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In depth article on the Gaza flotilla and its consequences

9 June 2010

Via Proletarian

In its desperation to maintain the strangulating blockade on Gaza, Israel’s violent response to a peaceful humanitarian aid mission has instead brought the end of its criminal siege within sight.

Of course, the real trouble for Israel was that it was damned either way. Despite nearly four years of suffocating blockade and daily murder, the Palestinians have not overthrown their elected Hamas leadership in Gaza; a leadership that stands for resistance rather than submission to zionist brutality. Instead, bearing incredible privations with dignity and fortitude, they have held their society together on a shoe-string, shamed Israel and its backers in the court of world public opinion and galvanised the sympathy and solidarity of the world’s people.

As more and more former friends of Israel have fallen away, the chorus calling for an end to the siege has been daily growing, especially since the horrific bombardment of Gaza a year and a half ago.

Allowing the boats to pass would have meant essentially admitting that the siege on Gaza had definitely failed and that the sea was indeed, as humanitarian activists have long pointed out, not Israel’s to control. A regular sea channel into Gaza allowing supplies to come in and out and trade links to be rekindled would drive a final nail into the coffin of Israel’s strangulation policy.

Welcoming the solidarity initiative, Hamas leader Ismail Radwan declared that “The occupation’s threat to prevent the Freedom Flotilla from arriving in the besieged Gaza Strip is zionist piracy and a violation of international law … The occupation is concerned about these ships … because they grant legitimacy to engagement with the Palestinian government and confirm that the attempts to isolate Hamas have failed.” (Cited in ‘Hamas accuses Israel of zionist piracy’, 27 May 2010)

And as Jamal Elshayyal pointed out in a blog entry for Al Jazeera, “if this fleet of humanitarians does reach its destination, it could very well set a precedent for others to challenge Israel’s illegal occupation, and the next thing you know Israel’s navy could be confronted by an armada of charities and humanitarian organisations.

“Furthermore, were the Freedom Flotilla to dock in Gaza, Arab governments would be severely embarrassed. After all, if a few hundred people can break the siege and help rebuild Gaza, why can’t some of the wealthiest nations and largest armies?” (‘Israel’s navy will have its work cut out’, 22 May 2010)

This was echoed in Israeli daily paper Yediot Aharonot, which pointed out that “If this flotilla gets through, the way will be open and the closure of the crossings will be meaningless.” (Cited in ‘As aid flotilla approaches Gaza’s shores, Israel takes extraordinary steps to prevent it reaching its destination’, 28 May 2010)

Quite so. But not allowing the boats to pass meant finding some way to stop them that would be acceptable to Israel’s paymasters in Washington. However, perhaps after the ‘Operation Cast Lead’ massacre was allowed to go so completely unpunished, despite arousing the horror of the world’s people and being condemned as a war crime by pro-zionist UN investigator Richard Goldstone, Israel’s leaders have become so used to assuming that the US and Britain will back them whatever, that they have lost their grip on the fact that ultimately, even those governments have to be able to sell their support to a sizeable section of their domestic populations.

The nineteenth century British prime minister Lord Palmerston famously pointed out that ‘Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests,’ and this dictum sums up imperialist policy in a nutshell. The zionists have for so long been protected and sheltered behind their masters’ voluminous skirts, they have stopped imagining that they might ever be left to fend for themselves.

But if Israel’s actions are so blatant as to make whitewashing impossible, not only Israel but also the US and British ruling classes stand exposed as war criminals before their angry populations – and if that starts to happen, the imperialists may well decide that support for Israel is no longer the most effective way to secure access to and control of the resources and markets of the Middle East.

The fact that this assault was premeditated became clear as other details emerged. Two of the boats in the flotilla, Challenger I and Challenger II, were simultaneously struck with identical steering problems when they tried to leave their anchorage near Cyprus on the evening of Friday 28 May – obviously the result of a sabotage mission (probably by divers), which Israel has now all-but admitted to.

At the same time, the government of Cyprus regrettably bowed to Israeli pressure and refused at the last moment to allow high-profile European MPs and passengers, including Hedi Epstein, a jewish holocaust survivor, to leave the island from its shores to join the flotilla. (Previous sea missions to break the siege have all left from Cyprus.)

Israeli sabotage and threats delayed the flotilla and caused it to change course several times, but ultimately failed to stop it from trying to carry out its mission. Several ships, including the Rachel Corrie, fell behind, however, so that it was actually only a six-boat convoy that the Israelis ambushed under cover of darkness. The boats were still many miles outside Israel’s ‘exclusion zone’ when the attack took place.

Meanwhile, with customary arrogance, born of 60 years of supremacist racism, and of being not only permitted, but actually assisted in wiping brown faces off the map by its backers in the US and Britain, Israel obviously thought that if only unknown muslim Turks were aboard the main ship, no-one in the West would mind much what happened to them, or question the Israeli version of events.

In their usual high-handed and trigger-happy fashion, using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, the zionists may well have hoped that clamping down hard on the flotilla would send a message to the increasingly activist solidarity movement: This is what will happen to you if you try to break the blockade! And no doubt troops schooled in the noble art of anti-civilian combat, who are famous for viewing Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular as less than dogs, saw no problem in firing first and asking questions later – just as we know they were specifically instructed to do during the Gaza massacre last year. Especially when most of those facing them would have looked very similar to the Palestinians they murder with sickening regularity in Gaza and the West Bank.

This is an exerpt. Read the full article here

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