Freedom Flotilla II of humanitarian aid to Gaza successfully thwarted
It's been an interesting time for peace and justice makers recently.
The Obama administration has just decided that they will not even investigate, let alone indict, people who engaged in the practice of torture under the Bush administration, but they will arrest, put on trial and jail people who protest against said torture. Said actions by our government putting us in the same crowd as the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge and that “happin' guy” Momar Kadafi. The adage, “You are known by the company you keep” comes to mind here.
I've spent more time in jail and the courts than the people who approved of the torture policies and the people who carried them out combined.
The Freedom Flotilla II (FFII -- this century's Freedom Riders), which was to carry humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, has been successfully thwarted through a really ingenious conspiracy of subterfuge by the governments of Israel, the USA and the willingness of the Greek government to enforce Israel's naval blockade of Gaza. Congratulations to all three in this axis.
For more than two weeks The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. boat in the 22-vessel flotilla, tried to set sail with more than 3,000 letters of support and compassion to the people of Gaza. The other boats were carrying aid in the form of food, medicines and clothing.
One of the ships had intentional damage done to the underside and propeller. These are the parts that are in the water and had to be done by professionally trained people. You don't learn that kind of sabotage in the scouts.
The Audacity of Hope did manage to sail out of port on July 2 but was intercepted by the Greek navy and made to return to port. The captain of the boat was arrested and put into jail; he was finally released on the 6th. Hopefully the charges against him will be dropped. Nine of the passengers went on a hunger strike in support of him and were promptly detained by the Greek authorities for several hours. Some of them were detailed again on Monday the 4th -- just to play it safe. Dangerous people, those fasters.
The Audacity of Hope is being held indefinitely by Greek authorities. The boat was leased from a Greek company so to ensure it can be returned to the owners in good condition several passengers are staying behind to look after it.
I am hoping to interview the two local people who were on the U.S. boat. To get the whole ugly story you can go to www.ustogaza.org.
I am grateful to Nathan Borsky of Bearsville for his letter to the editor in the July 3 Sunday's Gazette. Upon seeing it, my first thought was, “A reader!! Wow!” It gives me the opportunity to set the record straight about at least the people of the U.S. boat. None of them are “Israel haters” as he contends. I have been arrested, in jail and on trial with a number of them, as well as knowing some of them personally.
They are all people of conscience who have dedicated their lives to justice through non-violence.
Calling for justice for the Palestinian people does not automatically render a person an “Israel hater” but for some people that's all you need. It reminds me of the Tawana Brawley fiasco in Wappingers Falls in 1987. She claimed a rape by a gang of six white men (she's African-American) who left her covered with feces in a plastic bag at her doorstep. Her story had more holes than a screen door.
People like Bill Cosby and Pete Seger, who initially came to her aid, dropped out PDQ on the QT because her story just did not hang together. Then Governor Mario Cuomo did everything but sit on her doorstep with candy and flowers to get her to cooperate with a state investigation. It became clear that if she did, she'd be charged with a crime. After seven months of examining police and medical records and listening to the testimony of over 100 witnesses, a grand jury determined that Tawana's charges were false and that her condition when found had been self-inflicted.
In 1991 the state Supreme Court awarded a default judgment to one of the people she falsely accused. In 1987, if you called her a liar (a statement of the obvious), you were branded a racist.
I welcome the chance to quote Reuwan Moskovitz, an Israeli citizen, a survivor of Auschwitz and a passenger in September 2010 on the Jewish Boat to Gaza, a group made up specifically of Jews that tried to break the blockade. On March 2 of this year he stood in the sanctuary of the Presbyterian-New England Congregational church and said, “Gaza is the world's largest concentration camp.” If anyone on the face of our planet has the authority to make this judgment and call it out in public, Reuwan does. He also said that he was appalled that the Israeli government uses his suffering to perpetrate their injustice on the Palestinians. He went on to say that the first law of Judaism is do not do to others who you find abhorrent and the government of Israel is doing just that.
Glyn Secker, also a passenger on the boat, told us that when the Israeli military boarded their boat, they learned that one of the passengers, who was offering no resistance, had a heart condition. So they tased him, but before they did they removed his life vest and aimed for his heart. Glyn also told us that when the Israeli military intercepted and boarded the boat of the first Freedom Flotilla they had photographs of the unarmed people they later shot at point blank range in the head. That's known as “execution style” in street parlance.
Reuwan was bringing harmonicas to the people of Gaza -, the Israeli military tossed them all overboard. What, were the people of Gaza going to play them so loudly that the wall Israel has built around them was going to crumble?
There were 22 ships set to participate in FFII so Nathan's assertion that most of the boats had to drop out because of insurance issues does not ring true. Either that or there were a heck of a lot more ships set to participate, which in and of itself is a powerful witness for the intentionally inflicted plight of the people of Gaza.
There is absolutely no evidence that were any terrorists or terror-minded organizations involved with the FFII. It seems the only group that threatened harm to anyone was the Israeli military.
Finally, we have Mr. Borsky telling us there is all kinds of criminal activity being perpetrated against Israel in the U.S. with nary a thing being done by our Justice Department. Texas Governor Rick Perry (aka GOP presidential nominee hopeful) has gone so far as to demand the U.S. attorney general “investigate and aggressively pursue the organizers of the flotilla.” What criminal activity? Taking letters of hope and courage to people in a concentration camp is a crime?
As the author Alice Walker (one of the participants in FFII) said, “This is like going after the mailman.”
Which brings me back to the beginning of this blog. I'll bet anything that Rick Perry has not asked the Justice Department to reconsider its position on U.S. citizens who participated in torture and “investigate and aggressively pursue” them.