Thursday, June 23, 2011

The prime goal of the flotilla is political, and that's not a bad thing

Supporters of the Israel/US blockade of Gaza have been generating a lot of invective about how terrible the international flotilla to break the embargo is: supporting terrorism, against the Jews, trying to smuggle arms, agents of the devil....

But a common thread running through these verbal attacks on the flotilla is the false idea that there is no humanitarian crisis and that Israel is letting all essential goods reach Gaza. The argument is, "Why don't they just sail to an Israeli port, offload the aid and let the benign Israelis inspect it and send it on to Gaza?" And their follow up line is, "Since they won't do that then there's really a (nefarious) political motive behind the flotilla.

Supporters of the flotilla fall into a trap if they take up the argument mainly on the basis of saying "there is a humanitarian crisis, and the US and Israel are lying about that." While this statement is clearly true, it can draw us into an argument that is confined to debating about whether or not Gaza is getting enough aid to survive. It can reduce the exchange to an obfuscating "yes they do!" "no they don't!" shouting match over Gaza having enough food and necessities.

If Israel maintains the embargo but is much more liberal about what they let into Gaza, is that a good thing, or a victory? Obviously not.

The whole point really is political (in a good way). The target is the blockade. It's a political act to force out the elected government and to collectively punish all Gazans for not meekly submitting to whatever Israel wants, which includes expelling the entire population and taking all the land; it is part of the long-term ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The blockade is also a war crime, illegal by international law and UN rules, and involves Israeli acts of piracy and murder in international waters. I think this should be at the forefront of our arguments.

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