FREEDOM SAILORS is a much-needed account of how a small group of ordinary people conceived and executed what seemed like a grandiose and audacious plan to break Israel’s illegal military blockade of the Gaza Strip, a blockade that keeps more than 1.5 million people in an open-air prison. Knowing what we know now – that Israel Defense Forces would later murder nine people, including an unarmed American citizen, Furkan Dogan, executed at point-blank range during a later Freedom Flotilla – our chutzpah is astonishing.
In a little over two years, we raised the money to purchase two dilapidated fishing boats stored in secret ports in Greece, collected 44 passengers, crew and journalists, aged 22 to 81 and chose Cyprus as our embarkation point.
People who weren’t there or weren’t close to us may not realize just how isolated we were once we finally set sail to Gaza on the late morning of August 22, 2008; over 33 hours on the sea, no internet, and only a couple of satellite phones which were blocked by the Israelis after night set in.
That first voyage in 2008 achieved exactly what we hoped it would. We opened the door just a bit, proving it could be done. None of the later actions, by land or by sea, would have been possible or even attempted if we hadn’t climbed into two ramshackle boats with nothing but our determination and our naiveté holding us together.
Our story of how we came together, raised the necessary money, and pulled off the successful voyage, despite the prying eyes of Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, is often riveting.
More to the point, it helps us understand the importance of taking a stand when you see an injustice rather than becoming complicit through silence.