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<h2><font size=4><b>'Hope' Floats: Hey Hollywood, time to put your money
where your morality is</b></font></h2><font size=2>By
<a href="http://palestinethinktank.com/author/nima-shirazi/">Nima
Shirazi</a>  Jul 27th, 2010 <br>
</font><font size=1>
<a href="http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/07/27/nima-shirazi-hope-floats-hey-hollywood-time-to-put-your-money-where-your-morality-is/" eudora="autourl">
http://palestinethinktank.com/2010/07/27/nima-shirazi-hope-floats-hey-hollywood-time-to-put-your-money-where-your-morality-is/<br>
<br>
</a></font><font size=3>A coalition of nearly twenty U.S.-based human
rights and peace groups has joined the global justice community and
numerous foreign governments in vowing to send more humanitarian aid
ships to break the
<a href="http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/06/201061452646659588.html">
illegal</a> Israeli blockade of Gaza this coming Fall. The coalition,
united under the mantle <a href="http://ustogaza.org/"><i>US To
Gaza</a></i>, includes activist organizations such as CodePink, Jews Say
No, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and Jewish
Voice For Peace.<br><br>
In the wake of the
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/iara-lee/the-video-israel-doesnt-w_b_621788.html">
deadly Israeli raid</a> on an international
<a href="http://www.sott.net/articles/show/209749-Israel-Deliberately-Murdered-Civilians-Aboard-Freedom-Flotilla-Says-Eyewitness-and-Victim">
flotilla</a> carrying over 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid and hundreds
of civilian passengers, during which
<a href="http://lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com/news/2010/06/putting-names-to-faces.html">
nine activists</a> were
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/04/gaza-flotilla-activists-autopsy-results">
murdered</a> (if not outright
<a href="http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=178617">
executed</a>) by Israeli commandos in international waters, the global
call to end the US-backed Israeli siege has grown even more
forceful.<br><br>
Later this year, boats from Europe, Canada, South Africa, India, and the
Middle East are expected to set sail for Gaza once again. <i>US To
Gaza</i>, which states on its
<a href="http://ustogaza.blogspot.com/">website</a> that "America
pays for the blockade with our tax dollars; Americans must join together
to end this collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians," aims
to add a vital American element to this new Freedom Flotilla.<br><br>
The U.S. boat, which will be named <i>The Audacity of Hope</i> (irony
intended), is expected to carry an American peace delegation of forty to
sixty passengers and will join its international flotilla partners en
route. But purchasing a suitable ship, securing a sailing crew, obtaining
the needed licenses and registration, gathering tons of humanitarian aid,
and sailing for Gaza is a costly endeavor. It is estimated that at least
$370,000 needs to be raised from private donors in the next month for the
U.S. ship to become, not merely hopeful audacity, but a necessary
reality.<br><br>
All in all, $370,000 isn't that much money. For instance, South Carolina
Republican Congressman Joe Wilson
<a href="http://www.southernstudies.org/2009/10/you-lie-outburst-a-fundraising-boon-for-rep-joe-wilson.html">
raised</a> hundreds of thousands of
<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/11/wilson.fundraising/index.html">
dollars</a> from
<a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2009/10/joe-wilsons-you-lie-outburst-h.html">
individual donors</a> giving less than $200 just because he called Barack
Obama a liar. If a jackass like Wilson can raise that kind of money for
shouting a
<a href="http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/sep/09/joe-wilson/joe-wilson-south-carolina-said-obama-lied-he-didnt/">
disingenuous falsehood</a>, raising funds for a just cause like breaking
the illegal Gaza blockade shouldn't be that hard.<br><br>
Sure, the fund-raising goal can be hit with 3,700 people each pledging
$100 or a mere 370 donations of $1,000 each. But why is the bar for
funding justice and fighting illegal
<a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/021/2008/en">
collective punishment</a> so low? Where are the big donors who could
single-handedly buy a boat and subsidize the entire delegation? Why does
it seem like such a stretch for American supporters of human rights and
international law to send an armada of siege-breaking ships to
Gaza?<br><br>
Perhaps, in order to open borders and ship a little bit of hope to
suffering Palestinians in the Middle East, <i>US to Gaza</i> organizers
should be looking for a lot of financial support from open wallets on the
West Coast.<br><br>
Hollywood has no shortage of outspoken Israel supporters, ethnic
cleansing enthusiasts, and racist, right-wing nutjobs. The Zionism,
publicly professed or not, of famous musicians and movie stars takes many
forms and runs the gamut of willful ignorance to actively
insane.<br><br>
There are those who ignore or condemn the
<a href="http://bdsmovement.net/">Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions
Movement</a> and promote Israeli
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/udi-aloni-seinfeld-you-were-wrong-to-condemn-our-toronto-protest-1.7469">
<i>hasbara</a></i> like
<a href="http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2008/02/all-you-need-is-apartheid.html">
Paul McCartney</a>,
<a href="http://www.popeater.com/2010/06/18/elton-john-israel-tel-aviv-concert/">
Elton John</a>,
<a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6822777.ece">
Madonna</a>,
<a href="http://usacbi.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/rod-stewart-concert-not-cancelled-but-boycott-momentum-growing/">
Rod Stewart, Bob</a>
<a href="http://ellissharp.blogspot.com/2005/09/bob-dylans-racist-song_25.html">
Dylan</a>,
<a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/24/entertainment/main5336146.shtml">
Leonard Cohen</a>,
<a href="http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/news/archive/2010/07/01/hits-and-misses-which-musicians-are-boycotting-israel.aspx">
Metallica, Rihanna</a>,
<a href="http://www.thejc.com/news/israel-news/35649/missy-elliot-ignores-israel-boycott-campaign">
Missy Elliot</a>,
<a href="http://news.softpedia.com/news/Adam-Sandler-Wants-to-Fight-Against-Terrorism-33306.shtml">
Adam Sandler</a>,
<a href="http://fpfd.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/is-alex-trebek-putting-u-s-interests-in-jeopardy/">
Alex Trebek</a>,
<a href="http://current.com/entertainment/movies/90948471_we-dont-need-another-blacklist.htm">
Seth Rogen, Robert Duvall, Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Zwick, Chazz
Palminteri, Paul Reiser</a>,
<a href="http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/September2009/10/c4132.html">
David Cronenberg, Norman Jewison, Saul Rubinek</a>,
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/news/seinfeld-sacha-baron-cohen-and-natalie-portman-slam-toronto-film-festival-protest-1.7828">
Jerry Seinfeld, Lisa Kudrow, Sacha Baron Cohen</a>,
<a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew/item/toronto_protest_escalates_as_stars_sign_federation_ad_against_tel_aviv_boyc/">
Minnie Driver, and Natalie Portman</a> (who was also a proud
<a href="http://www.natalieportman.com/articles/nparticles_en.php?viewarticle=1&article_number=363">
research assistant</a> of Alan Dershowitz and is thanked in his appalling
book <i>The Case for Israel</i>); there are those who
<a href="http://ayulittleone.blogsome.com/images/terrorad081706.jpg">
oppose resistance</a> to Israeli aggression and expansion and laud
Israeli assaults that take the lives of thousands of Palestinian and
Lebanese civilians like actors Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce
Willis, Danny De Vito, Don Johnson, James Woods, Kelly Preston, Patricia
Heaton, Doug Liman, Gary Sinise, Kristen Chenowith, Michael Chiklis,
Vivica A. Fox, Nicole Kidman, Pat Sajak, and William Hurt, along with
filmmakers like Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Mann, William Friedkin,
Ivan Reitman, Richard Donner, and Sam Raimi.<br><br>
There are those, like producer Lawrence Bender, who see Israel as an
eternal victim, besieged by oppressive Palestinians, and
<a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/israel_to_seek_celebrity_support_20030829/">
claim</a> that "Nobody realizes how badly the Israelis are
suffering. Obviously the Palestinians are suffering  but people need to
understand that Israel needs help" and there are those, like actor
Joshua Malina, who are
<a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/israel_to_seek_celebrity_support_20030829/">
baffled</a> by the
<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-israel-feels-under-siege-like-a-victim-an-underdog-1886332.html">
suggestion</a> that "somehow Israel is the bully and the
Palestinians are the underdog."<br><br>
There are Zionist zealots like
<a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/fisk0513.html">John Malkovich</a>
and
<a href="http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2010/05/ridiculest-bill-mahers-cultural.html">
Bill Maher</a> and there's also
<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/22/dear-mr-president-jon-voight/">
Jon</a>
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/actor-jon-voight-god-gave-this-land-to-the-jewish-people-1.285266">
Voigt</a>.<br><br>
There are celebrities who advocate for peace, love, and understanding,
like
<a href="http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_n5_v57/ai_13705084/pg_5/">
Richard</a>
<a href="http://www.jewishjournal.com/community_briefs/article/israel_to_seek_celebrity_support_20030829/">
Dreyfuss</a>, yet somehow believe a "Jewish" state isn't
inherently discriminatory. There's Jason Alexander, who, despite his
<a href="http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7768/is_20100527/ai_n54115675/">
work</a> with the two-state promoting
<a href="http://www.onevoicemovement.org/">OneVoice</a>
/<a href="http://imaginepeace.com/archives/7337">Imagine Peace</a>
project, was an
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4iCCxYdUlI&feature=player_embedded">
honored guest</a> at last year's <i>Friends of the Israeli Defense
Forces</i> [sic] Fundraising Gala and shill for Jewish
<a href="http://maxblumenthal.com/2010/03/jewish-life-tv-promoting-radical-settler-ideology-endorsed-by-jason-alexander-and-sponsored-by-jdate/">
television programming</a> that endorses violent, fanatical Zionist
settler ideologies. There are fashion designers like Elie Tahari, who
<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=170694">donated</a>
a whopping $100,000 at this year's IDF love-fest in March.<br><br>
With friends like these, it's no wonder that the IDF, a foreign military
that oppresses and occupies an indigenous population,
<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=170694">raised over
$20 million</a> in one night at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan. But
donors here in the United States don't only fund the Occupation, they
also fund
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/dec/08/us-settlers-hebron-fund-israeli">
illegal Jewish settlements</a>  to the tune of
<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/world/middleeast/06settle.html?_r=2&hp">
tax-free</a> hundreds of millions over the past decade  that have now
<a href="http://adalahny.org/index.php/press-releases/38-press-release-other/329-release-hebron-mets-cancel">
aggressively stolen</a> and
<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/exposed-the-truth-about-israels-land-grab-in-the-west-bank-2020110.html">
colonized over 42% of the West Bank</a>.<br><br>
So where are their anti-occupation, pro-international law counterparts,
especially the ones with equally deep pockets? The truth is they're
everywhere.<br><br>
 From
<a href="http://middleeast.about.com/b/2009/07/28/overcoming-speechlessness-alice-walker-in-gaza.htm">
Alice</a>
<a href="http://www.alicewalkersblog.com/2009/07/overcoming-speechlessness-poet.html">
Walker</a> to
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvMoGAy7q9c">Vanessa
Redgrave</a>,
<a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2009/09/toronto-film-fest-protest-grows-to-over-1000-supporters-including-harry-belafonte-julie-christie-and-viggo-mortensen.html">
Harry Belafonte</a> to
<a href="http://torontodeclaration.blogspot.com/">Viggo Mortensen, Julie
Christie, Wallace Shawn</a>,
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/feb/28/usa.israel">Alan
Rickman</a>,
<a href="http://middleeast.about.com/b/2009/02/26/please-listen-before-it-is-too-late.htm">
Jonathan Demme, Stephen King, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Irwin, Tilda Swinton,
Wim Wenders, Uma Thurman, Debra Winger</a>,
<a href="http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090413">Tony Kushner</a>,
<a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2009/09/roger-ebert-amends-his-review-of-the-toronto-protest.html">
Roger Ebert</a>,
<a href="http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=2122&CategoryId=14">
Richard Gere</a>,
<a href="http://dissentradio.com/radio/08_05_22_cusack.mp3">John
Cusack</a>,
<a href="http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=22619">Sally Kirkland,
Terry Gilliam</a>,
<a href="http://palfest.org/authorsblog.html">Michael</a>
<a href="http://palfest.org/Author/michael_palin.html">Palin</a>,
<a href="http://www.thejewishpress.com/pageroute.do/37560">Danny Glover,
Oliver Stone, Ed Asner</a>,
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/dec/15/israel.guardianletters">
Sophie Fiennes</a>,
<a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0614-02.htm">Casey
Kasem, and Jeremy Pikser,</a> celebrity support for Palestinian freedom
and an end to the Israeli occupation and blockade is widespread in
Tinseltown.<br><br>
Actresses Salma Hayek, Halle Berry, Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields, Andie
MacDowell, Lucy Liu, Whitney Houston and Sharon Stone all had their
pictures
<a href="http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10045.shtml">removed</a>
from the website of blood diamond dealer Lev Leviev after being alerted
to Leviev's criminal funding of illegal West Bank settlements.<br><br>
Musicians like
<a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/0614-02.htm">Mos Def,
Laurie Anderson, Boots Riley, Steve Earle</a>,
<a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2009/09/toronto-film-fest-protest-grows-to-over-1000-supporters-including-harry-belafonte-julie-christie-and-viggo-mortensen.html">
David Byrne</a>,
<a href="http://middleeast.about.com/b/2009/02/26/please-listen-before-it-is-too-late.htm">
Neil Young</a>, and
<a href="http://www.artistsagainstapartheid.org/?p=960">Santana</a>, all
publicly oppose Israel's systematic oppression and land theft and support
the <a href="http://www.pacbi.org/">Palestinian Campaign for the Academic
& Cultural Boycott of Israel</a>.
<a href="http://www.starpulse.com/news/index.php/2009/01/02/annie_lennox_speaks_out_against_israeli_">
Annie Lennox</a> and
<a href="http://www.nme.com/news/brian-eno/41904">Brian</a>
<a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/eno01022009.html">Eno</a> spoke out
against the 2008-9 Israel slaughter of over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza
and, more recently, Rage Against The Machine's
<a href="http://samuelnichols.blogspot.com/2010/06/rage-against-machine-denounces-israeli.html">
Alex de la Rocha</a> condemned Israel's Gaza blockade
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jun/07/rage-against-the-machine-review">
on stage</a> during a concert in London. This past Saturday, July 10, for
the first time in five years, Pink Floyd's
<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/17386/179757">David
Gilmour</a> and
<a href="http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/06/roger-waters-to-israel-tear-down-the-wall/">
Roger</a>
<a href="http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4649.shtml">Waters</a>
teamed up to
<a href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38207130/ns/today-entertainment/">
perform</a> at a <a href="http://www.hopingfoundation.org/">HOPING
Foundation</a> benefit, which
<a href="http://mycatbirdseat.com/2010/07/pink-floyd-unite-for-a-palestine-benefit-concert-in-england/">
raised 350,000</a> (over $538,000) for Palestinian children living in
refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The
organization was co-founded by fashion designer (and Siggy's
great-granddaughter)
<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/5254030.stm">
Bell Freud</a> in 2003.<br><br>
Megastars Dustin Hoffman and Meg Ryan
<a href="http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Entertainment/Article.aspx?ID=180671">
canceled their attendance</a> at this year's annual Jerusalem Film
Festival the day after Israel's bloody raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla
and recent performances by
<a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2010/06/israel-pixies-cancel-israel-concert-and-other-flotilla-fallout.html">
The Pixies, Elvis Costello, Gorillaz Sound System</a>,
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/klaxons-and-gorillaz-sound-system-cancel-israel-shows-apparently-due-to-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.294191">
The Klaxons</a>,
<a href="http://www.jewlicious.com/2010/06/cultural-boycott-recent-cancellations-by-international-musicians-spur-debate-in-israeli-public/">
Devendra Banhart</a>,
<a href="http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/news/archive/2010/07/01/hits-and-misses-which-musicians-are-boycotting-israel.aspx">
Gil Scott Heron, and Snoop Dogg</a> were also
<a href="http://www.forward.com/articles/128185/">canceled</a> for
similar  if not identical  reasons.<br><br>
All of these well-heeled celebrities should take their courageous
<a href="http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9515.shtml">boycott of
Israeli apartheid</a> and aggression even further by funding more
humanitarian aid ships. With their help, supplementing the support of
small donors, the
<a href="http://gazaflotilla.delegitimize.com/factsheets/the-gaza-siege/">
illegal blockade</a> can indeed be broken.<br><br>
The Israeli policy of
<a href="http://gazaflotilla.delegitimize.com/factsheets/humanitarian-crisis-in-the-gaza-strip-faq/">
brutal</a> blockade is clear. In 2006, after Palestinians democratically
elected Hamas to the shock and chagrin of both Israel and the US (who had
insisted on the elections in the first place), an economic and commercial
siege was put into place by Israel as a
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel">
punishment</a> for Palestinian self-determination. As Dov Weisglass,
adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert,
<a href="http://www.counterpunch.org/levy02202006.html">jokingly
declared</a>, "It's like an appointment with a dietitian. The
Palestinians in Gaza will get a lot thinner, but won't
die."<br><br>
Collective punishment, via forced deprivation and near-starvation, is
unequivocally illegal. International law is quite clear in this regard.
Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which has governed Israel's
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 (and has been repeatedly
affirmed by both the UN Security Council and General Assembly), states
plainly:<br><br>
"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has
not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures
of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."<br><br>
Furthermore, though the Israeli intention may not have been to kill
Palestinians in Gaza via food and medicine shortages, they have more than
made up for it with their subsequent use of bombs, missiles, tank shells,
bullets, depleted uranium, flechettes, white phosphorous, and DIME
weaponry.<br><br>
Still, Israeli officials such as former-Prime Minster, now Defense
Minister, Ehud Barak and Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Yossi
Gal,
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-gaza-aid-convoy-can-unload-cargo-in-ashdod-for-inspection-1.292560">
continue to claim</a> that "there is no shortage in humanitarian aid
to Gaza, as food, fuel and supplies are regularly transferred into Gaza
by international organizations."<br><br>
No mention is made of the fact that all building material, such as
cement, plaster and dry wall, is banned from entering Gaza, in
<a href="http://gazaflotilla.delegitimize.com/factsheets/humanitarian-crisis-in-the-gaza-strip-faq/">
addition</a> to the absurd
<a href="http://www.economist.com/node/16264970">prohibition</a> of
so-called "dual use" medicines, rope, wood, razors, light
bulbs, textiles and fabrics, sewing and hypodermic needles, sewing
machines, candles, matches, mattresses, bedsheets, pillowcases, blankets,
cutlery, books, newspapers, coffee, tea, cigarettes, clothing, shoes,
pencils and paper, fresh meat, seeds, nuts, cilantro, sage, cardamom,
nutmeg, ginger, cumin, vinegar, biscuits, candy, potato chips, jam,
chocolate, french fries, canned or dried fruit, notebooks, empty
flowerpots, fishing rods or line, livestock, musical instruments, and
children's toys.<br><br>
Obviously, Israeli officials take no note of the findings of the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the UN which has reported that
<a href="http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/47d4e277b48d9d3685256ddc00612265/9a265f2a909e9a1d8525772e004fc34b?OpenDocument">
61% of Gazans are "food insecure,"</a> of which
"<a href="http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/47d4e277b48d9d3685256ddc00612265/9a265f2a909e9a1d8525772e004fc34b?OpenDocument">
65% are children under 18 years</a>;" the level of anemia in infants
is as high as 65.5%, about 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75%
rely on food aid, and 60% have no daily access to water.<br><br>
As Rebecca Sargent of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network
<a href="http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/profiles/blogs/freedom-flotilla-and-israeli?xg_source=activity">
notes</a>, "Much of the population remains unemployed and thus have
no money to buy supplies for themselves. The
<a href="http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2009/sc9567.doc.htm">UN
resolution 1860</a> calls for the unfettered access of aid and commercial
goods to Gaza, although it would appear this call has been mostly ignored
by the Israeli government's blockade."<br><br>
Also, as of the end of 2009, a
<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=33334&Cr=gaza&Cr1">
U.N. report</a> found that "insufficient food and medicine is
reaching Gazans, producing a further deterioration of the mental and
physical health of the entire civilian population since Israel launched
Operation Cast Lead against the territory," and also "blamed
the blockade for continued breakdowns of the electricity and sanitation
systems due to the Israeli refusal to let spare parts needed for repair
get through the crossings." Since
<a href="http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=89302">June
2007</a>, "the number of Palestine refugees unable to access food
and lacking the means to purchase even the most basic items, such as
soap, school stationery and safe drinking water, has tripled" and
over 80 UN and aid agencies
<a href="http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/gaza_agriculture_25_05_2010_press_release_english.pdf">
agree</a> that "the formal economy in Gaza has
collapsed."<br><br>
On May 31, the six-ship Gaza Freedom Flotilla was
<a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/33719681/IHH-report-on-the-Freedom-Flotilla">
lethally attacked</a> in international waters (the ships had no intention
of sailing through Israeli territory) about 80 miles (130 kilometers) off
the Gaza coast in an early morning raid by elite Israeli commandos. The
attack was conducted after Israel cut off all communications from the
ships and
<a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37442104/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/">
surrounded</a> the flotilla with over 20 naval vessels and warships,
along with multiple helicopters. In addition to the 45 highly-trained and
heavily-armed
<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/01/gaza-flotilla-eyewitness-accounts-gunfire">
commandos</a> who rappelled onto the largest ship, the Turkish-flagged
Mavi Marmara, murdering at least 9 civilians and wounding about 60 more,
about 650 other Israeli troops, including surveillance and support troops
alongside those who actually boarded the ships, took part in the illegal
assault on the flotilla.<br><br>
The Mavi Marmara carried 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid on board
including 6,000 tons of cement, more than 2,000 tons of iron, 100
prefabricated houses, 500 wheelchairs, crutches, medical equipment, wood
and glass for building, electric generators, water purifiers, a mobile
dental care facility, and food and had even been
<a href="http://http//blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/06/01/evidence-belies-israeli-claim">
confirmed</a> not to be transporting any weaponry by authorities before
its departure.<br><br>
Another aid ship, the
<a href="http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/a-look-at-the-mv-rachel-corrie.html">
MV Rachel Corrie</a>, carrying 550 tons of cement, 20 tons of paper for
printing school books, 25 tons of school supplies, 12 tons of sports
equipment and 150 tons of medical supplies, was also
<a href="http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2010/05/the_legal_posit.html">
illegally</a>
<a href="http://firedoglake.com/2010/06/05/mv-rachel-corrie-seized-passengers-kidnapped-by-israel/">
seized</a> by the Israeli Navy a few days later.<br><br>
On June 24, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an
"easing" of the four-year-long Gaza siege,
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/netanyahu-to-human-rights-activists-sail-to-tehran-not-gaza-1.297914">
declaring</a>, "Today, after we lifted the civilian blockade of Gaza
there is no reason or justification for further flotillas."<br><br>
Israeli newspaper, <i>Ha'aretz</i>
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/government-approves-plan-to-dramatically-ease-gaza-blockade-1.297327">
reports</a> that "The highlight of the new policy is to be the
creation and distribution of a detailed 'black list' of goods that will
not be permitted into the Gaza Strip," continuing that, now,
"Only weapons or 'dual-use' materials that could be used to
manufacture weapons will be on the list. Any item not on the list will be
permitted into Gaza."<br><br>
As a result of this new policy, items such as
<a href="http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90777/90854/7035660.html">
car parts, agricultural and fishing tools, cosmetics, perfumes</a>,
<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=177943">soda, juice,
jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy</a> are now
being imported into Gaza.<br><br>
Nevertheless, the siege has
<a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0621/breaking30.html">
not ended</a>. Even though coriander, chocolate, and Coca-Cola are now
allowed through Israel's military checkpoints, goods such as cement,
steel, iron, fertilizers, gas tanks, drilling equipment and water
disinfectant are still
<a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCndRPRq3gD9GP6FNO0">
prohibited</a>. In fact, <i>The Los Angeles Times</i>
<a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/06/world/la-fg-israel-gaza-20100706">
reveals</a> that "the new list of banned and restricted items, which
fills several hundred pages, still includes goods and supplies vital to
Gaza's economic recovery."<br><br>
Consequently, Karin Laub of <i>Associated Press</i>
<a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ioi_0jtO9RjMwPNRoXNCndRPRq3gD9GP6FNO0">
reports</a> that "because Israel will continue to ban most travel
and exports and restrict the import of desperately needed construction
materials, the new rules are unlikely to restore the territory's
devastated economy or allow rebuilding of all that was destroyed in last
year's war [sic]."<br><br>
In short, Israel's ongoing
<a href="http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11357.shtml">crime
against humanity</a> in Gaza continues. As long as Israel maintains its
military control of Gaza's economy, land and sea borders, airspace,
restricts (or outright denies) the freedom of movement of its 1.5 million
imprisoned inhabitants, and continues murdering Palestinians with Apache
helicopters, F-15 and F-16 bombers, unmanned drones and
<a href="http://counterpunch.org/cook07132010.html">remote-controlled
machine guns</a>, Gaza will not be free.<br><br>
If the
<a href="http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-weighs-responses-to-barrage-of-international-criticism-1.301562">
negative international attention</a> Israel received after the Mavi
Marmara massacre led to the so-called
"<a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37442104/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/">
easing</a>" of the Gaza siege, there's no telling what a constant
barrage of boats might do. Therefore, until this collective punishment of
innocent civilians ceases completely and Israel is
<a href="http://www.salon.com/news/israel/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2010/07/09/israel_gets_away">
held accountable</a> for its crimes, more boats must continue to sail to
Gaza. Among those boats should be a massive American contingent, funded
by bold and steadfast believers in self-determination, human rights, and
international law. We have paid for the Israeli oppression of Palestine
for so long with our tax dollars, it's now time to fight for Palestinian
freedom with our tax-exempt donations.<br><br>
And so, to all you stars of summer blockbusters and sold-out stadiums,
start giving generously so that a fleet of blockade-busting boats can
start their engines.<br><br>
<br><br>
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