I'd want Joe on the bridge of the MV Rachel Corrie with me. Along with every other living survivor of the attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, Joe believes the Israelis meant to sink a U.S. ship and somehow cover up the evidence.
The MV Rachel Corrie is not a U.S. ship, but several U.S. citizens are joining the flotilla, including two former high-ranking State Department officials:
Ambassador Edward L. Peck, who served as a paratrooper during two tours of wartime active duty; spent 32 years in the Foreign Service; including stints as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House, and State Department Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and after retirement was Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy.
Mary Ann Wright is a retired United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Other Americans will be participating, along with hundreds of Europeans and some Turkish peace activists.
But none are as important as Joe Meador.
II. When it comes to that moment when, in international waters (as was the case with the Liberty) the flotilla, which will have been monitored since untying from Cypress by aircraft and helicopters, half the Israeli Navy and the flotilla come over opposite horizons and into view with each other, nobody can foresee what will happen next. The Israelis claim they have a right to intercept the convoy. The backers of the convoy are subject to whatever the skippers of the small flotilla deem to be most prudent as the scene rapidly unfolds. They are licensed mariners who have agreed to abide by certain rules to obtain and keep their professional credentials.
Essentially, they have to be as careful when the Israelis approach them as a similar flotilla might have to be should Somali pirates hail them on the high seas. Should the flotilla attempt to keep on steaming straight toward the Gaza wharves, the Israeli Navy has announced that it is in training for the encounter.
Will it try to pick them off one by one?
Should the large MV Rachel Corrie be used as a 21st Century ram at the head of a frantic charge, hoping that one of the Israeli torpedo or missile boats doesn't have a projectile with the word "Caterpillar D-9" painted onto its dull, deadly metal?
III. I don't know the answers. But I would like to see some of the media attention on this show that the reporters are informed enough about the context of the flotilla to give us some honest journalism.
As the flotilla passes Malta, a lot of pressure will be brought upon those responsible for the joining of vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean, to pursue some channeled plan or to disband. Will the U.S. take a role in this? The vessels are flagged at a lot of places, none of them in the USA.
The European media, which is sort of lurking around this story, will be onto it once the MV Rachel Corrie passes Gibraltar, which will be soon. The US media will ignore it as long as possible.
Update - Saturday 11:00 a.m: Haaretz is reporting today:
Three ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists have set off from Turkey to Gaza on Saturday, as part of the nine-ship 'Freedom Flotilla' convoy, a large attempt by international aid groups to breach the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Meanwhile, an Israeli flotilla has set off from shores of Herzliya as a response to the pro-Palestinian convoy. The banners the Israeli ships carried noted Gaza rocket fire toward Israel and displayed photos of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
And here's an Irish-Palestinian video that shows images of some of the other flotila vessels, and gives a rough route map for the various vessels and a projected rendezvous somewhere south of Cypress: