In "The Gaza Blockade and International Law" University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner (WSJ subscriber only) notes the precedent for Israel's blockade of Gaza in the American Civil War--the Union's seizing of Confederate ships on the high seas. Israel does not recognize Gaza's sovereignty. "... Israel's legal position is reasonable, and it has precedent. During the U.S. Civil War, the Union claimed to blockade the Confederacy while at the same time maintaining that the Confederacy was not a sovereign state but an agent of insurrection." A closely divided Supreme Court approved the seizures, suggesting "a certain latitude for countries to use blockades against internal as well as external enemies."
In an important sense, the criticism of Israel is a criticism of past American practice as well. In looking to our self-interest in the Middle East, Americans should recall our own history.