First published in the Intellectual Conservative

Setting the record straight about the flotilla

By Maurice Ostroff

Prominent flotilla activist Joe Catron admits publicly that the Flotilla is not a humanitarian operation, rather, in his words, it is of course a political provocation. In an article published on Palestine News Network and in several other media, he quotes Ran Curiel, whom he describes as Israels ambassador to the United Nations, as saying In our view, the flotilla is clearly a political provocation … since there’s no need for a flotilla to aid Gaza. Catron, a member of the International Solidarity Movement Gaza Strip, writes, his [Cureiels] conclusion is sound, if self-evident. The Freedom Flotilla is indeed a political provocation. Why shouldnt it be? And when has it pretended to be anything else? (For the record, Ran Curiel is not Israels ambassador to the UN. He is ambassador to the EU).

This candid admission raises the important question as to the priorities of those of the flotilla participants who are motivated by purely humanitarian considerations. Are they aware of the true objectives and the enormous costs of this international well-organized political operation? In view of the invective directed at Israel, one might ask too, whether the participants are aware of the fact that the blockade of Gaza is not conducted solely by Israel. It has been, and until now continues to be, a joint Israeli-Egyptian operation and since the change of government in Egypt, a loosening of restrictions at the Egypt Gaza border may be expected.

In an article in Liberal Conspiracy of February 26, 2011, Danny Williams asks an important question which has been ignored by others Is the second Gaza Flotilla really worth all the money being raised? He estimates the cost of hiring ships and buying supplies before a penny is spent on aid, at around 10 million euros, not including thousands of dollars on personal expenses and he asks rationally, isnt it time to question the logic of throwing more money into this PR abyss the organizers themselves concede this is about raising awareness and not humanitarian aid.

It is shameful to realize that this multimillion wasteful expenditure on a political provocation by humanitarians takes place in a world in which, according to the World Health Organization, one-third of the population is under-fed and one-third is starving, while the cost of one flotilla ship could supply lunch to a school full of hungry children every day for a year.

Yes there is still much misery in Gaza, but Gaza does not rate high on a relative scale of the need for aid. According to Bloomberg Business week of June 29, 2011, the economies of the West Bank and Gaza are heading for 8 percent growth this year, thats up from 7.2 percent in the West Bank in 2009 and 5.4 percent in Gaza. While some of the growth stems from improved investor confidence and the partial easing of restrictions by Israel, the main driver remains foreign donations.

The Palestinian Authority received $525 million of international aid in the first half of 2010, following $1.4 billion last year and $1.8 billion in 2008, according to World Bank estimates.

And the International Herald Tribune of June 27 reports that two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month, thousands of new cars are plying the roads, a second shopping mall, with escalators imported from Israel, will open next month and hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

Despite the disproportionate aid being poured into the territory, the well orchestrated campaign focuses on Gaza with its acknowledged terrorist Hamas government, while millions in real dire need of aid in Darfur, West Papua, Zimbabwe and many other countries are ignored.

According to the World Bank, every year 15 million children die of hunger and well over 500 million people are living in “absolute poverty in Asian, African and Latin American countries. The World Food Programme reports that more than 925 million people dont have enough to eat. 98 percent of them live in developing countries and
10.9 million children under five die in developing countries each year. Malnutrition and hunger-related diseases cause 60 percent of the deaths.

Can there can be any doubt that if logic and consistency were to prevail, every sincere humanitarian would prefer to spend the hundreds of millions that are wasted on this flotilla in alleviating the true devastating hunger that sadly exists in our unfair world, especially when one realizes that hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined and that one in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight?