- Palestinian analyst/advocate/author and former journalist
Nadia Hijab is right, saying "(i)t was never about aid."
- In her article titled, "Freedom Flotilla II: No
to a Kinder, Gentler Siege," she said like earlier and new initiatives
to come, it's "a political act" against Israel's illegal occupation/Gaza
blockade - forced isolation, in fact, since 1988 "permit system"
terrorism was instituted.
- In 1991, closures began, "institutionalized"
in 1993, then a 1994 electronic wall, and continued repression by lawless
incursions, air attacks, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, mass
arrests, daily intimidation, Cast Lead, and virtually anything Israel can
dream up to collectively punish 1.6 million people, guilty of being Arabs,
- Flotillas and other humanitarian efforts aren't about
delivering "goods," said Hijab. They're about freedom, self-determination,
and ending Israel's lawless chokehold, violating international laws, norms
and principles grievously for decades, complicit with rogue partners against
justice, shamelessly supporting crimes of war and against humanity.
- Blocked but not defeated, Freedom Flotilla II endorsers
sent a July 10 open letter to European Commission President Joseo Manuel
Barroso, saying in part:
- "Squeezed between Scylla and Charybdid (twin evils),
the zionist state of Israel and the 'democratic' Greece, our nutshell JULIANO
with" European citizens from Sweden, Greece and Austria "on board
still tries to (fulfill) its mission of peace and solidarity with the Palestinian
- Is isolating them behind "prison-walls" your
choice, or is "freedom of the seas....freedom of expression, and the
mandate of peace the (EU) constitutional treaty prescribed you to fulfill?"
- It's shameful that EU nations and other Quartet members
bow subserviently to Israel, complicit with "its constant violations
of Human Rights against the population of Palestine."
- "Don't forget that history....always....punish(es)
those who have allied themselves with the oppressors. In the name of the
same (EU) democratic order," global peace, and justice you and others
endorse, "we therefore demand:
- OUR RIGHT TO SAIL FREE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA WHEREVER
- On behalf of JULIANO participants, signed:
- Dr. Leo Gabriel
- International Council of the World Social Forum
- Maria Pia Boethius
- Swedish writer
- Jabar Amin
- Member of Sweden's Parliament
- Stellan Vinthagen
- Swedish Professor of Sociology/Ship to Gaza participant
- Takis Politis
- Greek Professor/member of the Hellenic Federation of
University Teachers Associations Executive Committee
- Orestes Kolokouris
- Greek Parliament member
- America's Media Pro-Israeli Bias
- Typical distorted Flotilla reports came from Ethan Bronner,
New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief, exposing his pro-Israeli bias like
on July 2 headlining, "Setting Sail on Gaza's Sea of Spin," saying:
- Some saw "a parallel with the Exodus, (when) Jewish
refugees (tried) to break" Britain's 1947 blockade. Others wondered
why participants bring aid "when it is no longer needed." Bronner
obviously knows nothing about Gaza, perhaps never visited, and for sure
- "Still others," he said "note the way
the Israeli authorities portray the organizers as violent Islamists when
most are middle-aged European pacifists."
- Correct, but not that "challenging Israel's blockade
(reflects) something else, part of an unstated effort to recast the Israeli-Palestinian
narrative in extreme terms, (bringing) out the public relations demons
on all sides."
- Bronner downplayed Israel's May 2010 massacre, claimed
enough goods now enter Gaza, ignored the deplorable humanitarian crisis,
and said if activists want to deliver aid, they "should take it to
either Israel or Egypt and it will be delivered by truck. Sea access must
remain blocked to prevent weapons smuggling."
- In fact, Gaza is sovereign Palestine. So are its offshore
waters. Israel's blockade is illegal. Every state may defend itself, especially
against rogue aggressors like Israel, committing regular atrocities by
land, sea and air.
- Moreover, Flotilla activism isn't about aid. It's about
liberation, what Bronner, and others like him, don't understand or support.
Instead, he claims it's about "delegitimizing Israel and killing its
- Allegations like that and quoting Israel's public diplomacy
minister, Yuli Edelstein, saying "representatives of different terror
groups" joined the Flotilla make yellow journalism look good.
- Nonetheless, he continued, regurgitating other spurious
claims, exposing his intellectual dishonesty the way Times writers always
do. As a result, they present one-sided pro-Israeli, pro-war, pro-imperial,
pro-corporate, anti-justice reports, opinions and commentaries, mocking
equity, justice, democratic values, and real journalism - siding with villains,
- Israel v. Flytilla Activists
- An Israeli no-fly list prevented 200 or more from arriving.
Others came and were targeted repressively. On July 10, International Middle
East Media Center writer Saed Bannoura headlined, "Israel Deports
36 Activists, 82 Still Detained," saying:
- "Israeli Immigration spokeswoman Sabine Haddad"
said 22 deported were Belgian, 13 German, and one Spanish, 82 others imprisoned
in Beer Sheva, Al Ramla and Tel Aviv. Most are French. Others are American,
Belgian, Spanish and Dutch.
- They represent hundreds of "Welcome to Palestine"
Campaign (WPC) activists, challenging Israel's illegal blockade and occupation.
On July 10, WPC said:
- "Israeli authorities set stringent conditions for
release of (WPC) prisoners. (Most) are still incarcerated under brutal
conditions," in Al Ramla and Beer Sheva detention centers.
- "These friends of Palestine, among which there are
minors and elderly persons with medical conditions, have been and are being
mistreated and subjected to unnecessary brutality." As a result, they
began a hunger strike, protesting their illegal arrest, detention and mistreatment.
- On July 12, WPC said members illegally imprisoned may
rightfully refuse deportation for the following reasons:
- -- they'll illegally detained;
- -- denying them entry to Israel is unjustified;
- -- deportation will normalize it and "create a precedent
by which the Israeli authorities are 'permitted' to decide on who has the
right or not to come visit Palestine;"
- -- WPC activists came to challenge Israeli lawlessness;
- -- doing so keeps the issue alive; and
- -- foreign governments and airlines should be pressured
to explain and justify their complicity with Israeli crimes.
- Arriving members were mistreated as follows:
- "held together in one room and then attacked, forcefully
handcuffed and dragged into separate transfer vehicles. They were then
forcefully transferred to the (Al Ramla) detention facility....Lawyers
have been trying to reach the Ministry of Interior to gain access to (them)
to assure they receive their right to legal representation, to visits from
their country consular staff, and to call their families."
- Moreover, supportive Israelis were denied entrance to
Ben-Gurion Airport. Each visitor was asked to confirm travel plans or name
arriving passengers they wished to meet - checked against inbound passenger
- Those who circumvented security procedures "were
immediately attacked even as they peacefully" awaited WPC arrivals.
Six, in fact, were arrested.
- "We urge (everyone) to write to the media, to their
governments, and to all fellow human beings," saying: "enough
is enough. Israel must be forced to respect basic human rights, allow free
travel, (and) end apartheid and colonization."
- Urgently, "Western governments must insist that
Israeli authorities release those they kidnapped, afford them all protections
due them, and punish officials who mistreated our guests."
- The Free Gaza Movement and Palestinian Boycott National
Committee (BNC) called for an "immediate embargo on Israel,"
- "Freedom Flotilla II, and Israel's attempts to thwart
it through outrageous acts of intimidation, lies, political pressure, threats
of violence, and sabotage, has reminded the world (about) the criminal
blockade on the Gaza Strip," violating fundamental international law.
- Israel is a lawless rogue state. "In the name of
freedom, equality, justice and peace," it must be held fully accountable,
starting with a full embargo, followed perhaps by UN expulsion for violating
its charter principles and dozens of resolutions.
- A Final Comment
- On July 12, US Boat to Gaza/Audacity of Hope participants
Ann Wright and Regina Carey emailed that Greek authorities cut off electricity
at 10AM Athens time, "leaving us with no power" in over 100 degree
heat "inside the boat, and a Russian ship loading grain is spewing
(it) and dust over the entire area."
- Since blocked from sailing, remaining passengers have
effectively been imprisoned. Six stayed on board to protect the boat from
sabotage. Four are over 60.
- The Papandreou government sold out to Israel and Washington,
partnering with lawless criminal acts.
- Wright, Carey and others demand the right to sail, asking
supporters to call Greek embassies, consulates and Washington embassy at
202-939-1300. Flood their switchboards with righteous outrage. Let them
know millions care.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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