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An American boat?

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It’s not too often I come out of a talk about the blockade of Gaza or the situation in Palestine feeling optimistic and hopeful.

But those are exactly the emotions I felt after seeing retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright and Adam Shapiro of the Free Gaza Movement speak about the flotilla that tried to break the blockade of Gaza.

The All Soul’s Unitarian Church on the Upper East Side was packed with between 200 and 300 people for the event, and there weren’t enough chairs for everyone to sit—a sign of the times.

Wright spoke about her experience being on the Challenger 1 boat that was part of the flotilla and about being taken to a prison in the Israeli city of Beersheba.

Shapiro spoke about the next steps being taken by the Free Gaza movement, and about keeping up the momentum in the larger solidarity movement. Shapiro’s message was that “the tide is turning” against Israeli policy, and that we must keep up the pressure, especially on the American government.

At the end of the talk, there was a lot of excited discussion about bringing an American ship with U.S. citizens to Gaza to break the blockade. Laurie Arbeiter, a local activist, suggested naming the boats “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My (Palestinian) Father,” after the two books that President Obama has written.

For your listening pleasure, I’ve uploaded Ann Wright and Adam Shapiro’s talk as rough, unedited audio files on

Click here to download Ann Wright’s talk, and go here to hear Adam Shapiro’s.

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