Founded in 2010, US To Gaza (USTG) describes itself as “a coalition of organizations and a grassroots campaign of individuals” whose initial priority was “to launch a U.S. boat” that would help “break the [Israeli] blockade of Gaza and … end the occupation of Palestine.” At issue was the continuing naval blockade that Israel had first imposed on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in June 2007, in the wake of a relentless barrage of terror attacks originating in Gaza and directed against towns in southern Israel. According to USTG, the blockade “is suffocating the lives of the people of Gaza and denying them their liberty.” By banning the importation of “vital building materials and other supplies,” while restricting exports and travel “without permission from Israel,” Gaza, says USTG, is essentially “an open-air prison.” “The U.S. government is complicit,” USTG adds, “through established policies that uncritically support Israel in its brutal attack on the Palestinian people and on those who attempt to intervene on their behalf.”
From its inception, USTG announced that it would seek to raise at least $370,000 to cover the purchase price of a boat large enough to carry 40 to 60 people, plus the cost of a crew, plus whatever fees would be required to license and register the vessel. USTG planned to christen the boat “The Audacity of Hope,” after the title of Barack Obama’s 2008 memoir. In the fall of 2010, the organization would coordinate the timeline for its boat’s journey with that of a flotilla of ships hailing variously from Europe, Canada, India, South Africa, and parts of the Middle East.
USTG has received organizational endorsements for its efforts from: Al-Awda (New York chapter); Code Pink; the Free Gaza Movement; the International Solidarity Movement; Veterans for Peace; and the War Resisters League.
Individual endorsements have come from such notables as: