National Jewish Group Condemns Israeli Government’s Attempts to Block Gaza Flotilla- Calls for Greek Release of U.S. boat
Flotilla Participants Available for Interviews:
In Greece: JVP Members Robert Naiman naiman AT justforeignpolicy.org
and Gabe Schivone, gabe AT tucsonfreegaza.org,
National Jewish Group Condemns Israeli Government’s Attempts to Block Gaza Flotilla- Calls for Release of American boat from Greece
Opposing the flotilla is one thing. Repeatedly lying about it and risking lives in doing so is another.
New York, NY June 30, 2011 – Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) condemns the Israeli government’s numerous attempts to prevent a nonviolent flotilla of international peace activists from attempting to break the illegal blockade of 1.6 million imprisoned inhabitants of Gaza.
Nearly a quarter of the passengers on the U.S. boat "The Audacity of Hope" are Jewish, including several members of Jewish Voice for Peace. The ship has been delayed at port in Greece because of various efforts by the Israeli government and its supporters. U.S. boat organizers held a press conference at 3 pm Athens time for full disclosure of all items being carried on the boat to dispel unsubstantiated Israeli charges about planned violence. http://ustogaza.org/
JVP calls on the government of Greece to allow "The Audacity of Hope" to leave the port and join others already at sea.
The Israeli military and diplomatic corps have been aggressively attempting to stop the flotilla which aims to highlight the illegality of Israel’s ongoing collective punishment of the inhabitants of Gaza. (Washington Post, June 28)
IN THE U.S.: Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace National Organizer: “While some of the Israeli government’s attempts at hasbara (public relations) are quite comical, this is no laughing matter. Accusing unarmed peace activists of wanting to kill Israeli soldiers—with not one scintilla of evidence— is inexcusable and dangerous. Flotilla participants, who have been trained in nonviolence, are acting in the long tradition of nonviolent social activism pioneered by heroes like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez.”
IN GREECE: Robert Naiman, Jewish Voice for Peace member, and Just Foreign Policy policy director: "I am sailing on the U.S. boat to Gaza because I want to end the collective punishment of 1.6 million people, but also because I want nonviolent action against injustice to be at the center of efforts to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, and the flotilla is putting nonviolent resistance at the center of the stage."
IN GREECE: JVP Arizona chapter leader and Students for Justice in Palestine member, Gabe Schivone: “What is Israel so afraid of in the face of unarmed American civilians —most of whom are women and children— upholding the rule of law and undermining an illegal occupation and siege?….. Sailing on the flotilla is one of those bold acts that creates a crisis and forces the world to pay attention to the death and suffering on the ground in Palestine, highlighting a vibrant and strong Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement for liberation and self-determination.”
IN U.S.: JVP Campaign Director Sydney Levy: "It's clear that the Israelis are trying to portray nonviolent civilian peace activists as dangerous terrorists so that if anything goes wrong they can say, ‘ See they deserved it.' But the Israeli Foriegn Ministry media statements on the flotilla are about as reliable as a Sarah Palin history lesson, and the mainstream media knows it. It’s exactly what they’re doing with Gaza—illegally engaging in collective punishment and then trying to convince the world that everyone in Gaza is a terrorist. People aren’t buying it. This Israeli government’s desperation is sad, but worse, it's dangerous.”
Recent examples of Israel’s failed hasbara campaign to stop the flotilla include:
- Threats to ban flotilla participants and reporters from entering Israel for 10 years. (Their position on journalists was reversed after an international outcry. Associated Press, June 27)
- Government distribution of a video, later proved to be a fake, charging flotilla participants with being homophobic and “in the arms” of Hamas. (NYT, June 27)
- Totally unsubstantiated charges leveled on the front pages of Israel newspapers that flotilla participants were planning to harm and kill Israeli soldiers. (Max Blumenthal, June 29)
Additional delays of the American boat were caused a frivolous lawsuit filed by a right wing Israeli group funded in part by American fundamentalist Christian minister John Hagee. (Max Blumenthal, June 26)
Jewish Voice for Peace is just one of many endorsing organizations that seek to bring an end to a blockade of civilians the international community regards as illegal. It has been ineffective in achieving Israel’s stated aims of keeping out arms or bringing down Hamas, but has caused immense human suffering to 1.6 million Palestinian men, women and children who do not have sufficient access to food, medical supplies and other necessities.