days ago, on October 13, three hours before I was to board a flight to Europe to
meet up with the Swedish boat to Gaza, the "Estelle," the next boat to challenge
the Israeli blockade, I was called by a board member of the Estelle who said
that because of the furor around Greta Berlin's posting and because I am a
member of the new, two-week-d board of the Free Gaza Movement, I was no longer invited to be a passenger on
board representative acknowledged that the reason for their invitation to me to
be on the "Estelle" was that I am a retired US Army Colonel and former US
diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, that I am a
vocal critic of Israeli and United States policies on Palestinians. Also, that I
have been to Gaza four times in the past three years, assisted seven groups to go to Gaza
in 2009, helped organize the December, 2009 Gaza Freedom March, was a passenger
on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla; that I helped organize the 2011 US Boat to Gaza and
am an organizer for one of the latest initiatives -- Gaza's Ark.
But, because I am a member of the new board of the Free Gaza movement, and despite the fact I, and Greta and all members of the new board have made public statements posted on the Free Gaza Movement's website that neither Greta, nor members of the current or previous board are anti-Semitic, bigoted or racist, the fact that I am on the new Free Gaza board was the reason the board of the "Estelle" was withdrawing the invitation for me to sail on the Estelle due to allegations of anti-Semitism of the Swedish Boat to Gaza by pro-Israeli groups in Sweden.
I am saddened by the decision of the board to withdraw its invitation and I believe it is wrong. All of our projects that have challenged Israeli policies toward Palestinians have been called anti-Semitic by pro-Israeli groups. This is not a new tactic used to scare pro-Palestinian groups.
Phil Weiss and Adam Horowitz in an article posted on Mondoweiss said -- "there is no room for racism in a
movement working for equality, justice and freedom for all in
Israel/Palestine." They are right, but at the same time, there is no room
for throwing long-time international activists for Palestine "off the boat," so to speak.
Greta Berlin is not an anti-Semite, a bigot or a racist, and neither am I.
wish the passengers and crew on the "Estelle" a safe voyage in challenging the
Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and call for all who support Palestinians to keep
their eyes on the prize -- justice, dignity and freedom for
are suffering under unjust Israeli policies and actions.
to all and among us all...