Israel’s Abominable Flotilla Assault

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Israel’s deadly assault, on the “Free Gaza Flotilla” Monday morning begs the question: will the “International Community” condone this unlawful act?

Israel’s military commando-style raid, on the six-ship humanitarian aid convoy, left nine dead and many injured. Israel arrested over 700 humanitarian activists.

Participants came from approximately 30 countries. The boats were carrying 10,000 tons of food and medical supplies. Reportedly, those supplies were confiscated.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) blamed the deaths on the activists, accusing them of “radical Islamic anti-western orientation.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method violent and unfortunately, the results were violent.” They claim soldiers “were met with strong resistance from men armed with bladed weapons and the situation deteriorated into a massacre when one of them grabbed the weapon of a soldier and fired.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who while In Canada, cancelled a meeting with President Obama to return to Israel, said the raid had his “full backing.” He stated the raid’s goal “was to prevent the infiltration of thousands of rockets, missiles and other arms that could hit our cities, communities or people."

The IDF claims “The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose,” supposedly, to attack Israeli soldiers. They say Israeli soldiers were forced to  defend themselves from “militants.”  But activists—including former American Ambassador Edward Peck—maintain the Israeli soldiers attacked while boarding the ships, which were in international waters.
Several nations and world leaders condemned the attack. Among them were several former Nobel Peace Prize winners including: Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Their joint statement described Israel’s three year blockade of the Gaza Strip as “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations”  

One of the most vocal condemnations came from a vital Middle East ally: Turkey.  Many of the dead were Turkish. Turkey’s
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said “This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were talking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse. This attack is on international law, the conscience of humanity and world peace.” He added “This irresponsible, heedless, unlawful attitude that defies any human virtue should definitely, but definitely, be punished.” The prime minister said “no one should test Turkey’s patience.”
The American Presidency—and Capitol Hill, as is usually the case in regards to Israel, remain more reticent in their response. In a statement, President Obama said he “deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained.” The Palestinian-Israeli question represents a serious problem for this Administration. Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel may well be warning the president of the political dangers of criticizing Israel, given the influence of the Israeli American political lobby. If the president condemns Israel, Republicans will attack him. If he remains silent he will be lose all credibility in the Muslim world regarding even-handedness on this question—and on the larger question of terrorism. Israel’s holding of the Palestinians as virtual hostages cannot be avoided forever.

But the responsibility to speak up isn’t just Obama's. Congress must be pressured to rein in the excesses of the Netanyahu government. In the past, our leaders saw it fit to push for sanctions against countries --Iraq for example-- we deemed were in violation of international law. Congress must be forced to reduce the $3 billion in aid we give Israel—if things don’t change.

With respect to the United Nations--Most countries in the U.N. are opposed to the policies of Israel, regarding the Palestinians. But only five nations have veto power including the U.S. and England, who for years have aided and abetted Israeli violations.
Since 1967, the State of Israel has repeatedly violated United Nations Security Council resolutions stating the Occupied
Territories, like the Gaza Strip and West Bank, seized by Israel must be returned. However, those areas remain under Israeli control and settlement building continually expands.
One pretext President George W. Bush used to invade Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s violations of U.N. resolutions.
Why do we tolerate such blatantly unfair double standard here? When Muslims see this are they to believe America’s
wholly hollow rhetoric about respecting “the rule of law?” Do laws apply equally, or are laws for those who don’t make the laws?
The U.S. and U.K. anointed themselves leaders of the “free world.” Its time they practice what they preach. England’s
1917 Balfour Declaration was an essential part of the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1947. It reads, in part, "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

Yet, the rights of the Palestinians haven’t been honored by the U.K. or U.S. Don’t they have a right to exist?
The time has come for us, including Jews, to denounce the Israeli government’s brutality, especially when clear cut as in this case. Mendacious cries of “anti-Semitism” must not silence legitimate criticism.

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