Solidarity with Gaza

Photo by Mast Qalander

As many of you know, Israeli forces recently attacked a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza.  According to Al-Jazeera, nine people have been killed, including a Turkish-American, Furkan Dogan, 19, who was shot four times in the head and once in the chest.  Al-Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, who was onboard the Turkish ship, the Mavi Mamara, when it was raided by the Israeli military, reported that Israeli warships surrounded the Mavi Mamara and fired tear gas and rubber coated steel bullets before Israeli commandos stormed the ship and shot live bullets roughly five minutes later.

Elshayyal was detained before eventually being released by Israeli authorities.  Dozens of the humanitarian activists on the Mavi Mamara were injured and flown home.  Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, announced that relations with Israel will never be the same, while thousands in Turkey demonstrated in the nation’s capital.

This horrible criminal act has sparked protests throughout the United States and worldwide.  My friends and I had already planned a trip to New York city earlier this week for the sake of visiting, but when we heard about the emergency protest being organized in Times Square, we made sure we made an appearance and expressed our solidarity in whatever way possible.  One of my friends, who went across the street to grab a snack, said he heard people shouting profanity and racial slurs, such as “rag-heads,” at the crowd of demonstrators.  It’s no doubt in my mind that these individuals wouldn’t have made such racist and hateful remarks if my friend wasn’t White.

Amidst the massive protests nationwide, it seems that Obama is only giving Israel a “slap on the wrist” for the murder of humanitarian activists.  It is crucial to understand that this incident represents a symptom of a larger problem.  The blockade on Gaza, which limits Gazans from receiving proper necessities, such as food, water, electricity, and medical supplies, must be lifted.  It is absolutely outrageous that Israeli apartheid is being tolerated in the 21st century and the fact that US politicians and many in the mainstream American media refuse to condemn Israel is extremely disturbing.  It’s easy to see how the Israeli raid on the Gaza flotilla disrupts the peace process and provokes potentially violent reactions, but it’s even worse when war criminals are not held accountable for their actions — silence only fuels more anger and hostility towards Israel and the United States.

Elsewhere, president Obama continues to advance the war in Afghanistan and orders drone attacks in Pakistan.  Al-Jazeera released a report from a United Nations human rights official, Philip Alston, who urges the CIA to end the drone strikes in Pakistan. According to Alston, “CIA personnel could be prosecuted for murder under the domestic law of any country in which they conduct targeted killings, and could also be prosecuted for violations of applicable US law.”

Where is the “change?”  In all of this violence and injustice, we also see millions of Americans protesting and raising awareness about what’s happening internationally.  I went to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla rally in Philadelphia the other day and video-taped the entire protest.  Below is a clip from the protest, where Gaza Freedom marchers shouted “shame” to a small group of Zionists.  Resolving this conflict should not be about hate and violence, it needs to be about working towards peace.  The criminals must be condemned and held responsible, while the people — Muslims, Christians, Jews, or whatever you might be — need to come together and work at building a solution.

Anyone who attends the Gaza rallies or watches the videos I posted from the Philadelphia protest will see the incredible diversity of people who condemn Israel’s blockade of Gaza and military occupation of the Palestinians.  There are Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, and many others standing in solidarity with the people of Gaza — this is not about “Muslims versus Jews” or “anti-Semitism.”  This is about calling for peace and an end to the violence, injustice, and occupation.  This is about coexistence for the children of Abraham.  May God help us reach that understanding and establish that kind of Love in the world for all people.  Ameen.

11 thoughts on “Solidarity with Gaza

  1. When I say that there are a fair number of Americans who side with Palestinians…, people say that it is not reflected in US media and Government since it is “controlled” by Israel Lobby/Jews. But when I say that it is wrong to say “controlled”….,they respond that it means not enough Americans side with Palestinian.

    How to coupe with this problem? It is very common in back home. Your take?

  2. We should send the US Navy Seals’ Snipers along with the Turkish warships who are supposed to be escorting the MV Rachel Corrie, laden with aid for Gaza! President Obama sent them to protect the Captain and Crew of the Maersk Alabama, laden with aid for Mombassa, Kenya, that was raided by pirates in international waters. Oh we were so proud of the captain and the crew of that aid ship! They opened up a can of whoop ass on those raiders! The pirates were surprised by the crew that fought back! They’d never had that happen before. We were so proud of our people for fighting back! The Somali pirates were only punished with bullets between the eyeballs by our HEROIC NAVY SEALS but, as a nation, we wished there was more we could have done to them.

    Before and after that cordial meeting between pirates and the provocating aid ship, the pirates WARNED what they’d do if folks kept going into those (international) waters. (guns, blood, violence, death – that sort of thing)

    We answered before and after the terrorist attack on the dear, innocent pirates by the bad bad bad crew of the Maersk Alabama that we’d go anywhere we damned well pleased in international waters AND the MISSION of carrying AID to needy nations was worth the risks.

    We also said, in the future, ships’ crews could carry guns to protect themselves and/or we’d send the Navy along to – –

    hmmm to what? oh –

    to protect innocent, pirates who board aid ships in international waters who might be confronted by knife, pipe, or AK47 wielding crews or passengers on aid ships. Yes that’s what we meant, didn’t we.

    Furkan Dogan, Americans didn’t know you before you were killed but you will always be remembered. Rest in peace beside our Beloved Rachel Corrie – Two Heroic, Forever Young, Fellow Americans.

  3. Hi, Usman —

    I don’t know where you live or from which country you come, but you say that “it is very commom back home” for people to feel that not very many Americans are pro-Palestinian because they do not see this attitude reflected in the media or government.

    I know you are asking Jehanzeb for his advice on this issue, but if I may, I would just like to say that, personally, I never judge the people of a country by their media and, especially, their government. I have found that there is often, if not usually, great disparity between the two sides (citizens vs. media/government).

    If you are trying to tell the people of your country that there are more Americans who side with Palestinians than they may realize, perhaps you could point this out. In many countries, the government/media do not represent the views of the majority of the citizens.



    1. I agree. But things get tricky when you try to convince that even though media or Govt is not “controlled” by anybody, it does not reflect the opinion of the majority population.

      1. Perhaps you could point out the ways in which the media is controlled even when it doesn’t seem to be.

        Major corporations own most mass media and respond to corporate needs first. That means mass marketing of certain lifestyles, products, ideologies.

        All governments control the licensing of media outlets, whether radio or television. The Canadian Radio-Television Commission refused a license to AL Jazeera, thereby controlling information Canadians receive on MENA and the Arab perspective on other world events. The US hasn’t licensed Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya, etc.

        Sociologist Jean Baudrillard’s work on this topic is relevant, as is Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent

  4. Okay, this has now occurred not once, but twice. At least the second time no one was killed. My biggest question, though, is:


    Perhaps I’m just naive or ignorant of some facet of the law, but it makes no sense to me. I understand that there needs to be some form of governance in seas under no nation’s jurisdiction, but I would think that there would be a particular body for this, such as the United Nations or some other organization.

    Can Israel claim that they are at war and thus their actions are allowed???

    Can anyone explain this to me? Why is Israel not being punished for attacking other ships in international waters? Are there mitigating legal factors they can claim of which I’m unaware?

    By the way, I read that after the second attack, even Israeli citizens in Tel Aviv are now demonstrating against and condemning the blockade.

    1. Here is a response from James Zogby on Huffington Post:

      James Zogby: Audience of One

      World-wide reactions to the flotilla attack were swift in condemning Israeli behavior. But it didn’t matter. Israel can endure international outrage and votes of 14 to 1 in the UN’s Security Council, as long as that “1”, the US, stands at its side.

    2. You ask and answer your own question: What gives Israel the right to stop and board a ship in international waters. The short answer would be that, in fact, any country has this right during wartime.

      Since Hamas is at war with Israel, and Israel is (most of the time) at war with Hamas, a blockade would be a justifiable belligerent act, the kind of thing countries do to each other during wartime. The purpose of the blockade is to deny the Iran and others the chance to resupply the Islamist government of Hamas with weapons to attack Israel.

      The US enforced a blockade- they called it a “quarantine”- on Cuba to prevent Soviet missiles from reaching the island. Unlike the blockade of Gaza, it had international support.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if regular Israelis are shocked and appalled by the attack on those ships. It’s a clumsy move that will only solidify the support of the hard right-wing groups like Hamas.

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