Brutal violence is commonplace. But usually it is not as public as the violent Memorial Day attack by Israeli Naval commandos on a flotilla of boats bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. The flotilla was designed to bring public attention to the plight of civilians of Gaza, and it has done so.
Israel's action, undisputedly in international waters, was an ill conceived act of piracy condemned by essentially every nation other than the United States. The seizure of the flotilla of civilian ships is the consequence of a government committed to defending the inhumane siege and blockade of Gaza --- rather than defending Israel itself.
The United States is Israel's primary friend. But when a friend does something so clearly wrong, it is our obligation to come to the aid of the victim. We must not only demonstrate that another path is possible but show that this other way is the right approach. To do otherwise serves neither the United States nor Israel.
There is no set of facts which justifies the deaths of civilians in this attack. Instead, faced with near universal condemnation, Israel is trying very hard to change the subject away from the humanitarian consequences of the siege, or away from its clearly illegal boarding of a ship far out in international waters, to instead focus on the resistance of a small number of people on the attacked ship.
These attempts to change the subject, or spin the facts, simply will not work. No doubt many more details will emerge in the coming days. But the unavoidable truth is that the flotilla was in international waters. Israel has no jurisdiction in those waters.
Today, the civilians of Gaza need support. Withholding food, medicine and building supplies from the million and a half civilians of Gaza because of the indefensible thuggery of Hamas is collective punishment that is illegal under the Geneva Conventions.
Israel's unprovoked attack on the flotilla has brought unprecedented international attention to the blockade and its humanitarian consequences. The United States stands alone on this issue.
There is only one international voice that has influence in Israel and that is the United States. The same ships that brought relief to Haiti can bring food and medical supplies to Gaza. The United States should set a very short deadline for ending the blockade. If the siege is not ended, then American ships should set sail. Rep. Brian Baird of Washington has already called for a modern Berlin airlift for Gaza.
Much of the naval might of the United States is in the Middle East. What better symbol of American honor and integrity than to divert a handful of those ships to delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Would Israel dare stop and board American relief ships?