Of course the Flotilla is a political provocation

As the launch of the Freedom Flotilla – Stay Human approaches, increasing numbers of Zionist officials and commentators illuminate the depths of their moral and intellectual bankruptcy by arguing that it is a political – not humanitarian – project.


Ran Curiel, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, offers an example as good as any other. On May 10, he actually went to the trouble of calling a press conference in Strasbourg to offer this conclusion. “In our view, the flotilla is clearly a political provocation … since there’s no need for a flotilla to aid Gaza,” he said. “You can pass whatever you want to Gaza through normal channels.”

Curiel’s reasoning leaves much to be desired. Nobody seems entirely clear on what can enter Gaza through his “normal channels,” namely the Erez Crossing, and a large majority of its necessities continue to arrive at a high premium via tunnels from Egypt. And humanitarian opposition to the siege has always had more to do with its crippling effect on Gaza’s economy than its obstruction of aid. Due to the impossibility of legally importing most goods, or exporting nearly anything, unemployment now reaches 45%, and 300,000 people survive on a dollar a day.

Nevertheless, his conclusion is sound, if self-evident. The Freedom Flotilla is indeed “a political provocation.” Why shouldn’t it be? And when has it pretended to be anything else?

Like its predecessors, from the successful Free Gaza boats of 2008 to the Freedom Flotilla that suffered lethal violence by Israeli commandos in international waters last year, this Flotilla is an unabashed act of solidarity with a people fighting colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and apartheid.

The Flotilla targets the denial of Palestinian self-determination, not a humanitarian crisis. It aims to break the siege, not only because the siege causes hardship for Palestinians, but also because it obstructs their inherent rights to determine their collective destiny, and that of their historic homeland. The goal is not a reliable flow of international charity, or even a functional economy, but rather Palestinians’ sovereignty over their own coasts and territory.

Efforts to obscure these obvious truths, by holding the Flotilla to some other standard that it has never aspired to meet, are part of a Zionist “big lie,” a myth that its tellers hope will carry the weight of truth because its listeners believe it.

Zionists would have us accept that any effort not loyal to their regime must be apolitical and rooted only in charitable impulses. In the narrative they hope to spread through their frequent observations of the obvious, theirs is the only acceptable side, and strict neutrality the only possible alternative. Nothing else may exist within the strict parameters of thought and action they seek to impose.

But let there be no mistake: All of us who are part of the Flotilla effort, in ways great and small, have chosen a side, and it is not theirs. We stand with the people of Palestine in their struggle for equality and self-determination. And unlike architects of Operation Cast Lead and apologists for the Nakba, we have nothing to hide.

Flotilla organizers have hardly kept this a secret. In a June 24 statement, the Free Gaza Movement “reiterate[d] that our effort is not simply about delivering humanitarian aid. The goal of the Flotilla is not aid; it is freedom for Palestinians in Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. As such, there are no ‘established channels’ for freedom – there is only one – an end to the Israeli occupation.”

In more ways than one, Zionists criticizing the Flotilla as a “political provocation” share the mentalities of those who condemned the Salt Satyagraha or the Montgomery Bus Boycott for similar reasons. These efforts were also indisputably political and provocative; salt marchers could have simply paid the British tax, while Rosa Parks would actually have reached her destination more quickly by moving to the back of the bus. That these, too, were “political provocations” is equally obvious, and no less beside the point.

And the point, for the Freedom Flotilla, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and countless related efforts to rally support for embattled Palestinians, is one of solidarity with a liberation struggle, not charity for helpless victims. As the late Juliano Mer-Khamis told The Electronic Intifada about his own Jenin Freedom Theatre:

We are joining, by all means, the struggle for liberation of the Palestinian people, which is our liberation struggle. Everybody who is connected to this project says that he feels that he is also occupied by the Zionist movement, by the military regime of Israel, and by its policy. Either he lives in Jenin, or in Haifa, or in Tel Aviv. Nobody joined this project to heal. We’re not healers … We are freedom fighters.

His words also describe Flotilla participants, and growing millions of supporters of the Palestinian cause. Yes, out solidarity is political. Yes, it is provocative. And unlike the racism and oppression of Zionism and its enablers, there is nothing shameful about it.

Photo: A promotional image for “Freedom Flotilla 2″. [Cau Napoli, Flickr]


Joe Catron
Joe Catron is an American activist in Gaza, Palestine, where he organizes with Palestinian popular struggle groups and international solidarity networks, particularly around the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) and Palestinian prisoners’ movements. His writing and photography have appeared in Al Akhbar, the Alternative Information Center, Counterpunch, the Electronic Intifada, Ma’an, Mondoweiss, Z Magazine, and other regional and allied media.
  • http://m022u2@earthlink.net PissedOffAmerican

    If one googles the current “news” surrounding this latest flottilla, it is painfully obvious that the Israeli’s are foreshadowing a violent response by the IDF. Their hasbarists and propagandists are already claiming “extremist” elements on the ships are smuggling “chemicals” on board with which to kill IDF soldiers…..


    The Israeli propaganda, and apparent attempts to sabotage some of the ships….


    …..stand alone in the degree of loathing they have earned by such tactics. But even worse is the complicity these worms in the State Department and the United States Congress exhibit by their callous lack of concern for the welfare of American human rights activists engaged in legal and moral peaceful protest.

    And bringing up the rear of this despicable train of embarrassing american worms, are the journalists, think tank heads, blog administrators, and media moguls who abet these Israeli attrocities committed almost daily against Palestinian and international activists engaged in peaceful protest. Media silence is simple complicity. And advancing a false narrative is more than complicity, it is actual wanton participation.

    If there is any issue that Americans should hang their heads and be ashamed of, our complicity in the crimes of Israel committed against the Palestinian people certainly jumps to the forefront of the list.

  • http://m022u2@earthlink.net PissedOffAmerican

    Does anyone else read the Palestine Note?? What a shame this site is not more widely participated in, and “marketed” in a manner that improves its readership.

    And the management of the site??? What, it takes a complaint from a reader to remove thirty some wackjob comments from an irritating spammer named Saduon?

    Even one of the founding fathers of this site, Steve Clemons, seems to have abandoned the effort to support the site. A visit to his site, TWN, you will find NO mention of The Palestine Note, and more often than not, you will find an ad pushing the false narrative of the Israeli hasbarist machine. Yesterday, I even found a Glen Beck ad at TWN.

    I strongly suggest clicking on the Christian Scientist Monitor article I linked to above, and read the comments under the article. THAT is the degree of ignorance, false narrative, lies, and revisionist history that is the very ESSENCE of what the American public thinks they KNOW about Isr/Pal. Yet I see no large scale, or organized, effort to match or counter the Israeli misinformation. Those of you that claim “support” for a free and soveriegn Palestinian State are apparently not up to the task. How are you countering the MASSIVE Israeli propaganda machine? In those comments at the CSM, you can detect an OBVIOUS contribution of organized Israeli propagandists, masquerading as “regular folk”. Where are the Palestinian counter efforts at sites like CSM????

    I got news for you folks, (as if you need it). Most Americans AREN’T coming here to the Palestine Note. They are reading sites, getting their “information”, and commenting at, sites such as CSM’s.

    If you don’t get your message out, get the truth out, you will NEVER have a state. And you are failing miserably. This site’s lack in the participation of its readership implies a sad fact; It doesn’t really have much readership.

    Wise up and get busy. You’re losing the PR war. Badly.

    And tell Clemons to man up and do the right thing when he gets over there to the Atlantic. That could be one hell of a sounding board for you folks.

  • http://cblackmon@palestinenote.com Editor

    We’re currently working on moving the site to WordPress so that we can better manage our content, as well as the comments on our site.

    But we also need readers like you to tell us where you think we need improvement. So fear not, your concerns have been duly noted and we are working on a solution that will hopefully come before the end of the summer!

    In the meantime, if you’d like to forward any other concerns, you can contact our COO at cblackmon@palestinenote.com

  • http://jrmaceachern@upei.ca Jill

    The Gaza Flotilla’s goals are not peaceful, I believe they are trying to gain more attention and publicity. Israel has every right to defend their country, just like the United States would. I would like to invite you to check out Prevent the IHH Flotilla Towards Gaza http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prevent-the-IHH-Flotilla-Towards-Gaza/117646254988615

  • http://m022u2@earthlink.net PissedOffAmerican

    “The Gaza Flotilla’s goals are not peaceful”

    Why, because the hasbarists claim so? I have seen NOTHING from those such as yourself, and the Israeli bullshit mill, that provides ACTUAL EVIDENCE that the flotilla participants are going to engage in violence or arms smuggling.

    In fact, ISRAEL has already engaged in ILLEGAL acts with their successful attempts to sabotage participating vessels.

    BTW, isn’t Israel the rogue and terrorist state that MURDERED Americans on the “Liberty”? Uh, gee, remind me again, why should we trust you to tell us the truth, or not to engage in false flag actions designed to cast these peace activists as “terrorists”?

    Emily Henochowizc??? Tristan Anderson??? Rachel Corrie????

    You’ve blown your wad, “Jill”, your credibility, with anyone paying attention, rates a big ZERO on the trust meter.

    If theres anyone one thing we can take to the bank, is that Israel will resort to lies and subterfuge in order to justify what they are about to do.


  • http://m022u2@earthlink.net PissedOffAmerican

    From The Jerusalem post. Read it fast, before they get rid of it……..


    An Excerpt…….

    The Prime Minister’s Office threatened to ban foreign journalists for 10 years and confiscate their equipment if they dared report from aboard the ships. It also publicized a YouTube video made by a Tel Aviv actor pretending to be a foreign gay activist telling how he’d been banned from the flotilla. Israeli agents, presumably, sabotaged one of the Gaza-bound ships docked in Greece. “Senior officials in Jerusalem” claimed to have intelligence that flotilla activists planned to throw sulfur on IDF soldiers coming aboard and light them on fire.

    Regarding that last item, Yediot Aharonot’s Alex Fishman, dean of Israeli military correspondents, wrote Wednesday: “There isn’t a shred of substance to the report that extremist elements will put up violent resistance to IDF soldiers aboard the flotilla. Neither is there any clear information regarding deadly weapons on any of the ships. It can be assumed that this is considered a possibility – along with many other scenarios and possibilities that come up in brainstorming sessions among military and intelligence officials preparing for the flotilla. But when a possibility such as this gets turned into a fact within the context of the Israeli hasbara campaign – this can boomerang and show Israel to be lacking in credibility.”