By Ann Wright
Israel is hard at work to stop international citizen activists groups from 22 countries that form the Gaza Freedom Flotilla from sailing in less than 3 weeks to bring international attention to Israelâ€™s brutal siege on Gaza. As a part of Israeli government propaganda, the civil society to civil society project is purposefully and wrongly portrayed by the Israeli government as sending weapons and â€œmaterial supportâ€ to Gazaâ€™s democratically elected government headed by Hamas, a group Israel and the United States have designated as a terrorist organization.
Extensive investigations by the United Nations, Turkey and even the Israeli government concluded there were no weapons on any of the 6 ships of the 2010 flotilla and that the cargo was consigned to non-governmental organizations in Gaza. But, the Israeli government never lets truth get in the way of its propaganda machine!
Israelâ€™s massive diplomatic offensive on European countries, Turkey, Canada and the United States that strongly demands that countries not allow ships and passengers to sail has been followed by a new type of warfare called â€œlawfare.â€
Instead of direct military â€œwarfare,â€ the Israeli government and its front organizations AIPAC and the Shurat HaDin Law Center are using lawsuits filed against insurance and satellite telephone companies that may sell equipment to the flotilla organizers and against citizen activist groups that have raised funds to purchase ships as strategies to attempt to stop the flotilla.
AIPAC joins Israeli government attack on the Gaza flotilla
On June 2, New York City corporate attorney Neal Sher, the former executive director of the most powerful lobby in the United States, the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC), filed a lawsuit in Toronto, Canada against the organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza for â€œraising funds and providing material support to Hamas.â€
The lawsuit was on behalf of a Canadian-Israeli citizen and asks for an interim and permanent injunction to stop the Canadian Boat to Gaza initiative â€œfrom continuing to raise funds, purchasing equipment or supplies, and purchasing or renting a vessel for the purpose of delivering goods or funds to the Gaza Strip.â€ The lawsuit also wants to block the Canadian grassroots group â€œfrom sending goods, funds or any other material support, directly or indirectly, to Hamas or any of its representatives, and/or from aiding and abetting Hamas by assisting in bringing imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip.â€
In addition, the Canadian-Israeli citizen, 68-year old Cherna Rosenberg, wants $1 million in damages â€œfor trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of the defendantsâ€™ conspiracyâ€ from the time she lived in the Israeli town of Sderot, where she â€œendured the constant and relentless mortar attacks emanating from Gaza.â€
The lawsuitâ€™s aim is to continue the Israeli governmentâ€™s six decade control over the economic future of Gaza by refusing to allow the export and import of goods by sea and the free movement of Palestinian people without the approval of either the Israeli or Egyptian government.
One would hope that a counter-suit by a citizen of Gaza would be brought asking for millions of dollars in damages for the daily attacks on Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces â€œfor trauma and injuries suffered as a consequence of Israelâ€™s aggression on civiliansâ€ in all parts of Gaza where â€œthey endured constant and relentless attacks by F-16s, Apache gunships, naval bombardment, drones, white phosphorus, dense inert metal explosive bombs and countless other weapons.â€
Lawsuits in the US against companies offering services to participating ships A second lawsuit attempts to prevent the flotilla from sailing by bringing lawsuits in the United States against companies that provide services to ships in the flotilla.
Shurat HaDin Law Center, reportedly an independent non-profit organization but certainly supporting and working for the policies of the State of Israel, sent letters to worldwide maritime insurance firms and satellite communications companies, warning that companies that provide services that assist in the breach of the Israeli blockade on Gaza will be sued in the United States for aiding the Hamas terrorist organization.)
Shurat HaDinâ€™s Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner demanded that mobile satellite services company Inmarsat, one of companies that provides communications and navigations services to ships that sail in the region, refuse to provide their equipment and services to ships participating in the flotilla. Darshan-Leitner said, â€œWe informed them that if they do so, they will be in violation of the American Neutrality Act, which prohibits aiding a group in their struggle against the military of an ally country. Since Imarsat has offices in the US, the law binds them.â€
Shurat HaDin has also sent letters to 30 of the top maritime insurance companies in the world announcing the law centerâ€™s intent to sue if the companies provide insurance to ships participating in the flotilla.
Relentless campaign of false information used against the flotilla
In a relentless campaign of using the false information about the flotilla, including that there were weapons on ships of the 2010 Gaza flotilla, Darshan-Leitner said â€œ…Maritime insurance companies insuring the boats utilized by the Gaza Flotilla surely have no idea that the passenger boats that they are indemnifying are being used by the organizers to run the coastal blockade, violently challenge the IDF and smuggle weapons into Gaza. No legitimate insurance company nor its shareholders would reasonably agree to insure an expedition like that. We have begun to send letters placing the maritime insurance companies on notice concerning the Gaza Flotilla, and warning them that if they provide insurance (a necessary component in the effort to smuggle contraband to the terrorists) that they themselves will be legally liable for any future terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas.â€
Lloydâ€™s, the worldâ€™s largest maritime insurance company, reportedly said that they would not insure ships participating in the flotilla.
Lloydâ€™s Senior Manager of International Regulatory Affairs, Andy Wragg responded to Shurat HaDinâ€™s letter, â€œAs you correctly point out in your letter, Hamas is subject to UK and EU terrorist-financing sanctions. As such, any vessel identified as being owned or controlled by that organization would not be permitted to be insured by underwriters at Lloydâ€™s, or any other EU insurer. The Lloydâ€™s Market has robust systems in place to ensure international sanctions are followed, and therefore any underwriter identifying an insured or prospective insured acting on behalf of, or for the benefit of Hamas, would not insure such a risk.â€
However, none of the ships of either the 2010 or 2011 flotilla have any connection with Hamas and no amount of false Israeli propaganda can change the truth. Although the truth is not what much of the commercial media is concerned with.
Force is not the Best Way to Stop the Flotilla
Darshan-Leitner commented, â€œWe ..think that the war on the flotilla should not be left for the Special Forces to fight alone. There is no need for Israeli soldiers to repel down ropes in order to stop the next flotilla â€“ all thatâ€™s needed is some courage and original thinking. There are various ways to prevent, postpone, limit and avert the danger â€“ and force isnâ€™t always the best way.â€
We Agree-Force is not the Way to Stop the Flotilla-Ending the Naval Blockade is!
On this, we agree with Darshan-Leitner.
Force is not the way to stop worldwide condemnation of Israelâ€™s blockade of Gaza. The way to stop the flotilla is to end the naval blockade of Gaza!
Until the blockade ends, the flotillas filled with citizens from around the world will continue to challenge Israeliâ€™s brutal policies and United States complicity in them.
Ann Wright is a 29-year, US Army/Army Reserves veteran, who retired as a colonel and a former US diplomat. She resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was a member of the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book â€œDissent: Voices of Conscience.â€ www.voicesofconscience.com
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