Written by David Schermerhorn
Israel continues blockade of ships to Gaza.
I have just returned from Turkey where I had hoped to join the Canadian boat Tahrir that together with the Irish vessel Saoirse would attempt to reach Gaza in an effort to break the 44-year blockade by Israel. Both ships were stopped, boarded in international waters and taken to Ashdod by Israeli naval forces.
In an unexplained reversal the Turkish authorities had imposed a limit of 12 crew and passengers on each ship. As a result Kit Kittredge of Quilcene, WA was the only US citizen aboard either vessel. I had been on the Audacity of Hope with Kittredge in June when it was stopped and impounded by the Greek authorities.
The United States policy of support and justification for the blockade is deplorable and represents one more concession to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC. The Palestinians were filled with hope by Obama’s election that they would finally have an honest broker who would have the courage to pursue a fair and equitable solution to the decades old conflict. Their hopes were further bolstered by Obama’s memorable speech in Cairo that was addressed largely to the Islamic world.
And then came silence.
Silence as construction continued on thousands of new settlement homes in the West Bank. Silence as Palestinian fields were uprooted. As peaceful demonstrations were met with tear gas and bullets. As fishing boats were attacked each day. As development of the vast natural gas deposits in Gazan waters continued to be blocked. Silence as the economy and viability of life in Gaza were increasingly throttled. As the blockade of Gazan waters continued. The silence was briefly broken by a justification for the Israeli attack on the Flotilla and the death of an American citizen. But the silence returned again regarding the capture of a United States vessel and its passengers in international waters.
Recently State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland in a Washington Post story warned American citizens participating in Flotillas of possible legal consequences for breaking U.S. and Israeli law. It should be noted that her neo-conservative husband, Robert Kagan, is a columnist for the Washington Post. It should also be noted that Dennis Ross, recently appointed as a special adviser to Hillary Clinton on the Middle East, was a co-founder of AIPAC.
As the presidential election approaches we see even fewer attempts to restrain the settlement expansions or the daily assaults on the lives, the homes, the dignity of the Palestinian people.
Instead Obama promises to veto any effort to achieve recognition of statehood at the UN’s Security Council. To withhold financial aid from the Palestinians if they should attain a limited status in the General Assembly.
Obama’s willingness to grant Israel impunity for the most egregious actions highlights the irony of his early claim to The Audacity of Hope. That stirring battle cry has sadly been replaced by The Audacity of Political Cowardice and Expediency. There is little prospect of Hope or Courage reappearing before the 2012 election.
David K. Schermerhorn is an 82 year old retired film producer now living on Orcas Island, WA. He has been concerned with the plight of the Palestinians for some years having joined 7 attempts to reach Gaza by ship. He succeeded 3 times in 2008, and was captured by Israeli Naval Forces during the 2010 Flotilla.