Roger Cohen says flotilla raid victim Furkan Dogan unfairly forgotten 26Jul10 July 27, 2010

Palestine Note -  26 July 2010

Americans seem to have forgotten about Furkan Dogan, the young American-born Turk shot and killed by Israeli commandos during the May 31 Gaza flotilla raid, says New York Times reporter Roger Cohen.

The NYT Columnist wonders if this is an act of selective memory:

The young American… had seen an online advertisement for volunteers to deliver aid to Gaza. The ad, from a Turkish charity called the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or I.H.H, said the goal of the trip was to show that Israel’s “embargo/blockade can be legally broken.”

How he was killed is disputed — as is just about everything concerning the Israeli naval takeover of the six-boat Gaza-bound flotilla — but his father suspects a video camera carried by his son may have provoked Israeli commandos.

I have little doubt that if the American killed on those ships had been Hedy Epstein, a St. Louis-based Holocaust survivor, or Edward Peck, a former U.S. ambassador to Mauritania, we would have heard a lot more. (Epstein had planned to be aboard the flotilla and Peck was.)

But a chill descends when you have the combination of Israeli commandos doing the firing, an American with a foreign-sounding Muslim name, and the frenzied pre-emptive arguments of Israel and those among its U.S. supporters who will brook no criticism of the Jewish state.

This chill is a bad thing. Let’s do whatever it takes to find out how Dogan died — and the eight other victims. The Middle East requires more open debate and the dropping of taboos. It needs the leading institutions of American Jewry to encourage broad discussion rather than, as Peter Beinart put it in an important recent essay in The New York Review of Books, checking “their liberalism at Zionism’s door.”

Let’s face it, without the flotilla outcry that allowed the Obama administration to question Israel’s self-defeating suffocation of Gaza, Israel would still be imposing the blockade that handed Hamas control of whatever was left of the Gaza economy. Now that blockade has been eased.

As this suggests, Israel will, ostrich-like, push policies born of the security mantra way beyond their rationale, only changing course when its critical friends raise their voices. It’s time for the U.S. Jewish establishment to think again — and think openly — or risk losing the many younger Jews troubled by Israel’s course.

Any further action, including a possible F.B.I. investigation of Dogan’s death, will hinge on the results of the inquiry being led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice and including two foreign observers. The Dogan family could also request F.B.I. action.

But it seems they have few illusions. Professor Dogan, who teaches at Kayseri University, told the Wall Street Journal’s Marc Champion (who wrote the best piece on Dogan) that he’s been wondering what the U.S. response would have been if his son had been a Christian living stateside. Having lived in America, he said, “I know what people do there when a cat gets stuck in a tree.”

It’s different, however, when an American Muslim male gets stuck in a hail of Israeli gunfire.


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