A comment on the method to the madness; Derfner

A Comment on Israeli tactics.

Norman Finkelstein (among others) has been taking up the issue of Israel choosing to send commandos onto the flotilla. There were other options available, why that one?

Indeed, Israeli hawks have also criticised the decision.

So how would any other navy enforce a naval blockade? First, a clear warning in English: Turn back or we shall fire. Next, A shot across the bow – a last warning to show the seriousness of our intentions. Finally, firing at the vessel’s propeller, in a bid to paralyze the ship’s sailing and steering capabilities.

Why didn’t Israel try that? The answer, I think, is at least partly that Israel wanted to terrorise the people on the flotilla. I think other things should also be pointed out. Israel wanted to control the media. That is why they tried to jam broadcasting from the flotilla. That is why they forcibly arrested and detained the journalists on board the flotilla. At least 60 journalists according to Reporters without borders. We have yet to see any footage from those arrested, and soon to be expelled. I think part of the story is that Israel wanted to arrest the journalists, to prevent them from being able to release footage of what happened. Just like Israel banned journalists from Gaza, it now wants to prevent journalists from being able to cover the blockade of Gaza. In international waters.

This also helps explain why Israel staged the attack at something like 4 in the morning. They presumably figured they would be able to get out their special videos, adapted to the pitch black conditions, whilst ordinary camera-people would not have this capability.

I imagine Israel thinks it has succeeded, as everyone has seen videos of the soldiers being beaten. It has not released the whole videos – we have yet to see how Israel killed the passengers. Or how it behaved on the other boats. It should be considered pretty ominous that Israel would have such great footage of the attack, and yet would refuse to release this footage. Surely, if the Israelis killed the flotilla members in self-defence, it would have shown on these videos.

Tomorrow we should hear from Paul McGeough about his ordeal in the smh. We have seen a preview – he compared the soldiers to hyenas.

Larry Derfner

Derfner’s column preceding the flotilla was outstanding. I quoted that one almost in full. I’ll quote this one too. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading it. (I reserve judgement on the IHH – allegations about it by the Israeli government really don’t deserve credibility)

Like every other country, Israel has done some awfully bloody-minded things over the years. We’ve tyrannized the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and colonized their land. We’ve sold billions of dollars worth of arms and military expertise to murderous dictators across Africa, Latin America and Asia. We elected two prime ministers, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, who headed national liberation movements that deliberately killed hundreds of Arab civilians along with scores of British officials and soldiers, and whose stated goal at the time was a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River.

Most recently, we elevated to the post of foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whom even Martin Peretz, the belligerently pro-Israel editor-in-chief of The New Republic, describes as a “neo-fascist.”

But still, none of this takes away Israel’s right to sovereignty within its legitimate, pre-occupation borders, including its territorial waters and airspace. And what sovereignty means, finally, is that we have the right to use force to defend our land, water and airspace against any attempt by a foreign entity to take control over it.

A hypothetical case: If the UN, for whatever reason, decided to blockade Israel’s coast, to stop ships going in and out, we would have the right to forcibly break it. And if, being under blockade, we couldn’t break it ourselves, our supporters abroad would have the right to do it for us – certainly the moral right, maybe the internationally legal right, too.

Now let’s say that to break the UN blockade, several hundred international friends of Israel – hawks, doves, Jews, gentiles, etc. – got up a flotilla of ships and sailed for Haifa. And let’s say the lead ship, named the SS Baruch Goldstein, was loaded with Kachniks from America. And let’s say UN soldiers, determined to enforce the blockade, tried to commandeer the Baruch Goldstein and were attacked by a mob of Kachniks with knives, clubs and metal rods.

Now all decent people loathe everything that Kach and the example of Baruch Goldstein stand for. And even if they were fighting in a cause as just as Israel’s right to sovereignty, the Kachniks aboard the Baruch Goldstein would remain loathsome and so would their ideology.

But as evil as they are, it would still not justify the UN blockade of Israel’s coast. And as evil as they are, it still wouldn’t mean their attack on the soldiers enforcing the blockade was wrong.

Only a pacifist could say that, and around here there are very, very few pacifists.

WHICH BRINGS me to Monday morning’s raid on the Mavi Marmara. It was wrong. It was wrong because the Gazans, no less than Israelis, have the right to sovereignty within their legitimate borders, including their territorial waters and airspace. And nothing they’ve done, nothing they believe, no one they’ve elected gives Israel the right to control their country or take away the Gazans’ right to defend it with force.

The Palestinians are no more a nation than Israelis are, but they’re no less of one, either. Whoever’s guiltier in our 130-year conflict, there’s plenty of guilt on both sides, as there is on the side of every nation. But still, guilt doesn’t take away any nation’s right to be free.

I know what Hamas is. And I have no trouble believing the reports, Israeli and foreign, that this Turkish IHH organization behind theMavi Marmara is pro-Hamas, pro-jihad. These are not peace activists; these are not good people at all. These are loathsome people.

They’re no worse than Kachniks, but they’re no better, either.

But as evil as these jihadists are, they were acting in a cause the whole decent, democratic world knows is right: Freedom for Gaza. Freedom for the Palestinians. An end to the occupation. An end to the blockade.

And here’s the part that’s hard to accept, but that’s nevertheless true: The justice of that cause, and the injustice of Israel’s blockade, means those bastards on the Mavi Marmara had the right to attack our soldiers.

I hate admitting that. I really do. I’m going to be sending two sons into the IDF, too. And I am furious at my country for giving those bastards the right, the legitimacy, to attack our soldiers.

I don’t blame the commandos for killing those people; they were defending themselves. I blame my country for putting them on that ship in the first place. And I blame my country for the deaths, for the injuries, for the blood that was spilled – on both sides. It was spilled, finally, because my country denies another country its freedom.

In Other Palestine News

Israeli settlers appear to have shot at least one Palestinian today in the West Bank. We don’t yet know if this is part of their “price tag” operations – where settlers launch pogroms in the West Bank as a “price” for Israeli military evictions of their particularly illegal and particularly provocative settlements. The army mysteriously fails to catch these offenders. One can imagine what the reaction might be if it were Palestinians attacking Jews in such manner.

Is it any surprise that Israel’s only defenders in the media are people like Colin Rubenstein, Bren Carlill (who are paid for their efforts), Andrew Bolt, Alan Howe and Greg Sheridan?


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