FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why is Israel Terrified of a Ship Full of Women?

“We will not even bring cooking knives.”

– Samar al-Hajj, coordinator of the all-women Lebanese aid vessel Mariam

The bloody wake left by the Mavi Marmara after the May 31 Israeli commando raid has not deterred 50 female activists from trying to break the four-year-old siege of Gaza. To hear Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak speak of their planned relief effort, one would think the very existence of Israel was at stake.

The women plan to set sail aboard the Saint Mariam, a Bolivian-flagged cargo ship named in honor of the Virgin Mary, a figure sacred to both Christians and Muslims. Although they intend to depart from Tripoli, Lebanon, the crew is not only composed of multi-faith Lebanese but foreign nationals as well, including a group of nuns from the United States. So as not to give Israel pretext to attack, Hezbollah deliberately did not sponsor the mission nor were any members allowed to participate.

Its cargo? Books, toys, medical instruments and supplies, and most importantly, anticancer medication.

The ship cannot sail directly from Tripoli to Gaza since Lebanon and Israel remain technically at war (and Israel controls Gaza’s territorial waters) and thus must pass through a third country first. The Mariam was scheduled to leave for Cyprus last Sunday but authorities in Nicosia, capitulating to Israeli pressure, prohibited use of its ports for vessels departing to Gaza. Without the green light from Cyprus, Lebanon’s Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi was forced to cancel the voyage until another country with whom Lebanon enjoys maritime relations could be found. Negotiations with Greece are now under way.

Barak, however, was outraged at the very notion that Lebanon would even consider allowing the Mariam to sail, characterizing its mission as “… a provocation intended to aid a terror organization.”

He went on: “The ship that is preparing to sail from Lebanon has nothing to do with humanitarianism … If the ship insists on arriving, in opposition to the current blockade, Israel will be forced to stop it and bring it to the port of Ashdod.”

The Israeli delegation to the United Nations submitted a formal complaint to both the Secretary-General and the Security Council, indicating Israel reserves the right to use “all necessary measures” to prevent the Mariam—and the toys and medications it carries—from docking in Gaza.

No rational person believes the all-women crew presents a physical or armed threat to Israel, either by their persons or cargo.

So why is Israel so terrified of the Mariam?

It has nothing to do with the activists, Hezbollah or even Hamas. What it does involve is ensuring the continuation of collective punishment of Gazans, who continue to wither under a four-year material and economic embargo.

It is why innocuous items like wheelchairs, crutches, books, crayons, or even chemotherapy pose such a threat; any relief provided to Palestinians not under the direct jurisdiction of Israel jeopardizes its role as sole arbiter of deciding whether to enforce or relax punishment of civilians. Only the occupying power has this right.

Collective punishment is an illegal and heinous form of warfare, and Gaza’s Palestinians have suffered from it as retribution for overwhelmingly electing Hamas to govern in the January 2006 parliamentary elections.

If the Mariam is allowed to sail and Israel cannot find justification to stop the nuns, doctors, lawyers, journalists, human rights workers and a pop star aboard from landing—if they are permitted to break the siege—then the Gaza shore could soon become inundated with ships, vessels and relief flotillas from the world over. And the myth of Israel as invincible regional superpower would, yet again, be shattered.

This is why Israel is terrified of a ship full of women, and why they are being demonized.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri@yahoo.com

More articles by:

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail