For those of you in the U.S., the information below is really important and may be very helpful. What we know now is that the boat is being towed to Ashdod. That is all we know. Greta
Within the past hour the Free Gaza boat, the SPIRIT OF HUMANITY, was boarded by the Israeli Navy, and according to Free Gaza's Tweet, http://twitter.com/freegazaorg, the Israeli military has issued a statement saying they have taken over the boat.
My contact at the U.S. State Department returned my call 40 minutes ago to say that they are in touch with the Israeli government and have been since the boat was surrounded some 6 hours ago. Overall, our State Department seeks to assure the safety of all on board and would like to see the boat get through as it is carrying humanitarian relief and cement to the people of Gaza, specifically aiding non-governmental organizations.
This is the right time to call your Senators and Representative to ask their senior staffer for foreign policy to place 2 urgent calls on your behalf. Ask them to call the Israeli Embassy and to call the U.S. State Department - and to call you back with what they learn.
Your Senators and Representatives, as strong supporters of Israel, are best positioned to urge the Israeli government to assure the safety of the crew (with four Americans on board, including former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Free Gaza Movement chairperson attorney Huwaida Arraf, International Solidarity Movement co-founder and filmmaker Adam Shapiro, and nurse / filmmaker Kathy Sheetz) and allow passage of the boats, crew, and humanitarian relief cargo to Gaza. They can express concern and counsel restraint. They can make their calls in private, no problem, and their calls are the ones that always get a response. Please note that when Senate and Congressional staffers call the U.S. State Department, it strengthens the State Department's hand in negotiations with the Israeli government.
Do your best to connect with each senior staffer for foreign policy, but if you cannot get through to that key person just let the receptionist know your concern for the Free Gaza boat. Numbers matter now - so please ask your friends to call their Senators and Congresspersons too.
If you need help or coaching for these calls, please give me a call at 650 325 4663 - or send email to Contact@RebuildingAlliance.org and we'll do our best to respond.
In Rebuilding Peace,
The Rebuilding Alliance