Sunday, May 23, 2010

"You Are Not Alone" --Leaving for Israel/Palestine

We are sailing away, with hope in our soul
Sailing to say, “You are not alone.”
Sailing today, “Salam, Shalom,”
For peace on the shores of Gaza.

These are the words of Irish singer, Tommy Sands, who wrote the song 'The Shores of Gaza," a theme song for the Free Gaza Movement’s current voyage from Ireland to Gaza. The cargo ship, MV Rachel Corrie, and the rest of flotilla of eight ships has set sail and is bringing humanitarian supplies—among other things, medical supplies, children’s school materials, and cement—to the people of Gaza, who are still living under Israel’s blockade of their port and land routes. [See Thursday’s blog to hear the song and find out more about Free Gaza.]

These words express my feelings too, as I prepare to leave on Monday for a Compassionate Listening delegation to Israel and the West Bank. It’s what the people there—both Palestinian and Israeli—who are working for a just peace, have asked of me on previous trips. They say “Come and See,” “Bring others”—and “Tell our story.”

I, indeed, have “hope in my soul”—this injustice and fear cannot go on forever. And I am going there to tell them that they are not alone. Although American tax dollars are spent every day ($7m each day) to supply and maintain the soldiers stationed in the West Bank, there are Americans who are working for a just peace too.

Compassionate Listening has the power to bring about understanding and reconciliation. It is a way of listening deeply that transforms both speaker and listener, and in so doing, is a seed of hope for an embattled world.

So, please hold all of us in your prayers. I will write on my blog when I can find internet access: . I’ll be gone May 24-June 5.

An update on the Free Gaza flotilla from Greta Berlin:
We will soon have a new page added to our website called . You will be able to follow us as we journey to Gaza over the next two weeks. You can watch our own 'video reports' twice a day, reports from the boats and from Gaza. Everything on the page is connected to make it easier for you to access TWITTER, Facebook, YouTube and FLICKR. Watch for it in the next day or so.

For the update on the boats, the Turkish passenger ship left yesterday from Istanbul to the next port to pick up more passengers. The Irish/Malaysian ship, the MV Rachel Corrie, is on her way to the Mediterranean. The Greek/Swedish cargo ship, the passenger boat from the European Campaign and the Free Gaza passenger boats are ready to leave Greece this week.

We will all meet in international waters off the coast of Gaza, turn and steam into Gaza City port sometime between May 28 and June 1 depending on the weather.

The Israelis are nervous.
The Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to Gaza to the diaspora are ecstatic.
The internationals are determined.
The boats are ready.
The world waits.

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