SS Liberty Arrives; Israel Backs Down On Attack Threats?
By Pat Shannan
In two wooden boats not much bigger than the one in which Jesus of Nazareth stood and calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee with the word “peace,” the volunteers of the Free Gaza movement crossed over 200 miles of choppy seas and broke the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
As reported earlier by AFP, the Free Gaza Movement (with individuals from 46 nations) purchased the two boats with money raised by private donations. One, the SS Free Gaza, accompanied the SS Liberty (named in memory of the USS Liberty deliberately attacked by Israel during the Six Day War).
They left Cyprus in late August. They carried humanitarian supplies toward
Gaza where Israel has maintained a program of economic and material suffocation on the 1.4 million Palestinian Christians and Muslims living there. Israel, seemingly addicted to the same sort of sadism and bloodshed that characterized the Israelites’ destruction of 31 Palestinian villages as recounted in the Old Testament—promised bloodletting.
In warnings from Israeli ministries and ministers, Israel threatened to “use force” to prevent the SS Liberty from bringing relief to the besieged non-combatants—women, children and elderly—of Gaza. The response on the part of the volunteers of the Free Gaza movement was “sink us then, we are going anyway.”
Cypriot maritime authorities certified that the boats were not carrying contraband, so the ships set out after casting 34 long-stemmed roses into the sea in memory of the 34 American sailors killed by Israel in 1967.
They ran into rough seas and everybody aboard took turns throwing up over the side. Halfway through the journey, all their communication equipment failed to operate, including satellite hookups. Spokesperson Greta Berlin, speaking to American Free Press from Gaza City, said most believed Israel deliberately jammed their communications equipment.
Jamming communications was the first act in Israel’s assault on the USS Liberty 41 years ago to prevent word of the attack from getting out. The Free Gaza movement utilized webcams to broadcast what was happening in real time around the world. Israel could not get away with sinking the ship, as there would be too many witnesses.
Greta Berlin described the scene as the ships approached besieged Gaza, with as many as 50 fishing boats sailing out to greet them, some people climbing on board and cheering. She estimated there were at least 50,000 people on the beach cheering. Other estimates range up to 200,000.
Ms. Berlin said the two ships and their crew are not out of dangerous waters yet because they plan to sail back to Cyprus with 10 Palestinian students who have been accepted to study abroad but who have been prevented from leaving Gaza. Will some “accident” befall the two ships on their way back to Cyprus, such as a “storm” or an “attack by pirates”?
A former schoolteacher fluent in several languages, Mark Glenn spoke at the AFP-TBR conference on the Middle East panel. He is a prolific writer whose provocative essays have been published worldwide. He and his wife Vicki and their eight children maintain a ranch in northern Idaho. His book, No Beauty in the Beast, can be ordered from TBR BOOK CLUB (1-877-773-9077) for $28 ppd.
(Issue # 36, September 8, 2008)