An Iraq Veteran on the Gaza Flotilla Massacre
Generally I take much more time with my writing but at this point I do not feel like there is time to wait until I can edit this and clean it up. I must speak now. There will be time for more eloquent pieces later. As a veteran of US Marine Corps and the occupation of Iraq, I have no ethical option but to speak out against the occupation of Palestine by the State of Israel, as it is so similar and so closely related to the occupation of which I was a part. I encourage all Veterans who feels the same to lend their voices and speak out against these occupations and stand firmly behind the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen in their resistance to these wars and occupations.
On May 21, 2010, unarmed peace activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, with representatives from over 40 nations carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged, impoverished Gaza Strip was attacked and had their vessels raided in international waters. Israeli commandos killed between (reports as I write this say) 10 and 20 civilians and injured dozens more. Though this incident pales in comparison to the daily violence that the people of Palestine face, it has laid bare for the world what Israel is and how it operates.
The United States and Israeli media assert that the commandos were “attacked” by the peace activists on board. This is an impossibility. The commandoes were boarding a ship in international waters. This makes the Israeli commandos the attackers, and not the attacked. Both country’s media continue to claim that the activists were planning a violent mission against Israel. They claim they found sling shots and kitchen knives and that the peace activists used poles to beat the commandos during the raid. What sense does it make that peace activists would gather so many resources, convene from all around the world, 600 or 700 strong, from all walks of life, declare their itinerary, and then set sail to “provoke” the Israeli Navy armed with kitchen knives and sling shots? Continuing their role as eternal martyrs, after the raid, the State of Israel went about the task of portraying these commandos, some of their best they say, a victims of violence from the peace activists whose vessels the were speed roping onto with guns.
The State of Israel has asserted that the activists could not have been peaceful because they were given the option to turn the supplies over to the State of Israel and that it would distribute the supplies through channels that it approves and refused. One of the problems with this is that some of the supplies that are prohibited include items such as: musical instruments, toys, heaters, cement, wood for construction, chocolate, vinegar, nutmeg, plaster, jam, sage, fishing rods, various fishing nets, ropes for fishing, fabric for clothing, tarpaulin sheets for huts, dried fruit, notebooks, etc. Such restrictions insult human dignity. Many of these items are necessary for obtaining the basic necessities, growing food, providing shelter. What good does it do the State of Israel to deny Palestinian children toys or chocolate, or Palestinian students a notebook? Another flaw in this line of reasoning is that if the State of Israel could be trusted to monitor and distribute humanitarian aid in a reasonable way, there would be no need for a humanitarian aid mission. Israel is one of the world’s most consistent violators of human rights and international laws. Sixty-five per cent of the population is food insecure. What should make anyone think that they this time, they would treat the Palestinians with dignity and compassion?
“Anti-semitism” is often used to shut down deeper discussion about the conflict between the State of Israel and the people of Palestine. Palestinians are semitic people, whereas most Israelis are of European descent. Not only can support for the people of Palestine not be considered anti-semitic, but it also can not even be rightly called anti-Jewish. The State of Israel has no legitimate claim to representing the collective will of people of the Jewish faith. Many Jews within Palestinian land seived by the State of Israel openly reject zionism and a simple internet search can produce pictures of Jews burning the flag of the State Of Israel with no difficulty. Another tactic used to shut down reasoned debate is equating support for the Palestinian people with support for Hamas. The People of Palestine were living under apartheid and occupation, seeking liberation long before Hamas became the dominant political party in Palestine.
The State Of Israel imposes compulsory military service upon its citizens. This makes personal investment in the Israeli armed forces mandatory and thereby cultural. Not only does militarization harm the victims of wars and occupations but it also harms the occupiers.. In a society where military service is compulsory, and that military engages in gross human rights violations, it only follows that the society itself will become a society of traumatized people. The United States is starting to learn that as well as more and more veterans return from the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan dealing with Post Traumatic Stress and Combat Stress. To get humans to the point where they can commit such atrocities requires intense desensitization, dehumanization, and programming. When we engage in imperialistic, colonial, militaristic endeavors, we traumatize everyone involved.
As Americans and Israelis, we can not stand idly by as the occupations, these atrocities are committed with our money and in our name. As veterans, we must continue to encourage all Israeli and US troops to resist orders to participate in these occupations. They are illegal and unethical and they violate international law and even the lowest standards for basic human rights and dignity. Justice for the activists on the flotilla and for the people of Palestine must come swiftly and decisively. To fail to engage in resistance is to be complicit in genocide and suffering. Boycott. Divest. Free Palestine.
Peace, Love, and Anarchy,
Guerrilla News contributor Bobby Whittenberg is an Iraq war veteran turned Eco-Communist Anarchist. He offers a unique veteran’s perspective combined with an anarchist critique. He can be found online at his blog, Veter(A)narchy!