Fiachra O'Luain has called on Irish Americans to support the second flotilla set to attempt to breach the Gaza blockade this November and to raise international awareness about the injustice of the Palestinians situation.
O'Luain, who is Irish American, was born in County Donegal but his father and family live in Massachusetts. He was recently honored with Palestinian citizenship in recognition for his efforts to end the siege of Gaza.
During this summer's flotilla which attempted to deliver aid to Gaza, breaching the blockade, O'Luain was Second Mate on the U.S. Challenger 1 vessel. He was beaten and held in custody for three days following the violent reaction by the Israel Navy to the International flotilla.
Recently O'Luain described the flotilla as a "way of expressing international outrage over ‘Operation Cast Lead’ and the siege of Gaza, without perpetuating the hatred and violence."
What he says is now needed is for Irish Americans to contact their local political representatives and to be the voice for those in Palestine.
Speaking to IrishCentral.com he said "Let them know that the injustices between Palestine and Israel are serious issues, that it's an issue that Irish Americans care about and that our public representatives need to make their position known. They need to show that Irish Americans do care about Ireland and America and they care about justice and that they want more responsible leadership."
O'Luain feels that Ireland and the Irish people living abroad (Diaspora) can be at the forefront of spreading this message due to our own history. He said "The Diaspora is such a part of Ireland and now we have another generation being put into economic exile. I think that we can relate to what's going on in other countries. We might not have had a gun pointing at us in Ireland but we the situation of our great-grandparents is being repeated in Palestine."
He believes that the Irish people are in a unique position in Europe and the United States to start a much needed logical dialogue about what is going on in Palestine. He said the Irish might just be the people who would very carefully point out that "criticism of Israel does not equate with anti-Semitism. Just as criticism of the apartheid in South Africa does not equate with the criticism of all white people.
"I think we're at a point in history that the international community needs to be directed into a logical debate and I think the Irish people are uniquely positioned to be able to point to which was this debate should go especially after our own Peace Process where we realized that these are political problems not religious ones."
Speaking about the shooting of Furkan Dogan, an U.S. citizen and activist on the a Turkish ship in the flotilla he commented on the fact that the United States had not taken action after his murder despite the murder of Rachel Corries seven years earlier.
O'Luain said "Israel is seen as untouchable. When Israel does what it wants, murders activists, and nothing happens, it just makes the gap even bigger between Israel and its neighbors and the rest of the world and Israel."
He continued "We should just be frank, as Irish people, to the people of Israel. To say that we do understand that ethnic cleansing has haunted us for generations and it's never going to go away but it's not going to get better by persecuting somebody else."
To support the Irish ship taking part in the second flotilla visit irishshiptogaza.org.