When an international flotilla sails for the Gaza Strip this month to challenge Israel’s controversial naval blockade of the Palestinian territory, Alice Walker — one of America’s premier writers, poets and civil rights activists — will be among them.
Walker will be on an American ship with 34 passengers, including an 86-year-old whose parents died in the Holocaust, reports the New York Times.
Remembering growing up in Georgia during the Jim Crow era, Walker said:
“The Gaza Flotilla is the Freedom Ride of this era…We prayed for people to come to break through the Klan, the racist police, the white citizens’ councils, to come and see what we suffered with every day. We must oppose oppression with every ounce of our blood. We must go and see what is happening and join our stories to their stories. We do this especially for the youth. It may take the rest of our lives, but we will start now.”
One year ago, nine activists in a flotilla of six boats were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish boat in international waters off the coast of Gaza. Among the dead was an American citizen of Turkish descent. The incident severely strained relations between Turkey and Israel.
In an attempt to highlight the need for America to become more heavily involved in the peace process, the American flotilla that Walker will travel on has been named “The Audacity of Hope,” after a book by President Obama of the same name.
Israel has already announced that it plans to intercept the flotilla before it reaches Gaza’s shores.