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It Takes People on the Outside: Prestigious Author Alice Walker to Confront Israeli Naval Blockade of Gaza on U.S. Aid Ship

StoryJune 28, 2011
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Guests
Alice Walker

acclaimed author, poet and activist. She has written many books, including The Color Purple, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She plans to join the U.S.-flagged ship Audacity of Hope in the humanitarian aid flotilla that aims to sail to Gaza this week, despite the Israeli naval blockade.


Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking "confrontation and blood." Last year, Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activists. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza. One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is the "Audacity of Hope." It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, poet and activist Alice Walker. She has written many books, including “The Color Purple,” for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens. “I am going to Gaza because my government has failed, it has failed us, it has failed to understand or to care about the Gazan people. But worse than that, our government is ignorant of our own history in the United States,” Walker said. “For instance, when black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people in the outside of our communities to help free us.” [includes rush transcript]


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Israel continues to threaten a group of international activists planning to sail to Gaza this week with humanitarian aid. The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said participants in the 10-boat flotilla are seeking, quote, "confrontation and blood." Last year Israeli forces killed nine people aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara. One of them was a U.S. citizen.

Meanwhile, activists say one of the 10 boats scheduled to set sail to Gaza has been sabotaged in a Greek port. Saboteurs reportedly cut off the propeller shaft of a ship shared by Swedish, Norwegian and Greek activists. Organizers say the boat will be repaired in time to sail to Gaza.

One of the other ships that will try to reach Gaza from Greece is The Audacity of Hope. It’s set to carry up to 50 U.S. citizens carrying letters to Gaza residents. One of the ship’s passengers is the acclaimed author, the poet, the activist, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker. She’s written many books, among them, The Color Purple. On Monday, Alice Walker spoke at a Freedom Flotilla news conference in the Greek capital of Athens.

ALICE WALKER: My name is Alice Walker, and I am with the U.S. boat to Gaza and very happy to be a part of our delegation, which is very soulful and making wonderful sounds. And thank you very much. I am going to Gaza because my government has failed, it has failed us, it has failed to understand or to care about the Gazan people. But worse than that, our government is ignorant of our own history in the United States. For instance, when black people were enslaved for 300 years, it took a lot of people from outside of our communities to come to help free us. And also, during the period of the civil rights movement, which was 19—in the 1960s, again, it took people from outside of our own communities to come and help us free ourselves. This is a fine tradition of going to people who need us wherever they exist on the planet. This is our responsibility. This is what we are here for as human beings.

And so, I just would like to say that we are on our way, that Hillary Clinton may put up all of the protests that she likes, and she may say that we should not travel, that it is dangerous. We know it is dangerous. We know, for instance, that climate change is probably just as dangerous as getting on a boat to Gaza and that people should be paying attention to that, too.

I also feel that when our government, in the person of our president, can make a speech about this area, and really speak only to the Israelis and not to the Palestinians, this is unacceptable. We cannot accept this. I mean, we look at what has happened to the Palestinian people for all of these decades, and it is insufferable. We will not accept it. We will not. As Americans, with our history of enslavement of people, of segregation, of apartheid, of brutalization, of lynching, we will not accept this. We will not.

So, Gazans, and especially the children, we are on our way. We are coming. We hear you. We are coming.

And I look at you in this room, and I realize that this is what—you know, if we have a salvation as human kind, it is in this room. It is the people who have gathered here for what is one of the hardest tasks for us. This situation is one of the hardest on the planet, and it is up to us to try to solve it, to bring some comfort, to bring some light, because, otherwise, what chance do we have with all the other problems? I mean, we now have tornadoes that are a mile wide. There has to be somebody to help take care of things like Gaza, so that we will be strong enough to deal with tornadoes, earthquakes, floods. You know, this is our future. This is our present. This is our future. So, in a sense, if we work on these issues, you know, that we are beginning to see, I mean, we are freeing ourselves of the myths that have crippled us, but we’re beginning to see what is the truth. And if we can see what is the truth about this situation, we will free ourselves to work on the real issue for humanity, which is protecting earth. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, speaking Monday in Athens, Greece, at a Freedom Flotilla news conference. She is part of the delegation, the group of up to 50 passengers who hope to board the ship they have called The Audacity of Hope, named after President Obama’s famous book, the ship that they hope to sail to challenge the Israeli embargo of Gaza.

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