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Sunday, May 30, 2010


I have the words, but there's not much point in using them.

Seems the Israeli's are pretty sure someone has got their back.


Can they count on a lack of American outrage?

I think so.

Donation on its way to Free Gaza.

If the Turks had any balls, they would declare that a state of war now exists between Turkey and Israel. Turkey is a NATO member, and an attack on a NATO member requires that other NATO members come to its aid. The Turkish government should now simply call NATO out let the world see what it truly stands for.

It's not like Turkey is ever going to be let into the EU anyway, so they have nothing to lose.

With the exception of those Israelis sharing the outrage perpetrated by their state, their government, their military upon unarmed, unresisting witnesses:

Zionists are conceived in a lie,

Born in a lie,

And surely shall die believing in that lie.

Better not to have lived at all. They have surrendered their honour, integrity, and humanity, and right to respect.

Justice shall exact a price. These people have completely lost their soul.


I get the sentiment, but down that path leads to a very, very large war.

IIRC, the Turks can draw on Iran and Russia for arms and material support, as well as natgas and oil.

The Russian state isn't likely to jump into a hot war (Georgia was a win for them, but it revealed extensive faults in the new Putin volunteer army, and esp. in the air force).

But, Iran might if its ayatollahs think they're next - and in a hot war, they would get hit.

Jack Crow

A state of war does not require shooting. It does, however, allow all sorts of actions to be taken which otherwise would be impolitic: expulsion and closure of embassies, seizure of assets, blockade of shipping, refusal of landing rights, refusal of access to airspace, and on and on.

It also allows one to call on assistance from one's supposed friends, and to expose to the world whether they are, in fact, your friends.

I just don't think it will stay within diplomatic channels. Bibi and Avigdor can count on US support. They can count on British, German and Kataeb support. They can probably count on Egypt and a docile Jordan.

And Hizbollah would not remain inactive, because the Israelis invariably nudge up real close to South Lebanon whenever they get a pretext.

Turkey declaring a state of war might not quite be the analog of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, but I think it'd be a boundary crossing event.

I cannot imagine Bibi and Avigdor firing on Turkish naval vessels.

Or, I just don't want to.

In the US media, the dynamic may be the same as the helicopter gunship thing in Iraq from awhile back.

The videos show flotilla passengers attacking IDF with clubs.

So, if military helicopters drop commandos onto your boat in international waters, are you allowed to fight back? I'd lean toward yes, but this is the country where if the cops shoot you whilst raiding your house for dope, it's your own fault. The uniform of the State gives legitimacy, and that's how mainstream America sees the IDF.

Well, as I wrote in a comment at A Tiny Revolution after Wikileaks exposed a 2007 massacre by US troops in Iraq, if a thug breaks into your house and kills you when you attack him with a baseball bat, he can't claim self-defense. (And on my blog, here.) That doesn't apply when we're talking about Israel or the US, of course, but that's because Israel and the US are outlaw states.

I just hope that the brave Israeli commandos didn't get any salt water on their jackboots, ruins the shine.

I believe the pro-Israeli excuse for this is that these "jihadists" were "invoking" the killing of the Jews--there's a YouTube video about this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3L7OV414Kk.

The mendacity and cruelty of those who excuse Israel never ceases to amaze. How does one respond to it?

Craig Murray on the legal aspects (since you're discussing it), via the outstanding Mondoweiss, which y'all should definitely visit if you haven't yet:


A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody's territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

Expat: You took the words right out of my mouth.

Ada: As I wrote a few years ago:

I've often thought that one of the worst things about Israel is the corrosive effect it has on those who claim to support it (both Jewish and otherwise). It exerts an irresistible magnetic pull on the moral compass of those who embrace its self-aggrandizing mythology, rendering them capable of depths of ethical blindness or outright malevolence that are all the more repellent for the self-righteousness in which they're so typically couched.
As for how you respond to it, I think you should just call it what it is and call them what they are. The facts are entirely on our side. And every year, more and more people (and many millions more now after this bloodbath) see these apologists for murder as the twisted souls they are--people for whom no lie is too vile if they think it might somehow benefit their beloved mother Israel.

The most infuriating hasbara argument is the one where they start listing all the crimes committed by other countries and then imply or state outright that in light of your silence (an assumption on their part) on those crimes, you must be an anti-semite. People do this with the air of someone sophisticated enough to know what is really going on.

Online that argument doesn't work with anyone, so far as I can tell. It obviously still has resonance with Israel defenders or it wouldn't be used so much. (Of course it doesn't help that there are some genuine anti-semites who are attracted by this subject--you can see a few in the comments section at Mondoweiss if you read them enough, though it's not true of most.)

The most startling argument Israel defenders use, though, is the attack on the US. I got into this subject reading Chomsky and Finkelstein (and Fisk and Hirst and Jonathan Randal and a few others) and they would compare Israel's behavior with that of the US (especially our treatment of Native Americans) in a way that is critical of both. Then Benny Morris defended the Nakba on the grounds that the US did it too and had the right to do so. That was a few years ago. Nowadays you see Israel defenders saying that the US kills far more civilians and did worse things to the Native Americans and so Americans have no right to criticize them at all. They're partly right, but I'm not sure what to make of it. The old "Commentary" crowd would defend US and Israeli behavior together and Chomsky would condemn both, but now the new type of hasbarist splits them. I can't figure out what's behind this? Is it a carefully calibrated tool only to be used in certain settings or have some Israel defenders gone completely nuts and think they can do quite well without US help?

I think there was even a NY congressman recently (no link handy and I can't remember who it was) who claimed we kill hundreds of civilians every week in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is far higher than Iraq Body Count's numbers. Not that I trust IBC, but it was mindblowing to see a congressman defend Israel in this way. Though in his case he was more like the old Commentary apologist, in that he wasn't criticizing the US, but saying that you just can't avoid killing some civilians when you're fighting these evil terrorists.

@ John C Tues 01/06/2010 01:01 am

Thanks, didn't mean to deprive you there. If you want, feel free to use anything that suits. I got a very large dictionary and I can go find some others just as well. ;-)

Craig Murray is now discussing the NATO problem, which I mentioned earlier. The demise of that institution, which serves primarily as a mechanism for projection of US power, would be a welcome outcome of all this:

[...] But what kind of mutual support organisation is NATO when members must make decades long commitments, at huge expense and some loss of life, to support the Unted States, but cannot make even a gesture to support Turkey when Turkey is attacked by a non-member?

Even the Eastern Europeans have not been backing the US line on the Israeli attack. The atmosphere in NATO on the issue has been very much the US against the rest, with the US attitude inside NATO described to me by a senior NATO officer as "amazingly arrogant - they don't seem to think it matters what anybody else thinks".

Therefore what is troubling the hearts and souls of non-Americans in NATO HQ is this fundamental question. Is NATO genuinely a mutual defence organisation, or is it just an instrument to carry out US foreign policy? With its unthinking defence of Israel and military occupation of Afghanistan, is US foreign policy really defending Europe, or is it making the World less safe by causing Islamic militancy? [...]

Well, years after the blockade started, the NYT has now decided to come out against it. Thank God for the press--if they weren't there questioning the powerful and exposing their misdeeds, ordinary people might have to risk their lives to bring injustice to light.

Donald Johnson, Nowadays you see Israel defenders saying that the US kills far more civilians and did worse things to the Native Americans and so Americans have no right to criticize them at all. They're partly right, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

I think this argument (which I've been hearing for decades now, I think) breaks down because people like Chomsky (and the others you name, and John C and you and me) are not silent about the crimes of other nations, especially our own. I point this out when someone tries this move on me, and ask them if they condemn US crimes. Of course they don't, but they don't really care; they're usually just surprised and angry that their move didn't reduce me to spluttering silence and acknowledgment of their superior morality. And, since they do not condemn the crimes of everybody else, they can't on their own logic condemn the crimes of the Freedom Flotilla, Hamas, Hizbollah, Iran, North Korea, etc.

Still, the move is a distraction, not an argument.


I don't have a problem handling the argument--what I'm not understanding is what the mindset is behind it. Do they expect this argument to go over well with ordinary Americans or is it only for the benefit of any confused lefty who might be distracted by it? Also, are Israelis so far gone they don't care if they insult America, their one true enabler in the world?

I've always seen Israel defenders say that others are worse,but usually they point to what Chomsky would call the official enemies--if they've been pointing also to American crimes I think that's only become common in the past few years. Back in 2002 a New Yorker writer was talking about the heavy fighting in the West Bank and he used an analogy from US history. The obvious accurate one would be US=Israel and Palestinians = Native Americans, but he used the Reconstruction period in the South and Northern occupiers=Israel and the KKK = Palestinian resistance. So he was obviously trying to shield Israel from moral criticism while arguing that the occupation had to end just as the Northern occupation had to end. OTOH, making the Native American comparison invites condemnation, but Israel apologists commonly do that now. To me it's weird. I don't expect apologists to embrace their evil so openly.

Well, the mindset behind that move is that gallant little Israel is the good guy, and like the other good guy (us) can do no wrong, but she (Israel) is misunderstood and persecuted and hated for no reason. If you have ever been around children (or if you've ever been a child), you'll recognize the mindset and the defense. They don't debate well, so it's not that they have thought it through and expect to convince an ordinary American or confused lefty: it's what they really, really believe, and they're trying to ward off disapproval. And no, I don't think they realize what they are admitting about themselves, their values, or the country they're defending. And they really think it's cool to kill not only official enemies and any civilians in the vicinity -- at best, they are transparently insincere when they deplore violence; at worst they openly delight in the idea that They got what was coming to Them. If you scroll down to the video embedded in this long post, you can see what I mean.

And to toot my own horn a bit, but I think this is a good example, I wrote here about a lovely exchange between Julian Marshall of the BBC and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor that was quoted at Democracy Now. Palmor said that the Durban Declaration denounced Israel as the most racist state, the cause of all evil in the region. Marshall asked him where this denunciation appeared, and Palmor said he didn't have the text in front of him, but ... Marshall said mildly, "Well, I do have the text in front of me, and I don't see anything like that." Palmor then had to lie his way out of the hole he'd put himself in. Very entertaining. So I wrote:

One reason this tickled me, aside from its inherent neatness, is that many Americans use a similar line about left critics of the US: they blame America for everything that goes wrong in the world. The best response is to ask such people for specific examples as Marshall asked Palmor, and let them squirm and try to lie their way out, because I don't know of any people who make such criticisms. It would be nice to know who they are, so I can criticize them too. I and the people I read and listen to are all very specific about what the US does wrong. ("But Mom! All the other murderous imperialist states are doing it!" isn't an acceptable excuse either, no matter how popular it is. It's interesting how easily the US and Israel go from being beacons of enlightenment and moral perfection to guys who are no worse than their enemies, as the necessities of debate require.)

Well, that makes sense, Duncan--I'm looking for logic where none exists, except the logic of a three year old having a temper tantrum. I'm used to a higher class of apologist, I suppose, like they have at "Commentary" or "The New Republic". They wouldn't concede American OR Israeli misdeeds. That's the logical way to be an apologist--deny, deny, deny.

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