Let Us Sail to Gaza – by Stephen Lendman
Freedom Flotilla II participants demand their lawful right to deliver vital humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, an Israeli/Washington/Greek conspiracy block them. Nonetheless, they persist, trying to overcome imperial ruthlessness and succeed.
A June 27 Jerusalem Post (JP) editorial called their mission “Ships of fools,” saying:
Organizers “seem to be foolishly throwing caution to the wind, and appear bent on pushing ahead with plans for a confrontation on the open seas with the Israeli Navy.”
Of course, they want nothing of the sort. Israel’s Navy plans confrontation with them if they sail, perhaps intending another high-seas massacre like in May 2010, and regularly through air and ground attacks against occupied Palestinian civilians.
Instead of blaming the villain, JP blames victims, including saying Israel now lets “most everything into Gaza,” when, in fact, critical needs go unfulfilled. Virtually all exports are prohibited, and Israel’s siege is ruthlessly lawless.
Operating as a pro-Israeli front group, the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor (NGOM) is equally biased, disseminating propaganda and hate. Moreover, it debases legitimate human rights groups, independent journalists, and other advocates for truth, equity and justice.
Its director, Gerald Steinberg, is a Bar Ilan University political science professor, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a steering committee member of the Forum on Antisemitism at the Office of the (Israeli) Prime Minister, and various other organizations promoting a one-sided pro-Israeli agenda.
On June 29, NGOM’s Jason Edelstein headlined a Ynet.news article, “Gaza flotillas fill no great humanitarian void, clearly designed to provoke Israel,” saying:
The “latest crop of flotilla participants – a fringe group of extremists working alongside terrorists – is more concerned with their own PR and promoting hate, violence, and chaos, rather than with working with Israelis and Palestinians to find peaceful solutions to the conflict.”
What shocks is that Ynet News or any other publication would publish this rot instead of trashing it where it belongs, and barring further NGO Monitor submissions. They’re long on hate and disinformation, while scorning truths, rule of law standards and justice.
In contrast, an April 7 Haaretz editorial headlined, “The blockade is the problem,” saying:
The siege and plans to interdict flotilla aid “underscore the folly that serves as the foundation of” Netanyahu’s policy. Moreover, Israel is “addicted to occupation and is unable to liberate itself….”
In addition, the blockade “only perpetuates the conflict and the hatred, and casts light on Israel as a cruel, occupying power….Halting the second flotilla does not compensate for the total failure of Israel’s policy toward Gaza.”
Haaretz writer Yitzhak Laor agrees, calling Gaza’s siege “a moral blockade of Israel” in his July 5 article. Moreover, on June 3, Haaretz’s Gideon Levy said today’s Israel is “a society of force and violence,” masquerading as a free and open democracy for all its people equitably. In fact, it never was and isn’t now, nor is America, governed by powerful monied interests, operating with a license to steal.
So far, Greece prevents Flotilla II vessels from sailing, except the French boat, “Dignite al Karama,” at sea en route to Gaza. Expecting to arrive in a day or two, its July 5 statement said:
“They are going to break the blockade in the name of the Freedom Flotilla, in the names of all those who have supported this mobilization, for justice and the law.”
In Athens, however, police harassed and arrested US boat participants for protesting and fasting in front of Washington’s embassy.
On July 4, six were arrested “for sitting on a park bench across from” the US ambassador’s residence. “(P)ut into squad cars,” Ray McGovern, Linda Durham, Debra Ellis, Ridgeley Fuller, Ken Mayers and Carol Murry were placed in “police station custody.”
Earlier its captain, John Klusmire, was arrested. At noon Athens time, a July 5 hearing was held. Reports say he’s free, though no doubt warned not to sail or receive much harsher treatment next time.
Greece, of course, is an Israeli/Washington enforcer, breaking the law for its masters after selling out its sovereignty to foreign bankers, despite mass public opposition. As a result, whatever legitimacy it once had is lost, a nation state reduced to a shameless imperial tool.
On July 4, the Canadian boat Tahrir defied Greece’s prohibition and sailed from Agios. However, four miles short of international waters, it was intercepted, boarded and returned. Back in port, it’s denied electricity and permission to start its generator.
As a result, its sanitary facilities are affected, punishment for supporting international humanitarian law, in contrast to Greece trashing it for Israel and Washington, using thuggery on their behalf.
On July 5, the pro-Israeli Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) headlined, “Greece is the Hero – and Maybe Harbinger of Better Days for Israel,” saying:
Acting on Israel’s behalf, both countries “have become very much closer recently….deciding (they) have the most in common and the most to gain from cooperation….The demise of the 2011 flotilla isn’t the end of (Israel’s troubles), but it is a welcome success engendered by (Greece’s) willingness….to do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, Gaza TV said 500 overseas Palestinians plan a “mass (July 8) fly-in” to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport in solidarity with others trapped by occupation, especially Gazans under siege.
Fifteen organizations, including the International Solidarity Movement, organized the initiative, believing flotillas aren’t enough. A July 3 press release said they hope to reach Gaza via Israel, adding:
“Most of us are frankly a bit scared because of one decision we’ve all made: to tell the truth that our plan is to visit Palestine.”
In advance, they were warned they’ll face “probing questioning” on arrival, won’t be allowed entry, and likely will be harshly treated, then deported.
On July 5, in fact, Israel’s Public Security Minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said said “fly-in hooligan” activists will be confronted and deported, adding:
“In the coming days, hundreds of radical activists from Europe (and elsewhere) are expected to arrive in order to cause provocations, to demonstrate illegally and to damage our legitimacy in our country. I want to make it clear that….we will not allow public propaganda, incitement and illegal demonstrations to occur, not at the airport and not in any other place.”
On July 5, Maan News said Israel made preparations to block them on arrival, including by diverting European flights to a separate terminal, then carefully screening all passengers. A statement from Netanyahu’s office said:
“This planned event is a continuation of the attempts to undermine Israel’s right to exist and to attempt to breach its borders and sovereignty by sea, land and by air.”
Nonetheless, some flotilla participants also hope to reach Gaza via Ben-Gurion airport. It’s not clear how many, when they plan to leave, or if Greek authorities will let them.
Israel, of course, is a rogue terror state. Its 44 year occupation and Gaza siege are illegal. So are decades of land theft, home demolitions, targeted killings, mass imprisonments, torture, and other brazen abuses against Palestinians for not being Jewish.
Whether or not flotillas reach Gaza, Israel lost the war. The whole world knows what America’s media won’t report, and what growing numbers of Jews condemn. Many, in fact, express disgust about a lawless nation in their name. Sooner or later perhaps every Jew will know, including fed up Israelis deciding to leave and renounce what no one should tolerate.
A Final Comment
On July 3, the Free Gaza movement and Flotilla II organizers learned that Greece offered to commandeer and deliver their aid. In a July 5 statement, they refused, saying:
It “shows collusion with Israel’s blockade as well as a complete disregard for Palestinian human rights, reducing the issue of Gaza and Palestine (to) one of humanitarian aid,” not why it’s needed.
If Greece wants to address that, they explained, their “officials certainly know where to find us.”
Also on July 5, the Palestine Telegraph headlined, “Public initiative invites flotilla 2 to sail from Egypt ports,” saying:
On Tuesday, Egypt Today newspaper launched “a public initiative inviting the Freedom Flotilla 2 to sail toward (Gaza) via Egypt ports. Its statement announced:
Sailing “from Egypt ports will not only contribute in breaking the Israeli naval blockade….but also create a new hope for Egyptians and all Arabs.”
The publication asked Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all Arab states to back the initiative. Most, however, including Egypt’s ruling junta, partner with Israel, Washington and other Western governments, not beleaguered, isolated Palestinians.
As a result, they’re on their own with millions of global supporters to keep working for what Israel and complicit regimes won’t allow, perpetuating their legacy of injustice.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.