New Yorkers Join Worldwide Chorus of Condemnation of Israeli Attack on Flotilla
By Alex Kane
Chanting “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes,” while holding signs condemning what protesters called Israeli “piracy,” at least 1,000 people gathered in Times Square this afternoon and marched to the Israeli Consulate building. The demonstrators demanded an end to U.S. aid to Israel—which amounts to about $3 billion a year—and accountability for Israeli violations of international law like the attack on the flotilla.
A diverse coalition of Arab, Muslim, Jewish and left-wing groups filled the streets of New York with Turkish and Palestinian flags. The boat carrying 600 activists was headed by a Turkish aid organization, and the Turkish government unofficially backed the convoy.
“The attack on that flotilla was just an outrage, and I’m here both as a Jew and as a candidate for office to say this was an outrage and the United States has to condemn this in no uncertain terms,” said Jonathan Tasini, a Democrat running for the 15th Congressional district in New York, a seat currently held by self-described “unwavering supporter of Israel” Charlie Rangel. “It’s time to stop what has frankly been a one-sided policy towards the Middle East, and really, the United States shares part of the blame for what happened yesterday.” Tasini lived in Israel for 7 years of his life.
The protest in New York City was held while similar actions were held around the world. Activists gathered outside the White House in Washington, D.C., while protesters in Paris, Greece and Istanbul clashed with police. Left-wing Israelis held actions at the Ashdod port, which is where the six boats part of the flotilla were docked after the raid, and in Tel Aviv. In the occupied Palestinian territories, clashes broke out between Palestinians, internationals and Israeli forces, and a U.S. journalist was injured in her left eye by a sound bomb.
“Now the world is going to know what exactly is happening to the people of Gaza,” said Fida Qishta, a Palestinian from Rafah in Gaza and a journalist. “If this has happened to the internationals, what about the people who live there?”
Since 2006, Israel and Egypt have imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip. According to a recent Amnesty International report, the blockade of Gaza has caused “Mass unemployment, extreme poverty, food insecurity and food price rises caused by shortages [that has] left four out of five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. The scope of the blockade and statements made by Israeli officials about its purpose showed that it was being imposed as a form of collective punishment of Gazans, a flagrant violation of international law.”
Diplomatically, Israel has been condemned by a wide range of actors. The U.N. Security Council, in an emergency session called by Turkey, called on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. Britain called the attack “deplorable,” while Turkey said it was “inhuman state terror.”
But the Obama administration has stayed largely silent, and has only said, in a statement from the press office, that “The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today’s incident…The President also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning’s tragic events as soon as possible.”
“The Obama administration, like administrations before, have been on the wrong side of history,” said Remi Kanazi, a Palestinian-American poet and the editor of the book Poets for Palestine. “No matter how much Israel suppresses the Palestinian people, curbs their voice, bombs Gaza, history is still on the side of humanity.”
“This is in a long line of escalating actions Israel has taken in terms of attacking all kinds of human rights workers, nonviolent resisters, and humanitarian aid workers,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, the national director of Jewish Voice for Peace. “There’s absolutely no defense for this action.”
Emergency Protest at Times Square. Please be there!!!!!
Emergency Rally Monday, May 31, 3 pm, 47th Street & 7th Avenue
Follow-up Rally Tuesday, June 1 , 5pm, 42nd Street & 2nd Avenue
The Free Gaza flotilla of eight ships is underway, with the boats from northern Europe heading into the Mediterranean to join up with the boats from Turkey and Greece. Amazing things are happening! “… A 2000 ton cargo ship and fifty-person passenger ship owned by the European Campaign Against the Siege of Gaza, and Swedish/Greek Ship to Gaza campaigns left Athens to meet the Freedom Flotilla in international waters.
They follow hot on the trail of the cargo ships of Insani Yardim Vakafi (IHH’s) and Free Gaza’s MV Rachel Corrie. IHH’s remaining 1100 capacity passenger ship and cargo ship are to sail shortly from Turkey.
In Crete, the Free Gaza Movement is readying its two passenger boats for their imminent departure. ‘Al Samoud’ (The Steadfast’) and ‘Al Haya’ (The Ship of Life) were named by children from schools in occupied Gaza and Jerusalem… ” (From Free Gaza’s latest press release. Click here for more)
Israel has vowed to stop the ships “at any price” according to an Israeli security spokesperson. Israel has reportedly constructed a special prison camp to hold flotilla passengers. Meanwhile, the Turkish Prime Minister has warned Israel to keep its hands off the boats.
This will come to a head as soon as this weekend. The Free Gaza flotilla needs our support. News of the flotilla and Israel’s threats has been — surprise — blacked out by US media. You can read about it or hear about it in The Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian, BBC, AFP, etc. etc. but NOT in the US. Guess it looks bad for Israel to use American military aid to attack unarmed civilians, including Americans.
We need to break the story, and hold our own government accountable for what Israel is doing with US support and military aid. We need your support and presence.