The Soldiers were attacked!

Flea Snobbery

When I first saw that cartoon from flea snobbery, I didn’t really give it much thought, not having then read about the incidents in Gaza this past week. It turns out that not only is this similar to, but it actually IS Israel’s position on why it attacked and killed 19 activists onboard the lead ship of the internationally organised peace flotilla to deliver aid to Gaza.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is, as Arundhati Roy says, ‘one of imperial Britain’s bloodiest gifts to the world’ (the other being partition of India-Pakistan and the present mess in Kashmir that ensued). The long and complex history is a matter of public record and is available to anybody interested in its study. The conclusions people draw from such a study tend to be coloured by their preconceptions. So it isn’t surprising to me that Israel defends its blockading Gaza, and peace activists and citizens of Gaza oppose the blockade.

What is surprising to me, however, is just how shockingly brazen the Israeli government’s actions and rhetoric against the people delivering the humanitarian aid – food, medicines, housing materials and so forth, to the extended ghetto of a 40km stretch of land where the 1.7 million citizens are prisoners in their own homes – has been. The rhetoric has been of the kind one would expect from a school bully, not from a state; and definitely not a state representing people who have themselves been victims of such atrocities.

The ships of the aid flotilla all flew international and white flags, and cooperated with the Israeli navy when they were accosted in international waters. The lead ship shut its engines off and came to a halt when it was flanked by Israeli ships. The navy stormed the ships anyway. What would you expect the navy of a state to say in its defence? Would ‘…they attacked us! We were only trying to take control of their ship’ make anybody’s list? How about ‘…these weren’t peace activists, they were peace militants. They only wanted to provoke Israel’s anger’? I guess the 10,000 tonnes of food supplies and medicines, wheelchairs, machine parts and cement were just there, because… because nobody wants them anyway… or something.

The rhetoric in the Jerusalem Post reeks of paranoia and xenophobia. Now, one can either believe that this represents the state of mind of the Israeli people, or one can attribute it to propaganda from the Israeli state. This, after all, is the state that claims that its attack on a flotilla of unarmed ships with a verifiable humanitarian mission in international waters was legal and legitimate, because the code of armed warfare of the UN says that enemy ships can be seized even in international waters. It’s only the relatively small matter of storming the ship first and claiming that the people on the ships attacked you. Then it becomes ‘armed conflict’, right?


15 thoughts on “The Soldiers were attacked!”

  1. Since most of the piece is just opinion and as you yourself mentioned ” colored by pre-conception” which I presume applies to you too, I would just point out a couple of things:
    1. Jerusalem post seems as unbiased to me as Al-Zazeera ( which you have cited as reference) or Doordarshan ( for trumpeting the cause of whoever is in power) or ” People’s democracy” or ” Samna”. Why single them out ?
    2. The line ” This, after all, is the state that claims that its attack on a flotilla of unarmed ships with a verifiable humanitarian mission in international waters was legal and legitimate” does not by itself imply that the claim is false. ( PART III : BASIC RULES AND TARGET DISCRIMINATION SECTION V : NEUTRAL MERCHANT VESSELS AND CIVIL AIRCRAFT )

    3. I would have to agree with one part of Netanyahu’s speech ” Israel is guilty till proven guilty”. That seems to be the consensus in the world. Just wonder what the reaction would have been if the IDF did not even bother to record the events.

    4. Regarding the final lines, I am still wondering why
    a) the other 5 flotillas that day as well as the others before that day ( including 2 with
    arms) did not cause any incident . They were directed to the nearby port and then their aid was passed through land.
    b) No one has ever denied the involvement of IHH ( a banned org in Israel ) with the flotilla. Besides, the majority of the aid in the 10,000 tonn cargo in the particular boat was cement, which is contraband according to the blockade.
    c) What kind of peace activists chant(/ associate themselves with those who were chanting) hate against Jews ( not just Israel )? ( assuming you have seen the unbiased link originally from Al Zazeera )

  2. And btw, these are the comments by the head of the states of the regional counterparts of Israel:
    “A farmer protested Erdoğan on 11 February 2006 during his visit to Mersin Erdoğan, saying, “What’s going to happen to the farmers? Our moms are crying. How you dare to come here shamelessly?” Erdoğan revolted against the farmer and said in reply, “Take your mom with you and get lost!” ”
    2. Nasrallah, the de-facto head of the state of Lebanon
    ” Martyrdom operations – suicide bombings – should be exported outside Palestine. I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings worldwide. Don’t be shy about it. ”

    3. Hamas on America
    “America will be annihilated, while Islam will remain. The Muslims “will be victorious, if you are believers.”[…] Our Jihad-fighting Palestinian people salutes its brother, Sudan.[…] The Palestinian woman bids her son farewell, and says to him: “Son, go and don’t be a coward. Go, and fight the Jews.” He bids her farewell and carries out a martyrdom operation.[…] Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, vanquish the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. ”
    4. Ahmedinajad, needless to mention.

    So, guess tough talk is the norm in the region.

  3. Really? The Jerusalem Post is what passes for ‘unbiased’ these days?

    Yeah, that was the section of international armed conflict law that I was talking about. The aid ships weren’t armed, or in conflict.

    More importantly, though, you’ve conveniently gone ahead and assumed that the blockade is legal, legitimate, necessary, and whatever else. Israel cannot cut off 1.7 million people from the rest of the world and not expect to get called out for it. And when they do, if they get people trying to defy the blockade, they cannot start knocking them off. And when they do that too, they should expect to get called thugs.

    Also, why is it that anybody who says killing peace activists carrying humanitarian aid shouldn’t be gunned down is automatically assumed to be party to or even slightly in support of the bile that Iran or Egypt or Jordan or whoever else spews against Israel and Jews? Can I not think that that is reprehensible too, but only that killing aid-workers is just more so? I don’t need to be lectured about the scourge of radical Islam that plagues societies in the Muslim world (including, I might just add, Saudi Arabia).

  4. 1. Dude my point was JPost is biased, but so are the others including your reference. You were not wrong in finding it biased, you were wrong in expecting it to be unbiased. I do not cry foul when Samnaa publishes bullshit.
    2. Again, I am trying not to go in an infinite loop debating who is right or wrong in having the blockade. You will stress on the impact of the blockade while I would on the reason behind having the blockade in the first place and no one is likely to win All I am saying is, there has not been any resolution passed by UN calling the blockade illegal. You can refer to your favourite source:
    But, I have reservation about “if they get people trying to defy the blockade, they cannot start knocking them off. And when they do that too, they should expect to get called thugs.”
    Yes, they can. I mean not necessarily knock them off, but of course stop the entry and detain them. After all, the blockade is primarily to block the entry of arms and checking the flotilla from a group which is banned in the state just makes a stronger case to detain the ship for them. Every damn navy worth its salt in the world would have done the same. Besides, from whatever I have read and watched , the Israelis with paintball guns were on the verge of getting lynched and forced to react with lethal force . Of course, you would differ but do provide the link for that view.
    3. I do not intend to lecture you on anything, was just trying to share some links which I would not have found ever without your attack on Netanyahu’s speech. Since, your unequivocal attacks on religious fundamentalism of all kinds, I dont consider you to be hypocrite anyway.

    Go through B.Raman’s post if you want

  5. Once and for all, Samnaa is Bal Thackeray’s propaganda machine, right? Who in their right mind suggests considering Thackeray objective about anything? And, as far as I could make out, I thought Al-Jazeera was more balanced than the Jerusalem post (if for no other reason than that MSNBC had similar reports to Al-Jazeera).

    The reason for the blockade is that Israel is (justifiably, for a large part) paranoid, being in the middle of a dozen Arab-Muslim countries that are about a hundred times its size, and because the USA (for reasons of messianic prophesy of one kind or another) insists on arming Israel with everything short (or maybe not) of the N-bomb.

    I only talk about this because I’ve listened to David Shulman talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict, and I find the contrast between his tone in ‘Dark Hope’ and the rhetoric of the Israeli state troubling. One would only hope that, having gone through what the people of Israel have, they would’ve not meted out the same treatment to somebody else. But then, that rarely happens (India’s position on Kashmir, eg), so maybe I shouldn’t be expecting anything different.

  6. Fine, you stick to Al Zazeera , me to J Post.
    Well, at least we agree to disagree somewhat on the legality and practicality of the blockade ( I guess thats the best possible scenario).
    But, the only thing I would urge you to reconsider is, whether or not the people in the boat were peace activists. At least there should be no delusion that the fund-raiser IHH is a terrorist -affiliate ( Curiosly, the next one “Rachel Corrie is funded by Mahathir who had the following to say :
    Jews “had always been a problem in European countries. They had to be confined to ghettoes and periodically massacred. But still they remained, they thrived and they held whole governments to ransom…Even after their massacre by the Nazis of Germany, they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world.) . If for nothing else ,organisations with association with such bigots and terrorists like them do not sound “peaceful” to me.

  7. You cannot ‘stick to’ the story provided by the fellow accused of committing the crime! Consider what he’s saying, sure, NOT stick to it. Something you should consider before assuming that Israel’s version of ”there’s enough humanitarian aid going to Gaza” is true.

    You mean this ?
    They call themselves “The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief”, and they have anti-Semitic loons? I would be among the first people to agree that radical Islam is vehemently anti-Semitic. Doesn’t make killing them right, especially when they are trying to bring aid to a region you have been keeping isolated from the world. Otherwise, it’s just the pot racially abusing the kettle.

  8. 1. I am sorry, but if you stick to one side , I too can.
    2. I never meant that the aid coming in through Israel is adequate, I tend to believe UN’s report saying it is probably less than 1/4 th of required. Please, just stick to one thing at a time, okay?
    What I wanted to say is,
    the flotilla was not about aid, it was about breaking the blockade. I do not want to say anything about right and wrong again, just note that its not about aid, at least directly. After all, if they were really worried about delivering aid they would have prefered to comply with Israeli calls for being directed to Ashdod port and would have delivered the goods through land. After all tons of goods are being delivered by UN, Red Cross through Israel without any hitch ( the amount of goods in the flotilla is negligible compared to what is being passed daily, insufficient they still may be) and so were the other 5 flotillas in that convoy and the ones before that. Just refer to the Al Zazeera video about the activists before the fiasco .
    3. I do not understand whether you agree with me or is being sarcastic. Assuming the worst case, I just wanted to pint out ” The National Socialist German Workers’ Party” has no obvious anti-semitic tag in its name.

  9. 1. Err, if you stick to a side who has interest in preseting a distorted story, I too can opt for the opposite camp.

  10. First off, 3) Most things that are based on some kind of loyalty without dissent (Nationalism, in the case of the Nazis) tend to lead to horrors. The Nazis didn’t only target Jews, for example. They targeted democrats, capitalists, communists, gays, lesbians, and pretty much anybody Hitler pointed to.

    2) The aims and motives behind the aid flotilla has been made quite clear. Yes, they wanted to raze the blockade. The fact that Israel has kept a million and a half people locked in their own homes has to be protested. They also wanted to provide aid. WTF do you mean ‘at least not directly’ ? 10,000 tonnes of aid isn’t enough to qualify as a serious attempt to provide aid?

    1) Al Jazeera is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, and run out of offices in London, Washington DC, and Kuala Lumpur. MSNBC is owned by NBC, which is owned by GE. How are Al Jazeera and MSNBC not impartial observers? Just because there’s also an arabic channel called Al Jazeera? Where is the Jerusalem Post headquartered, again?

  11. 3. I was just not sure whether or not you were being sarcastic about the links of the “peace ” activists with terrorists.
    2. Glad, you agreed their aim was (/primarily; directly= primarily) to break the blockade. AS I said, a debate into the legality is futile, its the methodology for the protest thats questionable. Usually, this kind of protests are meant for TV-ops not unlike the typical ” Jail Bharo” stunts in India. The only difference is here, they resorted to a confrontation by not stopping the flotilla when demanded and then attacking the soldiers. Jalianwala bagh massacre was a crime because, the soldiers fired at the mob who had illegally assembled but were not attacking them. During civil disobedience, the protesters chose not to fight in the face of police brutality – they were ” peace activists”. Not them, who attacked the soldiers while wearing gas masks and sting-proof jackets( anyway, why would a “humanitarian cargo” include such items?). Its clear that they were looking for confrontation.
    1. Dude, Al Jajeera, please try to think and follow news once in a while before coming out with rubbish arguments!
    I am not sure in which context are you refering to MSNBC. Guessing that they aired a storyline which is close to your claims, I would be happy to provide you with Western sources with “Headquarters not in Israel” that supports my claims. But then you would have to specify which is the argument that you wish to counter.

  12. Oh boy, headquarters in Doha and offices in Kuala Lumpur, London, Washington Post – thats your basis for neutrality?

    If I were to compare that way, why not choose Fox News simply?

  13. If your definition for ‘neutrality’ or ‘truth’ is that the news outlet agrees with you, Al Jazeera is not, I don’t think, neutral. Just like the fact that you claim my argument is rubbish doesn’t make my argument wrong. But if you could understand that, you probably wouldn’t go on and on about how the people on the ships deserved to be shot at because they attacked the Israeli navy first, because Israel has a right to impose a blockade and storm international ships in international waters, because, because, because…

    By the way, Israel stopped another ship carrying aid just today. That ship was carrying terrorists too, I suppose.

  14. No dude, I am sorry. I was totally wrong. A blockade should be just in name. Any one can scream “aid” and should be allowed to pass through without inspection. I think next time onwards I would accuse the airport authorities of slander if they demand to check my luggage. After all, I am a peaceful person and they should just take it on face value.
    And coming back to “neutrality”, when did I say that the news outlet has to agree with me to be neutral? In the same vein, why would a newspaper that caters essentially to the Arab world has to be cited as evidence. I am not questioning the neutrality of NBC, I can cite you tons of other news outlets that will give you the same opinion as Al Jajeera and they ARE undoubtedly unbiased. I have problem just when you cite Al Jajeera as unbiased and castigate JPost.

    I again have the feeling that you have not progressed much from your ” there is no AL Qaeda in Iraq ” days. Anyway, I have nothing else to add to the topic, you believe whatever you want, regardless of it being truth or not.

  15. The last comment has a little too much irony for my health.

    A blockade should be just in name

    That’s the entire fucking point – that Israel cannot be allowed to impose a blockade on people of some other country. Why on Earth would you think, let alone assume, people were OK with a blockade ”just in name”?!

    when did I say that the news outlet has to agree with me to be neutral? … why would a newspaper that caters essentially to the Arab world has to be cited as evidence

    Do you even understand what unbiased news is? The reporter at Al-Jazeera does NOT have to think Israel is god’s gift to mankind to be unbiased, they only have to look at facts that are both for and against – and they’ve done that, because MSNBC has no stake in the matter, and Al Jazeera’s report is similar to MSNBC’s report. Should I explain that again?

    you believe whatever you want

    Absolutely. Just like you believe I said there’s no al-qaeda in Iraq. (what I did say was that the US-led invasion of Iraq could not possibly have been because of the al qaeda – you know why? the group came into being only AFTER Bush invaded Iraq)

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