Jewish activists from the US, outraged at the siege of Gaza carried out by the Israeli government in their name, have been among the key organizers of the upcoming humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip, and make up around 25% of the participants in the US contingent.Hedy Hepstein, a Holocaust survivor and participant in the US delegation, urged the Israelis to “stay human” in their approach to the upcoming flotilla.

Richard Levy, one of the participants in the US delegation, said of his decision to join the flotilla, “The decision to go on the boat to Gaza is the result of a long learning process for me. I grew up in a family that was very, very supportive of Israel. My parents were activists for Israel, they were active in the B’nai Brith and the Anti Defamation League. I grew up in a Jewish youth organization that was totally committed to Israel. But over the years I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know about back then. I didn’t know about the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from that land, which we all thought was just a land of milk and honey waiting for the Jews, when that, of course, was not the case.”

Another of the Jewish participants in the US contingent of the Freedom Flotilla, Hagit Borer, was born in Israel but later moved to the US. She said, “I want to tell the Palestinians that there are Israelis who want to coexist with them. And I want to tell the Israelis that they can stand up against the actions of their government.”

Medea Benjamin, another Jewish participant in the US delegation and co-founder of Code Pink for Peace, reiterated these statements and added that she ‘was just appalled at the level of death and destruction and suffering brought by the Israeli invasion and I feel a responsibility to do something because my government refuses to.”

The Freedom Flotilla, with 500 participants from over 20 countries, is set to sail to Gaza over the weekend.