Day two in Athens: More preparations for the flotilla

Posted by CODEPINK Staff

We started the day with a media training where we broke into groups and practiced answering some of the hardest media questions. Many of them involved the issue of Hamas (we don't support any party; we don't support the targeting of civilians; we are doing this to support the civilian population, most of whom are under 18); others were questions about why we were willing to put ourselves at risk to go on the boat. People spoke from the heart about their reasons for going, which is quite compelling. Many have been to the West Bank and/or Gaza and seen the abuses by the Israeli military firsthand. Others are Jewish and feel a particular responsibility. Almost 30% of the group is Jewish, which is amazing given that Jews are less than 2 % of the U.S. population!

In the afternoon we went out to see the boat, The Audacity of Hope. It was really thrilling. We heard about how it had been a rusty, old thing and it has been transformed into a lovely vessel fit for 50 passengers. We could see that a lot of sweat and love went into the transformation, trying to make it as comfortable as possible for us. It's so sad to think that it might well end up in the hands of the Israelis if they intercept and confiscate it. What a shame! We took photos but are not allowed to send them out yet. We want to wait till we're ready to sail before sending out the photos. We're also trying to be discreet about where we're sailing from, but I'm sure the infamous Israeli intelligence knows even before we do!

We divided up into committees for all the tasks we need on the boat. People are so great about volunteering to take on everything that needs to be done. We have a kitchen crew to prepare the meals; a medical crew that is already getting a medical profile of each passenger to try to foresee any problems; a clean up crew to keep the place tidy; a security group to make sure someone is on the lookout 24/7; a group with experience on boats to help the captain; a media crew to be a liaison with the on-shore media team; and a spiritual/cultural group that will help keep us grounded and upbeat. We already started a singing group that I am part of, and practiced songs for about an hour today. Everybody is contributing their skills, their time, their energy. It's beautiful. A few people are even sleeping on the ship tonight to keep guard. We don't want anyone going on board to plant weapons or mess with the engine. The Israelis are known for doing things like that, you know.

We treated ourselves to a lovely Greek dinner tonight, with lots of fresh salads and fish (octopus, squid and great little fried fish that you just pop in your mouth whole). Then back to work in the evening--conference calls with the teams back home, liaison with international committees from the other boats, and more planning, planning, planning. As we sat outside our hotel working, a stream of international folks from the other boats stopped by--Swedes, Spaniards, Canadians, Greeks. It's amazing how many people from around the world have been working to pull this together!

It seems that due to the political crisis in Greece and how that has affected the Greek ship, we have had to change the date we set sail by a few days. But that gives us a few more days to get ready, so it's not too bad. We're just all so anxious to get on board and start our journey...

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