; if I were not confident of that, I would not go. If the Israeli authorities attempt to seize our boat, we may engage in nonviolent resistance, but we will not attack anyone and we will neither have nor use any form of weapon. If Israeli authorities attack us physically, the world will know that the Israeli authorities attacked unarmed Americans who were not a threat to anyone. That's a key component of what nonviolent resistance, from Montgomery to Tahrir to Budrus, is all about: not providing any excuse for the violence of the oppressor.