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I Sent a Message to the President about My Trip to Gaza . . .

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I Sent a Message to the President about My Trip to Gaza . . .
. . . and all I got back was a Father's Day e-mail from Michelle! Well, at least I know they noted my e-mail address and tucked it away in their database!

If I can't get a response from the White House, the Israelis certainly are paying attention to our trip. Both the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz have published stories of our visit:

1. Ha'aretz article

Activists plan to send Gaza cement, in violation of Israel blockade
By Reuters and Haaretz Service
Tags: Gaza, Hamas, Israel News
Activists campaigning for an end to Gaza's blockade by Israel will sail to the Hamas-run enclave from Cyprus despite the presence of the Israeli navy, they said on Thursday.

Two boats, including one carrying cement and building supplies -- materials not permitted in by Israel over fears that they could be used for military purposes -- will sail from Cyprus on June 25, the multi-national Free Gaza Movement said.

"We are taking 15 tons of cement, which is just a token of how much the Palestinians need, because the Israelis won't allow building supplies into Gaza," said Greta Berlin, a representative of the group.
The group started regular shuttles to Gaza from Cyprus in August 2008, but was turned back by the Israeli navy on its last journey in mid-January of this year.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza in 2007 after the Islamist Hamas took control of the enclave, a strip of land that is home to 1.5 million people.

Israeli forces bombed and then invaded Gaza in late December 2008 in a bid to rout out militants lobbing rockets into Israel, badly battering its already decrepit infrastructure.

2. Jerusalem Post article
Jun 18, 2009 17:20
Activists plan to defy Gaza blockade again
Nicosia, Cyprus
International activists, including a former US congresswoman and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, plan to defy Israel's blockade on Gaza next week by traveling to the Palestinian territory by boat to deliver humanitarian supplies.
The Free Gaza Group already has made five successful boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, but its activists were stopped twice by Israeli warships during December's Operation Cast Lead.
Free Gaza Group spokeswoman Greta Berlin said Thursday that 36 people would make the June 25 trip from Cyprus to Gaza on a fishing boat and a small ferry loaded with building supplies such as cement.
Berlin said the activists from 16 countries would include former Democratic US Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
3. And Heddy, a Holocaust survivor planning on making the trip with us, will not be able to because she was attacked and had to be stitched up. Here's her story:

Guest speaker hurt in assault
By Janese Heavin
Sunday, June 21, 2009
An “inspirational” speaker for 15 years at the Missouri Scholars Academy was attacked this week after visiting the Columbia camp.
Hedy Epstein: Holocaust survivor
Hedy Epstein, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, was walking to her home from a Metrolink station in St. Louis on Wednesday when someone pushed her hard from behind. She fell to the ground and lay in a state of shock, bleeding profusely from her chin.
The attack occurred so quickly, Epstein said, that she thought she saw a man running but can’t remember what he looked like. She forced herself to get home and called a friend when the bleeding would not stop. At the hospital, doctors determined an artery had been nicked.
The attack might not have been random.
Epstein is part of a movement opposed to Israel’s treatment of Gaza and has received threatening messages.
After she gave a television interview earlier this year, someone left a phone message telling Epstein she should be ashamed of herself. In the message, the caller threatened to visit St. Louis and “give you a piece of my mind and spit on your ugly face. … We will find a way to deal with protesters of your type.”
Epstein has since given the transcribed message to police.
On Thursday, Epstein said she received an e-mail from someone asking whether she is trying to help free the Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinians more than two years ago. “Is there a connection” between the attack and e-mail? she asked. “It’s not obvious, but there might be.”
Her injuries have forced Epstein to cancel a planned trip to Gaza this month, but she’s planning another trip there in August. She said she won’t let the threats or her attack stop her.
After all, Epstein has experienced worse.
She was 8 when Adolf Hitler came to power while she and her family were living in Germany. Five years later, Epstein was taken to England with 500 other Jewish children.
From a foster home, she continued to correspond with her parents until 1942, when she received back-to-back letters from them. Though written separately, both her father and mother told her they were going to an “undisclosed location” and that it would be a long time before she would hear from them again.
Years later, Epstein found out what they meant: Both had been sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. “I didn’t know that at the time,” she said. “So when my parents said it may be a long time, I wanted to know how long. I wanted so much to be reunited.”
Hearing that story during the Missouri Scholars Academy this week hit home for Grace Sparapani, a scholar from Nixa. “I can’t imagine not seeing your parents again,” she said. “It really made me appreciate mine more.”
Epstein is “absolutely amazing,” Grace added. “I can’t even imagine how much courage it takes to talk about that … What she’s doing is really brave.”
The scholars made a “Get Well” card to send to Epstein, said Chris Young, a spokesman for the camp. “Hedy’s a very inspiring individual,” he said. “The scholars wanted to do something to show her that they care for her.”
The attack might have caused her body to bruise, but it did little to injure her spirit. She said she’s as determined as ever to continue opposition efforts against the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.
“I know what it means to be discriminated against and to suffer,” she said. “I care profoundly about issues of justice and fairness and peace. And I care about people — not just Jewish people. I care about everybody.”
Reach Janese Heavin at 573-815-1705 or e-mail
4. New content is posted on our ning site ( and on our DIGNITY Channel on ( Please check out the new videos, text, and photos!! Also, I think we have some bugs to work out on our Livestream channel. Please be sure to report your findings to us so we can work through any bugs that might be in our posting or your reception.

5. Keep up with me as I cross the Meditterranean to Gaza. The boats will send out a signal and our location will be shown on Tune in to follow our progress from Cyprus through international waters to the territorial waters of Gaza.

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Cynthia Ann McKinney (born March 17, 1955) is a former United States Representative and the 2008 Green Party nominee for President of the United States. McKinney served as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-2003 and 2005-2007, (more...)
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