On Board with Free Gaza…

29 September, 2009 —Free Gaza Movement

Dear friends of Free Gaza,

A little over a year ago, two small fishing boats from the Free Gaza Movement landed in the port of Gaza challenging Israel’s siege on 1.5 million Palestinians. Since then, people from around the world have joined us in affirming the importance and indeed the necessity of nonviolent direct action to challenge injustice. Recently, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed launched a fund to help support the efforts of the Free Gaza Movement to break Israel’s illegal blockade. First Lady of Malaysia, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor also pledged her support.

From Nobel laureates to parliamentarians and UN officials, thousands are hearing our message: when our governments are impotent in the face of massive human rights abuses, we, the citizens of the world must act!

We would like to introduce to you to some of the amazing people that have joined our voluntary Board of Advisors, representing an impressive diversity of background and experience. The list also includes some of the people on our Gaza Advisory Council (which is still growing).

Board of Advisors

James Abourezk is a former United States Senator from South Dakota. He was the first Arab-American to serve in the Senate, representing South Dakota from 1973 to 1979. In 1980 Abourezk founded the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC), a grassroots civil rights organization. In 1989, he wrote “Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate,” and he is the co-author of “Through Different Eyes: Two Leading Americans — a Jew and an Arab — Debate U. S. Policy in the Middle East.”

M.Cherif Bassiouni is a Distinguished Research Professor of Law emeritus at DePaul University, where he has taught since 1964. He is also a consultant in international human rights and humanitarian law for the United Nations. Bassiouni is the author of 32 and editor of 47 books on International Criminal Law, Comparative Criminal Law, Human Rights, and U.S. Criminal Law. He has authored 241 articles published in law journals and books in the U.S. and other countries.

Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident and libertarian socialist intellectual.

Gretta Duisenberg is an international human rights activist from The Netherlands. She is the founder of “Stop the Occupation,” an educational and advocacy organization that works in Holland and throughout the European Union. Duisenberg is a board member of “One Justice”, an international group of lawyers in Paris and Geneva, and Honorary President of the Arab Centre for Research and Studies on Palestine (Hebron). In 2002 Duisenberg was awarded the Human Rights Peace Prize by the Belgian Human Rights League. In 2005 she was nominated for Woman of the Year.

Jeff Halper is a professor of anthropology, political activist, author, and lecturer. In 1997, Halper co-founded the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) to challenge and resist the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, and to organize Israelis, Palestinians and international volunteers to jointly rebuild demolished Palestinian homes. In 2006, Jeff, along with Palestinian activist Dr. Ghassan Andoni, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Archbishop Theodosius (Atallah) Hanna is the Archbishop of Sebaste from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Ordained on the 24 December 2005 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, he is the second Palestinian to hold the position of Archbishop in the history of the diocese. Theodosius is founder of the Orthodox Youth Movement in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He is a well-known author, and his articles have been periodically published in various newspapers as well as in local and international magazines. Theodosius is widely known for his work promoting Christian-Muslim dialogue to help foster the spirit of cooperation and unity in Palestine.

Peter Hansen is the former United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Commissioner-General from 1996-2005. Before joining the UN, Dr. Hansen was at Aarhus University in Denmark, where he taught political science from 1966 until he took leave to become Assistant Secretary General of the UN in 1978. From 1985 – 1992 Dr. Hansen was Executive Director of the UN Centre on Transnational Corporations. He also served as the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the Executive Director of the Commission on Global Governance, Geneva, Switzerland, 1992-1994.

Naomi Klein is the award-winning author of the international bestsellers, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. She writes a regular column for The Nation magazine and The Guardian newspaper that is syndicated internationally by The New York Times Syndicate. Her articles have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Globe and Mail, and The Los Angeles Times. She wrote and co-produced “The Take,” an award-winning feature documentary about Argentina’s occupied factory movement.

John Pilger is an Australian journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. In his career as an investigative journalist, Pilger has received numerous human rights and journalism awards, as well as honorary doctorates. His 2002 film, “Palestine is still the Issue,” was nominated for a British academy award.

Leila Sharaf is a Jordanian Senator and former Minister of Information. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees of Philadelphia University and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut, as well as a member of the International Academic Council of the United Nations University for Peace. Ms. Sharaf is President of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Human Rights and the Amman Center for Human Rights. She is a former member of the Board of the Arab Organization for Human Rights and a founding member and former Vice President of its branch in Jordan. In 1990, Mrs. Sharaf was a member of the Royal Commission for drafting the National Charter for Jordan, a major document for the democratization process.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh is an Irish political leader and activist. He is currently serving his second term as a TD in the Dáil, Ireland’s parliament. Ó Snodaigh previously served as the Sinn Féin representative on the National Forum on Europe and the party’s spokesperson on the Nice Treaty. He is currently the Sinn Féin Chief Whip in Leinster House, as well as the spokesperson on Housing, Justice, Equality and International Affairs.

Baroness Jenny Tonge is a human rights activist and a member of the British House of Lords. Prior to entering the House of Lords, she was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament (MP) for Richmond Park in London from 1997 to 2005 and was her party’s spokesperson on International Development. During that time, she became very involved with the battle for justice for Palestinians. Baroness Tonge currently speaks on this and health issues from the Liberal Democrat front bench in the House of Lords.

Gaza Advisory Council

Mona El-Farra is Deputy Director of the Union of Health Work Committees in Gaza. She is a physician by training, and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice.

Mahfouz Kabariti is a human rights activist and President of the Palestinian Sailing Federation and Fishing & Marine Sports Association in Gaza.

Jamal El-Khoudary is the Chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege and an independent member of parliament in Gaza. He is a long-time outspoken advocate for the people of Palestine.

Eyad Sarraj is a doctor and world-renowned human rights activist from Gaza. He is the founder and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), and Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights. Dr. Sarraj is an expert on the mental impact of violence on childhood development and has also written extensively on the subject in English as well as in Arabic.

Amjad Al-Shawa is an organizer and human rights activist and the Director of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) in Gaza City, a civil and democratic body comprising more than 100 Palestinian NGOs, which seeks to support, consolidate and strengthen the Palestinian civil society.

Finally, because of the massive amount of work that lies ahead of us, the interim board of directors has added three more people to its team: Audrey Bomse, Lubna Masarwa, and Adam Shapiro. We are excited to have them aboard! More on them and our volunteer staff here: http://www.freegaza.org/en/about-us/staff.

However, it is really you, what each one of you does, that ensures the success of our efforts. We are working hard to prepare for our next voyage to Gaza in the fall, and we need your help. Since our last appeal to you, many have stepped up to volunteer. We are so grateful. We have now established Free Gaza affiliates in 19 cities in 13 countries, we have local coordinators that are doing amazing work, and we have dozens of volunteers working behind the scenes. Our wonderful local coordinators and volunteers have strengthened us and enhanced our work. But we still need more help! Please see http://www.freegaza.org/en/join-in/join-in for ways that you can join us.

We are aiming to launch our next mission to Gaza in November, but we need your help to make it happen. Please join us!

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