Thursday, June 3, 2010

The day the world became Gaza


By Ali Abunimah

"....Even worse, after Cast Lead, EU countries and the US sent their navies to help Israel enforce a blockade on Gaza which amounts to collective punishment of the entire population and thus violates the Fourth Geneva Convention governing Israel's ongoing occupation.

Not one country sent a hospital ship to help treat or evacuate the thousands of wounded, many with horrific injuries that overwhelmed Gaza's hospitals.....

The withholding of food, medicine, schoolbooks, building supplies, among thousands of other items, as well as the right to enter and leave Gaza for any purpose became a weapon to terrorise the civilian population.

At the same time, Western aid was showered on the occupied West Bank - whose ordinary people are still only barely better off than in Gaza - in a "carrot and stick" policy calculated to shift support away from Hamas and toward the Western-backed, unelected Palestinian Authority leadership affiliated with the rival Fatah faction, who have repeatedly demonstrated their unconditional willingness to collaborate with Israel no matter what it does to their people....

While inaction and complicity characterised the official response, global civil society stepped in to fill the moral and legal void.

In the year and a half since Cast Lead, the global, Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel (BDS) has been racking up impressive victories.....

Indeed, the BDS movement is only likely to gather pace: world-best-selling Swedish author Henning Mankell who was among the passengers on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara kidnapped and taken to Israel, said on being freed: "I think we should use the experience of South Africa, where we know that the sanctions had a great impact."

The Freedom Flotilla represented the very best, and most courageous of this civil society spirit and determination not to abandon fellow human beings to the cruelty, indifference and self-interest of governments.

The immediate response to Israel's attack on the Flotilla may indicate that governments too are starting to come out of their slumber and shed the paralysing fear of criticising Israel that has assured its impunity for so long......

Senior administration officials, including Joe Biden ["proud to be Zionist" Joe], the vice president, openly began to echo their Israeli counterparts that Israel's attack was not only legitimate but justified by its security needs.....

Small countries showed the greatest courage and clarity. Nicaragua suspended diplomatic ties completely, citing Israel's "illegal attack". Brian Cowen, Ireland's prime minister, told parliament in Dublin that his government had "formally requested" of Israel that the vessel Rachel Corrie still heading toward Gaza, be allowed to proceed, and warned of the "most serious consequences" should Israel use violence against it.

The boat - named after the young American peace activist killed by Israeli occupation forces in Gaza in 2003 - is carrying Malaysian and Irish activists and politicians including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire......

Despite its intensive efforts to hide and spin what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara in the early hours of May 31, the world saw Israel use exactly the sort of indiscriminate brutality documented in the Goldstone Report.

This time, however, it was not just "expendable" Palestinians or Lebanese who were Israel's victims - but people from 32 countries and every continent. It was the day the whole world became Gaza. And like the people of Gaza, the world is unlikely to take it lying down."

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