US BOAT TO GAZA’s ship, The Audacity of Hope Athens, Greece Photo: Aaron Maté
Attorney General Eric Holder is being called on, again, to support a lawsuit aimed at last year’s Gaza Freedom Flotilla, by employing a rarely-used neutrality law that would allow the US to seize vessels that tried to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza.
Mavi Marmara Photo: Stringer Turkey / Reuters
The plaintiffs want to get their hands on the Mavi Marmara and 13 other Gaza flotilla ships, including presumably the American boat, The Audacity of Hope in Greece.
The person who filed this lawsuit is an American living in Jerusalem, Dr. Alan J. Bauer. He’s being assisted by Shurat HaDin (the rightwing Israel Law Center). Remember them? Specializing in lawsuits against “terrorists” and combat voyeurism:
Shurat HaDin – an Israeli “lawfare” group that set up legal roadblock after roadblock against “Gaza Freedom Flotilla II” last year – has for several years offered tours of Israel that take in the sort of sights a military fanboy would love, from Hezbollah watching on the Lebanese border to visiting the IAF units that carry out targeted killings and viewing military trials of alleged Hamas operatives (that was part of the 2011 trip). Also, there is a BBQ. The one-week trip costs around US$3,000 and is billed as “Taking it to a Whole New Level,” “The Ultimate Mission to Israel”………..one of this year’s highlights is a trip to the undisclosed naval base where the Israeli navy is holding flotilla ships it’s impounded.
The precedent-setting lawsuit, which has since been transferred to the District of Columbia District Court, asks the US authorities to seize the flotilla vessels on the grounds that groups and individuals – including the Free Gaza and US to Gaza campaigns – violated US law by raising funds in the US to furnish and fit out the ships, whose intent was to commit hostilities against US ally Israel.
The flotilla ship Mavi Marmara, owned by the Hamaslinked Turkish Islamic group IHH, sailed from its dock in Antalya, Turkey, on May 26, 2010, in order to meet up with several other ships in international waters off the coast of Cyprus. Several days later, on May 30, 2010, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla vessels set sail from those international waters to Gaza. The IDF raided the flotilla a day later, on May 31, 2010.
Significantly, in the lawsuit, Bauer argues that he is acting as an “informer” to the US authorities under section 962 of the US Code of Laws, an old and rarely-used piece of legislation that allows a plaintiff to seize vessels outfitted in the US for use against an American ally state. The legislation entitles the informer to 50 percent of the proceeds of the forfeited ships.
Last week, US District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras asked the US Department of Justice to file a statement of interest by June 29, regarding whether Bauer as a private citizen has the legal standing to bring the lawsuit.
Greta Berlin, co founder and spokesperson for the Free Gaza Movement, doesn’t seem phased and will not be deterred. She tells me:
No one from this faux Israeli intelligence agency has ever contacted any of us. They have not issued warrants, orders to appear (or disappear) or been served with anyone other than propaganda.
The Audacity of Hope is still in Greece and we are making arrangements for other groups to use it. Most of us are working on the new initiative called Gaza’s Ark and have no intention of stopping our work to free the people of Gaza from Israel’s illegal blockade.
hell fun begin, election year ding dong: “The Audacity of Hope impounded by the US gov’t!” It begs the question, how low will Obama go to appease the Israel lobby? Will they split the proceeds and allow The Audacity of Hope to be seized by Shurat HaDin’s combat voyeurs? Will tourists board the Mavi Marmara and oogle all over the deck where an American citizen, Furkan Dogan, was murdered at point blank range along with 8 other Turkish victims?