Journalists threatened with 10-year bans, Americans threatened with criminal prosecution for participating in flotillaThe US State Department has threatened Americans who participate in the upcoming flotilla of fools with criminal prosecution. And Israel's Government Press Office has sent a letter to all foreign journalists in Israel urging them to avoid the upcoming flotilla of fools (Hat Tip: My Right Word).
Jerusalem, 26 June 2011Yisrael questions the wisdom of the government taking this position. I think the position is appropriate, but the government ought to put together its own boat of foreign journalists and let them sit out on the Mediterranean for a few days to watch the action.
To: Representatives of the Foreign Press in Israel
Re: Press Participation in the Flotilla
A flotilla of ships is due to arrive soon in the Middle East in order to try and enter the Gaza Strip.
This flotilla is a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas, which the world defines as an extremist Islamic terrorist organization.
Those participating in the flotilla have declared that it is their intention to "break" the naval blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for security reasons, given Hamas's efforts to smuggle weaponry and terrorists into the Gaza Strip.
The flotilla intends to knowingly violate the blockade that has been declared legally and is in accordance with all treaties and international law. The Government of Israel has instructed the IDF not to allow the flotilla to reach its goal.
As the Director of the Government Press Office, I would like to make it clear to you and to the media that you represent, that participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israeli law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions.
I implore you to avoid taking part in this provocative and dangerous event, the purpose of which is to undermine Israel's right to defend itself and to knowingly violate Israeli law.
Please pass along the contents of this letter to your editorial boards around the world.
Oren Helman, Director
Government Press Office
But here's hoping that the ten-year ban will include Amira Hass, who is an Israeli (yes, Haaretz has embedded a reporter on the flotilla too).
And by the way, if they're leaving Tuesday afternoon or evening from Greece, that would have them arriving here on Friday night, and you can bet that was planned too.
But the US State Department is threatening American citizens with criminal prosecutions for participating in the flotilla.
“Delivering or attempting or conspiring to deliver material support or other resources to or for the benefit of a designated foreign terrorist organization, such as Hamas, could violate US civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.Nice thoughts. But can you really see Eric Holder's Justice Department prosecuting any of these people?
“Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers,” she said.
“Established and efficient mechanisms exist to transfer humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” Nuland said.
“We urge all those seeking to provide such assistance to the people of Gaza to use these mechanisms, and not to participate in actions like the planned flotilla.”