For Immediate Release
June 27, 2011
Athens/en route to Gaza: Robert Naiman, naiman [at] justforeignpolicy.org
Washington, DC: Kate Gould, press [at] justforeignpolicy.org
WASHINGTON, DC: On Friday, June 24, six members of Congress wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to “do everything in your power” to help “ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.” The letter, which was initiated by Representative Dennis Kucinich, notes The Audacity of Hope’s willingness to open its cargo to “international inspection” and their commitment to “nonviolence and the tenets of international law.”
The letter was signed by Representatives Dennis Kucinich [OH-10], William Lacy Clay [MO-1], Sam Farr [CA-17], Bob Filner [CA-51], Eleanor Holmes Norton [DC], and Barbara Lee [CA-9].
The letter is viewable online below or here.
Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, issued the following response from Athens, Greece, where he is preparing to sail to Gaza as a passenger on The Audacity of Hope:
“This letter is historic, marking the first time members of Congress have publicly expressed concern for the safety of the U.S. passengers aboard The Audacity of Hope. This statement runs in stark contrast to Secretary of State Clinton’s false accusation that we are trying to ‘provoke action by entering into Israeli waters’, when in fact we have every intention of sailing to Gaza peacefully and avoiding Israeli waters entirely. We hope Secretary Clinton heeds this request from Congress and speaks out against threats from the Israeli authorities to attack us in our effort to break the illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip.”
Naiman, a Jewish-American from Urbana, Illinois, has family in Israel, and has traveled throughout Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. In his article “Kucinich: Ensure Safety of U.S. Citizens on The Audacity of Hope,” Naiman analyzes the letter’s importance: http://bit.ly/jFtje7
The letter urges the Secretary of State to “work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board”; affirms that the Israeli government has the duty to “protect its citizens” and that “the measures it uses to do so, as in the case of any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian human rights law”; and notes the commitment of the passengers on The Audacity of Hope to nonviolence and international law.
Just Foreign Policy is a nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to reforming U.S. foreign policy by mobilizing and organizing the broad majority of Americans who support diplomacy, rule of law and international cooperation.
June 24, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
We write to express our concern for the safety of American passengers on the U.S. ship The Audacity of Hope, which will set sail for Gaza in the next few days. We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the U.S. citizens on board.
A year ago, Israel took military action against the “Gaza flotilla” in international waters, which resulted in the deaths of nine civilians, including one American citizen. In addition, ten Israeli commandos and more than 20 passengers were injured in this tragic incident. In order to avoid another confrontation this year, we urge all parties to practice maximum restraint and avoid violence.
We wholeheartedly support Israel’s right, and indeed its duty, to protect its citizens from security threats. The measures it uses to do so, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law. We are encouraged that The Audacity of Hope organizers have stated that their cargo “is open to international inspection” and that they “are fully committed to nonviolence and the tenets of international law”.
We look forward to working with you in any way we can and encourage you to ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH-10)
Representative William Lacy Clay (MO-1)
Representative Sam Farr (CA-17)
Representative Bob Filner (CA-51)
Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-9)