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Getting away with violations
By Musa Keilani June 12, 2010
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Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas was shooting off her mouth when she said Jews should get out of Palestine, and she paid the price by having had to step down from her “prestigious” position. Effectively, the 89-year-old was repeating the ridiculous position of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, that the state of Israel should be dismantled and all the Jews who went there from Europe and other countries should go back where they came from.

What Thomas, who has Lebanese roots, should have said in the first place was that Jews have to get out of the Palestinian territories they occupied by using military force in the 1967 war. Well, her illustrious career that spanned 10 US presidents, beginning with John F Kennedy, came to an end with that remark that she made to a blogger. We do not know what prompted the question that was put to her — how she viewed the Palestinian problem — and whether it should have been put to her at all.

In any event, it is too late to make any difference. The pro-Israeli grip on the media remains as strong as ever.

The irony is that the Helen Thomas affair sparked more uproar in American circles than Israel’s deadly commando raid on May 31 against the international flotilla carrying aid for the besieged Gaza Strip.

And now we see Israel getting away with its violation of international law. What is even worse is a reported British-brokered deal under which Israel will relax its blockade of the Gaza  Strip in exchange for a scaling down of the scope of an investigation into the raid against the flotilla that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Indeed, Israel has already “relaxed” the blockade, and now it will now allow cookies, spices, potato chips and soda to enter the Gaza Strip.

It is an understatement that the “relaxation” is ridiculous. Still banned from entry are cement, steel and other materials to rebuild the Mediterranean coastal strip that was devastated in the 2008-2009 Israeli military assault. Thousands of homes were blown to bits in the Israeli operation. So were hospitals and schools, as well as sewage plants and other infrastructure.

The Israeli ban also includes raw materials for factories to operate and medical equipment. The Israeli move to “relax” the ban is said to be part of the “quid pro quo deal” with Western countries allied with Israel are already acting as if it is final.

Helping Israel along the way are the international media by portraying the Israeli move to allow potato chips and shaving cream into the Gaza Strip as a major easing of the crippling blockade.

And let us not forget the frantic games that Israel played in order to ward off international criticism in the wake of the May 31 raid. It doctored video and audio tapes suggesting that the pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara — which was leading the flotilla in a bid to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip — were armed and had attacked the Israeli commandos first. Never mind that the activists were exercising their right to resist unknown and hostile forces from boarding their ship in international waters.

Then came the charge that a “separate” group linked to a “terrorist” organisation — read Al Qaeda — were aboard with a plan to attack the Israeli commandos and they were responsible for the bloodshed that ensued.

That charge was made by none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself. However, in the face of the international ridicule the charge drew, the Israeli propaganda machine did a spin and suggested that the Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara had “terrorist” connections.

All said and done, what we are seeing today Israel  bluffing its way out of punishment for its actions and it is backed by its powerful friends in Europe.

That is indeed a slap in the face for the rest of the international community, which is still seeking to recover from the shock caused by the Israeli raid against the Gaza aid flotilla.

A scaled-down scope of an investigation into what happened aboard the flotilla will mean that the truth about the Israeli raid would never be known. Israel will never be held accountable for its arrogant defiance of international law and the deaths and injuries that its action caused among civilians who only wanted to bring to focus its inhuman blockade of 1.5 million people.

Indeed, Israel got away with its brutal assault on the  Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009 that killed nearly 1,500 Palestinians, including women and children. Surely, it will get away with the unprecedented assault on peace activists in international waters. But it reaffirms Israel’s record as a ruthless bully which could not care less for international laws and conventions and which will go to any extent to have its way under whatever circumstances.

Let us hope there will definitely be a day when Israel will be held accountable by the international community as the accumulative effect of its crimes will make all those who supported it regret having backed Israel.

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