The Free Gaza Movement's aim of bringing the legitimacy of the Israeli government's blockade on Gaza into question appears to be increasingly successful. Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03kristof.html?ref=opinion) himself referring to an opinion piece in Haaretz (http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/a-special-place-in-hell/a-special-place-in-hell-the-second-gaza-war-israel-lost-at-sea-1.293246) and yesterday's editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02wed1.html) as well as Amos Oz's op-ed from yesterday (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02oz.html?src=me&ref=general) all question not only the justice of the raid on the flotilla but also the justice of the blockade itself. By contrast, the only opinion pieces in the Times defending Israeli government actions are from Israeli officials (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/opinion/03oren.html?ref=opinion) and apologists
As the Israeli government returns the detained flotilla members, eyewitness accounts are beginning to emerge into the media. Again Democracy Now is on the forefront of publicizing these. Today's show (http://www.democracynow.org/2010/6//03) has interviews with (among others) Huwaida Arraf, Chair of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) and Ann Wright, a Retired Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat. Both of them were on the Challenger 1 ship, which was alongside the ship that suffered casualties; and both claim that Israeli commandos attacked with sound bombs, tear gas and gunfire before boarding the ship. Arraf maintains that the volunteers had agreed to engage only in passive, non-violent resistance; but, given the treatment she and others received on the Challenger 1 she said it would be understandable if others had decided in the heat of the moment to defend themselves.
As usual, however, it is crucial to distinguish this side-issue—which may never be resolved since Israeli forces have stolen all recording media from everyone on every ship and blocked live satellite transmission—from the important one of the legitimacy of the Israeli forces' attack in the first place.
On the subject of propaganda, M.J. Rosenberg's blog entry (reproduced below), skewers the 'obscene' attempt to compare the armed Israeli commandos (with the might of the 4th largest army in the world behind them) to powerless African-Americans prior to the civil rights movement. More importantly, he criticizes the following argument, found in many editorial accounts of the attack: the FGM does not merely have the "innocent" intention of delivering humanitarian aid (i.e. it also wants to point to the illegitimacy of Israel's blockade); therefore, the motivations of the FGM are somehow suspect, tantamount (the impression is given) to terrorism. Rosenberg provides the following analogy from a 'colleague', also from the civil rights era: "Israel's defenders," he says, "are arguing that Israel had the right to attack the people on the ships because the flotillas' goal was not really to supply the Gazans but to break the blockade. Supplying the Gazans was only a pretense
their larger political goal. … So does that mean it was okay to beat and brutalize kids who were sitting-in at Woolworth counters throughout the south in the 1950's and 1960's because their real goal was not being served lunch but ending segregation."
Has anyone else noticed? Israeli spokespersons are obviously under orders to use the term "lynching" when they describe what the flotilla people were trying to do to the Israeli soldiers who boarded the ships.
Obviously, the tender civil rights liberals of the Likud party believe that applying the term "lynching" to an alleged attack on armed soldiers would make us dumb Americans think the Israeli soldiers were would-be victims of racist terrorism -- like Emmett Till and about a thousand other African-American victims of lynching between 1890 and 1964.
How obscene. Lynch victims were unarmed, powerless, and attacked by armed thugs. Comparing armed Israeli commandos to 12 year old black kids strung up for looking at a white woman is revolting.
Here is a better analogy from the civil rights era, offered by a young friend and colleague.
"Israel's defenders," he says, "are arguing that Israel had the right to attack the people on the ships because the flotillas' goal was not really to supply the Gazans but to break the blockade. Supplying the Gazans was only a pretense for their larger political goal.
"So does that mean it was okay to beat and brutalize kids who were sitting-in at Woolworth counters throughout the south in the 1950's and 1960's because their real goal was not being served lunch but ending segregation."
Meanwhile Israelis celebrate their military triumph.
Jewish Peace News editors:
Sarah Anne Minkin
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
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