Thursday, June 23, 2011
The State Dept issued new travel warnings regarding Gaza on Jun 22, 2011, stating in part:
"U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in injury, death, arrest and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the government of Israel." It goes on to explain that a U.S. citizen was killed last year in an attempt to reach Gaza by sea, while the U.S. State Dept did nothing to assist. The warning intimated that the State Dept. is prepared, once again, to do nothing if Israel kills American citizens on the upcoming flotilla.
The really bizarre aspect of this travel warning is there is no mention of Hamas or terrorism, or the supposed risks citizens of the U.S. would face from Hamas if they were to travel in Gaza. Apparently all the risk in traveling to Gaza as an American citizen comes from our "best friend" in the region. In his May State Dept speech, President Obama declared, "As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values." One would think these shared values would include the safe passage of unarmed civilians through international waters.
Our State Dept mission statement reads, "Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."
Our State Dept. should respond to American citizens needs by demanding the safety of flotilla participants. It seems it would fall under their job description. Seems like the least they could do.
Please call the State Dept. at 202-647-4000 and demand protection of the Freedom Flotilla. Remind the State Dept. It's their job.