LETTER: Ensure safe passage of humanitarian ship to Gaza

Thursday, June 23, 2011 | 3:58 p.m. CDT

On May 31, 2010, Israel carried out a lethal assault on a flotilla of boats carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, Palestine. As the anniversary of that unjustified, violent attack was passing in May, the Freedom Flotilla 2: Stay Human was preparing to attempt to sail to Gaza. People from 15 nations around the world will be on ships that attempt to exercise their legal and human rights to sail to Gaza.

Among the ships attempting to break Israel's illegal blockade will be 50 American citizens on board a U.S. ship named The Audacity of Hope. Included among these passengers will be author Alice Walker, ex-CIA officer Ray McGovern, retired Air force Col. Ann Wright, and from St. Louis, Hedy Epstein, whose entire family died in the holocaust, and Kathy Kelly and Medea Benjamin, both well-known advocates for peace and justice. The Audacity of Hope will not be carrying any cargo beyond it's passengers and thousands of letters of solidarity and support written by Americans to the people of Gaza.

These U.S. citizens have sent a letter to President Obama and Congress, calling on them to assure the safe passage of this ship. Mr. Obama can do this by notifying the government of Israel in clear terms that it may not interfere in any way with the safe passage of this unarmed flotilla.

I encourage everyone to call the White House at 202-456-1111 and contact our Congressional leaders, adding their voices to this call for protection of our citizens and for an end to the illegal siege of Gaza by Israel. Friends of Israel, please join in making this call for justice. Israel's cause is only hurt by more violence and injustice. Peace is Israel's only real hope for security.

Jean A. Blackwood lives in Columbia.

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Paul Allaire June 23, 2011 | 7:13 p.m.

To say I am in support of the ship and it's mission is one of the broadest understatements I can make.

However, half of me hopes that Israel will produce a hole in the water where the ship was and then turn around and strike the wreckage. Just so the world will know the animals they have been feeding.

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