Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Stuart Littlewood views the British government’s unwillingness – as
evident from the statements of its ministers in Parliament – to support its
citizens' right to go about their lawful business delivering humanitarian
aid to besieged Gaza and to protect them from Israeli threats to slaughter
them on the high seas.
It doesn’t look good.
oh-so-moral international community, always poking its democracy-loving nose
into any trouble spot that might threaten Western security (whatever that
means) and always eager to mobilize its mighty weapons of war, is still
reluctant to operate on the cancer it foolishly implanted into the Holy Land
63 years ago and which now menaces the world.
Instead, our heroes
encourage it to grow and won’t even protect the “caring services” wishing to
sooth the excruciating pain suffered by the Palestinian victims.
London-based media centre “not up to the job”
And right now it’s disappointing to find that the Free Gaza Flotilla’s
new international media office in London is not up to the job. It issued its
first press release this week. An accompanying note told us that "the
steering committee decided it didn't want a unified media strategy" – a
fatal mistake, surely, when faced with an aggressive campaign of distortion,
disinformation and sabotage mounted by Israel and its
massive stooge network to scupper the sailings. It also mentioned a
letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron but didn’t make the text
available. And it revealed they still hadn’t written to the Foreign Office –
The press release announced that a boat packed with
Freedom Flotilla activists had sailed along the Thames to Westminster. MP
Caroline Lucas went ashore at the Houses of Parliament "to deliver a message
of freedom for Palestine" and afterwards "asked [Foreign Secretary] William
Hague what the government is doing to support the flotilla to Gaza".
No further details were given. So what exactly was the "message of freedom"
delivered to Parliament, and how was it received? And, most important, what
did Hague say?
Back came the reply: "Freedom for Palestine was the
message. Ms Lucas posed a question in Parliament. Our press release was
about our action and her involvement in it. You can look up Hague's response
in Hansard if you're interested but he didn't say anything we
wanted to repeat in that press release."
That’s the sort of attitude
that’s guaranteed to bury a release in a news editor’s wastepaper basket.
You don’t ask a high-credibility MP like Caroline Lucas to publicly pin down
a foreign secretary like Hague who’s a prominent cheer-leader for Israel,
and hide the result.
As for the flotilla's abrupt "Freedom for
Palestine" message to Parliament, at the very least the press office could
have beefed it up with a list of freedoms taken for granted in Westminster
but denied to Palestinians – like freedom of self-determination, freedom to
choose their own government, freedom to trade with the outside world,
freedom to come and go, freedom to work, freedom to attend university even
within their own country let alone abroad, freedom to worship in their holy
places, freedom to reunite with their families, freedom to travel for
medical care, freedom to fish in their own territorial waters, freedom even
to have a good night's sleep. The “packaging” possibilities are endless.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague’s answer to Green
Party MP Caroline Lucas’s question in Parliament “reads like
the work of Israeli speechwriters and rhymes perfectly with
the nonsense he has spouted before.”
Here’s how Hansard (29 June 2011: Column 969) recorded the
Caroline Lucas [Green
Party MP, Pavillion, Brighton]: Earlier today, Palestine solidarity
groups, politicians, teachers and others marked the anniversary of the
attacks on the Free Gaza flotilla last year by sailing down the river
outside Parliament and marking the launch of a new Free Gaza flotilla.
As the foreign secretary has previously said that the situation in Gaza
is unacceptable and unsustainable, will he tell us what further action
he is taking to help get the siege lifted, and will he do everything
that he can to get guarantees that this new flotilla will be safe from
Mr Hague: We have continued to take the action
that I set out in the House last year. We have urged Israel greatly to
improve access to Gaza. It has taken some steps, but those steps have
not been as fruitful as we had hoped when they were set out. Egypt has
now opened an important crossing into Gaza, which may also provide some
relief. The answer relies on the general lifting of a blockade of Gaza
and on a negotiated two-state solution in the Middle East. However,
embarking on new flotillas is not the way in which to bring that about.
We advise against all travel to Gaza by British nationals, which
includes people who may be thinking of boarding a flotilla to go there.
We hope that Israel will make only a proportionate response to any such
flotilla, but it is, nonetheless, not the way in which to sort out the
problems of the Middle East. Such problems require negotiations in good
faith by the parties concerned.
William Hague parroting Israeli speechwriters
Actually, Hague's answer is very useful because it reads like the work of
Israeli speechwriters and rhymes perfectly with the nonsense he has spouted
before. He insists that flotillas are "not the way". Well, what is? The
proper way to break a siege, which the UN itself calls “illegal and contrary
to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, is surely for the UN to
apply sanctions. Failing that, the right thing would be for UN warships to
break the siege – or for international civil society to do it escorted by UN
warships or by warships belonging to the nation(s) of the flagged
humanitarian vessels threatened with attack.
The proper way for
Israel to avoid trouble would be to end its illegal blockade and end its
illegal occupation of the rest of Palestine, and not interfere with
humanitarians going about their lawful business.
As for “negotiations
in good faith”, does William Hague think he’s talking to idiots? What
make-believe world is he living in?
A year ago, on 2 June 2010 after
Israel’s assault on the Mavi Marmara killing nine unarmed humanitarians,
including an American, Hague made similarly daft remarks in the House of
- "Our clear advice to British nationals is not to travel to Gaza."
Music to Israel’s ears, of course, as Hague helped to legitimize the
illegal sea blockade and armed assault against unarmed citizens in
- "We deeply deplore the loss of life…"
- "Their welfare [meaning the British nationals on board] is our
top priority."Hague knew of Israel’s intention to go to any
lengths, including the use of lethal force, to stop the mercy ships but
he took no precautionary action.
- He referred to "individuals who are allegedly involved in
violence against Israeli servicemen during the boarding", failing
to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli stormtroopers
dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness in
- "Restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed in
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860." Bravo, he gets
that right. But Resolution 1860 goes much further and calls for the
sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005
Agreement on Movement and Access, which provides for
- the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
- bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
- the building of a new seaport in Gaza
- reopening of the airport in Gaza.
- Eight months earlier, the European Council had repeated the EU’s
call for “an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings
for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and
from Gaza” and for “full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and
Access”. So, where is all that?
- "We will … continue to press the Israeli government to lift the
closure of Gaza, and plan early discussions ... about what more can be
done to ensure an unfettered flow of aid." Has unfettered flow
happened? Of course not. And it won’t happen without naval escorts
and/or sanctions. If Hague doesn't understand this he hasn’t been paying
Hague was challenged by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the straight-talking Jewish
MP, who pointed out that any one of the 37 UK citizens might have been
killed when the Israelis “committed a war crime of piracy in international
waters, kidnapping and murder – and all in pursuit of upholding an illegal
blockade on Gaza that amounts to collective punishment…” He asked Hague for
his assurance that further steps would be taken if the Israelis failed to
comply with the modest request that had been made.
sidestepped, saying: "It is our strong advice to British nationals, as it
has been in the past and will be in the future, not to travel to Gaza – let
me make that absolutely clear – as they would be going into a dangerous
situation, but it is absolutely wrong to maintain the blockade".
Jeremy Corbyn asked if it wasn’t time for sanctions such as revoking the
EU-Israel trade agreement. Hague replied that he did not think imposing
sanctions was the right policy – but gave no reason. So, no consequences.
Frank Dobson suggested that Britain and the other European members of
NATO should give naval protection if another flotilla were to set off for
Gaza, with the Royal Navy reverting to its traditional role of protecting
the freedom of the seas. Hague dismissed this too.
chicken coop happily clucked its approval as Hague handed the Israelis total
victory. As expected,a year later and there has been no improvement. Israel
is making the same murderous threats against the latest flotilla. And Hague
is making the same stupid remarks.
"Reckless to travel to Gaza”
“...instead of keeping the seaways open, it seems the
British government has colluded with Israel to put part of
the Holy Land off-limits to British pilgrims, humanitarians
and businesspeople, and has implicated itself in the
collective punishment Israel continues to inflict on the
Palestinian citizens of Gaza.”
A year before that, in July 2009, I received a letter from the office of
Britain's then foreign secretary, David Miliband, in reply to questions
about Israel's hijacking of the mercy ship Spirit of Humanity on the high
seas and the outrageous treatment of six peace-loving British citizens,
including the skipper. They were en route to Gaza, not Israel, had their
gear stolen or damaged and were thrown into Israeli jails. The letter said:
"All those on board, including six British nationals, were handed over to
Israeli immigration officials. British consular officials had good access to
the British detainees and established that they were treated well.”
That’s not what the peaceful seafarers were saying. They were assaulted, put
in fear of their lives and deprived of their liberty for a full week – a
long time in a stinking Israeli jail – for committing no offence.
The foreign secretary said
in the House of Commons on 30 June  that it was vital that all
states respect international law, including the law of the sea… We
regularly remind the Israeli government of its obligations under
international law on a variety of issues, including with respect to
humanitarian access to Gaza as well as Israel's control of Gazan waters…
Our Travel Advice makes
clear that we advise against all travel to Gaza, including its offshore
waters; that it is reckless to travel to Gaza at this time...
So, instead of keeping the seaways open, it seems the British government
has colluded with Israel to put part of the Holy Land off-limits to British
pilgrims, humanitarians and businesspeople, and has implicated itself in the
collective punishment Israel continues to inflict on the Palestinian
citizens of Gaza.
Fast-forward to this week and Middle East minister
Alistair Burt echoing his boss William Hague after visiting the Gaza Strip.
He told the
Jewish Chrinicle that he was opposed to the latest flotilla and that
the action by pro-Palestinian campaigners was a political gesture and a
challenge to Israel's authority. "There are better ways to do this in
humanitarian terms, and better ways politically."
What are these
"better ways"? Everyone would love to know.
And what exactly is
Israel's "authority" over who comes and goes in international waters, or who
enters or leaves Palestinian territory?
Burt also said: "I am here to
encourage the Israeli government and the Palestinians to get back around the
table." Hasn’t he heard? Everyone’s done with time-wasting “negotiations”.
The path to justice and peace is already set down in law and UN resolutions.
It's time to pursue that path and enforce those laws.
Is anyone safe in the international community’s hands?
“...I don’t believe a single member of our international
community has promised to protect the brave men and women of
the flotilla while in international waters from the vile
threats of the regime that committed wholesale murder
against the last flotilla..”
In case you're wondering, Burt used to be an officer of the Conservative
Friends of Israel, Hague has been a signed-up Friend of Israel since he was
a teenager, and Prime Minister David Cameron also counts himself a Friend of
Israel and says he’s a Zionist.
This unpleasant trio of supporters of
Israel’s psychopathic regime are just the UK tip of a sinister and menacing
Western-world iceberg. Nothing should surprise us about the behaviour of the
rest of the so-called international community.
community was happy to slap cruel sanctions on Iraq’s women and children for
12 years before bombing the hell out of them. The international community
has been happy to bomb the hell out of women and children in Afghanistan for
nearly 10 years. The international community is current bombing the hell out
of women and children in Libya and, I hear, using DU (depleted uranium)
ordnance for good measure.
The international community stood happily
by and watched Israel unleash its Operation Cast Lead blitzkrieg
against Gaza’s trapped civilians, killing 1,400, maiming countless more and
wrecking their infrastructure. Not a single aircraft carrier, destroyer,
Tornado jet or Apache helicopter was deployed in their defence, nor has
there been any move in the UN to sanction against Israel for its continuing
blockade of Gaza. Nor have there been any consequences for Israel’s
interception of the Mavi Marmara on the high seas, which the UN says was
"clearly unlawful". Even the International Criminal Court drags its feet.
Meanwhile, the international community has taken sanctions against Iran and
can’t wait to bomb the hell out of the Islamic Republic’s women and
"There is no greater priority, no more important
responsibility than the safety of all our citizens..." So said one of our
previous prime ministers and no doubt many other heads of state.
Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe a single member
of our international community has promised to protect the brave men and
women of the flotilla while in international waters from the vile threats of
the regime that committed wholesale murder against the last flotilla.
Indeed, the international community seems prepared to let Israel carry on
with its dirty work, its defiance of all laws and codes and its crimes
In the UK Cameron, Hague and Burt would do well to
remind themselves what it is they are paid and sworn to do – whether it is
to protect British citizens going about their peaceful and lawful business
on the high seas, or to further the lawless ambitions of a criminal foreign
regime that’s contemptuous of human values.
The British public know
the answer. If Israel harms a hair on the head of any Britisher aboard this
flotilla, or shows disrespect, Messrs Burt, Hague and Cameron may get the
roasting they so richly deserve.
I wouldn’t mind betting that the
same fate awaits Obama and Clinton if any American citizen is harmed this