Sunday, June 06, 2010


The notion that all the people aboard last week's ill-fated flotilla bound for Gaza were "terrorists" seems to be par for the course in the over-the-top rhetoric war that has accompanied the response to the deadly Israeli raid.  Indeed, the inflammatory hyperbole that all on board were Hamas operatives who had to be shown lethal force rang out loudly from all of the usual suspects.

It's one thing to have that kind of binary worldview ("You're either with Israel or a terrorist!") on a newspaper op-ed or a blog.  It's something far more horrifying to see that logic being transformed into legal punitive action by a member of the House...especially when that member of the House is a Democrat.
A Democratic member of the US House of Representatives says he wants to see US citizens aboard the Gaza flotilla prosecuted for providing aid to terrorists.

In a conference call organized by The Israel Project, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told reporters that activists participating in the flotilla were aiding Hamas and therefore breaking US law.

“The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 makes it absolutely illegal for any American to give food, money, school supplies, paper clips, concrete or weapons to Hamas or any of its officials,” Sherman said, as quoted at Jim Lobe's foreign policy blog. "And so I will be asking the Attorney General to prosecute any American involved in what was clearly an effort to give items of value to a terrorist organization.”

TalkingPointsMemo's M.J. Rosenberg, a frequent writer on Middle East issues, describes Sherman as "the most pro-Likud Democratic member of Congress," referring to Israel's most prominent conservative political party. "But this is crazy even for Sherman."

Sherman's declaration has taken heat from conservative commentators as well. Writing at The American Conservative, Kelley Vlahos declares that "the overall reaction to the abuse of our citizens has been strangely muted and flaccid — whether at the White House, Capitol Hill or in the corporate media."

Writes Vlahos: "Instead of demanding an accounting — you know, like Turkey is doing for its own citizens — we have elected leaders trying to put Americans on that flotilla in jail."
I cannot imagine Eric Holder agreeing to prosecute the Americans who survived the trip as terrorists.  And yet given the climate in Washington surrounding Israel right now, it will be very difficult for the Obama administration to not agree to Sherman's request if this becomes a "bipartisan" pile-on to demand Holder do just that.

Combined with the continued demonization of Turkey over the week by the Village, the criminalization of disagreement with Israel in the United States is growing to fever pitch levels.  That's something that should really give all of us pause.

It is no longer hyperbole.

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