Robert Naiman is another passenger aboard “The Audacity of Hope”, and works as the policy director of Just Foreign Policy
a Washington D.C.-based NGO.
During our training we weren’t told to do or say anything specifically if we encountered Israeli soldiers. It was more about talking about the different types of scenarios we could find ourselves in and their possible consequences.
One of the things that came up was that when the commandos storm the ship, it’s probably not the opportunity for dialogue. They’re trained commandos, they’re pumped up, psychologically braced for a violent encounter and they will have a goal in mind.
We wouldn’t have come on this mission if we weren’t ready to risk our lives, but trust me, we all want to live.
“We had to practice a potential raid situation”
We discussed a range of possible reactions we could have. Many people wanted to sit in a corner with their hands on their laps, you know, speak when spoken to. Others thought it was important to be more assertive in protecting the ship, and hide some of the equipment [such as cameras and computers] and documents on it. We all saw how valuable it is to protect these things after the last flotilla that went to Gaza. Some of us were thinking, even if we can delay the soldiers for 30 seconds it would be worth it to try and protect a little of what’s on the boat and to communicate what happened later.
Within certain perimeters though, we’re all in agreement. We all agree on our commitment to non-violence – no weapons and no attacking Israeli soldiers.
"The Audacity of Hope" passengers simulating a raid by Israeli soldiers. Photos published on ustogaza.org on June 23.
We had to practice a potential raid situation, where some of us played Israeli soldiers and others were trying to resist to help us understand. I played an Israeli soldier, so I was the one scaring other people. But had it been the other way around, I think my approach would have been that of sitting in the corner with my hands on my lap.
On the flotilla it could be dark, noisy and it could be unclear what’s going on. When I was imagining what I would do if an Israeli soldier tries to force me to get up, I thought, ‘I’m going to comply’. With that said, once the confrontation is over – once we’re in custody and there’s no pretext of threat – then we’ll get more uppity.
“We’ve accomplished our mission”
Right now our boat is stuck in Greece, but we had to be prepared for this scenario. The overall goal of this mission was to bring international attention to the blockade in Gaza, and if you look at the international press over the last few weeks, we’ve done that. We’ve accomplished our mission even if we’re not sailing the high seas”.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Rachel Holman.