Today, Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron forthrightly told the House of Commons that the time had come to end the Gaza siege:
…Cameron told the Commons: “Friends of Israel – and I count myself a friend of Israel – should be saying to the Israelis that the blockade actually strengthens Hamas’s grip on the economy and on Gaza.
“And it’s in their own interests to lift it and allow these vital supplies to get through.”
He added: “We should do everything we can through the UN, where resolution 1860 is absolutely clear about the need to end the blockade and to open up Gaza.”
To indicate just how much on the defensive Israel is and how deafening the chorus must be in England against the attack, Israel’s ambassador all but said “we f’ed up:”
Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador, said: “It’s obvious, and I won’t beat around the bush on this, that, you know, this wasn’t successful and I think it clearly took up an issue that should have been solved differently.”
What is our dear progressive president doing? Nothing. The State Department’s P.J. Crowley danced rather lamely around questions put to him by a BBC radio interviewer and absolutely would not call for an end to the siege.
There may be some glacial movement indicated in this NY Times article:
The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.
…The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.
“There is no question that we need a new approach to Gaza,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy shift is still in the early stages…
Well, there you have it. British Tories get it right without any trouble at all, while liberal Democrats have to create focus groups, consult with Aipac, and get down on bended knee to Bibi saying “Pretty please.”
And note that Bronner talks of ameliorating the suffering by incrementally improving conditions instead of going whole hog and demanding the end of the whole rotten policy.
Contrast this with the alacrity with which Turkey acted to get its citizens returned from Israeli prisons today. Apparently, Prime Minister Erdogan understands Israel’s pressure points better than our own government.
The UN Human Rights Council, the same body which appointed Judge Goldstone to investigate Operation Cast Lead, voted to condemn the flotilla attack and open an investigation into it. Maybe they think the second time’s the charm. Will Israel learn its lesson from the last fiasco and decide to cooperate with the mission? Doubtful. Many Israelis saw the outcome of the Goldstone report and the damage it did to Israel’s image and tut-tutted that their government made a mistake by refusing to cooperate. Will anything change the second time around? We shall see.
A group of American rabbis has penned a statement of protest against the Flotilla attack and demanded an end of the Gaza siege:
We call upon our community not to turn away in denial or blame those of good will and good purpose who risked their lives to relieve the beleaguered people of the Gaza strip.
We lift up our voices and call upon Israel…to turn away from the policies of occupation, siege and indifference to international law.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.