The Truth About Israel's Flotilla Raid
This week no matter what channel you've turned to, you've likely heard about the Israeli military's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, a collection of ships that attempted to break the siege of Gaza and distribute tons and tons of humanitarian aid (stuff usually not allowed into Gaza like cement, medicines, toys, spices, jam, chocolate, potato chips and so on). Over 700 people, including my friend and colleague Ann Wright who is a retired Army colonel and diplomat, were on those ships from nearly 50 countries, and were jailed by Israel for trying to deliver the aid. Most have been released and their stories are now coming out - you can hear Ann on Democracy Now! today. 9 humanitarian aid workers were shot and killed by the Israeli military. There's a lot of misinformation going around about this attack, and some valiant efforts of Israel's PR team to cover up the truth. The world is outraged about the massacre; Israel is isolating itself in the global community, and the US continues to be one of the only allies still blinded by Israeli propaganda, though just today US officials are saying the blockade of Gaza is "untenable". To set the record straight from the extensive amount of articles, videos, and reports that are proliferating the mass media this week, here are my recommended sources: Hereis an explanation of what happened with 5 actions you can take, including signing a petitionto President Obama asking him to condemn the Israeli assault and freeze military aid to Israel that enables the occupation.
MJ Rosenberg wrote a great piece for Media Matters called "Lying about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla Disaster" which spells out reality very clearly.
To further unravel claims that Israel was acting in self defense, I offer you this piecefrom Associate Professor Ben Saul, the Co-Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law at The University of Sydney.
For a little humor, check out my coworker Prerna's list of Top 10 Threats to Israel, which includes references to the photos that Israel has tried to say show weapons aboard the ship (but have been proven to be from other incidents entirely - don't you just love the digital age of photo and video play?).
And check out Jon Stewart on the "Cluster*$% to the WarHouse".
Read "Open the Gates" - Rabbis responding to the tragedy.
Isha l'Isha, the oldest feminist org in Israel, and the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel, have put out statements supporting the flotilla, and hundreds of Israelis have demonstrated against Israel's brutal action (just like when we demonstrate against the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan here). Read Israel's Ha'aretz news.
Here'sa really worth-while well-done youtube asking Elton John not to play in Tel Aviv, which gives a good quick overview of the occupation.
And see a debate on MSNBC between Jeremy Scahill and former mayor Ed Koch on Israel's justification for attacking the aid flotilla - decide for yourself!
Finally, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is growing as a powerful way to exert economic pressure on Israel to abide by international law. A BDS Day of Action has been called for this Saturday, June 5th in solidarity with the flotilla.
Writing this I feel my heart broken open. I feel love and compassion for people on all sides of the conflict, including my family and loved ones in Israel, and the friends I made during my trip to Gaza last New Year's. Witnessing the wall, the checkpoints, the siege of Gaza from inside it's walls, and the way "separate but equal" has become an acceptable justification for brutality and oppression, during my two trips to Israel, Palestine, and Gaza over the past year, there is no doubt in my heart and mind that the killing must end and human rights must be restored.
The flotilla was filled with people just like you and me who finally decided it was time to risk life and limb to take a stand, to break through those prison walls,and we can thank them for it.
If you're one of my Jewish friends, I invite you to join me in saying the Mourner's Kaddish for the 9 humanitarian aid workers who were killed this week. Let's also not forget the over 1,400 civilians killed in Gaza in January 2009 during Israel's Operation Cast Lead assault. I invite you to offer up prayers from whichever spiritual traditions you pursue. And coupled with prayer, I invite you to join me in action. We cannot be silent. "Never again" includes all people everywhere in the world, including our neighbors in Gaza. Youth in Gaza have organized nonviolent, creative demonstrations.For a listing of rallies happening around the world, gohere.For all this info in quick bites on one 8.5x11 sheet that you can distribute at events visit End the Occupation For live updates, check Witness Gaza. Author: Rae Abileah is an American Jew of Israeli decent who lives in San Francisco, CA and is the national grassroots coordinator with CODEPINK Women for Peace.