ATHENS, Greece -- On a hotel rooftop in Exarchia, a gritty neighborhood known to breed artists and anarchists, a hodgepodge of activists plotted how to breach Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip. Soaked in Mediterranean sunshine, these warhorses of the Palestinian cause murmured in English, Greek, Arabic and other tongues.
The loose-knit network behind the stranded aid flotilla that has garnered international attention has little to tie it together except a cause, and now it is dispersing after at least two weeks in Greece. Many American activists flew home on Wednesday, and a peaceful sit-in by Spanish protesters at their embassy in Athens was dwindling in size.
Members of this genial Tower of Babel, including veterans of leftist politics, gave formal news conferences in casual attire in the past week to drum up publicity, one of the few tools at their disposal in the face of government pressure blocking their flotilla.
The movement included Dror Feiler, an Israel-born musician who moved to Sweden decades ago; Vangelis Pissias, a professor at the Technical University of Athens; and Jane Hirschmann, a psychotherapist from New York City and member of a group called "Jews Say No!" [A bunch of AssAChews--VB]
There was also a Swedish crime writer, an Irish rugby player and a former indigenous chief from Canada.
"We are people that normally never communicate with each other," said activist Mattias Gardell, a Swedish academic who has studied religious extremism in the United States. "We disagree heavily on other subjects."
The band of more than 300 activists ran aground on a Greek ban on their departure from ports near Athens and in the islands of Crete and Corfu, amid warnings from the Israeli military that it would stop any attempt to reach Gaza by sea. As options dwindled, organizers declared victory anyway, citing the attention they drew to their cause.
The bid to bust the sea blockade, which Israel says is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas militants who might aim them at Israeli border towns, turned into a cat-and-mouse game, mostly on Greek soil or just offshore whenever flotilla boats made a break for international waters. Greek Coast Guard vessels turned them around each time.
Read more at Huffington Post.