Yesterday the State Dept. upped the ante by not only giving Israel a green light to use any means necessary to stop the Flotilla, which apparently won’t even being entering Israeli waters, but threatening prosecution of those on board under laws prohibiting giving material support to terrorists:
the U.S. State Department said Friday that attempts to break the blockade are “irresponsible and provocative” and that Israel has well-established means of delivering assistance to the Palestinian residents of Gaza. It noted that the territory is run by the militant Hamas group, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization, and that Americans providing support to it are subject to fines and jail.
All week the State Dept. has been reminding everyone that poor, defenseless Israel has every right to use self-defense against the Flotilla. Self defense? In international waters? Defense against whom? Or what?
Among the goods being carried by the Flotilla are medical and school supplies and hundreds of letters to the children of Gaza. Very dangerous indeed. I certainly hope that Israel uses it’s full arsenal to prevent those things from reaching shore.
And who are these dreaded, terrorist-loving people that are on board the Flotilla? Well, perhaps the most dangerous among them is 87 year-old Hedy Epstein, an American citizen who lost all but two members of her family in the Holocaust. She’s also a peace activist. Watch out Israel, Hedi’s coming your way! Get the commando boats and attack helicopters ready!
Who else is on board? The writer Alice Walker, who I must admit is rather frightening. And Colonel Ann Wright, recipient of the State Department’s Award for Heroism.
Joseph Dana is on board the Flotilla and covering the events and he’s reporting that Israel and the U.S. are using all the considerable diplomatic tools at their disposal to prevent the U.S.-owned ships from leaving the Greek port:
Early this morning, I discovered that a ‘private complaint’ had been filed against the US boat to Gaza. The complaint, it is still unclear who filed it, stated that the US boat to Gaza is not ’sea worthy’ and requires a detailed inspection.The harbor master where the boat is in port has declared that until the compliant is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the complaint and weather it was filed as a result of Israeli economic or diplomatic pressure on the Greek government. The boat is US flagged and registered in the United States.
10 ships are expected to sail as part of the Gaza aid flotilla. Currently three ships, including the US boat, have had complaints levied against them. US boat organizers believe that Greece will attempt to delay the ships indefinitely by using a serious of bureaucratic measures such as endless safety checks and cargo inspections. Despite the setbacks, organizers are continuing with their nonviolence and safety training. They are hopeful that the Greek government will allow the ships to sail next week as initially planned.
If ever there was a better example of the power of the Lobby, I don’t know what it is.
If you are interested in following the events as they unfold you can follow the hashtag #flotilla2 on Twitter. Also, as stated above, Israeli-American Joseph Dana will be covering events on board the U.S. ship Audacity of Hope on Twitter and for the Nation Magazine. His Twitter feed is @ibnezra. I couldn’t help but notice in his most recent pictures that he’s been asked to wear a helmet and bullet proof vest with the words PRESS across the vest in the hopes that, you know, he won’t be killed. Also, the U.S. boat to Gaza is tweeting live, you can follow them at @USBOATTOGAZA. For the record, as we speak, the US boats are passing the time by having nonviolence drills in preparation for the eventuality that they will be attacked by the IDF. Yep, the Flotilla participants certainly are scary! Here is the official website of the US Boat to Gaza and they are updating it regularly.
One more thing- In watching the events live and following this very closely, I just can’t help but be struck by how petty and hypocritical the Obama administration looks right now. Luckily for them the pro-Israel MSM will not be providing information on any of the above- the nonviolence training and the lengths to which the Flotilla organizers are going to prevent a violent show down- you will likely not see or hear about any of that.
Here are some photos of the flotilla participants undergoing nonviolence training as they wait for permission to set sail. They sure do look like a dangerous bunch:
If you don’t click on any link in this post, please just click on this one– it is the biography page of the participants in the US Boat 2 Gaza. Notice how many of them are older than 50 and about 80% of them are women and more than half are Jewish. These are the people that the administration is trying to paint as supporters of terrorism.
NOTE:I have seen in reported in multiple places that the intention of the U.S. ships was never to leave international waters. This came up in yesterday’s State Dept. press briefing. I have to find out more about this because if it’s true then a) I have no idea how they plan to get their cargo to Gaza but more importantly b) then the State Dept. has in effect been maligning the Flotilla for an action that is well within their rights under international law. Does the State Dept. realize this? The other day in her hearing before the Senate foreign relations committee Secretary Clinton responded to critics of the military action in Libya by asking “whose side are you on?” She claimed that anyone who disagrees with the war or who is questioning the legality of the President going to war without congressional authorization, is on the side of Ghadaffi. I have a question for her with respect to the Flotilla- whose side is SHE on? The side of the American citizens who have a right to not be attacked by the Israeli military in international waters or the side of the Israeli government who is instituting an illegal blockade of Gaza?
An administration who has lauded nonviolent protests throughout history (Gandi, MLK, Nelson Mandela) and more recently, with respect to the Arab uprisings, really has no business maligning the Palestinians and those who support them, as terrorist-supporting miscreants.
I still have no idea why the State Dept. is spending so much time, energy and quite frankly, squandered credibility, in trying to prevent activists from doing something that has nothing to do with the U.S. They aren’t leaving from U.S. shores, the boats aren’t official US vessels etc. etc.