From USS Liberty to Freedom Flotilla
reflects on US hypocrisy about its "ally" in the Middle East
"We do not need to apologise for defending ourselves. The armada of hate and violence is merely one manifestation of the constant provocation Israel faces." -- Danny Ayalon, deputy foreign minister of Israel
Only a member of the Netanyahu court could stand before the TV cameras of the world and see "hate and violence" in a shipment of wheelchairs, medical supplies and building materials destined for a people ravaged by the savagery of the 20008/2009 invasion of Gaza. This "Armada" of six boats, bloated into an invading force capable of destroying the British Navy, represents yet again the eternal threat that plagues the Zionist state, "the constant provocation" from the rest of the nations of the world to destroy the tiny democracy created for those who belong to their faith, victims once again.
And why? Doesn't Israel simply want to defend itself as is the right of every nation? This too, this everlasting question hurled at the world as a justified reason for unwarranted violence, used yet again to impose its will in defiance of International Law that none can question lest they deny their right to self defence. How convenient, especially when no one in the world of nations knows where Israel is, what borders it possesses, what land is rightfully Israel's, and by what authority that land was given to Israel. But apparently it can claim to defend itself in International waters against 700 civilians, legislators from many lands, peace activists that range in age from one year to 85, from Jews to Christians to Muslims to atheists, from doctors to lawyers, to merchants to retired men and women, a flotilla of "hate and violence" set on destroying the peaceful state of Israel. A flotilla of mercy, a flotilla of absolute need since the people of Gaza have not only been ravaged by missiles and warships but by illegal weapons of vast devastation, including white phosphorus and depleted uranium, that cause excruciating, agonising death, and left in the aftermath to suffer behind locked gates bereft of medical supplies, equipment or electricity to run the machines of life.
Lawrence Durrell describes a mournful, solitary scene in his guide to the landscape and people of the island of Corfu: "We carried him in his open box to the cemetery on the hill, and all the time this poetry was flowing out of Mother Hubbard in a continuous stream, keeping pace with her tears, for she really loved Taki. 'Was the coffin open?' 'Yes.' 'Is that a religious custom of the island?' 'No. But under the Turks it was a law to prevent the smuggling of arms in coffins under the pretence of carrying corpses to the grave. In some places it has lingered on among the superstitious.'"
The Turks have obviously moved on from those days centuries ago as they loaded the boat with its items of mercy and verified that process for the Israeli government, a government that has understood its relationship to be a good one, but not good enough to be trusted apparently. The Zionist state trusts no one, obeys no laws but its own, suffers no outsiders like the UN to witness its actions, and perhaps superstitiously or perhaps pathologically must maintain the sickness of victimhood in its citizens or lose their support. Above all, the Zionist government does nothing in the open except by mistake as it did in 2006 when it invaded Lebanon and in its Hannakah gifts to the people of Gaza a year ago, and hence dropped its hooded and heavily armed mercenaries onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara at 4am while the innocent slept and the darkness hid their insidious attack.
Following the attack on one of its own vessels, Turkey sought justice from the United Nations in the form of a statement "that would condemn Israel for violating international law, demand a UN investigation and demand that Israel prosecute those responsible for the raid and pay compensation to the victims" ( The Salt Lake Tribune ). But the Obama administration found reason to protect Israel against such a statement just as the Lyndon Johnson administration found reason to protect Israel when it attacked the American Naval vessel the USS Liberty 43 years ago, an attack of greater magnitude and consequence than the raid on the Freedom Flotilla, yet just as illegal, just as merciless, and just as revealing of true friendship among nations. To this day, the remaining sailors of that ship seek justice, not from the UN, but from their own representatives in our Congress who deny the attack or obsequiously grovel before the power of the Jewish lobbies that condemn those who condemn Israel for putting American sailors at risk, nay for killing American sailors with impunity, a blatant criminal act against their beloved friend, the United States of America.
What has Obama to fear that he too capitulates to the demands of the Zionist sympathisers in Congress and his own administration? Have citizens of many countries no rights to sail in international waters to bring medical supplies to a besieged people, imprisoned now in collective punishment for three years, deprived of life's basic needs by a nation that is among the wealthiest in the world, who live in luxury behind the walls they have erected to incarcerate a people that have no recognised government, no military, no control of their roads, their own housing needs, their own economy? And the world, it seems, supports the nation that creates this horrendous injustice because the president of the United States demands that those who lifted deck chairs to protect themselves from the armed and armoured commandos dropped from the sky should be investigated for legal acts of self protection? What nonsense is this?
Why does our president, like Johnson 43 years ago, kowtow before the demands of men like Avigdor Lieberman and Bibi Netanyahu? Consider that a broad array of countries demanded an independent investigation, not just Turkey. Consider the words of Foreign Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoglu, who called the attack "tantamount to banditry and piracy. It is murder conducted by a state." Indeed, why do Americans tolerate a nation that attacks its own sailors, that watches as this administration pulls the FBI off its investigation and the prosecution of Israeli spying through AIPAC operatives, and refuses to demand justice for the murder of Rachel Corrie as she acted in true American spirit to protect those who could not protect themselves and suffered a cruel death by Israeli hands for her efforts?
What power does this rogue nation hold over our government? Let's begin with the two favourite mantras that bind Israel to America: our only friend in the MidEast and the only democracy in the MidEast. Both are lies. Friends do not attack the ship of a friend, a ship that was virtually at the mercy of the US provided aircraft to the Israeli Air Force that pulverised the Liberty while the Israeli Navy attempted to sink the ship with a torpedo. Friends do not use the military weapons of the friend on the friend. Friends do not premeditatedly plan the sinking of a ship to force that friend to believe a lie so that it will enter a war on behalf of Israel against a nation, Egypt, that had done nothing to the United States. These are the actions of a criminal mind, a nation with a criminal mind. Friends do not plan out military attacks against innocent civilians who have devoted their time and money to bring life giving aid to others and demonstrated their true intent before the world's nations by having their boats inspected only to have Israel not trust any nation but itself. Such actions do not protect the soldiers and sailors of the United States operating in the MidEast, they endanger them.
How democratic is this purported democracy? I've written about this subject before (see "Israeli Democracy: Fact or Fiction?") and will not repeat myself. Let me note here an example of a nation that does not act democratically as presented by Jonathan Cook about a matter called the "Anat Kamm espionage affair". Kamm provided hundreds of army documents to Uri Blau, a reporter for Haaretz, that revealed "systematic law-breaking by the Israeli high command operating in occupied Palestinian territories, including orders to ignore court rulings." These were published. She now faces life imprisonment as does Blau, who was hiding in England in April. As Cook remarks, "In a properly democratic country, Kamm would have an honourable defence against the charges, of being a whistle-blower rather than a spy, and Blau would be winning journalism prizes, not hiding away in exile." So much for freedom of speech, right to self- defence, and the public's right to know the subterfuge of their government.
One additional comment should suffice. Tzvia Greenfield makes this observation in her article "Israel's Choice: Make Peace or Disappear". "Israel... continues to control the Palestinians and the territories by force. And in order to maintain its Jewish identity, it also has no intention whatsoever of granting them equal civil rights. One does not have to be a critical intellectual to understand that this internal contradiction, in a state that considers itself advanced, Western and democratic, is untenable." This nation is what our government claims is our only friend and our only democratic bastion in the MidEast. How pathetic.
Yet our president and our secretary of state declare over and over again that they will defend Israel's right to "self-defence". Does that right include defence of the military systematically disobeying laws and the government's intent to deny equal rights of citizens? Does it also include defence of lands confiscated by Israel or annexed illegally to Israel or declared military security land and wrested from the true owners? How does this nation justify theft by its truest friend and still declare that Palestinians have rights? Let's have our government officials speak the truth so that we know the true state of our government.
One more demonstrated action by this friendly state, our truest and most reliable friend that we must defend before the other less friendly and democratic, and dare we say, less moralistic nations of the world. Desmond Tutu visited the occupied territories recently and offered this observation, "I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under the racist system of Apartheid. I have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinian men, women, and children made to wait hours at Israeli checkpoints routinely when trying to make the most basic trips to visit relatives or attend school or college."
This is a regime we support, one that humiliates and degrades innocent civilians against international law, that builds roads segregated for Jews only on land confiscated from its rightful owners and paid for in part by American tax dollars. This is a regime we support that has sold nuclear weapons to that same apartheid government when it was outlawed by the international community demonstrating thereby two important and non-disclosed things about this rogue state, this friendly and democratic state that insists it is America's closest and greatest friend: first it has weapons of mass destruction but denies it, and second, it will and has sold such weapons to an illegal government. This is the regime we trust, the regime now whose president, Shimon Peres, is the very man that arranged for the sale.
This is the regime our president must avoid offending lest it be forced to join the nuclear non-proliferation agreement he and the United Nations wishes to exist in the MidEast. This is the regime we must placate by protesting "the grave dangers of Syria's transfer of weapons to Hizbullah... transferring weapons to these terrorists... which pose a serious threat to the security of Israel ... We do not accept such provocative and destabilising behaviour -- nor should the international community," said Hillary Clinton in April.
Hypocritically, this is the regime the United States Department of State provides with billions of dollars worth of military weapons yearly that it uses in such illegal ways as the invasion of Gaza, declaring it was defending itself, when in fact it killed in one minute by one missile on the UN school more Gazan civilians than all the rockets fired legally from their occupied land by insurgents since 2000. And this is Israel's only defence, its right to defend itself.
Who are the terrorists? Why does the United States defend this terrorist state? What laws does the US abide by? The laws as dictated by Israel or the laws as negotiated and agreed upon by the community of nations through the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice. Why, if Israel has done no wrong in this latest of incidents, why does it not present its case before the ICJ and demonstrate to the world that it was right and the international community wrong? What has Israel to fear except the loss of fear by its citizens. And what we may ask does America have to gain by joining the united nations in their call, their demand for justice, an independent investigation (not one conducted by the Israeli military since they, argues our Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs PJ Crowley are the best to undertake such an investigation, because they are the most knowledgeable about the matter; how true and how absurd!) that can attest to the reliability of the Israeli accounts and assert whose rights were denied?
Why does Israel have such a difficult time existing without fear and victimhood in the MidEast? Perhaps the Zionist mindset that finds itself alienated from its brothers and sisters around the world because it has created a nation baptised in blood, stealth, theft, and deception must fear the unveiling of its lies and the eruption of the world's communities to the injustice it has inflicted on the hapless Palestinians and continues to inflict by cementing them behind massive walls of fear and depriving them of a modicum of compassion and brotherly love. Perhaps it is time for Israel to consider that to fester as a boil inside the MidEast, distrusted and isolated, bodes ill for their future and the future of their best friend, the United States, that has supported them blindly these past 63 years. Perhaps for the sake of that friendship they might consider justice for the Palestinians and peace for the world.
* The writer is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California.