So the upcoming Flotilla 2 has been in the news a lot recently as it prepares to embark on its mission to break Israel’s siege of Gaza and to deliver aid and letters of support to the beleaguered strip. There has been news that the Irish contribution will not be able to sail after the ship was sabotaged as well as rumors that the Flotilla participants were carrying chemicals and flamethrowers in order to kill IDF soldiers – none of which ended up being true, though. The other Chris and I have gone back and forth about the likelihood of violence (I say unlikely), but the activists on board are prepared to face the same fate as last year. The fear of violence is understandable as it does not seem as though the US government cares too much about the American citizens on board.
A couple days ago I linked to several storiesnoting that the State Department warned Americans not to join the Flotilla because of the possibility of death or arrest; that Americans on board the Flotilla face imprisonment in the US for potentially breaking American laws; that the US did not respond to Israel’s threats against journalists; and that a letter from Congress expressing concern for the safety of American citizens was signed by only six members of Congress. The thought that the United States is doing little to protect American citizens against Israel is understandably valid (remember Rachel Corrie, Furkan Dogan, Emily Henchowicz, or [the other Chris] Chris Whitman?)
Turns out the United States is not done turning against its citizens. Texas Governor Rick Perry has renewed the effort to prosecute all Americans participating in the Flotilla, calling on the US Justice Department to “take immediate steps to investigate, enjoin and bring to justice all parties found to be in violation of US law by their participation in these efforts.” However, if that wasn’t bad enough, Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill) thinks that the United States should make its navy available in order to help Israel block the Flotilla, saying the US 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.”
Unfortunately for Perry, the Flotilla members are not aiming to “commit hostilities against a people with whom the United States is at peace.” Likewise, Kirk is drinking a bit too much of the Israeli Hasbara Kool-aid when he explains that the Flotilla is putting Israeli lives at risk. It seems most of the American political establishment is buying into the Israeli BS that the Flotilla members are all extremists (communists, fascists or Islamists). Yep, they are all crazy:
Veterans slated to sail aboard the U.S.-flagged flotilla vessel include Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel turned State Department Foreign Service officer who resigned from her job in 2003 in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq; Ray McGovern, a former Army officer and CIA analyst who prepared daily security briefings for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; Ken Mayers, a former Marine intelligence officer who served with NSA detachments in Vietnam before taking a Reserve commission in 1966 and retiring as a major in 1978; and Joe Meadors, a former Navy signalman aboard the USS Liberty, which Israel attempted to sink during the Six Day War in 1967.
It seems obvious that the United States is going to side with Israel over American citizens and veterans. Personally, I think that the State Department warnings (unlike the opinions of Perry and Kirk) are aiming to simply dissuade Americans from joining the Flotilla as any sort of major violent episode would put the US government in an uncomfortable situation. (True, Dogan, an American citizen, was killed execution-style last year, but he was a Muslim and everyone knows that in the US Muslims think life is cheap. So the government didn’t need to protect him.) However, the nearly unconditional support Israel enjoys from the US is deeply disturbing, particularly when compared to the threats that American citizens are receiving from their own government.
Photo from Art Intifada