Blog - July 2011

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 12

July 4, 2011

There comes a time when the suffering in the world resonates through our spirits in such a way that we have no other choice but to respond. The promises of governments seem little more than obstuctions in the path of goodness and they must be overcome through action. People to people, freind to friend, family to family the action begins with convictions of peace and renewal of humanity. Each human so convicted gives of themself with what they have and calls it love. There is no measure for such gifts; there are no other words.

It is in our daily lives that love must rule. The love of our wives and husbands, our children and all children, our neighbours and friends, the earth that sustains us. The only desire in actions against oppression then is to return safely to our homes having moved a small distance toward a better world. Only when we understand this can we understand why the spirit calls us to action.

Today the Tahrir made a break for intenational waters. After exhausting all efforts to satisfy Greek authorities we felt collectively that the time had come. We made 9 miles out and we were within 3 miles when the Greek Army managed to board the ship and seize the bridge. We were able to kill the engines but they grappled the bow and pulled us back into port. We are still on ship, spirits are high but we expect that the stalemate will end in the morning. The towns people of Agio Nikolaos have come out in support. The Tahrir was damaged when we were rammed and we will need to assess the damages. I will send some pictures to Susan. They may say more than I can right now.

Take care, take notice, take action.

Bob Lovelace

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 11

July 3, 2011

The News today is that we will make an effort to leave for Gaza tomorrow. At present the Greek Coast Gard is parked next to the Tahrir at the mouth of the Agio Nikolaos harbour. The latest Israeli spin is that everyone is giving up and going home but this is not the case or any where else on the Flotilla. While we miss home we remain committed to the mission.

Almost everyone slept on board last night. It was a beautiful clear night with a slight breeze. I slept on the top deck underneith the stars.

The visible support here continues to grow. Many Greeks have told me that they would like a free Mediteranian where all people can access there coasts and ports. Support for the Israeli blockade of Gaza does not exist here.

One of the reasons for our delay is that the Captain is Greek and well respected in this port. He has run the Blockade before and is fearless in this matter. His concern is that he must comply with Greek maritime laws. He lives here and his livelihood depends upon his good relations. He is personal friends are members of the Harbour.

THe Crew is also Greek. They are wonderfully helpful, supportive and brave. I will be sending pictures through the day to day.

Take care, take notice, take action,

Bob Lovelace

 

 

Third picture: Danish members sewing together fish nets that will cover the boat and protect us from tear gas canisters.

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 10

July 2, 2011

My plan had been to be home on July 2, but here I am with other Candians, Belgians, Danish, Turks, an American and a German. Together we make up a wonderful team.

You all know by now that Greece is finding itself in the first stages of colonialism. Agio Nicolaos the harbour we are in has become an Israeli port. In fact, the State of Israel, the IMF and the US have began to determine Greek internal policy. These are my own observations but this is also what we hear from the Greek people. In the words of a Greek man coming out of the Port Authority offices last night (protectd by officers with flack jackets and machine guns) "Greece is now nothing more than a colony." Today the people of Agio Nicolaos are being leafleted by local politicians with a letter that says that the Greek govenment had stolen their dignity.

Our team began to resist the take over of the Tahrir yeasterday afternoon. The Greek Minister of Public Saftey has issued a blanket statement that restricts boats under Greek or International flags destined for Gaza from leaving Greek harbours. In addition the Port Authority has been instructed to do inspection after inspection, making up new conditions and final demanded the ships papers. We had a short peaceful protest on the dock and boat and they were unable to take the papers. However the Coast Guard blocked the entrance to the harbour. Today we are sitting idle waiting for international lawyers to haggle through negotiations.

This afternoon one of the Ausies and I got a kayak and paddled out of the harbour with a box of medicine toward Gaza. It was an opportunity to test the Harbour police and Coast guard and give the press something to do. There was almost no reaction from the Harbour police but lots of photos for the international press. It is really important for people in Canada and the world to protest the delay of the the Freedom Flotilla.

I here that there is a demostration of support in Toronto this afternoon. Everyone here is thankful for the support we are getting from home.

Most of now are checked out of the hotels and staying on the Tahrir. Now we are eating our own "home cooked food". What a relief!

Take care, take notice, take action

Bob Lovelace

Click for YouTube Video

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 9

June 30th, 2011

You may know now that Israel has been sabotaging the boats of the Freedom Flotilla II - Stay Human. So far the Canadian boat has been safe. We are working around the clock to protect the boat. It is really disappointing that mainstream Canadian Media sees sports and scandal as more important than our lives and human rights. It is equally sad that those who can make the news, Canadian politicians, are afraid to challenge illegal acts by Israel in foreign ports.

Since I have been here I have heard many personal stories that inspire the story-tellers to continue resisting the occupation and punishment of Palestine. While I cant tell you each and every story, I have found a short film that may help you understand how dire this situation is. It is the third site listed here. It is a film called Stay Human. Please view it and then pass it on. The other sites are useful too.

I am not able to give you more just right now but I wanted to file my 9th Journal. Thank you for the wonderful support I have received. I think I am good now so please think about donating to the Canadian effort "Tahrir" or the Palestinian Solidarity movement.

http://blogdogcicle.blogspot.com/2011/06/canadian-aid-boat-preparing-to-sail-to.html

http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/30/exclusive_tour_of_gaza_bound_us

http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/aljazeeraworld/2011/06/201162975140291805.html

Take care, take notice, take action,

Bob Lovelace

P.S. and pass this on as far and wide as you can.

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 8

June 29, 2011

This is the long wait. Whle it may be short, it certainly seems long. I spend much of the day in quiet anticipation looking at the fishing boats, tourists and the sea. Today the sea was calmer than the last few days and this evening almost placid. I did my security shift on the boat in the afternoon and was introduced to the sharpness of the Meditaranian Sun.

The riots in Athens do not affect us here. There is no strike except at the Post Office and I think that is because people would rather go fishing. The main planning for our voyage is taking place in Athens though, so I think the riots are actually slowing things down.

I have been following the internet news and picked up a couple of sights that may interest you. The first is a British Press News story about the News Conference on Monday. The second is a local news report that one of our young delegates writes for his Nova Scotia community. It seems as though everyone here is a citizen journalist. One of the things I am learning is how professional journalists cover this kind of story and the diversity among them. Stories to be told when I get home. Here are the sites:

http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=v2KY1Ym_5pk

http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/miles-howe/7602 Miles Howe

Take care, take notice, take action,

Bob Lovelace

Bob Lovelace's Boat To Gaza: Journal 7

June 28th

The birth place of democracy. We were there today for a news conference. Athens is a sensory feast. David Heap and I and two journalists flew in early. This time I can show you the pictures because the world knows we were there. The news conference started at noon Athen's time and went on for about 3 hours. Among the panel reprenting the Flotilla were myself, Ann Wright a retired U.S. Army Colonel, Vangelis Pissias a Professor at the University of Athens in International Economics, Alice Walker an American Author and Civil Rights Activist, Henning Mankell a Swedich Writer, Santiago Alba Rico a Spanish Writer and Philosopher at the University of Tunis, Huwaida Arraf a Juris Doctor from the American University American College of Law who studies international human rights and humanitarian law, Thomas Somer-Houdeville a French Scholar and Writer and Dror Feiler from Sweden a Musician, Composer and Artist and Chairperson for Jews for a Just Peace.

Each of us had about 10 minutes to speak and then we took questions from the a packed room. Of course the main question was "when are you going to sail". While the answer to that question is still unclear and could not be answered it was apparent that all delegates are prepared and anxious to get going.

The bad news that came after the news conference was that the Swedish/Greek Boat had been sabotaged; the propeller shaft had been severed by underwater divers and was discovered on Monday morning. However the good news is that it can be repaired.

More than ever it is important to step up activities at home in Canada to encourage the Israeli government and the Canadian Government to accept that the Blockade of Gaza must end peacefully so that Palestinians can begin to reconstruct a civil society and economy.

I am sending a few pictures from Athens because it is public knowledge that I was there yesterday. It is an amazing City. I must say that as an experienced motorcylcle rider in Canada I would never even consider getting into traffic here. I don't think I would even try it inside an automobile. There are no highrises, street are narrow. Most people live above street level and beautiful roof gardens with trees, vines, flowers and vegitables are everywhere. Of course I will send you a picture of the Acropolus although I was only able to see it from a distance. It stands on a plateau above the middle of Athens. It is ancient yet commanding respect. What ever took place there still casts a shadow over the world today and more than just being a symbol it eminates an energy that demands attention.

Take Care, take notice, take action

Bob Lovelace

PS. a good sight to check out http://www.forgetthebox.net/mag/unlikely-sailors-an-inside-look-at-the-people-on-the-canadian-boat-to-gaza.php