Free Gaza Movement: ‘We’re Sailing Again – Join Us!’

11 January, 2010

This spring, the Free Gaza Movement is sending at least six boats to Gaza to break Israel’s illegal blockade on 1.5 million Palestinians. This blockade constitutes an act of collective punishment, a crime prohibited under international humanitarian law. Gaza’s man-made and internationally perpetuated crisis is set to deepen as Egypt builds an Iron wall 30 meters deep and 20 meters high on the southern Rafah border, closing off the final route for Palestinians to get basic supplies.

The urgency of breaking the blockade grows by the day, as Palestinians living in this prison are denied their most basic rights.

Our mission will include two boats committed by a Turkish NGO plus a cargo ship purchased with donations from the Malaysian people. This ship will be loaded with cement, water filtration systems and paper – all essential reconstruction materials denied entry to Gaza by Israel.

Free Gaza’s missions were the first to challenge Israel’s hermetic closing of Gaza when we sailed two small boats into Gaza in August 2008. We did not ask permission of Israel or Egypt to travel to Gaza and sailed directly from international waters into the waters of Gaza. Since then, we have been the catalyst for a growing international movement of civilian advocates, including the Gaza Freedom March and Viva Palestina.

Of course we will face Israel’s illegal naval blockade. But we have broken through it before and we will do it again. We are writing to ask you to make sure the mission is funded and publicized.

We sailed four more successful missions to Gaza since August 2008, and we intend to come back this year with a small flotilla, so you still have time to get boats and come with us. We are calling on all NGOs, human rights organizations and communities around the world to join us. If you already have funding for boats, we can provide the logistical and technical advice on how get them ready to join the flotilla. If you want to help in other ways, we have listed five below.

Fundraise for this trip. Consider organizing a big or small fundraiser in your community. We already have people available to speak at your events. Friends returning from the Gaza Freedom March, or the Viva Palestina convoy can be especially helpful by turning report backs into fundraisers.

Get your community involved and turn this flotilla into a global effort. Our boats will carry building supplies and school supplies, both banned by Israeli authorities. Contribute by donating paper, ink or books for our Right to Read campaign: If you can donate reconstruction supplies, please contact us. Get your children and their schools involved by having them write letters to children in Gaza that we will carry on our boats and deliver.

Publicize the trip. Once we have announced the date, help us get the message out to the media and to your elected officials to assure the passengers and boats will sail safely.

Ask your Member of Parliament/Congress to come with us. We already have MPs from South America, South Africa, Malaysia, Turkey and Europe who are going. If you have contacts with other high profile people, please let us know.
Volunteer as land crew, media or support crew in your countries.

To help, organize a fundraiser, suggest passengers and offer support, please email us at, and we will follow up immediately. We have only two to three months to finish organizing, raise the additional funds, and to set sail.

Join us as we sail together to Gaza this spring!


11 January, 2010 — MEDIA LENS: Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

Ignoring or downplaying Western crimes is a standard feature of the corporate Western media. On rare occasions when a broadcaster or newspaper breaks ranks and reports ‘our’ crimes honestly, it is instructive to observe the response from the rest of the media. Do they follow suit, perhaps digging deeper for details, devoting space to profiles of the victims and interviews with grieving relatives, humanising all concerned? Do they put the crimes in perspective as the inevitable consequence of rapacious Western power? Or do they look away?

One such case is a report that American-led troops dragged Afghan children from their beds and shot them during a night raid on December 27 last year, leaving ten people dead. Afghan government investigators said that eight of the dead were schoolchildren, and that some of them had been handcuffed before being killed. Kabul-based Times correspondent Jerome Starkey reported the shocking accusations about the joint US-Afghan operation. But the rest of the UK news media have buried the report.

After details of the massacre first emerged, Afghan President Karzai sent a team of investigators to the alleged scene of the atrocity in the village of Ghazi Kang in eastern Kunar province. Assadullah Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, led the investigation. He told The Times that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, implying that they were part of a special forces unit:

“At around 1 am, three nights ago, some American troops with helicopters left Kabul and landed around 2km away from the village. The troops walked from the helicopters to the houses and, according to my investigation, they gathered all the students from two rooms, into one room, and opened fire.” (Jerome Starkey, ‘Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children’, The Times, December 31, 2009;

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Haiti Report for January 11, 2010

11 January, 2010 — Haiti Report

The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haiti and international media prepared by Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY. It does not reflect the opinions of any individual or organization. This service is intended to create a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation. Please visit our website to learn more about KONPAY and Haiti:

To make a donation to support this service, visit our site or mail personal checks to: Konbit Pou Ayiti, 7 Wall Street, Gloucester, MA, 01930.

– UN Peacekeeping Mission Helping Prepare for Upcoming Elections
– Latin American Solidarity Coalition Delegation in Haiti Releases Statement
– UN Representative Says Elections are Key to Preserving Progress
– UN Secretary General says UN will Provide Security and Logistical Support for Elections
– President Preval Promises Fair Legislative Elections, Emphasizes Importance of Stability for Development
– Choice Hotels Opening a Comfort Inn in Jacmel this May
– Ghetto Biennale, Art on Grand Rue
– Protest, and a Hunger Strike, Over Haitian Immigrant Deported 24 Years Later
– Zynga Games Raise over $1 million for School Children in Haiti
– Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith Raise Funds for World Food Programme in Haiti
– SOIL Promoting Composting Toilets

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HaitiReport 11 January, 2010: Elections Without Voters: Eroding Participation in Haiti

11 January, 2010 — Haiti Report

Elections Without Voters
Eroding Participation in Haiti

By: Melinda Miles, Konbit Pou Ayiti

Twenty years after its first democratic elections, Haiti is preparing for a vote to fill all but one seat in its Chamber of Deputies and ten of its thirty Senate seats. However, as the election date of February 28 rapidly approaches, the United States and other donor countries should withhold funding and observers from what is shaping up to be a selection rather than an election.

Recent reports and statements about the elections have focused on one key issue that is likely to undermine the election: The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), appointed by President Rene Preval, has excluded fifteen political parties from fielding candidates in the February contest. However, even if these parties are included in the election, the disenfranchisement of the majority of Haitians will still render the results of the election invalid.

U.S. Foreign Policy: Building Pluralism in Haiti – Until Now

After two decades of working to encourage political pluralism in Haiti, including the disbursement of millions of dollars to political parties labeled the “opposition,” the U.S. has an obligation to condemn the CEP for excluding fifteen well-known political parties. Ten years ago the U.S. and the international community boycotted elections because opposition parties themselves chose to not participate, accusing that CEP of being controlled by the Fanmi Lavalas party. Today some of these same parties are being intentionally excluded from participating, along side the Fanmi Lavalas party.

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Joe Bageant: Taking Tea with the Lizards

10 January, 2010 — Joe Bageant

Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico — The Republican Party will beat the living piss out of anybody for a buck. The Democrats will fly the flag of FDR, even as they pirate the public coffers on behalf of Wall Street. Don’t think the American people have not noticed these things. After thirty years of pistol whipping and emptying of their wallets, they’ve started to figure out there just may be a public robbery underway, with both parties as accomplices.

And so Americans at both ends of the political spectrum are finally wising up to the need for a third party. Even if it is a third party within their own party, which is no third party at all, of course. However, for Americans it’s all about branding, what you call a thing, that’s important. Call a six-ounce block of corn sugar with sunflower seeds and raisins stuck on the outside an ‘Organic Energy Bar’ and by god, you have natural food right there on the 7-Eleven shelf. What a thing is called is how a nation a people carefully bred for consumption will see it, thanks to that advertising arm of American capitalism called the news media

Presently surfacing from the frothing drek we call our political system is a thing called the Tea Party. Whether advertised as such or not, the Tea Party is viewed by millions as an emerging third party, or the functional equivalent of one. In some dark recess of the American consciousness — hard to tell which one because it’s all darkness and recession — millions have figured out that nobody is getting what they want or need from Congress, except the corporations that own Congress. Actually, dedicated voters on the far right are getting exactly what they have voted for — a police state — but do not recognize it yet. No matter. Millions are unhappy and one way or another, think a third party, or the threat of one at least, offers a solution. And how could you go wrong with a brand evoking hallowed images from Ms. Jenkins fourth grade history class of the Boston Tea Party?

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