Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm Setting Sail for Gaza Again & You Can Help

Dear Friends,

Huwaida Arraf in GazaOne year ago today, as Israeli naval commandoes attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in international waters, I was on board The Challenger, a U.S.-flagged ship that was part of this international effort to break Israel's illegal blockade of the Palestinian Gaza Strip. 

Israeli commandoes grabbed me by my hair and rammed my head into the deck. They then stepped on my head in order to cuff my hands behind my back and then put a sack over my head. Worse yet, the commandoes killed nine of my fellow passengers, including 19-year old U.S. citizen Furkan Dogan, on the Mavi Marmara.

An international fact-finding mission of the UN Human Rights Council concluded that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is "collective punishment"--a war crime--and that its May 31, 2010, attack on the flotilla in order to enforce its blockade was "illegal." The mission found that six passengers, including Furkan, were killed "in a manner consistent with an extra-legal, arbitrary and summary execution," and that survivors were subjected to "torture."

Rather than put pressure on Israel to end its illegal blockade of Gaza, investigate Israel's killing of a U.S. citizen and attack against a U.S. ship, and sanction Israel for misusing U.S. weapons to attack the flotilla, the Obama Administration shamefully has tried to shield Israel from accountability for its actions. 

On Saturday, Egypt permanently reopened its border crossing with Rafah. This is an important step toward ending Gaza's isolation. But because Israel is still illegally blockading Gaza by land, sea and air, and because my country--the United States--is still enabling Israel to get away with it (in April, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice even publicly pressured governments to block future flotillas), in June I plan to sail for Gaza again with "Freedom Flotilla II -- Stay Human."

I need you to help us break Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, bring messages of solidarity to the 1.5 million Palestinians who are suffering Israel's collective punishment, and make sure that Israel does not repeat its illegal attack on us.

Here's how you can help today!

1. Tell President Obama to ensure safe passage of the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza.

U.S. Boat to Gaza logo 2. Visit the website of US Campaign member group U.S. Boat to Gaza, which is organizing The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. component of this flotilla. There you can take action by writing a letter of solidarity to Palestinians in Gaza, sign up for email updates, and much more.

I am proud to be an Advisory Board Member of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation because of all the amazing work we do together to change U.S. policy to support freedom, justice and equality for Palestinians.  I'm so glad that the US Campaign has endorsed the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

Thank you for taking action with me to ensure the success of the Freedom Flotilla II!

In solidarity,

Huwaida Arraf
Member, US Campaign Advisory Board
Chair, Free Gaza Movement