It’s been one lie after another in the US media about the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound relief flotilla. No matter that the Israeli media views the whole incident as a debacle for Israel, in [the US] the Israel-can-do-no-wrong crowd is defending the operation…
The first thing you need to know about the Gaza flotilla disaster is that the intention of the activists on board was to break the Israeli blockade. Delivering the embargoed goods was incidental. The activists were like the civil rights demonstrators who sat down at segregated lunch counters throughout the South and refused to leave until served. Their goal was not really to get breakfast. It was to end segregation. That fact is so obvious that it is hard to believe that the “pro-Israel” lobby is using it as an indictment.
Of course the goal of the flotilla was to break the blockade. Of course Martin Luther King provoked the civil authorities of the South to break segregation. Of course Solidarity used workers’ rights as a pretext to break Communism. The flotilla had every right to attempt to destroy an illegal blockade that Israel had no legal standing to impose and which was designed to collectively punish the Gazans. (There is no truth to the story that Israel would have delivered the goods to Gaza if asked; the Israelis never made that offer and, judging by precedent, would have blocked any delivery.)….
Israeli commandos were ordered to board a civilian ship in international waters and the government that sent them claims that the resisting passengers attacked them without provocation. This is like a carjacker complaining to the police that the driver bashed him with a crowbar that was under the seat. Neither carjackers nor hijackers should expect their victims to acquiesce peacefully. Here are facts about life in Gaza today, data from the American Near East Relief Association (ANERA), which provides relief to Gazans to the extent allowed. ANERA …has no political agenda at all. It merely determines human needs and tries to meet them. Eight out of 10 Gazans depend on foreign aid to survive. The World Food Program says Gaza requires at least 400 trucks a day to meet basic nutritional needs—yet an average of just 171 trucks of supplies enters Gaza every week. Of Gaza’s water, 95 % fails WHO standards, leaving thousands of newborns at risk of poisoning. Anemia for children under age five is estimated at 48%. Seventy-five million liters of untreated sewage are pumped into the Mediterranean every day because piping is not permitted.
During the 2009 bombing: More than 120,000 jobs were lost; 15,000 homes and apartments and 1/3 of all schools were damaged or destroyed. These cannot be rebuilt, because construction supplies are kept out….
So what is the blockade about? Not about stopping terrorism. Hamas has repeatedly offered Israel an indefinite ceasefire in exchange for lifting the blockade. On a half-dozen occasions, Israel accepted the deal but did not live up to its side of it. The 2009 war began after Israel ignored its commitments under the Gaza ceasefire, continued the blockade, and then provoked attacks on Sderot through a series of targeted assassinations of Palestinians. (Israel claims that no ceasefire agreement curtails its right to kill any Palestinian it deems a terrorist.)
Israel asserts that it will not accept a long-term cease-fire agreement with Hamas because Hamas does not recognize its right to exist. But Israel does not need the permission of Hamas to exist. All it needs from Hamas is an end to violence and that is what Hamas offers in exchange for lifting the blockade.
Hamas should recognize Israel, but it is ridiculous to insist on recognition as a precondition. Recognition would be the end result of negotiation, not a precondition. Israel wants to destroy Hamas because it is a terrorist organization. That makes sense until one realizes that the African National Congress, Sinn Fein, the Israeli Irgun, the Algerian FLN, among other resistance movements, were called terrorists before negotiations brought them to power. Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were unabashed terrorists before entering respectable politics. If dealing with terrorists, as Israel has repeatedly done with Hezbollah, will help achieve a worthy goal, why not do it? If negotiations fail, one can walk away.
But Israel will not change its self-defeating policies until we change ours. And we [the US] oppose efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. We even back Israel’s opposition to the Arab Peace Initiative, which offers Israel full peace …
(Extract from statement)