Getting past blame on the Gaza flotilla disaster

It was like a game of chicken, only more deadly.

Hundreds of people on six vessels were determined to embarrass Israel and draw worldwide attention to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The Israeli government was determined to maintain its blockade of Gaza’s shores. After all, if this political protest group were allowed in, what would stop future ships from delivering weapons?

Neither side blinked.

Israeli commandos managed to take over five ships without drama. But on the sixth ship, violence erupted. At least 9 were killed. Seven Israeli soldiers were injured.

In the aftermath, a predictable war is being waged for American public opinion. “Pro-Israel” organizations are linking those on the flotilla with terrorist groups. “Pro-Palestinian” bodies are accusing Israel of committing a “massacre at sea.” Even Sarah Palin weighed in.

Some groups are showing that patience is the better part of valor, and are calling for a thorough investigation before casting blame.

But assigning responsibility cannot be the end of the story.  Those of us who really care about Israel, and about Palestinians, need to be looking ahead. “Winning” the blame game won’t help anyone.

Let’s start by recognizing that at the root of this disaster is the effort to restrict the flow of people and goods to Gaza. This effort was initiated by Israel (and supported by the Bush administration and much of the international community) after Hamas’ surprise victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections four years ago.

This policy failed to improve Israeli security. To the contrary, rocket attacks from Gaza at Israel escalated culminating in the 2008-2009 Gaza War.  And weapons continue to be smuggled into Gaza through tunnels that run under the border with Egypt.

The policy also failed to weaken Hamas.  Because the aid that Israel permits to pass through its crossing points is so limited, nearly all regular goods for Gaza must pass through Hamas-controlled smuggling routes, giving them leverage to consolidate their regime.   Today Hamas is even taxing these goods.

The policy has impoverished Gazans, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Poverty rates so high that the UN estimates that more than 60% of households are now food insecure. As a result of the blockade, Gaza’s civilians are suffering. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. A ban on smuggling weapons into Gaza can be sustained through an international regime without subjecting the entire population to misery, and without Israel adopting policies that are clear strategic liabilities.  Such a regime can also include mechanisms to guarantee Israel’s security needs (like crossing points monitored by international forces).

My organization is calling on President Barack Obama to show stronger leadership on this issue. To work with the international community — including Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority — to create a new security regime for Gaza, before more blood in spilled. I hope you will join this call.

Noam Shelef is Director of Strategic Communications for Americans for Peace Now and editor of the Middle East Peace Report. vai flickr/creative commons
By Noam Shelef


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.4 years ago

thank you

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K.4 years ago

The DNA of Palestinians is more Hebrew than the current Israelis and besides the Hebrews and Palistinans coexisted over the centuries in harmony till the Karzars from southern Russia decided to step in with the help of the British. The Land was originally peopled by a race called Hyksos who were expelled from ancient Egypt for killing the Pharaoh for not giving them the secret of the great pyramid. I think its time to realise we have been and continue to be fed lies about our history. Its time we all remembered that we are all one people regardless of our appearances. Also we need to remove the small group who just see us as cattle and continue to milk us of our assets by keeping us at each others throat.

Kali Rose
Khadijah Sunrise6 years ago

we won't solve any of this until we can talk peacefully and allow us all the find the solution that doesn't cost lives!

Jack B.
Jack B.6 years ago

Wow, Muhammad you are showing yourself as being a rather belligerent little minded individual.

Stephen G.
Jason T.6 years ago

So many people get all sympathetic for the "Palestinians" and Hamas. But non-jewish arabs don't have a claim to the land. It was the territory of the Jews. Then the Romans took it by force. Then Arabs took it by force. Then Europeans, ultimately the British took it by force. Then it was peacefully handed off the the natives.

I'm not here saying God gave Israel to the Jews, I don't believe that. But they I don't mind that after all these centuries they have their land back. Their aren't Palestinians. Their are just trouble making Arabs in Isreal . Yet people take their side, and the side of Hamas.

I bet if any of you had a actual encounter with Hamas in Gaza, you'd change your mind real quick if you lived that long. They are murderous brutes and terrorist.

I'm not a conservative or even religious, but these leftist peace-mongers get annoying, especially when they become hypocrites after supporting war-mongering terrorist for idiotic sentimental reasons.

Patrick O.
.6 years ago

Muhammed Tahir ""Was 9/11 perpetrated by Muslims as so many people believe? ASK URSELF.....find the truth...""

Your girlfriend Osama ADMITTED it he takes credit for it, tell me mohammed is your girlfirend osama a liar like you are ???

why would muslims admit to doing it, and then you spend so much time and energy with your bullshit conspircacy theories trying to deny it

yes muslims did it and you were celebrating it in the streets of no matter how hard you try to deny it, we KNOW you muslims did it

Patrick O.
.6 years ago

Muhammed wrote ""As a Muslim nothing would give me grater pleasure than wasting israel and killing all the fuckin israelis....esp .....U !""

YES WE know what excites you and we know you are a RACIST FACIST MUSLIM PIG.

would be pretty hard for you to take me, though cause 1) I am not jewish and 2) I AM NOT Isreali either, you are just to dense to know what you are talking to., which makes me laugh at how dense you really are.

Muhammad Tahir
Past Member 6 years ago

As a Muslim nothing would give me grater pleasure than wasting israel and killing all the fuckin israelis....esp .....U !

Muhammad Tahir
Past Member 6 years ago

yeah i am evil and one who worships satan aint .

Muhammad Tahir
Past Member 6 years ago

Was 9/11 perpetrated by Muslims as so many people believe? ASK URSELF.....find the truth...