Category Archives: Israel/Palestine

Boycott law causes big shift in Israel’s image

Israel’s image in the United States has long been that of the lonely democracy in an Arab sea of tyranny.  But the anti-boycott bill recently passed in the Israeli Knesset–which comes right after the Arab democratic uprisings exploded conventional myths about the Middle East–is radically changing that image.

Omar Barghouti, a leading activist in the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, aptly predicted this change in a May 2011 interview. He said that “If this anti-BDS measure passes into law, Israel will have dropped one of its last veneers or masks of ‘democracy,’ fully exposing itself as an irreparable system of colonial and racist oppression that requires much of the same treatment used against South African apartheid.”

This recent New York Times editorial, which gives a nod to the BDS movement, is the best example of this process:

Israel’s reputation as a vibrant democracy has been seriously tarnished by a new law intended to stifle outspoken critics of its occupation of the West Bank.

They are relatively tame words, but it is a significant editorial coming from the New York Times.

The Jewish-American establishment has also taken notice.  Jeffrey Goldberg has blasted the lawThe Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman released a statement criticizing the law:

We are…concerned that this law may unduly impinge on the basic democratic rights of Israelis to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

And then there’s the U.S. State Department, which, although mildly, criticized the bill by saying that “Freedom of expression, including freedom to peacefully organize and protest, is a basic right under democracy.”

With the Knesset considering bills to curtail the power of the Israeli Supreme Court and to establish committees to investigate Israeli human rights organizations, expect the further ripping apart of Israel’s image as a democracy.

Anonymous Soldiers as Medical Experts? Only when the NYT covers Israel killing a Palestinian

This article was originally published in the April 2011 issue of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s Extra! magazine.  It was only recently put online. 

U.S. media coverage of the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah reflected how the corporate press routinely covers high-profile civilian deaths caused by Israel. The Israeli government, it seems, can count on U.S. media to print its anonymous claims—no matter how baseless.

Two days after Abu Rahmah, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank village of Bil’in, died from tear-gas inhalation during a December 31 demonstration against the separation wall, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) went into spin mode. Anonymous “senior officers” in the Israeli army pushed a number of theories about her death—Abu Rahmah wasn’t at the demonstration, she had cancer, it may have been an “honor killing” and more—that the Israeli press dutifully reported. Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf (+972 Magazine, 1/4/11), who was actually present at the Bil’in demonstration, described these claims as “half-truths and lies.”

U.S. corporate media also used anonymous Israeli military sources to cast doubt on the 36-year-old Abu Rahmah’s killing. In the New York Times (1/5/11), reporter Isabel Kershner characterized the story as a “debate” with “clashing narratives.” Though she noted that the IDF claims were all anonymous while the Palestinian claims were “backed by medical documents,” Kershner went on to give roughly equal time to both arguments.

Among the IDF’s anonymous claims were that they “had never heard of tear gas killing anyone in the open” and that Abu Rahmah may have had “some pre-existing ailment that, alone or compounded by the tear gas, caused her death.” Why anonymous military officials should be treated as experts on medical questions was never explained.

The Washington Post (1/6/11) similarly stated that anonymous military officials “suggested that an existing medical condition might have contributed to 36-year-old Jawaher Abu Rahmah’s death.” The Los Angeles Times’ only brief mention of the case (1/3/11) explained, “Since tear gas is typically nonlethal, it remained unclear whether soldiers used excessive amounts or whether the woman had health problems that contributed to her reaction.”

But the IDF claims were contradicted by extensive eyewitness reports from other protesters, Israeli journalists from +972 Magazine and the family of Abu Rahmah. In a January 4 statement put together by the Popular Struggle Coordina-tion Committee, Abu Rahmah’s mother said her daughter “was not sick with cancer, nor did she have any other illness, and she was not asthmatic,” while the director of the health center that treated Abu Rahmah stated that she “died from lung failure that was caused by tear gas inhalation, leading to a heart attack.”

Read the whole article here.

+972 Magazine: Boycott law will affect international activists

The anti-boycott bill that the Israeli Knesset passed yesterday will principally affect those Israelis who call for boycotts of Israel or illegal settlements in occupied Palestine.  But how will it affect the global Palestine solidarity movement, and those who advocate for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) that target Israel?

Noam Sheizaf at the excellent +972 Magazine has an important “reader’s guide” up where he is taking questions on the anti-boycott bill.  I asked him to address the question of whether international BDS activists will be affected by the new law.  My question:

International activists have, following the Palestinian call, been leading the BDS movement and calling for boycotts of Israel. While I have not seen any language concerning foreign nationals in the bill, is there any indication that internationals may also be affected by the law?

The recent “air flotilla” exposed Israel’s policy of denying entry to those who openly proclaim their intent to visit occupied Palestine. Can being a BDS activist now land you in trouble at Ben-Gurion or Allenby, in the form of being denied entry?
Can someone claiming economic damage from a boycott call now attempt to sue foreign nationals or foreign organizations?

Sheizaf asked Mairav Zonszein, who is a contributor to +972 and who does media work for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, about this aspect of the law.  Here’s the response:

When in Israel, one needs to obey Israeli laws, including ones concerning damages. From what I heard from ACRI (Association of Civil Rights in Israel, which has been in the frontline of the struggle against the law), the anti-boycott law would include foreign nationals as well – as long as they make the boycott call while in Israel. One reservation is that it’s not a criminal law, so you need someone to actually sue you for damages, and the court needs to be able to collect them. My guess is that if this law remains active,  rightwing and settlers’ organizations will become serial prosecutors plaintiffs of boycottes in order to silence dissent, and, of coarse, make some money on the way.

The law doesn’t apply to foreign nationals in the West Bank, which is under military rule and not Israeli civilian law. It does apply to Israelis everywhere in the world.

The leadership of the Palestinian-led BDS movement, though, say the movement won’t be deterred by this law.



Obama administration using anti-terror laws to intimidate and harass American Palestine solidarity activists

This article originally appeared in AlterNet.

For the past year, as activists prepared for the participation of an American boat in the flotilla seeking to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, organizers tried to come up with a way to circumvent a major obstacle: the prohibition against “material support” for State Department-designated terrorist groups.

But now, as pressure intensifies on the countries from where boats will launch, the prohibition on material support remains a potent weapon the Obama administration wields to pressure American activists who plan to set sail to break Israel’s blockade.  

American officials continue to repeatedly threaten to prosecute the U.S. activists involved with the flotilla. And, perhaps most importantly, it represents the latest action in the Obama administration’s crackdown on Palestine solidarity activists across the U.S—a crackdown that is a continuation of similar efforts made by the Bush administration in cases like the Holy Land 5.

Read the whole article here.

Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement gears up for big Palestinian independence demonstration

Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem–As they do every Friday afternoon in occupied Jerusalem, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement demonstrated July 8 against illegal Jewish-only settlements in Jerusalem that continue to displace Palestinians and diminish any remaining hope that a state of Palestine could have East Jerusalem as its capital.

What made this march slightly different, though, is that the hundreds of activists who marched in Jerusalem and chanted outside the homes of settlers who have evicted Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah were eagerly looking ahead to next Friday.  On July 15, the solidarity movement is calling for a large, joint Jewish-Arab demonstration in support of a Palestinian state and the current effort for United Nations recognition of that state.  Their call reads:

Today it is clear that genuine negotiation is not going to happen under the current government. Even if the Europeans and the Americans drag Bibi to another round of talks, there will be no outcome. For a long time now, negotiations have been nothing more than yet another means of perpetuating occupation. There is no choice for anyone advocating for an end Israeli control over the Palestinians other than supporting the only realistic way left to achieve this goal: recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

Applying to the United Nations for such recognition is not merely the Palestinian people’s right, it is the sole remaining constructive step for countering unending negotiation and the threat of increased violence. As Israelis who support the Palestinian struggle for independence, it is our duty to express our backing for the Palestinian initiative.

The leaders of the movement, in between Arabic chants of “From Sheikh Jarrah to Bil’in, free, free Palestine,” were busy inviting the demonstrators who showed up in the scorching heat to join them next Friday.  Both the Israeli and Palestinian activists involved with the Sheikh Jarrah protests hope it marks a significant display of support for a free and independent Palestine.  It’s part of many efforts across Palestine to prepare for September and what could happen next.

“We are looking towards September, and the possibility of a popular uprising around Palestine,” Daniel Argo, an Israeli leader in the movement, told me.

Similarly, Sara Benninga, a well-known Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity activist who spoke at this year’s J Street conference, said, “It’s an ongoing struggle.  We have our high points, and next week is definitely going to be a high point–a big march of many Palestinians and Israelis together…It is the choice of the Palestinian nonviolent struggle to go down this road, and we in solidarity with them are supporting their decision.”

The July 8 demonstration also came on the same day that international solidarity activists attempted to fly to Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv and declare their intention to visit the occupied West Bank.  Israel deployed a beefed-up security presence, while civilian Israelis beat up and spit on the activists.  The Israeli authorities also detained and deported many activists; some remain in Israeli prison currently.

“The fact that Israel is trying to deny access to peaceful activists coming to visit Palestine, to express solidarity, just shows how much Israel is threatened from the nonviolent, joint struggle.  It gives us more power to continue because we know this is our right, and eventually, we’re going to win,” said Benninga.

UN report on ‘Freedom Flotilla I’ was questioned from the start

Media outlets are reporting that the results of a United Nations inquiry into last year’s raid on the first “Freedom Flotilla” is set to be released soon, though diplomatic wrangling between Turkey and Israel appear to have held up publication of the report for now.

The reports indicate that the inquiry has found that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, but that the Israelis used “excessive force” during their naval raid on the Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of nine people.  It’s important to keep in mind, though, that many observers have cast doubt on the impartiality of the report given the panel’s make-up–a point boosted by the fact that the UN appears to be sanctioning an Israeli blockade that numerous UN-affiliated reports and individuals have concluded is an illegal act of collective punishment. 

This inquiry was separate from a UN Human Rights Council report released in September 2010, which found that Israeli forces violated international law in attacking the flotilla and used “unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate” force.  Israel, just as they did during the Goldstone mission, did not cooperate with that report.  On the other hand, Israel did cooperate with the panel set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and it appears that cooperation has, at least partially, paid off.

The New York Times reports:

Diplomats said Turkey and Israel were eager to find a compromise over the wording of the report by a United Nations committee that is led by former Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer of New Zealand and has Turkish and Israeli representatives. Diplomats said the committee’s findings — made following heated deliberations that lasted nearly a year — would be likely to leave both countries uncomfortable.

According to United Nations diplomats, the latest draft of the report asserts that Israel’s blockade of Gaza was legal, but that in some cases its commandos had used excessive force in seizing the ship. Turkey, the diplomats said, is taken to task for having made an insufficient effort to prevent the ship from sailing. In addition, the motives of the I.H.H., the charity that organized the flotilla, are called into question.

The report’s released has been delayed amid squabbling over its wording, although it could be made public as soon as Thursday.

For many, the panel was discredited from the start.  This report–written shortly after the announcement of the establishment of the UN inquiry–from Inter Press Service explains why:

Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, told IPS: “How truly independent will this inquiry be?” That’s the key question, he said.

“My initial concern is that the panel membership appears to be tied in with politically powerful interests — not a good sign. Whether this will be a clarifying or whitewashing effort remains to be seen,” he added.

[Phyllis] Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies told IPS that the irony, of course, is that the international and UN-backed team reflects Israel’s continuing US-backed influence at the United Nations.

In particular, the appointment of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Velez “guaranteed” the “failure” of the report, according to an analysis that appeared in the Electronic Intifada.  Uribe himself is implicated in massive human rights abuses and is a known supporter of the State of Israel.  An excerpt from the Electronic Intifada piece:

It is hard to believe that, in spite of Uribe’s appalling human rights record, he has been chosen to be part of a UN human rights commission. Going beyond Uribe himself, any representative of the Colombian state must be suspect when it comes to investigating human rights violations as official and “unofficial” state-sanctioned human rights abusers act with impunity; 98 percent of such cases remain unprosecuted (“Baseless Prosecutions of Human Rights Defenders in Colombia,” February 2009).

It also strains credibility to believe that Colombia, the biggest recipient of US military “aid” after Israel and Egypt, a country that has agreed to host seven new US military bases on its territory last year, can be impartial in relation to Israel. Both the Israeli and Colombian governments share an ideological approach to their opponents, based on a belief that respecting human rights is a non-issue when it comes to pursuing their military goals against rebel groups. Unsurprisingly, there is also large-scale military cooperation between the two rogue states.

In recent years, according to news reports, Israel has become Colombia’s number one weapon supplier, with arms worth tens of millions of dollars, “including Kfir aircraft, drones, weapons and intelligence systems” being used against opponents of the Colombian regime (“Report: Israelis fighting guerillas in Colombia,” Ynet, 10 August 2007). According to a senior Israeli defense official, “Israel’s methods of fighting terror have been duplicated in Colombia” (“Colombia’s FM: We share your resilience,” 30 April 2010)…

The admiration is mutual, and Uribe undertakes his role of impartial investigator weighed down with awards from various Zionist organizations. These include the American Jewish Committee’s “Light unto the Nations Award” and descending further into Orwellian doublespeak, the “Presidential Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism” from B’nai Brith.

While the Colombian government and Uribe are entitled to their choice of friends, this — to say the least — indicates that there will be no objectivity whatsoever with regard to Uribe’s role in the commission.

It appears that Israel only agreed to cooperate with this particular UN inquiry as there is very little chance this commission will take an independent stance and deliver an unbiased verdict on the brutal Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. Indeed, Israel has declined to cooperate with the other UN commission into the attack appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. It can be reasonably argued that Colombian and Israeli cooperation in this matter is a further step towards jointly “doing more in terms of the fight against terrorism” (to paraphrase Bermudez’ remarks in Israel).

Greek consulate, governor confirm ‘powerful’ pressure on Greece led to flotilla ban

For the past few days, speculation has run rampant that the Greek government, presiding over a country in dire economic straits, was heavily pressured into issuing an order that banned the “Freedom Flotilla” ships from sailing out towards Gaza.  And while the extent and details of that pressure remain unknown, two official sources from the Greek government have now confirmed that heavy pressure was put on Greece.

Greece, for its part, has claimed that the ban on flotilla ships leaving their ports was issued because of “the need to protect national interests” and the “immediate dangers to human life posed by the attempt to break the blockade.”

The first confirmation came via a Jewish Voice for Peace tweet, which announced that someone from New York’s Greek consulate told a caller that the U.S. government “ordered” Greece not to let the U.S. Boat to Gaza sail out of a Greek port.  According to the caller, the U.S. State Department had nothing to say when asked about the Greek consulate’s comment.

The second confirmation came today, when a reporter from the Guardian interviewed the provincial governor of the Ionian islands, which includes Corfu, a Greek island from where a flotilla ship is waiting to set sail for Gaza.  Jack Shenker reports:

The flotilla activists have always claimed they had local political support for their mission, and from what [Spiros] Spirou, [the provincial governor], told me it appears that they’re right. In open defiance of his political bosses in Athens, Spirou told the Guardian and al-Jazeera that he “admires and supports the activists’ struggle” and would make no attempt to stop their boat from making a break for international waters if it chose to do so.

But the local coastguard don’t come under Spirou’s control, and the decision from the central Greek government to stop any flotilla vessels from leaving port appears increasingly irreversible. “Greece loves peace, but at this moment it can’t confront more powerful economic forces,” said the governor. He confirmed that official attempts to tie the flotilla up in bureaucracy and paperwork were merely a pretext for preventing it from sailing at all.

“The ban has come from the ministries in Athens and I have no responsibility for it at all – I’ve tried to get in contact with them and get an explanation but I have not been able to get through,” he insisted. “Right now Greece is in crisis and decisions have been taken at an international level.”

Right now, Greece would be extremely vulnerable to any type of economic pressure, and would welcome all the help it gets–even from Israel, a country that Greece has had historically chilly relations with.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly “implor[ed]” Greek’s leader to “issue an order preventing ships from disembarking from Greece toward the Gaza Strip,” as Haaretz‘s Barak Ravid reported on July 1.  Netanyahu has curried enormous favor with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for “imploring” the European Union (EU) to bail out Greece, and, most likely, any Greek passivity surrounding the second “Freedom Flotilla” was thrown to the wind due to Israel’s help with the EU bailout.  And since the Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara last year, economic, political and military links between Israel and Greece–the traditional rival of Turkey–have strengthened.

Huwaida Arraf, the chair of the Free Gaza Movement, further confirmed the enormous pressure on Greece in an interview yesterday with Al Jazeera‘s Inside Story.  She said:

Some inside sources have been telling us.  We have a lot of parliamentarians, European parliamentarians, that are part of our initiative, and they have been engaging in discussions with their Greek counterparts.  We have been told that an enormous amount of pressure has come to bear on Greece, not only from the Israelis, but by Israel’s undying supporter the United States, and also by other European Union states that have also been shamefully silent and have done nothing to force Israel to lift its shameful blockade on Gaza or to end Israel’s illegal policies.

While there was some talk before today of other boats sailing out of Greece, the Greek Coast Guard has now taken over the Canadian boat to Gaza after they attempted to sail for international waters.  “Coast guard used water cannons then borded the #tahrir with m16’s and took the wheel room from the driver at gun point,” tweeted Jesse Rosenfeld, a journalist aboard the Tahrir, the name of the Canadian boat.

It appears, as American-Israeli journalist Joseph Dana tweeted, that “It is over. The #flotilla2 has been stopped by the Greek government.”

WikiLeaks document on Gaza blockade puts Israel’s flotilla hasbara to shame

As the second “Freedom Flotilla” to Gaza attempts to overcome the various obstacles in its way, the Israeli security establishment is busy trying to confuse people about the economic situation in Gaza.  There’s just one big problem with their strategy:  a cable written by a U.S. diplomat about the Gaza blockade makes any Israeli propaganda claim about the Gaza Strip moot.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently said that the flotilla of ships set to sail to break the Israeli naval blockade was unnecessary because “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”  Similarly, Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz told a group of Israeli reservists that Palestinians in Gaza are “importing televisions and plasma screens, and exporting agricultural products to the entire Arab world.”

The message, in so many words, is that life in Gaza is just fine, and that there is no need for flotillas to challenge the Israeli blockade.

But this State Department cable, published by WikiLeaks and written in October 2008 from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, should put the kibosh on Israel’s claims about the economic situation in Gaza (my emphasis):

Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis…

While the [Israeli government] believes that maintaining the shekel as the currency of the Palestinian Territories is in Israel’s interests, it treats decisions regarding the amount of shekels in circulation in Gaza as a security matter. Requests by Palestinian banks to transfer shekels into Gaza are ultimately approved, partially approved, or denied by the National Security Council (NSC), an organ of the Israeli security establishment, not by the Bank of Israel (BOI). As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge

What the cable reports–that Israel is deliberately keeping Gaza’s economy “on the brink of collapse”–is exactly why the “Freedom Flotilla” is seeking to break Israel’s blockade.

It hasn’t gotten any better since that cable was written.  This June 2011 report from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency details the human cost of the Israeli siege on Gaza:

As the Gaza blockade moves into its fifth year, a new report by the UN’s agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, says broad unemployment in the second half of 2010 reached 45.2 per cent, one of the highest in the world. The report released today, finds that real wages continued to decline under the weight of persistently high unemployment, falling 34.5 per cent since the first half of 2006.

“These are disturbing trends,” said UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, “and the refugees, which make up two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.5 million population were the worst hit in the period covered in this report. It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution.”

Those facts–Gaza’s dire unemployment and Israel’s deliberate strategy to keep it that way–are why Israel will have to keep facing flotilla after flotilla until the blockade of Gaza is no more.

American flotilla passengers set to challenge U.S. support for Gaza blockade

This article originally appeared in Mondoweiss:

The pressure is mounting on the second “Freedom Flotilla” to Gaza.  Anti-flotilla lawsuits in New York and Toronto have been filed, the Israeli government is ramping up its propaganda efforts and the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship is no longer sailing following U.S. pressure.

But the American passengers are still determined to sail on The Audacity of Hope later this month, and they are now on their way to Greece to complete the initial leg of their journey before setting off to the Mediterranean from an undisclosed port.

And if there was one important and unifying message the American flotilla passengers conveyed yesterday at a press conference where they took questions from reporters, it was this:  the U.S. Boat to Gaza effort is a direct challenge to American support for Israel and its crippling blockade of Gaza.

Gabriel Schivone, an Arizona resident and activist, said that he will be wearing a Star of David around his neck on his journey to Gaza to “symbolize the root meanings of Judaism that are not emphasized enough, namely welcoming a stranger as you were a stranger, helping free the slave as though you were once enslaved.  So rather than travel to contribute to more death and suffering, I choose to travel there to directly and nonviolently protest the support and participation of my own government in these crimes.”

Schivone is joining 36 other Americans who are off to Gaza.  Hundreds of people from some 20 countries are set to take part in the flotilla aiming to break Israel’s blockade.

“We have a special responsibility,” said Richard Levy, a labor and civil rights lawyer joining the boat.  “Our country is not supporting what [Bashar] Assad is doing.  It is not supporting what [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is doing…But the fact is, we are the main supporters of what Israel is doing in the Middle East.  And that support has been destructive not only to the Palestinian people but to this country in a very, very large way.”

Levy also reported details of a meeting U.S. flotilla activists had with the State Department in which they provided details about the mission and asked for protection.  The activists also wanted to “talk policy issues,” which the State Department declined to meet with them about.

A State Department spokesperson told reporters June 1 “that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety.”

Shortly after the meeting, according to Levy, the State Department sent them a communique that “warned people not to go on the flotilla, that Israel could be expected to use force, and that Israel expected to enforce its blockade.”

“The State Department is on notice, the president is on notice,” said Levy. “Communications have been made with all levels of the State Department and the administration to let them know that this is a boat of U.S. citizens on a peaceful mission, and that we expect the United States government to speak to Israel or to do what it needs to do to protect its citizens.”

Senator wants U.S. Navy to help block flotillas to Gaza

Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois sure is earning the hundreds of thousands of dollars the Israel lobby dumps into his coffers.  In a report based on a recent “fact-finding” trip to the Middle East, Kirk calls for U.S. naval and special operations forces to support Israel in combating the upcoming flotilla to Gaza.

Kirk’s report reads:

The IHH plans to send a second flotilla to breach Israel’s coastal security later this month. To prevent further violence, the United States should:

1) immediately designate the IHH as a terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224, which targets “terrorists, terrorist organizations, and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists, terrorist organizations, or acts of terrorism”;

2) make available all necessary special operations and naval support to the Israeli Navy to effectively disable flotilla vessels before they can pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives at risk; and

3) make it clear to Turkish President Erdogan that Turkey will be held accountable for any actions that support or enable the IHH to launch its flotilla.

The flotilla, set to sail to Gaza at the end of this month, aims to nonviolently challenge the Israeli blockade that has suffocated the Gaza Strip.  Kirk’s call for the U.S. Navy to provide “special operations and naval support to the Israeli Navy” to stop the flotilla is particularly alarming because a contingent of American citizens will be a part of the flotilla.  Kirk would have no problem, it seems, with the U.S. Navy being deployed against U.S. citizens aiming to break the blockade, which has been termed “collective punishment” by the International Committee of the Red Cross.