8 June, 2010 — Current Affairs Monitor
Lost at Sea
In rejecting UN and EU proposals for an independent inquiry into the Gaza Flotilla Incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that “it would create a problematic precedent”. It would indeed: the dangerous notion that Israel is accountable to the international community and is subject to international law as the rest of the world defines it.
There is only one rule of International Law applicable to Israel, a rule established by the persistent, deliberate and knowing ‘customary practice of Nations’, and backed by an endless succession of lawyers: the rule that Israel is exempt from international law. No other State is so authorised to argue entirely opposite principles of law in the same case, or to argue that black is white and white is black.
As a result of 60 years of condoned illegalities, of flagrant violations aided and abetted, one piled on top of the other, every concept or precept of international law relating to war, sovereignty and human rights in relation to the Middle East conflict has been corrupted and deranged beyond meaning. No international lawyer can now define what Palestine or the Palestinians are as a legal entity. It is impossible to determine if Israel and Palestine are in a state of armed conflict. The terms ‘State’, ‘belligerent’, ‘territory’ or ‘blockade’ have no meaning or can mean anything. The hopeless wreckage that is Gaza today well illustrates the wreckage that is international law. Israel, with the connivance of the West, has obliterated the legal content of every single concept of international law that might possibly assist the Palestinians. This is the legal corollary of its attempt to obliterate the Palestinians from History.
7 June, 2010 — FAIR
‘No humanitarian crisis,’ some media figures claim
The May 31 Israeli attack on the Free Gaza humanitarian flotilla has returned some media attention to the humanitarian crisis faced by 1.5 million Palestinians living under Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip. But some media figures have sought to deny the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza at all.
The Gaza Strip remains an ongoing humanitarian catastrophe on numerous levels. Israel has banned imports like cement that are necessary to rebuild Gazan infrastructure–including homes, hospitals and roads destroyed in Israel’s 2008-09 invasion (U.N. Development Program, 5/23/10). Water and sewage systems in Gaza are in dire need of repair, and have rendered most of the drinking water unfit for consumption (Amnesty International, 10/09).
Gazans rely on international food aid, but malnutrition and related problems have become more serious as the Israeli blockade has intensified; some 10 percent of Gaza’s residents suffer from chronic malnutrition (U.N. World Food Program, 12/09). The blockade has severely affected the Gazan economy, with skyrocketing unemployment and a dramatic decline in per-capita income (London Independent, 6/5/10).
Nevertheless, U.S. corporate media featured numerous confident assertions that there was no need to worry about humanitarian conditions in Gaza:
“But there is a larger issue here. What exactly is the humanitarian crisis that the flotilla was actually addressing? There is none. No one is starving in Gaza. The Gazans have been supplied with food and social services by the U.N. for 60 years in part with American tax money.”
–Charles Krauthammer, Fox News (5/31/10)
“But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza at all!”
–Monica Crowley, Fox Business Network (6/2/10)
“But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens.”
–Daniel Gordis, New York Times op-ed (6/3/10)
“I just had an expert on, a congressman, Mike Pence, from Indiana, who is an expert on this issue as well. He said, look it, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. People are eating in Gaza. There is medical aid. You are talking about paper, crayons and olive trees, and placing basically your volunteers in a potential situation where they could be hurt or even killed.”
—CNN’s Drew Griffin, interviewing Free Gaza’s Greta Berlin (6/2/10)
“If you walk down Gaza City’s main thoroughfare–Salah al-Din Street–grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt. Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States…. Gazans readily admit they are not going hungry.”
–Janine Zacharia, Washington Post news article (6/3/10)
“Even though Israel has managed to stave off a humanitarian crisis by allowing the entry of food, fuel and medical requirements, to the world it was engaging in a policy of collective punishment.”
–Martin Indyk, Time column (6/14/10)
Such assertions echo Israeli talking points–such as Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s claim (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5/29/10), just before the assault, that the flotilla was “a provocation intended to delegitimize Israel. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” The facts as observed by independent organizations prove otherwise–and that’s what journalists should be reporting.