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Time for Israel to Take a Good Look in the Mirror

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Exodus 1947

In July 1947 the passenger ship Exodus laden with 4515 Jewish holocaust survivors neared the Palestinian coast. The British Navy carrying out the hard line policy of their government in preventing illegal immigrants to Palestine, boarded the vessel.

Because it was still in international waters the crew resisted the boarders. The ship was taken by force leaving three crew dead and dozens more injured. 
The British ended up shipping the refugees back to Germany of all places to be put into internment camps. There were more injuries following a forced disembarkation at Hamburg.
Within two years international pressure and the declaration of the state of Israel (recognised by Britain) saw most of the Exodus refugees reach their intended destination of Israel.
Fast forward to 2010 and we have a nation of Israel – formed by refugees which has in turn created another nation of refugees.
Israel's refusal to recognise the democratically elected Hamas government in the Palestinian territory has lead to the Gaza strip being effectively turned into a giant refugee camp.
With Israeli sanctions and a blockade in place it is not within the Palestinian Authority's power to improve their lot. It is however within the power of the Israeli Government to do so and they have chosen not to for political reasons.
The six ship aid convoy was an attempt from a variety of humanitarian and activist groups to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza and bring food, supplies and skilled aid workers to the isolated enclave.
Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in international waters and like the Exodus 63 years earlier the crew resisted. When the struggle finished nine crew were dead and around 30 wounded. Israel reports 10 of their soldiers were injured.
The convoy has been escorted into port and the occupants are to be deported.
It is time for Israel to take a good look in the mirror and recognise they have become what they fought against all those years ago. To blockade Gaza for political reasons is one thing but to prevent other peaceful aid organisations from helping ease the real human suffering there is unacceptable to the majority of the international community.
Israel was allowed to be created on the back of a wave of international sympathy following the horrific suffering of the Jews during the Second World War. But that sympathy has rapidly receded in the last 20 years as conservative governments in Israel have become more and more aggressive in their settlement of Palestinian land and the repression of the people there. The construction of a security wall supposedly to keep terrorists out is another misguided attempt to resolve the conflict by implementing apartheid.
The events of recent days have put Israel firmly on the outer with the rest of the world. To land commandos on a peaceful Turkish vessel in international waters at night is asking for trouble. To claim that crew defending themselves and their ship are the aggressors is an extreme detachment from reality. It is strange how the 'aggressors' on the aid ship ended up dead at the hands of the poor commandos who were only 'defending' themselves.
Turkey was the first Muslim majority nation to recognise the State of Israel back in 1949 and have been an ally ever since. It would have taken a lot of courage for Turkey back then to go against the opinion of the other Muslim nations and be a friend to Israel.
The Israeli Governments actions in attacking a Turkish ship and killing Turkish citizens clearly shows that they do not remember back that far. If they did they would also remember the Exodus on a peaceful voyage trying to reach the same shore that was stormed by British marines in international waters and three of its crew killed trying to defend their ship and its human cargo.
All those refugees from the holocaust wanted was a country of their own safe from harm and oppression. 63 years later and their descendents are the oppressors and the Palestinians have become what they used to be.  
Israel – please look in the mirror and remember your beginnings and see what you have become. But don't allow hate to distort what many of us on the neutral sidelines can see clearly – that love and forgiveness is the only cure for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and you need to make the first step. 

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