Monday, July 4, 2011

American Jewish ex-Marine sails on the 'Audacity of Hope'

It gives me hope when I see Jewish-Americans opposing the Israeli Occupation and its draconian measures against the Palestinian people. Although the 'leadership' in terms of politics in general has come to disgust me, individuals still light our way and give us hope that selfishness, self-interest and material gain does NOT always rule.

The following piece was written by a man named Ken Mayers, an American Jew who is an ex-Marine and who actively is opposing the Israeli Occupation's blockage of Gaza by joining others on 'The Audacity of Hope', part of the international Flotilla.

Newspaper Editor's note: As of 1 July, CNN was reporting that 'The Audacity of Hope', a U.S. ship carrying Americans, was stopped by the Greek Coast Guard near the port of Perama on its way to Gaza. This piece was written before the departure.

Ken Mayers wrote:

'Between 1942 and 1945, 21 members of my mother's extended family are known to have died in German concentration camps. Undoubtedly there were others whose place and dates of death are still unknown. Others managed to escape to Israel, where I still have family.

'So why am I going to be sailing on 'The Audacity of Hope' in an attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza? My reasons follow two distinct threads.

'The first thread is tied to my ethnic heritage as suggested in my opening paragraph. At a universal and abstract level, I am following this course of action because I believe the blockade is illegal under international law that prohibits the collective punishment of a population. But at a personally more specific level, it is because I believe the power elite that rules Israel has drawn too narrow an understanding from the great lesson of the Holocaust, a lesson often summarized in the slogan, 'Never again!'

The narrow understanding can be stated as 'Never again shall Jews be subjected to the persecution that culminated in the Holocaust.' A broader understanding would be, 'Never again should any people be subjected to the persecution that culminated in the Holocaust.'

'It is a tragic irony that after a millennium of confinement to the ghettos of Europe, the Jewish state turns around and creates the world's largest ghetto in Gaza by blockading its ports, controlling its air space, and with some support from Egypt, imposing tight limits on access and egress by land. But far beyond tragic was the turning of the ghetto into a killing field with Operation Cast Lead from Dec. 27, 2008, through Jan. 21, 2009. According to a B'Tselem report, '1,389 Palestinians were killed, 759 of whom did not take part in the hostilities. Of these, 318 were minors under age 18.'

'Since Cast Lead, the blockade of Gaza has further tightened, further delaying any substantial recovery from the devastation of the attack. Since the weapons and armaments used in the attack in large part either came from the United States or were enabled by the $3 billion annual aid given to Israel by our government, the act of attempting to break the blockade is an act of atonement.

'The second thread is tied to my service as a Marine Corps officer from 1958 to 1966 when I gave up that career in dismay with American foreign policy. It is tied to that brief career in two ways. First of all, I took an oath to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' That oath had no expiration date. I still feel bound by it and I strongly believe that our policy-makers are violating the Constitution in the carte blanche support, financial and military, that they provide to the Israeli government. The second way is another element of atonement — atoning for the support that I provided the forces of empire in those Marine Corps years.

'It has been almost exactly one year since the Israeli Defense Force attacked the ships of the first international flotilla en route to Gaza, killing nine passengers on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara. We must not let the Israeli government or the American government think that stopping one flotilla settles the question for all time.'


Newspaper Editor's note: Ken Mayers, who resides in Santa Fe, N.M., is a former major in the Marines and a participant in the Gaza Freedom flotilla.

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