Noam Chomsky on Israel and the Gaza Flotilla Attack: "Sheer Criminal Aggression, with no Credible Pretext"

For Immediate Release

Haymarket Books
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Sarah Macaraeg
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Noam Chomsky on Israel and the Gaza Flotilla Attack: "Sheer Criminal Aggression, with no Credible Pretext"

CHICAGO, Illinois - Professor Noam Chomsky, renowned
foreign policy analyst and bestselling author of Hegemony and
Survival and most recently of Hopes and
Prospects
 (Haymarket Books) offered the following statement to
Egypt's Al-Ahram regarding Israel's justification for it's attack
on humanitarian aid boats headed for Gaza and the broader context
regarding the economic blockade which the activists aboard the ships
were attempting to break. Chomsky, who is Jewish, was recently detained at the Israeli border and barred from
entering the West Bank for a planned speaking engagement, provoking an
international debate, and outrage over the issue of free speech in
Israel.

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing
passengers is, of course, a serious crime.  The editors of the London Guardian
are quite right to say that "If an armed group of Somali pirates had
yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10
passengers and injuring many more, a Nato taskforce would today be
heading for the Somali coast." It is worth bearing in mind that the
crime is nothing new. 
For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in
international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping
passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including
secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for
many years. 

Israel assumes that it can carry out such crimes with
impunity because the US tolerates them and Europe generally follows the
US lead. 
Much
the same is true of Israel's pretext for its latest crime: that the
Freedom Flotilla was bringing materials that could be used for bunkers
for rockets.  Putting aside the absurdity, if Israel were interested in
stopping Hamas rockets it knows exactly how to proceed: accept Hamas
offers for a cease-fire.  In June 2008, Israel and Hamas reached a
cease-fire agreement.  The Israeli government formally acknowledges that
until Israel broke the agreeement on November 4, invading Gaza and
killing half a dozen Hamas activists, Hamas did not fire a single
rocket. Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire.  The Israeli cabinet
considered the offer and rejected it, preferring to launch its murderous
and destructive Operation Cast Lead on December 27.  Evidently, there
is no justification for the use of force "in self-defense" unless
peaceful means have been exhausted.  In this case they were not even
tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose
that they would succeed.  Operation Cast Lead is therefore sheer
criminal aggression, with no credible pretext, and the same is true of
Israel's current resort to force.

The siege of Gaza itself does not have the
slightest credible pretext.  It was imposed by the US and Israel in
January 2006 to punish Palestinians because they voted "the wrong way"
in a free election, and it was sharply intensified in July 2007 when
Hamas blocked a US-Israeli attempt to overthrow the elected government
in a military coup, installing Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan.  The
siege is savage and cruel, designed to keep the caged animals barely
alive so as to fend off international protest, but hardly more than
that.  It is the latest stage of long-standing Israeli plans, backed by
the US, to separate Gaza from the West Bank.

These are only the bare outlines
of very ugly policies, in which Egypt is complicit as well.

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