Press Conference by Passengers after Captain Is Jailed

The passengers of the U.S. Boat to Gaza held a press conference on June 30 in Athens to alert the public to the importance of their mission and the obstacles that have been placed in their path by the government of Greece under pressure from Israel and the United States. Scores of reporters and photographers attended and took up the invitation to inspect The Audacity of Hope.
The press conference called attention to the intense pressure on Greece by Israel and the U.S. to block the flotilla. The Israelis have threatened economic sanctions if Greece did not cooperate in preventing the flotilla from leaving Greek ports. Greek authorities have blocked the boats from leaving by levying unwarranted administrative burdens. A complaint against The Audacity of Hope boat turned out to have been filed by a Jerusalem based organization called the Israel Law Center, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu publicly acknowledged the Greek prime minister’s cooperation in efforts to stop the flotilla.

In addition, one flotilla boat carrying Norwegians, Swedes, and Greeks, had its propeller shaft cut and an Irish boat in the flotilla had suffered serious and costly damage through sabotage that would likely have resulted in fatalities had the boat been launched.

U.S. boat passenger and author Alice Walker read letters from children in the U.S. to the children of Gaza. The U.S. boat is carrying thousands of letters from people all across the country. The letters and Alice’s comments focused on the message that the people of Gaza are in the thoughts of Americans and other people around the world. She emphasized the importance of communicating people-to-people through letters, music, and all forms of culture to build the peace loving world community.

Ann Wright, a leader in the U.S. to Boat to Gaza project, stressed the need to wake people of the world to the indefensible blockade imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza and the efforts by the Israeli government, diplomatically and apparently through acts of sabotage and violence, to stop this peaceful flotilla of boats with people from 22 countries.

Missy Lane, another of the boat’s passengers, commented on the welcoming, generous, and loving reception she had received from Gazans when visiting there and the horrors she felt when she learned that her country stood silently by as the people of Gaza had been devastated. She pointed out that this flotilla showed that people across the globe had heard the cries of the Palestinian people in Gaza and will not rest until this oppressive blockade is lifted and they are granted their freedom.

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