Middle East studies in the News
Gaza Flotilla 'Emboldened' by Obama's Mideast Speech [incl. Rashid Khalidi]
The organizers of an American activist flotilla setting sail later this month for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have appealed to President Obama to "protect" their ship.
The ship is named "The Audacity of Hope," the namesake of Obama's 2006 book and his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention. Obama himself took the name from the title of a sermon, "Audacity to Hope," given by his controversial pastor for more than twenty years, Jeremiah Wright.
Several of the ship's endorsers and fundraisers have been close associates of Obama's.
The new flotilla is attempting to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Jewish state maintains the blockade to ensure against Hamas arming itself at sea. The terrorist group had been caught several times attempting to smuggle weapons, including rockets and advanced missiles, into Gaza by sea.
In a letter to Obama, flotilla organizer Ray McGovern said the president's major Middle East address from two weeks ago "emboldens me to claim your protection as we set out to put flesh on your rhetoric."
"I write you for assurance of your support and protection as we try to embody your rhetoric," wrote McGovern.
Continued McGovern: "You spoke eloquently today about 'times in the course of history when the action of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years.' And you lamented 'failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people.'
"We, the passengers and crew of 'The Audacity of Hope,' sailing to Gaza in June together with the 2nd International Freedom Flotilla, represent ordinary Americans determined to speak to the aspirations of the 1.5 million ordinary Gazans yearning to be free."
The "Audacity of Hope" boat is slated to be one of the approximately 15 boats that will sail to Gaza with people from over 22 countries
Jane Hirschmann, another of "The Audacity of Hope" ship organizers, stated, "The U.S. boat to Gaza and the international flotilla is committed to non-violently bringing attention to Israel's policy of siege, blockade, and occupation."
The U.S. branch of the flotilla project is endorsed by several Obama associates, including Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, who reported helped raise $370,000 to finance the purchase of a U.S. ship for the cause.
WND was the first to reporton Obama's close relationship with Khalidi, who has been tied to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and who has described Israel as a "racist" state with an "apartheid" system.
Also endorsing the "Audacity" ship is Code Pink, co-founded by Jodie Evans. The group previously met with Hamas and with leaders of the Taliban.
Evans was a fundraiser and financial bundler for Obama's presidential campaign.
WND reportedthat in January, Evans and other Obama associates provoked chaos in Egypt in an attempt to enter the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to join in solidarity with the territory's population and leadership.
Among those associates were former Weather Underground terrorists William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. The duo are both leaders of the Free Gaza Movement, which also endorsed the "Audacity of Hope" ship.
Just yesterday, pro-Palestinian activists delivered a message to Israel that the country should not try to stop the new planned flotilla, scheduled for late June. In a press conference, a coalition of 22 activist groups called on the international government to ensure the passage of the new flotilla.
The new flotilla follows last year's flotilla attempt, organized by the Hamas-tied, Turkish-based Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or IHH, along with Ayers' Free Gaza coalition.
That flotilla engaged in deadly clashes with Israeli special forces troops. Dozens of flotilla activists armed with knives, bats and metal pipes confronted the Israeli naval raid and immediately attacked the soldiers. Nine activists were killed, while 15 Israeli solders were wounded.
Turk admits flotilla activists started clashes
In October,WND reporteda Turkish journalist who was on last year's flotilla admitted the Israel Defense Forces did not open fire on activists aboard a Hamas-supporting flotilla until the soldiers' lives were endangered by those on the now infamous ship.
Some participants in the flotilla had claimed in news media interviews Israeli troops indiscriminately opened fire upon boarding the ship from a helicopter. Nine activists were killed in the clashes that ensued.
"I saw with my own eyes that when the soldiers came on helicopters and started landing on the ship, they did not fire," stated Turkish journalist Sefik Dinc.
"It wasn't until the soldiers were met with resistance and realized that some of their friends' lives were in danger that they began using live ammunition," he said.
Dinc, who wrote a book about his experiences on the flotilla, was speaking in an interview with Israel's Channel One. The interview was translated into English by theMeir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
Consistent with video footage and testimonies of Israeli soldiers who had boarded the ship, Dinc recalled flotilla activists using iron bars against the IDF troops.
WND previously reportedthat prior to its violent confrontation with Israeli commandos, the commander of the flotilla announced participants were planning to use "resistance" and declared the ship's activists wanted to die as "martyrs" more than they wanted to reach the Gaza Strip, according to Hamas television.
Also,WND reportedon video footage showing flotilla activists shouting anti-Jewish battle cries and speaking of using "resistance" against Israel. One participant stated she saw only two possible outcomes for the boat occupants – "either martyrdom or reaching Gaza."
With additional research by Brenda J. ElliottNote: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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