Posts Tagged ‘Robert Naiman’

Rachel Corrie Continues Towards Gaza: Will Obama Let Israel Attack?

June 3, 2010

By Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy

The Hufington Post, June 1, 2010

How do you know when someone is serious about pursuing a strategy of nonviolent resistance until victory for justice is achieved?

When they refuse to turn back in the face of state violence. Damn the commandos. Full speed ahead.

The Irish Times reports:

The MV Rachel Corrie is ploughing ahead with its attempt to deliver aid to Gaza despite yesterday’s attack by the Israeli navy on Gaza-bound ship the Mavi Marmara.

The cargo ship, which has four Irish nationals and five Malaysians aboard, is due to arrive in Gazan waters tomorrow, a spokeswoman for the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said.

The vessel became separated from the main aid flotilla after being delayed for 48 hours in Cyprus due to logistical reasons.

Nobel laureate Maireád Corrigan-Maguire, former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday, and husband and wife Derek and Jenny Graham are the Irish nationals on board.

Speaking from the ship today, Mr Graham said the vessel was carrying educational materials, construction materials and some toys. “Everything aboard has been inspected in Ireland,” he said. “We would hope to have safe passage through.”

Might the Israeli military attack the Rachel Corrie, as the Israeli military attacked the Mavi Marmara? Would the Obama Administration permit such an Israeli attack on the Rachel Corrie, as the Obama Administration permitted the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara?

Note that in particular, under international law, an Israeli military attack on the Rachel Corrie in international waters would be an attack on the government and people of Ireland, because the Rachel Corrie is an Irish-flagged vessel. As former British Ambassador Craig Murray recently wrote:

To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

One presumes that Michael Higgins, the foreign affairs spokesman of the Irish Labour Party, is well aware of these considerations, and that his statement about Irish government policy noted in the Irish Times article should be read in this light:

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Michael D Higgins today called on the Government to demand safe passage for the MV Rachel Corrie.

In a statement, he said some of those on the vessel had contacted him earlier today and had stressed they wanted to avoid conflict and to be allowed unload their cargo to help the residents of the Gaza Strip.

“The Minister for Foreign Affairs . . . must make it clear that any assault on the Rachel Corrie would be regarded as a hostile act against Ireland and a clear breach of international law that could not be ignored by this country,” Mr Higgins said.

In cities around the United States today, Americans will be protesting against the Israeli government attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. While protesting the attack on the Mavi Marmara, Americans should demand that the Obama Administration act to guarantee safe passage for the Rachel Corrie to reach Gaza.

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Will Obama Say Yes to Afghan Peace Talks?

May 8, 2010

Robert Naiman, The Huffington Post, May 7, 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is coming to Washington next week to meet with President Obama. Afghan government officials have said that their top priority for these talks is to get President Obama to agree that the U.S. will fully back efforts of the Afghan government to reconcile with senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban insurgency in order to end the war.

On the merits, saying yes to the Afghan government’s request for US support for peace talks would seem like a no-brainer.

Continues >>

US Press Ignores Egyptian Suppression of Gaza Freedom March

December 30, 2009

by Robert Naiman, CommonDerams.org, Dec 29, 2009

Cairo – The government of Egypt is taking a spectacularly hard line against international solidarity efforts in support of civilians in Gaza on the one-year anniversary of the Israeli invasion, blocking peace marchers from the U.S., Canada, and Europe from even approaching the Egyptian border with Gaza and blocking an aid convoy that has the support of the Turkish government from entering Egypt at Nuweiba. Even a peaceful protest at UN offices in Cairo was largely walled off from public view by Egyptian police.

It seems that any pretense of Egyptian government concern for the suffering of Palestinian civilians has been dropped, along with the pretense that there is anything less than 100% cooperation from Egypt and its US and European patrons with Israel’s program of punishing Gaza’s population for the political crime of having provided majority support to the Hamas movement in a legislative election.

Meanwhile there is largely a U.S. press blackout of these striking developments. A search of the New York Times and the Washington Post only turns up a tiny AP story on the websites of the Times and the Post.

As has frequently been the case, Agence France-Presse [AFP] pays more attention to these developments. On Monday, AFP reports that Hedy Epstein and other members of the Gaza Freedom March have begun a hunger strike to press the Egyptian government to allow them to enter Gaza:

An 85-year-old Holocaust survivor was among a group of grandmothers who began a hunger strike in Cairo on Monday to protest against Egypt’s refusal to allow a Gaza solidarity march to proceed.

American activist Hedy Epstein and other grandmothers participating in the Gaza Freedom March began a hunger strike at 1000 GMT.

“I’ve never done this before, I don’t know how my body will react, but I’ll do whatever it takes,” Epstein told AFP, sitting on a chair surrounded by hundreds of protesters outside the United Nations building in Cairo.

On Sunday, AFP reported on the efforts of the Viva Palestina aid convoy to enter Egypt, with the support of the Turkish government:

An aid convoy trying to reach the blockaded Gaza Strip through Egypt was still stranded in Jordan on Sunday amid Cairo’s refusal to let it cross through its territory.

Members of the convoy, which is led by British MP George Galloway, were however hoping for a solution thanks to mediation by Turkey to enter Gaza through the Red Sea port of Nuweiba, the most direct route.

The British-initiated aid convoy has at least been mentioned by the BBC, but NPR has not reported on the U.S.-initiated Gaza Freedom March.

Wouldn’t you be a little bit curious to know what explanations the New York Times and the Washington Post would provide for ignoring these developments? Why not send them a little note?

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy

The Gaza War is Completely Stoppable

January 2, 2009

by Robert Naiman

We have seen this movie before. In the summer of 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon. Replace “Hizbullah” with “Hamas” and “Lebanon” with “Gaza,” and much we have seen in the last few days is depressingly familiar. Once again, the Israeli military assault is justified on the basis of the need to stop rocket attacks on Israel, even though it is widely conceded that this will not be the result. Once again, establishment voices in Washington give carte blanche to the military action, even though few believe it will accomplish its stated objectives, and everyone understands that it will impose a huge political cost for the United States around the world, especially in the Arab and Muslim world.

But, although one can only be sick at the repeated, completely unnecessary loss of life, there is a silver lining to the Lebanon precedent: international outrage in 2006 effectively forced the United States government into a corner, in which it finally could no longer resist a ceasefire. And there is no reason to believe that what happened in 2006 can not and will not happen again now.

The question is then how long it will take international outrage to build to the level necessary to force the US government to stop backing the Israeli military action, and therefore how many Palestinians and Israelis will needlessly die in the meantime.

In some ways we have a head start over 2006. No-one can now plausibly claim that there is something intrinsically wrong with a ceasefire, or that there is something intrinsically wrong with negotiating with Hamas to achieve a new ceasefire. After all, just over six months ago, Israel and Hamas negotiated a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, with the active encouragement of the United States. There was never any daylight between Israel and Hamas on whether a ceasefire was desirable; what was in dispute, and remained in dispute, was what the parameters of the ceasefire would be. Israel wanted the ceasefire limited to military calm-for-calm across the Israel-Gaza border. Hamas wanted the ceasefire to include significant easing of the economic blockade on Gaza and also to extend to the West Bank. These differences were finessed in the ceasefire agreement at the time, leading many to conclude that the disagreements would eventually explode the ceasefire agreement, as they now have.

But if you know this history, then you know that the statement “Israel had to act to protect its citizens from rocket attacks” is sorely lacking. Of course Hamas rocket attacks generated political pressure in Israel for a response. But was this the only possible response? If it was not the only possible response, was it the most effective response towards the stated goal? Among possible responses, was it moral and just?

After all, there is every reason to believe that the ceasefire could have continued and even been strengthened if Israel – and the United States – had been willing to ease the economic blockade of Gaza and extend the ceasefire to the West Bank. Since it was at least as likely – probably much more likely – that this would have done more to reduce and perhaps eliminate rocket attacks, it is reasonable to suggest that a key goal of the military assault is to maintain the economic blockade and maintain the status quo in the West Bank.

And, when you consider that former President Carter and other luminaries have denounced the economic blockade as an “abomination,” and that even Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has conceded that Israel must give up almost all of the West Bank in any political settlement, then it is extremely hard to justify the military campaign on the basis that it is necessary to defend the economic blockade, or the status quo in the West Bank.

And therefore it is likely that pressure can build more quickly now than it did in 2006, and fewer people will have to die. Already, “mainstream pro-Israel peace groups” in the US have spoken out in favor of an immediate ceasefire. Notably, J Street called not only for a ceasefire, but for lifting the blockade.

There are many ways to take action; you can write to President-elect Obama here and to President Bush and Congress here.

Robert Naiman is Senior Policy Analyst at Just Foreign Policy.

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