Thursday, June 03, 2010

In which I attempt to get to the bottom of the flotilla's alleged refusal to take a letter to Gilad Shalit

First, a brief recap: 
For the last week or so, Israeli bloggers and newspapers(1) have insisted that the Gaza flotilla refused to carry a letter to Gilad Shalit. Some of the same bloggers and papers also insisted that flotilla was hypocritically concerned with starving Palestinian children and imprisoned Arabs, but at best indifferent to the children of Sderot, and to the IDF soldiers held by Hamas.

I accepted these claims at face value.

After the IDF raid on the boats, I came across a claim that Mark Daly, an Irish Senator who was participating in the journey, had offered to take any letter, and to deliver it to Gilad Shalit. I posted about this briefly, and heard from the usual round of morons and idiots that this was quite obviously a lie(2). As I said at the time, I have no way of knowing if the claims about Daly were true, only that there were two conflicting reports. I also said, and will say again, that I think its pathetic that only one or two people out of 5 or 6 hundred seemed concerned about Gilad Shalit, and willing to bring him letters and packages.

In which I attempt to get to the bottom of the flotilla's alleged refusal to take a letter to Gilad Shalit

Through the magic of Facebook, I found Senator Daly's email address and wrote to him:

Many of the Israeli and Jewish blogs say the flotilla expressly refused to take any message to Gilad Shalit. The Shalit family and their lawyer do not contradict this. Yet you, a flotilla participant, are on the record as having offered to take any letter. Can you help me get to the bottom of this contradiction?

Senator Daly was nice enough to respond, but because I do not (yet) have his express permission to publish the note, I can only tell you that he confirmed the reports. He says the he and two of his Irish parliament colleages sent a letter to Noam Shalit offering to personally deliver letters and packages to the Red Cross in Gaza or to the United Nations Relief Works Agency in Gaza on behalf of their son Gilad. He said that in this letter he also committed to asking both agencies to do what they could to make it possible for Gilad to receive packages and visitors. Senator Daly also said he and his colleagues would "reiterate" their calls for Gilad's release while in Gaza. Senator Daly did not say what - if any- reply he received. In Cyprus, authorities denied Senator Daly permission to embark and he did not end up making the trip to Gaza.

In a follow up note I asked him to comment on claims made in the media and on blogs that the boats were carrying weapons and munitions. He denied this emphatically and said that all cargo was for the people of Gaza and that none of it would be given to Hamas representatives. (Of course, I have no way of knowing if this is true, and repeat what the Senator said only to demonstrate good faith.)

I hope to continue my dialog with Senator Daly, and with his permission I will report back.

(1) I don't believe any of the bloggers did their own original reporting. I believe they were basing themselves entirely on the newspapers. In short, the RW bloggers were doing what they always accuse us on the left of doing, ie, blindly accepting the truth of whatever some member of biased media happened to report. I do this, too, by the way, and don't intend to stop. That's blogging. But it would be nice if the RWers were to stop making such a big deal about it, in that they do the exact same thing themselves.

(2) I also heard from some who attempted to make a distinction between Daly, who offered to take the letter, the FreeGaza movement which refused. I don't know enough about how the organizations are structured to say if this distinction is legitimate. If Senator Daly is kind enough to continue answering my questions, I will ask him. I'll also ask why he and the two other Irish politicians seem to the only ones who were willing to bring something to Gilad Shalit.

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