Monday, May 31, 2010

Take Action Against Israeli Assault on Free Gaza Flotilla

Emergency rallies are being held across Canada (see below) and around the world today to denounce in the strongest possible terms the attack by the Israeli military against a flotilla of civilian ships in international waters which was bringing much needed humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been kept under Israeli siege for the last several years and is in the midst of a widely documented humanitarian crisis. The attack against the activists of the Free Gaza flotilla has resulted in somewhere between 10 and 20 civilians being murdered by Israeli soldiers and the rest of the activists being abducted by the Israeli military.

As Toronto-based activist and journalist Justin Podur writes,

Given that exact numbers have not been released of who lived, who is injured, and who has survived, witnesses to the slaughter are in extreme danger of being killed now. This is not simply a murder that happened last night, but an abduction as well, in which the hostages, who are witnesses to an international crime, are in danger for their lives... Israel's strategy towards Palestine and Gaza in particular involves committing atrocities to test the international reaction.

Representatives of the Israeli state are, of course, making ridiculous and completely non-credible statements about the entire thing being "self-defence." Though it seems clear that a handful of activists on board did try to resist using sticks and other items after the Israeli assault -- which involved the use of tear gas, stun grenades, and live ammunition -- had begun, as an analysis from Electronic Intifada puts it,

It is unclear how anyone could credibly adopt an Israeli narrative of "self-defense" when Israel had carried out an unprovoked armed assault on civilian ships in international waters. Surely any right of self-defense would belong to the passengers on the ship. Nevertheless, the Freedom Flotilla organizers had clearly and loudly proclaimed their ships to be unarmed civilian vessels on a humanitarian mission.

Turkey, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, and Greece have all taken some sort of formal diplomatic action in condemnation, with at least two of those recalling their ambassadors. Yet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is still scheduled to publically shake hands with the Israeli Prime Minister in Ottawa later today. As Dammit Janet has written, citing Alison at Creekside, given his behaviour during other Israeli atrocities in recent years, "Those who study the physiological and psychological factors present in subtance abuse and dependance have pointed out the role of the enabler in allowing the problem behaviours to escalate. Harper is the biggest enabler of the state of Israel's violent apartheid policies and practices."

Here is a list of actions being circulated by the Canadian Peace Alliance:

Protest Netanyahu's visit to Ottawa

Monday, May 31, 2010
Human Rights Monument
For more information please see:

London Ontario
Monday, May 31, 2010
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Victoria Park
Richmond and Central


Actions d'urgence à Montréal : Flottille de la paix pour GAZA!!!

Montréal : lundi, 31 mai 2010
à 15h30 coin Atwater et Ste-Catherine
à 15h45 point de presse
à 17h30 vigile de solidarité au Consulat de la Turquie (1134, Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest)

For more information please see:


Israel has used military force on the peaceful flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel has murdered several unarmed civilians (at least 10 confirmed so far). Again we see the Israeli apartheid state acting with full impunity outside the boundaries of international law while the the Harper government welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu with open arms.

We will be out today to tell Israel and all its supporters it can not get away with its crimes against humanity without worldwide protest.

Date: Today May 31
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Israeli Consulate (180 Bloor St. West)

Bring noise makers! Bring flags! Tell your family and friends.
For more information, please contact

Organized by:
Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA)
Toronto Coalition to Stop the War
Gaza Freedom March Committee

Carpools are being organized in St Catharines at 3pm today to join the Emergency Rally in Toronto. If you want to come phone Susan at 905-984-6515 or text 905-328-6515.

MORE BLOOD ON ISRAEL’S HANDS – Protest Monday Noon in Vancouver

Monday, May 31, at 12 noon, on the corner of Georgia and Hamilton (in front of the CBC), there will be a gathering to honour the courage of those killed by the Israeli military, to call for the media to report fully, and to demand the government denounce Israel’s blood-letting and blockade of Gaza. There also will be protest in Ottawa on Monday against the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with Prime Minister Harper.

- For global events listings please see the Gaza Freedom March website at:

If there is something happening in your city, please attend! There must be a strong international reaction in response to these acts.

And just for good measure, here is a link to an open letter written by Jewish Israeli peace activists (before the attack) to their fellow citizens, exhorting them to support the Free Gaza Flotilla. As well, see below for the text of a statement from the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers urging the Canadian government to take strong action in response to the attack, and a video plea for international solidarity from a Free Gaza activist that was recorded before the flotilla departed:

Statement from Denis Lemelin, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers

May 31, 2010

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

I am writing to you on behalf of the 54,000 members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. You will be aware that the Israeli navy, in an act of piracy in international waters, has hijacked the international flotilla of ships which was attempting to deliver essential humanitarian aid to Gaza. The aid includes construction materials which would enable the people of Gaza to rebuild the homes destroyed by Israel in Operation Cast Lead in 2009.

There are nearly 700 people on board the boats, all of whom are civilians from around the world, including Members of Parliament from a number of nations, eminent writers and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. They have undertaken this mission out of concern for the people of Gaza, who are now entering their fourth year under siege, without access to basic necessities. They pose no threat to Israel, and are completely unarmed.

Despite this, the Israeli navy has attacked the flotilla outside of international waters this morning resulting in fatalities estimated by the Israeli military itself as 10 and by news sources at possibly in excess of 20 with another large number injured. Israeli news sources say that hospitals around Ashdod have been told to prepare for many injured people arriving.

I urge you to act swiftly to condemn this attack on the peace flotilla, which was breaking no international laws, and, that you demand to know the fate of those on board the vessels and to ensure that Israel releases the vessels immediately to allow this vital aid to reach its destination. Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Canada and has profusely praised you for maintaining strong relations with Israel, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers believes that you have an obligation to condemn this brutal attack.

Israel's occupation of Gaza is illegal under international law, and it has been accused in a UN report of committing war crimes in Gaza.

Your obligation must be towards a group of citizens peacefully attempting to deliver humanitarian aid, than to a country which repeatedly violates international treaties. CUPW calls on you to end the government's silence over Israel's aggressive actions against the flotilla, and intervene now to demand its safe passage to Gaza.

CUPW is calling on you to condemn this wanton act of piracy against the peaceful flotilla taking aid to the people of Gaza. Finally, CUPW is calling upon you to take every step possible to bring about an end to the inhuman treatment of the people of Gaza by acting to end the siege and blockade that is taking place against them by the Israeli Government.

Yours sincerely
Denis Lemelin
National President
Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Cc: National Executive Board
Regional Executive Cttee
Israeli Embassy to Canada


Anonymous said...

Long live the State of Israel in its fight against terrorists and their supporters

Scott said...

The power of denial is the twisted understanding of Anonymous, just above, those whose land has been stolen are the terrorists while those who have done and continue to do the stealing are not; those being starved are the terrorists while those forcing them to starve are not; those trying to deliver food and aid are the terrorists while those committing piracy, murder, and kidnapping against those delivering food and aid are not.

Not that conflicts are simple -- tragic things are done by many different parties. But it must take a lot of work by Anonymous to avoid seeing where the greater power and greater violence sit.

Scott said...

[Comment spam deleted.]

porus munshi said...

I was totally unaware of these incidents. Thanks for the article.

Vadim Peretokin said...

Since I am quite certain that I don't know what happened there - I was not there, and any media outlet reporting information is biased in their own manner (excluding facts, missing information, so and and so forth) - I've decided not to look like an idiot and protest about something that relates to me in no way at all.

Just a hint though, I don't see the Palestinians mass protesting. Hm, something is fishy. Maybe because they're used to having Hamas block the aid shipments to begin with.

Scott said...

Hi Vadim.

Kind of a disingenuous comment. I mean, I'm all for being open about the limits to what we know and what we can know, and for being cautious because of that, but it is very possible over time to build a reliable understanding of how various sources of information and various media behave and make practical judgments accordingly. And being conscious of how knowledge production works is much different than puffing up the appearance of uncertainty to avoid speaking up for justice, or to try and confuse other people into not speaking up for justice.

Do we know all the details of what went down during the Israeli assault and the massacre of the activists? Of course not. Hence the need for an independent, international investigation, which Israel is currently refusing. Do we know that a humanitarian mission was assaulted by armed commandos in international waters, which by any fair measure is repugnant and illegal? Yes, we do. Do we also know that 1.5 million people are being deprived of access to the things they need to live and kept in what amounts to an open air prison in Gaza by the Israeli military? Yes, we do.

We know enough to act. We know enough to call for justice.

And your second paragraph is just laughable. Are you seriously claiming that the people of Gaza do not want the siege to be broken?

Vadim Peretokin said...

Do we know all the details of what went down during the Israeli assault and the massacre of the activists? Of course not. Hence the need for an independent, international investigation, which Israel is currently refusing. Do we know that a humanitarian mission was assaulted by armed commandos in international waters, which by any fair measure is repugnant and illegal? Yes, we do.

I agree up until this point.

Do we also know that 1.5 million people are being deprived of access to the things they need to live and kept in what amounts to an open air prison in Gaza by the Israeli military? Yes, we do.

I don't think so. Isn't the border to Egypt closed as well?

Are you forgetting about Hamas as well? I don't think they're quite a free government that lets all the aid through to the people themselves...

Scott said...

"Isn't the border to Egypt closed as well?"

Sure. I mean, they've opened it in the aftermath of the assault on the flotilla, but from what I understand that is likely to be a very temporary measure. I'm not sure what the complicity of the Egyptian government has to do with the point I was making, though. It is still a siege, and the suffering in Gaza, as has been widely documented, is still horrendous, and it is still important to break the siege. The main impetus for the siege remains Israeli state policy, the underlying injustice of the occupation, and the overarching Western colonial interference in the region.

As for Hamas, I'm also unsure what their imperfections have to do with the point I was making. Do they look after themselves first? Likely, though they are also politically savvy and know, like Hizbullah, that attending to the needs of their constituents when few others do is a key to their political strength. So I'm extremely skeptical of Israeli propaganda claims that try to blame Hamas rather than the folks actually laying siege to Gaza for the suffering in the region. And regardless of that, the best way to minimize the ability of any one grouping within Gaza to control resources is to make resources less scarce and end the siege (on the way to ending the occupation).