This week the second international Freedom Flotilla will embark to Gaza from several ports in Europe. The flotilla represents an act of non-violent civil disobedience aimed at ending Israel’s four-year-long illegal blockade of the tiny strip of land populated by 1.6 million Palestinians.
At least ten ships carrying dignitaries, doctors, professors, artists, journalists, and activists as well as construction supplies and humanitarian aid are expected to sail. The New York Times and CNN are among several outlets sending journalists to cover the event.
Critics of the flotilla contend that it is an unnecessary provocation — more of a political statement than a relief mission — because Israel has lately been allowing more goods into Gaza and Egypt has, since the revolution, intermittently opened its side of the border.
Even if that is true — even if the need is somewhat less urgent — the blockading of Gaza should be protested as illegal, as are all forms of collective punishment.
Israel has the right to keep weapons that might be used against Israelis out of Gaza (assuming that, as is the case, Gaza remains under Israeli occupation). But it has no right to keep out consumer goods like certain foodstuffs or the construction material needed to rebuild homes and schools after the devastation Israel inflicted on Gaza during the 2008-09 onslaught. That one-sided war took 1400 Palestinians lives (including several hundred children).
Nonetheless, under pressure from the Israeli government and its lobby, the Obama administration is taking a strong stand against the flotilla, even suggesting that Americans on board cannot expect the U.S. to intervene on their behalf if Israel attacks (in 2009, the IDF killed 9 passengers on a Turkish relief ship).
The far right is already lining up in support of whatever action Israel takes against the unarmed civilian relief activists.
Take a look at these tweets from Joshua Treviño, who was formerly a speechwriter in the Bush administration. He condemns Palestinians as morally depraved and deserving of any evil that befalls them.
However, Treviño, a veteran and a former aide to Bush’s HHS secretary, goes much farther than that. He openly calls for the Israelis to kill any of his fellow Americans who get in their way. “Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me."