Israeli terror and the Gaza flotilla

My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening.

That’s Ahdaf Soueif writing in today’s Guardian in response to yesterday’s storming of the Gaza aid flotilla by Israeli commandos and the deaths of as many as 19 activists.  She so perfectly expresses my feelings that I reproduce her piece in full below.

Can we hope that the international outrage that this action has provoked will at last lead to Israel being required to accept the norms of international law and human rights? Strange that Israel is not regarded as one of the world’s ‘rogue’ nations when its actions do so much to create instability, injustice and violence and contribute to global disorder. What is the difference between this action and North Korea’s attack on a South Korean warship in April?

Israel is a nation founded on fascist principles by terrorists. The leaders of the Stern Gang were willing to enter into negotiations with the Nazis to gain support in their war against the British occupation in Palestine, and last week The Guardian revealed how Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1975. That story confirmed what has been understood for a long time – that Israel does have nuclear weapons.

Last year, following the Israeli incursion into Gaza, the UN commissioned a fact-finding mission on the conflict.  It was conducted by the South African jurist Richard Goldstone. His report accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes and “possibly” crimes against humanity. But in a conflict that saw 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians killed compared with about 1,400 Gazans, Goldstone was particularly scathing about Israel’s “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population” – which he said amounted to “collective punishment”.

Killed In Crossfire by Tom Paulin

To me the Zionists, who want to go back to the Jewish state of 70 AD (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus), are just as offensive as the Nazis. With their nosing after blood, their ancient ‘cultural roots’, their partly canting, partly obtuse winding back of the world, they are altogether a match for the National Socialists.
– Victor Klemperer, 13 June 1934

We’re fed this inert
this lying phrase
like comfort food
as another little Palestinian boy
in trainers jeans and a white teeshirt
is gunned down by the Zionist SS
whose initials we should
– but we don’t – dumb goys –
clock in that weasel word crossfire

First published in The Observer, Sunday 18 February 2001

Meanwhile the Wall is extended and settlements in the West Bank grow by the day. Just last week Ahdaf Soueif wrote about how Palestinians living in Jerusalem are being driven from their homes by archaelogical excavations conducted by an agency that is in reality an executive arm of the Israeli government. This comes at the same time as the row between Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel peace prize winner, and a group of Jewish residents of Jerusalem over the accuracy of his recent statements about housing developments that reflect systematic discrimination against the Arab population in the city.

The United States will, no doubt, continue to back Israel, reflecting the strength of the American Jewish lobby.  But, as a recent piece  by Peter Beinart in the New York Review of Books argued: Israel and its defenders in the American Zionist leadership threaten the interests of Jews everywhere.

Israel reveals its true face by Ahdaf Soueif

This will count. A flotilla of relief boats attacked in international waters. Armed commandos boarding a vessel carrying supplies for a besieged civilian population. More than 10 peace activists reported killed. This has to be made to count.

The dead have joined Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, James Miller and Brian Avery in giving up their lives for the Palestinians. None of these young men and women went out to die or wanted to die or was accepting of death. Each and every one of them ultimately believed that they were safe; that there was a boundary – call it a boundary of legality, a boundary of civilisation – that Israel would not cross. They were wrong. And in proving them wrong, Israel has revealed, once again, its true face to the world.

This face, of course, the Palestinians know well. They see it every day in the teenage soldiers of the occupation chewing gum as they dish out humiliations, in the settlers shooting young Palestinians with impunity, in the soldiers firing gas canisters at the heads of demonstrators. The world saw that face in January last year when Israel unleashed the might of its air force on Gaza – the only time in modern warfare that a civilian population was sealed in as it was being bombed and shelled. Now Israel is out on the high seas killing internationals.

So never mind the multimillion-dollar public relations campaign – actions speak louder than words, and the murder of these peace activists is Israel’s message to the world. It does not matter what Mark Regev or any other Israel spokesperson says. It does not matter what spin the Israeli government tries to put on this; the only link between Israeli words and Israeli deeds is this: Israel uses words as a decoy and an obfuscation and a cover for its deeds. It has done so for 62 years. These internationals, dead now, murdered, have ensured that anyone who does not see this is wilfully blind.

Western governments are fond of holding up Israel as the “only democracy in the Middle East”. So should we assume that the Israeli people are behind their government? That they approve these killings? Last month I was at al-Quds University in Abu Dis. Israel’s wall shaved the edge off the campus. On it, in tall blue letters, a Palestinian student had written: “My Israeli sisters: this is not the answer.”

A few days ago, young Jewish Israeli activists told me they saw that the only hope for their country lies with the international community. Israel is on a path to self-destruction, they said, and it will take the region with it. It will not stop, they said, until the price it pays for its actions becomes too heavy. This price has to be a moral and economic price imposed by the world.

My anger and my sadness are so great that I have to deliberately draw a deep breath from time to time to ease the bands I feel around my chest. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that millions of people in the world are feeling the same. People everywhere see and understand what is happening. Many of us feel that Palestine is nearing its South Africa moment. This latest outrage must push it closer. And it will.

Donations will, I’m sure, flood in to the other relief boats waiting in harbour. More and more people will take the boycott to heart. More civil bodies will insist on divestment from companies that do business with Israel. The time has come for the governments that represent us to stop engaging with Israeli lies and excuses. The price of Israel’s action today has to be to put the issue of sanctions squarely on the table.

Footnotes

Saturday 5 June: The Guardian publishes Henning Mankell’s private diary of the events leading to his capture. Back home in Sweden he concludes:

I listen to the blackbird. A song for those who died.  Now it is still all left to do. So as not to lose sight of the goal, which is to lift the brutal blockade of Gaza. That will happen.

Beyond that goal, others are waiting. Demolishing a system of apartheid takes time. But not an eternity.

The previous day, the newspaper had reported that Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range.

10 thoughts on “Israeli terror and the Gaza flotilla

  1. Please remember that there is a great chasm between Zionism and traditional Judaism. The former is an evil misinterpretation of Judaic scriptures that is abhorrent and destructive. There are many, many peace-loving Jewish people whose hearts are broken and crushed by the attrocities being wrought to the Palestinian people.

  2. It was Zionism that I was referring to when I wrote that ‘Israel is a nation founded on fascist principles’. It seems a terrible irony that Jews in Europe suffered the horrific consequences of the ideology of extreme nationalism that promulgated the concept of ‘one nation for one people’, whilst Zionists created a variant of the same creed . One of the founders of Zionism wrote in 1901 that ‘Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country’. From that mistaken analysis so much pain has ensued. I really hope that the majority of peace-loving Jewish people, particularly in America, will join with others in challenging the actions of Israel. The article in the New York Review of Books that I linked to in the post is instructive on this issue.

  3. It is a total lie that Israel commandos met armed resistance (which included knives, slingshots, etc), bare in mind that when this news was circulated (by Israeli PR) no witnesses had spoken to the media or at least had not got over the shock of this pirate like attack on their convoy in International waters (which happens to be illegal).

    Now, witnesses have come forward and spoken about their experience and boy do they tell a different story. The following quote I took from BBC website (and a link to this is provided at the end) from Norman Paech a German pro-Palestinian activist, he was on board one of the ships, he said:
    “German pro-Palestinian activist Norman Paech said he had only seen wooden sticks being brandished as troops abseiled on to the deck of the ship. Personally I saw two-and-a-half wooden batons that were used… There was really nothing else. We never saw any knives. This was an attack in international waters on a peaceful mission… This was a clear act of piracy,” he added.

    To me its very clear, Israel has a habit of confusing reality with ‘information over-flow’ where many different versions of the same story are talked about by many different people from one side, this then conflicts with the real story and leaves the view totally confused hence less attention is given to the story over all. This is exactly what Israel PR and spokes-people have been saying. I could swear when I was monitoring this story as it happened (and monitored it for another six hours or so) I could have wrote down 6 to 8 different stories which was told by Israel spokes-person.

    The fact of the matter is this – Israel has committed a crime on many fronts not to mention the choking of the entire Palestinian population, the information black-out, the killing of innocent Palestinians – activists and many more, Israel has conducting crime on a mass scale and now it needs to answer to the world. Israel cannot handle responsibility and has no justice but a state ruled with mobs, murderers and terrorists.

  4. one minute beautiful images of wildlife and the next bitter one sided views on Israel. No point arguing the point with counterarguments but the middle east is not such a simplistic reductionist view of black hats versus white hats – aggressors vs martyrs. Your camera has one lens – try using binoculars

  5. My ‘bitterness’ matters little set alongside the tragedy of Palestinians forced from their homes in the last 70-odd years. I agree that we should not reduce the story to ‘aggressors vs martyrs’, but the Israeli state is founded on a lie – that it was a ‘country without a people’ and should provide a homeland for people of one faith, most of whom settled from elsewhere, colonisation in all but name.

    The condemnation of this outrage is widespread, and includes Jews and Israelis. For example, the Israeli novelist Amos Oz writes:

    “For 2,000 years the Jews knew the force of force only in the form of lashes to their own backs. For several decades now we have been able to wield force ourselves. Yet this power has, again and again, intoxicated us. Again and again we imagine that we can solve every problem we encounter with force. To a man with a big hammer, says the proverb, every problem looks like a nail…

    Even if Israel seizes a hundred more ships on their way to Gaza, even if Israel sends in troops to occupy the Gaza Strip a hundred more times, no matter how many times Israel deploys its military, police, and covert forces, it cannot solve the problem.

    The problem is that we are not alone in this land, and the Palestinians are not alone in this land. We are not alone in Jerusalem and the Palestinians are not alone in Jerusalem. Until we, Israelis and Palestinians, recognise the logical consequences of this simple fact, we will all live in a permanent state of siege – Gaza under an Israeli siege, Israel under an international and Arab siege.”
    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/02/israel-force-impotent-hamas-idea)

  6. There’s an interesting piece in The Guardian today in which the writer Linda Grant draws parallels between the ‘Exodus’ incident in 1947 and the interception of the Gaza flotilla. The British were the colonialists, portrayed as being in the wrong, yet, she writes, “The British spoke of the needs and wishes of the existing Arab population of Palestine; a new Jewish state implanted in the Middle East against the will of its native inhabitants was not to be the happy ending of a tragic Jewish story.”

    She also writes that, like the Exodus affair, the long-term consequences for the Israelis may be the opposite of what they would prefer: “The Exodus was to be instrumental in cementing support later that year for the UN partition vote which divided Mandate Palestine…The image of the boat had greater power than the warnings from the Foreign Office or the pleas of Arab leaders.

    The events early this week of the boarding of the Gaza aid flotilla should have jogged the memories of Israel’s political leaders and its military. The sight of Israeli politicians, diplomats and army spokespeople trying to assert a more complicated story than that of innocent civilians brutally murdered by an act of piracy has not washed with the public. No amount of showing videos of the peace activists attacking the abseiling Israeli soldiers will answer the question: what were the soldiers doing there in the first place and why would the passengers not defend themselves against their attackers, exactly as the refugees had done in 1947?”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/04/gaza-aid-flotilla-history

  7. “The Zionists with their perversion of Judaism have blackened the name of Jews and the Torah throughout the world. They are the worst enemies of God, of the Torah and of the true Jewish people… Subsequently, they are the greatest cause of exacerbating anti Semitism around the …world.”

    “We find it imperative to clearly declare that the State of “Israel” does not represent the Jewish people, and certainly not the Jewish religion. They have no right to speak in our name, nor in the name of the holy Torah. They profane the Holy Land with their abominations, slaughters and countless other actions that emanate from this illegitimate State. Furthermore, the actual existence of this State is illegitimate as the holy Torah strictly and explicitly forbids any Jewish rule over the Holy Land. When the Zionist movement arose a century ago, our rabbis all warned us not to have any connection with them.”

    – Neturei Karta.

  8. If anyone, like me, had never heard of the Neturei Karta group, their origin and development is discussed on this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neturei_Karta. And there’s a short but informative article from the Guardian a few years back, which begins:

    No group could be more opposed to the state of Israel than the Neturei Karta – “the Guardians of the City” – for whom Israel is an abomination, its very creation the antithesis of faith. They are a propaganda godsend to anti-Zionists, who argue that opposition to the existence of the state cannot possibly be anti-semitic if it is a view shared by some religious Jews.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/25/religion.uk

    To an atheist this is all very strange.

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