Real peace activists don't carry knives

Real peace activists don’t carry knives.

Real humanitarians don’t beat soldiers with metal bars.

The Islamists on the Gaza convoy that attacked the Israeli boarding party were not peace activists. They were martyrs-in-waiting. Instead of strapping on a suicide vest and walking into an Tel Aviv restaurant, they attacked Israeli soldiers knowing damn well what the response would be. The Islamists knew the Israelis were coming. Anyone and everyone who has been following the news for the past week knew that the Israelis would stop the convoy. There were children and elderly people aboard those vessels. Genuine aid workers with a shred of conscience would have done their best to ensure that there was no provocation, no violence, nothing that would set off heavily armed commandos. Instead we see video of these “humanitarians” stabbing an Israeli soldier. So it was “disproportionate” for Israeli soldiers to respond with lethal force? Try attacking an American police officer with a metal pipe and see how proportionate it is. Better yet, try it on a Hamas cop in Gaza.

Now the usual suspects – the leftists, the progressives, the British media – are leading the usual assault against Israel. They are so filled with self-righteous indignation, and yet so incapable of self-reflection that they cannot ask themselves a basic question: What kind of people would provoke a fight with armed soldiers on ships filled with innocent people? The answer is that these are people who don’t care how many die; martyrdom is glorious, especially against the Jews. These are not people who give a damn about human rights or women’s rights or the environment. The Left does itself no credit by allying with them.

Israel won’t let supplies into Gaza because it fears a flood of Iranian-supplied missiles on its southern border, just like what happened when Iranian-supplied Scuds ended up in Hezbollah’s hands on the northern border. To the Israelis, this is part of a war to destroy the Jewish state.  Sometimes they’re wrong, but not in this case. This convoy wasn’t about humanitarian aid. Those genuinely concerned with human life would have done everything they could to avoid violence. I’m sure many of the people on that convoy didn’t want violence. But some did. If the world is going to blame Israel, it needs to blame them as well.

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61 Responses to Real peace activists don't carry knives

  1. Boats in international waters have the right to use force to repel unlawful boarders. Israel committed an act of piracy on the high seas.

    Try attacking an American police officer with a metal pipe and see how proportionate it is.

    If an American police officer breaks into your home in Mexico and points a firearm at you, then yes, lethal force is appropriate.

  2. Michael Peck says:

    And what is the status of those attempting to bring supplies to a terrorist organization? Or were you not aware that the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan classify Hamas as a terrorist organization?

    As for Mexico, let’s explore this analogy when the Mexican constitution calls for the destruction of the U.S., and the rockets start flying over the Rio Grande?

    • I think you’ve been misinformed; they weren’t bringing supplies to terrorists, they were bringing aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip. The status of those persons in international waters is that they have a right to repel illegal attempts to board their vessels.

      As for Mexico, let’s explore this analogy when the Mexican constitution calls for the destruction of the U.S., and the rockets start flying over the Rio Grande?

      So it’s your position that rocket attacks by Hamas justify an act of piracy against a Turkish vessel? What’s the legal principle, there? How does that make any sense? Your position appears to be “Israel was attacked by rockets in the past, therefore they get to break any law they want.” I reject that as legal reasoning, as must any intelligent person.

      Israel has a right to defend its borders from incursion, but it has no right to engage in piracy on the high seas.

      • Michael Peck says:

        I’ll look forward to seeing the outcry about piracy when the U.S. Coast Guard stop a suspected drug boat in the Caribbean.

        You seem to be saying that if Israel had waited until the convoy was three miles from the Gaza coast, then it would not have been “piracy”. Except that’s a lie, because your protests would be the same. I suspect that there is no way that Israel could defend its borders that would meet your rigorous standards, except to let bombs fall on their heads.

        FYI, this wasn’t a Turkish vessel delivering olives to Shanghai. It was bringing supplies to Gaza, which happens to have a government whose goal is the destruction of Israel. During World War II the Allies maintained a blockade of Germany, which of course penalized German civilians. I’ll look forward to hearing why that was piracy.

      • Mr. Peck,

        You are racing ahead of yourself and not doing your homework. The US Coast Guard cannot stop and board foreign flagged ships in international waters except where there is a pre-existing agreement.

        According to Rear Admiral Vincent Atkins:

        “For a foreign flag vessel, the Coast Guard tactical commander implements a bilateral agreement or arrangement in force with the vessel’s flag state to confirm registry and to stop, board, and search the vessel for drugs. If drugs are found, jurisdiction and disposition over the vessel, drugs, and crew are coordinated with the State Department, DOJ, and the flag state. This process plays out every day with amazing effectiveness and efficiency, largely due to the unified command and control that JIATF South exercises across multiple partner agency assets.”

        http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/testimony/testimony_1271690315007.shtm

        So the US Coast Guard argument is specious.

        The “Law of the Sea” which is based on the concept of “Mare Liberum” (“free sea”) goes back hundreds of years and has been updated many times. It establishes what nations may and may not do in the open sea, i.e. international waters. Without treaty authority, a government may not stop ships bearing the flag of another nation in international waters. This was one of the rationales for the War of 1812, British naval vessels interdicting US merchant ships.

      • Michael Peck says:

        Israel and Gaza are belligerents. Israel will argue that as such, it had a right to stop vessels delivering supplies to its enemies. Hamas and its supporters will argue that humanitarian aid can’t be stopped.

        These are complex questions involving maritime law as well as the laws of blockade, one requirement of which is that for a blockade to be legal, it must be effective, which means enforced. I’m not an attorney, but I wonder if Israel had allowed the convoy to reach Gaza, whether the blockade would have been void and then convoys carrying weapons could sail to Gaza and claim that there is no blockade in force.

      • Gaza isn’t a nation, it’s an area within Israel. Israel can’t argue that it’s at war with a territory that it owns and administrates.

        Israel trying to enforce a blockade (that the flotilla had not even encountered yet) 72 miles out in international waters is like the Illinois State Patrol trying to enforce speeding limits in Canada. They don’t have the legal authority to board vessels there for any reason; they committed an act of piracy to which those aboard those vessels had a legal right to respond with force.

      • boydma says:

        Michael, when referencing the Law of the Sea, I recommend you check out this link (http://www.un.org/Depts/los/LEGISLATIONANDTREATIES/PDFFILES/table_summary_of_claims.pdf) to see territorial waters as of 2008. Israel claims 12 nautical miles. The United States claims 200. The Coast Guard patrols within that border and intercepts ships partaking in illegal activity. Israel could have just as easily waited for the 12 NM or the blockade limit (which goes out further) to be breached. They didn’t and now they are on shaky ground.

        Your above comment (the one I’m responding to), saddens me because you have chosen to not take an objective view of the situation. In fact, you’ve basically claimed that those who don’t agree with you side with terrorists, or the Iranians, or the lizard people, or whomever you claim want to see Israel destroyed.

        In short, you have decided to side against civil society on all fronts.

      • timothyscott says:

        Israel does seem to have a case for boarding the vessel, in International waters (at sea) according to the “San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994″

        Section 47, cii exempts humanitarian vessels from attack. HOWEVER, section 48 explicitly exempts them from attack IF they “(b) submit to identification and inspection when required; and (c) do not intentionally hamper the movement of combatants and obey orders to stop or move out of the way when required. Section 49 goes on to state exemptions may be jeopardized by failing to heed warnings, and section 50 says if a “ship persists in breaking a condition of its exemption, it renders itself liable to capture or other necessary measures to enforce compliance.”

        As noted above, non compliance is reason for attack, Israel was not attacking, but boarding the ship for inspection which is legal under these rules, even in international waters.

        Even Hospital ships may be attacked by reason of a breach of a condition of exemption in paragraph 48.

      • You seem to be saying that if Israel had waited until the convoy was three miles from the Gaza coast, then it would not have been “piracy”.

        Uh, yes. I’m saying that Israel can stop all the boats they like in their own waters, just as American police can enforce all the laws they like within the borders of the United States. But borders exist for a reason – they demarcate the end of a nation’s legal sovereignty. You’re asserting that Israel’s sovereignty persists worldwide, that all of us are subject to Israel’s edicts regardless of whether or not we’re currently in that country.

        Well, I don’t vote in Israel, so I reject this claim of Israel’s sovereignty over me and my possessions. Boarding a ship in international waters is a provocative act of piracy, and persons aboard those vessels have the maritime right to use force to repel boarders. Peace activists or no.

      • It was bringing supplies to Gaza, which happens to have a government whose goal is the destruction of Israel.

        I can’t even respond to how blinkered, ignorant, and idiotic this comment is. You think a boat full of humanitarian aid constitutes a threat to the nation of Israel.

      • Please, the argument that people would condemn Israel’s actions no matter what don’t really hold water. How stupid do you think we all are?

        Sure a few people would be screaming bloody murder if this convoy was halted peacefully, but it wouldn’t have started an international s***-storm of condemnation. You strain credulity by even making this argument.

        Anyone could simply respond in kind, “I suspect that there is no violent act that Israel could commit that would meet your rigorous standards of an international crime.” Can’t we put aside the over-simplified dogma and simply weigh the actions of Israel by the same standards we would any other ally? If Turkey were rounding up Kurds into militarized beseiged Warsaw-style ghettos, killing Kurds at the rate of hundreds for every lost Turkish life and raiding aid convoys with the excuse that the militants on board were heavily armed by neolithic standards – we would not take such statements of ‘defense’ seriously. It would be called ethnic cleansing, no matter what the rationale.

        Whether this attack was justified or not is was a STUPID move on Israel’s part, as it can only serve to weaken the credibility of a state already viewed as rogue by a sizeable portion of the world.

        As you pointed out, this plays right into the hands of Hamas. This was planned days in advance, and yet Israel couldn’t help but kill 10 nearly-unarmed people while suffering no deaths in return?

        How simple would it have been to simply give the commandos Tasers and tear gas? LA SWAT could have handled this situation without bloodshed – why couldn’t the most experienced commandos in the world handle a few peaceniks (or scary metal-bar wielding ‘terrorists’ if you feel like insulting our intelligence) without shooting dozens of people?

        Why not send in divers to disable the boats without violence? Would the aid-workers have been able to bludgeon the commandos underwater with their terrible, terrible metal bars?

        Why not at least let them enter Israel’s territorial waters before boarding? Such forethought would at least add significant credibility to their protestations of innocence, or at least make their violence seem less gratuitous.

        Providing a blanket defense for Israel – no matter what crime or how clumsily handled the international incident – does not help Israel. Their actions, justified or not, only serve to inflame international tensions and reduce international support. The USA is nearly bankrupt, we may not be there to protect them and pay for their oversized military forever. The Israeli government needs to stop acting like stubborn children and start respecting human life, even Palestinian life.

    • boydma says:

      You’re shifting arguments here. Obviously few people will advocate arming terrorists. The problem is that Israeli forces attacked Turkish-flagged ships in international waters. If Israel had waited until the ships entered Israeli waters and refused orders to be boarded and searched, and then taken the ships by force, the response would be different. Also, European governments and the U.S. would have an easier time supporting the raid.

      Address the fact that Israel undertook an illegal action in international waters. Suppose the British Navy raided a Spanish cargo ship in international waters, what would the response be?

      Lastly, your police officer/Mexico comment is specious. You didn’t address the the actual analogy which amounts to “it’s illegal for a U.S. police officer to raid a house in Mexico.” You added secondary information, yes, if we were at war with Mexico it would be legal for the military to raid Mexico. Just as it is justifiable for Israel to raid Hamas. It is not justifiable to raid ships in international waters.

      It’s a blog I get it; it’s your opinion. You can claim international law is wrong, but you can’t deny it exists.

    • julierbutler says:

      Hammas may be classified as a terrorist organization, but the children and doctors and teachers and regular people trying to live their lives in Gaza are not all terrorists, and the blockade is the illegal and immoral collective punishment of an entire society.

      The entire United States population should be in prison, if you are going to use that standard, because there are many war-mongering, violent people in our society – you know the kind who shoot doctors while they are in church because they don’t believe in abortion, and blow up clinics, and every once in a while, someone takes there gun into a public place and starts shooting innocent people.

  3. kenhardy says:

    Your use of the photograph above completely undermines any claim you might have to being someone desiring to engage in a rational dialogue. IT IS NOT, I am sure you know, a photo taken on the vessel. Do you see ANYONE in the shot wearing an orange PFD as everyone is in the videos.

    If you had any confidence in the merit of your argument or your ability to make it, you wouldn’t try to prejudice readers with this horrifying image.

  4. Eileen White Read says:

    Right-wing propaganda, from a script written by the Likud Party, Israel Beitenu, the National Home Party, the Greater Israel Coalition, etc. Shame on you.

    • tsandr says:

      Peacemaker Erdogan is master of his trade…

    • Michael Peck says:

      Shame on you, Eileen, for calling yourself a “peacemaker”, but only criticizing Israel. Never a word in your blog about Darfur, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Nigeria. Rarely a word about Palestinian attacks on Israelis, or corruption and brutality in Palestinian society.

      • Eileen White Read says:

        Michael, since I write about the peace process – haltingly though it might be in getting started since the Netanyahu government took office – I don’t really need to write about “corruption and brutality in Palestinian society.” I think there’s a True/Slant contributor who writes enough about that subject, and who writes negatively, and frequently, about Muslims. Recommended reading for you: Peter Beinart’s essay in the New York Review of Books and [since you are so eager to write about Judge Goldstone] Sasha Polakow-Surasky’s new book, “The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.”

  5. ncfrommke says:

    Michael- re your claim that Hezbollah fired Scud ballistic missles into Israel- false. Never happened. Hezbollah DID fire around 4000 Katyusha 122 mm artillery rockets (19 mi range, 30 kg warhead) into Israel from southern Lebannon, but not the larger, more sophisticated Scud ballistic missile. The reason that I’m pointing out this detail is that there is already a thick fog of disinformation around this incident; you’ve just added to it. Please check your facts before you hit the submit button. You do not strengthen your case by using false information to buttress it.

    • Michael Peck says:

      Where did I say that Hezbollah fired Scuds? Hezbollah now has Iranian-supplied Scuds funneled through Syria, but they haven’t been fired yet. Iran supplied them to Hezbollah as an indirect method to threaten Israel, which logically assumes that Tehran would eagerly supply weapons to Hamas by sea if given the chance.

      • ncfrommke says:

        Apologies- I stand corrected. What’s your source on the Scud deliveries? Just curious.

  6. artguerrilla says:

    1. *real* peace activists carry submachine guns…
    (and travel in assassination squads on other country’s passports)
    2. *real* peace activists stop ‘violent’ ‘knife-wielding’ peace activists on the high seas in international waters…
    (*whoever* thought of having knives on a ship, that’s crazy-dangerous, you could nick the hull and sink…)
    3. *real* peace activists swoop down on fake peace activists without legal cause to do so…
    (’cause they have a superpower-exemption-by-proxy to do *whatever* illegal, immoral shit they want to do…)
    4. *real* peace activists join the israeli commandos so they can enforce a bunch of peace on their palestinian brothers and sisters…
    (’cause making israel look amoral and inhuman is an old asymmetrical psy-ops warfare trick subhuman palestinians are expert at doing…)
    5. *real* peace activists come from israel who enforce ‘peace’ by any means necessary; everyone else just doesn’t understand…
    …and another zionist terrorist sympathizer exposes themselves…
    (say, isn’t that against some of our pat riot acts or sumpin’ ? ? ?)
    israel-firsters GO HOME ! ! !
    (and LEAVE OUR fucking MONEY here: STOP AID TO ISRAEL)
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy

    • darthfurious says:

      “israel-firsters GO HOME ! ! !
      (and LEAVE OUR fucking MONEY here: STOP AID TO ISRAEL)”

      Terrible goddamn grammar, but the sentiment is 110% correct. In the words of Master Shake, “Why don’t you marry it if you love it so damn much?!”

  7. kramer says:

    As a US taxpayer, I already fund Israel’s self-defeating, Hamas-strengthening blockade. I surely pay for all kinds of atrocities, most of which don’t get caught on video. So haven’t I already done enough? If the leaders of Israel want to exacerbate this death spiral, there’s very little I can do about it, but it’s an insult to all concerned citizens to label anyone who finds this illegal blockade/illegal boarding objectionable to label us all “Islamists” (clever code for something close to “terrorist”; I get it).

    But then, it is grimly fun to watch US pundits try and spin even this disaster into one where Israel is somehow the victim. Your twists of logic would be amusing if so many people weren’t dying, or if Israel’s actions weren’t so incredibly bad for the US’s interests abroad.

    Your “defense” is all too “common.” But it’s not very common outside the US. Do you ever wonder why that might be? [spoiler: it’s not because everyone else in the world hates Jews, although I’m increasingly thinking defenders of this nonsense wish this were the case.]

  8. vitamind says:

    Really, blame the victims for their own demise, that’s your response? You can stand in solidarity with an Apartheid State the new Afrikaners who govern it, but that’s a lost cause. Those opposing Israeli Apartheid along with siege Gaza, aren’t responsible for the so called state of Israel losing its international legitimacy, it’s Israel’s actions that are responsible for that. So, I’ll stand with the growing number of Righteous Jews around the world who are mortified by the actions of this Apartheid regime and are themselves questioning Israel’s legitimacy. What a piece of work you are…. I guess if Sun City were still around, you’d not only vacation there, but buy a time share…..the level of racism required to sustain your delusion of Israel as the victim, is to say the least, troubling.

  9. layla says:

    Eileen, who appointed you school-marm?

    Seriously…”Shame on you”?

    • Eileen White Read says:

      Hey, Layla! Haven’t heard from you in a while. Yes the “shame on you” thing was a bit overboard, huh? Just that I get a bit “Peck-ish” when I read reflexively pro-militaristic, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab writing day after day for an entire year. The flotilla killings clearly need to be investigated, as the UN has voted, with impartial (hopefully American) observation. Read my piece about the propaganda campaign (hasbara) against an impartial investigation that centers on falsely labelling those on the aid convoy as terrorists. Unfortunately, the right-wing Israeli government currently in power relies on a network of militarist, anti-Muslim writers who pick up its hasbara and run with it.

      • Michael Peck says:

        Hmmm. If writing about Islamic terrorism indicates that I’m anti-Muslim, does your obsession with Israel indicate that you’re anti-Semitic?

      • Eileen White Read says:

        More predictable propaganda from the right-wing playbook. Notice that at least 80% of the policy experts, activists, government officials, and scholars quoted in the Peacemakers blog are Jewish.

      • layla says:

        Eileen, your response is undeservedly gracious. I am embarrassed at my response, itself at no higher a level.

        I go in and out with reading internet blogs and actually frequently don’t respond—unless I feel really strongly about something and no one else has made a similar point.

        I think it’s way too early to say that the label of “terrorist” is a false one. More investigation should be done. However, it is obvious that a mob on the ship brutally attacked the Israeli commandos with intent to do them bodily harm, if not worse. I believe the Israelis had to fire on them to protect themselves.

        I assume you’re including Michael Peck as one of the “network of militarist, anti-Muslim writers who pick up [Israel’s] hasbara and run with it. While his recent postings have been about Muslims, there were none I would call anti-Muslim; in fact, one pointed out Muslims who had responded creatively and nonviolently to Everybody Draw Mohamed Day. I also note that over the past year he has blogged about a variety of topics: health care, gays in the military, Vietnam, North Korea, unmanned aircraft, Panzer tanks, ballistic missiles, ICBMs, military food, piracy, free speech, the American policy on assassination, Jewish contributions (or lack thereof) to science fiction, ignorant Congressmen, even Coca Cola. Most struck me as thoughtful and, while quite a few were about the military, none were what I think of as “militaristic.”

        It’s easy to accuse others of being reflexive and wrong when we don’t agree with what they are saying. One could accuse you, for example, of being reflexively anti-Israel. But it is also possible that your posts come from long-considered and sincere conviction, and so maybe it’s possible that Mr. Peck’s do as well.

        Again, thank you for your gracious response. I will read your piece on hasbara.

  10. groucho says:

    Emily Henochowicz wasn’t carrying a knife, nor did she attack any Israeli soldiers with a metal bar. The IDF shot her in the face earlier today at point blank range with a tear gas cannister. As a result, she lost her eye.

    From an article on this tragedy: “They clearly saw us,” said Sören Johanssen, a Swedish ISM volunteer standing with Henochowicz. “They clearly saw that we were internationals and it really looked as though they were trying to hit us. They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face.”

    This episode will be remembered as a shameful event in Israel’s history.

  11. layla says:

    People are throwing around terms they do not know the meaning of.

    Maritime piracy, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, consists of any criminal acts of violence, detention, rape, or depredation committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or aircraft that is directed on the high seas against another ship, aircraft, or against persons or property on board a ship or aircraft.

    Clearly, Israeli boarding of the ship was NOT an act of piracy.

    The question I have been unable to answer by looking online is: was Israel entitled to board a blockade runner ship in international waters? I’m seeing different opinions out there but would appreciate any SOURCED posting on this question.

  12. This whole situation makes me just hate humanity. We have worldwide organizations and laws created to protect civilians after the horrors of World War 2 revealed what a government could do to civilians it viewed as unwanted. These organizations are flaunted by the very people they were created to protect!

    That this kind of crime can be dismissed because Israel has the right to protect itself is ludicrous. Starving a populace of food and medical supplies because they elected the wrong government isn’t defense. Are they part of Isreal? Then this is ethnic cleansing. Are they part of another nation entirely? Then this is an occupation with its own standards and legal requirements.

    Either way, this is the height of hypocrisy.

    • layla says:

      Oria, you are incorrect. Israel is not starving the populace of anything—hundreds of trucks filled with food and medical supplies cross from Israel into Gaza daily. Israel is trying to make sure nothing that could be used to attack Israel gets in, hence the blockade—and the offer to let the flotilla dock in Ashdod and have their goods inspected and transferred to Gaza. By the way, every ship but the Mavi Marmara did that and there were no problems. Those horrible Israelis didn’t harm the passengers of those ships, because the passengers did not attack, beat, knife, and shoot at them. Another by-the-way: Hamas is refusing to receive the inspected goods. So much for a “humanitarian crisis.”

      The populace is not starving. Read the report of a Danish journalist who went in after this incident expecting to see hungry people and instead finding plenty of food—some of it imported from Israel. Then, please refer me to one source that shows starving people in Gaza.

      http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=1&eotf=1&u=http://www.steffen-jensen.dk/dan/blogartikler/134–mere-mangel-pa-arbejde-end-pa-mad/&sl=da&tl=en

      • groucho says:

        “Oria, you are incorrect. Israel is not starving the populace of anything—hundreds of trucks filled with food and medical supplies cross from Israel into Gaza daily.”

        Layla, this was true several years ago, but now it is a complete lie.

        According to a Dec 2008 UN report, “Since the intensification of the closure regime on 5 November, the amount of imports entering Gaza had been severely reduced to an average of 16 truckloads per day—down from 123 truckloads per day in October and 475 trucks per day in May 2007—before the Hamas takeover.

        The prolonged closure of the crossing has led to an almost complete depletion of the stocks of basic commodities and has severely affected the operational capacity of humanitarian agencies. ”

        http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/EDIS-7MMLJZ?OpenDocument&RSS20=18-P

        To be fair though, Israel has been allowing more food in since Dec 2008. However, even though more food is making it into the Gaza strip, the economic conditions created by Israel’s military blockade are making it such that many Palestinians cannot afford to eat enough, according to this article on a UN report from just a few days ago:

        “RAMALLAH, 30 May 2010 (IRIN) – The amount and quality of food available to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip has been severely restricted by more than 1,000 days of a near-complete blockade, states a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report.

        “Sixty-one percent of the Gaza population is food insecure,” said Sarah Leppert, FAO’s communications adviser for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “There is a diverse range of foods available in Gaza; the problem is people do not have the means to purchase the food due to rising poverty and unemployment, now nearly 39 percent.”

        Israel’s import and access restrictions continue to suffocate the agriculture sector in Gaza, directly contributing to rising food insecurity, said acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt), Philippe Lazzarini, in a joint statement with humanitarian aid agencies, and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing more than 80 NGOs on 25 May from Gaza.

        Protein-rich foods such as meat and poultry are especially difficult for Gazans to afford.”

        http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89302

        Layla, please get your facts straight; I’d hate to think that you were lying intentionally.

      • layla says:

        Perhaps you need to get your facts straight, Groucho. You say this was true several years ago, then cite a report dated Dec. 2008 about the prolonged closure of the crossing. Gee, Dec. ’08—wasn’t that during Operation Cast Lead, the war Hamas started by lobbing thousands of rockets into Israeli population centers? Gee, maybe it makes sense that not as much food would go from Israel to Gaza during a war—although Israel still opened the crossing several hours each day to let humanitarian aid through, something unheard of in the history of war.

        You then ‘fess up that things have improved since 2008, but that people can’t afford food—that is different from Israel not letting food in, and I stand by what I said. Here is some current information from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

        Weekly summary of the Gaza crossings: 16-22 May 2010
        – 523 truckloads (13,517 tons) of goods were transferred to the Gaza Strip.
        – 938,127 liters of heavy-duty diesel for the Gaza power station, and 645 tons of cooking gas were delivered.
        – 281 Gaza residents entered Israel for medical reasons via the Erez Crossing.

        Yes, it is true the blockade negatively affects the Gazan economy. But let’s face it—without Hamas terror and kidnaping, there would be no blockade.

      • I don’t care about the number of trucks. The infrastructure has been destroyed and millions of people are now dependant on aid trucks from Israel, who can and has ‘put them on a diet’ – starving the citizens of Gaza – on the whim of the VERY anti-Palestinian government.

        I understand this is the result of decades of terrorism, but the body count in this entire conflict is very lopsided, far more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis, so even historical context is sketchy.

        The bottom line is that if you wish to be moral, you need to judge each situation on its merits. Locking millions of people into a walled off enclave subject to periodic invasions, destroyed infrastructure and the complete destruction of self suficiency is not moral. It is not good. The only way it can be rationalized is by racism, as if to imply that ALL Palestinians are just dangerous animals, and that killing women and starving children – even intermittently – is OK because you are defending a far smaller number of ‘human’ lives. And this deep racism (which is rediculous because Palestinians are the same race as Israelis, so this is really mass deprivation based on the color of God’s pajamas, anti-semitism at its absolute worst) is implicit in all of these heated defenses – even yours.

        See, your statement above states it is fine and acceptable for a nation to invade a territory, blast it with high explosives and chemical weapons, raid and assassinate the people, and then mete out whatever sustenance the government of Israel sees fit to provide a desperate populace, rationalizing the occaisional long-term starvation because a few hundred truck loads of food were given a few weeks ago. Even given the higher supplies, that’s only 18 pounds of ‘goods’ per person for a week – all their food, clothes, medicine, needed machinery, building supplies – 18 pounds per person for a week – when the government is feeling generous. Would you feel it was fair if an outside government was forcing this lifestyle on your family?

  13. Mr. Peck,

    You wrote: “Israel and Gaza are belligerents.” Gaza is not a state or country. It is part of the Palestinian Authority. Israel has no made a declaration of war against the Palestinian Authority as recognized by the UN and even the US.

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1997-03-14/pdf/97-6434.pdf

    It is not possible to claim to be a belligerent without a declaration of war.

    You also wrote:”These are complex questions involving maritime law as well as the laws of blockade, one requirement of which is that for a blockade to be legal, it must be effective, which means enforced. I’m not an attorney, but I wonder if Israel had allowed the convoy to reach Gaza, whether the blockade would have been void and then convoys carrying weapons could sail to Gaza and claim that there is no blockade in force.”

    There is nothing complicated about, the ship in question carried a Turkish flag and was in international waters. Even if a state of war did exist between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which it doesn’t, the Turkish ship is neutral shipping and protected by a variety of treaties and law going back hundreds of years.

  14. noslanttruth says:

    “The Islamists on the Gaza convoy that attacked the Israeli boarding party were not peace activists. They were martyrs-in-waiting.”

    Call the individuals killed on the Mavi Marmara whatever comes to mind: humanitarians, agents provocateurs, peace activists, belligerents, Islamists, tourists, terrorists, martyrs-in-waiting, martyrs. The only essentially honest thing they can be called is dead.

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  16. yalensis says:

    Israel, you just made a brand new enemy — Turkey! You really don’t want to have Turkey as an enemy. But it’s too late now… Nice job!

  17. layla says:

    To clarify Groucho’s earlier comment:

    Emily Henochowicz was not on the boarded vessel. She was at a demonstration in Jerusalem protesting the boarding and was hit in the eye with a tear gas canister. The fact that she lost her eye is horrible and tragic. However, it has nothing to do with what took place on the Mavi Marmara, nor will it help our understanding of and debate on what took place there. Groucho’s comment is irrelevant, if not intentionally deceptive.

    • groucho says:

      Did I claim that she was aboard the ship? No, I did not. She was a peace activist who was needlessly attacked and maimed by the IDF – which is totally relevant as a reply to Mr. Beck’s article, in which he implies that all the peace activists recently killed or injured by Israel were carrying weapons and attacking Israeli soldiers.

      So, layla, your reply is the one that’s irrelevant.

  18. layla says:

    Wrong again, Groucho. Mr. Peck’s (not Beck’s) article is specifically about the terrorists and provacateurs aboard the Mavi Marmara who deceptively called themselves “peace activists” and not about any other activists, peaceful or otherwise. Dragging in an unrelated incident to avoid dealing with the facts of the one Mr. Peck wrote about is changing the subject because you can’t craft a reasonable argument.

    I do agree with you on one thing. Your comment wasn’t irrelevant; it was disingenuous.

    • groucho says:

      Layla, there are no ‘rules’ here that limit comments to relating only to the very specific events mentioned in an article; so get over yourself, and your self-appointed ‘comments judge’ role. You’re making a fool of yourself with your imaginary restrictions on what we can or cannot discuss here. The first amendment does apply here, does it not?

      My original post was to establish that in the bigger picture, it seems to be standard procedure for Israeli soldiers to attack with serious force ANY peace activist, not just the ones which were aboard this particular flotilla.

      Just yesterday an unarmed American citizen, Emily Henochowicz, who was peacefully protesting, lost an eye due to an over-zealous Israeli soldier. Was this an isolated incident? No.

      Slightly over a year ago, another unarmed American citizen, Tristan Anderson, who was also demonstrating peacefully, suffered severe brain damage from the same thing. An Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at his head.

      Considering that this happened not too long ago, and considering what an egregious violation of ethical conduct on behalf of the Israeli military this was, doesn’t it seem that the IDF should have taken great measures to insure that this wouldn’t happen again?

      Instead, the IDF apparently did not change their procedures at all in the aftermath of Tristan Anderson’s injury, for they have done the exact same thing to yet another unarmed American protester.

      This indicates a consistent pattern of response to protesters by the Israeli military, unarmed or not. In light of these incidents, it seems likely that the IDF would have attacked the activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, regardless of whether they had knives and pipes, or not.

      Or am I not allowed to make this point, Layla, because it doesn’t narrowly fit into your tiny, compartmentalized view of what’s suitable for discussion in this comments forum?

      • layla says:

        Groucho, you’re being disingenuous, again. I never said you were “not allowed” to make a point—not that I have the power to, even if I wanted to. I said you were trying to change the subject, namely that the folks who attacked the Israelis were no peace activists. Since you can’t come up with a better argument than “it seems likely that the IDF would have attacked the activists…regardless of whether they had knives and pipes,” one can hardly blame you for wanting to divert our attention from the fact that they did, in fact, have weapons and used them first.

      • artguerrilla says:

        here’s my subject: israel IS a violent, aggressive, terrorist state which adheres to no laws…
        it ONLY gets away with that because they are joined at the hip to US, the BIGGEST, baddest, most violent, aggressive, terrorist state EVER…

        it is only because we live in a psychopathic society with totally insane bizarro-world ‘justifications’ like yours that such retarded ‘reasons’ sound even remotely plausible…

        you are a zionist apologist who will NEVER admit to one semi-bad thing -much less murderous, illegal, immoral assaults- which israel constantly does…

        i used to admire the jews as a people, now i DESPISE israel and her zionist apologists…
        STOP ALL AID TO ROGUE STATE ISRAEL ! ! !
        prosecute the terrorist IDF and mossad…

        here is simply ONE factoid that destroys ANY AND ALL arguments you have for israel being the paragon of civilization: does israel have nukes or not ? ? ?

        art guerrilla
        aka ann archy

        artguerrilla@windstream.net
        eof

      • The problem is that the Israeli and US government’s world views are exceptionally subjective. They base their worldview on the assumption that they themsleves are good and their ‘enemies’ are evil – whatever their actual actions. They view any action as acceptable, since only the ‘enemy’ really does evil, they themselves (harcore Israelis and US conservatives) were chosen by God, after all, so by definition any heinous act they commit is righteous, and any act of retaliation by their enemies is the hieght of evil in defiance of the will of God. So you can’t argue with this madness.

      • groucho says:

        “… they did, in fact, have weapons and used them first.”

        Emily Henochowicz was a peace activist who was not armed, nor did she attack anyone. The same goes for Tristan Anderson. Yet they both suffered serious injuries at the hands of the IDF. Emily happened to have been attacked on the very day that I read Mr. Peck’s article, which is why I mentioned her.

        Once again you fail to even acknowledge my basic point…which makes you the one who is being disingenuous here with your vacuous replies.

        I have not been commenting on the behavior of the activists aboard the flotilla, but on the out-of-control, disproportionate-use-of-force attacks on peace activists in general by the IDF.

  19. timothyscott says:

    Oria, Would you disagree that you perfectly described the “world view” of the Palestinian/Arab as well?

    • Sure, or at least Hamas, as I don’t claim to know the moral standards of every individual Palestinian or Arab.

      If we were talking about a suicide bomber blowing up a bus full of people, I would be right here condemning that. But we’re not talking about that.

      This is not my worldview though, and I don’t believe that is a healthy worldview to strive for. Should we be holding ourselves, and should Israel be holding itself, to the same standards as terrorists? What kind of world will we live in if every self-proclaimed moral society follows a head-for-an-eye standard of maximum revenge for every hurt? Of horrific violent means justified by whatever modest political end?

      We seem to have entered an age of lowest common morality, and I lament that.

      Imagine if somehow both sides of this conflict just resolved to objectively weigh their actions and to commit no evil…

  20. layla says:

    Art, I will leave it to more qualified folks than me to address whether we live in “a psychopathic society.” I disagree with you that the U.S. is the worst “terrorist state ever”; I believe we are among the most moral countries in the history of the world. The number of refugees here from less moral countries and true terrorist regimes testifies to this.

    I don’t recall arguing that Israel is “the paragon of civilization.” However, your criterion for civilized countries makes no sense; if taken seriously, it means that countries such as France, a democracy and North Korea, a brutal dictatorship that starves its own people, are on the same moral level because each has nukes.

    I don’t know your other criteria for judging a civilization to be a paragon, or model, for others. Here are mine:

    Free speech
    Freedom of the press
    Free enterprise allowing its citizens to prosper
    Freedom of religion
    Rule of law
    Equality before the law
    Equal opportunity
    Protection of life and property
    Protection of the environment
    Honesty in government

    Freedom House’s 2010 report classifies Israel “free” (surrounded by a sea of “not free” countries). Their political rights score is 1, the highest ranking; civil liberties is 2.

    Freedom House also ranked Israel as “free” for press freedom (again surrounded by countries with partial or no freedom of the press). Reporters Without Borders ranks them 93 out of 175 countries and says “The Israeli authorities are capable of both best and worst practice when it comes to respect for press freedom.” Two different perspectives there.

    Israel is in the “Very High” category of the 2009 Human Development Report put out by the U.N. Development Programme. Criteria include life expectancy, adult literacy, educational enrollment, purchasing power, and income.

    They rank in the top sixth of countries with whom it is easy to do business and in the top third for economic freedom (World Bank and Heritage Foundation, respectively).

    The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel explicitly provides for the protection of religious freedom, as do numerous Supreme Court rulings. The U.S. State Department’s 2009 International Religious Freedom Report states that Israeli law “provides for freedom of worship and the government generally respects this right in practice.”

    Transparency Intl. in 2008 (last year they gave a rating) gave Israel a 6.1 rating on a scale of 0 – 9 (higher numbers better)measuring the perceived level of public sector corruption.

    On Yale and Columbia University’s Environmental Index, Israel ranked in the top third.

    Israel is not perfect. In The Economist’s 2008 Democracy Index, they were classified as a “flawed democracy” (above hybrid and authoritarian regimes but below full democracies), along with such countries as India and Poland. (Incidentally, Turkey and the Palestinian territories are classified as hybrid regimes.) However, she does pretty well and has the freedoms and openness that will allow her to do better in the future. Those countries that surround her and that restrict women’s and gay rights as well as press and religious freedom could do worse than to imitate her.

  21. midnike says:

    One more new detail. The results of autopsy of the 8 murdered Turks and 1 American revealed that they were shot a total of 30(!) times. More than half of victims (5 from 9) were shot either in the back of the head or in the back. Very strange “self defence”…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/04/gaza-flotilla-activists-autopsy-results

  22. timothyscott says:

    Oria, here is a link to a newspaper called Palestine Today, take a look at these recent pictures and continue to tell us how Palestinians are being “starved”.

    One of the headlines says “Despite blockade Gazans shop for their children”

    http://www.paltoday.ps/arabic/News-64161.html

    • Once again, one photograph and one article about how great it is in Gaza while the Isreali government is in full spin-control mode does not mean that the Gazans have not BEEN starved. The Isrealis are letting through more aid NOW, but very recently were bragging about “putting the Palestinians on a diet”.

      Gaza resembles a concentration camp: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0900084.htm

      Gaza conditions ‘at 40-year low':

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7280026.stm

      Living conditions in Gaza grim:

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10389594

      Now we could exchange links like this ad infinitum, both sides excusing the evidence of the other as propaganda. I’m sure the truth is more complex, there must be rich Palestinians who I’m sure are coping. But this whole debacle has driven the majority of Gazans into harsh poverty. Worse – it is one they cannot escape because it is state mandated, and any time the state of Israel chooses, it can impose starvation and deprivation on all gazans merely by stopping the flow of goods into the strip – it effectively is holding the entire population hostage.

      I’m not here to support Hamas, they have done more than their share of evil. I just really fundamentally hate this hypocritical sense that the Isrealis can do no harm, and can starve, punish and destroy innocents by the will of God, and by twisting the truth. Each act should be weighed on it’s own merits, and watching anti-semites dismiss the death and suffering of millions, international crimes commited on the high seas, heavily armed commandos being ‘forced’ to slaughter aid workers while trying to seize a ship full of medical supplies excused because the aid workers were part of an international semetic conspiracy – all because it is currently OK to hate this one type of semite (Palestinians) – and that questioning this violence and hatred automatically brings calls of anti-semetism – it frankly makes me ill.

  23. julierbutler says:

    Real Terrorists Don’t Aid and Protect Israeli Soldiers

    http://aliabunimah.posterous.com/blog-post-israel-hasbara-fails-again-pics-sho

  24. julierbutler says:

    First-hand account – note the segment where the author explains how the soldiers were disarmed, and their weapons thrown overboard. http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/06/06/kidnapped-israel-forsaken-britain

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