A Complicit West in Crimes against Gaza

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In the post-nine-eleven world, the Muslim world has been punished, collectively, in at least two different ways. One, by attacking those deemed 'too dangerous' with brute invasion, occupation and destruction-Iraq and Afghanistan are two glaring examples of it. Two, by suffocating others-still consigned to the category of 'dangerous'-through arbitrary sanctions that would make ever more harder for their people.

Gaza is most illustrative of the second category. It has been under a land, sea and air blockade by Israel, since 2007, when Hamas moved into the territory after its government-popularly elected by a huge majority of the Palestinians-was forced out of the West Bank under a clumsy conspiracy hatched by Israel and US, to which Yasir Arafat's successors in Fatah became cohorts because they had sold their souls out to Israel and US for the sake of power. Their mentors in Israel and the west, as a whole were so shameless that they didn't bother to give a second thought to the fact that Fatah was hated by a majority of Palestinians, which regarded Mehmood Abbas and his minions as touts and slaves to western interests, vis-à-vis those of their own beleaguered people.

Gaza was brutally invaded by Israel in 2008-2009 to welcome the induction of Barack Obama into the White House. At least 1300 Gazans were slaughtered in that barbaric onslaught, their homes were destroyed, their schools and hospitals were pulverized. But that didn't cause any embarrassment to Israel's western mentors and cohorts because Hamas is a terrorist organization in their books.

Gaza has been living not only with the consequences of Israel's savage destruction of their small enclave but also has to endure the punishing fallout from Israel's blockade and arbitrary sanctions imposed on them. Again, it doesn't make any dent on the conscience of Israel's western friends because Gazans are foolish, in their eyes, to have opted for a government by Hamas.

But these same western countries-US and its European allies-have been shedding crocodile tears on the plight and suffering of the Libyans or the Syrians whose brutal dictators and tyrants aren't prepared to grant them those very same freedoms that the people of Gaza have long been demanding. Libya is being pounded, mercilessly, by Nato, the 21st century version of the western colonial armies and armadas, because Qaddafi isn't blinking despite such punishing raids against Tripoli and wherever else his edict still runs.

The western champions of democracy and human rights have also been only too prominent and conspicuous in holding Sudan to ransom and force its hand to cede its southern half to a breakaway bunch of Christian leaders who have long been on western payrolls and working to their agenda for the breakup of Sudan into two states. President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, like Qaddafi of Libya, has been declared a war criminal and his arrest warrants have been issued by a west-friendly International Criminal Court (ICC).

But, of course, one can't imagine that Bejamin Netanyahu of Israel would ever be so treated by ICC, although his crimes against the Palestinians would easily qualify him to merit the treatment being meted out to Al-Bashir or Qaddafi. By the same token, one can't think of Israel ever being forced by the western powers, or a UN at their beck-and-call, to lift its brutal and inhuman siege of Gaza. This glaring dichotomy in the western perception of what are human rights' violations and what aren't is being deliberately maintained in order to give a free hand to Israel to go on punishing and starving the hapless 1.5 million people of Gaza.

Last year in July, Turkey had made an effort to challenge the arbitrary and, in the eyes of international law, totally illegal, siege of Gaza when it sent a 'peace flotilla' in an effort to call Israel's bluff. However, in an operation on the high seas-and in a manner that revived the memory of piracy of the middle ages-Israeli commandos hijacked the flotilla, Mavi Marmara, and killed at least 9 peace activists, all of them Turks.

But there was no call from the western world for accountability by a gung-ho Israel that has long been practicing terror as an instrument of state policy. Israel, in the modern-world, is perhaps the only state that prides on its acts of terrorism and the use of brute force against unarmed civilians.

This year, again, dozens of conscientious peace activists from Europe and North America-including citizens of those very states that have stood four-squares behind Israel in its callous use of force against unarmed Gazans and its inhuman policy of starving Gaza's 1.5 million people living in the world's largest open air concentration camp-worked hard to assemble a flotilla much larger than last year's.

For some odd reason, however, Turkey decided not to become part of a more cohesive group of peace activists than last year's trying to breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza.

 Last year, Turkish Prime Minister, Tayeb Erdogan, was in the forefront of those who condemned Israel's brutality in denying the people of Gaza the space to live and breathe. Erdogan has just last month won a landslide victory-his third in a row-in the Turkish general elections. Yet he is showing no enthusiasm to challenge Israel the way he did last year. It could be because of the pressure being mounted on him by Israel's principal mentor and weapons-provider, US, which also wields a huge influence over the Turkish high command. The generals in Turkey may have been reduced in size and power but aren't completely out of the power equation. Their ties to US and Israel are old and well-entrenched. Hence the reluctance on Erdogan's part to reprise his bravado and moral crusade of last year's that had exposed Israel's murderous hypocrisy to the hilt.

It could also be due to Erdogan's overt involvement in the Arab uprisings in Syria, next door to Turkey, and Libya, where he first tried a soft touch but has shifted gears owing to Qaddafi's irrational behaviour. Erdogan's energies and attention is also being heavily apportioned by the worsening crisis in Syria whose young head of state, Bashar Al Assad, was until recently seen as a virtual protégé of Erdogan. Turkey has also been saddled with responsibility to take care of more than ten thousand Syrian refugees who have fled their country to escape the government's wrath. So it isn't hard to reason that Erdogan has stayed his hand from involvement in Gaza because his hands are already full.

In the absence of Turkish patronage, therefore, the peace flotilla organizers decided to make Greece the pivot of their preparations to undertake a hazardous journey. It couldn't be anything other than hazardous as a trigger-happy and violence-prone Israeli government had made no effort to hedge its naked determination to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza with or without the use of its brute force.

But while Israel was serving public warnings of dire consequences to the peace activists determined to follow on their plans to call the world's attention to Israel's illegal and punishing blockade of Gaza, it was also engaged, behind the scene, in twisting the arm of Greece's already hobbled and crises-plagued government.

As of the writing of these lines, this year's peace flotilla is still stuck in Greece simply because the Israeli-partisan Greek government wouldn't allow its boats to sail from Greek harbours for Gaza. So much for civilized Europe's concern for human suffering, of which loud dreams are beaten day in and day out from western roof-tops, but in real terms it's nothing but a cruel joke.

This year's flotilla was expected to be much larger from last year's. At least ten boats are presently captive under Greek surveillance in various ports of the country; at Agios Nikolas, Crete, Corfu and Athens.

It's easy to understand how Israel's Zionists and their rich and powerful friends in North America and Europe have managed to twist Greece's arm and forced it to succumb to their deplorable blackmail.

Greece's economy has been hobbling for a number of years. Today, it's, without further ado, the 'sick man of Europe' an epithet that used to be applied, a century ago, with contempt to Turkey. In a role-reversal, Turkey, under its dynamic Islamic leadership of the day, has been transformed into an economic powerhouse; its economy is developing at the rate of 9 per cent a year, which is second-best only to that of China.

Greece, with a foreign debt of 425 billion dollars is at the mercy of its EU partners, many of whom, especially the rich and powerful countries like Germany, France and Britain, are unabashed votaries and partisans of a Zionist and expansionist Israel. One shouldn't be surprised, therefore, if it's disclosed, someday, that one of the conditions attached to the recent bail-out package for Greece decided in Brussels was to not let any boats with humanitarian cargo-human and material-destined for the incarcerated people of Gaza leave from any port in Greece.

All this cloak-and-dagger is being resorted to for the sake of the Zionists in Israel who have no iota of concern for human dignity or the suffering of the hapless people of Gaza.

 Israel's powerful friends, on both sides of the Atlantic, have come up with a best-case solution for the Netanyahu government-which would otherwise have suffered from no remorse in using crude power, once again, to stop the peace flotilla from reaching Gaza-and saved it from dead-certain embarrassment in repeating its high seas-piracy of last year.

The flotilla participants came from across the world, with their majority hailing from Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Turkey and France) North America and Australia.

There are at least 22 Canadians on a boat named Tahrir in honour of the people of Egypt's valiant struggle that rid them of Hosni Mubarak's tyranny. The Canadians may have hoped that with a successful run of their boat to Gaza they may also be able to expose Israel's blatant tyranny, if not unravel it with their peace gesture. But they, along with others entertaining similar hopes, have been stranded and left chafing in Greece by the shameless cynicism of their western governments.

A section of the Canadian press has quoted one of their peace activists, David Heap, who is a professor at the University of Western Ontario, capturing the conspiracy of the western governments in one pithy sentence and saying: "The (Gaza) blockade has moved to the ports of Greece." Some other Canadian participants have expressed fears of reprisals against them by their own government. This should surprise no one aware of Canada's current conservative government's unabashed predilection in favour of Israel. The Tories ruling the roost in Ottawa since 2006, suffer from a deadly anti-Muslim and anti-Arab syndrome. In their perverse thinking, Israel can do no wrong and all Arabs, if not all Muslims, are partisans of terrorists.

The Israel-friendly part of the western news media, which overwhelms the Liberal segment of it, has ridiculed the whole idea of taking a peace flotilla to the Palestinians in Gaza. They have pored scorn over the flotilla by calling it a "ship of fools."

The scheming, conspiring western friends of Israel may think they have sucked life out of the peace activists and dealt a crippling blow to their hopes to somehow challenge Israel's illegal and brutal blockade of Gaza. In short term, these conspirators may have reason to scratch each other's back and gloat over their 'achievement.' However, theirs may at best be a pyrrhic victory. The 'ship of fools' may have had its bottom knocked out and left stranded before it could be launched to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza. But their gesture has earned them a place of honour in history, while exposing the hollowness of western democracies' claim that they are guardians of human rights all over the world. Their advocacy of humanitarianism has been proved to have no nobility about it.

The people of Gaza, the ultimate target of western chicanery, never had any fancy notions of the west being attuned to their horrendous suffering at the hands of a rapacious Israel. They have known it for a fact for decades that Israeli propaganda has mesmerized western leaders to such an extent that they have become incapable of sifting chaff from the grain. Such is the power of Zionist lobbies working over-time in western capitals. The people of Gaza have learned to come to terms with their suffering but wouldn't allow their dignity and sense of honour to be compromised or trumped at any cost. The conscientious among the citizens of western 'democracies' admire the heroic courage and resilience of the Gazans in the face of enormous suffering and salute it.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2011 on page no. 26

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