Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 148- 9 Ships

Dear Mr. President,

9 ships are on their way from international waters to the Gaza shore. Israel has vowed to turn them back or reroute them, and is already constructing a makeshift camp for detaining those onboard. These ships are being called, by Israeli officials, absolute provocation. One even commented on the mission to break the blockade, as a violation of international law. I found this to be especially interesting phrasing for a country so often acting as though it is unaware of, or even above, international law. Might now be the time to discuss illegal settlement expansion, or collective punishment, or the 1977 protocols of the Geneva convention, or, perhaps, Nuclear nonproliferation? While I'm glad to know that the Israeli government has enough of a passing familiarity with international law to acknowledge its existence, I think it would have more credibility citing these laws if it even pretended to obey them in times of war or in "peacetime" occupation of Palestine. But, I suppose the dire threat posed by 9 boats full of construction, education and medical equipment must be weighed against the risk of looking a touch hypocritical, and if there is one thing the Israeli government has never shown itself to be averse to, it's hypocrisy.

Are humanitarian efforts to supply the people of Gaza a threat to anything other than Israel's moral authority? What strikes me the most about this is that the Israeli government has decided to handle it by declaring that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The EU disagrees. The UN disagrees. Human Rights Watch disagrees. Israeli human rights group B'Tselem disagrees. Certainly there are many sides to every story, but there is also reality, there are also facts. We cannot escape or deny or doublespeak them into submission. There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There will be no peace, no progress, unless this is acknowledged as reality. The actions of this convoy may be provocative; they are also compassionate, courageous and the only course left to peacefully redress the atrocious abuses of human rights against the people of Gaza by the Israeli military.

I have little doubt that the White House lacks the political will (and not to mention courage) to address this situation with more than a bland equivocation calling for restraint from all sides. I would hope that you, my president, could see the obvious absurdity of these peaceful activists on a humanitarian mission being treated as though they were a military threat, and would denounce both the siege that has prompted their mission and any aggression directed toward them in response. 9 ships will not carry enough supplies to help the people of Gaza rebuild; they will not have enough educational materials for all the children of Gaza who long to go to well-equipped schools; they will not stabilize the Gazan economy, or provide shelter for all who seek it. 9 ships will not be enough, but they are a start. We should be sending ships, Mr. President, we should be sending funds and supplies and personell and political support. We should be on the side of ending the suffering, defending the weak, and promoting the freedom and dignity of all. If we cannot do this, if we lack the political will to do the right thing ourselves, we at least ought to bring the weight of our influence with Israel to protect those brave enough to do it for us. Please, Mr. President, ask Israel not to arrest these activists, to allow these 9 ships to dock in Gaza, and to let what little help they bring to come ashore.

Respectfully yours,


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