Let's be honest, Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as collective punishment of a people, has turned Gaza into the largest prison in the world, and I have pointed this out in several previous posts on this blog.
The Consul General of Israel in New York, Ido Aharoni, interviewed yesterday on Democracy Now! brought out all the old lame rationalizations and canards to defend the blockade. Basically, the official Israeli position is that, since Hamas are the bad guys and we are the good guys, we can do whatever we want against them.
Among the interesting tidbits of the interview was that Mr. Aharoni refused to plainly deny that Israeli spies sabotaged several ships of the flotilla. He dodged and weaved to avoid answering the question, and instead tried to turn the question away from the sabotage to claim the flotilla was "not legitimate." In "diplomatic-speak" not answering the question and instead providing as an answer the rationalization why the act in question would have been valid if it had been done simply amounts to an admission.
One particularly egregious and hurtful rationalization proffered by Mr. Aharoni was that Israel has "practically handed over the keys to Gaza. Hamas, instead of turning it into an oasis, turned it into a safe haven for terrorists." To say this is so stupid that it only shows the depth of Israeli self-delusion. First, there is not one shred of evidence that Gaza is "a safe haven for terrorists" from anywhere else in the world. So what Israel is calling "a safe haven for terrorists" merely translates into "a safe haven for Palestinians who continue to fight against the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people" which by Israeli definition is the meaning of "terrorist." In other words, Israel can bomb Gaza and kill thousands of unarmed men, women, and children and Israelis have not become terrorists, but if only one Palestinian from Gaza dares to attack Israel then every Gazan is a terrorist.
But second, is the most insulting claim that suggests the people of Gaza could have turned it into "an oasis" while they were given "the keys" to their prison. This is the point that the Gazans are complaining about! The keys that they were given were only the keys to the cells, not to the prison gates. Israel still has the keys to the prison gates and is blockading the traffic in and out of the prison just like the Soviet Union blockaded the traffic in and out of Berlin in June 1948. The Soviet Union knew that if they controlled the food and fuel going in and out of Berlin that they would have practical control over the city.
Today the Israelis are using the same tactic to control Gaza by controlling what goes in and out of the city. How do Israeli officials dare to cay that Gaza could have been turned into an oasis when Israel controls what goes in and out of the Gaza and Israel does not allow any of the building materials to enter Gaza that would be necessary to build the oasis? Israel is just the prison warden saying why haven't the prisoners sewn new clothes when the warden won't let sewing machines or even needles into the prison because they could be used to make weapons.
Mr. Aharoni also stated that since the flotilla could have been sent to the Egyptian port of El Arish that there was no reason to attempt to dock at a port in Gaza and that to go to Gaza directly is "to create a provocation that is unneeded and will endanger the lives of all the people involved." But what danger is there? Only the danger created by the Israeli Navy itself when it plans to attack the flotilla! This is the age old lunacy of the perpetrator of a crime telling the victim that it is the victim's own behavior that is making them commit the crime. This Israeli logic is the very same logic used by al Queda to claim that the USA provoked the attacks on the Twin Towers.
There is not the slightest provocation in sailing a ship to Gaza except that created by the Israelis themselves. Israel is holding the people of Gaza hostage. What provocation is there in attempting to go speak directly with the hostages? Clearly, only the provocation created by the hostage taker who says you can't go meet directly to the hostages.
While we can understand how a hostage taker would think that speaking directly with his hostages would be "provocative" by calling into question the very legitimacy of the hostage taking, I see no justification for the USA to agree that there is provocation except to the same degree that the USA is in fact a co-conspirator with the hostage takers. No less of an official of the USA than our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has now plainly spoken to announce that the USA has taken sides with the hostage taking Israelis.
Here's an excerpt from a recent Q&A with Madam Secretary Clinton that highlights how the USA Empire is protecting its crony Israel:
QUESTION: And also, Madam Secretary, there’s reports that another flotilla may be headed to Gaza within the next couple days. What is your message to the organizers and participants in that? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza. Just this week, the Israeli Government approved a significant commitment to housing in Gaza. There will be construction materials entering Gaza and we think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.
First, the USA is acknowledging that Israel, not Gaza, is in control of what can go in and out of Gaza. From Secretary Clinton's view, echoing the view of the Soviet Union in 1948, what problem could there be with a blockade when the blockading power that controls what is going in and out allows a pittance of materials in? In 1948 the USA knew the answer to that question and joining with the UK and other Western Allies organized the Berlin Airlift to break the blockade. Today the USA, like the Soviet Union then, is on the side of blockade, and instead of joining with other nations to break the blockade of Gaza the USA has become the greatest supporter of the blockade outside of Israel. Without the USA's support the blockade of Gaza simply could not be maintained.
Second, Secretary Clinton is claiming that the flotilla is the one being "provoking" by creating the situation! Again, it is Israel holding the hostages and defending the blockade! Attempts to break the blockade by going directly to the hostages may be provoking to the hostage takers, but until the USA admits that this is a hostage situation, what basis is there for the USA to even raise the spectre of provocation by those attempting to break the blockade? If the USA were to say, and mean it, "We are negotiating with the hostage takers to release the hostages and if they do not release the hostages within 60 days, then we will be begin the airlift to break the blockade, and in the mean time separate attempts such as this flotilla are counter productive." Then and only then, would Secretary Clinton's remarks make any sense whatsoever.
Third, and most revealing of the current situation, is the erroneous claim by Secretary Clinton that the flotilla would be "entering into Israeli waters." This is either just plain confusion on the part of Secretary Clinton or is an unintentional acknowledgement by a highest official of the US government that the USA recognizes Israel's national claim to the whole of Palestine, i.e., including Gaza and the West Bank, as being Israeli territory. Anyone who looks at a map of Gaza will see that it is on the shore line of the Mediterranean Sea. As such, according to international laws the territorial waters of Israel do not lie off the coast of Gaza, only off the coast of Israel. The first 12 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza, are the territorial waters of Gaza, and outside this 12 mile zone are the international water with the 200 nautical miles off the coast being the exclusive economic zone of Gaza.
Therefore, the territorial waters off Gaza are in no way "Israeli waters" as Secretary Clinton now openly claims, unless Gaza is a territory of Israel. In other words, in the eyes of Secretary Clinton, Israel is not blockading the territorial waters of Gaza but is merely policing its own territorial waters. By this sleight of hand regarding international law the USA rationalizes it's public delusion that there is no "blockade" and therefore no reason to break the non-existent blockade. So Secretary Clinton's remarks have opened the curtain on the wizard lurking behind to reveal that the USA does indeed support Israel's national claim to Gaza.
The importance of this revelation is that it reveals that what is behind the refusal of the USA to acknowledge Israel's foot dragging on peace accords is that the USA accepts that Israel has no long term intention to ever allow Gaza and the West Bank to become a sovereign nation. The now stated official USA position is that the territorial waters off Gaza are "Israeli waters," so the USA is recognizing Israel's assertion of its national sovereignty over Gaza.
I have previously blogged about my view that because of Israel's refusal to negotiate in good faith for the recognition of the sovereignty of Gaza and the West Bank, that the Palestinians should not delay any longer and should declare their independent sovereignty today, even if it meant a three-state solution to get it done. At the time, I could not foresee that the Hamas and Fatah factions would be able to work together. Today, under the pressure of the Palestinian people in light of the "Arabian Spring," Hamas and Fatah have a fragile accord which may or may not last. While it lasts they have a tentative plan to seek acknowledgment of Palestinian sovereignty by appeal to the UN. I understand this tactic and think that it is a valid tactic, even though I do not agree with it. In my view, there is no reason for the UN to acknowledge the sovereignty of a people who have not yet declared it for themselves. A clear and definite voice of independence by the people of Gaza and the West Bank is needed to counteract the voice of the American Empire that speaks only to cause confusion in the minds of other member nations of the UN.
If the Palestinians want to be taken seriously as a sovereign people, then they should not wait for the UN to act but should immediately declare their national independence and sovereignty, today, now, by the adoption of a founding document to be followed up with a constitutional document. Then they should immediately send out official diplomats to each member nation of the UN asking for diplomatic recognition of their independent sovereignty as the prelude to the request to the UN seeking recognition from the whole body. In this way, the world would be forced to take their claims of independence seriously and they would be going to the UN as independents not as dependents.