2 July 2011

Getting in bed with Israel has now made Greece morally bankrupt too

Al Jazeera | By Jamal Elshayyal | 02.07.2011 | NEDERLANDS

When you're all but down and out you usually try and make as many fiends as possible, in the hope that one of them will rescue you.

Greece has been brought to its knees because of the global economic recession which arguably hit it harder than any other country in Europe, but its new found friends will do little to help it stand back on its feet.

Since last year's Freedom Flotilla, and the outcry cause by Israel's murder of nine innocent civilians in international waters, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been doing his best to prevent a similar expedition of humanitarians exposing Israel's true nature.

One of the findings of the Turkel Commission (I use the second word liberally here - it was nothing less than a joke) was that Israeli diplomats and intelligence services were to blame for the huge embarrassment caused by the 2010 Freedom Flotilla - the commission found that diplomatic pressure should have been exerted on European countries to stop the vessels from setting sale in the first place.

Failing that, Israel's security services should have sabotaged the ships, making it impossible for citizens of the world to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza.

It seems Israel is acting on those findings to the letter. In the past year, Netanyahu has met with his Greek counterpart several times - in fact, George Papandreou is the first Greek prime minister to have visited Israel in 30 years.

Meanwhile, at least two vessels planning to take part in the flotilla this time round have been sabotaged, putting the lives of innocent men, women and children at risk yet again.

But that isn't surprising, Israel's willingness to kill indiscriminately is not new; what is astonishing, is the morally bankrupt alliance between Greece and Israel.

Greece stands to gain nothing from joining the "lets bend over backwards for Israel and be complicit in occupation and killing" club.

Israel does not invest economically abroad, it does not give out loans to countries, and it's not like it's top of the "most popular country" charts at the moment either.

Even domestically, the vast majority of Greeks are sympathetic with the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

In 2010, when there were also national workers' strikes, Greek labourers suspended picket lines to load aid onto the first Freedom Flotilla in a gesture of solidarity with their Palestinian comrades - many of whom are on involuntary strike because of Israel's siege and the massive unemployment it has caused.

Possibly the only thing Greece has to gain from this decision is to spite neighbouring Turkey.

But even if that is the motive, it's a very short sighted and politically immature one at best.

Turkey is a greater regional and international power than Greece will ever be.

Israel will never abandon its attempts at trying to warm relations with Ankara, because of economic and geopolitical reasons as well as Turkey's massive strategic importance.

Greece's attempts to score points with Israel is like the rebound girl after a man gets divorced by the much more beautiful and successful wife who's realised she could have always done better than him and never wants to see him again.

The rebound girl doesn't realise she's being used, and when she does it's too late.

There are many Gulf countries who may have considered investing more in Greece, no doubt their people will now pressure them to look elsewhere.

Practically speaking, the attempts to block the Flotilla from setting sail are also futile.

The mere fact that despite Israel's cold blooded murder of nine innocent people last year, thousands have volunteered to deliver aid to Gaza this time round, is testament that you can not defeat the power of the people.

In fact, this year's planned flotilla has a broader coalition, a greater number of vessels and a much larger support base than the 2010 one enjoyed.

If Greece continues to try and prevent the vessels from setting sail, there are still dozens of free nations who will gladly support the notions of humanitarianism, solidarity and liberation.

And many of them may prove a little too close to comfort for Israel.

Because what many media outlets failed to pick up on during this Arab Spring is just how high up the Palestinian cause played in these unprecedented uprisings.

In Suez, the battle against Mubarak was likened to the battle against Ariel Sharon which took place on exactly the same street.

In Tahrir square, Palestinian flags were almost merged with Egyptian ones.

In Alexandria, when Mubarak seemed incapable of comprehending his people's demands, the chants of "tell him to leave in Hebrew, he can't understand Arabic" rang out.

In Syria, the people are asking why Assad's tanks are not rolling down south rather than into the homes of his own people. In Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco all the sentiments are the same.

Governments and world leaders alike must start accepting that the dynamics of power in the world today are changing, rapidly.

The barrier of fear which enslaved millions for so many years has been comprehensively destroyed, as has the invisible cloud of "practicality" which would rain on any parade of hope before it even started.

Governments and world leaders must start truly looking at what is best for their people, rather than what will score points with lobbies and powers that will soon collapse faster than a pack of cards.

Greece has a chance to settle its moral debt by reversing its decision, and if it does, who knows, that might just be the invitation some were waiting for to help it in settling its economic balance.

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