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Enough, Mr. President:  The blockade of Gaza must end! - The African World By Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor


A year has passed since the Israeli aggression against the Gaza and we seem to be no closer to the blockade ending.  Despite the stinging indictment contained in the Goldstone Report to the United Nations that detailed war crimes committed by Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces—with the preponderance of the crimes being those committed by the Israelis—almost nothing has been done to compel the Israelis to end the blockade, investigate their own atrocities, and assist in the reconstruction of the Gaza.

I should not say “almost nothing.”  In the face of the Goldstone Report something was, in fact, done in the US Congress.  Anti-Palestinian forces in Congress went out of their way to smear the Goldstone Report, suggesting—without any evidence—that it was somehow biased.  They then orchestrated a resolution condemning the report.  So, “something” was done:  the aggression and blockade continue to be endorsed by the USA.

Which brings us to President Barack Obama.   Despite an eloquent speech to the Muslim world where, among other things, he suggested that the USA would not tolerate further Israeli settlement expansion into Palestinian territories, the Obama administration has capitulated to the Israelis, pure and simple.  Capitulation may even be too weak a word.  While the Obama administration sharpens its sword and prepares to push for (Israeli-endorsed) sanctions against Iran for the latter’s nuclear program, this same Obama administration has done nothing to end the collective imprisonment of Palestinians in the Gaza.  Israel continues to receive support from the USA despite repeated violations of international law and UN resolutions.  None of these actions seems to raise the ire of any US administration, including but not limited to the Obama administration, certainly in comparison with their response to the likes of Iran.

For what is the Obama administration waiting?  How much more bad news do they need from the Gaza? 

What makes the Obama administration’s inaction criminal is that it is actually not inaction.  The attempt at a Gaza Freedom March which was to have taken place January 1st in solidarity with the people of the Gaza was undermined by the Egyptian government.  After having initially agreed to permit a march, the marchers were confronted with a complete about face by the government.  The Egyptian government suggested that the proper papers had not been submitted and that there were alleged differences and disputes among the marchers.  This rationale was paper thin.

The rationale for the Egyptian obstruction could be the substance of another commentary.  For the purposes of today’s column, however, what is relevant is the role of the USA.  Given that Egypt is a US aid recipient of great significance, second only to Israel, there is little question but that a US nod would have made the Gaza Freedom March possible.  It is also just as likely that a US frown killed the march.

I happen to like to listen to the speeches of President Obama.  As mainstream politicians go, he is among the best of orators in recent times.  Yet I am equally sick of the speeches.  While many of us in the USA have celebrated the holidays and the arrival of 2010, the people of Gaza remain in complete misery, a misery that has been blocked from view.  The failure of the Administration to speak up against the anti-Palestinian forces in Congress when they attacked the Goldstone Report, along with Ambassador Susan Rice’s dismissal of the Report out of hand at the United Nations, has made this Administration complicit in the on-going atrocity taking place against the Palestinians.

We do not need any more speeches.  We need an end to the blockade.  If this Administration lacks the courage or political will to break the blockade, then it needs to actively get out of the way so that other nations and civil society groups can break it.

The Palestinian people, along with others in the global community, have been looking for something different from this Administration.  As far as Palestine is concerned, the only things that have changed when it comes to US policy are the words.  Yet one more Administration is prepared to bless the Israeli occupation and its human rights abuses as allegedly morally justified and ignore the violations of international law.

For those who allowed themselves to believe that the Obama administration needed more than a 24 hour (after the November 2008 election) ‘honeymoon period’ so that he would have the ‘space’ to do the right thing, the shameless approach toward Gaza, in particular, and Palestine, in general, should be a wake up call.  The bottom line is and always has been that if there is no pressure coming from Obama’s left, he will inevitably cave to pressure from the Right.  In that sense it is nearly irrelevant whether President Obama personally has sympathy for the Palestinians and their plight.  His Administration is what is at issue and his Administration, despite the initial fears of the Israeli government, has made it clear that Israel can pursue its genocidal course with barely a whimper arising from Washington, DC.

Enough! Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.


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Issue 357
January 7, 2010

is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield
Peter Gamble
Est. April 5, 2002
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