May 31, 2010, Memorial Day, USA. What did Americans remember? Soldiers killed in war in order to glorify war? Where is the day of remembrance for those, mostly civilians, killed by soldiers in war who are rarely enemies?
Today Israel gives us reason to mourn with its pirate attack of a humanitarian flotilla; ships filled with desperately needed medical, food and educational supplies for Gaza. Israel's attack was made possible by Americans: the USA granted Israel $3 billion in military aid this year and for every one of the next nine years, to which the House of Representatives just voted to add $205 million in weapons.
While Israel claimed its commando forces were met with clubs and knives, live footage from the flotilla shows the humanitarians on board waving white flags at approaching Israeli forces. Missing from the news in the US is that Israeli commandoes entered the ship firing, while I saw footage where they were also firing from their hovering Apache attack helicopters. Initial reports from a European boat in the flotilla indicate that Israel opened fire on all boats leaving 16 dead including six Turkish nationals and 10 Internationals as well as 50 out of 80 wounded. The total death toll mounted to at least 20.
Throughout Memorial Day in the United States the television and radio news acted as a propaganda unit of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. We heard from the Israeli Ambassador to the US, and directly from the Ministry of Defense, about how the flotilla, which is actually an international humanitarian movement to bring aid to Gaza, was linked to Hamas - Islamic militants: key phrases the United States and Israel use to try to convince us that the flotilla was filled with terrorists.
This is the tired and abusive US-Israeli theme used to designate Hama as a terrorist group. It is used to cover Hamas's resistance to the Israeli blockade and obscure the reality that the majority of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas to govern Gaza. This effective propaganda tool spreads like wildfire: from identifying Hamas as terrorists, to Gazans as terrorists, to any Palestinians as terrorists - the term Israeli imposed on those they ethnically cleansed from the newly formed Israeli state in 1948.
A politics of guilt by association implicitly extends to anyone aiding Gazans. They are deemed to be terrorist supporters: as bad as being terrorists. It is all fiction - lying to cover Israel's massacre carried out with military aid from the US.
Even national public radio and television, which formerly was trusted for its reporting of the news, has become, not for the first time, the spokespersons for US-Israel bonding. Memorial Day was filled with their broadcasts complete with guests such as the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, but absent were representatives of the Free Gaza Movement giving an implicit message from American news outlets since the attack on the Flotilla took place.
Around the world, shock and grief, disbelief and anger mix, while the Unites States, deeply implicated in this attack, remains subdued and mostly silent with gratuitous and vague responses from its president about regretting loss of life. From his campaign to be president of the United States, Barack Obama has consistently sided with Israel and just as consistently remained silent in the face of Israel's attempt to starve those Gazans it does not kill outright in its US supported attacks on the territory.
One could be hopeful about the UN Security Council's condemnation of the attack, but another dimension of US-Israeli bonding is that both states refuse to abide by United Nations law and decisions. Neither state seeks required UN approval for their wars, for example, against Iraq, or against Lebanon. Nor does the UN sanction either state for their resulting war crimes.
For Americans who reject the US-Israel war bonding, and for those around the world better able to feel the pain and express outrage, the true lesson of Israel's actions today is that these kinds of brutal attacks are, and have been, the reality of everyday life for Gazans in the last three years since Israel’s blockade.
But the world does not notice unless Hamas fires some of its home-made missiles into Israel.
This attack today is nothing less than the perpetuation of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians begun by Israel in 1948 and continuing today, with support and aid from the United States. Where else did those Apache attack helicopters come from for this attack, which brings shame to and complicity on all Americans?
We must stand up against US government’s aid to Israel without which atrocities of this magnitude and endurance could not occur. Shall we, henceforth, mark Memorial Day as a day of remembrance for the attack on the humanitarian Gaza Flotilla until the US stops its military aid to Israel?