Monday, May 31, 2010

Yes, call it a massacre

AFP photo

How else can you possibly "spin" the attack on the aid convoy? John Caruso calls it a massacre, and he's right.

Al Jazeera: Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza. Up to 16 people were killed and more than 30 people injured when troops stormed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the Israeli Army Radio said. The flotilla was attacked in international waters, 65km off the Gaza coast.

Reuters: Israeli commandos intercepted Gaza-bound aid ships Monday and at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists on board were killed in bloodshed that plunged Israel into a diplomatic crisis.

Houston Chronicle(AP): Israeli warships attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding an unknown number of people on board, an Arabic satellite service and a Turkish TV network reported early Monday. The Israeli military refused to comment on the report.

I wonder if the US and UK meda will call it a "grave mistake." Or something. Look, they said it as plainly as possible after the attack on 9-11. Our support of the regime in Tel Aviv is why they hate us, especially when they do things like this. Not for scantily-clad runway models, or fast food, or freedom.

Terrorism against American and Israeli civilians is wrong, but so is terrorism by governments against civilians, against NGOs, and against aid convoys. Even terrorism by governments the US supports. On Memorial Day and every day, America is supposed to be against this kind of thing, no matter how often we've fallen short of that. Call it what it is. It is unprovoked aggression, the blockade itself is wrong, and the attack is indeed a massacre.

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At May 31, 2010 8:09 AM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

I suspect this was a planned incident. This isn't the first ship to try to run the blockade. I don't recall reading any accounts of Israel dropping soldiers from helicopters at night before this.

It coincides with Netanyahu's visit to Washington, which is now conveniently cancelled.

Watch how this is reported in the press, and how certain reliably pro-Israel media sources will manage to blame this on Obama.

It's the game within the game. Ignore it at your own peril.

At May 31, 2010 8:18 AM, Blogger Jack Crow said...

The NYT is already editorializing that this is good for Hamas, since it strengthens their propaganda hand.

At May 31, 2010 9:58 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I’m very dubious about the information being reported. For example I really don’t believe anything Israel says about this such as they were attacked. That’s what Israel always says, they’re being attacked, it’s the whole reason for their being. Recall how the Israeli attacked the American ship Liberty which was an act of war but we did nothing, it was smoothed over so I expect the same thing to happen here as well. I have absolutely no sympathy for Israel, they don’t belong there, and they’re just a bunch of European invaders who have been causing trouble in the Middle East ever since the ill-conceived idea of creating Israel.

At May 31, 2010 10:30 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Heathlander at Kos:

To attack a convoy of unarmed peace activists in international waters, and then to claim that it was the peace activists who committed the aggression, is so manifestly absurd that one wonders whether Israel truly has, as Chomsky recently implied, entered the "irrational" phase. I would caution against this conclusion. In the run-up to the voyage Israeli officials showed a keen awareness of the difficult PR situation they were in. It’s not that the Israeli government doesn’t care about its international image – far from it. Rather, the most plausible explanation is that, after a cost-benefit analysis, it determined that it would be able to attack the peace activists on the flotilla, take the concomitant day or two of bad media coverage in its stride, muddy the waters as much as possible with PR spin, and then move on without suffering too much damage as a result. Yousef Munayyer recently observed that ‘Palestinian non-violence requires global non-silence’. Evidently, the Israeli government took the risk of attacking the flotilla on the presumption that the world would be muted in its response.

At May 31, 2010 1:01 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

Just some thoughts…

I agree with Bob that this appears to be an incident planned ahead of time. Netanyahu can get out of meeting with Obama this way. (Not that it really matters, but in theory wouldn’t now be as good of a time as any for the two to meet? It isn’t as if Netanyahu has to keep an eye out for the flood of similar ships that will be attempting to enter in the next few days.)

Perhaps the popular media will dismiss this by saying, “paintball guns can’t kill people, so it must not have happened” and/or “since when did these sorts of people have the right to defend themselves?”

Rob’s comment about how Israelis “don’t belong there” is problematic, or at least might be. While the demographic history of that area is a tangled mess –difficult to discern, that is- the Jewish presence there is a historical one and I think, due to the odd nature of how groups are socially constructed, Jews constitute their own demographic group. Then again, if what Rob was really saying is that Israel –a Jewish state that, with very few exceptions, does not recognize the humanity of those outside of that group- does not belong there, then yes I agree.

However, all of this is getting away from the larger point, which is that this was an unprovoked attack, a massacre.

At May 31, 2010 1:06 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...


I didn't read all of the comments left at the Daily Kos page that you linked to, but I was pleasantly surprised that there was not a knee jerk defense of Israel right off the bat.

At May 31, 2010 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is a "historical claim" to the land that comprises Israel and how did Jews get the exclusive right to make that claim?

Religion as history?

I laugh.

At May 31, 2010 1:34 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...


Were you responding to something I wrote?

At May 31, 2010 2:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

My point about Israel not belonging is derived from the fact that these people are essentially white Europeans who were displaced by WWII who have taken over land that belonged to Palestinians. The Israeli are in fact very much like Americans, we are white Europeans who invaded territory that didn’t belong to us, expanded, claimed it as our own, and then rewrote history.

At May 31, 2010 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he Jewish presence there is a historical one

There you go.

At June 01, 2010 4:47 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

Well it is. That presence does not by any means give Jewish people the right to dominate others, but to deny the history is a bit much.

At June 01, 2010 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To attack the scarecrow goes well beyond "a bit much."

Plenty of people can claim a "historical right" to that land. Jews claim it because of religion, not because there are Jews as a race of people.

Judaism is a religion. Not a race.

Religious claims to a land = mythical claims.

Claims are not entitlement.

But hey, you destroyed that scarecrow. Nice work with that. Seriously.

At June 02, 2010 5:36 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...


Maybe I am dense, but I have no idea what you are talking about.

At June 02, 2010 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Historical claims" are not the same as claims based on religious myth, no matter how fervently held.

The history of the land shows many different people living there, a fraction of whom may have followed Judaism.

Maybe study some comparative world religions, or perhaps the history of the Middle East and its inhabitance.

At June 02, 2010 8:05 PM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

How about this, Charles and micah?

Historically, Jews have lived there. Based on religious myth, Jews claim ownership of the land.

At June 02, 2010 8:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Almost, Bob.

I would state it this way:

Throughout human history, various people of different races and beliefs have lived where modern Israel is located. Based on a religious myth, Jews claim an exclusive right to ownership of the land

At June 04, 2010 5:07 PM, Blogger micah holmquist said...

Bob, Charles,

I am in agreement with that formulation.


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