Among the passangers are writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, and an 86-year-old woman whose parents died in the Holocaust.
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"It’s in the tradition of Dr. King’s direct-action principles, to create a situation so tension-packed that it forces the world to look and see what’s happening to the Palestinians,” a student explained her reasoning for taking part in the flotilla.
The American ship, named "The Audacity of Hope" after US President Barack Obama's book title, is intended to send a message of hope according to Leslie Cagan, a political organizer who is the coordinator of the boat.
"We’re sending a message to our own government that we think it could play a much more positive role in not only ending the siege of Gaza, but also ending the whole occupation” of Palestinian land, she said. “The phrase does capture what we believe, which is that it is possible to make change in a positive way, and that’s a very hopeful stance.”
A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups say a flotilla will set sail in the third week of June. Israel has vowed to stop any attempt to breach its sea blockade of Gaza.
In May 2010, nine people were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish boat off the coast of Gaza.
Turkey has expressed its hopes Israel will avoid confrontation as a new aid flotilla prepares to depart for the Gaza Strip.
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