By Alan Sabrosky Salem-News.com
Humanitarian gestures such as relief ships and truck convoys may or may not get through, but they cannot alleviate the crisis that is Gaza nor bring Israel to heel.
(JACKSON, Miss.) – Israel’s hijacking last week of The Spirit of Humanity on the international high seas was a simple act of piracy. We have seen different reactions elsewhere to piracy, most notably off the coast of Somalia, or even to the kidnapping of embassy staff and humanitarian aid personnel.
In this case, as in previous instances of Israeli violations of international law, nothing has been done. Indeed, there has been almost no coverage of the incident anywhere in the mainstream media, and a shameless silence from sheep-like political leaders almost everywhere – a silence that needs to be examined carefully.
I’m not really surprised at the inaction of the UN and of other countries. The UN is wearied of perpetual US vetoes on even minimal attempts to discipline Israel, and other countries lack either the military ability or the resources (or both) to affect the outcome.
I’m not even surprised at the silence of Arab countries, which is based on a combination of hope and fear: Hope that perhaps the Obama of Cairo might be laying the groundwork now to do something better later; Fear that a thwarted Obama might treat one or more of them like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was treated by his erstwhile friend and ally in Washington, and end up on their own gallows (or as Israeli victims) someday. And I’m certainly not surprised at the official Palestinian response: Hamas won its election, but is kept at arm’s length by the US and others thanks to Israeli machinations, and the Palestinian Authority today is little more than Israel’s plaything.
The US itself has all but ignored the incident – indeed, for the mainstream media here, it might not have happened. The US State Department press briefing 01 Jul 2009, , relied on details provided by Israel and relayed them without reservation, including the false assertions, that the ship was in Israeli waters and that Israel had arrested the people on board (thus implying Israel had legal police powers there). When asked about the condition and welfare of the prisoners (several of whom are American, including a former member of Congress), the questioner was referred for an answer to the “Government of Israel.” God weeps.
Obama’s silence is especially disappointing. I recall Obama’s strong statements when a US ship’s captain was taken hostage by Somali pirates, and the swift and deadly response of the US military to the incident. I note the impact of his Cairo speech, which laid out a potentially dynamic road-map for the US. And then I see how much Israel continues to leverage US policy, and how utterly lacking in courage and integrity a US President and his Administration must be to allow a different act of piracy not only to succeed, but to become a non-issue.