Participants call July flotilla a ‘success’

Two participants in the July flotilla bound for Gaza called the effort a success, even though none of the ships reached their destination. The remarks were made during an Aug. 7 talk organized by L.A. Jews for Peace, the Levantine Cultural Center, Jewish Voice for Peace and Friends of Sabeel.

“The amount of media attention we got, the amount of support we got … it’s not a failure at all,” said Yonatan Shapira, an Israeli military refusenik who was a passenger on the Audacity of Hope, the American ship in the flotilla. Approximately 60 people attended the event, part of the monthly discussion series “Progressive Conversations on Israel/Palestine and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East,” which was held in West Los Angeles.

In late June and early July, ships that were part of the Freedom Flotilla II attempted to leave Greece for Gaza to break the Israeli blockade, but the Greek government prevented the ships from leaving its ports. None of the ships reached Gaza.

Mary Hughes-Thompson, who was among those onboard the Tahrir, a Canadian ship in the flotilla, also spoke during the discussion.

Thompson, who lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of the Free Gaza Movement, a coalition that has been coordinating Gaza-bound flotillas since 2008, said she had been in contact with Canadian colleagues who were already discussing plans for another flotilla.