Flotilla To Challenge Israel's Blockade Of Gaza Israel says its aim is to keep arms away from Hamas, the militant party that controls the Gaza Strip. But it's criticized for imposing suffering on Palestinians who live there. Now pro-Palestinian activists from the U.S., Europe and Canada are organizing in Greece to send 10 ships across the Mediterranean.
NPR logo

Flotilla To Challenge Israel's Blockade Of Gaza

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137466537/137466589" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Flotilla To Challenge Israel's Blockade Of Gaza

Flotilla To Challenge Israel's Blockade Of Gaza

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137466537/137466589" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Unidentified Woman: The next piece of work, we wanted to do is talk a little bit about the scenario, building off of where we left on Thursday.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI: One of the most prominent American participants in the flotilla is Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple." She gave her reason for taking part in this video on the group's web site.

ALICE WALKER: I actually love children and I love water and I love trees and I love parents who are happy, and all of this wonderful life that has been completely disrupted and degraded by the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

POGGIOLI: Ann Wright, a retired State Department official and former Army colonel, took part in last year's attempt to break the Gaza blockade.

ANN WRIGHT: Well, the Israelis have been very clear. They intend to stop us from going to Gaza, and they've been clear that they will use force. We will not be using force. We are unarmed, civilian ships that are sailing for a political purpose to bring world attention to what's going on in Gaza.

POGGIOLI: Last year's attempt to break the blockade was intercepted by Israeli naval commandos. The bloodshed left nine activists dead. The Americans in Athens have trained for their voyage, watching graphic videos of that raid. Richard Levy, a civil rights lawyer, took part in the non-violent training.

RICHARD LEVY: So, yeah, we put in a number of hours learning how to respond to that kind of an assault, and I guess most of us on the boat are sailing with the recognition that that's a real possibility and how do we best protect ourselves under those circumstances.

POGGIOLI: Medea Benjamin is the founder of Code Pink, a women's anti-war group.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

MEDEA BENJAMIN: Some of us are Jews. We are certainly not against the Israeli people, and our idea is that we are part of a historical movement that has deep roots in Gandhi, deep roots in Martin Luther King, deep roots in civil resistance movements throughout history.

POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News, Athens.

MONTAGNE: And one more note on that flotilla: Last Sunday, the Israeli government attempted to keep journalists off the boat. It said it would bar any journalist who went along for the ride from entering Israel for as much as a decade. The next day, Israel's prime minister rescinded that threat, saying it was issued without his knowledge.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.