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Popular Anger Grows As World Leaders Let Flotilla Killers Off The Hook

Aaron Dearborn.


Palestine Monitor , June 5, 2010

With as many at least nine young lives taken in international waters and the Middle East once again plunged into crisis, the so-called leaders of the world have done nothing but petition Israel to investigate and punish itself. Reporting from Aaron Dearborn.
JPG - 35.5 kb

As attention now shifts from the high seas to closed door meetings in Washington, Ankara and the Hague, there is a growing frustration as politicians and spin doctors ingloriously try to manage the diplomatic fall-out of the pre-dawn massacre.

In many ways, this response is telling. Such hesitation and gross spinelessness from our elected leaders in confronting Israel was what necessitated the Freedom Flotilla in the first place.

But with demonstrations against the brutality of the IDF taking place around the world, it is now the credibility of Arab and Western governments themselves that stands in the firing line.

Civilians have been attacked. Civilians have been massacred. Civilians want justice. But with every day that passes since the flotilla bloodshed, the truth becomes buried deeper under military propaganda and the criminals edge closer to safety. With it too goes whatever shred of belief was left in the collective power of the White House, the UN Security Council and the Arab League of Nations to hold Israel to account.

In Ankara, the Israeli flag is being burned in the streets as Turkish politicians criticise Israel publicly whilst resisting calls to sever all diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv to protect trade relations.

But if Arab governments especially expect Israel to pay a price for its bloody incursion, they cannot wait for Washington to lead the way. They themselves must meet the challenge head on. Under international law, it was Ankara that exercised complete jurisdiction over the Mavi Marmara, as the vessel was sailing in international waters under a Turkish flag.

International legal principle makes it clear that at the time of the raid, both the ship and crew were subject to no authority but that of the state whose flag they sailed under. It was Turkish sovereignty first and foremost that was violated.

After the illegal raid, the IDF was obliged to ensure the operations of its armed forces were proportionate to the perceived threat, only resorting to the use of force and fire arms after non-violent means had been exhausted and at all times minimising damage and injury and respecting the preservation of human life.

Nine body bags airlifted to Turkey and a countless number of injured disappeared into Israeli medical facilities give silent testimony that this did not happen. But in truth, a thorough knowledge of international maritime law is not necessary for world leaders to dispute Israel’s claims that it acted proportionately and within legal constraints.

That a ship armed only with metal poles and pocket knives 150km from shore could not possibly pose a legitimate threat to one of the world’s most powerful militaries should be self evident to anyone living outside the reach of the IDF propaganda machine.

Indeed, if the Israeli Foreign Ministry is to be believed, then 700 human rights activists and journalists representing over 40 countries, with the complicity of Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Mustafa Barghouti and the prime minister of Ireland, are conspiring with Osama Bin Laden to annihilate Israel using bags of concrete. In light of the treaties, laws and conventions ripped to pieces by Israel’s attack, IDF arguments that "we acted in self-defence" are absurd. Why then are our politicians so absent, avoiding confrontation and letting the opportunity for justice pass whilst dismissing the massacre as "unforeseeable" and "a regrettable tragedy?" Why are they blind to a truth that for most of us is so clear?

One thing is certain. In the absence of direct action from world governments, universal condemnation of Israel will grow and will manifest itself in a number of ways.

We can expect a repeat of the global backlash following the second war on Gaza, with a surge in the international boycott of Israeli exports and culture and a marked rise in public sympathy for the Palestinian resistance movement. Already this seems likely to go as far as calling for Israel to enter talks with Hamas.

And in the West, nowhere more discernibly than in the United States, will the foreign policy and international credibility of sitting governments come under greater scrutiny and scorn from its own people. Washington now looks like a frightened child unable to control the fire it started. But if the Obama administration fails to restore flailing credibility over Israel, the prospect of securing support at home for its efforts towards Palestinian-Israeli peace talks and disarming Iran is extremely unlikely.

This week, it is the flag of Israel that burns in city streets across the world. Before the week is out, the stars and stripes will likely go with it, before the Union Jack too is pictured on the BBC and CNN trampled under foot in far flung destinations. All this sends a very clear message to political leaders; the inexcusable will not be excused, especially whilst the potential for this aggression to incite further regional conflicts hangs over our heads.

The people will not stand for it.

Read live updates from the flotilla’s organisers http://witnessgaza.com/

:: Article nr. 66686 sent on 06-jun-2010 02:44 ECT


Link: www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1436

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