Revolution #271, June 10, 2012

Two Years Since Israel’s Attack on the Mavi Marmara:

A Massacre to Enforce Horrific Crimes

Two years ago—in the pre-dawn hours of May 31, 2010—Israeli military forces stormed the Mavi Marmara, one of six ships carrying humanitarian relief to the Gaza region of Palestine. The Israeli commandos attacked the ship in international waters, a blatant violation of international law. The Mavi Marmara and the other boats were carrying tons of concrete, toys, workbooks, chocolate, pasta and substantial medical supplies to Gaza, items that Israel banned from Gaza.

Nine unarmed activists on board were killed by Israeli commandos, who injured 189 others. Autopsies performed revealed that five of the activists were killed by gunshot wounds to the head and at least four were shot from both back and front. A UN report concluded that six were the victims of “summary executions.” The attack on the Mavi Marmara was, by any objective measure, a terrorist massacre.

This was a massacre to enforce the oppression of a whole people. The 1.5 million Palestinian people in Gaza live in what those who know it call the world’s largest outdoor prison. At the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, Israel launched a one-sided massacre of Gaza, delivering weeks of collective punishment to the people of Gaza, destroying schools and shelling hospitals, killing some 1,400 people. Efforts to break the siege of Gaza, including the Gaza Freedom March at the end of 2009, were blocked by Israel and Egypt, with the full backing of the U.S. government. Since then, Israel has enforced a blockade to prevent the rebuilding of Gaza, and to suffocate and punish the Palestinian people.

Israel and the U.S., for whom Israel serves as a global enforcer, were and remain cold-bloodedly unapologetic for the massacre. Months after the deaths on the Mavi Marmara, Israel’s Defense Minister said, “We are not apologizing for the blockade and we are not apologizing for using force.” The U.S. blocked any meaningful investigation or resolution at the UN.

The aftershocks of the massacre on the Mavi Marmara resonated around the world. Protests were held throughout the Middle East and beyond—including in Turkey (all nine murdered activists were Turkish citizens, one held joint Turkish-U.S. citizenship). The massacre further charged the political atmosphere that was to erupt in uprisings in the Middle East—particularly in Egypt, where there is wide and deep anger at the complicity of the Egyptian rulers in the blockade of Gaza. This year, the anniversary of the killings was marked by protests in Turkey, and a Turkish court indicted four former Israeli military officials for murder.

The massacre on the Mavi Marmara shines a light on the essential nature of the state of Israel. This is a country that was literally built on the blood and bones, and the bulldozed villages and farms of the Palestinian people who were driven from their homeland by ethnic cleansing. It has carried out brutal oppression, acting as mercenary and trainer for the most barbaric U.S. puppet dictators—from apartheid South Africa to the fascist generals who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of indigenous peasants in Guatemala in the 1980s.

And Israel’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara is consistent with the (im)morality that the appropriate response to a horrific crime (the Holocaust) is to carry out horrific crimes against others. When the real lesson of the Holocaust is that never again should people stand by, passive and immobilized, when such crimes are being carried out. In a world of injustice, pain and brutality, Israel’s ongoing displacement of, and ongoing terror against the Palestinian people is a particularly egregious and intolerable outrage.

The two-year anniversary of the Israeli massacre on the Mavi Marmara comes amidst a volatile and complex situation in the Middle East. There are uprisings of the people. And there is the U.S. and other oppressive powers working with and through Israel and backing all manner of reactionary forces to maintain and strengthen their position atop a world of exploitation and oppression.

In the midst of all that, there is a basic question of right and wrong. There must be justice for the victims of the Mavi Marmara massacre, liberation for the Palestinian people. The massacre on the Mavi Marmara, and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people shine a light on the need for a genuinely liberatory force to emerge all around this world.

Special Issue on Israel

Bastion of Enlightenment…
or Enforcer for Imperialism:
The Case of ISRAEL


  • Question: Does the Holocaust Justify the Dispossession of the Palestinian People?
  • Life Under Israeli Occupation
  • The Palestinian Resistance
  • Recommended Resources
  • Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust

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