US supports the siege of Gaza
by MainStreet, Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 12:01:00 PM EST
....and indeed undoubtedly gave the go-ahead for Israel's massacre of Gazan Palestinians a year ago.
That was on Bush's watch. But there is no evidence that Obama is following a different policy, which was clearly evident in American acquiescence during the recent Gaza Freedom March, which brought over 1,300 internationals, including Americans, to Cairo one year later.
In this report from Al Jezeera (the American press was no where to be found) during the protest, Egyptian security forces attempted to prevent 41 US activists from reaching the American Embassy in Cairo. Hoping to ask the American ambassador for help in reaching the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, these activist-citizens instead found themselves surrounded by Egyptian riot police.
One activist, Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, told Al Jezeera: "We met with a political rep. in the embassy, Greg Legrefo, and talked about the dire situation in Gaza and international complicity for more than hour .... but the bottom line is the US supports the siege of Gaza.” That the US Army Corps of Engineers is providing technical assistance to Egypt to build an underground wall along the Egypt-Gaza border to stop Palestinian tunneling supports that proposition. The tunnels bring in much needed albeit black market food and even medical supplies to the besieged population.
On New Years eve, Jean Athey, a Maryland grandmother and human rights activist, wrote this Op-Ed for Truthout about her experiences at the American Embassy in Cairo as a member of the Gaza Freedom March along with Abunimah. And she appears to have come if indirectly to the same conclusion: that the United States supports the siege of Gaza. There is no other conclusion can one draw from the events that transpired in Egypt this past week.
Obama's silence only added to the impression.
"This morning, I was at the US Embassy with a group of about 40 other Americans. We went hoping to see the ambassador, but instead we were surrounded by Egyptian police in riot gear and kept penned in for some five hours. The police told us that they did this at the behest of the American Embassy, but later the "political security officer" of the embassy denied it. So, who is lying? It is interesting that the French ambassador spent the night outside with the French protesters when they first occupied the sidewalk in front of their embassy, but the American ambassador refused to see us, apparently had us detained, and for no reason.
We went to the American Embassy to ask the US to prevail upon the Egyptian government and allow our nonviolent delegation into Gaza. The US has tremendous leverage with Egypt, of course, and if the US asked Egypt to allow us to go to Gaza, the border would surely be opened immediately. Three members of our group were allowed inside the embassy to speak to an American representative, while the rest of us were prevented from moving outside our temporary pen. Our spokespersons reminded the political officer with whom they met that when Barack Obama came to Cairo in June, he spoke movingly of the power of nonviolence as a way to resist oppression. The president said:"
"For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding."
"The Gaza Freedom March embodies that "peaceful and determined insistence" about which the president spoke. I wonder if the ambassador heard his speech.
In that same speech, President Obama acknowledged the dire circumstances of Palestinians in general and Gazans in particular. He said:"
"So let there be no doubt: the state of the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own ... Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security . . . Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress."
"And, yet, it seems that we Americans have turned our backs on the people of Gaza; we are doing nothing to end the siege, which is creating enormous suffering. We have done nothing to compel Israel to end the siege. Indeed, the US is presently facilitating a strengthening of the siege: it was announced last week that the Army Corps of Engineers is assisting Egypt in further isolating the people of Gaza by helping in the construction of a huge underground wall. This wall will cut off the only remaining sources of food, clothes, medicine, and all othera necessities of life, which now enter Gaza through tunnels from Egypt. How shameful that the US is working to increase the suffering of the people of Gaza rather than to diminish it."
"In his Nobel acceptance speech, President Obama said...."
Well it doesn't appear to matter what President Obama said, because it would appear that he only had words to throw at resolving this human rights situation. By his silence over the past week, and the actions of the American Embassy, President Obama has shown that the United States supports the siege of Gaza.
Should we be ashamed?
(Note: links, quotes not working)