In Tampa people rally in solidarity with Gaza Freedom Flotilla
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06/04/10 Seán Kinane
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In Tampa Jeanie Toth (center) and dozens of others rally in solidarity with Freedom Flotilla activists.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

The Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner on an aid ship heading to Gaza says the activists on board will not resist Israeli soldiers if they board the Rachel Corrie.

This afternoon, Mairead Corrigan said the vessel is expected to soon reach Israel's 20-mile exclusion zone.

Corrigan said the members of the Freedom Flotilla are prepared to be arrested and taken to Israel if Israeli soldiers board the boat.

She said they will deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, which is under a three-year-old Israeli blockade. Israel has vowed it will not allow the ship to reach land.

This afternoon, more than 60 supporters of the Freedom Flotilla demonstrated on the corner of 56th and Fowler in Tampa.

Dr. Adl Eldin:

I really believe the American people have — you know, now is the time for a wake-up call. We cannot use our tax, hard-earned money to be a part of a murder, you know, sponsored by the United States. The helicopter used to get the commandos down is, unfortunately, American-made. All the support we give — two hundred million dollars a day — for aggression to be sponsored on innocent people, just want to give food and medicine, and scooters for handicapped, to really heal the eighteen-month earlier atrocities that had been committed again by the same state, Israel, that's destabilizing the whole world.

Another demonstrator, Khatija Ravat, is a former teacher from South Africa. She says in some ways, the apartheid in Israel and Palestine is worse.

So I mean, I was there; I saw what happened. We were there during the ? riots, and we were there during the 1976 riots, and during the boycotts for apartheid. And so — I mean, we understood. We understood what happened, we saw what happened, and we knew that it wasn't just, what was happening in South Africa. And this is, for me, the same. And there's no way I can keep quiet. The occupation reminds me very much of Group Areas Act in South Africa. Because we were also placed according to groups, and zoned according to groups. I mean, schools, everything was by apartheid — by your race, and by your color. So that part is very similar.

Probably the most controversial sign was held by Jeanie Toth.

My sign says “America: Israel's bitch.” And basically, I'm here just for that message, to see if people have had enough of this yet. I'd like for more folks to get on board here.

Q. What do you mean by that sign?

Well, I mean no matter what Israel does, right or wrong, we back them. And, you know, it's getting — that does nobody any good. It doesn't do us any good; it doesn't do Israel any good, and it certainly doesn't do the Palestinian people any good.

BetteJo Indelicato is a peace activist who recently returned from Palestine.

My sign is talking about Israel, piracy, and indicating also that Israel has become a danger to the United States as well as to itself, not only the Palestinians, of course. But Israel is in a mode of self-destruction, and is trying to take the United States down with it. We're following Israel on international policy, and it's wrong. The rest of the world knows that it's wrong. And we're standing behind a country that's committed an act of terrorism against innocent people — and killed a U.S. citizen.

According to Hadeel Said, president of Students for Justice in Palestine at USF:

"We've had a pretty positive response, actually, maybe three or four out of the many cars that have passed by have been negative, but it seems to me the negatives are out of racism. It's not necessarily just for the cause.

*Q. You've had some positive response, I've heard.”*

We've had a lot of positive response so far.

Turkey's deputy prime minister says economic and defense cooperation with Israel will be reduced amid tensions after the killing of nine Turkish activists by Israeli commandos.

Tomorrow (Saturday), St. Pete for Peace and other groups will demonstrate in Orlando from 5 until 7 in the evening in front of Orlando City Hall on South Orange Avenue.

On Sunday, WMNF’s Rob Lorei will moderate a discussion on Israel and Palestine at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts beginning at 2 in the afternoon. True Talk co-host Samar Jarrah is one of the panelists.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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