Like a scripted show, the boat carrying activists and celebrities to Gaza was hijacked by the IDF, eliciting the expected responses everywhere. Rather than highlight the Gaza situation, this type of news tends to divert attention from it - which is, I'm afraid, exactly the calculus the Israeli govt. made when ordering the hijacking.
It is forgotten that the boat was sent on the 2nd anniversary of the complete blockade of Gaza Strip - where 1.5 million people live.
So a coalition of Israeli human-rights groups led by Gisha released a short film, reminding us that is is no reality show.
It is often forgotten that in Israel there is not only government, IDF and MSM; there is also a strong and committed (even if politically sidelined) human-rights community.
Much as lazy MSM reporters like NYT's Ethan Bronner want to make fun of the Israeli left, the community of on-the-ground progressive activists has remained strong and even grown this decade.
What did disappear, was the parliamentary "left bloc", which was always a misnomer because its dominant factions were never really committed to what would be described "left" or even "moderate left" in most democracies.
Anyway, the number of progressive activist groups keeps increasing, and not because of splintering; rather, it's because of new and important fields of activity. Gisha, founded in 2005, is a classic example. It deals mostly with Palestinian freedom-of-movement, especially focusing on Gaza.
Other groups sponsoring or participating in the production:
Btselem - the most reliable general source on the Occupation and its impact upon human life.
Association for Civil Rights in Israel - Israel's oldest human-rights organization (I think). Has been considered part of the mainstream, and has remained true to its principles this decade despite the immense un-popularity of holding such a stand nowadays.
Yesh Din - another relatively new organization focusing on law enforcement upon settlers who attack Palestinians.
Physicians for Human Rights (Israel) - an amazing NGO that is pretty much everywhere: acting on Occupation, helping foreign laborers, etc.
The Public Committee against Torture in Israel - another group that has been around for quite a while.
Adalah - an organization of Israeli Palestinians (a.k.a. "Arab Israelis") acting for equality, and also on behalf of their Occupied compatriots.
Hamoked ("Hotline") - a grassroots human-rights center based in Jerusalem, active since the 1st Intifada (I volunteered there in the early 90's).
We should also remember that Gaza has been under varying levels of partial blockade even before summer 2007 - essentially all the time since 1967. So it's not like they let the region "roam free", then it "misbehaved" and was placed in a cage. It has always been a cage under the Occupation. Here's a report released by Btselem in March 2005, in anticipation of the "Disengagement" fraud which actually left the blockade intact.
----- UPDATE ----
There has been this important comment/question near the top of the thread which I'd like to highlight.
And yet (3+ / 0-)
You frame this from the focus of the "Israeli left." Given that this seige is incredibly brutal and inhumane, is the "Israeli left" the slightest bit closer to ending it? Does the "Israeli left" have any support in the Knesset for such a move, or is the "Israeli left" taking any action outside of the Knesset that could bring about the end?
If that is the perspective, what are people here to do?
Here's my answer:
The true Israeli left
Does not rely on the Knesset. In fact, the Knesset has traditionally been a rather toothless body, yet one more distraction in the sea of distractions that is I-P politics.
The groups who did this film are busy being active on the ground, and trying to talk to the public directly.
In general, we do not seek to attract attention to ourselves - as much as to the problems that need to be addressed.
The end of the siege depends upon international politics. Enough pressure, correctly applied, will end the siege.
I am not an expert on international and American politics. So do whatever you think can help this end.
Here's the deal: we in the Israeli left are pretty good by now in figuring out I-P dynamics, including how the govt., the public, the IDF, even certain Palestinian actors would respond to given events.
We are also (with due modesty) pretty good at grassroots work.
What we are not so good at - and I'm afraid, I don't know who is good at - is figuring out the geopolitics and what would finally break this nightmarish catch-22 cycle of Occupation - terror - wingnuttery on both sides - etc.
here we need YOUR help. Please help any way you can. It is your business too, you know.
...and the thread continued...
Fair enough (2+ / 0-)
But I stand by my question. Even if you are not working directly within the Knesset, it is the Knesset (or, let us say, the Cabinet) which makes the decision to enforce the seige. If you are gaining ground on ending it, there should be some visible results on this political level. Does any major party support your position?
If not, then it may require outside pressure to end the seige. Perhaps the "Israeli left" needs to not so much call for outside support, but provide supprt to outsiders. A simple petition by Israelis to Obama asking him to help lift the seige would help show that the seige is not an Israel-v-Palestine issue, but a simple human decency issue.
I'm not trying to take away from the hard work you are doing under very difficult circumstances. But I don't really see where or how you will ever win and end the seige, at least not so long as Palestinians adher to their demands for a state. Since a don't see a Palestinian surrender coming, I also don't see a victory for the Israeli left coming, at least not until the entire two-state peace deal is reached. If help for Gaza comes before that, I fear it must come from outside.
Israel's Cabinet, Knesset, etc. (1+ / 0-)
are all a circus.
When push comes to shove the centers of power lie elsewhere.
And if push and shove come from Washington, D.C., the whole Israeli system rather quickly aligns.
Don't forget that Israel has no constitution, there is no real check-and-balance to slow down executive decisions (in either direction).
Again, to reiterate, it all boils down to the international situation.
Israel is a very small country, very dependent upon its ties with the West in general and the US in particular. As Naomi Klein very correctly pointed out recently.
The reason the right-wing has become so entrenched in Israel is the Garden of Eden it has lived in, courtesy of George W. Bush. This Garden of Eden (which is Hell for everyone else) can end pretty quickly if the world puts its mind to it.
Again (2+ / 0-)
I don't disagree with your political analysis, only with the part played by the Israeli left. From your analysis, a dramatic event (like sending an aid ship) that demonstrates how far out of the international norm Israel is (seizing a ship on the high seas is generally considered an outrage), would be just the kind of thing to generate the push and shove.
The quiet, behind-the-scenes organizing of the Israeli left seems less likely to do so. The only effective work of the Israeli left I really know about is exposing some of the grosser and more collusion between the government and the settlers, and also in supporting Palestinian activist in the West Bank on the ground. But as for Gaza, I haven't seen any effect from the Israeli left.
Well, you haven't been looking in the right place (1+ / 0-)
And maybe also you conflate the superficial image of Israel's "left" conveyed by Ethan Bronner et al., with the true left.
We are certainly not limiting ourselves to behind-the-scenes. Actually very little is behind-the-scenes. It is either on-the-ground or in the public debate that we work.
Groups like Btselem have been yelling from the rooftops about Gaza and all the other stuff, for years and years.
Thing is, the MSM sidelines us (in Israel and in America) and the political system ostracizes us.
If you start following these groups' websites directly (more links are in my blogroll) you will see what I mean.
And sometimes we do make the headlines (0+ / 0-)
It's not that we are not working on the right things. It's that the geopolitics have been tilted against us like a slippery vertical wall.
Take an analogy. Imagine that the US in the 1960's did not feel a pressure to be "leader of the free world" against the Soviet dictatorship alliance. Suppose then, that the Federal govt. under Kennedy-Johnson would be reluctant to act against the White South, at that time an integral part of the Democratic base.
How successful do you think the Civil Rights movement would have been under such conditions?
I saw headlines of the Seattle Times in 1964. King was still called there, "a radical Negro". Now Seattle is in Martin Luther King County.
There's a bit more, but I think you got the idea by now.
over and out...