Thursday, July 8, 2010

Israel, US and the blockade on Cuba


by Yisrael Medad


Let's open with a quick quiz question:


Which country, threatened with a missile attack on its southern border, instituted a blockade of the dangerous territory, restricting the transporting of food stuffs to the area and limiting travel as part of its political, not security, policy and continues to maintain that blockade due to the ideological nature of the regime of that territory?

If you guessed Israel and its blockade of Hamastanian Gaza, you're wrong.

If you guessed Turkey, which has blockaded Armenia since 1993, you're wrong because Armenia is not south of Turkey.

However, if you guessed the United States, which has legislated into law several times, blockades against Cuba, then you are correct.

Amazing, eh?

Think about it: US President Barack Obama has disdainfully referred to the Gaza situation as "unsustainable", and wants to pour in millions of dollars into the region with no regime change. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called Gazans' plight "unacceptable", but does not even consider the situation in her own backyard [and this was before that oil spill].

This past April, a congressional panel decided to take a first step toward ending its decades-old ban on travel to Cuba and removing hurdles to food sales to the Caribbean island. However, conservative lawmakers and Cuban-Americans opposed the move until a democratic government comes to power in Havana.

TheUnited States embargo against Cuba is a commercial, economic and financial embargo. It has been in place since October 1960, and was legislated as the Cuban Democracy Act and codified into law in 1992 for the purpose of maintaining sanctions on Cuba so long as the Cuban government continues to refuse to move toward "democratization and greater respect for human rights." In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, which further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba. In 1999, US President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo even further by ending the practice of foreign subsidiaries of US companies trading with Cuba.

That is a fairly tough foreign policy approach. Tougher than Israel vis-à-vis Gaza, if you ask me. To think, it didn't start with terror attacks, rocket launchings, Hamas "eradication-of-Israel" ideology or even Russian missiles.

In July 1960, in response to Cuba's new revolutionary government's seizure of US properties, the United States reduced the Cuban import quota of brown sugar. Sugar?  The Cuban alignment with the Soviet Union caused President Kennedy to extend measures. In October 1992, and in 1996, foreign companies that do business in Cuba were penalized by preventing them from doing business in the US. After Cuba shot down two planes in 1996, which killed three Americans and a US resident, the United States Congress approved the Helms-Burton Act. Any non-US company that "knowingly traffics in property in Cuba confiscated without compensation from a US person" can be subjected to litigation, and that company's leadership can be barred from entry into the United States. Sanctions may also be applied to non-US companies trading with Cuba.

According to the US Department of State regulations, it is illegal for US citizens to spend money or receive gifts in Cuba. The regulations require that persons subject to US jurisdiction be licensed in order to engage in any travel-related transactions. Moreover, the US has spent over $500 million broadcasting over radio and TV, even though the transmission signals of the latter are effectively blocked by the Cuban government. It has been estimated that the embargo costs the US economy $3.6 billion per year in economic output.

In 1993, Turkey joined the blockade against Armenia in support of Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.  It all started, of course, with the uprooting, exile and massacre of a major portion of the Armenian population of the Ottoman empire during World War One. The Armenians call that period the meds yeghern (great catastrophe), but in Arabic that would be naqba, right?

The 1993 blockade on Armenia attempted to force Yerevan to abandon its military and political support of the Karabakh authorities. For lack of space, we shall skip over Turkish military incursions into Iraq, fighting terrorists waging a resistance campaign on behalf of Kurdistan, as well as the claim that this blockade is in violation of international law.

So, how does Turkey have the chutzpah to castigate Israel?

The international diplomatic reality Israel faces is that the US has blockaded Cuba for 50 years and Turkey has blockaded Armenia for 17 years - and both get very upset with Israel for its blockade against Hamas-run Gaza. Israel does permit humanitarian aid into Gaza despite continuing rocket fire terror, as well as incursions and - not to forget - the detention of Gilad Shalit.

Do you think it a good idea that Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu discuss this blockade of Cuba matter with Obama in his upcoming White House visit?

Oh my.  Would this be a proximity talk, Cuba being all of 90 miles from Florida?


Yisrael Medad

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


No comments:

Post a Comment