Philly BDS | No Justice, No (Chick)peas
Philadelphia, PA, July 2, 2011 – More than fifty human rights protesters came out onto the streets today in response to recent action by the Greek government preventing the US Boat to Gaza from leaving port at Athens. The protesters held signs, chanted and talked to holiday vacationers in front of the Federal Building at 6th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.
Scheduled to sail as part of an international flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza, the U.S. Boat to Gaza—The Audacity of Hope—was stopped on Friday by the Greek Coast Guard. After a stand off that unfolded over several hours a second Greek Coast Guard boat arrived carrying heavily armed Greek commandos. The boat was eventually taken back to dock in Athens and the captain arrested.
Protesters carried signs that read “Free Gaza,” “End the Blockade of Gaza,” “Let our Citizens Sail,” and “End the Siege of Gaza.” The crowd of fifty, sometimes joined by passersby, repeated chants like “The whole world is watching Gaza, let the boats sail!” and “Justice will prevail; let the boats sail!” Protesters also chanted “Hey, hey Barack Obama, Let our people sail to Gaza!” Today’s protest drew cheers from passersby and honks of support from passing cars.
Also during the protest, Alice Walker’s poem written aboard the Audacity of Hope was read aloud by the father of a local Jewish American activist who was violently arrested in a Jerusalem Day protest while traveling with an Interfaith Peace Builders delegation last month in East Jerusalem.
Passengers aboard The Audacity of Hope include 36 Americans, among them Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. Four crew and ten reporters are also on board.
Susan Landau of Philly BDS commented: “The Greek government is caving into pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The activists on the boat are peaceful human rights activists. The Israeli government is going to great lengths to prevent their journey and maintain an illegal naval blockade that violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. And Greece is trumping up charges against the boat’s captain because it is bowing to pressure from the U.S. and the Israeli government. All the support we’ve gotten today shows that freedom-loving people here and elsewhere won’t be fooled.”
Similar protests are being held in other cities, such as New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Dallas, Seattle, and Toronto.