The international community’s bowels are in an absolute uproar because of Israel’s mortal raid Monday night on a flotilla that had the announced purpose of breaking a blockade that kept 1.5 million people ill-nourished, lacking suitable housing and with the barest of medical care.
Let’s set the record straight up front: Hamas did not “seize” control of Gaza, as various media have claimed. In free and democratic elections, the party triumphed. On January 28, 2006, the United States Information Agency’s Voice of America reported:
“Initial results show the militant group Hamas has won an overwhelming victory in Palestinian local elections held Thursday in the Gaza Strip, winning nearly two-thirds of the local council seats in 10 districts. The results reflect the widespread support Hamas has in Gaza….”
Of course, Israel rejected the elections on the basis that Hamas denied the Jewish state’s right to exist. The Bush Administration went along condemning the militant group as illegal for the same reason. This was not the first time the White House decided to cancel results of elections it found inconvenient.
The United States became “the colossus of the North” for interfering in Latin America. In 1973, the Central Intelligence Agency engineered the assassination of Chile’s duly elected president, Salvador Allende; this country preferred Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who set up death camps in the manner of Germany’s Nazis. Equally, much of the bad blood that exists now between Teheran and Washington was generated when the agency conspired to return the shah to Iran’s throne, totally ignoring the people’s will and want.
This week’s killings on the Gaza-bound ship came from the same mentality that waited before announcing plans for massive housing in East Jerusalem until Vice President Joe Biden was in Israel. Basically, officials said, as Clark Gable did in the movie, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
All blame, in both cases, lands on the head of Benyamin Netanyahu. In reality, however, he was a long way from the Mediterranean this week, visiting Canada. In the same sense, later-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir certainly did not handle the gun that assassinated the United Nations mediator Count Folke Bernadotte, but the killers belonged to the Stern Gang, as did he. Upon his return Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu insisted that everything had been done “by the book;” he insisted there would be no change in the blockade.
Launching military assaults in international waters – reportedly 70 miles off the shore and in the night’s darkest hours – amounted to “state-sanctioned piracy” on the high seas, as it was called. It was tantamount to burglary. Lacking fire arms, the crew and passengers sought to repel boarders, as residents could reasonably be expected to defend their homes against criminals.
News reports this week quote the Turkish foreign minister as speaking of a “massacre.” While Jerusalem puts the best face on the situation, Ankara howls. As the Jewish state’s northern neighbor it offers legitimacy in the region where Israel has no one else; it is also vital to U.S. interests, providing the largest air base that supplies American armies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The din of protest rings around the world, not only from Muslim nations. But the important European community registered howls and indignation. Without Paris, London and Berlin, George W. Bush’s condoning the blockade simply would not have worked. Now they’re gone.
Since Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered Israel to lead its partners, England and France, out of the Suez Canal, no White House foreign policy action has been more important. Not only are the mid-term elections at stake, but the very backbone of Barack Obama.