Pro-Palestinian activists are ready to set sail with a second flotilla intended to break the blockade of Gaza. The NY Jewish Week’s Israel correspondent, Joshua Mitnick, contends that “Israel is better prepared this time, both diplomatically and militarily.” He reports on differences with last year’s situation, including the fact that the government of Turkey has withdrawn support for flotilla activists; Turkey is understood to be tied down with the refugee crisis at its border with Syria, and is said to be trying to repair last year’s rupture with Israel. Also:
… the fact that [Israel] has lifted a ban on imports into Gaza puts it on more solid ground for public diplomacy. The restored flow of consumer goods and industrial raw materials to Gaza has given Israel a more effective position to argue against the flotilla.
In an April report, the International Monetary Fund described the economy of Gaza trying to “catch up” to normal levels: it noted a 15 percent jump in output in 2010, (though that remains 20 percent below what it was six years ago).
[But] Critics still say that Israeli restrictions on exports from Gaza and the ban on the import of building materials will greatly hamper any recovery in Gaza. “There have been improvements over the last year, but we’re far from a policy of free movement,” said Sari Bashi, director of Gisha, an Israeli nonprofit that advocates for lifting restrictions on the Palestinians there. …
This month’s issue of “In These Times” magazine has an interview with a
woman who has volunteered for the “Audacity of Hope,” the American-crewed ship preparing to participate. I am sure that she has the best of intentions, but I see Kathy Kelly as under-informed in “Breaking Blockades for Peace” by Jenny Tomkins (I’ll elaborate after the following introductory snippet):
“Courageous” is not a term that Kathy Kelly would ever use to describe herself, but others might. When the shock and awe campaign was bombarding Baghdad in March 2003, Kelly was not on the streets protesting or at home watching the nightly news. She was in Baghdad with the friends she had made there on 24 previous visits to deliver medical and other supplies during the U.S.-led embargo.
Kelly, a co-coordinator of the antiwar group Voices for Creative Nonviolence, has been living her pacifist philosophy for decades now. It began when she was studying for an M.A. in theology, living in Chicago’s Hyde Park. …
…. She lives a life of voluntary poverty—not a big stretch, she says, since she was raised by nuns who were never intent on acquiring personal wealth.
… Kelly will travel to Gaza … challenging the Israeli blockade by delivering aid. Kelly spoke with In These Times about the role of nonviolence in the Middle East….
Me again: I was appalled and saddened when Israel attacked Gaza in 2008-09, in response to renewed rocket fire. Israel was not wrong to react militarily, but it was an over-reaction. Most Israelis deluded themselves into thinking that there was a military solution to this problem. Still, I wonder what Ms. Kelly proposes that Israel do to protect its citizens from cross-border attacks, which have emanated from Gaza for years following Israel’s total withdrawal from there in the summer of 2005.
She might have been asked by “In These Times” if it’s unreasonable for Israel to check the cargoes being shipped on the flotilla to make sure there are no munitions or military-related materials.
I believe that the siege of Gaza’s civilian population was too restrictive, but I also believe that Gazans have had the odd habit of biting the hand that feeds them. Still, this siege has not been total, or else we’d hear of mass deaths from starvation. And now, with the Egyptian border opened up, and Israel having already eased its blockade, it has been significantly lifted.
If the flotilla activists were more logical and consistent in intervening on behalf of peace, wouldn’t they also bring the message to the Hamas authorities in Gaza that it’s high time that they recognized Israel and fully endorsed a two-state solution? At the very least, shouldn’t Hamas announce that it no longer advocates blind hatred and even the mass murder of Jews, as suggested in its charter?