Within days after the attack on the Mavi Marmara, European activists announced a Jewish Boat to sail in July from an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean, attempting to break the siege imposed by Israel in 2006. The boat is sponsored by a coalition of international Jewish organizations dedicated to peace with justice in Israel/Palestine, including the ''Jüdische Stimme'' (‘Jewish Voice’ for a Just Peace in the Near East), along with European Jews for a Just Peace in the Near East (EJJP) and Jews for Justice For Palestinians (UK). American Jews for a Just Peace (AJJP) will serve as the U.S. Coordinator, creating a transatlantic partnership. The small boat’s cargo will include school books, medicines and medical equipment.
Why a Jewish boat? Lots of reasons. The universal values contained in the ethical tradition of Judaism don’t include ‘Do unto others as was done unto us.’ For Jews to publicly confront the Israeli government’s policies of occupation, apartheid, and siege on a world stage highlights the political nature of the conflict and discredits those who insist on framing it strictly in ethnic and/or religious terms. I like best the answer from Glyn Secker, the Jewish Boat’s captain, a British Jew, and longtime activist with Jews for Justice for Palestinians in the UK: “As Jews we should stand as a beacon for human rights, not as an internationally known perpetrator of atrocities.”
These may be reasons enough for us to pour our hearts and souls, as well as the contents of our pockets, into supporting this effort. And imagine telling our grandchildren that in response to Israel’s stranglehold on 1.5 million Palestinian people in Gaza, and in solidarity with the international movement, we sent a boat of Jewish activists to break the blockade. For additional information and to make a contribution, go to: www.ajjp.org/jewishboat.