Tuesday, October 05, 2010

First Book on Gaza Flotilla Counters Most News and Official Israeli Accounts Of Mavi Marmara Raid

The Israeli soldiers boarded at night in international waters, which means that they were by definition aggressors who cannot claim to have acted in self-defense.

Peter Certo, Foreign policy In Focus, Sep 28, 2010

Photo Credit: freegazaorg

Published less than two months after Israeli commandos boarded an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza and killed nine activists, Midnight on the Mavi Marmara is, in the words of editor Moustafa Bayoumi, “the first book about the attack,” but “will likely not be the last.” This collection of some four dozen essays from eyewitnesses and “activists, novelists, academics, analysts, journalists, and poets,” serves many purposes. Some essays are expressions of simple outrage. Others probe more deeply into Israel’s broader political strategy in the region and its human costs for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Author and Harvard scholar Sarah Roy’s essay offers a detailed and rigorous accounting of Gaza’s humanitarian and economic woes, while well-known academic and blogger Juan Cole’s excellent contribution emphasizes the deeper problem of Palestinian statelessness, the political fact of which the Gaza blockade and even the Israeli occupation itself are merely symptomatic.

But perhaps most urgently, and certainly most befitting a work so quickly assembled after the incident, the book’s eyewitness accounts from activists aboard the flotilla and essays from their sympathizers represent an attempt to recapture a narrative of the event. As their testimonies indicate repeatedly, Israeli soldiers confiscated laptops, cameras, and other recording devices when they arrested and detained the activists for several days. This enabled Israeli public relations officials to fill a vacuum of information about the event and the parties involved with a media campaign described by filmmaker and flotilla activist Iara Lee as “aggressively dishonest.” Every eyewitness account in the book attests to several key facts. The activists carried no weapons. The Israeli soldiers boarded at night in international waters, which means that they were by definition aggressors who cannot claim to have acted in self-defense. They fired on the flotilla before boarding and without warning, and several of those killed were shot multiple times from close range in the back or back of the head.

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