Saturday, July 2, 2011

U.S. War Hawks Try To Prevent Peaceful, Humanitarian Efforts by an American Ship
by Michael Payne

This is one of those, "Can you even believe it" stories. This last week of June the American ship, The Audacity of Hope, is setting sail with ten or more ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II. This ship, named after President Obama's book, will carry a crew of four with forty passengers and 10 members of the press. Instead of wishing the passengers and crew Godspeed and take care, it's being reported that the While House has warned them that it would not protect them on the voyage and that they might be subject to prosecution upon their return.

The ships will sail from ports in Greece and head for the Palestinian city of Gaza which remains under an illegal 4-year blockade by Israel. The flotilla will include about 350 people from 22 countries who will be completely unarmed. This is the second flotilla to try to enter Gaza with humanitarian materials and supplies; the first such flotilla, which sailed in May, 2010, encountered strong resistance and an attack by Israeli commandos who boarded several boats, killing nine people, including one American citizen.

This American humanitarian ship's mission has not only been under fire by the White House but it also is under attack by various war hawks from both the Democratic and Republican parties. And who is leading the charge against this ship and its brave and courageous passengers? Why it's none other than our "esteemed" Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton; you know, that American pseudo diplomat who goes around the world warning one country after another about what it must do.

This time she is warning an American ship that it must not attempt a humanitarian mission. "We do not believe that the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She further said, "And we think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves." Mr. Obama would do well to tell his overly aggressive Secretary to ease up on these constant threats and warnings. Better yet, it's high time that Mrs. Clinton be told to step aside for the good of the country.

Here's one more reason for her to pack up and leave. Glenn Greenwald has reported that at a press conference on June 23rd she said the following: "But the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi's side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them?" The answer to Secretary Clinton should be this: all Americans have the right to judge for themselves and speak as they wish with regard to actions taken by their government. Thomas Jefferson called it patriotic dissent.

Secretary Clinton not only has indicated that she will not protect the lives of American citizens of this flotilla but now she apparently is questioning the patriotism of the people of this nation if they do not blindly accept and condone the actions in Libya. Let's put it this way; that's not the way that we do things in this democracy and when we have those rights of free speech and free thinking taken away by our government, then this democracy will be no more.

In addition to Clinton, another war hawk is speaking out against the ship and its passengers by suggesting that our government should support Israel in every possible way. has reported, "In a report drafted following a visit to Israel in early June, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., says the United States should "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.' "

Put Israeli lives at risk, is that what he said? Well, Senator Kirk, what about American lives? What is going on here? We have two members of the U.S. government apparently trying to undermine a peaceful humanitarian mission that has many well respected Americans on board and poses no threat to anyone. And yet, these American officials seem to be most worried about the risks to Israelis; does Mr. Kirk mean the lives of Israeli commandos when they board the ships are more important than the lives of Americans?

While his White House is warning humanitarians to cease and desist, what is President Obama saying? Well, as far as I know, absolutely nothing. Why is it that this president not only is failing to support such a peaceful mission and protect American citizens but, rather, is allowing his administration to declare that the passengers may be judged to be in violation of the law upon their return to America. What law would that be? Some law that says that Israel has the right to illegally board ships in international waters? Numerous international maritime and legal experts have said that Israel clearly has no legal right to carry out such an act.

How much longer is the government of Israel going to continue to brutally oppress the people of Gaza by keeping them blockaded and depriving them of many of the essentials of life? What it has been doing and continues to do is cruelty at its worst. Secondly, how much longer is the government of the U.S. and President Obama going to continue to accept and condone their actions? Every time Israel engages in aggressive military actions and brutal attacks on innocent civilians in Gaza, Mr. Obama looks the other way and pretends he didn't even know it happened.

Should Israel, once again, illegally board these ships and, God forbid, kill any number of passengers, including American citizens, then what will Mrs. Clinton and Senator Kirk have to say? Will they shrug it off as an unfortunate event that happened because the people refused to heed the warnings and stubbornly carried out their humanitarian mission? I sincerely hope that the flotilla is not harmed in any way and that the government of Israel decides that it should not repeat the tragedy that occurred with the first flotilla. There is no need for extreme violence.

The comments by these representatives of our government clearly indicate that they put the safety of the Israeli's, who have said that they will confront the ships of the flotilla, above that of citizens of the United States of America that are on a peaceful mission. When they stand with a foreign government against law abiding citizens of this nation, it simply cannot and must not be tolerated. 
Based on the very disturbing and serious implications of this situation, a Congressional investigation should be initiated and our president should repudiate their statements. But does anyone think that will happen?

Exclusive Tour of Gaza-Bound U.S. Ship, Audacity of Hope; Saboteurs Damage Other Ships in Flotilla

Democracy Now

Ali Abunimah Responds To Israeli Claims That Gaza Flotilla Is A “Provocation”

Democracy Now
As the 400 international activists wait to set sail from Greece to Gaza on the Freedom Flotilla, Israeli media has been full of reports speculating about the activists’ character and motivations for participating in the humanitarian aid mission. Israeli newspapers have charged that the flotilla is carrying sacks of chemicals on board because passengers plan to kill IDF soldiers. The reports come after Foreign Ministry officials informed Israeli cabinet ministers that there was no information about members of "terrorist groups" planning to take part in the flotilla. “Israel is trying to present the flotilla as a military threat, whereas nobody in the world believes that,” says our guest, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, “not even Israeli cabinet ministers.” 

Please watch also: America: The Silence of a Nation

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