To follow up on Phil’s disheartening post on the treatment of former U.S Ambassador Peck, who was one of a still- unknown number of Americans on the aid flotilla, the overall reaction to the abuse of our citizens has been strangely muted and flaccid — whether at the White House, Capitol Hill or in the corporate media. As the interviews start coming in through alternative sources, we hear so far that at least two Americans were beaten, and one female U.S military veteran, retired Col. Ann Wright, has first-hand knowledge of the physical attack on unarmed journalists and female activists around her on the ship Marmara. She told Democracy Now! yesterday that her fellow passengers were also stripped of their laptops, cameras, cell phones and the entirety of their luggage. After being “deported” from Israel, they were dumped in Jordan with the shirts on their backs. They found their luggage awaiting them — empty.
Yet instead of demanding an accounting — you know, like Turkey is doing for its own citizens — we have elected leaders trying to put Americans on that flotilla in jail.
On a press call hosted by a pro-Israel organization, Rep. Brad Sherman, Democrat of California, told reporters that he intends seek the prosecution of any U.S. citizens who were aboard or involved with the Freedom Flotilla.
“The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 [PDF] makes it absolutely illegal for any American to give food, money, school supplies, paper clips, concrete or weapons to Hamas or any of its officials,” Sherman said on the Israel Project call, conflating Hamas and Gaza’s civilian population. “And so I will be asking the Attorney General to prosecute any American involved in what was clearly an effort to give items of value to a terrorist organization.”
Sherman also said that he plans on working with the Department of Homeland Security to make sure that any non-U.S. citizen involved with or aboard the Flotilla are excluded from entering the U.S ….
The Congressman, known as a pro-Israel stalwart who has, in the past, joined as the sole Democrat on Republican criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy toward Israel, denied that there was a “hunger crisis” or “humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip. “The health circumstances in Gaza are better than they are in many American cities,” he added later.
Questions about the legality of the Israeli blockade and its enforcement in international waters were quickly dismissed by Sherman, who said that the U.S. had itself blockaded Germany in both World Wars, Japan in the Second, Cuba during the missile crisis, and, curiously, the Confederacy during the Civil War.