[Marxism] Harassment at sea, real and surreal

Eli Stephens elishastephens at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 16 13:43:45 MDT 2009

With links and formatting: http://lefti.blogspot.com/2009/03/harassment-at-sea-real-and-surreal.html

In January, 2008,
a few tiny Iranian speedboats (preposterously described by the Navy
commander in the area as a "fleet") sailed near three large American
warships including two destroyers. The U.S. government proceeded to
make this into a major international incident, made to sound even more
dangerous because of some clown on shore broadcasting "we're coming to get you" in an ominous voice (as if a real
attack would be so accompanied). It was a manufactured incident filled
with false outrage (and clumsily-edited video) from start to finish.
Then last week
we had another incident of manufactured outrage, this one in China, as
a giant U.S. Navy ship (albeit an allegedly unarmed one in this case)
sailed in Chinese waters hunting for Chinese subs, and was "harassed"
by some much smaller ships who "dropped wood in the path" of the Navy
ship. Horrors. Another international incident which occupied the media
for days.

But there is very real harassment occurring at sea, every single day, as I had the opportunity to learn about the other night. Darlene and Donna Wallach are two local activists who sailed into Gaza
on the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty last August, breaking the
Israeli blockade of Gaza. Donna and Darlene remained in Gaza until
shortly before the Israeli invasion in December doing solidarity work,
getting shot at, and, in Darlene's case, getting arrested by Israel and deported for the "crime" of accompanying Palestinian fishermen on their boats.

why didn't Israel want Darlene and other internationals on those boats?
Because by being there, they witnessed one of the great unreported
cases of harassment (and worse) at sea which goes on, as noted above, every single day. The first thing to understand is the "law," for what that's worth (very little, obviously). A 1993 accord
between Israel and the PLO gave Gaza a "fishing zone" extending 20
miles out to sea from the borders of Gaza. In 2002, Israel unilaterally
abrogated that treaty, but signed an agreement with the U.N. committing
themselves to allowing Gaza fishing rights out to 12 miles. Since then,
subsequent unilateral declarations by Israel have moved that limit in
to six miles and then to three miles.

And what is actually
happening on the ground (or "on the water," in this case)? As witnessed
by Darlene and the other internationals, you can see for yourself what
happens in YouTube videos here, here, here,
and elsewhere as well. What you'll see is Israeli gunboats firing at
Palestinian fisherman, dropping grenades in the water, and firing water
cannon at the boats. The firing in the videos is harassment fire into
the water, but 14 Palestinian fisherman have been killed in the last
four years. You'll also see no windows on the boats, all the glass
having been blown out by the water cannons. And then of course there is
the occasional boat-ramming, something famously experienced by Cynthia McKinney a few months ago (video here).

how well known are these incidents? If you go to Google News, and type
in "Gaza fishermen," as I just did, you'll get just 44 hits (compared
to 617 for "extraterrestrial"). Not a single one is from a "mainstream"
Western source. If you type "Cynthia McKinney Gaza" you'll get a
whopping 8 hits, none from corporate media. "Darlene Wallach"? Just 4,
all of them from local papers about their current speaking tour; none
of them actual news articles.

Fake harassment? Big news. Real harassment? Not so much. Scratch that. Not at all.

I would be remiss, on this sixth anniversary of the Israeli murder of Rachel Corrie,
not to note that "harassment" (and, clearly, much worse) of peaceful
Palestinians and their international supporters occurs not only at sea,
but on land as well. In Ni'lin, where solidarity activist Tristan
Anderson was seriously wounded on Friday, four Palestinians have been killed
since last July while protesting against the confiscation of their land
for building the Israeli apartheid wall. Two other internationals were seriously wounded
in nearby Bil'in, also while peacefully protesting the construction of
the wall. Of Tristan Anderson, Israeli apologists will no doubt say
that there were people throwing stones (as if that should be a death
penalty offense); indeed, the local TV coverage of the assault on
Anderson was accompanied by just such stock footage. But eyewitnesses
report that the demonstration was wrapping up and that most people had
already gone home. No one was throwing stones and Anderson was just
taking some pictures. There's video here
which not only shows the sparseness of the crowd at the time of the
shooting, but also that Israeli forces continued to fire tear gas even as Red Crescent teams were engaged in administrating care to the fallen Anderson.

U.S. response? They're waiting for the Israeli investigation. Why can't
they conduct their own? Because, says the U.S. Consul General in Tel
Aviv, the West Bank is "outside of our consular district." Needless to
say it's outside everyone's "consular district," and even if it
weren't, there would be some other excuse not to conduct an independent
investigation. Do you suppose if an American citizen were killed in
Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Cuba the U.S. would say they were
waiting for the investigation by the government of that country? Hell,
they would have declared war by now.

Eli Stephens
 Left I on the News

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