On June 27, its press release headlined, “GAZA, WE ARE COMING. Despite pressure and threats of violence, flotilla will sail.”
On June 27, A US Boat to Gaza Audacity of Hope press conference reiterated a determination to sail despite threats, pressure and other measures used to stop it.
Participants on board all 10 ships haven’t come this far to turn back or let imperial viciousness deter them, especially when their mission is vital and just.
In response to spurious claims that passengers may have chemicals to attack Israeli commandos, perhaps the same ones responsible for the May 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre, Flotilla participants signed a declaration of nonviolence. Spokesman Dror Feiler told Army Radio that if Israel has other information, it should inform Flotilla organizers.
He responded to IDF spokesperson Major Avital Leibovich, citing intelligence reports that dangerous chemicals may be used as weapons, and that extremist passengers were heard threatening “to spill the blood” of Israeli soldiers.
According to an unnamed defense official, “The picture emerging here is that some of the flotilla participants clearly intend a violent clash,” when, in fact, he knows this is a bald faced lie, an Israeli specialty, regurgitated by major media flacks, while suppressing Israel’s intention either to block or confiscate vessels it interdicts and all passenger possessions as it did against Flotilla I.
According to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Israel may establish a special naval court to do it, Barak saying:
“There’s no doubt that impounding vessels is a deterrent measure that could prevent the need to use force against future (flotilla) violations.”
Destroying them works better, what Dror Feiler disclosed, saying a scuba diver examining one of the boats discovered its propeller shaft cut off. It was deliberate sabotage that can be fixed but may take time.
Anti-Flotilla Agitprop and Misinformation
The Washington Post lists a Gaza Flotilla 101 section, vilifying humanitarian activism with vicious disinformation. For example, it says:
- Flotilla I “participants came aboard armed, with some declaring they were prepared for martyrdom; the same is expected this year.”
- It describes organizers as a broad coalition and umbrella organization of pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas participants, as well as an officially designated “terrorist organization,” the Turkish IHH charity Ankara pressured not to come; it also cited Israeli intelligence saying the Free Gaza Movement includes “dangerous organizations with terrorist links.”
- It listed a litany of lies about Gaza, including life there now eased, saying: “Israel now permits almost all goods (in) except items it fears could be used to stage attacks.”
- It said many 2010 Mavi Marmara participants came armed with “guns, knives, metal pipes and chains – not humanitarian goods…There was no humanitarian aid on the (ship), and organizers stated their violent intent on the record.”
- It claims “international legal authorities consider (Israel’s) blockade legal” during an armed struggle Israel instigated and sustains, blaming Gazan victims for its own crimes, including the lawless siege.
All the above claims are maliciously false. The section, in fact, supports Israeli crimes of war and against humanity by substituting brazen lies for vital truths.
On June 28, Israeli Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman included his own, saying participants plan “confrontation and blood,” adding:
“They are clearly there to create a provocation, looking for confrontation and blood and for many pictures on television screens…hard core…terror activists” are among them.
At the same time, his Foreign Ministry and Israeli security and defense officials told a June 26 cabinet meeting that no information indicates terrorists or anyone affiliated with terror groups participating.
Those coming, they said, include EU, US, and Canadian human rights activists, not bomb-throwing, gun toting, knife wielding, chemical carrying extremists planning violence. Moreover, they added that peaceful participants present a “more difficult public diplomacy challenge” if clashes with Israel soldiers occur.
Lieberman, however, implied that Israel exerted enormous pressure on foreign officials to deter the mission. Responding, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero called the flotilla:
“a bad idea that can only exacerbate tensions and we don’t need more reasons for conflict at the moment,” omitting that French aircraft slaughter Libyan civilians daily, while adding:
“We don’t have the legal recourse to stop boats leaving, but with others, including the UN Secretary-General, we have made clear we are against this.”
On June 28, Israel National News writer Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu headlined, “Flotilla for War or Peace? Charges of Plot to Kill,” saying:
“Israel is in the midst of a massive diplomatic and (dis)information campaign to scuttle the planned attempt to break the maritime embargo….”
In fact, it’s using whatever it takes to do it, including agitprop, sabotage, political pressure, the Israel Law Center Shurat HaDin filing irresponsible lawsuits, and military interdiction in international waters, perhaps a repeat of 2010 if things get out of hand.
According to Jerusalem Post writer Yaakov Katz in his June 28 article headlined, “Analysis: A season of flotillas and marches:”
Better prepared this time, “Navy commandos have developed new techniques on how to fast-rope onto the ships’ upper decks quickly. They also have new equipment such as water cannons, attack dogs, (and) riot control specialists from the Prison Service’s elite Masada Unit.”
At the same time, Israel hasn’t “formulate(d) a clear strategy or policy” to “handle” the media other than steady disinformation to discredit the mission and its participants. The message long ago wore thin.
The pro-Israeli Stand With Us organization launched a new Flotillafacts.com site, accessed through the following link:
Maliciously misstating truths, it says:
- “Flotilla Violates International Law, Intends to Provoke Violent Confrontation;
- …these flotillas are anti-peace;
- …international pressure should be placed on the terrorist group Hamas which rules Gaza;”
- In 2010, “anti-Israeli extremists and Turkish jihadists organized a flotilla to violate Israel’s naval blockade…;”
- Mavi Marmara “jihadists brutally attacked (Israeli commandos) with knives, metal bars, and guns. Nine jihadists were killed.
- This year, the same anti-Israel extremists are planning another international flotilla battalion….purportedly to bring humanitarian goods to Gaza.”
The site also includes a section called “Facts – 2011 Flotilla II: 9 Basic Facts,” regurgitating brazen Israeli lies, suppressing truths it’s too cowardly to state.
Notoriously, America’s Anti-Defamation League also dispenses pro-Israeli propaganda and smear campaigns against Israeli critics, under the guise of fighting anti-semitism and supporting human rights equitably.
On June 24, its web site (adl.org) headlined, “Background on the 2011 Gaza Flotilla,” saying:
- Anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist, pro-Hamas participants are coming, including the Free Gaza Movement, allied with others responsible for violent 2010 clashes. Omitted was explaining that Israel instigated violence against unarmed, peaceful activists.
- Israel’s “blockade is primarily a defensive measure (against) the ongoing barrage of rockets targeting Israeli civilians and the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.” In fact, Shalit is a war prisoner, victimized by IDF aggression against Gaza civilians. Moreover, Hamas homemade “rockets” respond to Israeli attacks using sophisticated terror weapons.
- “Israel enables the flow of goods into Gaza each day, and particularly ensures the transfer of food, medicines, fuel and electricity.” In fact, siege restrictions eased modestly. Shortages of everything exist. Poverty, unemployment and depravation are extreme. Most construction materials are banned, deterring rebuilding Cast Lead destruction, and a recent report indicated critical shortfalls of medicines and other medical supplies because Israel blocks them.
- “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” In fact, it’s been ongoing for years, exacerbated by Israel’s longstanding slow-motion genocide policy ADL chooses to ignore.
- In May 2010, “Israel and the IDF made several attempts to avoid confrontation with” Freedom Flotilla I vessels. In fact, IDF commandos rehearsed a well-planned terror attack, using photos of targeted Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship to murder them in cold blood, forensic evidence showing them shot multiple times at close range, including in the head.
- Nonetheless, Israel’s “independent panel of inquiry, the Turkel Commission….investigate(d) and assess(ed) Israel’s action. (It) found that the Gaza blockade and the use of force during the (interdiction) were legal under international law.” It lied, whitewashing Israeli crimes against humanity against nonviolent participants in international waters.
Like 50 other US Zionist organizations, ADL is an Israeli front group, demagogically supporting its worst crimes and spreading malicious Islamaphobic hate-mongering, including smear campaigns against pro-Palestinian groups, supporting liberation and justice.
In a June 4 letter The New York Times disgracefully published, ADL called it “an abomination for American (Flotilla) participants….to liken themselves to the Freedom Riders who challenged segregation in the American South….(They) were pacifists who were on the right side of history; the flotilla organizers (challenge Israel and) align themselves with Hamas,” a Palestinian “terror(ist)” organization.
In fact, Flotilla activists indeed are modern-day Freedom Riders, coming by sea and/or land, courageously challenging Israeli terror against besieged Gazan civilians, under the government they fairly elected, maliciously called a terrorist organization.
They’re coming like others earlier and many more until Gaza’s siege ends, and all Palestinians are liberated on their own land, in their own country, free from occupation. Neither ADL hate or Israeli terror will stop them.
A Final Comment
On June 29, Haaretz writer Amira Hass said the French ship “Dignity” and Irish one “Freedom” set sail to rendezvous at sea with others delayed from departing Greece, one needing its sabotaged propeller repaired.
On June 28, New York Times writer Scott Sayare headlined, “Israeli Advocacy Group Helps Delay Departure of Gaza-Bound Flotilla,” saying:
The pro-Israeli Shurat HaDin “suggest(ed) that seven of the ships might be lacking insurance or were improperly registered.” Laughably calling itself a “civil rights organization,” it also threatened 30 maritime insurers, warning that covering the vessels leaves them vulnerable to suits for “aiding a terrorist organization.”
On June 27, Max Blumenthal explained that pro-Israeli, Islamophobic hate-monger Pastor John Hagee is one of Shurat HaDin’s major funders. His ideology, in fact, includes a totalitarian Christian ethic, white Christian supremacy, racial hatred, gay-bashing, male gender dominance, and waging preemptive war against Islam.
Nonetheless, Shurat HaDin gratefully takes his money, suggesting perhaps they’re soul mates, for sure behind efforts to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans.
* Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.