Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mavi Marmara

As you might imagine, from time to time I get responses to my blogs. Some of them express disagreement.

On June 21st, I received: “Do not single out Israel for your criticism -- should we be surprised that the world focused on 9 deaths on the Gaza flotilla (despite the fact, yes, fact, that there were people on that flotilla who were hoping to be martyrs) and almost nothing was said about the actual genocide in Kyrgystan?”

I single out Israel because my government supports Israel’s actions by giving billions of dollars every year which are used to steal land and water, imprison, humiliate and even kill the people of Palestine.

On June 16th, I received a video link showing Israeli soldiers unloading caches of arms: “A tip of the hat to Fred Leder for this Israeli Flix video. This video shows that during the unloading of the M/S. Mavi Marmara Turkish vessel in the Israeli port of Ashdod, behind the bags of flour were boxes of heavy weapons and ammunition: mortars, artillery shells, bazookas, without counting a trunk where more than one million euros was found intended for Hamas. This video should be widely distributed as evidence of why the IDF Naval commandos were dispatched to intercept the six vessels including the M/S Mavi Marmara. Clearly the Turkish AKP Islamist government is complicit in permitting this military cargo to be loaded on the 'peaceful' Free Gaza Flotilla. Please distribute this video widely. If you had any doubt about what was on the flotilla, here is the video. The French explains that the arms on display were hidden behind sacks of grain. Why these criminals were released is beyond me.”

The email invited me to react to such obvious footage. I responded that if this were an authentic filming, the Israeli government and Fox News would have been all over it. Why has no responsible news agency exposed this to the world, especially since the Turkish government inspected the ship and its cargo before allowing it to proceed to Gaza? The ships had been inspected at all ports for weapons and none were ever found.[1] This video was a deliberate hoax designed to justify an act of overpowering aggression in violation of international laws.

An email on June 3rd tops them all. “I believe that the ship should have been sunk to rid the world of all those terrorists and their supporters. I am sorry that you have such tunnel vision and I worry about your safety.”

He calls them the terrorists. The 700 participants on the Mavi Marmara represented over thirty countries. They were doctors, human rights activists, professors, a U.S. diplomat, a Nobel Peace laureate, in addition to clergy and journalist from around the world. What exposes this charge is that anyone who seeks relief for the suffering Palestinians can be automatically labeled a terrorist. The real question is how he can so casually assign heinous motives to such distinguished volunteers? Is a terrorist anyone who feels empathy for their beleaguered fellow human beings? After forty years of occupation, 90 percent of the people in Gaza have no clean water to drink, and two-thirds of the population live without adequate food, medical care, sanitation systems, electricity and fuel.

Chris Hedges, whom some look upon as the twenty-first century Amos, writes;

Name us as human beings who believe that when one of us suffers all of us suffer, that we never have to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for us all, the tears of the mother in Gaza are our tears, that the wails of the bloodied children in Al Shifa Hospital are the wails of our own children.
Let me close tonight with one last name. Let me name those who send these tanks and fighter jets to bomb the concrete hovels in Gaza with families crouching, helpless, inside, let me name those who deny children the right to a childhood and the sick the right to care, those who torture, those who carry out assassination in hotel rooms in Dubai and on the streets of Gaza City, Those who deny the hungry food, the oppressed justice and foul the truth with official propaganda and state lies. Let me call them, not by their honorific titles and positions of power, but by the name they have earned for themselves by draining the blood of the innocent into the sands of Gaza,. Let me name them for who they are: terrorist.

Of course, the Israeli government said that it would have gladly delivered the supplies by land if they had been asked to do so. However, such an offer belies that fact that what was being delivered by the flotilla was precisely those emergency supplies that Israel had denied entrance into Gaza for years. These “terrorists” carried no weapons, but were armed with X-ray machines, wheelchairs, crutches and medical equipment, seesaws and sliding boards. These were ordinary people, full of compassion, seeking to help ordinary people, deliberately denied the basic necessities of life.

Israel claims that they were only defending themselves. Then why did they confiscate all recording equipment, cameras and lap tops? Why jam the ships satellite communications systems to prevent contact between journalist and the outside world?[3] Why refuse to cooperate with any unbiased international investigation and keep all passenger isolated until Israel’s spin filled the airways unchallenged? Ben Saul, co-director of the Sydney Center for International Law, who is published by the Oxford University Press, said, “One cannot illegally attack a ship and then claim self-defense.”[4]

Why attack a ship in the darkness of night after it had reversed its course and was steaming as fast as it could away from Gaza?[5] Why did the commandoes drop percussion bombs onto the deck and fire weapons before attacking the ship? The humanitarian workers defended themselves with whatever they had such as their own bare hands, sling shots, and water hoses. According to The Guardian, nine people, including a nineteen year old American born high school student, were shot no less than a total of thirty times. Even after the passengers had “surrendered,” the Israelis refused to offer medical assistance to the wounded. Why?

So, from time to time I get responses to my blogs and I am grateful for them, even those that express disagreement.

Thomas Are
October 17, 2010

[1] Moustafa Bayoumi, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, (Haymaker Books, Chicago, 2010,) p. 2
[2] Chris Hedges, The Tears of Gaza Must be Our Tears, Hedges made these remarks August 5, 2010 in New York City at a fund-raiser for sponsoring a U.S. boat to break the blockade of Gaza. Cited in Other Voices, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2010, p. OV-6.
[3] Lara Lee, What Happened to us is Happening in Gaza, Cited in Bayoumi, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, p. 30. Filmmaker, Lara Lee said, “I decided to join the Freedom Flotilla after going to Gaza a few months before and seeing firsthand the devastation there. After hearing the pleas of the people living in Gaza to have the blockade lifted, I felt I must do something.”
[4] Moustafa Bayoumi, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara, p.6.
[5] Ibid., p.3.

1 comment:

  1. thank you Tom - great post!
    I have cross-posted it on the IPMN website forum in our interactive "Community" area: