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Date: 8/1/2008 6:16:43 AM
Subject:  One Step Closer: Getting Ready to Sail to Gaza

One Step Closer: Getting Ready to Sail to Gaza
Aug 1, 2008

Greetings from Cyprus! Our official training begins today, as we move one step
closer to breaking the siege of Gaza.
What may have seemed at one point a distant and somewhat exotic dream has
become a solid reality.  In just a few days we will begin sailing the SS Free
Gaza and the SS Liberty across the Mediterranean to Occupied Palestine. And
though there are still challenges ahead – things are falling into place, and
there are some truly amazing people here making this happen.
Among our group is Monir Deeb, a husband, father, businessman, and human rights
activist from Los Angeles, California. Though he is also an American, Monir was
born in Gaza City. As a Palestinian he is putting himself at great risk by
sailing with us. We’re thankful for his bravery. His enthusiasm and wisdom
have become invaluable to this project.
Among our group is Hedy Epstein, a human rights activist from St. Louis,
Missouri, and a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. Her sunny smile and gentle
demeanor are a source of constant strength to us all. When she was asked in an
interview about why an 83-year-old grandmother would want to sail on this
mission, she replied,
“There are no guarantees in life. Perhaps no one should put herself in a
situation that's dangerous. But my participation is a small contribution that I
can make compared to the sufferings that the Palestinians endure every single
day. And, if by doing this, we can tell the world what is happening there, then
it's worth going.
For those of you reading this – the spirit here in Cyprus is obviously high.
More than 50 people have come here from around the globe; young and old,
professionals and students, women and men, land crew or boat passengers,
film-makers and media, old friends and new ones. Lauren Booth (a journalist,
and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s sister-in-law), has asked to
join us on board. She arrives in Cyprus shortly. All of us understand that we
may be risking our lives, but we are prepared to do so for this cause – our
attempt to release, even slightly and temporarily, the 1.5 million men, women
and children living in Gaza from the open-air prison that has been forced on
them by the total Israeli blockade.
On July 29, 2008, we held our first press conference in Athens, Greece and
announced that passengers, crew and journalists were beginning to arrive in
The conference room was packed with media, local supporters, and even a member
of the Greek Parliament who came to support our efforts. Two of our organizers,
Dr. Paul Larudee and Greta Berlin, both from California, talked about the
project, and described what we hope to accomplish through our voyage – an end
to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the collective punishment of the
Palestinian people.
Since the press conference, the Free Gaza Movement has been inundated with
questions from the media. Many more individuals and organizations have asked to
be included in this project as endorsers, and we are truly grateful for the
outpouring of international support that is accompanying our efforts.
And so here we are in our base camp, shuttling people from the airport, tracing
lost baggage, attending meetings, going through nonviolence training, making
shopping lists, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of all the mundane tasks
that come along with an action as large as Free Gaza has become.
Already CNN, Reuters, Dutch TV, Al Jazeera, BBC, The Independent, The Times,
The Scotsman, and the local Cyprus press are either working on stories or
pressing to be on board, trying to fill the six positions we have available for
the media.
The Israeli authorities – no doubt on to us a while ago – have been putting
out deliberate disinformation. Israeli newspapers have published articles that
have their journalists asking follow-up questions for the authorities – are
you really taking three European government officials? Is it really an
ICAHD/ISM organised event?  Where are the ships leaving from? Is this really
going ahead?
The answer is “YES!” We are most definitely going ahead. In a few days we
will leave Cyprus bound for Gaza. But our voyage will not end when we reach
Occupied Palestine. Our voyage is but one step on a long journey toward peace
and justice for our battered world. Will you join us on that journey?
In Love and Hope,
The Free Gaza Movement
Cyprus to Gaza
1 August 2008
- 30.07.2008 Uruknet: Comunicato Stampa: Free Gaza Movement. E' possibile che
un gruppo di civili disarmati viaggiando per mare riescano a rompere l'assedio
a cui è sottoposta Gaza? www.uruknet.info?p=s8243 /
- 29.07.08 Reuters: Boat trip aims to break Israeli blockade of Gaza, by Daniel
- 29.07.08 The Electronic Intifada: Breaking the Gaza siege, by boat, by Bill
- 28.07.08 Anis Online, Is Gaza under occupation or not? Free Gaza boats about
to find out more (in English, German, Spanish), by Anis Hamadeh,
- 28.07.08 www.chinaview.cn / news.xinhuanet.com, "Free Gaza" to sail to Gaza
waters in August,
- 28.07.2008 Haaretz, Israel fears European ship may sail to Gaza to 'break
- 27.07.2008: Speaking Out For Gaza: Interviews with Donna and Darlene Wallach
- 26.07.2008, Kölnische Rundschau S.51: Mit dem Schiff nach Gaza.
Sötenicherin bekundet Solidarität mit den Palästinensern, von Irene Lange (+
- 25.07.2008 Jerusalem Post: Activists to test Gaza naval blockade, by Yaakov
- 22.07.2008: Setting sail to break the siege of Gaza,
- 22.07.2008: Free Gaza Show on "We The People Radio Network" (Texas/USA) First
Hour with Darlene Wallach, Kathleen Wang, Hedy Epstein, and Greta Berlin,
second hour with Mary Hughes-Thompson, Bill Dienst, and David Halpin. (Audio)
- 21.07.2008: Kevin Barrett Interview FGM: Annie Higgins and Darlene Wallach
- 21.07.2008: Carol Brouillet Interview FGM: Carol Brouillet interviews Darlene
Wallach, Kathleen Wang, Hedy Epstein, Greta Berlin during the first hour of her
radio show and Mary Hughes-Thompson, Bill Dienst, David Halpin in the second
- 20.07.2008 Seattle Pi: Gaza on brink of humanitarian catastrophe, by Bill
- 20.07.2008 Al Arab Online: Give 'Free Gaza Movement' thumbs up! By Debbie
- 19.07.2008, Ma'an: "Free Gaza" initiative to try and enter Gaza by sea and
- 17.07.2008 Contra Costa Times: Richmond man leads group on mission to Gaza,
by Tom Lochner, West County Times,  www.contracostatimes.com/search/ci_9915079?
- 16.07.2008: The Peter B. Collins Show, with Dr. Paul Larudee (Audio),
- 24.07.2008 Silvia Cattori Net : Le cessez-le-feu à Gaza promet une
traversée couronnée de succès. Communiqué de presse du " FREE GAZA MOVEMENT
- 29.06.2008 St. Louis Post, Article on Hedy Epstein & Free Gaza, by Sylvester
- 03.07.2008 Counterpunch: A Mission to Uphold the Law. Breaking Into a Prison,


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