Political Promise

Free Gaza. From Sharia? Of course not.

In Jamie Walden on September 24, 2011 at 2:38 am

Jamie Walden argues that Turkey lacks the moral authority required to be condemning Israel.

A gang of religious fanatics holler about a supernatural being and the glory of possibly being killed in said entities honour.  They board the Mavi Maramara ship.  IHH, a Turkish non-governmental organisation, arrange this sea bound outing for the purpose of “a growing international struggle to portray Israel as an occupying state”, as was openly revealed by Hanin Zuabi, an Arab-Israeli politician on board- an individual who is committed to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state and is in favour of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.  Despite the clear admission of its propaganda purpose, the Western news media report that the ship is an “aid flotilla” full of “activists”.  The ship’s launch rally was attended by senior figures in Hamas, the anti-Semitic terrorist organisation with a commitment to genocide of the Jews, such as Mahmad Tzaolha and Sahar Albirwai.  The IHH has close links with their terrorist organisation.  Another attendant was Sheikh Raed Salah, a senior figure in the cult which many on board cling to, and who says that the Jews are “butchers of pregnant women and babies… Thieves, you are the bacteria of all times… The Creator meant for you to be monkeys and losers… Victory is with the Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates”.

The supposed purpose of the ship accepted by the useful idiots was to deliver “aid” to the Gaza strip, currently blockaded by Israel since the aforementioned anti-Semitic terrorist organisation took control.  The Palestinians receive much sympathy because Gaza is constantly being portrayed as a prison camp or sometimes a concentration camp, as British celebrity and sister-in-law of Tony Blair, Lauren Booth referred to it.  The IHH have drawn as many Nazi analogies with Israel as possible.  In actual fact aid is constantly going into Gaza and in 2007 the Economist reported that Palestinian men were the eighth most obese in the world and that Palestinian women were the third most obese.  Was there much of an obesity problem in Auschwitz?   Life expectancy in Gaza is 73.42 years, which is about eighteen months higher than in Turkey.  Perhaps the IHH should have kept the aid or asked the people of the “concentration camp” to donate some of their resources to Turkey.  Of course none of this fits in with the propaganda so it is ignored.  On we go with the “aid”.

As the convoy of ships approach Gaza they are stopped by Israeli helicopters for searching.  All of them allow the Israeli forces to board peacefully apart from one.  There is now plenty of footage available of what happened on that one ship available here and here.  By an extraordinary coincidence it is the ship with the anti-Semites, terrorists and the IHH on board.  The Israeli forces land in a group of four with non-lethal weapons such as paintball guns, Tasers and tear gas.  Before they even hit the deck they are violently and continuously lynched by the gang armed with metal poles, clubs, stun grenades, fire bombs and knives.  According to witnesses (including a Lebanese Al Jazeera cameraman on board) the initial wave of soldiers were being dragged inside, resembling the beginnings of a hostage situation.  As more soldiers were sent on board to save their endangered comrades, a handgun was taken from one and used to shoot an Israeli soldier.  Another had his skull cracked when he was thrown over the side onto a lower deck.  A third was knocked unconscious for 45 minutes.  In the videos linked earlier in this paragraph stabbings, beatings and fire bombings can be seen to be delivered by those on board to the Israeli soldiers as they land on the deck.

The Israeli soldiers then killed nine of the attempted murderers on board the ship full of anti-Semitic religious fanatics who had been yelling about trying to be martyred before they set sail.  When did shooting people attempting to murder you become a disproportionate response, as the United Nations Palmer report on the “flotilla raid” has ruled?

The Turkish government led by a fully signed up member of Islamic supremacy, Prime Minister Erdogan, have expelled the Israeli ambassador as a result of the Palmer Reports ruling and the subsequent refusal of Israel to apologise.  The U.N. panel did not recommend that Israel needed to apologise.  Whilst accepting the first ruling in their favour, Turkey refuses to accept the U.N. decision not to request an Israeli apology- notice how selective they can be.

Turkey itself is listed as only ‘partly free’ by Freedom House, so it is unusual that the IHH are so concerned about freeing Gaza when Turkey is not itself a free country (and does it strike anyone else as odd that those around the world interested in freeing Gaza are never interested in freeing it from Sharia?).  Christians are persecuted and discriminated against in Turkey, a country which still illegally occupies Northern Cyprus as it has done for decades.  Where are the campaigns to portray Turkey as an “occupying state”, to use Hanin Zuabi’s words?

Academics are sacked in Turkey if they teach the crimes of Turkeys past, such as the genocide of the Armenians.  Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened to ethnically cleanse Turkey of a further one hundred thousand Armenians if people continue to pressure Turkey into recognising said genocide.  Erdogan also denies genocide occurred in Sudan and has a good relationship with Omar Al-Bashir, the butcher of Darfur.  Yet the Turkish government has gotten onto its high horse and expelled an Israeli plenipotentiary because Israeli soldiers killed nine people who were trying to murder them- as if Turkey has any moral authority itself to be expressing condemnation.

If Turkey were being kept to the same standards as Israel is being kept to then we would be hearing much more about them in the news media.  But they are not kept to the same standards.  This subtle racism which has infiltrated the Western mind holds the honorary Westerners Israel to a uniquely high standard not expected to be met by any of the non-Western countries nearby- as if non-Westerners had less capacity for moral responsibility and would thus need a lower standard of conduct to be expected of them.

The facts and the video footage are there for all to see.  People do not like to have their illusions denied and so perhaps even this will not penetrate their minds and they will continue with their inaccurate and irrational stance on the flotilla battle.  The useful idiots will continue to be manipulated by the propagandists, but hopefully others will seek the truth and not the narrative which best fits their world view.

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  1. The United Nations did a investigation into the incident and provided a report. In the report it found fault in both Turkey and Israel and that both contributed to the incident. That was widely reported in the media, well at least in Al Jazeera.

    The ships were delivering aid so no need for quotation marks. Unless the ships were carrying rocket launchers, tanks, cluster bombs and apache helicopters to level the military playing field between Israel and Palestine? There will always be activists both here and abroad who have a track record of saying stupid things and a minority of them possessing horrendous propaganda and a taste for vulgar insults. We need to separate it from their actions and their actions seem to be along the lines of aiding Palestinian resistance and defense against the Israeli military rather than attempting to utterly and completely destroying Israel and all Jews.

    Turkey has got a lot of problems – which country doesn’t? I think the reasons why Turkey is seen as respectable in the Middle East and threfore a credible mediator and source of moral authority are twofold 1) Turkey never invaded another country for cynical geo-political reasons that resulted into mayhem (“unintended consequences”) 2) Turkey’s policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict is not hypocritical. Furthermore, Turkey was I believe one of the first Islamic countries to recognise Israel.

    If there are people, including those activists, comparing Israeli actions as being reminiscent of Nazi Germany that is a bit of a stretch and lacks hard evidence. A more accurate and credible comparison would be with Apartheid South Africa.

  2. Michael (apologies for the lack of brevity)

    I wonder if you would be willing to give me a page reference for the Palmer Report’s finding of faults in Turkey’s contribution. I am not suggesting it is not there, only that I cannot find it- but it is a large report so I may well have missed it.

    Whilst I do not seek (or want) your approval of my quotation mark employment, I should point out that as far as we know there was no “aid” found on the Mavi Mamara ship and the IDF explicitly denies there was any (but as it happens it was carrying many crude weapons as opposed to the higher grade ones you allude to).

    Perhaps you think the smuggling of high-grade weapons into Gaza would be justified or the equivalent of Israel having a military, bearing in mind that one of said territories is governed by an anti-Semitic terrorist organisation with a fetish for Jew-murder (not to mention ungallant plans for females, persecutory plans for gays and unpleasant views on religious freedom), but then if you think that then you will have to not mind looking foolish. I intend that as a question (admittedly a peppery one) not as a statement.

    I would also point out that the other Palestinian territory is governed by the supposedly “moderate” (according to Ian Hislop on this week’s BBC Question Time) head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who has a history of holocaust-denial. Does it ever baffle you, as it does me, why so many seem to expect lower moral standards of non-Westerners? A history of holocaust denial gets eggs pelted at you if you are a Westerner, but classes you as a ‘moderate’ if you are a Palestinian authority figure.

    Further, on a similar note, why is this particular case of oppression such a fashionable cause, and not, say, the demonstrably far worse oppressions of North Koreans, the Chinese or the Sudanese? Could it be that the narrative’s victim or the degree of horror inflicted upon them is not really the problem, but the identity of the villain is where the real pull of concern comes from?

    You separate those on board Mavi Mamara from the “minority… possessing horrendous propaganda and a taste for vulgar insults”. Why? Do the videos not show the two things to be synonymous?

    Regardless of whether there was any “aid” on the ship or not, the crux of the point I hoped was clear was not the literal existence of food stuffs etc. on the ship. It is that Gaza is not a concentration camp where people desperately require the delivery of food and that the purpose of the flotilla was not to give aid to Palestinians, but to win an anti-Israeli propaganda coup, if necessary by being “martyred” (and became an semi-planned attempted murder of Israeli soldiers on Mavi Mamara).

    You then make the concession that Turkey has got a lot of problems, but imply that they are in some way run-of-the-mill. Imagine David Cameron denied two mass genocides happened, threatened to ethnically cleanse Britain of 100,000 members of an ethnic minority group and was found to have a history of religious fanaticism. Would your reaction be ‘every country has their problems’? Or would you say, as I would, that his government concedes all moral authority and must immediately leave government? If the latter, then why are you not applying the same standards to Erdogan and his government? Although to be fair you do not say you don’t apply those standards to Erdogan and Turkey. You just say they are seen by others as morally authoritative. Do you think yourself that there are and that my argument that Turkey has no moral authority is in error and if so why?

    The two numbered points you raise regarding Turkey can both be refuted by the fact that they unjustly invaded the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, the Northern part of which they continue to occupy unjustly, which has led to many problems. It also seems to be the case that the current Turkish regime does not want the role of mediator.

    With regards to Nazi Germany/ Apartheid South Africa, whilst Gaza is not a nice place and Israel does many wrong things (many of which are stupid and self-defeating anyway) I think both analogies fail and are to various degrees ignorant of the Israel/Palestine situation or the history of Nazi Germany or Apartheid South Africa, or all of the above. You agree with me regarding Nazi Germany and disagree with me regarding Apartheid South Africa. There are a couple of million ethnic minority individuals in Israel (a country with a total population of less than 8 million), with equal rights to the ethnic majority. There are Arabs in the government and various other prominent official positions in Israeli society. There are anti-Zionists running in elections, getting significant voting proportions- people whose political cause is that the country they are running to govern should not exist. Can you think of another example of such an open political situation? In practice Israeli society has many problems, including discrimination, but an Arab has far better deal in Israel than in any neighbouring Arab country and certainly a better deal that a non-white in Apartheid South Africa.

    My point here would be why do we need such an analogy at all? Why can this not be considered a unique and complicated case in which no side is axiomatically virtuous or vicious? Why do people insist on employing these stupid slogans, as opposed to using reasoned argument.

  3. Hi Jamie,
    You seem to have a lot of passion on this topic and I respect that. However, your responses to my comment are hard to work out. So below is a breakdown on specific points I found.
    1) The Palmer Report described the aid flotilla to Gaza as reckless. Since Turkey was the origin of the flotilla and many of its activists (backed by the Turkish government), Turkey as a UN state was part of that recklessness. The report described Israel’s response as excessive which I agree. The Israeli could have easily disabled those ships by firing at its rudder and propellers, but they chose not to. The report however, also agreed with Israel’s view that the flotilla could have posed a serious security problem. I just Googled Palmer Report and found various articles highlighting those finds. I looked at one from the Daily Telegraph online.

    2) Aid was on the flotilla. This was confirmed by the Israeli government when they said they would transport the contents to Gaza. This is also verified by a journalist who saw the contents of the Gaza Flotilla, Ayman Mohyeldin with Al Jazeera: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/06/01/evidence-belies-israeli-claim .

    3) When you look at how Gaza as a place to live is like now and how it has remained like that for decades, do you honestly expect them to produce outstanding statesmen who have university degrees, are financially secure and possess worldly view? Gaza has been kept in a miserable and dire situation for decades. When that is the policy (carried out by Israel) the emergence of intolerant and extremist leaders is the logical outcome. Israel is reaping what they sowed. The West Bank was not isolated and treated the same way as Gaza and what happened? They produced reasonable people that Israel has in the past negotiated with. So there is no point for us to be hounding at the Gazans for not producing outstanding leaders that the Israelis can accept. It will also be illogical for us to expect outstanding leaders from Gaza which in my opinion can only be described as hell on earth. The people who have taken over Gaza cannot be ignored at the political table otherwise they will just keep engaging in violent resistance that includes firing rockets into Israel.

    4) I separate the activists on the aid flotilla into two categories because it involved the participation of a Nobel Laureate and some EU legislators. I don’t think they signed up on the basis of wanting to exterminate Israel and Jews. That would have made headlines. If some other activists espoused those views then clearly some people have renegade on agreed PR image and agreed language. There will always be morons out there considering themselves activists and deviate from agreed objectives and code of conduct. That is why it is important to differentiate the views of certain activists to the actions of other activists.

    5) As for Turkey being the best country as a mediator in the Arab-Israeli peace process despite its problems as you have rightly highlighted boils down to the old adage – when given lousy options the best to do is to pick the least lousiest. Turkey is perceived in the Middle East as respectable and trustworthy. Unless you can produce an alternative with similar characteristics? I think Brazil could be that now that Israel has burnt its bridges with Turkey over its refusal to apologise on their excessive use of force on the flotilla that killed Turkish citizens. You touched on the point of Cyprus. What Turkey did was illegal, but justifiable. It was justifiable in a sense that Cyprus was experiencing the arrival of Greek nationalists from the Greek Mainland who wanted to stir up trouble against the Turkish minority. They have a history of that. Greek Cypriots, the ones I encountered, seem to hold the Greek Nationalists responsible for the current predicament of Turkey being an occupying force on Cyprus. That is another story so I’ll stop there.

    6) The Nazi Germany analogy is horrendous and does not apply. I don’t know who keeps using that, but it is irresponsible and cheapens the seriousness of the Nazi regime and its consequences. Unless they can provide solid and unquestionable evidence at a staggering scale – I don’t want to waste time pondering it. However, Apartheid is an appropriate analogy for Israel’s activity in the West Bank because there exist many similarities. For example, we have in the West Bank a situation where an identified people, the Palestinians, are constantly monitored by Israeli security forces and Israeli Army. Plus there are physical barriers i.e. concrete walls and barbed wires that are utilized to control and manage the population. This regime of daily life is carried out by an authority (i.e. the Israeli government) of which the Palestinians in the West Bank have no political say or involvement. It is exactly how non-Whites were managed in South Africa. Furthermore, as long as Israel adopt a rejectionist policy towards Palestinians who were displaced from what is now the State of Israel, Israel cannot be considered an open political situation as you believe it is – not to mention how Israel demands from Palestine that they acknowledge Israel’s Jewish character, what does that mean and how will it be relevant to the Arab Israeli citizens? It’s like listening to South Africa during Apartheid demanding countries to respect its Western (British/Dutch/Boer/Anglo/Whatever) character before entering diplomatic relations. Israel has a lot of questionable policies and practice that would lend credibility to the Apartheid analogy.

    7) On your last paragraph we need analogies because not everyone lives in Israel and Palestine. Analogies, the accurate ones, are used to inform people of a situation. We can therefore identify the possible solutions. I think there is confusion as to how analogy is applied by some people in the mass media. Israel as a whole in my opinion is not Apartheid South Africa. What is Apartheid South Africa are Israeli policies and actions in the West Bank.

  4. Matthew

    1) The Palmer report does not treat Turkey and the “aid flotilla” as synonyms. Calling the “aid flotilla” reckless does not constitute finding fault in Turkey as it was organised by the IHH, a non-government organisation. The whole thing is here if you haven’t had a chance to see it as a primary source http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/world/Palmer-Committee-Final-report.pdf

    I have little or no knowledge of military weapons or strategy but your ship disabling solution sounds astonishing to me as a layman. Is there some non-lethal weapon that can reliably disable enormous ships from a distance without sinking it or killing anyone on board that I am unaware of? Given that the other ships in the convoy were boarded successfully and peacefully why would the IDF not do the same with this one? Considering they boarded Mavi Marmara without any lethal weapons, it seems unlikely they expected any physical hostility. If those on board were “activists” who just wanted to deliver “aid” and so would presumably co-operate as that is the quickest and most efficient way of getting aid into Gaza from their physical position out at sea, would firing at the ship to disable it not be a mad thing for Israel to do? Of course in hindsight we know they didn’t co-operate because quickly and efficiently getting aid into Gaza wasn’t the point of the trip.

    2) Of the seven flotilla ships, four were delivering Aid. Mavi Marmara, the ship in question, did not have any aid. Here is a video in which you can see the pre-prepared low-grade weapons on board though. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvS9PXZ3RWM

    These are low-grade and I assume for fighting Israeli soldiers who were checking the ships- thus it was a highly premeditated lynching. What I do think is that the presence of actual aid is irrelevant; I only brought it up because the ship in question had none on board which helps to prove my original point. My point is that aid was not the purpose of the “activists”. The purpose was the on-going propaganda campaign against Israel. As I pointed out in the article Gazans are not a starving population and do not require special “aid flotillas”.

    3) You said the “emergence of intolerant and extremist leaders” is the “logical outcome” of what Israel has done. This is self-discrediting.

    It is also ridiculous to say it emerged, as if Israel’s unwelcome treatment of Palestinians preceded the intolerance and extremism when the reverse is actually the case. “Intolerance and extremism” is the reason we didn’t get two states in 1947. It is the reason why there would be no peace if a Palestinian state was erected tomorrow with full Israeli withdrawal into the pre-1967 cease-fire lines (incorrectly referred to as the “1967 borders” by many).

    The idea that Israel ought to negotiate with Hamas towards a two-state solution is absurd. The idea that Hamas want to negotiate towards a two-state solution is even more absurd and as far as I know nobody serious actually believes it to be the case.

    Perhaps my article still in the list on the front page of this site, “The End of Root Causes”, is worth a read, as it discusses a point you raised but in a different context (Al Qaeda vs. America). I wrote the following;

    “The endless search for the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism came from a deeply embedded racism in Western society about non-Westerners. The non-Westerner was being considered an inanimate object which could not screw up as a culpable being itself, but could only screw up if “caused” to by the West being mean to them. This subtly racist narrative cast the Westerner as a morally responsible adult and the non-Westerner as a boomerang. The Westerner throws the boomerang, and being a boomerang it comes back and hits the Westerner in the face. Of course it is not the boomerangs fault; it is after all an inanimate object without moral responsibility of its own. The Westerner was to blame- he should not have “caused” the boomerang to hit him in the face.”

    You may deny it is what you meant but it seems pretty clear to me reading what your wrote that you think Israel brings Hamas terrorism on itself and that Gazans are not responsible for their own political movements, they have been caused by Israel (who are of course 100% responsible for themselves) to be the way they are- the abolition of acknowledging their free will and moral responsibility.

    It also fails to explain all of the other anti-Semitic theocratic tyrannies who rule the Middle East and the commonplace anti-Semitism throughout the Arab world. Is Israel responsible for all of them as well?

    4) Have you watched the video of the launch rally (linked somewhere in the article)? It shows the leader of the IHH, the NGO who organised the flotilla, hollering like a fanatic stirring up violence. It is not a minority of extremists on board giving the mainstream on board a bad name, it is the organisers themselves. Have you seen the videos of the beginnings of the lynching? These are the people I am talking about- the ones who attempted to murder the Israeli soldiers- not the less influential western ‘useful idiots’ who go along to emote about a fashionable cause and back slap each other’s moral superiority (whilst having no concern for injustice in the world not caused by anyone Western, such as the on-going, demonstrably worse, 32 year occupation of 73 million Iranian citizens by a gang of Islamofascist theocratic goons who have a pornographic desire for Israel annihilation and apocalyptic weaponry).

    And the absurd Nobel Laureate figure, Henning Mankell, is considering blocking his books from being translated into Hebrew- an overt attempt to discriminate against an ethnic group as a whole, which would only make sense if you consider them guilty as an ethnic group because they are that a part of that ethnic group, as opposed to as individuals because of their actions- but this is what passes as a reasonable position when all rationality is absolved, as it is on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

    The “morons” on the ship didn’t deviate from the agreed objectives- they won an enormous propaganda victory- the agreed objective of the “aid flotilla”.

    5) I agree that Turkey/Cyprus is another story for another time.

    The current Erdogan regime in Turkey never wanted to be a negotiator. Israel may have burnt its bridges with Turkey but Turkey unnecessarily trapped it between a rock and a hard place- Turkey need not have demanded an apology after the Palmer Report ruled in its favour (a report by the way which also ruled that the Gaza blockade is legal, not that I personally think U.N. decisions have any merit, but if they float your boat). Turkey has expelled an ambassador to prove a petty point because Erdogan wants them to be a Middle Eastern leader, on the Arab side of things, not as a neutral respectable negotiator.

    Whilst I still strongly disagree with 6) and 7) and I am not avoiding combat (believe me I have more), perhaps we should agree to disagree on those as this is already quite a long response (and I am tired and An Idiot Abroad is on soon) and there is such a big chasm between our views, if we are going to reconcile them on any of this it is certainly not going to be on South Africa apartheid analogies.

    Having said that, on one small point you raise “I don’t know who keeps using that {Nazi analogies}”, many do it but one amusing case was of Lauren Booth, Cherie Blair’s sister, who went to Gaza and said “you were in the concentration camps, and I can’t believe that you are allowing the creation of such a camp yourselves” (I can see you are obviously a well-informed and reasonable person who knows what you are talking about but I would urge you and anyone of a similar political stance on this issue to look at what she says here and be wary of this tendency amongst your comrades. What is just quoted from Booth is not a reference to Israeli’s or to Zionists because people were not put in camps for being an Israeli or a Zionist, they are just thin euphemisms. The comment is intended for Jews). Soon after this, a series of photographs were produced of her in Gaza. Gaza is not a nice place, but Auschwitz it is not as you can see below;

    http://hurryupharry.org/2008/09/12/lauren-booth-in-gaza/

    I’ll also point out that key to my views on this whole issue was a question I asked in my first response. “Why is this particular case of oppression such a fashionable cause, and not, say, the demonstrably far worse oppressions of North Koreans, the Chinese or the Sudanese? Could it be that the narrative’s victim or the degree of horror inflicted upon them is not really the problem, but the identity of the villain is where the real pull of concern comes from?”

    Many of the naïve ‘useful idiots’, as opposed to the more sinister propagandists, believe the degree of horror in Gaza is the worst anyone is facing in the world, but they believe that because they are credulous and ideological, not because it is true or is based on evidence or reason. Gaza is not a nice place- quite the reverse- Israel does many things that are wrong and immoral (and self-defeating even from an enlightened self-interested Israeli point of view)- but the general outlook, although they consider themselves to be perfectly moderate, amongst politicians across the world, among university lecturers and their teaching of the young and impressionable, the student population, the BBC, the wholly corrupt institution of the U.N. and many others is that Israel is irredeemably evil and Palestinians or anyone campaigning in their favour is axiomatically virtuous. My personal position is that that position is irrational.

  5. Hi Jamie,

    1)
    Turkey hosted and publicly backed an operation that was found reckless by the UN. Given Turkey’s reputation or objective of wanting to be a reputable player in international relations, that conclusion from the Palmer Report is damaging. They are linked to an event deemed reckless. The Palmer Report does not say Turkey you are reckless, but do you not think that it still looks bad for them for having hosted and publicly endorsed something found to be reckless? I think so, clearly Turkey made a serious error of judgment and it backfired in the Report.

    Disabling a ship’s rudder and propeller is really not that astonishing when you think about it rationally. It is an old military tactic for avoiding risks associated to boarding ships with possible hostile forces. This is where Israel made their error of judgment. The Israelis could have disabled all the ships by blowing out their steering and propulsion capabilities, let them adrift, let them moan and then force a solution on their (Israel’s) terms. That would have been an ideal scenario than boarding all the ships with guns and expect no violent resistance. I seriously doubt Israeli intelligence and military had no idea who the activists were (on all the ships) and did not do any background check (were they dangerous?). Do not underestimate Israeli intelligence. All the options were there, but the worst one was chosen due to error of judgment I believe rather than deliberate intent.

    I think a very important aspect of the Palmer Report is overlooked. Its objective is to ensure that the incident does not repeat itself in the future. It concluded, in a conciliatory framework, that both countries did not take steps available that could have stopped the situation from developing into an international incident that involved deaths. It also provided recommendations. A fair and reasonable assessment from the UN.

    2)
    I think it is disingenuous to label an entire aid flotilla of being part of some propaganda campaign against Israel just because one ship (out of 7) had some insignificant number of activists who chanted some nonsense about Israel as a state. That is why I said it is important to differentiate the actions and words of the activists that took part in the aid flotilla. In the Palmer’s Report where Israel provided their findings they determined that most people on the Mavi Marmara were, “peace activists.” It is not very persuasive then to describe the Mavi Marmara as being some hostile ship steered exclusively by some lynching mob.

    I saw your youtube link for the so-called weapons found on the Mavi Marmara. Do you have anything more concrete? That youtube video surprised me and made me laugh. Are you seriously calling a puny consignment of slingshots, metal bars, wire cutters and spanners… weapons? When I first came across claims of weapons on one of the ships of the aid flotilla I was picturing a rack of AK47s and rock propelled grenades. Unless you have another link to a more credible source? I saw some tear gas masks for maybe 50 people. I suspect those are to be used against Israeli tear bombs and cluster bombs. It is very strange (and disingenuous) how in the Report Israel classified flares, rods, axes, knives, gas masks, protective vests and night vision goggles as weapons and combat equipment and then added that no firearms were found. Israel just classified general kitchen utensils and gardening equipment as weapons. The combat equipment I think is reference to the protective vests and gas masks.

    Those items it appears are the only things Gazans can get their hands on to use to defend themselves when Israel rains down on Gaza with tear gas, artillery bombardment and cluster bombs. Gazans are doing the same thing Israelis do, arm yourself in order to defend yourself. In the case of Israel they defend themselves from rocket attacks via its military (armed to the teeth with latest technologies from the States). Flares, rods, knives as weapons… let’s get the perspective right please. If Israel said no firearms were found I think to claim the aid flotilla carried weapons to be stretching it.

    I think your point regarding the activists (either as a whole for the entire flotilla or just the Mavi Marmara) sailed for Gaza was not on humanitarian grounds, but on a propaganda campaign is baseless. The evidence suggests a different explanation. I think the point I made about the importance of differentiating the words and actions of the majority of activists from the minority of morons on the Mavi Marmara needs to be introduced here to rectify your stance regarding the nature of the flotilla and its aims. A peaceful aid flotilla destined for Gaza was undermined by the actions of some agitated minority on the Mavi Marmara.

    3)
    I think my assessment on the leadership outcome of Gaza to be quite on point and your claim of it being self-discrediting is a random use of the term. I based my point on a very obvious comparison. Look at the West Bank and how it is different to Gaza in terms of its treatment from Israel (no better, but still a difference is present). The West Bank is able to function economically and has access to the outside world since it is not under systematic blockade. People living in the West Bank therefore have at the minimum a meaningful political and economic life. The output of that are people who are calm, reasonable and can leave the gun behind in order to negotiate. Gazans are the polar opposite. They have no meaningful political and economic life due to the blockade therefore it breeds intolerance, anger and resentment. When innocent people pay the price of Israeli reprisals on Hamas fighters and terrorists, the vicious cycle of intolerance and hatred continues so it would be logical to say that Israel should not expect that by ignoring Hamas and keep the blockade that somehow a new political class of well-to-do and well-educated Gazans will appear.

    I suspect you posted your response after the recent agreement Israel reached with Hamas concerning prisoners swap? That development effectively dispels the, “we do not negotiate with terrorist” doctrine, policy, posturing… whatever. If including Hamas in negotiations on prisoner exchange is acceptable, I do not think including them on the negotiating table for Two States Solution to be absurd.

    I do not understand your point about why Israel should be responsible for anti-Semitism in the Middle East and how it links my point. I think Israel should be responsible for their actions in the Middle East (same with Palestinians and others). I identified their (Israel’s) actions (blockade) in Gaza (with West Bank as the polar opposite) to be the cause of their being a lack of moderate and reasonable political figures other than Hamas. When Gazans are collectively brutalised by the blockade they just want to get back at Israel by supporting Hamas. When innocent people die because of Israeli strikes against Hamas, it fuels anger and hatred which manifests into support for Hamas – to get back at Israel. Now compare that with West Bank – two different outcomes in political leadership and I identified why (my opinion).

    I read the quote you inserted from your other article and I had no idea what you were trying to say.

    4)
    I think my comments in paragraph two addresses this point. Do not superimpose the minority of moronic activists with some nonsense views towards Israel as a state over the majority of activists who signed up to deliver aid to Gaza. I think at this point we have sufficient evidence (from both Palmer’s Report and Israel’s findings) to confirm that the aid flotilla was indeed carrying aid and that to put it in quotation marks is illegitimate.

    5)
    Whatever the chasm is between our views, I would like to base my views on evidence and being inclusive of the positions of other people, find agreement where it may be and challenge views that are dubious in nature. I agreed with Israel’s arguments that the flotilla could have posed serious security threats, but disagreed with how they dealt with the situation. I also agree with the Palmer Report that the flotilla acted recklessly and I would go further and include Turkey as part of that recklessness.

    I do not know who Lauren Booth is and saying she is Cherie Blair’s sister means nothing to me. I generally do not involve the views of such nobodies in this kind of discussion. I assume we agree that Nazi Germany is not a legitimate analogy for what Israel is doing in the West Bank (you say you are still in strong disagreement on point six in my response). I cannot see why you would have reasons to be strongly against the use of analogies.

    In your last two paragraphs I think you pay way to much attention to the loud minority of what I would refer to as morons. They will always be there. We need to differentiate them from the rest, the more serious crowd. You called the UN corrupt and stung that up in the same sentence that Israel was portrayed as irredeemably evil… I find that baffling. The Palmer Report from the “corrupt” UN affirmed Israel’s arguments on security measures. I think the view in your last paragraph is the product of confusing Israel as a state (how it should be respected as such) with Israeli policies in Palestinian territories. When you separate them you will find that most people do not view Israel as evil, but they do condemn with justification Israeli policies and military activities in illegally occupied lands.

    The spirit of reconciliation within the Palmer Report should be infused in everyone’s policies in the Middle East.

  6. Hello again Michael. I must apologise for the delayed response. I penned most of this comment at the time, saved it on Word, forgot about it, and then whilst clearing out my Word files this week noticed it. I’ll just point out that your last comment was 1631 words. Mine, other than this explanatory paragraph, is 340ish words less than that. Perhaps if you were to respond again (my hope is you have the automatic email notification thing on as I guess you would not still be checking here) you would limit it to 1000 words in the interests of winding the debate down. Anyway, this is what I wrote at the time. It sounds shrill to me now, but I shall stay loyal to my past self and not tone it down. Please take it in the friendly spirit of debate intended and any perceived slights on you are supposed to be tongue in cheek:

    Oscar Wilde said that a gentleman was someone who never insults anyone unintentionally. I shall flatter you therefore by assuming, “I had no idea what you were trying to say” or that the YouTube video “made you laugh” were designed with condescension in mind. You’re going to have to forgive me then if you detect a tone of patronisation from me as I try to walk you through those points and others (your detector should be alerted already).

    1)

    Regarding your first paragraph, what point are you making? Is it (A) that the Palmer Report found fault in Turkey’s contribution or is it (B) that the faults found in the flotilla incidentally implicate Turkey? The incidental implication of Turkey would of course have been unintentional, because if a U.N. report intends to criticise a state it does so, it does not just get readers to try to read between the lines. Turkey themselves seem to consider the Palmer Report to have been a vindication. In answer to your question I do think the flotilla raid looks bad for Turkey, but think it is a pity that we are in a minority on that view.

    Regarding your second paragraph- I asked you some questions about this which you haven’t answered.

    i) Is there some weapon that can reliably disable enormous ships from a distance without risking it sinking or killing anyone on board? Perhaps you can give some examples of where this “old military tactic”, which no rational person could find astonishing in these circumstances, has been used safely before?

    ii) Given that the other ships in the convoy were boarded successfully and peacefully why would the IDF not do the same with this one?

    iii) If those on board were “activists” who just wanted to deliver “aid” and so would presumably be expected to co-operate as that is the quickest and most efficient way of getting aid into Gaza from their physical position out at sea, would firing at the ship to disable it not be a mad thing for Israel to do, and only sensible if they weren’t “activists” delivering “aid”?

    2)

    The reasons I call it a propaganda campaign are in the original article. You may not find them satisfactory, but my reasons are there. I shall state at this juncture that my reasons are not the misrepresentation of them that you offer in your opening sentence in point 2.

    Regarding the weapons (or “so-called weapons”- what kind of a rough neighbourhood do you come from?). I have not said and do not think that the flotilla was trying to smuggle weapons into Gaza. I think many low-grade weapons, such as knives, were prepared and taken on Mavi Marmara with the intention of attacking Israeli soldiers who tried to interfere with the ship *before it got to Gaza* so that they could create the maximum fuss out of flotilla-gate as possible (and I am 100% correct because that very thing happened).

    3)

    Hamas are, as I accurately described them in my comment on the 26th September, “an anti-Semitic terrorist organisation with a fetish for Jew-murder…”

    You said that the emergence of them as the leaders in Gaza was “logical” given what Israel had done. If you don’t see why it is self-discrediting to say that it is logical then I am not going to be able to explain it to you.

    You heavily criticise the blockade on Gaza in your point 3. Were you not angered then by the Palmer Report’s ruling that the blockade was “legal” and “appropriate”?

    I hate to have to come out against the release of the poor soul who had been kidnapped and held hostage for five years, but I think the trade was a mistake. It will be damaging for the Middle East peace process, because it strengthens Hamas and weakens Abbas in public opinion. I’d also point out again that Hamas *do not want to negotiate towards a two-state solution* and that is the reason why Israel are *not going to be able to negotiate towards a two-state solution with them*.

    In the third paragraph of your point 3 you do the following;

    i) You say Palestinians are responsible for their own actions.
    ii) Then you say the voting in of Hamas was caused by Israel (are Palestinians responsible for their own actions or are they not?)

    Regarding widespread anti-Semitism in the Middle East- you make excuses for the supporting of an anti-Semitic terrorist organisation in Gaza. However anti-Semitism and Hamasphilia are widespread throughout the Middle East among people who cannot have the excuse applied to them. If widespread anti-Semitism and Hamasphilia are common in places in the Middle East other than Gaza, then might there be other reasons for rejectionism of Jews in the region amongst Gazans, like there is elsewhere?

    To end point 3 you said;

    “I read the quote you inserted from your other article and I had no idea what you were trying to say.”

    I’m not in the least surprised.

    4)

    The implication here is presumably that unreasonable anti-Israeli sentiment is a noisy minority, and the majority should not be put under the same banner?

    You are more than welcome to go on believing that most criticism of Israel is nobly motivated, and that the noisy morons are an ineffective, insignificant minority (such a minority that an anti-Semitic terrorist organisation has been voted as the leaders of Gaza- maybe those views are actually effective, significant and more commonplace that you want to believe?).

    And I notice you avoid the awkward question of your Nobel Laureate Henning Mankell. You cite him as a moderate activist, I point out that he is considering banning his books from being translated into Hebrew and explain why that is contemptible and then you do not mention him again.

    You said “Do not superimpose the minority of moronic activists with some nonsense views towards Israel as a state over the majority of activists who signed up to deliver aid to Gaza”.

    I’m not. I’m talking directly about a specific activist you cited- Mankell- who you offered as an example of not being one of the moronic activists. If he is a moderate then as I have said a few times now, all rationality must have been absolved in the forming of opinions on the Israel/Palestinian conflict. You don’t have to be moderate to be called moderate it seems you just have to be not as bad as some others.

    5)

    Israel/Palestine is an extraordinarily unique conflict that has no workable historical analogue. Just saying “it is like apartheid South Africa” is like trying to push a decagon into a circular hole. For one thing, it fails because that analogy intentionally posits one side as broadly good and the other broadly bad, which does not apply to Israel/Palestine, as both sides have both done many bad things yet both have a point, whilst the South African oppressors were obviously the ‘baddies’ whom did not have any legitimate point.

    My view that the U.N. is corrupt baffles you and you imply it is the same as thinking Israel is irredeemably evil. Thinking something is corrupt is in no way equivalent to thinking something is irredeemably evil. Incidentally I have thought very hard about the U.N. and my belief that it is corrupt is a considered position (morally corrupt that is- I have no idea whether it is corrupt in other ways). I wrote about it months ago here;

    http://www.atthegrapevine.com/wordpress/politics/conference-fight-terrorism

    You end by saying;

    “The spirit of reconciliation within the Palmer Report should be infused in everyone’s policies in the Middle East.”

    Well the Palmer Reports ruling that the Gaza blockade is legal is infused in Israel’s policies, but as far as I can see nobody else’s.

  7. Hi Jamie,

    It has been awhile. I did not realise my response was that long. I did want to be clear on my explanations and suggestions. I always seek a conciliatory line. I hope you noticed that throughout my responses I did not place blame on anyone exclusively as being the culprit or the villain. I will try to keep my responses short.

    1)

    Paragraph one was a response to your earlier position. You said the Palmer’s Report (PR) did not treat Turkey and the aid flotilla as synonyms. I agreed. I went further and argued that the mere fact the flotilla which Turkey allowed to dock on its waters was declared reckless by an official on record UN report to be damaging to Turkey’s desire to be a neutral moderator in the region.

    i) This is a helpful article from the Foreign Policy Magazine that looked into how suspicious ships may be approached. The below segment is relevant for us and to my point;

    “If a safe boarding is not possible, there are other options for preventing a ship from delivering contraband or breaching an embargo. The navy vessel can attempt to force a ship to turn around by firing a warning shot, an internationally recognized tactic. With the right size advantage, a naval vessel can “shoulder” a civilian ship — literally push it off course. (This probably isn’t an option for the Israeli Navy, which doesn’t have any ships larger than a corvette.) Or it can attempt to disable the ship’s propeller or rudder. The simplest way to do this is by firing on the ship, but the recent piracy boom has spawned a cottage industry of new, non-lethal propeller-fouling technologies.”

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/06/02/what_s_the_right_way_to_board_a_hostile_ship

    ii) I’m not sure what context this question draws from. I think the IDF wanted to board the MM ship with no complications as the other ships. That did not happen; they encountered resistance which should not have been unanticipated. This I therefore argued could have been avoided had the above tactic been deployed instead.

    iii) The mad thing that Israel did was to board the ships with possible hostiles. Their chosen tactic ended up with several people dead. Disabling the rudder of all ships would have been the costless response. I think the activists wanted to deliver the aid outside Israeli arrangement because 1) Gaza was not part of Israel and 2) They wanted to highlight the history that aid was always stopped and monitored by Israel’s blockade in a way that it hampered the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Not to mention, Israel banned a lot of necessities that were crucial for Gaza, i.e. cement. Why would Israel want to ban that?

    2)

    The PR does not label the aid flotilla as a propaganda campaign and Israel referred to the majority of the people (on all the ships) as being peaceful. I prefer to agree with The UN and Israel on the overall nature of the aid flotilla and the people who were on it. A violent encounter was met by a handful of resisters to Israeli boarding. That was acknowledged by the report. The point I’m making here in this paragraph is when you read your original article and your subsequent comments, you 1) doubt the peaceful nature of the flotilla, 2) doubt the humanitarian objective of the flotilla and 3) depict the handful of resisters as nothing short but irrational monsters and 4) that they are the ones who really set the agenda and purpose of the flotilla. The PR and Israeli Investigation suggested my scenario to be more accurate than yours.

    3)

    I just explained to you the logic via comparison with the West Bank, which you did not even mention or challenge.

    I said I agreed with the PR’s report that Israel was justified in taking action against the aid flotilla due to security risks. That is a different matter to the blockade; it’s been there for how many years? Decades? I don’t know about you, but keeping 1.6 million people within a blockade over years and years is cruel and it produces terrible outcomes as I highlighted in my Gaza / West Bank leadership outcomes comparison (the logical outcome section).

    Since we established that Israel can talk to Hamas, OK, let’s move on. Israel can now, at least, persuade Hamas to accept two-state solution, get them on board with the rest of the Arab World and International Community. The only time Israel ever responded to Hamas was tit for tat bombing. I don’t think it’ll cost anyone to do some diplomacy, do you?

    The Palestinian people in Gaza are responsible for their actions as people in general are. The question is why would the Palestinians in Gaza voted for something like Hamas when the Palestinians in West Bank voted for someone that Israel had no qualms with or wanted dead? The blockade. The blockade is what persuades Palestinians in Gaza to vote for Hamas who have a proven record of resisting and attacking the Israeli blockade. When there is no meaningful economic or social live in Gaza because of the blockade voting for Hamas appears to be the only way out. How is Israel hooked into this dynamic? They are the ones enforcing the blockade. Voting of Hamas was I argued caused by the blockade that Israel enforced hence they became the target of attacks and hatred from Hamas who channeled it from their constituents.

    There is a difference between explaining how and why Hamas came to being and supporting them. I don’t support them, but I can see where they are coming from and how we can defuse it. I don’t think anti-Semitism and “Hamasphilia” are widespread in the Middle East unless you have proof of some kind to show that? I think you might be referring to anti-Israeli policies in the region which is different from anti-Semitism.

    As for the quote you asked me to read, I think your ideas were lost due to the structure of the paragraph. It had a lot of run-on sentences.

    4)

    When people are labeled anti-Israeli it is usually due to their stance against some of Israeli policies and not because they object to Israel exiting. When Israel was criticised at the UN by the majority of the world… do you not think that maybe Israel was in the wrong and that the world was not enslaved to some international anti-Semitism campaign to destroy Israel? Hamas gets criticised too. Even Israel’s human rights organizations have in the past condemned Israeli policies.

    As for that Nobel Laureate if he does not want his book to be published in Hebrew as some kind of protest, fine. It’s not illegal and it certainly won’t kill anyone. People have done worse things towards Israel and its citizens other than… banning their books from being published in Hebrew. On that basis, his actions and frame of mind seem moderate compared to Hamas and Hezbollah. If that Nobel Laureate became a member of Hamas then he would become a belligerent and should be rescinded of his Nobel status.

    You portray the whole aid flotilla as having a dubious nature and an agenda that is not exclusively humanitarian based on the selected words and opinions of the few on the MM ship. That was why I thought and said you superimposed the nature and views of the minority of morons over the majority of activists. You still even use quotation marks when mentioning aid flotilla.

    5)

    Calling Israeli policies and actions with regards to the West Bank being similar/like/no different to Apartheid South Africa is an accurate description. The leadership of South Africa during apartheid built walls, exclusion zones and segregation both physically and legally towards identified people who are not involved in the political process that brought about the leadership. That situation is what is happening in the West Bank. Walls, security check-points, exclusion zones, stop-and-search of an identified group of people who are not part of the political process that produced the leadership that carried out such measures outlined above. That is the reality of the situation. You could probably Google Earth the barriers.

    Have you read the UN Charter? I seriously doubt anyone who has read the UN Charter would come to your conclusion that the UN as an institution is morally corrupt. Your conclusion in your article rests on failed cases of UN action, rather than the UN Charter and its institutional functioning. You going to blame the UN that most of its members have governments that are unelected? Seems a bit unfair. People need to accept that the UN can only do so much. Let us not attach outrageous expectations to the UN that even we cannot uphold brilliantly 100% of the time.

  8. I read the first two paragraph and understood you’re the typical brainwashed pro-Israeli who has a TV box for a brain. Too much CNN and Fox News, eh? Sharia? Anti-semitic? Terrorists? Typical words I have to keep reading again and again by fools like yourself.

  9. Hi Michael, just to let you know that I shall be replying shortly- very busy and all that at the moment- doing it bit by bit when I get spare moments.

    And I’m glad to see the non-brainwashed Jasmin with her impressively open mind got through a whole two paragraphs before penning a three lined ad hominem attack which neither addresses anything I wrote, or, despite what she claims, understands anything I wrote.

    It goes to show that you cannot reason somebody out of a position which they were not reasoned into in the first place. Jasmin considers my arguments to be wrong a priori, simply because they are pro-Israeli, and therefore she need not actually argue against them, but just assert that they are foolish, free of any argument.

    But, as Christopher Hitchens remarked, that which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

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