The Freedom Flotilla has embarked to Gaza. Among both internationals and Palestinians, we constantly are asked and discuss: Will the boats get in? For some odd reason they often think we have more insight into whether the boats will get in than they do.
I think that if the Israeli government were interested in perpetuating its apartheid for a little longer, it would let the boats in. The WHO–as mainstream as organizations get–has recently called on Israel to lift the siege on Gaza. John Ging has called for a sea-lift to bring supplies in, effectively putting UNRWA’s stamp-of-approval on the boats. The Israeli government, when it attacks the boats (and please asshole Zionist readers let me be wrong about this one!), will make an exceptionally bad scene for itself.
Not quite at the level of the winter massacre. But it will look foolish. It will be making an unusually stark decision, choosing to ally itself with precisely no one, against nearly every government in the world, against mainstream civil society organizations that are far to the right of the Palestine solidarity movement. Israel could make itself look good by letting the boats in, with the help of stenographers like Ethan Bronner, but there is no way it will do so.
Furthermore, these ships have been searched again and again, and will be searched again and again, and carry wheelchairs, water purification devices. According to Israel Gaza is not occupied. It has no good reason not to let the boats in except to perpetuate a siege that is only working to weaken civil society and turn Gaza into a permanent, managed crisis.
It has no good reason to not let the boats in except to enshrine the principle that it has the right to abuse an entire people willy-nilly. But Israel doesn’t need a good reason to be dumb about managing apartheid. It’s helmed by leadership so blind and stupid that they practically beggar belief. What could they have hoped to accomplish by barring Chomsky from entering the West Bank? Do they think that the counter flotilla, armed with banners reading, “Hamas Sucks,” and “The Armenian Genocide Happened!” make Israeli civil society look like anything but fools?
If they had any interest in the symbolism of their actions they’d commandeer the counter-flotilla and ask them why they’re behaving so inanely. Publicizing their naval exercises in which half the Israeli navy is participating? Utilizing half of their war fleet to stop boats carrying diapers and dialysis machines? Come on now.
Anyway, here’s Eva Jasiewicz with a nice piece on the boats:

The Israeli government has responded to the “sea intifada” coming its way with saber rattling and accusations of serving Hamas. Israel has proscribed the Turkish human rights and relief group Insani Vardim Vakafi (IHH). IHH is responsible for sending a cargo ship and passenger ship in the Freedom Flotilla. Israel has accused it and Free Gaza of “supporting terrorism.”
Half the Israeli navy is set to challenge the mission, with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the helm commanding the operation in person. The air force is on standby and “diplomatic pressure” is being applied behind the scenes. The message is clear from Israel: “We will stop you and we will use force to stop you.”

This flotilla represents radical solidarity and a force that can be realized when people from all over the world act on their conscience. It’s a force made real through stepping out onto the streets or into occupation-supporting businesses, through speaking out, through fundraising in mosques, churches, synagogues, schools; through writing, singing, sharing, relaying and promoting, and packing and driving boxes of materials and cement, and cheering on and praying for and protesting any attack.

What will happen when Israel either blockades the ships or attacks them? Reportedly, IHH, the Turkish charity that has partnered with Free Gaza to launch the flotilla, will form a floating island of ships in the Mediterranean. IHH-affiliated volunteers with Viva Palestina were willing to fight with Egyptian riot police in order to get into Gaza.
As far as I know, these are religious men, who feel very strong sympathies with the people living in Gaza, and they will not be happy when the occupier tries to land Apaches on their decks. Good luck with this one Israel. You’ve already lost. The question is how you wish to take defeat, and how much damage you’re going to inflict on the people living in Gaza, and the people working to help them, in the process.

Technorati Tags: Free Gaza, freedom flotilla, Israel, Palestine, Zionism
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May 21st, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | Category: Uncategorized

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