Yesterday, with amazement, many of us around the world witnessed through a live-feed on the Internet how heavily armed sea pirates dressed in full military combat gear descended from Israeli military helicopters unto the decks of the Mavi Marmara a Turkish flagged humanitarian aid ship carrying hundreds of nonviolent peace advocates from around the globe.
These events took place in International waters, 100 kilometers off the coast of Gaza. The nonviolent peace advocates were on a life-saving mission to liberate the people of Gaza, from the open-aired prison imposed on them by Israel under the consent of its ally, the United States. After being surrounded by Israeli military vessels and with helicopters hovering over their heads, these courageous nonviolent peace advocates watched with amazement and terrorized, as Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara shooting randomly and killing and wounding many of the advocates on board. Following the massacre, the ship was taken to Ashdod port where those who survived have either been arrested awaiting deportation, or are being treated in hospitals across Israel.
As these events have unfolded, popular furor has grown across continents, and demonstrations have been witnessed in front of Israeli embassies around the globe. The UN Security Council has had an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, spokespeople of different states have expressed deep concern about the events, and as Israeli ambassadors stationed in different nations jitter at the possibility of being expelled, the group of elders the eminent leaders brought together by Nelson Mandela has condemned the attack as "completely inexcusable."
It was only a few weeks ago that the Israeli authorities denied entry to professor Noam Chomsky at the Allenby Bridge border crossing from Jordan to Jericho, in the Palestinian West Bank. Professor Chomsky was on his why to speak at Bir Zeit University. To many of us here in the West, at the time, it seemed bizarre that the Israeli government would commit such a foolish act, by barring academic freedom and freedom of speech in such an open and hostile manner. Professor Chomsky is after all, one of the world's most renowned academics, and without a doubt, a source of inspiration to many who are advocating nonviolently for peace. What was hard to imagine at the time of this incident, was that professor Chomsky's refusal of entry into the Palestinian Occupied Territories, although in one sense a continuity of Israeli policy against the Palestinian people and all who befriend them, also marked an intensification of Israel's open assault on the values and rights of the citizens of the broader international community.