Great opportunity to join our friends in Gaza by swimming on or before August 26th. Take a video of yourself and friends to show your solidarity for human rights for the people in Gaza. Go to swimwithgaza.com to be registered on the world map, get a T shirt, and or donate for swim lessons for children in Gaza.
The Freedom Flotilla 2023 took to the seas again in a 58-foot converted Norwegian fishing boat called Handala! Halted by COVID for a few years, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla sailed this summer in northern Europe. With port visits in Norway, the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden the Freedom Flotilla Coalition did educational events with local Palestinian solidarity organizers. In 2024, Handala will sail to Gaza with educational port visits in Europe and the Mediterranean with a final push to Gaza to break the illegal Israeli blockade!
Handala has handled the sea well, coming across the North Sea in high seas from Oslo to Scotland in mid-June. A 200-year old broken bridge in the Caledonian Canal in the Scottish Highlands halted her progress for several days, but the crew was warmly welcomed by all who passed the locks! Unfortunately, the delay caused cancellation of stops in Glasgow, Dublin and Waterford, but Freedom Flotilla members and local Palestine Solidarity groups held wonderful and well-attended events in the other stops.
One silver lining from being stuck at Laggan Locks in Scotland, was meeting a captain from Inverness, more than an hour away. He is a member of a Palestinian solidarity group and was thrilled to meet us. By great fortune, when he learned Handala needed a captain for an upcoming leg of our trip he introduced us to one! He was both an excellent captain and engineer!
So many have supported the journey along the way. A doctor in Fort William, Scotland graciously brought us multiple dinners and groceries. He has done medical training in Gaza, the West Bank, and Rwanda. A merchant along the canal gave crew members free dinners when he learned about Handala and our efforts to break Israel’s illegal blockade.
Four Scottish border police officers came aboard in the middle of Scotland, divided us, interrogated the crew and inspected the boat. A local told us that in all the years he had worked there he’d never seen the border police come. It turned out to be a great way to attract local attention and solidarity!
Throughout the UK, local Palestine Solidarity Campaigns (PSCs) have been great. We were greeted in Liverpool by the local PSC who had organized events where local officials, firefighters, union organizers, and others spoke about their solidarity work for Palestine. We also had an event at the oldest mosque in Britain where Alex McDonald from Houston, a US Boats to Gaza steering committee member spoke after prayers; later we were part of a panel in an event at a local church. The outreach in Liverpool was excellent!
Cardiff PSC also welcomed us as we approached the lock. Seeing banners and Palestinian solidarity signs in both English and Welsh was impressive! As soon as Handala docked, a local TV station interviewed captain Clive Haswell in Welsh and later he had an English radio interview on BBC. Good exposure for the campaign!
Cardiff organized a demonstration downtown in response to the violent attack on the Jenin refugee camp by more than a thousand Israeli troops. We marched with their solidarity group through the town to the BBC offices to deliver a letter condemning their biased coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian situation.
There have been further stops in Bristol and Southampton England as well as Rotterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Halmstad, Gothenburg, and Oslo.
US Boats to Gaza was well represented in the flotilla’s crew. Alex McDonald and Tighe Barry sailed with Handala from Oslo, through Scotland. Alex continued to Cardiff and Bristol. Ann Wright was part of the ground crew in Liverpool. Kit Kittredge and Keith Meyers represented the Freedom Flotilla at the events in Waterford, Ireland. All US Boats to Gaza volunteers paid their own expenses and we have incredible gratitude for their efforts.
Thank you for your continuing support in raising awareness of the situation in Gaza, and in holding our governments accountable for their complicity in the violations of Palestinian human rights! We join together globally to let Palestinians know that they are not forgotten or alone!
You can see more details of each of the port visits (including pictures and videos) at: https://freedomflotilla.org/freedom-flotilla-ports/
or some inspiring photos on the Facebook https://www.facebook.com/FreedomFlotillaCoalition/ and https://twitter.com/GazaFFlotilla.
Please continue to donate to the 2024 Gaza Flotilla through our US Boats to Gaza donation link.
Handala, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s 2023-4 boat has been sailing throughout northern Europe since April. She officially left on her journey on June 16, 2023 after introductory stops at ports throughout Norway. She then sailed across the North Sea to Scotland and down the Caledonial Canal.
Freedom Flotilla events were held in Glasgow and Inverness Scotland. Then she sailed down the Irish Sea to Liverpool and an event occurred also in Waterford, Ireland. Cardiff was her port visit in Wales before returning back to England in Bristol.
Follow the events at different ports at: https://freedomflotilla.org/freedom-flotilla-ports/
Join the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in Northern Europe!
We are looking for activists interested in being part of our ground crew, passenger delegation or boat crew (with proper experience) in Scotland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Germany and/or Sweden.
Want to be part of the 2023 Gaza Freedom Flotilla? Join us this summer in northern Europe to mobilize and educate communities about the criminal actions by the state of Israel against Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
Ground crew prepare for the boat’s arrival to a port and work with local activists to put on events and talk with the public.
Passengers travel on the boat between ports and participate in local port events.
Boat crew assist the captain in the operation of the boat.
In all cases participants need to provide their own transportation to the port(s), whether on ground crew, boat crew, or a passenger, and pay for ground expenses such as hotels and meals.
Thank you for standing for human rights!
US Boats to Gaza team
Join the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice Thursday January 26 @ 7pm PT for a presentation featuring Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei, psychiatrist and Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.
TRAUMA & HOPE TOUR Continuous Trauma and Social Devastation, or Caring for All? Featuring Dr. Yasser Abu-Jamei, Psychiatrist and Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme Thursday, January 26, 7 PM Pacific Time St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral (Bloedel Hall) 1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle And ONLINE. Register at: http://bit.ly/3k1Aflv Dr. Abu Jamei will be joined by these local panelists discussing social division and racisms globally, in the Gaza Strip, and in Washington, as well as anti-racism, equality and respect as core values going forward for all peoples—“no exceptions!”:
- Imraan Siddiqi, Executive Director, Council of American-Islamic Relations (Washington Chapter)
- The Honorable Damon Shadid, Seattle Municipal Court Judge
- Dr. Jonathan Kanter, Director, Center for the Science of Social Connection (University of Washington)
- Dr. Brian Baird, psychologist and former U.S. Congressman
This free event is organized by the Massachusetts-based Gaza Mental Health Foundation, the primary sponsor of Dr. Abu-Jamei’s national tour, with support from the following regional cosponsors:
WA Physicians for Social Responsibility
Council on American-Islamic Affairs – WA
Bishop’s Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land – Episcopal Diocese of Olympia
Jewish Voice for Peace – Health Advisory Council
Jewish Voice for Peace – Seattle
Jewish Voice for Peace –Tacoma
Kairos Puget Sound Coalition
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
St. Mark’s Cathedral Mideast Focus Ministry
Students United for Palestine Equality and Return – UW
USA Palestine Mental Health Network
US Boats to Gaza
Dr. Abu-Jamei has steered the GCMHP through devastating times. For 15 years, an Israel-imposed blockade has cut its two million people off from the wider world and all but destroyed the local economy. During that time the Gaza Strip has endured five major Israeli military attacks that have had a severe impact on the physical and psychological health of children and their caregivers. Save the Children International reports, “four out of five children in Gaza say they are living with depression, grief and fear.”
On July 21, 2014, Dr. Abu-Jamei lost 28 members of his extended family – including 19 children – in a single missile strike, and other GCMHP staff members have also suffered terrible losses.
As the leading Palestinian non-governmental organization providing mental health services to the Gaza Strip, the GCMHP works at the nexus of mental health and human rights, to alleviate trauma and instill hope.
In Dr. Abu Jamei’s words, “It is a joy to us when we see children recovering and able to go back to school. We are doing our best to ensure the children can be our future. We are calling for help from the international community to say these children need a future.”
After the global pandemic pause, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition has initiated plans to again sail to challenge the illegal, immoral and inhumane blockade of Gaza. Freedom Flotilla Coalition campaign members, including US Boats to Gaza, recently met in London (Nov. 2022). Member campaigns from Norway, Malaysia, US, Sweden, Canada, France, New Zealand and the International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza attended. We also met with British and international Palestinian rights solidarity organizations to discuss plans to reactivate and expand our work. Our goals remain full human rights for all Palestinians, and in particular, freedom of movement within historic Palestine and the honoring of the international Right of Return.
In light of the increasingly racist and extreme political situation in apartheid Israel and the increasingly brutal repression in occupied Palestine, we are reaching out to other parts of the solidarity movement to work together towards our common goals. This work includes amplifying Palestinian voices, especially those from Gaza, and supporting our civil society partners, like the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, which represents farmers and fishers in Gaza. The UAWC, along with other Palestinian civil society organizations, has been unjustly smeared and designated by the Israeli occupation blatantly incorrectly as a terrorist organization in an attempt to undermine their important role in documenting human rights violations and building resilience in Palestine. While some of our partner organizations are actively involved with important programs addressing the most urgent needs of Palestinian children traumatized by the blockade and murderous Israeli attacks on Gaza, we recognize that a lasting solution requires an end to the blockade.
Human rights organizations, civil society groups, and other solidarity movements are under attack in Palestine and around the world. Our response must reflect and amplify the urgent pleas from our civil society partners to end the blockade of Gaza. At the same time, we also work to end the media blockade by exposing the brutal reality of occupation and apartheid that most media ignore.
As our predecessors in the Free Gaza Movement said when they began these challenging voyages in 2008, we sail until Gaza and Palestine are free!
US Boats to Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla had a booth at the 2022 Houston Palestinian Festival where visitors were updated on the Freedom Flotilla’s work and actions. The Houston Palestinian Festival is the largest in the United States. Younger visitors enjoyed making paper boats and decorating them as we have artists decorate our boats.
Gaza Freedom Flotilla supporter and participant, 88-year-old Barbara Briggs-Letson passed on August 17 with her family and friends by her side. Barbara had a long history with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. She was a key ground crew member in 2011 with the US Boat to Gaza Audacity of Hope in Athens. In 2016, she was on the ground crew for the Women’s Boat to Gaza in Barcelona. In 2018, she traveled for two months visiting 20 ports as ground crew for Al Awda and was the nurse on the leg of the voyage from La Rochelle, France, to Gijón, Spain.
Barbara was a longtime supporter of Palestinian rights. She had been to Gaza in 2009 as a part of a CODEPINK delegation for International Women’s Day, in another delegation in May/June 2009 (see Barbara at minute 4:30 of this video), in 2012 as a part of an emergency delegation after another Israeli attack on Gaza and in 2014 as part of an international delegation of 100 women whom Egyptian authorities refused entry into Gaza. She wrote:
“I have visited in both Gaza and Palestine/Israel and thus, have glimpsed life there. It is not human. To nonviolently change this reality is something worth working for, working hard for. At 55 I went to nursing school and once I had my RN and training as a lay midwife, went with my husband, to volunteer for four years in the countryside of Guatemala, then Honduras. Life was/is hard there, but nothing like Gaza. I feel the injustice and pain in my gut.”
From a visit to Gaza in 2012, Barbara wrote:
“When I visited Gaza,, I walked into the port as the sun rose and fishermen returned from a night of fishing. I was curious and a curiosity. We did not exchange words and I wandered,
stopping at boats, looking at their catch. One boat with two or three quiet men, a few spaces down the harbor, another boat. Each had a box maybe 18”x18” and each box held enough small fish to leave spaces between them as they lay in the bottom of those boxes. It was a night’s work yet not even a meal. That memory is the reason I’m on the Al Awda today. Gaza was not and is not a human place.”
When not working with US Boats to Gaza and the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Barbara protested Israeli and US assassin drones. She joined protests at Creech Drone Base, Nevada; Beale Air Force Base, California; and on delegations to Pakistan and Germany. Barbara created a book of the names of children killed by US assassin drones. The pages of the book unfolded to circle a room with the names of the children in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen that US assassin drones had killed. The book was used in meetings with members of the German Parliament to urge members to vote against weaponizing that country’s drones.
For a CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation to Iran in 2019, Barbara created a book of the names of those on the commercial airliner Iranian Air flight 655 who perished on July 3, 1988, when the US naval destroyer Vincennes shot down the aircraft as it left Iran on a scheduled flight on a scheduled route, killing all 290 onboard, for which the US has never apologized. Barbara presented the book to the Foreign Minister of Iran, who asked that it be kept at the Tehran Peace Museum. Barbara gave the book with the names written in Farsi to Tehran Peace Museum Director Taghipour and the Peace Education Department’s Yalda Khosravi. The book still resides at the Peace Museum in Tehran as a testament to the importance of citizen-to-citizen diplomacy.
In 2022, in Barbara’s last six months, she continued her busy activist life on delegations to Tucson, Arizona, for the “All the Walls Must Fall” conference linking struggles on the Mexican border and in Palestine; to Washington, DC, for the Poor People’s Campaign (be sure to watch the excellent video); and to Guantánamo, Cuba, for the conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases.
We will miss Barbara’s smile, spirit, love, and stand for justice and humanity!
Remembering Our Gail Miller…
Gail Miller, a brave sailor who attempted to break the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza as part of the 2016 Women’s Boat to Gaza, and a member of the US Boats to Gaza steering committee, passed away on April 15, 2022. Gail has been and remains an inspiration for so many – a steady hand on the tiller pointing us towards justice, freedom, equality – all with love.
What friends are saying in remembrance of Gail:
Gail Miller ¡PRESENTE!
The world is no longer the same place. Today and onward, a shining space once occupied by a unique , generous and fierce person, Gail Miller, will be filled with the presence of memory and the power of love… today we have lost a great and powerful woman, a fighter and healer,
a dear friend to so very many, a loving mother, a grandmother and matriarch to a great clan, a loving partner to her dear Billy and an organizer of intimate, abundant gatherings that allowed for political action to be planned or shared, a courageous activist and comrade who inspired and instigated and labored toward a world where justice would be a lived experience and for which we would always fight.
Gail Miller knew and clearly voiced and manifested the deeply held belief that justice is only realized in liberation for all and liberation is realized in the struggle for justice and it comes over a long arch of time and not all at once and never, ever to be taken for granted but practiced.
Gail knew, to struggle well together we needed to break bread and to share food together and she often provided for us abundantly.
I worked closely with Gail to send a U.S. BOAT TO GAZA and she was dedicated, in solidarity, to the liberation struggle in Palestine because she knew none of us are free until Palestine is free.
REST IN POWER dear Gail, dear friend. We carry on in your great memory.
– Laurie Arbeiter
I remember laughing with Gail and Lisa under a tree in some country because Lisa had to prop up the terrible non-violence training that some other project had organized and how the three of us knew that it takes a woman to get the job done…Gail knew how to read people and could identify problems quickly and calmly. I will always remember that about her because that’s what I try to do in my own world. I have met the strongest women I know through the flotilla.
– Wendy Goldsmith
I am so sad to see this news. She was a wonderful woman, full of passion for Palestine. When she left Barcelona on the boat sailing to Gaza, she was beaming, one of the most excited passengers on the boat. I remember waving at her as the boat slid past the docks. She had the biggest grin on her face I’d ever seen.
There will be a hole left that will be hard for any of us to fill.
“Good night, sweet princess. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
– Greta Berlin
Gail Miller and the “Audacity of Hope” on Democracy Now (July 6, 2011)
Join us Sunday April 3 at noon ET to hear about indigenous peoples in British Columbia and Palestine and how history, culture and needs of the indigenous people take a back seat to the land’s resources for colonizers. More information at: https://mideastcrisis2.blogspot.com/2022/03/zoom-panel-on-holding-our-ground.html.
Event co-sponsored by: Jewish Voice for Peace – Hudson Valley, Middle East Crisis Respons, NYC Veterans for Peace, US Boats to Gaza, Women in Black – New Paltz.