Alice Walker is an African American writer whose novels, short stories, and poems are noted for their insightful treatment of black culture. She is also the most banned American author in the U.S., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Why Alice Walker sails to Gaza
Published Jun 29, 2011 3:08 PM
Right now — that is, on June 28 — in the strike-closed harbor of Athens, Greece, there are 350 courageous individuals ready to sail on a dozen ships to deliver aid and solidarity to the people of Gaza. The mostly North American and European passengers have boarded ships from the U.S., Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Britain, France, Greece and Norway.
Many participants have been active in the anti-war and solidarity movement. They all know that last year the Israeli warlords ordered their marines to storm the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara delivering humanitarian aid to the Palestinians under siege inside Gaza. With no provocation, the Israeli killers mowed down nine people of Turkish origin.
Since then, understanding has spread and deepened about the Israeli state’s oppressive role and its alignment with every reactionary imperialist offensive in the region and in the world. And from the other direction there is solidarity with and appreciation for the liberating uprisings in North Africa and Southwest Asia, overthrowing or threatening imperialist puppet regimes from Tunisia and Egypt to Yemen and Bahrain. Cairo’s Tahrir Square has inspired struggle from Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain, to the Capitol in Madison, Wis.
Among those ready to sail are writers and intellectuals known far beyond progressive circles. Swedish author Henning Mankel, a favorite of mystery fans, is on the flotilla as he was last year. Santiago Alba Rico, author, philosopher and screenwriter, is spokesperson for the Gernika, the ship from Spain. And on the U.S. ship, The Audacity of Hope, is African-American author and Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, whose words explaining her reasons for sailing are worth excerpting here:
“[T]here is, for me, an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the American south in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help — our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protesters — and came to stand with us.
“They got as far as the truncheons and bullets of a few ‘good ol’ boys’ of Neshoba County, Miss., and were beaten and shot to death along with James Chaney, a young Black man of formidable courage who died with them. So, even though our boat will be called The Audacity of Hope, it will fly the Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner flag in my own heart.
“And what of the children of Palestine, who were ignored in our president’s latest speech on Israel and Palestine, and whose impoverished, terrorized, segregated existence was mocked by the standing ovations recently given in the U.S. Congress to the prime minister of Israel? I see children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe.”
Washington, Tel Aviv and the subservient regime in Greece are doing all they can to sabotage the flotilla. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has already supported Israeli use of force. But there is a different reaction from the people. The workers in Greece in the midst of a general strike pledge to load the freedom ships, and the “indignant ones” in Syntagma Square are following the progress of the fleet on massive TV screens.
Long live Freedom Flotilla II.
Long live the Mavi Marvara.
Long live the people of Gaza.
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