Violence & Hubris in the Israel-Flotilla Crisis

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Above is a video taken by Israeli Defense Force personnel of the beatings and violence unleashed as IDF seals boarded the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. The IDF should not have boarded the vessels — and the activists should not have engaged in such violence.

This is a video of Israeli citizens celebrating the Israeli attack on the Turkish ship in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv. There is no sense of remorse at all for those who died — no matter what the reasons. This video will further inflame the anger throughout the Middle East and in much of the rest of the world at Israel’s choice of violence in these tests of its resolve.
This kind of behavior and hubris is exactly the kind of thing that turns the stomachs of those tasked with national security policy work in the White House. Even Dennis Ross on the National Security Council staff would be repulsed by what this video depicts. Someone should ask him.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

92 comments on “Violence & Hubris in the Israel-Flotilla Crisis

  1. marcus says:

    and then theres self-defence and everybody fights – ie; Israel, eg. Israel see: Israel, @ Israel, ref: Israel.

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  2. marcus says:

    physical cowards if you don`t fight or stupidly suicidal(morally speaking) if you do,pretty much sums up my attitude towards violence. – and then there`s self-defence and everybody fights, ie; Israel.
    Their somali pirates to some but their Superheroes to me.

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  3. Don Bacon says:

    Let’s see if I’ve got this, marcus:
    * whites are physical cowards except when they’re not.
    * When they’re not cowards they’re stupidly suicidal.
    * Non-whites aren’t too bright either — they’re just pawns and therefore they’re not newsworthy.
    Is that about it?

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  4. MarkL says:

    Marcus,
    don’t you have a final solution? upping the death rate won’t solve the problem.
    We know you want to go all the way.

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    I’ve noticed your new slogan against me, Nadine. As for your
    bedfellow, when he says stuff like: “it seems like the death ratio
    of 1000 arabs to 1 jew is going to have to rise exponentially”,
    you feel no urge even to close your eyes in shame and
    repulsion.
    Turn that statement on its head, Nadine, and have a look
    around you – it goes like this: “Tragically, it seems like the
    death ratio of 1000 Jews to 1 Arab is going to have to rise
    exponentially”.
    The most barbaric part of that formulation is hidden in the
    formulation “is going to have to rise…” Notice that there is no
    perpetrator in that sentence.
    I once read an interesting Danish essay about this, and if I
    remember correctly, in grammatical terms it is called “avalent
    verbs” – like: “it rains”, or: “it’s snowing today”. In German
    philosophy this linguistic figure is often connected with the
    word “Schicksal” – “fate”. Martin Heidegger loved avalent verbs.

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  6. nadine says:

    marcus understands the reality of the situation far better than you do, Paul. You’re too busy keeping your eyes closed so you can’t notice whom you’re in bed with.

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Give me an honest footwear or handbag spammer any day,
    compared to marcus’ contributions on this blog.

    Reply

  8. marcus says:

    Tragically,it seems like the death ratio of 1000 arabs to 1 jew is going to have to rise expotentially. The Pals are no more today than they have ever been,just pawns.Historically they have been the pawns of regional arab states.
    What is more obcene today is that they are quickly becoming the pawns of some of the must ignorant ,disenfranchised and malevolent elements of the western world,their deaths will be caused by these adolescent malcontents intent on playing out their agressions with the pals as cannon fodder for the IDF.
    My personal experiences with white pal-activists is that they are physical cowards , that’s one reason why none of the deaths on the ship were whites,only muslims were killed.
    When a white person does get killed or injured MAN do the other white pal-activists whine and moan and cry with candlelight vigils etc.etc.etc.
    It’s the same with crime fatalities,a dozen black kids can get killed hardly makes the news,but if one blond kid get’s murdered it not only makes the front page,but they name a new law after her.
    I would like a rachel corrie involuntary suicide law but unfortunatly you can’t criminalize stupidity.

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  9. Don Bacon says:

    David,
    I travel a lot and I have lived in many countries so I’ll respond to your question.
    People generally feel more or less separate from their governments and so when you travel you can always count on getting along well with virtually anyone (there are always exceptions) you meet anywhere BECAUSE everybody in the world understands that their governments, to a greater or lesser extent, does things that are not in the citizens’ best interests, and we as citizens aren’t responsible for it.
    In other words, we all have something in common, a shared built-in distrust of government, great or small, so we all can get all just fine, and share great jokes (or complaints) about our governments.

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  10. David says:

    I now understand in a whole new way what it means to say that one likes a people but hates their government. The only question then becomes, At what point do a people become so invested in and supportive of the conduct of their government that the two can no longer be thought of as separate considerations? I do not know the answer to that question.

    Reply

  11. Cee says:

    << http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/06/03/meet-the-19-year-old-american-killed-in-the-flotilla-attack/
    Meet the 19-Year-Old American Killed in the Flotilla Attack
    For several days, Israel has been able to contain some of the fallout from the flotilla massacre by withholding information about the dead and injured. The object of this exercise has clearly been to slow the flow of information in the hope that by the time the most damning facts become known, the international media

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    Hamas are violent militant Islamists reacting to violent militant Jews. The cycle needs to be broken, but there’s no profit in doing so.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    Mubarak is an authoritarian dictator annually propped up by billions of US taxpayer dollars. Who cares what he thinks?

    Reply

  14. JohnH says:

    Give it up, Nadine. No one cares about your paranoid ravings. The whole world is wearing the Palestinian keffiyeh now. My Jewish boss bought me mine.

    Reply

  15. nadine says:

    “I would also guess that a main reason Egypt is blockading Gaza is because this is the kind of thing the US pays the Egyptians to do.”
    Dan, ever heard of the Muslim Brotherhood? What is their aim? Hamas is a spin-off. So is Al Qaeda.
    Mubarak has plenty of reason to want to keep Hamas penned up. He has the reason that always counts most to an Arab dictator — his own survival. He remembers who killed Anwar Sadat.
    Seriously, you talk the Middle East as if Israel were the only actor in it.

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  16. nadine says:

    “For several months now it has been clear that Erdogan has moved up to the top of Israel’s enemies list, probably right behind Ahmadinejad. Once Turkey puts some of its stature on the line behind the Freedom Flotilla, and following Obama’s high-handed rebuff of the Turkey-Brazil diplomatic gambit, Israel might have spied a chance to drive a wedge between the US and Turkey, and jumped at it.” (Dan Kervick)
    Who launched the flotilla full of IHH Hamas supporters to run the blockade? Turkey did. So who exactly was seeing his chance to get back at the US after the Turkey-Brazil “rebuff” and who took it? Who forced the issue? Erdogan saw his chance to help his friends in Hamas and hurt the US by proxy in one move. It’s obvious. A child could see it. But not a Leftist.
    All this stuff about food is nonsense. 10,000 tons a week of aid go into Gaza, and Israel offered to let whatever this flotilla was carrying go in too, after inspection. It’s such a flimsy cover story. This isn’t about food. It’s about arms.
    Israel can’t let ships run the blockade because it can’t afford Hamas with 40,000 long range missiles like Hizbullah. The war that would happen after Hamas started to shoot them at Jerusalem would make Cast Lead look like a child’s picnic. That’s what this is about.
    I know why Hamas wants the blockade ended. But why do you? Hamas are violent militant Islamists, always have been. What is your purpose in wanting to see them armed with long-range missiles?
    “Those who are kind to the cruel, are cruel to the kind.”

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  17. Don Bacon says:

    “Netanyahu insisted the blockade was needed to prevent militants from being able to carrying out attacks against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
    So if I were nadine, and I got tired of quoting my guru Barry Rubin, I would simply say: Hey, the US has a history of imposing and enforcing blockades & sanctions that killed people — so what’s the problem?
    The sanctions against Iraq (Harpers, 2002).
    Among the goods that the United States blocked last winter: dialysis, dental, and fire

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    Same reason as the UK blockade of Germany before, during and after WWI, and the US blockade of Iraq in the 90′s, and the US sanctions of Iran for the last ten years. Israel didn’t invent the idea of “crippling sanctions”. It’s what the strong enjoy doing to the weak when they can’t get away with bombing the shit out of them.

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  19. Dan Kervick says:

    “Try to think about WHY Israel and Egypt have the blockade in place.”
    Well, I would say the chief and immediate goal of the blockade is to drive Hamas from power by making the conditions of everyday life in Gaza intolerable. The Israelis and Egyptians both initiated the blockade following Hamas’s election victory. They’re doing the same thing the US tried to do for decades in Cuba – trying to drive a government from power by making it impossible for the territory that government controls to thrive economically.
    The Egyptians have explicitly said that they don’t want to open the border because they would regard that as a recognition of the Hamas government, and will only open the border if the PA returns to secure it. I would also guess that a main reason Egypt is blockading Gaza is because this is the kind of thing the US pays the Egyptians to do.
    Obviously, the Israelis don’t just keep construction materials and weapons from going into Gaza, but have severely limited the flow of ordinary foodstuffs as well. Basically, they are trying to make sure it continues to suck to be a Gazan.
    In a broader context, Israel has been at war with the Palestinian people since the founding of Israel, and before, and its long-term goal is victory in that war. The Gaza blockade is in that context just like any other old-fashioned siege, aimed at crushing the enemy people’s will to resist, and compelling their surrender.

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  20. Dan Kervick says:

    “Do you think the Israelis didn’t know there would be a huge amount of hypocritical screaming from the red-green alliance at them?”
    Do you think they care, Nadine? Do they ever care about just another round of condemnation? They received a blitz of opprobrium as a result of Cast Lead too. But nobody said that that operation was just a “blunder”, or something the Israelis didn’t do on purpose.
    For several months now it has been clear that Erdogan has moved up to the top of Israel’s enemies list, probably right behind Ahmadinejad. Once Turkey puts some of its stature on the line behind the Freedom Flotilla, and following Obama’s high-handed rebuff of the Turkey-Brazil diplomatic gambit, Israel might have spied a chance to drive a wedge between the US and Turkey, and jumped at it. What better way to force the US to choose one or the other than by getting the two states on opposite sides of a lethal military encounter?
    We can already see that’s a lot of Israel’s defenders are trying to spin the kinetic assault into a diplomatic assault on Turkey. And if Obama falls into the trap, not only will Israel get away with the assault, their government will turn it into a political win by further isolating Washington and driving it away from the rest of the Middle East, and deeper into Israeli arms.
    I don’t know how many ordinary Israelis would like it if events went in this direction. But I have no doubt that that kind of high-rolling, edgy extremism is fairly common among the folks in charge of its current far right government. After all, Avigdor Lieberman had declared ahead of time that Israel was prepared to stop the flotilla “at any cost.”

    Reply

  21. larry birnbaum says:

    I enjoy JohnH’s locution “Palestinian Legislator Haneen Zuabi” above.
    That would be MK Haneen Zuabi.

    Reply

  22. JohnH says:

    The Sabra and Shatila massacre was what turned me from a reluctant supporter of Israel into an opponent. If you recall, the IDF sealed the escape routes and stood idly by while Phalangists butchered hundreds if not thousands of Palestinians, including women and children.
    Sabra and Shatila opened my eyes to the scale of senseless brutality that Israel was willing to condone or participate in directly. Having watched all Israel’s pogroms since then, I have seen nothing to change this impression.
    Back in those days, it seemed that Israel was intent on killing three Arabs for every Jew. After Likud returned to power in the year 2000, it seems the number was increased to 10 to 1. In Gaza 2008-2009, it was more like 1000 to 1. And this does not take into account the tremendous destruction.
    As a result, I have no reason to doubt Palestinian Legislator Haneen Zuabi when she said, “it was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.” It’s what the IDF does.

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  23. DonS says:

    Nadine, the ‘sharp contrarian’ (if ever there were a misnomer) preempts the headline. You go girl.

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  24. nadine says:

    Dan, “You seem to accept it as a matter of course that the Israelis did not do what they did *on purpose*, but that everything escalated in an unforeseen way do to a few sticks and chairs. ”
    Sticks and chairs? So how do you explain the Israelis with stab wounds and bullet holes in them?
    The flotilla was trying to run the Israeli blockade. That is indeed the act of war. Nonetheless Israel offered to escort them to an Israeli port and let the goods through-after inspection. They refused because this is about breaking the blockade, not the goods, which Gaza has no shortage of, except for the missiles.
    “I think it is entirely possible, on the other hand, that the Israelis got exactly the outcome they were hoping for, and that they launched an aggressive commando assault on the ship in order to draw some blood, take some scalps and send a message”
    You’re not that stupid, Dan. Do you think the Israelis didn’t know there would be a huge amount of hypocritical screaming from the red-green alliance at them? They had every reason in the world to avoid bloodshed – and on the five ships that didn’t attack them, nobody suffered a scratch. So how do you explain that, huh?
    Unlike some here, you don’t sound mindless. Try to think about WHY Israel and Egypt have the blockade in place, and what the Eastern Med will look like if Hamas is allowed to get 40,000 long range rockets and missiles to match Hizbullah.
    Try to think like ‘realist’ who looks at reality, not some la-la land pipedream where there are no Islamist militants.

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  25. DonS says:

    “My position is that when armed men attack your boat in international waters, it is an act of war, and you are entitled to defend yourself.” ( Dan)
    Mine too.
    And the alternative interpretation is that there were 9 passengers who were bent on suicide, and many many others who were intent on being maimed.
    But you know how these Israel Firster’s defy logic and, as you note, they see Israel as a benign presence. Only anti-Semites and self-haters would disagree.

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  26. Dan Kervick says:

    “The surprise you keep trying to imply…”
    One more time, Nadine: *I* am the one who said there was *no surprise*. *You* are the one who implied, contrary to the evidence, that the Israelis expected to surprise the flotilla. You keep getting your recollection of this part of the conversation all balled up.
    “This flotilla had no such cause for fear. They knew the Israelis didn’t want to harm them, just keep them from running the blockade.”
    Oh for Pete’s sake. Maybe the readers of Commentary, the Wall Street Journal, the Jerusalem Post and the New Republic have an implicit and childlike faith that when Israelis show up, they never mean anyone any harm. But to much of the rest of the world, the Israelis are a scary and aggressive crew, with an established proclivity for collective punishment, a frequently demonstrated contempt for international law, and bundles of zeal for opening ups cans of whup-ass on Arabs and Muslims whenever the circumstances permit.
    You seem to accept it as a matter of course that the Israelis did not do what they did *on purpose*, but that everything escalated in an unforeseen way do to a few sticks and chairs. I think it is entirely possible, on the other hand, that the Israelis got exactly the outcome they were hoping for, and that they launched an aggressive commando assault on the ship in order to draw some blood, take some scalps and send a message. Because if there is one thing Israelis hate more than Arabs and Muslims, it is western pro-Palestinian activists.
    My position is that when armed men attack your boat in international waters, it is an act of war, and you are entitled to defend yourself.

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  27. Carroll says:

    As Robert Fisk duly noted yesterday:
    [I]t is a fact that it is ordinary people, activists, call them what you will, who now take decisions to change events. Our politicians are too spineless, too cowardly, to take decisions to save lives. Why is this? Why didn

    Reply

  28. JohnH says:

    The amazing thing about the “Israel right or wrong” crowd is they cannot get outside their own self absorption enough to understand why the outside world sees them the way they do–”a repressive state able to carry out terrorism against [its neighbors], import the weapons it wants, and to provoke wars at will.”
    All Nadine can say in response is “The only question is, could you, could anyone, possibly be stupid enough to believe what you are saying?”
    How could any Israeli be in such deep denial about their own extensive track record of death and destruction against their neighbors: Shatila and Sabra, a brutal occupation of Lebanon, a brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, a thousand civilian deaths in Lebanon in 2006, another thousand civilian deaths in Gaza 2008-2009.
    And Nadine cannot understand how anyone could possibly see Israel as anything but a poor, innocent victim. Get real, Nadine! Constantly conducting pogroms against the neighbors will only get Israel the scorn it so justly deserves.

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  29. nadine says:

    btw, the Steve, the Israeli protests you show were not “celebrating the attack” but protesting the Turkish support of the pro-Hamas flotilla. They are angry at Turkey. Do you blame them?

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  30. nadine says:

    JohnH, Hamas has had the sole rule of Gaza since the coup in 2007. What has it done? Fire rockets. Try to send suicide bombers into Israel. Glorify martydom. Hide behind civilians and kill civilians.
    And you prattle about “equality under the law.” What law? Hamas isn’t under Israeli law. They rule themselves under Sharia law. All the Christians have been forced to flee, but they aren’t a minority you care about, so you don’t notice.
    The only question is, could you, could anyone, possibly be stupid enough to believe what you are saying? Unfortunately, it’s possible.

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  31. JohnH says:

    Nadine’s aptly describes Israeli behavior–”Israel can and will entrench itself as a repressive state able to carry out terrorism against [its neighbors], import the weapons it wants, and to provoke wars at will.” Good job, Nadine!
    Exactly the way to alienate friends and antagonize everyone else…

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  32. nadine says:

    Dan, where’s the contradiction? The Israelis had been in contact with the boats for a long time, trying to persuade them to turn back…do you think the contact meant that nobody ever went to sleep again on those boats?
    The surprise you keep trying to imply is that of passengers surprised by pirates, who have good cause to fear for their lives. This flotilla had no such cause for fear. They knew the Israelis didn’t want to harm them, just keep them from running the blockade. We see that on the five boats where the Israelis were not attacked, nobody was hurt. Yet you keep exuding sympathy for the poor “peace activists” who were waiting for Israelis with knives and clubs.
    Here’s a video from the Marmara’s security cameras. In this one, the “peace activists” are trying to fend off boats, so it’s not the same situation as the upper deck, where the Israelis were rappelling down. It’s not clear when this was.
    Barry Rubin comments:
    “A Brazilian on the flotilla said something to the effect that we always expect the worst of the Israelis and they exceed that. But in fact if the flotilla militants believed that Israel was as evil as they claim, they would have expected that violent resistance would have led to the massacre of everyone on board.
    It was because they knew Israel had to be provoked, tricked in a sense, into violence that they acted the way they did. And they knew that they would get just enough violence to make their propaganda case without all getting killed.
    And they also knew that if all the boats were captured without incident they would have “lost” since there wouldn’t be a huge international outcry against Israel. And equally they knew that if the supplies were delivered through Egypt or Israel they would have “lost” because they don’t care about getting the supplies to “poor, suffering” people but their goal is rather to end the blockade.
    If the blockade is ended, Hamas can and will entrench itself as a repressive state able to carry out terrorism against Israel, import the weapons it wants, and to provoke wars at will. The Iran-Syria-led bloc will increase in power. It will be a terrible defeat for the West and lead to others, including Gaza as a base of subversion against Egypt, the weakening of the West Bank as the next target, and the impossibility of Israel-Palestinian peace.
    Indeed, Hamas has now announced that it will refuse to accept any of the supplies delivered through Israel or Egypt. They sense victory and this makes them more extreme and aggressive, a fact of life regarding international affairs that people in the Western governments should understand.”

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  33. Dan Kervick says:

    “And what is all this nonsense about how ‘surprised’ the people on the ships were?”
    Hmmm … Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought *you* were the one who said the Israelis made an intelligence mistake because they thought everyone was “sleeping”. And I thought that I was the one who said they had been in contact for hours, so the Israelis couldn’t possibly have been under the impression that they were sneaking up on the flotilla and were unexpected.
    “The blockade is legal, has been declared legal …”
    By whom?
    “… and is officially supported by the United States.”
    The United States has been known to do some illegal things … like invade whole countries that were neither attacking them nor preparing to attack them.

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  34. JohnH says:

    Memories of Bloody Sunday with Bibi taking the role of George Wallace, the IDF taking the role of the Alabama state troopers, and the “religious” nationalists being the Ku Klux Klan.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_%281965%29#First_march
    The result was a reinvigorated civil rights movement and constitutional amendments guaranteeing equal treatment under the law–exactly what the world is asking Israel to grant Palestinians.
    Back then, many Jews were outspoken and active in the civil rights movement.
    http://rac.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=21347&pge_prg_id=12630&pge_id=2394
    As a potentially vulnerable minority, it was in their self interest to promote equal treatment under the law. Let’s hope that future flotillas to Gaza include lots of children of these civil rights workers…

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  35. nadine says:

    “David Ignatius, Israel’s man at WAPO, is totally flummoxed. To the point of blaming Turkey for wanting to be a regional hegemon.” (DonS)
    At some point, the question is recognition of reality. Turkey does want to be a regional hegemon and has taken sides in the Israeli conflict: it is pro-Hamas. Note: it is not pro-Fatah, at all. Just pro-Hamas. Erdogan regards Hamas as a fellow Islamist party just like the AKP. Hamas’ history of suicide bombers, missiles and the declarations to destroy Israel and kill all the Jews are fine by him.
    Turkey is Islamist now. Pro-Iran, pro-Syria, pro-Hamas, pro-Sudan. Openly. Erdogan sees LOTS of opportunity in Obama’s weakness and passivity. Weakness invites aggression. You never saw Erdogan send flotillas for Hamas when Bush was in office. But he has no fear of Obama. Why should he?
    The only question is how long it will take official Washington to recognize the obvious.
    Steve Cook has a piece in FP urging DC to open its eyes:
    How Do You Say “Frenemy” in Turkish?
    Meet America’s new rival in the Middle East.
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/01/how_do_you_say_frenemy_in_Turkish

    Reply

  36. nadine says:

    “The assault was almost certainly illegal, which means that the attacking country is culpable for the loss of life in the ensuing hostilities.”
    Dan, you’re blowing smoke out your you-know-what. The blockade is legal, has been declared legal, and is officially supported by the United States. Hamas is a terrorist organization whose open aim is the destruction of Israel. It reneged on the PA’s treaties. Therefore the Israeli ships were acting legally.
    And what is all this nonsense about how ‘surprised’ the people on the ships were? The Israelis had been in contact for a long time, trying to persuade them to change course voluntarily. The tape and the testimony makes it clear that the only surprised people were the Israelis, who realized too late that they were dealing with violent Islamist militants who tried to kill them, not “peace activists”.
    How come you only get empathetic on behalf of Hamas-supporters? Next week, you’ll be demanding that Gazans have free access into Israel no matter how many of them are suicide bombers.

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  37. rich says:

    http://www.juancole.com/
    Several new posts at Juan Cole’s Informed Comment are worth looking at.
    “More eyewitness accounts are emerging from released aid activists whom the Israelis had imprisoned.

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  38. Carroll says:

    You will never see American leaders or politicans
    threatening or taking any action on Israel over the killing or injuring of Americans like Turkey has done.
    If you want to talk about a country projecting ‘weakness”, the US’s failure to protect Americans from the USS Libery up to today
    broadcast our real weakness for all to see.
    Score one for Turkey
    Maariv and Yediot: Erdogan landed military planes in Israel, forced its hand on flotilla detainees
    June 2, 2010 Didi Remez
    UPDATE 01:30PM

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  39. charles pigott says:

    The first half of Steve’s comment that the commandos should not have boarded the ship shows his usual fair judgment but I hope he will rethink the second half, that the passengers ‘should not have engaged in such violence’.
    There is simply no credible basis at this point for the conclusion that the passengers on the boat were unjustifiably ‘attacking’ the commandos. The only ‘evidence’ is an edited video provided by the Israeli authorities showing fighting between the passengers and the commandos. The interpretation depends on what happened prior to these events.
    What we do know is that armed commandos dropped onto the ship in the middle of the night and in international waters where they had no legal jurisdiction over the boat or passengers, apparently (according to the information I have seen) without any prior warning. (Its not even clear to me from the videos that the commandos had any badges or other visible identification that would have allowed the passengers to know that they were Israeli military). There have also been reports, although so far unverified, that some of the commandos opened fire as they were descending.
    By itself, the edited video shows only the fighting and not the events that provoked it. The events shown are perfectly consistent with a scenario in which the commandos took actions that any reasonable person on the ship would have concluded was an attack that posed mortal danger. The right to self defence is widely recognised in such circumstances.
    Perhaps the commandos did descend throwing flowers and singing kumbyya– although the video does not show it. And perhaps they did nothing that the passengers should have interpreted as a threat. However I think most people would feel threatened if armed men suddenly dropped down in front of them. Its not as if Israeli soldiers have never harmed civilians in the past But the basic point is that the video itself is insufficient to draw the conclusion.
    Those who are defending the Israeli action really need to put themselves in the passengers position and ask what they would have felt or done in their position. They also need to wait until more of this story comes out, particularly the accounts of the passengers. Right now, particularly in the U.S., we have received pretty much only the official Israeli account.

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  40. Carroll says:

    “This kind of behavior and hubris is exactly the kind of thing that turns the stomachs of those tasked with national security policy work in the White House.”
    Well maybe those “tasked” with national security policy should be fired for not doing their ‘task’….it we had anyone who was tasking on American Security policy this would never have happened, just like Gaza would never have happened just like there would never have been an Israeli occupation of Palestine to begin with.
    I like to know who in the WH is tasking on US security and interest and not Israel’s, are there any?

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  41. non-hater says:

    “Noah Pollack has some better ideas:”
    If by better you mean bad for the United States, yes, those are great suggestions.
    “Noah Pollack is a very talented… ”
    How can he be talented if he’s wrong about everything? Good writing != good judgment. Andrew Sullivan is a perfect example. Hitchens is another.

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  42. JohnH says:

    “Israel wants the world to get tangled up in an endless debate about a few knives and clubs. The world wants Israel to come to grips with the more fundamental issue of whether a Jewish state respects the laws and norms that govern all humankind

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  43. JohnH says:

    More on the Israeli propaganda video that Steve disseminated–
    “Eyewitness accounts from ships raided by Israeli commandos have cast doubt on Israel’s version of events that led to the deaths of at least nine people.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10208027.stm
    Apparently the commandos were firing their guns even before they descended onto the ship. Yet some think that passengers should have let themselves be picked off like Palestinians, or fish in a barrel!
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday criticized Israel:
    “Had Israelis heeded to my call and to the call of the international community by lifting the blockade of Gaza, this tragic incident would not have happened,” he said.

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  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Not as ugly as a government holding a ceremony to formally name a square after someone who killed a few score civilians in a terrorist attack, but ugly”
    And the Israeli’s have not given hero status to murderous radicals???
    You racist jackasses advance such a lopsided biased picture, it is laughable at times. You provide the radical Muslim world with martyrs on a regular basis, then snivel and moan when the martyrs are lionized.
    And your reasoning tells us alot about you. Naming a square after a martyr is somehow uglier than attacking ships on the high seas and murdering a dozen or so people. Now thats a logic that shows great character, jackass.
    You racist nazis don’t want squares named after martyrs? Stop creating martyrs.
    And perhaps these fucking IDF nazis in the West Bank should stop shooting American citizens in the head if you’re really concernerd about “anti-semitism”, because I gotta tell you, THIS former pro-Israel American is pretty fed up with you racist murderous criminal Israeli Jews, and I’m not alone, and your actions are increasing our numbers.

    Reply

  45. larry birnbaum says:

    “This kind of behavior and hubris is exactly the kind of thing that turns the stomachs of those tasked with national security policy work in the White House. Even Dennis Ross on the National Security Council staff would be repulsed by what this video depicts. Someone should ask him.”
    The first part is right, in the sense that celebrating violence isn’t a good thing. But the language here is very emtional. And I have to wonder what the point of bringing Ross into this is. You continue to personalize these issues in a very emotional way, and to project his emotions onto specific individuals in a way that has gone over the line in the past and that you’ve had to apologize for. I don’t think you’ve really dug into it yet frankly.
    Anyway, to the larger point, the scene is ugly. Not as ugly as a government holding a ceremony to formally name a square after someone who killed a few score civilians in a terrorist attack, but ugly.

    Reply

  46. Dan Kervick says:

    It’s going to be hard to confirm what actually happened on the ship, since the Israelis apparently stole all the laptops, cameras and cell phones before releasing the passengers.
    But so far the bottom line appears to be that armed men waylaid and forcibly boarded a ship from the air and sea in international waters, and some of the passengers on board that ship defended themselves against the boarding. The armed men were acting under their country’s orders. That country’s defense is that the ship, while in international waters, was about to enter waters that only that country itself regards as its own territorial waters, in defense of a blockade that most of the world has already condemned.
    The assault was almost certainly illegal, which means that the attacking country is culpable for the loss of life in the ensuing hostilities.
    After abducting the people on the ship, the Israelis forced them against their will into an Israeli port, and then charged them with illegally entering Israel.
    The underlying problem here is the same as the problem with attacks and expropriations against Palestinians in the West Bank. The Israelis seem to have a much more expansive notion about the territorial extent of Israeli sovereignty than the rest of the world.
    Decades of mealy-mouthed American “ambiguity” – i.e. political timidity – has helped allow this unsatisfactory situation to fester.

    Reply

  47. DonS says:

    David Ignatius, Israel’s man at WAPO, is totally flummoxed. To the point of blaming Turkey for wanting to be a regional hegemon. And to the point of suggesting Israel go to the UN Security Council for help (you read that right), even to investigate the commando raid.
    Then there are some pithy asides about Israel’s freewheeling military arrogance. And a strange allusion about Israel’s friends in the US being more “unreliable” (must be smoking good stuff)
    “Israel needs to embrace the paradox: Sometimes the best way to manage an intractable problem is to internationalize it. ”
    Internationalize it? Say what? Actually let the international community into Israel’s inner sanctum.
    Sure. I’d trust Israel to bring the international community on board. NOT. Seems like the Israeli apologists are in total disarray.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/01/AR2010060102908.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    Reply

  48. anne@israel says:

    as for zoabi some origins says that there are bunch of people in israeli knesset who probably work with hamas. this ship was terrible provocation and, sure, their aim was not humanitarian.

    Reply

  49. rich says:

    Firedoglake is way ahead of me, Steve, and anybody else in terms of gathering links to eyewitness accounts & accurate news reports. Go there for actual news & analysis; both are more than ostensible US news outlets offered.
    http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/52176
    Follow the posted links; more links in their fine comment section.
    U.S. Ambassador Peck sets the record straight:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGb01ehPJmk
    Pretty much puts the lie to the notion that horrible humanitarians hassled hapless-but-noble Israeli soldiers trying to preserve the peace.
    http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0531/raw-video-reporter-claims-israelis-fired-activists-boarding-ship/
    “Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of the confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a news conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.”
    http://firedoglake.com/2010/05/31/israeli-commandos-kill-unarmed-civilians-in-international-waters/

    Reply

  50. rich says:

    Peter Cook? Brits militarists aren’t known for balancing the application of power with any sort of moral compass. Analysis of how never speaks to any political or legal integrity. It’s because they mistake discipline for amoral code.
    For an honest assessment of reality, try this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdqsVgUbW00&feature=related

    Reply

  51. nadine says:

    British Naval counter-terrorism expert Peter Cook analyzes the tape:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG0EfG8mnAo

    Reply

  52. nadine says:

    Dan, here’s an interview with one of the Navy commandos:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9p5QT91QYs&feature=player_embedded
    Judge for yourself. BTW, I believe they had been communicating with the ships for several days by that point.

    Reply

  53. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…most of the stuff is worthless,expired medicine and other junk”
    You have some substantiation for that claim?
    Lets see it.
    It wouldn’t be the same source that told this ignorant jackass Nadine that the Israelis “thought the activists were asleep”, would it???

    Reply

  54. marcus says:

    It’s obvious that Erogdan’s attempt to smash through Israel’s blockade was a direct attack on the US of A.by way of her close ally,Israel. A deliberate . pre-meditated, challenge to american power, just like that nuclear swap-deal with Iran.
    The aid to the gazans has already been proved to be a front a scam,most of the stuff is worthless,expired medicine and other junk.Absolutly nothing about this incident has anything to do with delivering aid to gaza.
    The usefull idiots if nothing else,are dependable.Americans must keep in mind that Israel is only the “little Satan”

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I note one of the photographs being exhibited by Israel, showing a knife wielding heathen intent on ruthlessly scalping and castrating an Israeli stormtrooper, was taken during daylight hours. I was unaware this event unfolded in slow motion.
    Frankly, I’m really disappointed in Steve’s mealy mousey commentary on this issue. We are to believe the Israelis? And they have earned this trust HOW???? By attacking merchant ships on the high seas in violation of international law??? By targeting and gunning down peaceful protesters in the West Bank?? By using farmers and fishermen as target practice??? By bulldozing olive groves and torching wheat crops??? By frying Palestinian non-combatants in white phosphorous??? By dumping a coupla million cluster bomblets throughout Lebanon??? Yeah boy, they’ve really earned our trust, haven’t they?
    Lets get this straight. Exactly WHO is committing the injustice in Gaza??? Exactly WHO is showing the moral spine to actually attempt to right this injustice??? So, which set of values renders which party as being the more believable of the two?
    “The deck was clear; they thought the “activists” were asleep.”
    Yeah right. The Israelis thought they would just quietly slither in with military chopppers, rappel down to the decks, and all the heathen sand niggers would be sound asleep dreaming sweet dreams of ten thousand virgins…..
    “Go back to sleep Ahmed, its only the Israelis”.
    Stop making such an ass out of yourself, Nadine.
    Read the posts here. Read Kervick. Read Norhiem. Read David, and many others.
    Read Nadine and Birnbaum.
    Now, I ask you…..
    Who instills trust?

    Reply

  56. Don Bacon says:

    There’s only one side to this story, what the military calls psyops, how most people resolve it in their minds, and on this side Israel lost. Doesn’t matter much what we think. Check the world reaction. Nobody in the world’s that crazy about Israel anyhow, and this caps it.

    Reply

  57. rich says:

    birnbaum @ 11:34PM -
    “Nilufer Cetin is someone who put her 1 year-old child in harm’s way as a human shield in attempting to break a military blockade.”
    Snore. This bankrupt rhetoric is always assumed to be a refuge for scoundrels and cowards.
    When you bomb a civilian population, you are in no position to blame the women and children killed in the onslaught. Totalitarian regimes do not win by bombing the civilians the are responsible for protecting even more indiscriminately. And of course soldiers as well as freedom fighters use any cover or bunker they can find. Twas ever thus, on any battlefield and during any just cause and in any ghetto you care to name.
    Wheeling out that exhausted canard wins you a little pity, but no points.
    But you seem mighty uninformed, birnbaum, of the instructions issued to IDF foot-soldiers just before they went into Gaza. The explicit orders were to kill ‘em all.
    What would you have them do? Put on redcoats and march up and down in regiment formation like the British did in 1776? The crime of self-defense or resisting tyranny is never in the method (human shields being only the most execrable means of projecting responsiblity for war crimes upon the victims) — it’s that the murdered exist at all. And when white phosphorus is the tool of choice, in the final examination you know extermination is the goal. You can’t self-justify your way outta that, birnbaum.

    Reply

  58. Dan Kervick says:

    “The deck was clear; they thought the “activists” were asleep.”
    Oh, come on. Are you talking about military intelligence, or just the ordinary kind inside a brain? The Israelis had been communicating with the ship for hours, and everyone knew the confrontation was coming. Everyone on that ship must have been wide awake, and at least somewhat frightened, and the Israelis clearly must have known that. Do you think they “sneaked up on them” with a floodlights and a helicopter while they were sleeping?

    Reply

  59. rich says:

    Steve Clemons @ 8:08PM -
    “JohnH — there are more sides to the story than two. I have made clear that I think both sides wanted this incident to occur. This was not a hapless flotilla going to Gaza in the spirit of Gandhi.”
    Nor should they be asked to adopt the nonviolent spirit of Gandhi. But really, whoever said Gandhi was hapless?? They had little choice but self-defense, give the standard operating procedure of the IDF.
    Steve, I don’t know how you contradict your own reproval of JohnH–twice–in the space of three sentences. You replied that “there are more sides to the story than two”—and then promptly fail to recognize that there could be more than one motivation at work.
    a) You limit the narrative to TWO choices: violent or nonviolent — that’s pretty damn rigid. This classic labeling step is a form of abuse of power: leaving no room for an authentic story; no room for telling what happened; no room for identifying justified self-defense in action.
    I don’t think it is reasonable to say that “both sides wanted this incident to occur.”
    Evidence and common sense says the preferred outcome would be to proceed unmolested to Gaza: delivery of crucial supplies would make a life-or-death difference, and the blockade would be broken without any violence.
    Those ARE nonviolent acts. There’s no provocation, either, save to an unjust eye.
    Israel had every opportunity to let the nonviolent flotilla proceed unmolested. Regional spheres of regional-powers-who-shall-not-be-named do not enter into it. (Iran)
    b) So–obviously–there could be two objectives, not just one. An awareness of several variant winning outcomes hardly precludes the sincere intent to deliver humanitarian supplies via the flotilla. Getting food to the hungry is certainly a valid goal.
    There’s no need to think so rigidly: OF COURSE “[t]his was a strategic move designed to force choices.” But it was also, very obviously, a sincere attempt to address a moral cause.
    Your ‘explanation’ really just boils down to wishful thinking. If the flotilla ‘wanted this to happen’ .. . then you get to just ‘blame the victim’ some more. It’s clearly a reflex, so you have my sympathy. You don’t want the outcome you got, so somehow . . . it must be the flotilla’s fault.
    Yes, it was a strategic move designed to succeed across a range of outcomes. That does not mean the civilians on board are somehow malefactors of some kind.
    The murders committed by the Israeli soldiers cannot be blamed on the flotilla passengers. There has to be some responsiblity, on your part.

    Reply

  60. nadine says:

    “I’m trying to imagine how I would have behaved if armed soldiers rappelled out of a helicopter into a small boat I was in, with that presumably armed helicopter circling overhead in the darkness of night.” (Dan Kervick)
    Imagine how you would have behaved if you were on a lower deck with a knife or club in your hand waiting for the soldiers to rappel down so you could rush out and beat them, if you want to imagine the situation accurately.
    The Israelis weren’t stupid enough to rappel down into a mob. The deck was clear; they thought the “activists” were asleep. But the “activists” were waiting for them. It was an Israeli intelligence failure.

    Reply

  61. larry birnbaum says:

    Nilufer Cetin is someone who put her 1 year-old child in harm’s way as a human shield in attempting to break a military blockade.
    Does this impeach her credibility as a reporter? You bet.

    Reply

  62. rich says:

    Editorial note re my comment above:
    >When I say, “Maybe it’s the failed media strategy that is so infuriating” — infuriating & frustrating to American & Israeli handlers & functionaries that their media strategy (and military method) has failed.
    >Strike my repeat Q #3
    That’s it! Enjoy.
    Otherwise, some really excellent work here at TWN the past months and weeks. Ah, nothin’ like sittin’ back, talkin’ policy, and tippin’ a few mint juleps –or scotch, and forgetting the lessons of Vietnam while our boys can’t tell civilian from combatant . . .
    Course, some of us pointed out right at the outset the uncanny parallels that our policies and methods in both Iran and Afghanistan had with Vietnam. Coulda made a difference, had anybody listened.
    But don’t you mind a bit. Not one bit. Oh, it coulda saved a few trillion dollars here and there, but pay it out at that rate for awhile and everybody’ll forget our boys are over there at all.
    I guess Memorial Day means never having to say you got the policy right.

    Reply

  63. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….and the activists should not have engaged in such violence”
    So much for ” a right to defend themselves”, eh?
    I guess thats a right only extended to the Israelis, and everybody else has to bow down and get shot, starved, bombed, looted, and pissed on, eh?
    And what of the peaceful protesters these fuckin’ fascists are gunning down in the West Bank, Steve? Are they too at fault for being victimized by the IDF?
    Frankly, its too bad the activists didn’t have a few M-16s on board so they coulda shot these pirating criminals as they were rappeling onto the decks. They coulda used a few missiles too, for the choppers. They woulda been well within their rights to do so, AND THEY SHOULD HAVE.
    Frankly, I’m tired of seeing Israel’s VICTIMS being cast as the bad guys. Its horseshit. Its time they fought fire with fire. Its too damned bad that some country doesn’t start arming the Palestinians with the same weaponry we are giving Israel, because maybe then these murderous racist bastards would think twice about killing defenseless civilians and peace activists.
    Our relationsip with Israel should cause EVERY American to hang their heads in shame.

    Reply

  64. rich says:

    “There was a massacre on board,” Cetin said. “The ship turned into a lake of blood.” That’s on the IDF–full-stop. Self-defense cannot be equated with violence; though Steve makes the attempt, no one can be asked to just take a good beating when they’ve done nothing wrong.
    I question whether the IDF video is an accurate portrayal of events, or of just who is acting in good faith or ‘appropriately’.
    For someone who appeared to withhold judgment, Steve, in the absence of solid info in your self-described Rip Van Winkle moment, you are leaping awfully quickly to accept that video as the defining narrative — or perhaps more fairly to you, as an accurate representation of events.
    You don’t actually believe, Steve, that scant minutes of grainy video can actually UNDO the bloodbath initiated by the IDF against unarmed civilians? No, sticks or pipes don’t count as ‘arms’.
    Eyewitness accounts state that IDF treated the civilians on board as enemy combatants from the get-go, unleashing beatings, stun guns, rubber bullets and live fire immediately and without provocation. (see links below) Gunfire was observed before boarding, & during boarding.
    Inclusion of that data point is a requirement for understanding what happened. Isn’t it? For understanding that video?
    “Norman Paech of the German Left Party said, ‘Moments later, we heard detonations and then soldiers from helicopters above us dropped down on board . . . The soldiers were all masked, carrying big guns and were extremely brutal.’
    Anyone who resisted was right to do so. Anyone who reads a newspaper–presumably that includes Steve–knows just what sort of brutality was about to be unleashed by the IDF, on unarmed civilians bent only on righting the great wrong of a ghettoized, starved=-out population.
    Every human in their right mind would resist in such a situation.
    If it was illegal and a great crime to blockade Israel in 1956 and 1967, then how can it pass without comment to blockade Gaza now? Their resistance is premised only on survival .. and perhaps recovering a sliver of the land they once owned.
    “Passengers spoke of being beaten with batons and shocked with stun guns, as well as being shot at with both rubber bullets and life ammunition. AP writes:

    Reply

  65. Dan Kervick says:

    Gelb: “Regarding international law, blockades are quite legal.”
    That’s a strange way of speaking. A blockade is by definition an act of war. So in the first instance, a blockade is only legal if the war itself is legal. Beyond that, the legality of the blockade depends on all of the other factors by which actions in war are legally measured: proportionality, legitimate military objective etc.
    To just say, “blockades are quite legal” is like saying “cruise missile attacks are quite legal”. Cruise missile attacks are legal if conducted in the pursuit of a legally justifiable war, and in a context that makes their use an appropriate measure for achieving a legitimate military aim.
    Anyway, I thought the Israeli government’s position was that the waters off Gaza are not patroled as part of a blockade, but are actually Israeli territorial waters.

    Reply

  66. nadine says:

    No suspicion involved, John. Look at the video. The Israelis were clubbed and stabbed as they rappelled down. The thousand Israelis dead in the intifada weren’t merely suspicious either. You are the disturbed one. Very deeply disturbed.

    Reply

  67. David says:

    There is no doubt this was intended as a direct challenge to Israel’s strangulation of Gaza. And it worked. Some of the details I doubt I will ever know, especially the reason the member of the Israeli military assault team was thrown overboard, which I would not have done, unless it turns out the Israeli was trying to shoot someone. But the larger issue is that the time to break Israel’s stranglehold was long past, and there was apparently no other way to do it. Israel, in one of the stupidest things it has ever done, fell into the trap that was set for it.
    The next question for me is What effective trap can be set for Israel regarding the settlements? Violence and bloodshed are barbaric, but it would appear barbarism continues to carry the day. Peaceful, just resolution continues to be anathema to those in power. We got away with it in our treatment of Native Americans. I suppose Israel believes it too can prevail. But as someone reminded us in an article over at the Nation website, Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad, and what Israel did in response to this purposeful calling of their hand is madness.
    Only under the principle of Might makes right could Israel do what it did to that convoy in international waters, and there is no moral principle in that precept. Israel without a moral center will not survive. That is what people like Peter Beinart and the folks at JStreet seem to me to have figured out. A pity, tragic actually, that the Israeli government is so dense. That a people with so much potential should fail so miserably to live up to their highest ideals and best instincts is sickening. I am speaking specifically of Israel in this instance because they are the occupiers, they were the aggressors in this incident, and it is Israel that my tax dollars enables, no matter what they do. And the government of Israel is so at odds with the character of Jews I was engaged with during the civil rights movement that the contrast really is appalling.
    If Israel is ever destroyed, it will be because it destroyed itself, not because anyone else actually took steps to destroy it. The destruction of Israel is in no one’s interest, and what Israel is doing in Gaza and the Occupied Territories is not only in no one else’s interest, it too is ultimately not in Israel’s best interests.

    Reply

  68. JohnH says:

    In Israel everything is framed in terms of self defense. If you are paranoid and think your neighbor might possibly be coming to rob you at night, rabbinical scholars say that you are entitled to kill him in advance, particularly if he’s a Gentile, because he might possibly kill you during the robbery.
    So if commandos raid a ship on the high seas, they’re entitled to kill passengers if they suspect that one of them might possibly try to kill a commando, even if their only arms consist of kitchen knives, pipes, sticks and stones.
    And, of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to kill virtually anyone in Gaza, because some Palestinian leader had the bravado to state that they wanted to destroy their oppressors, even though their ability to do so is almost nil.
    Those imbued with these values are truly disturbed.

    Reply

  69. nadine says:

    DonS, you’ve got an “if I don’t like it, it must be illegal” mentality. WRONG. The blockade is legal, so stopping the ships is legal (yes, in international waters too), and self-defense from an armed mob is also legal. Since the “activists” wrestled guns from Israelis and started shooting, who knows who got shot by whom? After all, the “activists” said their aim was “Gaza or martyrdom”.
    Leslie Gelb of CFR: “Regarding international law, blockades are quite legal. The United States and Britain were at war with Germany and Japan and blockaded them. I can’t remember international lawyers saying those blockades were illegal

    Reply

  70. DonS says:

    “DonS, if the blockade is legal then stopping ships who try to run the blockade is also legal. Period.”
    If the blockade were legal, the forced used was still disproportionate. It would be called murder without justification of self-defense in civil court. It would be called violation of rules of war in military court.
    It doesn’t matter, Israel unilaterally declared the blockade, as did Egypt. that doesn’t make it legal. That make it imposed.
    If Israel were to hang its reputation on adherence to international law, UN resolution, and abiding by human rights conventions, it would be judged in violation of all. Suddenly, now, Israel is impeccably concerned about dotting i’s and crossing t’s to assert the legality of a blockade intended to put Gazans “on a diet”?

    Reply

  71. ... says:

    dons – yes, that is it…i am offering a ‘street level’ view… steve is looking at it from a news story angle.. as i see it, it is so much more then that…. it’s a humanitarian issue and israel is saying ‘fuck that’ to it… the historical parallels here are disturbing.. foreign policy wonks need to get a grip on the reality on the ground to understand what the guiding force behind this flotilla is.. it’s called freedom for those people that are now prisoners of israels..

    Reply

  72. Cee says:

    Don,
    In Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe said the hijacking of the Achille Lauro was a Mossad funded operation to make the Palestinians look bad.
    Anything is possible.
    I wonder if Israel still wants the Turkish president overthrown and the military to rule. I remember when Paul Wolfowitz was advocating just that.

    Reply

  73. DonS says:

    …, it all has to do with your ‘frame’, and how things are ‘framed’, in time, context, interest. I happen to agree with yours. One of the problems off being immersed in policy issues is losing sight of the larger picture, which often contains a different level and degree of truth and humanity.

    Reply

  74. nadine says:

    DonS, if the blockade is legal then stopping ships who try to run the blockade is also legal. Period.
    Israel should stop being polite to Turkey. Declare the Turkish ambassador persona non grata and demand an explanation for Turkish support for Hamas and IHH.

    Reply

  75. ... says:

    steve comment “I don’t care about the emotion of the moment; this flotilla was designed to push buttons and succeeded.”
    steve, try to get beyond the news side of the story to the real part of the story.. some folks in gaza are being treated as inmates in a prison thanks to israel… they are being cut off from everything and their prison guards/wardens – israel – are deciding what gets to go thru.. that is called a prison steve…
    the flotilla was designed to break this imposed prison that israel has made for the palestinian people of gaza… all the photo op’s and news is 2nd to the reality for these people on the ground… it is beyond a sound bite or news story… the lives of real people are being fucked over by israel and you want to call it something designed to push buttons!! yes, and hopefully not idf buttons on guns either!

    Reply

  76. JohnH says:

    Steve made his point well in the preceding post. But I still fail to see how showing the politically charged, highly edited IDF video contributes to the discussion–unless you balance it with videos and testimony from the hundreds of people on the ships.
    Who knows, the commandos may have staged the whole “man overboard” footage. It’s called psyops. It happens all the time. It is simply impossible to tell from the video who was doing what to whom or whether it was the passengers or the commandos who are wielding pipes and are doing the fighting.

    Reply

  77. DonS says:

    “Clearly not; nobody is paying attention to the other five ships. Don’t you get it, Steve? When all violence is Israel’s fault by definition, no matter what actually happened, you can reap the rewards of non-violence for being violent.”
    Call it a ‘botch’. Call it anything you want. You are once again using the BIG LIE where aggressors in violation of international law, regardless of the motives of the sitting ducks/passive victims, somehow deserve to be absolved of illegal action and disproportionate force in violation of international law, not to mention political sanity, and moral responsibility.

    Reply

  78. DonS says:

    “Noah Pollack is a very talented, widely published young policy intellectual who runs with the neoconservatives. . . don’t underestimate him.” (Steve)
    I’m still looking for a neocon to respect and who hasn’t been party to more harm and carnage than anything vaguely constructive.

    Reply

  79. ... says:

    latest new development – MV Rachel Corrie from ireland on it’s way to gaza….
    Earlier today, Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned there would be

    Reply

  80. nadine says:

    “and I think that non violent resistance even when confronted with violence would have been more effective — but that’s not my call” (Steve Clemons)
    Clearly not; nobody is paying attention to the other five ships. Don’t you get it, Steve? When all violence is Israel’s fault by definition, no matter what actually happened, you can reap the rewards of non-violence for being violent. There’s no downside. The next flotilla will probably be armed and shoot at the Israelis until they are forced to respond. Then we will again read the headlines “10 Dead in Israeli Attack on Flotilla”.

    Reply

  81. ... says:

    i thought israel had a clampdown on the media around all this.. only positive propaganda was supposed to be let out.. we know who owns youtube… they can still come to the rescue and shut this down… it isn’t too late!!! opps, someone copied it already…

    Reply

  82. Hollywood Tom says:

    “Israeli soldiers kill at least 10 protesters
    on boat carrying supplies to Gaza”
    Israel defends the raid, saying troops had been ambushed. Organizers of the flotilla, who had hoped to break the Gaza blockade,
    call it murder of civilians. The killings spur international condemnation.
    By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
    May 31, 2010 | 6:57 a.m.
    Reporting from Jerusalem

    Reply

  83. Dan Kervick says:

    “The IDF should not have boarded the vessels — and the activists should not have engaged in such violence.”
    I’m trying to imagine how I would have behaved if armed soldiers rappelled out of a helicopter into a small boat I was in, with that presumably armed helicopter circling overhead in the darkness of night. I suppose there are only three viable options: (i) run and hide, (ii) surrender or (iii) defend myself with whatever is handy. In some circumstances (ii) would be the advisable option, unless I were convinced that the soldiers weren’t looking for surrender, but were coming on board to inflict harm.
    Let’s remember that we have barely begun to hear the accounts of the passengers who were taken into custody by the Israelis. Some have claimed that the Israelis fired weapons *before* boarding the boat. Others have claimed a white flag was flying.
    Now, no doubt the testimony of these hundreds of people is going to contain some mixture of confusion, mis-remembering and prevarication in among the accurate statements. But we still don’t know the full story of what really happened during this raid.

    Reply

  84. Ajaz says:

    Israeli celebration of attack on aid ships is not only inappropriate, but also grotesque.

    Reply

  85. Steve Clemons says:

    JohnH — there are more sides to the story than two. I have made clear that I think both sides wanted this incident to occur. This was not a hapless flotilla going to Gaza in the spirit of Gandhi. This was a strategic move designed to force choices. Israel responded stupidly in my view. That aside, a video is a video — and I think that non violent resistance even when confronted with violence would have been more effective — but that’s not my call. What is my call is an assessment of what this incident is forcing by way of strategic choices. I don’t care about the emotion of the moment; this flotilla was designed to push buttons and succeeded.
    DonS — Noah Pollack is a very talented, widely published young policy intellectual who runs with the neoconservatives. I always read what he writes, though I don’t always agree; but don’t underestimate him.
    Best, steve clemons

    Reply

  86. DonS says:

    Noah Pollack, “a graduate student at Yale University”. Give us a break. Hasbara on steroids.

    Reply

  87. JohnH says:

    Shame on Steve! Since when are Israeli videos to be trusted? And this is supposed to pass for information?
    As always, there are two sides of the story. Passengers on the boats tell an entirely different story–the commandos came aboard firing.
    Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi, who was on board the Marmara ship when it was raided by Navy fighters, held a press conference in Nazareth on Tuesday, in which she said, “It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail, but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future.”
    More: http://www.almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=140067&language=en
    And those aboard should not have defended themselves? Somali pirates will be delighted to hear that nonsense, particularly if it becomes the law of the sea!

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  88. nadine says:

    Noah Pollack has some better ideas:
    1. Expel the Turkish ambassador and declare his return contingent on a full, credible, and public Turkish investigation of the terrorist organization that planned and funded the “aid flotilla.”
    2. Publicly demand reparations from Turkey for the costs of the operation, including the medical bills of the thugs and Jew-haters who have been given such lovely medical care in Israeli hospitals.
    3. Demand a UN investigation of why Turkey is funding terrorist organizations that are involved in attacks on Israel.
    4. Fund a Kurdish human-rights NGO in Israel — there are lots of Kurdish Jews who I’m sure would be happy to help — that raises awareness of the plight of Kurds in Turkey. (Short answer: they are treated horribly.) This organization must publicize the apartheid conditions of Kurdish life in Turkey and churn out op-eds, studies, videos, and press releases denouncing Turkey’s brutal and racist treatment of its own minorities.
    5. Fund a Turkish-language documentary on the Armenian genocide, upload it to YouTube, and promote it heavily in Turkey. If Erdogan wants to call Israel a criminal and a murderer, there’s no reason why Israel shouldn’t return the favor on this most sensitive of issues.

    Reply

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