Flotilla: Israelís Bad Karma
Ed Kinane

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.

Furkan Dogan, a Turkish-American high school student, was killed by Israeli commandos aboard the M.V. Mavi Marmara. For photos and brief profiles of the eight other known victims, check out lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/news/2010/06/putting-names-to-faces.html.

By the time you read this, most US Americans will have forgotten the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

You’ll recall that this past May 31, in international waters 40 miles west of Gaza, Israel launched a nighttime air and naval commando attack on the defenseless Flotilla, killing at least nine males. One of those murdered, a 19 year-old born in Troy, New York was shot four times in the face and head. Historically, such predation was called piracy; these days the term might be terrorism...or more precisely, state terrorism.

The six-ship Flotilla, made up of over 600 solidarity activists from 37 countries, was hijacked while carrying 10,000 tons of desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza. Gaza, part of Palestine, is a densely crowded, arid sliver of Mediterranean coast formerly invaded and occupied by Israel. Partly demolished by an Israeli air onslaught in early 2009, for the past three years Gaza has been under Israeli blockade.

The blockade is designed to strangle Gaza’s remnant economy and to assure that Gaza can’t rebuild. Some might see in it an Israeli determination to, in effect, drive the Gazans into the sea. Such predation might be called ethnic cleansing. (See Israeli historian Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Oxford, 2006).

In this instance US consumers of mainstream media were spared such language as piracy or terrorism or ethnic cleansing. By journalistic custom, here in the Judeo-Christian West these words are reserved for the crimes of people of color, especially those with Islamic backgrounds.

And of course, no mainstream commentator dares refer to Israel as a rogue state. But here to refresh our memory is Robert Fisk, dean of Mid East war correspondents, writing (during Israel’s invasion of Gaza) in the January 7, 2009 Independent:

Have we forgotten the 17,500 dead – almost all civilians, most of them children and women – in Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon; the 1,700 Palestinian civilian dead in the [1982] Sabra-Chatila [refugee camp] massacre; the 1996 Qana massacre of 106 Lebanese civilian refugees who were ordered from their homes by the Israelis in 2006 then slaughtered by an Israeli helicopter crew; the 1,000 dead of that same 2006 bombardment and Lebanese invasion, almost all of them civilians?

Those US Americans who have now forgotten the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, of course, were not exposed – judging by our local Post-Standard – to adequate coverage of the attack and its aftermath. Especially they were sheltered from adequate reportage on the attack’s victims. (How many realized that, between them, the executed were fathers of 28 children?) Most tellingly, the US public had little exposure to critical analysis of the intense Israeli is information/suppression of evidence campaign immediately following its most recent massacre.

The Flotilla coverage – or lack thereof – demonstrates how our mainstream news is managed and how US people are fed their views of the world. It demonstrates how US people are made to align their hostilities with those of the Pentagon – handmaiden to various US-based corporations engorged with profit from pirated overseas resources and from the lucrative “defense” contracts that go with US military aggression.

With few strings attached, the US provides $3 billion a year in aid – military aid – to Israel. The US has contracted to provide Israel with $30 billion in such aid over the next ten years. In recent decades Israel has become a colonial military outpost of the US  – which has succeeded the Brits in sponsoring this European enclave inserted into an Islamic world sitting on top of the bulk of the world’s oil reserves.

In the UN Security Council the US blocked demands for an international inquiry into the attack. In effect, Israel has become a US contractor in the Mid East. This selling itself out to the US is a far cry from the – often socialist – ideals of Israel’s original settlers (and earlier financial backers here in the US). Now many Israeli activists, appalled by their government’s brutality, work with Palestinians to end the Gaza blockade and the illegal Israeli settlement of Palestine’s West Bank.

Note to Israelis
Despite some appearances, you really aren’t our 51st state. Unlike the US, your nearby neighbors aren’t your vassals and unlike the US you aren’t flanked by two protective oceans. Like a little Uncle Sam, however, you have a nuclear arsenal and a powerful robotic military. But, as Uncle Sam learned in Viet Nam, Iraq, and now in Afghanistan, such might is mostly useful for digging a bumbling giant into deeper and deeper holes.

Sure, like the functionaries and opportunists who run the US empire, those running your expansionist state “know” might makes right. And who can argue with them – the corporate profits, after all, are immense. But it’s the people of our two nations who pay for the wars and who go without the domestic benefits (housing, healthcare, schooling, infrastructure, clean energy) those taxes could otherwise provide. It is we who risk the eventual blowback that our governments’ cruelty engenders.

Ritualistically, US politicians fall all over themselves to declare their undying love for Israel. But don’t kid yourself: although these politicians may be under the illusion that Israel continues to be an asset to US hegemony in the Mid East, they have little concern for the Israeli people. Don’t count on your Uncle Sam always providing the guns, the money, the diplomatic cover. If his imperial agenda shifts – or if, like the once-mighty USSR, the empire itself implodes – you’ll be left twisting in the lurch.

Ed often writes against state terrorism. Reach him at edkinane@verizon.net.