Neocons Fume Over US Boat to Gaza

Exclusive: At the behest of Tel Aviv and Washington, Greek authorities stopped a small flotilla from sailing to Gaza in a challenge to Israel’s four-year blockade of the narrow strip of land and its 1.6 million people. Now, apologists for Israel’s right-wing Likud government are heaping scorn on the passengers, as Ray McGovern notes.

By Ray McGovern

July 16, 2011

My co-passengers and I of the U.S. Boat to Gaza have now gone from “High-Seas Hippies,” according to the right-wing Washington Times, to participants in a flotilla full of “fools, knaves, hypocrites, bigots, and supporters of terrorism,” says Alan Dershowitz in his usual measured prose.

Poor Alan, he seems upset at our audacity not only to hope for humane treatment of the 1.6 million Gazans, who currently live under a cruel blockade, but to force the issue. To stop our boat before it could leave Greek waters, Israel’s Likud government gave itself a self-inflicted black eye and again brought the oppression of Gazans to worldwide attention.

This time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government did not even have to kill people to add to Israel’s growing “delegitimization” before the civilized world. Facing growing international condemnation, Netanyahu and his allies have reason to worry.

In recognition of our modest accomplishments, we U.S. boaters have now made it onto Dershowitz’s “Dishonor Roll!” At first reading of his intended insults, my laughter was uncontrollable. I’ve been called a lot of things before, but I cannot remember being labeled a “knave.”

Anyone know what a knave is? Does it have something to do with what Damon Runyon used to call “the Harvards,” among whom Dershowitz has long toiled as a law professor?

Dershowitz also lashes out at the American Jews onboard, including 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, with the shopworn epithet for Jews who dare to criticize Israel’s government as “self-hating.”

I suppose if I had criticized some of the ugly extremism in Ireland a few decades back, I would be a “self-hating Irishman.”

But the bottom line is this: Dershowitz’s Likud friends and their neocon chums in the Obama administration realize they have suffered a stinging and unnecessary PR defeat. They could easily have let our peaceful boat carrying passengers, media and letters of goodwill reach the isolated people of Gaza.

What we boaters appear to have accomplished is to provoke the mighty diplomats of Israel and the United States into a full-court press that brought renewed attention to the plight of the Gazans.

Greek authorities, already tied up in knots over their national financial crisis, had their arms twisted to thwart a group of humanitarians and peace activists including poet Alice Walker, retired Army Col. Ann Wright and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin from sailing a boat to Gaza.

By putting the issue of Israel’s blockade front and center, we also managed to force discomforted U.S. State Department spokespersons to dissemble about the legality of Israel’s illegal blockade. They ducked declaring something so clearly illegal legal, knowing that otherwise they would have invited international ridicule.

But caution. The injured-animal syndrome among the Likudniks poses distinct dangers for the people of the Middle East, the more so, as we watch President Barack Obama continue to let Netanyahu walk all over him.

U.S. Appeasement

Official Washington’s appeasement of the Likud Lobby seems to encourage Israeli leaders to believe that not only the U.S. Congress but also America’s lusting-for-a-second-term President will condone just about any action Tel Aviv might undertake. That makes the situation very volatile.

In my view, there is more danger, in present circumstances, that the extreme right in Israel will flail out in a very misguided way than there has been in several years. The Netanyahu regime is in a very defensive, reactive posture.

It certainly appears that the Likudniks, the U.S. neocons and some of the “Harvards” are running scared as Israel’s growing extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry becomes harder to perfume over with every passing day.

Beyond expanding settlements on Palestinian lands and resisting serious peace talks, Netanyahu’s government has taken to segregating not only Arabs from Jews but secular Jews from ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Plus, over the past two years, Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition has lost its co-opted ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt as well as the once-friendly Turks and bit-by-bit its legitimacy. This reality is finally sinking in. Tel Aviv, Washington and Cambridge see a significant weakening of Israel’s worldwide standing.

And, as for “delegitimizing” Israel, no one could do that job better than the Likudniks themselves the more so, given their penchant for knee-jerk overreactions and risible rhetoric.

The likely “legitimization” of a Palestinian state by the U.N. in September is being seen in some Israeli right-wing quarters as the last straw.

But Netanyahu’s thuggish regime still can count on influential apologists like Dershowitz to excuse whatever it does. Dershowitz and other neocon voices pipe up whenever Israel’s drift toward an unconscionable apartheid system is noted.

As part of that propaganda, we are now hearing, again and again, bizarre accounts about how wonderful life is for the Gazans. In his pro-blockade diatribe, Dershowitz depicted a fun-and-sun existence for these Palestinians, who are, in reality, trapped in what amounts to a squalid open-air prison.

Besides cutting the Gazans off from the world, Israel has strangled their economy by tightly restricting construction material needed to rebuild homes, businesses and schools damaged in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion, which killed an estimated 1,400 Palestinians, compared to 13 Israeli deaths.

However, to gloss over the ugly reality, Dershowitz selectively cites a recent New York Times article, which noted that construction material smuggled in from Egypt in the aftermath of Mubarak’s ouster is fueling a mini-boom in construction in Hamas-ruled Gaza and slightly lessening the jobless crisis.

Here’s Dershowitz’s slanted version: “According to reporting by The New York Times, Gaza has been thriving recently. Luxury hotels are being built; stores are stocked with food; beaches are filled with children; and life is far better than in neighboring Al Arish, which is across the border in Egypt.”

Yet, the few positives were only part of what the Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner reported. In the same article, he wrote, “So is that the news from Gaza in mid-2011? Yes, but so is this: Thousands of homes that were destroyed in the Israeli antirocket invasion two and a half years ago have not been rebuilt.

“Hospitals have canceled elective surgery for lack of supplies. Electricity remains maddeningly irregular. The much-publicized opening of the Egyptian border has fizzled, so people remain trapped here. The number of residents living on less than $1.60 a day has tripled in four years. Three-quarters of the population rely on food aid.”

Strangled Economy

The Israeli human rights group Gisha, which has campaigned against the closure of Gaza, notes that while Gaza now has adequate food supplies, “economic recovery is blocked by sweeping restrictions.”

Gisha noted that “The continued ban on export, construction materials, and travel between Gaza and the West Bank contradicts the 2010 Israeli government decision to facilitate economic recovery in Gaza.

At least 83% of Gaza’s factories are either closed or working at a capacity of 50% or less, according to the Palestinian Federation of Industries. The manufacturing sector cannot recover under the present Israeli ban on export.

“Even during the winter agricultural season, when Israel allowed the export of agricultural produce, the quantities were economically negligible: an average of two trucks per day, compared to the 400 trucks a day agreed upon in the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access.

“Israel has banned completely goods destined for Israel and the West Bank, even though prior to 2007, 85% of the goods leaving Gaza were sold to Israel and the West Bank.” [Emphasis in original.]

In other words, the situation for Gazans remains horribly bleak, although perhaps slightly less bleak now that Egypt is looking the other way on the smuggling of concrete, steel beams and other construction material.

Under international pressure brought about partly by earlier challenges to the four-year-old sea blockade Israel also has lightened up somewhat on the land transport of some goods.

But Dershowitz’s slanted argument is offensive for other reasons. Arguing that some people in the Middle East might be worse off than the Gazans is reminiscent of the claims by white South Africans that “their” blacks were better off than some blacks living in poorer parts of Africa, thus justifying apartheid.

Or the neocon musings in the United States some years back that slavery wasn’t so bad because Africans who were captured by European slavers and forcibly shipped to the New World had a chance for a better life more so than Africans who weren’t lucky enough to be put in chains, crowded into foul slave ships (where many died), sold to plantation owners in a strange land, and then be subjected to whippings, rapes, endless humiliations and lynching. Yes, the “upside” of slavery.

To tout a couple of “luxury hotels” being built in Gaza, some children at the beach and the possibility that some other Arabs might be more miserable than the Gazans as an excuse for the entrapment and collective punishment of 1.6 million people is the same kind of rationalizing on behalf of injustice.

As for Dershowitz’s insults toward me and the other passengers on our Boat to Gaza, the old saying surely applies: “Names can never harm you.” But we would all be well advised to keep a keen eye peeled for future sticks and stones.

We U.S. boaters have just begun; we will get to Gaza. But watch out for Israeli-sponsored provocations, which could become the prelude to even more violence in the months ahead.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A veteran Army officer and CIA analyst, he was one of the passengers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza, which was ready to sail in late June but was stopped by Greek authorities under intense pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv. Our boat, “The Audacity of Hope,” remains impounded at a military dock for now.

7 comments for “Neocons Fume Over US Boat to Gaza

  1. Otto Schiff
    July 22, 2011 at 00:56

    I dont like NeoCons, I dont like fascists like for example Netanyahu.
    I dont like religious nuts. I dont like Antisemites.
    I do like rational people.
    It is unfortunate that in Plestine/Israel the fascists are in charge.
    It takes two sides of good will to make peace.
    Even the “Superpower, USA has not learned that.

  2. felicia
    July 20, 2011 at 21:11

    Dear Ray,
    Today, I tried to access “TheRealNews”, and I got a “popup” that says it’s a reported “Attack Site”. There was nothing I could do to get around this. I am saddened, because I have donated to both that site and “Consortium News”. Freedom of Speech really does appear to be dead in USA. I guess some opinion I expressed brought the wrath upon me, or the cause of Truth and Justice is really dead after all. I hope you know about this. Obviously, I will think twice before again donating money that I could use to educate my children or save my grandchildren. They beat you up and dragged you out of Hillary’s speech, and today, they symbolically did the same thing to me. There is a name for that: Chutzpah.

  3. Walter
    July 20, 2011 at 13:24

    neocon = ANTI-Christ ………..
    You DO realize that “neoconism” was invented by a LEFTWING TROTSKYITE named Irving Kristol.
    “neoconism” is just CONNING conservatives into placing israel’s interests in front of America’a.
    What is a NeoCon? Neocon is a neo-conservative who began as LEFT-WING anti-Stalinist Trotskyists before moving to the “Fabian” right in U.S. politics. NeoCons have roots in the COMMUNISTIC Leon Trotskyist movement of the 1930s and 1940s. In the 1950s and 1970s that movement morphed into anti-communist liberalism. They MORPHED because they wanted to get JEWS the right to leave the USSR, they did not CARE about NON-Jewish-GOYIM. Today the NeoCons are embedded in the imperial right and militarism of the U.S. defense and foreign affairs departments.

    The “rapture” Prophets for PROFIT are ANTI-Christ DEATH CULTISTS. God/Jesus put you in this LIFE to learn “soul lessons”, to increase your consciousness to the point of Redemption. Hagee and his Ilk REJECT the LIFE God gave you, and dangle a “shortcut” in front of people, just as SATAN dangled Temptation in front of Jesus. Do not follow the ANTI-Christ lies of FALSE prophets. Their “shortcut” of cheating God’s lessons does NOT lead to Heaven, any more than cheating on school work teaches you the subject. Hagee, Robertson, the whole group, do NOT believe in anything except the MONEY they collect for leading their Flocks astray.
    These prophets for PROFIT are slaves to this, the material world. The Prince of PEACE told you his Kingdom IS NOT OF THIS EARTH, why do you refuse to LISTEN?!
    YOU “Zionist-christians” are being trained to REJECT Christ ….. and converted to Judaism.
    “As for the final result of the Messianic revolution it will always be the same…the nations will be converted to Judaism and will obey the law, or else they will be destroyed, and the Jews will be the masters of the world.” (G. Batault, Le probleme juif, p. 135; The Secret Powers Behind Revolution, by Vicomte Leon de Poncins, pp. 203-204)

    “Judeo-Christian” is an OXYMORON. WAR-God vs PEACE-God. The Old Testament followers worship a WAR GOD and spend their lives hating, reliving every imagined slight, and dreaming of VENGENCE ….. “NEVER FORGIVE and NEVER FORGET” …. they still go on about Egypt and Babylon after MILLENIA. New Testament followers (are supposed to) worship a loving, forgiving God, and to CLOSE the Old Testament, as it has been FULLFILLED by the Crucifixion of Jesus. If you are following the OLD Testament you ARE NOT and CANNOT be a CHRISTian. Jesus TOLD you “NO man can serve TWO masters”.

    Since when is Israel more important than AMERICA?! Study a list of all SPIES captured in America, 90% are Israeli. There is NO SUCH THING as Judeo-Christian …… It is OLD Covenant, NEW Covenant. The Jews refuse to ACKNOWLEDGE Jesus, and call him a B*astrd. OLD Testament, NEW Testament. The Jews refuse to ACKNOWLEDGE the NEW Testament OR the Spiritual EQUALITY of Christianity, therefore there is NO Judeo-in-Christian. Judaism worships a WAR god. Christian places Faith in The PRINCE of PEACE.

  4. LibertyTreeBud
    July 20, 2011 at 12:05

    Knave: An unprincipled, crafty fellow; A male servant; A man of humble birth; Likudniks, the U.S. neocons and some of the “Harvards”; America’s lusting-for-a-second-term President.

    Archaic, a dishonest man; rogue.
    Obsolete, a male servant.

  5. Rahman Hyder
    July 20, 2011 at 11:25

    dear ray

    thank you for your efforts.

    may God bless you and give you good health. you and your companions are among the best of humanity in these times.

    peace and love.

  6. James Mc Cann
    July 19, 2011 at 07:39

    My Dear McGovern, As a fellow Irish Knave may I congratulate you on becoming a “knave” The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines a “knave’ as a “rogue” or “scoundrel”. It’s a rather ancient English insult. I think “Cad” might be a more modern useage. It is of course a “Dastardly” insult. Welcome to the club. James, Toronto

  7. Alice Azzouzi
    July 17, 2011 at 00:35

    Thank you Ray, Ann Wright and the others who stepped out in faith that this would be the Flotilla that would break the seize, but as you and others come home dishearten but a desire of what can we do next to make a change. The next time is what I loved about Alice Walker poem when she said; my heart is longing for GAZA and her people. I was one of those who tried to go to GAZA through Egypt Dec 26th 2009. As usual Israel pressured Egypt to keep us out.
    One day Palestine will be free to live theirs as they please, governing themselves. It was Palestine in 1947 and there were over a million Arabs of which were 70% Christians. I know as everyone knows there must be a fair and justice peace for both Arabs and Jews As I, a Christian believe in God ability for making changes in our hearts and souls. I believe Arabs and Jews can live in peace with respect. All involved will have to give 60%.
    As any of us take a step or action in solidarity for the Palestinian people, we as those with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and those in South Africa Apartheid, must continue as they did until freedom is won.

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