Thursday, June 30, 2011
"In addition to fears of ship sabotage and threats from the Israeli military, the U.S. citizens trying to sail to Gaza aboard U.S.-flagged ship “The Audacity of Hope” in the humanitarian flotilla are dealing with another challenge: their own government. The U.S. Department of State has warned U.S. passengers they could face "fines and incarceration" for taking part in the flotilla and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have given Israel the green light to use force. Last week, Clinton said the flotilla would be [provoking] actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves." The threat of violence comes just one year after Israeli forces killed nine passengers in the first flotilla to Gaza after storming their ship. The passengers aboard the U.S. ship this year are a diverse group — parents, grandparents, young people, lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers and peace activists. They include a Jewish survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, 87-year old Hedy Epstein; and the acclaimed writer, poet and activist Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Color Purple." As The Audacity of Hope prepares to depart from Greece, Democracy Now! producers Aaron Maté and Hany Massoud spoke to crew member and former Israeli air force pilot, Yonatan Shapira, about the Israeli-U.S. effort to thwart the ship’s journey....."