Thursday, August 21, 2008


After reading my friend Huwaida Arraf's email today (during the day) - as she sets sail on FREE GAZA in the hope for a FREE GAZA, I found myself sleepless ...
My routine of embracing slumber while reading was defeated tonight. I woke up past midnight and wrote the following ...

"FGSS" is pronounced in this poem as figs (theen in Arabic) - a native fruit of the Occupied Holy Lands &
the "46" are the forty six sailors sailing to save the soul of humanity ...
This poem is dedicated to FGSS (Free Gaza & SS Liberty) and 46

With much love and prayers
Aug 21 past midnight in California ... to
the beloved FGSS & the most loved 46 on their dawn of Aug 22nd

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Strong shore is every ship's beloved
but FGSS restless to set sail
Sea is her sweetheart and
They are united by love.

Comfy blankies and fireplaces are everyone's dream
but the 46 on FGSS are eager to
Brace the winds and
Laugh at the waves
They are full of purpose and mercy.

The Gazzans are bread-less
Yet they bride their bay to Ahlan the FGSS & the 46

Hope has no rules
Love has no regulations
Stop them if you can
The Gazans are for FGSS
and the FGSS are for them.

Their combined passions are deeper than the seas
At each restless eventide
They will sing the song of hope
Printing wild Bosa upon each other

Together, they will lift the drowning soul of hopelessness
and carry it tenderly to the home of hope.

Stop them if you can
O' The Peaceful Blue and the Pointy Star!

May God Almighty be with you - O Makers of Peace

My friend Huwaida sent an email today of her voyage to FREE GAZA ... As I read her email with awe and admiration & a feeling of guilt for not joining them because of my familial obligations ... with teary eyes I raise my hands to the God Almighty for their protection and a successful mission for justice & peace.

I bid you farewell - O You the Peacemakers - with you is God and with you are our prayers and our unconditinal support for our common struggle against injustice - know that "any harm to you is harm to us - any danger to you is danger to us." We will not retaliate with more harm and more danger to the perpetrators but will hold them accountable in this life and the life Hereafter for ultimate justice that no one can ever escape.

In struggle & in solidarity with the LIBERTY & FREE GAZA peacemakers.

Dear friends and family,

On Wednesday, August 20, after a number of frustrating delays, our ships, the LIBERTY and the FREE GAZA, arrived in the port of Larnaca, Cyprus. We've spent the last day and a half equipping the boats for the next, and most important leg of our jouney, Cyprus to Gaza. A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks that I do not have type to write to you about (this internet cafe closes in 15 minutes). I just wanted you to know how much I've appreciated all your support. I have not had time to respond to email messages but I have read them all.

Please refer to for updates on our voyage and photos. You will not be able to watch us via live streaming as I had previously indicated, but you will be able to monitor our progress. The Isreali authorities have announced that they will blockade us, and may use force to turn us back. We need the Israelis to know that we're not just 46 people on those boats, whatever they decide to do to us, but we're millions of people around the world that will not stay silent in the face of gross and systematic violations of the human rights of an entire people.

We have been met with amazing support for our mission at every port where we have stopped along the way, which has been heartening. The Cypriot Port Authorities have now checked our boats and certified that we are not carrying any weapons or contraband of any kind. We set sail in just a few hours. My phone will work as long as we're not too far from shore: +970-599-130-429. We also have 4 satellite phones on board the two ships:

1) 00 870 773 160 151
2) 00 870 773 160 156
3) 00 881 651 442 553
4) 00 881 651 427 948

Thanks for your support!

In solidarity & struggle,

Friday, August 8, 2008

SS Free Gaza & SS Free Liberty

Dear Friends ... This summer, I had the privilege of spending two weeks with Huwaida Arraf, a Detroit born Yankee of Palestinian heritage. She currently lives in Palestine and teaches human-rights-law at Al-Quds University. She also co-founded International Solidarity Movement - with her Brooklyn born Jewish husband - Adam Shapiro. I didn't meet Adam but Huwaida is a young Rosa Parks in the body of Cesar Chavez. She gave up her comfortable life in United States (her home) to fight for the rights of oppressed in Palestine.

Her following appeal deserves, if nothing else, our prayers for her and comrades on SS Liberty voyaging to break the illegal, immoral & shameless seige of Gaza and Gazans. Yes, the United States of America is an accomplice in the killings of innocent people in Gaza. And you & I my friend, are directly responsible for allowing our own government to send its largest aid to the killers of Gazans, the Israeli Defense Forces.

Pray & Act.

From: huwaida arraf
Date: Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Personal note re: Free Gaza Movement

Dear friends & family,
I should have written to you earlier to inform you of a very important civilian direct-action effort to break the siege on Gaza that I am a part of. Unfortunately, writing is not my strong point.

As many of you know, the Gaza Strip, in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is suffering under a brutal siege imposed by the Israeli military -- a siege that has been deemed illegal by international, as well as Israeli human rights organizations and legal experts, including the former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, John Dugard. Click here for the UN Rapporteur’s Report.

Israel, which despite its evacuation of its approximately 9000 illegal settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, still effectively controls Gaza and thus has obligations, as an occupying power, to the residents of Gaza under international humanitarian law. See e.g.:"Disengaged Occupiers, the Legal Status of Gaza", Gisha Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, available here. Yet, instead of complying with these obligations, Israel has imposed a total blockade on Gaza even cutting its fuel and electricity supply. Click here to learn more.

Over the past year, a reported 200 plus patients have died from a lack of access to adequate medical care, meaning Israel denied these patients the right to leave the Gaza Strip in order to receive the care that they needed. See related recent report by Physicians for Human Rights Israel, "Holding Health to Ransom". Hundreds of Palestinian students with scholarships or other arrangements to study abroad are trapped in Gaza, unable to pursue their education. Eighty percent of the Gazan population is living on food aid.

Gaza's unemployment rate, currently at 45%, is the highest in the world. The most tragic part of this humanitarian crisis is that it is man-made -- a result of deliberate policies by the State of Israel. While various parties have expressed their concern, including the United Nations, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, no body has been willing to take concrete action to break the siege or to hold Israel accountable for Palestinain lives. Not only is Israel being allowed to get away collective punishment of the 1.5 million residents of Gaza, defined as a war crime under international law, but international institutions ate getting away with silence in the face of such atrocity, or with paying mere lip service to Palestinian human rights.

Due to the shameful incompetence of of governments and international institutions tasked with defending and upholding human rights, and because this incompetence is costing lives every day, a small group of civilians from around the world have organized an effort to break the siege of Gaza by boat. Within the next few days, 40 civilians from around the world, including 3 other Palestinians from the Diaspora, an 83-year-old Holocaust survivor, and 81-year-old Catholic nun, an Israeli peace & justice activist, and over 30 other amazing people will set sail from Cyprus towards the shores of Gaza. Although we will be carrying some medical supplies, such as hearing aids (for children of Gaza going deaf as a result of Israel's military operations and sonic booms constantly carried out in and over Gaza), ours is not a humanitarian mission. Rather, our mission is a human rights one. We are horrified that such an illegal and immoral siege can be allowed to continue without more of an international outcry about it. We're saddened for the state of our world when decision-makers can sit back and watch an entire people being slowly and purposefully starved and humiliated.

Everyone participating in this mission is quite aware of the dangers involved. We have taken note of the various scenarious that can play out, from being blockaded, boarded and arrested, to being fired upon or otherwise attacked at sea. Of course, we hope that none of these happen and that we reach Gaza, where we are told that thousands will be awaiting our arrival on the beach.

In a few hours I will leave Cyprus, where I have been for the last 8 days training and working on other preparations for the voyage, and head to meet the boats in Chiana, Crete (press release below). I realize that for those of you in the United States, this email might be the first you are hearing of this effort as the story has not broken through the U.S. media censors. We have been getting very good coverage in the rest of the world though. Please stay with us as we make this voyage, as the eyes of the world are our safety and our goal if we aim to make change. You can get the latest information on the Free Gaza Movement, including watch the voyage in real time (satellite video streaming) on our website:

Yes, we can make change.

In solidarity & struggle,


SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty Arrive in Chania, Crete, Saturday, 9 August at
21:00 p.m.

For further information, contact: 6932 766496 for directions, Greta Berlin,
037 99 08 17 67

*Nicosia/Lefkosia, Cyprus, August 7.* The Free Gaza Movement announced
today that their boats, destined to break the Israelis' siege of Gaza, will
arrive in Chania, Crete, on Saturday, August 9, at 9 p.m. and that a press
conference will be held to welcome their arrival. "Internationals are
gathering across the world – in Beijing and Cyprus – with the common dream
of peace and justice for everyone."

Human rights activists Lauren Booth (sister in law of former British Prime
Minister Tony Blair), Huwaida Arraf (a Palestinian-American residing in
Ramallah, Palestine), and Jeff Halper (an Israeli Jew who was nominated for
the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for opposing demolitions of Palestinian homes)
will be available at the press conference for interviews.

"This will be the first time that our two boats will be publicly displayed
and photographers are welcome to come, take photos and post their images."
said Paul Larudee, on board the boats sailing toward Chania.
The Free Gaza Movement is endorsed by an impressive array of international
groups and personalities including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and
Former Prime Minister of Lebanon Dr. Salim Al-Hoss. For additional

Friday, August 1, 2008

Welcome to the Seizure States of America

Last week, a prominent community leader returning from overseas was victimized by this insanity. His laptop & cell phone was detained by the CBP at LAX. Although that was retrieved in less than 48 hours but that may not be the case always. Knowing that most of us travel reasonably frequently and many of us serve several Boards and are involved with justice & peace work (yes - we speak truth to power), I thought, at the minimum, we'd take due precautionary measures, in protecting our own work and others' in and from our own data!

I am neither surprised nor shocked by yet another insane policy but I guess this is a parting gift to all of us by our loving President ... Thank You Sir - Mr. President ... We're damn happy that you are going to get rid of yourself this November & Yes Sir, we're going to celebrate, wild! You better believe it ... In the meantime, we'll fight with all that we have to restore the rule of law that you've destroyed, Mr. President, including this unconstitutional suspicion & search & seizure of innocent citizens & their property.

Welcome to the Seizure State of America. If you, friends, don't find me after I publish this piece, you know where to look for me!!!

Travelers' Laptops May Be Detained At Border
No Suspicion Required Under DHS Policies

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 1, 2008; A01

Federal agents may take a traveler's laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies the Department of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop's contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The policies . . . are truly alarming," said Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), who is probing the government's border search practices. He said he intends to introduce legislation soon that would require reasonable suspicion for border searches, as well as prohibit profiling on race, religion or national origin.

DHS officials said the newly disclosed policies -- which apply to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens -- are reasonable and necessary to prevent terrorism. Officials said such procedures have long been in place but were disclosed last month because of public interest in the matter.

Civil liberties and business travel groups have pressed the government to disclose its procedures as an increasing number of international travelers have reported that their laptops, cellphones and other digital devices had been taken -- for months, in at least one case -- and their contents examined.

The policies state that officers may "detain" laptops "for a reasonable period of time" to "review and analyze information." This may take place "absent individualized suspicion."

The policies cover "any device capable of storing information in digital or analog form," including hard drives, flash drives, cellphones, iPods, pagers, beepers, and video and audio tapes. They also cover "all papers and other written documentation," including books, pamphlets and "written materials commonly referred to as 'pocket trash' or 'pocket litter.' "

Reasonable measures must be taken to protect business information and attorney-client privileged material, the policies say, but there is no specific mention of the handling of personal data such as medical and financial records.

When a review is completed and no probable cause exists to keep the information, any copies of the data must be destroyed. Copies sent to non-federal entities must be returned to DHS. But the documents specify that there is no limitation on authorities keeping written notes or reports about the materials.

"They're saying they can rifle through all the information in a traveler's laptop without having a smidgen of evidence that the traveler is breaking the law," said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. Notably, he said, the policies "don't establish any criteria for whose computer can be searched."

Customs Deputy Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern said the efforts "do not infringe on Americans' privacy." In a statement submitted to Feingold for a June hearing on the issue, he noted that the executive branch has long had "plenary authority to conduct routine searches and seizures at the border without probable cause or a warrant" to prevent drugs and other contraband from entering the country.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in an opinion piece published last month in USA Today that "the most dangerous contraband is often contained in laptop computers or other electronic devices." Searches have uncovered "violent jihadist materials" as well as images of child pornography, he wrote.

With about 400 million travelers entering the country each year, "as a practical matter, travelers only go to secondary [for a more thorough examination] when there is some level of suspicion," Chertoff wrote. "Yet legislation locking in a particular standard for searches would have a dangerous, chilling effect as officers' often split-second assessments are second-guessed."

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld the government's power to conduct searches of an international traveler's laptop without suspicion of wrongdoing. The Customs policy can be viewed here.