U.S. Protects Free Speech for U.S. Citizens on Flotilla to challenge human rights violations in Cuba, but wants to prosecute those on Gaza Flotilla to challenge Israeli human rights violations
I guess considering the U.S. policy toward Cuba over the past 50 years, it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Coast Guard would protect the right of "free speech" of US citizens participating in a flotilla of boats challenging Cuban human rights violations.
Organized by a group called Democracy Movement, On December 10, 2011, 50 protesters in six boats, including an 85-foot vessel and a small security craft with about a dozen members of the media, sailed from Key West to explode fireworks off Cuba to mark International Human Rights day.
Flotilla organizer Ramon Sanchez said, "The purpose (of the flotilla) is to express, symbolically, our solidarity with the people who are peacefully struggling for democratic change on the island, and to protest the policies of the Cuban government."
While warning the flotilla participants not to violate the 12-mile territorial zone of Cuba, Rear Adm. Bill Baumgartner, commander of the Miami-based Coast Guard Seventh District, said...
"We will be watching carefully as they exercise their right to free speech, to make sure the situation remains safe."
No protection of U.S. citizens challenging Israel's human rights policies
The US Coast Guard and other parts of the US Government certainly don't have the same attitude toward US citizens who are protesting human rights violations by Israel. Instead, U.S. citizens are warned by our government that they may be investigated for links to terrorist organizations for protesting Israeli human rights violations of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
When the six-ship May 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the 10-ship Gaza flotilla of 2011 set sail to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, the U.S. Coast Guard did not warn the Israeli government that American citizens have a right of free speech concerning Israeli human rights violations of the Palestinians of Gaza, including the establishing an internationally condemned blockade.
Instead, upon their return to the US in June, 2010, a member of the U.S. Congress called for the arrest and prosecution of American citizens on the flotilla. According to The Hill...
"Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) -- one of Israel's staunchest defenders in Congress -- wants Americans who were aboard the Gaza flotilla ships prosecuted.
"On a conference call organized by The Israel Project on Friday, Sherman said that any U.S. citizen aboard the ship should be considered aiding Hamas, an Islamic extremist organization that controls Gaza. The U.S. State Department considers Hamas a foreign terrorist organization."
In 2011, 14 members of the US Congress introduced House Resolution 3131 that "directs the Secretary of State to submit a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization."
The legislation also requires that the State Department report on "Any actions taken by the Department of State to express support and gratitude for the principled stance taken by the Government of Greece to prevent the recent Gaza flotilla attempt to violate Israel's lawful blockade of Gaza."
Cuban government did not attack the flotilla and execute passengers
Tragically, the illegal and brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza mirrors the history of the illegal and brutal 50 year U.S. blockade and quarantine of Cuba.