Israel believes, and so far correctly, that it can violate the most basic protections of law with impunity. Each time Israel has done so, the United States has stood ready to ensure that Israel will not be brought to account, thereby encouraging even more egregious violations of fundamental rights.

The United States has to stop letting Israel get away with murder.

Israel believes, and so far correctly, that it can violate the most basic protections of law with impunity. Each time Israel has done so, the United States has stood ready to ensure that Israel will not be brought to account, thereby encouraging even more egregious violations of fundamental rights.

The deadly attack on the Gaza flotilla is only the latest instance.

The flotilla of six ships carrying people from more than 50 countries was trying to make its way to Gaza to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies for the beleaguered people of Gaza who have lived under an Israeli-imposed blockade for nearly three years.

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The ships were attacked on the high seas where the law of the sea guarantees freedom of navigation. The fact that the boats were heading to Gaza does not legitimate the attack. These were not boats armed with missiles intending to attack Israel.

The Israelis then compounded their crimes by kidnapping 600 or so activists and forcibly taking them to Israel.

The reaction of much of the world to these blatant violations of law by Israel has been outrage. Turkey, Ecuador and South Africa recalled their ambassadors to Israel. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared: “This action, totally contrary to the principles of international law, is inhumane state terrorism.” Even Britain’s new Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, called the attack “completely unacceptable” and called for an end to the blockade.

But the United States was virtually silent, this despite the murder of one 19-year-old U.S. citizen, apparently shot four times in the head and once in the chest, and the kidnapping of at least twelve other Americans and the seizure of an American-flagged ship, the Challenger I.

The State Department issued a statement that made the United States look woefully out of touch with the rest of the world: “The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident today aboard the Gaza-bound ships. We are working to ascertain the facts, and expect that the Israeli government will conduct a full and credible investigation.”

Apparently after realizing the diplomatic cost of its position, the United States said it was “open to different ways of ensuring a credible investigation including international participation” and called Israel’s blockade of Gaza “unsustainable and unacceptable.”

However, on the very same day, the United States voted against the U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to dispatch an independent, international probe into violations of international law resulting from the attack on the flotilla.

Responsibility for the recent attack and murders on the flotilla lies not just with Israel. As long as Israel knows that the United States will shield it from accountability for its crimes, it will continue to commit crimes. The United States must cease granting Israel impunity.

Michael Ratner is president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He can be reached at

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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