ALI ABUNIMAH: Yes. Good morning.
Among the more than 700 people on the ship from about thirty-two countries are thirteen United States citizens, including a former ambassador, Ed Peck, who has been released and is reported to be on his way back to the United States. But as in the previous Israeli acts of piracy and war against ships heading to Gaza—you remember when Cynthia McKinney was kidnapped and jailed in Israel for trying to reach Gaza—once again, the United States government is saying and doing nothing publicly that suggests any great concern for its citizens who have been kidnapped by Israel.
And the statements from the Obama administration, particularly that by the US representative at the United Nations, Alejandro Wolff, were really quite shocking and astonishing. You played a clip during the news, where he suggests really that the flotilla were themselves to blame, talking about using non-confrontational and non-provocational methods rather than going by ship—in other words, suggesting—agreeing with the outrageous Israeli claims that trying to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid is somehow a provocation or a confrontation. And Ambassador Wolff also reaffirmed Israel’s so-called right to self-defense in this context, which suggests that the United States, unless it makes clear otherwise, believes that attacking a civilian ship on the high seas and massacring an unknown number of its passengers is somehow self-defense.
I think we also have to keep our eye on the context here, Anjali. Just a week or so ago, the United States Congress voted by 410-to-four—I’ll repeat that, 410-to-four—to a request from the Obama administration for additional military aid, another $205 million. This was clearly a political move by the Obama administration to fund the rather useless Iron Dome rocket defense as a way to appease Israel politically. But the message Israel got from this, as it has gotten from US and international complicity and complacency, the failure to hold Israel accountable for the war crimes documented in the Goldstone report; the failure to hold Israel accountable for the act of international terrorism and murder in a hotel room in Dubai; the failure to hold Israel accountable for four years of murderous siege on Gaza that has killed, by itself, 400 Palestinians for lack of access to medical aid and other needed supplies. The failure to hold Israel accountable in all these ways has sent Israel the message: do what you like, get away with whatever you want to, until people hold Israel accountable.
And so, what the Freedom Flotilla was, was it was a peaceful, unarmed people’s navy, assembled to fill the void and the vacuum where the Obama administration should be, where the UN Security Council should be, where the Arab governments should be, where the European Union should be. And it is a shocking outrage and a crime that will live in infamy, along with the bombing of the King David Hotel, along with the attack on the USS Liberty, along with so many other appalling crimes, that international humanitarian workers bringing aid were attacked on the high seas.
I spoke to you a few months ago when I was in Cairo with the Gaza Freedom March. By now, people have tried to reach Gaza to break the siege by land. They have tried by sea. And they have lost their lives. They have given their lives in the cause of breaking this siege on Gaza. And we have to ask, we have to ask, for what crime are 1.5 million people in Gaza being held prisoner? There is a museum in Berlin, which I visited as a schoolboy, to those who were killed trying to cross, those who were machine-gunned trying to cross over the Berlin Wall. Well, an unknown number of people, because Israel won’t tell us, were machine-gunned for trying to break this blockade. When will there be accountability? And when will the Obama administration stop this outrageous complicity, this enabling, this acting as an accomplice with these crimes against people in Palestine and now against Americans, Turks, Greeks, Jordanians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Swedes, French people, German people, members of Parliament, doctors, retired people, trying to bring medicine to people in Gaza? That our government has not stood up and condemned this in the clearest possible terms is a sign that something is sick in the United States’ system when it comes to speaking about and dealing with Israel. There is a sickness that has to be addressed. -- from Democracy Now! 1 June 2010
Ali Hasan Abunimah (Arabic: علي حسن ابو نعمه) (born December 29, 1971) is a Palestinian American journalist and co-founder of Electronic Intifada, a not-for-profit, independent online publication about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (- - from Wikipedia).