Massacre At Sea
The Israeli Navy’s murderous assault on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has been described as a bungled and botched operation and a diplomatic disaster for Israel. It is all of that, but more important, it is a crime against the law of the sea in the context of a larger crime against humanity – the siege of Gaza.
We present here two statements from leading activist voices of the anti-Occupation struggle inside Israel. As events are moving swiftly, we will post statements from Arab, Turkish and international participants in the flotilla as they become available. The next phase in this drama is the looming confrontation between the Israeli state and the Rachel Corrie, the other ship preparing to break the blockade.
For U.S. citizens it is especially critical to demand that our own government immediately cease its sponsorship of the blockade of Gaza. Undoubtedly the Egyptian government will be responding to U.S. wishes as to whether to keep the Rafah border crossing open permanently, not just for a few days. And the BDS (boycott/divestment/sanctions) campaign now has the potential to become an international mass movement to End the Occupation once and for all.
We mourn the victims of Israel’s assault in international waters and pledge our solidarity as the struggle continues in their memory.
Images of the victims are from Lawrence of Cyberia
Israel the International Gangster and its Attack of the Freedom Flotilla
An act of piracy, war crime, blatant violation of international law, murder of unarmed civilians – each and every definition used by the international media over the past 30 hours is true, and all together besides the point. The murderous Israeli operation is, in fact, the expression of the new Israeli modus operandi. And as such it is frightening.
In order to understand such apparently irrational Israeli behavior one must go back 1.5 years ago, to Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009. This aggression against Gaza, the bombardment and shelling of a city where a million of men, women and children are living, provoked a unanimous world-wide shock, and rendered the State of Israel, in the eyes of hundreds of millions of people, a rogue state with no respect for human life and international law.
Such an isolationist strategy can work only if the United States is behind Israel, and obviously they are. But they are also very angry with Israeli leaders, who are not at all ready to adapt their policies to US global interests, in particular the refusal of Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze settlement activities in the West Bank. And now Israeli rulers are creating a crisis with the second most important asset of Washington in the eastern Mediterranean, the Turkish Republic.
Cooperation between Turkey and Israel is at the heart of NATO military deployment in our region and shaking this strategic alliance may have dramatic implications for American security policy. An act of aggression against Turkey is, in fact, an attack against US interests in western Asia. Unlike the Israeli military establishment, which is well aware of that reality, the Israeli politicians are still trapped in the neo-conservative conception of a clash of civilizations.
Armed with such an "analysis", Ehud Barak – him again! – decided to teach Turkey and the whole world a lesson. As usual, Barak lost his gamble and Israel will have to pay a heavy price for its and his autistic arrogance. Part of the price is a greater dependence on the US and more receptivity to White House demands. In a sense, the Palestinians can be the winners in this Israeli fiasco, if their leadership knows how to play. Will they?
After the Flotilla of Blood: No More Excuses for Israel
by Yacov Ben Efrat for Challenge Magazine
The siege is justified, Israel claims, because Hamas holds its soldier, Gilad Shalit, under conditions that violate international law. Most of the world does not accept this excuse. What is more, the European Union and others cast doubt on the blockade's effectiveness, claiming that it merely deepens Palestinian suffering and strengthens Hamas.
International public opinion views the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the result of sheer stubbornness on the part of Israel, which isn't ready to pay the price of peace—namely, an end to the occupation and recognition of the Palestinian people's right to a sovereign state. Israel is a victim indeed—but of its own refusal. The long-lived Zionist consensus, which views the Land of Israel as the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people, has victimized the Palestinian people. In its suffering, this people has become the banner of the international community across the political spectrum—on the left among lovers of freedom, people of peace and fighters for human rights, and, unfortunately, on the right, among anti-Semites and fundamentalists.
Hamas, for its part, demands the lifting of the siege and the recognition of its government. These are its immediate strategic goals. It works to achieve them by every possible means, from rocketing Israel (which provoked Operation Cast Lead) to the current flotilla of aid ships. Opposed to Hamas is the Palestinian Authority under President Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. The PA's success is measured on a zero-sum basis against that of Hamas. The two are engaged in a dispute concerning relations with Israel.
Hamas demands an end to negotiations with Israel and the continuation of struggle, including the use of arms. The removal of the Gaza blockade will signal to Palestinians that the Hamas approach is right; it will deliver a lethal blow to the credibility of Fatah. Israel, one would think, should therefore be interested in helping the PA against Hamas. Here, however, we see how deeply refusal runs in Israel's veins. The absolute unwillingness of its government to make progress in negotiations and talk about core issues—borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem—leaves the PA helpless, bolstering Hamas.
The siege of Gaza also has a regional dimension. It strengthens Hamas' allies in the Middle East, above all Iran, while drastically weakening the status of the US. It creates public opinion that is hostile to American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it hinders the Obama administration from creating enough governmental stability to enable American withdrawal. As for Washington's friends in the region, from Egypt to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, they bear the burden of the pressure exerted by the radical Islamic axis. In this way, the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict had become a strategic American interest.
Until now Israel has refused to cooperate with Obama. Its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, waits patiently for the US mid-term elections in November, hoping that the Democrats will lose their congressional majority and that Obama will be weakened. The severe cracks in the historical relationship between Israel and America have paved the way for Turkey—an old-new player—to enter the arena. Since the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who represents the Islamic Movement, and since the non-admission of Turkey to the European Union, this country has distanced itself from the West, building on alliances with its neighbors: Iran, Syria and other Arab states. Gaza serves as an entry ticket for Erdoğan's Turkey into the heart of Arab public opinion.
In an effort to reconcile these allies, the Obama administration is brokering a deal that might ease tensions by accepting, to some extent, the Turkish demands: immediate release of the detainees (already done), the establishment of an investigative committee, and the lifting of the siege on Gaza. Israel is studying these demands with the utmost seriousness, because it fears for its strategic relations with Turkey and wants to avert another Goldstone Report.
The failure of Operation "Spirits from Heaven," from the macho school of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, brings nearer the day of radical political change in Israel, which may result in new elections. Here, however, a note of caution is needed: a new government will still be center-right—no recipe for a solution. Israel has known many governments—of Labor, Likud and also Kadima. All failed the reality test. All avoided confronting the settlers, All entered negotiations with the PA as a mere delaying tactic to soften criticism from the West.
As long as Washington avoids saying unequivocally that it supports the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state within the borders of June 1967, all Obama's efforts, including the attempt to change the composition of Israel's government, will remain fruitless, and the region will continue to deteriorate. The present dispute with Turkey, following the flotilla of blood, shows how slippery is the slope down which we slide.
The Middle East is divided today between fundamentalist regimes and dictatorial pro-American regimes. Between these stones its peoples are ground. Utterly missing in the public discourse are the oppression and poverty from which the workers are suffering—whether in Egypt, where they demonstrate for a raise in the minimum wage, lifting loaves of bread before the parliament of Hosni Mubarak; or in Iran, where they struggle against privatization and joblessness under Ahmadinejad. In Turkey also the workers have gone to the streets in recent months against privatization and unemployment. The workers of the Middle East do not have a party to represent them. Their voice is not heard.
Israel too can hardly be said to seek the good of its citizens. Jews and Arabs alike suffer here from a gloves-off capitalist regime, which discriminates against workers and tramples their rights. The occupation sharpens the suffering of both peoples. In recent years the number of those who are both employed and poor has grown. Among households with one breadwinner, 36% were beneath the poverty line in 2008/9.
Solidarity between Jewish and Arab workers is the only way to overcome the cycle of bloodshed. The supreme interest of the workers on both sides of the conflict is to build a political and social alternative, egalitarian and humane, against a right-wing Zionist chauvinism and an Islamic fundamentalism that are leading both peoples into catastrophe.