Little Town of Bethlehem Film Subject On Flotilla to Gaza Boarded by Israeli Forces 

A boat en route to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, has been boarded by Israeli soldiers and forced to sail to the Israeli port of Ashdod. On board are nine passengers, including crew member Yonatan Shapira, one of the subjects of the new documentary, Little Town of Bethelehem.

by Audra Jennings Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Contact: Diane Morrow
The B&B Media Group

Oklahoma City, OK, USA─The Irene, a boat flying a British flag en route to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, has been boarded by Israeli soldiers, refused entry, and forced to sail to the Israeli port of Ashdod. On board are nine passengers. Crew member Yonatan Shapira is one of the three subjects in EthnoGraphic Media’s film Little Town of Bethlehem that launched on more than a 150 college campuses this past week. The nonviolent action, organized by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, is carrying children’s toys, musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets, and prosthetic limbs for the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. The Irene was less than 20 miles from shore when an Israeli destroyer cut it off.

Yonatan Shapira, former helicopter pilot for the Israeli Defense Forces, is one of the authors of the “Pilots’ Letter” signed by 26 others refusing to fly missions in the occupied territories. He was also instrumental in establishing Combatants for Peace, an organization of Israelis and Palestinians, mostly former fighters, who have joined together in a nonviolent struggle against the occupation. “We have a policy of nonviolence and non-confrontation,” he said. “But if the Israeli army stops the boat, we will not help them to take it to Ashdod.”

Yonatan’s brother Itamar is accompanying him as well as Rami Elhanan. After losing his daughter to a suicide bombing in 1997, Rami helped found the Bereaved Families Circle of Israelis and Palestinians. His son Elik was part of the Little Town of Bethlehem launch tour at Brown University, Georgetown University, and the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. A co-founder of Combatants for Peace, Elik had been planning to sail with his friend Yonatan but had to return to the United States. In a show of solidarity, Elik’s father took his place on the Irene.

Local group Physicians for Human Rights-Israel has asked for permission to send a doctor to visit the passengers immediately after hearing from organizers that at least one passenger suffers from serious chronic health problems and is in need of medical care. On board are two elderly peace activists, 82-year-old holocaust survivor Reuven Moskovitz, founding member of the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace), along with psychotherapist Lilian Rosengarten, a refugee from Nazi Germany.

Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the group organizing this nonviolent action, stated that the Jewish boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza. It is also a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice. “Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,” said Kuper. “We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.”

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Audra Jennings is Senior Media Specialist at The B & B Media Group. Since 1987, The B & B Media Group, Inc. has used its broadcasting, marketing and advertising experience to provide the specialized and strategic publicity necessary to achieve the public relations goals of each client. The Barnabas Agency, a division of The B & B Media Group, Inc., is a proven provider of exceptional public relations and personal management services for authors, speakers, ministries and organizations.

0    submitted by Audra Jennings
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