Sunday, June 6, 2010

Orwell in Gaza: Politics and Media Manipulation Decide Morality Part I


by Carlos

1st part of 2

June 4, 2010 - By now virtually the whole world has heard about the debacle of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla." And virtually the whole world has condemned Israel for it.
On May 31 Israeli naval forces stopped a group of six ships trying to break the blockade of Gaza. Unfortunately there was loss of life; several activists aboard the main ship, the Mavi Marmara, died, and several Israeli soldiers were wounded, some of them seriously. Around the world Israel has been demonized for its act of "piracy," attacking a ship delivering "humanitarian" aid to suffering people and whose mission was "freedom."

When the situation is defined in these terms, it's hard not to feel deep hatred for Israel. But we need to bear two things in mind:

1. The facts do not support this portrayal.

2. The facts hardly matter anymore.

Let's take each point in turn.


The Facts Do Not Support the Popular Portrayal

The "Freedom Flotilla" billed itself as a nonviolent, peaceful mission to help the starving people of Gaza. The truth is that the mission was not nonviolent, it was not peaceful, and the people of Gaza are not starving.

The "nonviolent" protesters were not nonviolent. Video exists showing that those on board had prepared metal rods and knives, slingshots, and broken bottles to attack the Israelis. Not generally reported but noteworthy are spent bullet cartridges found on the Mavi Marmara that were not of any caliber used by Israeli commandos, some of whom did suffer gunshot wounds. Also found were propaganda photos of protesters who were supposedly injured. Evidence that these photos were shot during daylight showed they were prepared hours before the operation, which took place at night. The "nonviolent" nature of the flotilla is a myth, though a well-staged one.

The Israelis did carry side arms, but were under orders not to use them unless their lives were in danger. At first they tried using nonlethal methods to break up the attack. They had paintball guns to disperse the crowds, but those were not sufficient to stave off the threat. Video exists showing Mavi Marmara protesters attacking Israeli soldiers, beating them with metal pipes and chairs, and throwing one Israeli soldier over the railing to a deck below. The soldier suffered a serious wound to the head.


A humanitarian "crisis"?

Now let's look at the assumption that these protesters were trying to relieve a "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza.

The reason for the blockade is simple. It is not to impose suffering on the Palestinian people. Hamas has been importing material to manufacture weapons and an infrastructure of bunkers it has used to attack Israeli citizens inside Israel. Israel's goal is to keep out those materials while allowing genuine humanitarian aid to enter.

Therefore Israel offered to dock the Mavi Marmara at Ashdod and offload the cargo there, then transfer all verified humanitarian supplies to Gaza - a reasonable compromise. The protesters refused. A peaceful move like that would have undermined the purpose of their mission and cost them their moment of drama.


The plain fact is that Israel is not starving Gaza and is not holding up humanitarian aid. Israel maintains an open corridor for the delivery of food and humanitarian supplies to Gaza by recognized groups such as the UN and Red Cross. Every week Israel arranges the delivery of 15,000 tons of supplies on hundreds of trucks - more than the 10,000 tons carried on the flotilla.

These goods include not only food but building supplies. Imports of cement and iron must be controlled because Hamas uses them to cast bunkers and rockets for attacking Israeli cities. Nevertheless, tons of iron and cement are regularly allowed into Gaza under carefully monitored safeguards ensuring they will not go to Hamas for military purposes.

Gazans are suffering not because Israel prohibits aid from getting through to them - it doesn't - but because Hamas steals a lot of that aid. Last year the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had to suspend humanitarian aid to Gaza because Hamas was stealing it. Specifically, Hamas seized truckloads of rice and flour and confiscated by force of arms thousands of blankets and food parcels intended for the poor.

In spite of this theft by Hamas, ample goods are reaching the people of Gaza. This is true not only because Israel allows these goods to enter legally, but also because of a thriving economy in items smuggled through tunnels across the Egyptian border. According to a very recent report in the Financial Times of London, "Shops all over Gaza are bursting with goods" from this literally underground economy. In fact many of these goods have become so abundant that merchants are complaining about falling prices.

“Everything I demand, I can get,” says Abu Amar al-Kahlout, who sells household goods out of a warehouse big enough to accommodate a passenger jet. (Buck, 2010)

And now, irony of ironies: After so much concern about a humanitarian crisis, Hamas is refusing to allow into Gaza the 21 truckloads of goods from the flotilla, which were safely offloaded at Ashdod. Hamas says it wants all flotilla passengers released first.


First, Israel is in process of releasing the detainees. Second, and more to the point, if Hamas has a gripe with Israel, why hold the Palestinian people hostage? If the humanitarian "crisis" is really so acute, how can Hamas possibly excuse withholding these vital supplies from the people simply because it wants to punish Israel?
If a humanitarian crisis really does exist in Gaza, many aren't feeling it. But if a humanitarian mission is truly needed, it should be targeted at Hamas.


Who were the flotilla organizers?

So just who are these "Freedom Flotilla humanitarians"? Two principal groups are involved, the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM).

The IHH is a Turkish Islamic NGO and owner-operator of three of the ships, including the Mavi Marmara. A report by the Danish Institute for International Studies identifies the IHH as a "charitable front group" supporting terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. An investigation by Turkish Authorities (before Turkey's current Islamist government took power) found even more: that the IHH had procured firearms, explosives, and bomb-making instructions and was sending jihadists to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya (Kohlmann, 2006).

A French intelligence report (citation in Kohlmann, 2006) found that the IHH was recruiting soldiers for a coming "holy war" and sending them to war zones in Muslim countries to get combat experience (see Isseroff, 2010 for further details).
The true intentions of this supposed mission of "peace" became evident as the participants shouted this chilling battle cry, on footage taken aboard the flotilla just before its departure:


"Remember Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!"

Khaybar is the name of the last Jewish village destroyed by Muhammad in 628, marking the beginning of the end of any Jewish presence in Arabia. It has become a rallying cry for Islamic extremists, threatening death to Jews throughout history. You probably did not see this footage if you live in the West, but it was broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

(Watching it I couldn't help thinking of Stevenson's Treasure Island, in which once safely on board the "nice fellows" recruited for the treasure hunt raised the Jolly Roger and began singing their pirate songs. Only this time the targets of the deception were not those on board but the public at large.)

The clip ends with one woman passenger proudly proclaiming: "Right now we face one of two happy endings: either martyrdom or reaching Gaza."

It looks like they got what they wanted.

The other group involved with the flotilla, the Free Gaza Movement, also has a distinguished membership. The FGM is a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists. They were the main coordinators of the flotilla, and its board of directors prominently includes Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, founding members of the International Solidarity Movement. Arraf is actually the board chair of the FGM and was herself aboard one of the ships.

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) practices to perfection the pretense of nonviolence and peace while actually supporting violence and terrorism. While ISM members do not engage directly in violence, they make no secret of supporting those who do. They even say the Palestinian "resistance" must be "both nonviolent and violent." The ISM in fact has ties to violent groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It has supported terrorists and shielded them from Israeli authorities.

It is no coincidence that these people are behind the Free Gaza Movement. They are practicing the identical strategy: using the language of peace and humanitarianism to mask an act of war. And that is exactly what the flotilla action was. Its purpose was to break the Israeli blockade in order to enable the free flow of weapons to Hamas. It is the same purpose the ISM had when it tried to block Israeli bulldozers from demolishing tunnels used for smuggling weapons into Gaza. It works by prostituting the language of peace to support the Hamas war effort.

Here is another glimpse of the sincerity of the peace-loving humanitarians. The following exchange was captured from a radio transmission between the Israeli Navy and the Mavi Marmara. You can hear it yourself on YouTube (see the final video listed in the sources at the end of this article).


Israeli ship: This is the Israeli Navy. You are approaching an area which is under a naval blockade.

Mavi Marmara: Shut up! Go back to Auschwitz.



Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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