Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Consequences of the "Peace" Flotilla

I wasn't going to write about what has happened off the Israeli coast, because I am tired of writing about the Middle East and then having the blog infested by dogmatic nutters from both sides of the argument. However, as I had to talk about it on the Sky News paper review, here goes. This will have to be very brief as I am preparing for my interview with Alastair Campbell this morning.

When I was presenting on LBC yesterday the protests in Whitehall started while the programme was on air. We took a call from one of the protesters who proved to be very eloquent. This sparked off a huge number of calls into the programme from protagonists from both sides. One accused LBC of being anti Israel in its news bulletins. I had to point out to him that Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev had featured in every news bulletin. We then had a call from Yasmin (no, not that one) who ranted and raved about Israel and how terrible it was. I asked if she thought Israel had a right to exist and answer came there none. Even after I asked four times.

As readers know, I am an instinctive supporter of Israel, but I am not a blind supporter. It is clear to anyone that there this operation was botched. It shouldn't have taken place in international waters and there was clearly a lack of intelligence about what might happen when the commandos boarded the boat. There are questions as to whether live ammunition had to be used rather than stun guns. Allegations of disproportionate force are being made, as they always are whenever Israel does anything.

On the other side, it is a bit off for so-called peace activists to try to beat to death and drown Israeli commandos. The video showed on TV last night shows beyond doubt that the "peace protesters" were armed and only too willing to use violence to a sickening degree.

The Israelis had also given the flotilla many warnings not to proceed but they were ignored.

Was this flotilla as innocent as it made out? Might it have taken on weapons to smuggle into Gaza during its trip? Who knows. What we do know is that the "peace protesters" were singing intifada songs as they left port.

The short term consequences of this action are clear. Israel will be found guilty in the court of international opinion. Does the Israeli government give a toss about that? Probably not. What gets lost in all this is why the Israelis are intent on continuing the Gaza blockade. It's because more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel and it is therefore hardly surprising that that Israelis want, at all costs, to prevent any weaponry getting into Gaza. But they have been singularly unsuccessful so far.

The long term consequences are far more serious. Israel may now become even more isolated as even friendly governments lose patience. Their PR effort has been a disaster. The fact that William Hague, always a supporter of Israel, has made a thinly veiled attack says a lot. Turkey, formally Israeli's greatest ally in the region, is furious and has withdrawn its ambassador. Although many Arab governments in the region secretly support Israel's hard line against Hamas, they will be appalled by this incident.

There now needs to be a concerted effort to get the two sides talking again. It won't happen for many months. And there is only one man who can bring this about - Barack Obama.

Finally, whatever propensities I have to support Israel, the key point which makes me critical of this incident is this. If a peace flotilla had been making its way to the Iranian coast and it had been boarded by the Revolutionary Guard and people had been shot dead, I and many other supporters of Israel would be spitting blood in outrage.

So that's why I can't man the barricades and automatically jump to Israel's defence here. Sometimes Israel makes life very difficult for even its most ardent supporters.

96 comments:

londonmuslim said...

The video you cite about a handful of peace activists using a few broomsticks to take on elite commandoes from the fourth most powerful military state in the world was of course an IDF video.

I'm an instinctive supporter of any people who have their land occupied and then built upon by settlers.

Fake British passports, assasinations piracy on the international seas, what more does it take for us to realise that Israel is declaring war on British citizens who were on that Ship

Plato said...

Iain, I can't drum up any interest in this - both sides act like the worst elements of the IRA/UVF et al.

Whenever there is a phone-in - it's infested with big gobs from both sides who have perfected the talent of speaking for minutes on end without actually breathing in.

It's a PR disaster for Israel because once again their response was totally OTT.

For a persecuted country that several other states want annihilated, they are doing themselves absolutely zero favours on the sympathy vote front.

Anthony said...

"Allegations of disproportionate response have been made"

what a mealy-mouthed poor excuse for an adequate description of events. at least 9 dead, and the only justification shown is a laughable photograph of tools and kitchen utensils.

It clearly IS a disproportionate response, the allegations are from the Israeli side, defaming those they have already killed.

The Grim Reaper said...

Very well put, I think. Israel seems hell-bent on alienating its supporters when it does these things. They really don't help their own side.

Scrigg said...

A balanced comment. For a change.

Ant said...

On the other side, it is a bit off for so-called peace activists to try to beat to death and drown Israeli commandos


A bit off??????!!!!!!!

Manx_Matt said...

Good post Mr Dale, I agree with some of what you have said.

I implicitly support the Palestinian people as I feel they're being oppressed, but thats not what this is about, that's an issue for another day.

Three issues need clearing up IMO:

1) Why did Israel violate international law by boarding a ship in international waters?

2) Why did they do it at night, when chaos and confusion would be at it's height? They could have easily done it 2 hours later, when it is likely that the boats would be in their territorial waters, and it would be daylight, so they could more adequately control the situation. This goes beyond a PR disaster, they chose to do it then, why? I feel that they did it deliberately as a cover in case they had to use deadly force, but I don't want to presume a State would be so calculated and immoral.

3) When will they end this highly illegal blockade? On a legal front it is wrong, and politically it hasn't worked. Over the last 5 years or so, Israel has ratcheted up the tensions on Gaza, which only perpetuates the highly charged situation. If they allowed more than basic humanitarian aid into Gaza, people wouldn't feel so scared and need to lash out as Israel.


Disappointingly I heard the Israeli Ambassador to the UK on the radio this morning, who said that Israel would not cooperate with an international investigation into the incident, despite the incident being against a ship of another sovereign State, with nationals of another sovereign State on board.

As you rightly say, if this was Iran we'd be spitting feathers at this. Heck, we invaded two countries in the last 10 years for less.

- said...

Very reasonable Iain, and hard to disagree with. I'm always suspicious of anyone who takes either side in this conflict, so much light and shade involved with both sides having valid points.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I too am generally pro-Israel, but this was a bad call. It was cynical; the operation was carried out in international waters and accordingly the rules of engagement are much more open to interpretation. It was unnecessarily confrontational, since a negotiated boarding could have been offered first. I dare say if men in black combat suits came dropping down by helicopter, firing apparently indiscriminately you might try and defend yourself.

I almost felt it was their "Bloody Sunday". Certainly it will do Israel no favours and it will provide plenty of world wide pro-Palestinian support.

Of course Israel has a right to exist, but it has a responsibility to treat others likewise.

Nigel said...

>>What gets lost in all this is why the Israelis are intent on continuing the Gaza blockade. It's because more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel...<<

There is that.

But it is also a severe economic blockade, which causes extreme hardship.

Sean Haffey said...

If they had found arms on board, I'd have sympathy for Israel.

If what's on board is food and medicines, it's hard to think of a justification for this action.

Sabretache said...

"What gets lost in all this is why the Israelis are intent on continuing the Gaza blockade. It's because more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel and it is therefore hardly surprising that that Israelis want, at all costs, to prevent any weaponry getting into Gaza. But they have been singularly unsuccessful so far.

God you're so naive (or is it blinkered) Iain.

Hamas i/c - total of 8,000 (alleged by Israel) toy rockets - less than 10 Israeli civilian deaths.

Israel - inless than 12 months - over 60,000 artillery shells, 25,000 tons of high explosive bombs. Assorted phosphourous and depleted uranium munitions - Close to 2,000 Palestinian deaths.

Death toll throughout 60 years of Palestinian dispossession - 100 Palestinaian/Arab to 1 Israeli and the ratio persists.

Israel is a rogue apartheid State, far worse than South Africa ever was. It is in defiance of more UN resolutions than any country on earth. It has an arsenal of nuclear weapons and refuses IAEA inspection whilst condemning Iran for its fully IAEA compliant Nuclear Program.

ZIONIST Israel has just signed its own dissolution warrant.

Roger Thornhill said...

I do not think that this trip was smuggling arms, but I do think it was about setting a precedent for direct shipping into Gaza.

Anyone who thinks that direct shipping into Gaza will not contain arms and weaponry is naive or lying to themselves and attempting to lie to others. The last thing Gaza needs is more weapons.

It needs peace so people can work, earn, feed their families by the sweat off their brow not handouts from the State. And that means absolutely, from both sides.

Roger the Shrubber said...

Whilst I agree that blockading Gaza for missiles is a fair reason, reports that this blockade also cuts out things like jam is just ridiculous.

BBC just had a Israeli politician suggesting these commandos were unprepared to deal with mobs, or situations like this. Not the great commando force if they can't deal with folks armed with sticks and clubs. Imagine if they DID have guns?

Was it absolutely necessary to drop the troops in by helicopter if they were only trying to stop the boat? Surely there must have been another way to block the boat, otherwise can we forsee the SAS being used on French Fishermen next time they blockade Calais? It was a cruise ship, after all, not exactly the most manoeuvreable (sp?) speedboat on the planet..

When will Netanyahu realise his 'poor me, poor Israel' line looks as plausible as Gordon Brown's about face post-Bigotgate?

Steve Tierney said...

if the Israeli army tell you that you are not allowed to do something and then you go ahead and do it anyway you have nobody but yourself to blame.

Craig said...

Good post!

I was also shocked by the news, which turned to horror when I saw the footage.

I initially thought that Isreal had lost the plot on this one, but based on the information so far I think that the position is quite defendable.

Everytime Isreal launch a strike people rant about the civilian cost, but the number of randomly aimed rocket attacks barely get a mention. The coverage does seem to be biased against Isreal.

It will be interesting to see what further information comes out about this incident including confirmation on whether or not the commandos fired before boarding the ship. In truth, it's one heck of a mess!

Caveman said...

I often disagree with your views, Iain, but this is one of the few views on his incident which sums up my own feelings on the matter.

It's depressing to see how events in the Middle East are treated like a gigantic football game and the cheerleaders in the West dutifully parrot their armchair views as and when any new incident occurs.

I can understand your instinct not to blog about it, but I'm glad you chose to go against it in this instance.

I hope normal service will be resumed in your next blog and I can go back to mutely shaking my head at your wrongheaded bloggings :)

Desperate Dan said...

".... the "peace protesters" were armed ..."

If the protesters were armed what on earth were they doing wasting their time with sticks when they were faced with by an on board invasion of machine gun toting troops?

I think I'd like to hear from first hand witnesses, such as Henning Mankell, when/if Israel frees them from detention.

Martin said...

I think you miss the point Iain, this happened on Barry Obama's watch. The whole Israel/Palestine issue is falling apart because Barry hasn't got a clue about foreign policy.

We've seen North Korea carry out a REAL act of war yet the UN did nothing, now we have the usual nutters at it in the middle east causing trouble and the UN is in overdrive.

I like many others predicted Barry would be a failure as a President and it's coming true, he makes George W Bush look like a genius.

Why didn't Obama put pressure on Turkey to stop the ships leaving port? Or persuade the Egyptians (who didn't want this bunch of nutters either) to take the ships in and send the aid through to Gaza?

Oh and if the Palestinians are so badly off how come brand new cars can get smuggled into Gaza?

Israel had no choice, Barry O has made it clear he supports the terrorists, Iran is the next trouble spot and Barry has made a total fiasco of that as well.

Expect a dirty nuke to be detonated in London or New York in the nex5 5 years, unless the yanks show some balls, throw the tosser Obama out and elect a real hardline US President.

Oliver Drew said...

I'm not exactly sure how naval law works but I'm sure that the flotilla was still in international waters when they were attacked by the Israeli forces...

If that is the case (I could be wrong mind), then surely this qualifies as an unprovoked attack? If the flotilla was in Israeli waters then surely it would be different...?

Then again I could be completely wrong and naive...but for me aid is good...attacking and stopping aid is wrong...simple as.

Alcuin said...

A few points, Ian

1 - "Intifada songs" include references to Mohammad's first attack on Jewish communities and amount to "Kill the Jews". Not quite "Lili Marlene", is it?

2 - Why should the interdiction not have taken place in international waters? That is what blockades down the ages have involved.

3 - William Hague is not a supporter of Israel, his pronouncements on the conflict have been expedient at best. Who knows where his real sympathies lie. I hope when push comes to shove he has more backbone than hair.

4 - What else was Israel to do? Islamists like Recep Erdogan ("Minarets are our bayonets", etc.) were behind this PR jihad against Israel. The Islamists knew that Israel had to respond, and that the eyes of the world would be there. It is a brazen attempt to further polarise the issue, as if it were not already bad enough. Erdogan knew that Muslims would side with the Flotilla, right or wrong.

5 - Talking again??? Dream on. The Arabs have never talked in good faith. What was touted as the biggest breakthrough in this conflict (the Oslo Accords) turned out to be the biggest disaster (Arafat and his hate programme in mosques, schools and media). And as for your faith in Obama, I don't know where you get that from.

6 - The land issue represents the ultimate clash of cultures. It is clear that in international law, the Jews are legally entitled to all the land of Mandate Palestine (yes, including Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank), as described in detail here. It is also clear that in Islamic Law, Muslims are entitled to all of not just Palestine, but every territory they ever conquered, including most of Spain. There is no scope for agreement here, not until Islam is defeated.

el-sid said...

Speaking as someone who has no particular axe to grind either way, I'm not Jewish or Muslim, but I am in permanent despair over the whole story :

"it is a bit off for so-called peace activists to try to beat to death and drown Israeli commandos."

Hold on a minute Iain - these were armed men boarding a ship in international waters. If a British oil tanker had been boarded in international waters by Somali pirates and you as a crew member, in fear for your life, had the opportunity to beat the crap out of one of the attackers, would you

a)beat the crap out of them to neutralise the threat or

b)offer him tea and biscuits and apologise for the terrible abuse of his human rights caused by you not having any Earl Grey?

If they were trying to beat him and drown him, that presumably means they didn't have any better weapon to kill him. But a low-tech beating looks much worse on TV than a double tap to the head.

The reason that accusations of disproportionate force are so often made against Israel is that they have no concept of proportionate force, they've inherited the worst macho tendencies of the US and Russian armed forces. You mention the 8,000 rockets - let me be clear they shouldn't do it and arguably the Palestinians are making a big PR mistake in firing those rockets - but you don't ask _why_ the ragtag Palestinians are taking on one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world?

If the Taliban had laid 8,000 IEDs against the British Army in Afghanistan, you'd be the first to admit that whilst a military campaign against the IED factories would part of the answer, a lasting peace could only be achieved by reaching out to the bulk of the people and winning their hearts and minds. That's a term you never hear the Israelis use, despite facing a very similar insurgency to the ones we face(d) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of course, the real problem lies on the East Coast of the US, but that's another matter.

PS Iain, perhaps you should declare the hospitality you've received from pro-Israeli groups when writing this kind of article?

Faustus said...

You miss the main point.

Either Israel is responsible for Gaza and can arrest people going there, or it is not and cannot.

Which is it Iain?

Israel behaves as if it has sovereignty over Gaza, which means Israel is guilty of the war crime of failing to look after the occupants.

Tony

Jabba the Cat said...

The IDF quite clearly told the flotilla what it had to do, they ignored the instructions...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6jDIQr59Sk&feature=player_embedded

CalumCarr said...

Iain you said,

" If a peace flotilla had been making its way to the Iranian coast and it has been boarded by the Revolutionary Guard and people had been shot dead, I and many other supporters of Israel would be spitting blood in outrage."

Why can you as a supporter of Israel still not spit blood in outrage at Israeli actions?

You could still support them afterwards.

Is that one of the benefits of friends: to tell the hard truth?

Geoff said...

The point that seems to have been lost in the furore over the deaths is that this ship was in international waters, carrying the Turkish flag. The interception was illegal under the International Law of the Sea. However much one supports Israel, this type of action cannot be permitted.

Legally, as I understand international law, as this was a Turkish flagged vessel any investigation should be carried out by the Turkish authorities and the Israeli troops tried in a Turkish Court.

owenblacker said...

Generally I tend to be an instinctive supporter of the Palestinian cause (and yes, I do believe Israel has a right to exist, within secure borders), but may I commend you on a very fair an even-handed summary of the situation. If only everyone, on all sides of this issue, were able to look at events from a sensible step back.

pete-s said...

Years ago, I read widely on this subject to get a feel for the rights and wrongs. My basic conclusion was that it was a 'Land Grab'. Everyone wanted Palestine, but nobody wanted the Palestinians. I feel that it has now progressed far beyond the point there will ever be a fair settlement. The Israelis/US have created this monster and are now going to pay the consequences for it.

neil craig said...

I don't know the international law position but would assume the Israelis are entitled to blockade a country/province they are legally at war with.

However thje main concern must bethe disparity between coverages here. When the Croatian Nazi regime's army, under de facto US?UK command, murdered dozens of UN peacekeeprrs in their invasion of Krajina it got not 100th as much cover. When the NATO police (formerly the KLA who we went to war for to asiost them in genocide) kidnapped & dissected, while still alive, 1,800 local civilians it got not 1,000th as much caqverage in the NATO countries media.

It can thus be stated as proven fact that every single news organisation which gives serious coverage to this but not to our own far more seriuous killings is corrupt, racist & pro-Nazi & that every pol;itician who condemns it without condemning the genocide we practice is an obscene, corrupt, subhuman, Nazi murderer with no place whatsoever in any decent government.

Paul Halsall said...

Mark Regev must be the least effective spokesmen ever. I could see Israel's side on this subject, but the minute Regev spoke it was clear he was lying.

albertmbankment said...

A characteristically measured post. My only point of issue would be with your gratuitous and (to me) irrelevant comment about 'singing intifada songs'. Really, so what?

The Labour Party seems unembarrassed by singing the 'Internationale' at every oportunity , and (most of) the rest of the country doesn't take that as a true indication of its desire to sign Britain into an unbreakable Communist alliance with China and North Korea. Singing songs shouldn't be enough to get you shot; at least, not by a nation which professes to be 'western' in its outlook on the value of human life.

The Israeli treatment of Gaza is an outrage, and your analogy with Iran's Revolutionary Guard is spot on. Having negotiated with Israelis who took every opportunity to mock the Palestinians as 'insects' who would be driven out of Israel or crushed, and who chuckled about driving tanks over their houses, I confess that my sympathies are at variance with yours. You state the case clearly and well.

Jimmy said...

"So that's why I can't man the barricades and automatically jump to Israel's defence here."

Don't be so hard on yourself. I don't think you've done too badly here.

amjamjazz said...

"I am an instinctive supporter of Israel, but I am not a blind supporter."

Not true. You are as blinkered as any landgrabber. When confronted with Anti-Zionism you hide behind accusations of Anti-Semitism, and then threaten to ban people if they persist in their opposition to Zionist Blitzkrieg.
As a tory, you are just another nationalist, and so in political bed with Zionism. But that is an ideological alliance which might not be cosy for much longer. Especially now that you have a cabinet full of europhiles and a back-bench full of hungry euro-phobes.
http://littlerichardjohn.blogspot.com/2009/01/fraud-of-tory-free-speech.html

amjamjazz said...

As for why Israel turning Gaza into Leningrad:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11680

"The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline.

British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon's Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine's gas reserves could be much larger. " etc
That and the demented drunken defiance of Tehran:
http://littlerichardjohn.blogspot.com/2009/01/dear-tehran-please-build-nuclear-bombs.html

Michael Heaver said...

Very hard to keep a debate neutral when those likely to get involved on both sides are nutters.

Goodwin said...

You say "There are questions as to whether live ammunition had to be used rather than stun guns." I am sorry, but why should stun guns be acceptable? This is an aid mission on board a Turkish-flagged ship in international waters. What on earth does Israel think it's doing attacking it? Technically it's an act of war and Israel deserves severe sanctions and not just a strongly worded note.

Rush-is-Right said...

"It is clear to anyone that there this operation was botched. It shouldn't have taken place in international waters"

I'm not sure about that Iain. In WW1 the Royal Navy stopped every merchant vessel in the North Sea to inspect its cargo. International waters or not. If contraband was suspected, the ship would be escorted to a port on the British East coast and stripped out.

If a nation is at war, like Israel is, then there are plenty of precedents where war-like actions can take place outside territorial waters.

The so-called peace convoy seems to have been an Hamas proxy containing a lot of (to say the least) undesirables. I'm not going to criticise the Israelis on this occasion.

Nigel said...

It is just about possible for Israel to argue (though it is not a view that I would take) that it was justified in intercepting the convoy in international waters, citing article 67 of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994
http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/57JMST

67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:


(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture...

Though of course the legal status of the conflict between Israel and Gaza is entirely opaque, at least to me.
Even if one were to accept this, it would appear that Israel is clearly in breach of its obligations under international law, as the manual goes on to state:


68. Any attack on these vessels is subject to the basic rules in paragraphs 38-46.

46. With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken:

(a) those who plan, decide upon or execute an attack must take all feasible measures to gather information which will assist in determining whether or not objects which are not military objectives are present in an area of attack;

(b) in the light of the information available to them, those who plan, decide upon or execute an attack shall do everything feasible to ensure that attacks are limited to military objectives;

(c) they shall furthermore take all feasible precautions in the choice of methods and means in order to avoid or minimize collateral casualties or damage;
and

(d) an attack shall not be launched if it may be expected to cause collateral casualties or damage which world be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack as a whole; an attack shall be cancelled or suspended as soon as it becomes apparent that the collateral casualties or damage would be excessive.

steve said...

Leaving aside my views on Israel what I find fascinating is how the commenting public bandy about terms like international law, international waters, with obviously not knowing what these terms mean.

Please people get yourselves a copy of something like "The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations" digest it and then post.

Supporting your position by talking crap isn't helping the debate.

Rebel Saint said...

As usual, more heat than light.

A couple of inaccuracies to correct though:

The IDF did not land with machine guns but paintball guns and hand guns which were not deployed whilst landing. They did not land with "all guns blazing". They arrived by helicopter because it is easier to do so. They were not attacked with broomsticks.

The Israeli actions are coming under a lot of scrutiny but there are other questions I would like to see answered:

Why did those on board the ship speak of martyrdom before departure? Why did they not join the other ships in the flotilla and simply dock at an Israeli port before having their aid transported?

k.scholes said...

Even Michael Foot, one of Parliament's most ardent supporters of Israel in its formative years, and a formidable critic of Bevin's policy in Palestine, had by the 1970s altered his position. He said it himself; they had 'wrecked their own case'.

Ray said...

The palestinian people are being oppressed, and victimised, but not by Israel alone, they are also victims of Hamas as much as the Israelis they bombard. As much as the southern Lebanese are constanly aware of Hisbollah, and that to achieve their aims Hisbollah will kill them as easily as it does Israelis.
I have no special side to take, I see the wrong on either side, and it will not be solved by anyone until the aggression is taken out of the argument, and that would be taking the Iran factor away. As I said I don't take sides, as bad as the terrorists are, you have to be fair, throughout history wherever they have settled the Jews have ended up pissing off the natives. They can't all be wrong.

voiceofourown said...

"As readers know, I am an instinctive supporter of Israel."

What do you mean by that? That your support for Israel is not based on reason?
What 'instinct' is Israel appealing to?

Anthony said...

Israel have to realise that in order to stop the violence from Gaza they will have to allow the majority of normal people there, who just want a quiet life and their family to be safe, to be able to pursue that option.
Instead they seem intent on preventing any semblance of normality in Gaza, the reasonable people cannot act in a normal reasonable way - they cannot work, run a business, grow crops or anything to support their family under the terms of the current blockade, and there seems no end in site and no way to get out of it.

How can this be a viable strategy for those seeking peace and security? The only logical outcome is increased conflict or waiting around until Gaza atrophies under the grasp of this embargo.

spiritleveller said...

Well reasoned. Particularly the closing reflection on what the reaction would have been had this have been carried out by the Iranians.

The blockade isn't achieving its objective of breaking Hamas and actions like this are alienating Israel further still because innocent Palestinians are suffering terribly.

From any perspective, this 'operation' was a disaster; as evidenced by the Israeli ambassador's tone on R4 this morning.

If Israel wants peace, it needs to think long and hard about its military and diplomatic strategy.

Roger the Shrubber said...

Would I be correct in thinking Mr Netanyahu, in his attack on the peace protesters suggested that this ship trying to break the blockade was going against International agreements, and would be seen by the International Community as being baaaad....

Since when has the West Bank being populated by settlers been accepted by the International Community? And since when has the Israeli Govt given two hoots over that, or the possession of Nuclear tech being against the NPT?

George said...

Israel is damned whatever it does.

Far too many bleeding heart liberals around who side with the "poor Palestinians".

The Arab World has had the solution to the problem for decades but will not act. They will not act as they prefer to see the bleeeding ulcer that is Gaza/Palestine continue to fester and be a pain, which serves a very useful propaganda implement.

My personal view is that the seaborne convoy was a deliberate provacation, designed to elicit the response it got and gain kudos/brownie points with the soft left and bleeding hearts.

Others who have known terrorism on a daily basis will not fall for this sort of crap agitprop.

DominicJ said...

Re Republic Guard.
I'm afraid I disagree.
If the RG request you stop so they can search your boat, you should report the situation and do so.
If you keep going and the RG board your ship anyway, you should not resist
If you resist, you should expect the RG to shoot you.

Noetic said...

"It's because more than 8,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel and it is therefore hardly surprising that that Israelis want, at all costs, to prevent any weaponry getting into Gaza. But they have been singularly unsuccessful so far."

Doesn't that show that the blockade is not working? IMHO since it isn't stopping these rocket attacks, and the blockade aggraves terrorists even more, this supports rather than disproves the need to stop the blockade.

Doubting Richard said...

Presence or absence of weapons on that particular flotilla is irrelevant. The stated aim, of violent supporters of terrorists claiming to be peace protesters, was to open a permanent shipping lane which would have been used to supply arms to Hamas, who have killed both Palestinians and Israelis in unprovoked attacks. This was not an aid ship; had it been then it would have surrendered like the others. It was a violent ambush for propaganda purposes.

I am disgusted that a Conservative PM is assisting in terrorist propaganda. I was considering joining the party and becoming active in my local association, but not now.

Doubting Richard said...

In addition, shall we send similar convoys to the Turkish Kurds? In two months I will have the right to a Turkish passport, and I might take it up and start campaigning on that issue. See if the Turks are as tolerant as the Israelis of such protests; the individuals I know are not.

bmrose said...

Israel were perfectly in the right to do what they did. As the Weekly Standard and Fox News have pointed out, the aid was organised by The Turkish IHH (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi in Turkish) a known designated terrorist group.

The so called "activists" were the ones who attacked the Israeli soldiers, who rightfully defended themselves. Israel has a right to protect the security of its people by all mean necessary. Especially since them ships have smuggled rockets into Gaza before.

The UN are nothing more than spineless fools. They keep quiet when North Korea sinks a South Korean ship but all hell breaks loose when it involves Israel.

The protests in Turkey show how dangerous it would be if they ever joined the E.U It be the death of Europe. These protests from radical muslims, socialists etc is purely because they are united in their hatred towards the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Another thing about Palestine, is this how come nothing gets said about the persecution of Palestinian Christians? by Palestinian Muslims.

GarethS said...

Fuck me sudeways with a bargepole!! There's enough nutters on here to keep half a dozen MI5 operatives busy for months! What a bunch of one-eyed, bigoted utterly stupid people on both sides of the argument. Stating a position over and over and over and over again doesn't make it right, it makes it cant.

I'm not going to join the argument per se but I'm going to condemn most comments on here as bizzare, stupid and bereft of any sense whatsoever.

No wonder Gaza is so benighted.

GarethS said...

Fuck me sudeways with a bargepole!! There's enough nutters on here to keep half a dozen MI5 operatives busy for months! What a bunch of one-eyed, bigoted utterly stupid people on both sides of the argument. Stating a position over and over and over and over again doesn't make it right, it makes it cant.

I'm not going to join the argument per se but I'm going to condemn most comments on here as bizzare, stupid and bereft of any sense whatsoever.

No wonder Gaza is so benighted.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Of course, Egypt could bring the Gaza blockade to an end by opening its own border with the Gaza Strip. So Hamas is not only being blockaded by Israel but also by a Muslim democracy.
Why is that one might ask - what do the Egyptian have to fear from Hamas?

GarethS said...

p.s. anyone remember the 2 soldiers (armed) who were dragged from their car and "executed" (not my words those of PIRA) after been beaten virtually to death by simple folk, wedded to their cause, armed only with "broomsticks". All the fault of the 2 soldiers clearly......

Discuss

Sandy said...

Well written article, Iain.
Considered and reasoned.

Stephen said...

@George

Do share this solution that the Arab world "has had for years."
Are we all supposed to know what it is?

In my experience what is meant by politicos who say "I'm an instinctive supporter of Israel" is unfortunately "I'm more scared of being done over by 'the Jews' than I am by 'the Muslims' "

For me the debate is totally meaningless unless and until you always start by asking people exactly what specific outcome they want.

People should be quite happy to say they defend Zionism (I am) or quite happy to defend a two state solution (I am.)

Howver some people never seem to want to admit that they won't actually be satisfied until Israel is destroyed.

The real visionary solution (which won't go down well here) is to work towards getting Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel and Jordan all into the EU.

It's worked for Ireland.

Nigel said...

>>My personal view is that the seaborne convoy was a deliberate provacation, designed to elicit the response it got...<<

Which is precisely why the Israeli government was utterly stupid to behave as it did.

There is precedent for such "deliberate provocations"...
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/31/echoes-of-raid-on-exodus-ship-in-1947/
You might not like the comparison, but it was made by an Israeli journalist.

amjamjazz said...

The object of this latest act of Zionist thuggery is quite clear. To intimidate any further attempts to break Israel's illegal stranglehold on the Gazan people.
It will fail, and there will be more and better prepared convoys, with even more committed people, bearing equally innocuous cargoes.
And each time Israel will need to choose between repeating its atrocities, or be forced to back down and lose face.
It has chosen to fight on the wrong battlefield this time.

David Lindsay said...

With both Turkey and Israel in the news, it is yet again time to examine how far the rise of Thatcher and Reagan-Dubya know-nothingness has dragged most of conservatism, or at least of Anglophone conservatism, away from anything recognisably conservative in the slightest.

Is it conservative to welcome as a brother a country in which the only two viable political options, apart from violent Kurdish separatism of Marxist hue, are secular, militarist ultranationalism and militant Islam, both of which glorify the overthrow of Byzantium and the genocide of the first entire people ever to become Christian?

Is it conservative to be prepared even to destroy the second-oldest civilisation on earth, which has not started a war in modern times and which has reserved parliamentary representation for Christians, merely on the whim of a state created within living memory by resolution of the ultimate globalist institution and as an act of surrender to Marxist, viciously anti-British terrorists, who then proceeded to displace people who had lived there for many centuries in order to replace them with immigrants from the ends of earth who had little or no common culture?

Is it conservative to dance to the tune of the two states that have done, and which continue to do, the most to drive Christianity out of its ancient heartlands of Asia Minor and the Levant, indeed the only two states, as such, to do anything in that cause, and both of which are only too horrifically successful in their remorseless furtherance of it?

Span Ows said...

El-sid wrote: Hold on a minute Iain - these were armed men boarding a ship in international waters. If a British oil tanker had been boarded in international waters by Somali pirates and you as a crew member, in fear for your life, had the opportunity to beat the crap out of one of the attackers, would you

Bad comparison. How about "If a British oil tanker had been boarded in international waters by say, US (insert major power of choice here) soldiers, near the US (insert country here) Coast, on the way to a port that they had warned you several times, clearly and explicitly not to go to, and you as a crew member - but vehemently anti American - had the opportunity to beat the crap out of one of the attackers, would you?

No, you wouldn't. Don't be silly.

longrun2 said...

Just because you're paranoid that doesn't they're not out to get you.
Both sides are massively in the wrong.
Incidentally how many brooms does the average ship carry and why were all the broomheads removed? A broom is much more useful as a defensive weapon with the broomhead attached.
Equally if no Israeli soldiers were killed, how can they justify killing civilians?
Can I be the only one to wish that long ago we had appealed to the Dalai Lama instead of the UN to settle this dispute?

GarethS said...

David Lindsay,

You posted precicely, exactly the same drivel, word for word on Coffee House. On neither site does it make sense. How sad are you to just post the same shoite whatever the direction of the argument?

amjamjazz said...

So you always give way to superior force, on principle.
Never in the field of human combat, has so much snivelling power-worship been displayed by so many.
How about not kissing the arse of the pub thug, just because he is the pub thug, with the biggest gang behind him, and a gun in his back pocket.

James D said...

I wouldn't be at all surprised if this led to a Turkish-Cypriot detente. There could be some real trouble for Israeli imports of arms and oil in that eventuality. Even if the USA succeeds in obstructing things in the UN, eleven regional powers could quite easily match George W. Bush's example of presenting the UN with a fait accompli.

yma said...

"When an army that is vastly superior, but neither wants to be killed nor kill, meets an vastly inferior enemy who wants to kill and be killed, it behooves both participants and observers to understand why things go awry."

Worth pondering, I believe, instead of hurling the same accusations and tired arguments at each other which we've heard so many times.

Link to the place the quote was taken from:
http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2010/06/01/joel-fishman-the-morning-after-hangover/

Peter said...

The simple fact is that Israel is perpetuating the conflict by its actions against the people of Gaza.
Until they lift the blockade and stop military operations allowing the people of Gaza to live normal lives, this conflict will never end and Hamas will be a constant thorn in Israel's side.

miriam said...

Israel does make life difficult; but the things we need most, love most are the most difficult to achieve. Complex Israel, confounding israel - we should all stop and think what Israel is; a beacon of democracy sense and hope in a region riven with dogma and despots: a light [albeit somewhat dimmed] unto the nations. That Israel thinks about its actions critically, that Israel has to struggel every day only to survive .. all this makes the Israel we need in this world

insert said...

"I'm an instinctive supporter of any people who have their land occupied and then built upon by settlers."

So you oppose Arab occupation of the Middle East and North Africa then

As for Turkey, it has been anti-Israel ever since the Islamists came to power. Saying otherwise is mistaken.

Doubting Richard said...

longrun2

What???? Someone has to be killed before you can defend yourself? Where did that rule suddenly come from? It is precisely because the Israelis used the correct force for the situation that their own people were not killed; holding back in the Lebanon and Gaza has done them no good with the useful idiots among politicians and media around the world and got many Israelis killed. Is it really so surprising that they have given up using the most careful, restrictive tactics of any military force?

jojoko said...

Pardon me for being cynical but they did it because they could. Power corrupts etc. etc. blah blah blah.

Ian said...

Dateline May 1941

A German Government spokesman claimed tonight that the sinking of the German ship Bismark some 600 miles south west of Ireland in international waters was a breach of international law.

The German news agency claimed the Bismark was on an educational cruise for trainee midshipmen coming down through the Denmark Strait and after three days of harrying by the British, this Scotsman in an old biplane drops a torpedo hitting Bismark's rudder and the following morning two British Battleships appear of our nowhere and fires several hundred rounds of 15" and 16" shells sinking the Bismark.

Belrin said tonight "Bismark was on a peaceful mission and it was only the weather conditions that prevented more men being rescued from the "Hood" which mysteriously exploded only some eight miles away from Bismark on the early morning of May 24th.

Roland Deschain said...

"If a peace flotilla had been making its way to the Iranian coast and it had been boarded by the Revolutionary Guard and people had been shot dead, I and many other supporters of Israel would be spitting blood in outrage."

Much as I dislike the Revolutionary Guard, if the said flotilla continued onwards having been repeatedly warned by them not to do so, such rank stupidity would remove any sympathy I might have had.

Bill Quango MP said...

David Lindsay,congratulations.
You have won the prize for being the first to blame Thatcher.

You get two tickets to the people's paradise of the glorious socialist republic of North Korea, as featured on this weeks Newsnight.

Keep up that style of writing and you should fit right in.

Malcolm said...

Iain

The Israeli's have managed to succeed in massively reducing the number of rocket attacks - most notably during the ceasefire.

While I appreciate we should seek an end to rocket attacks on Israel, we should also look for no aid restrictions on Gaza and a cessation of the Israeli settlement policies.

Our attitude to the Palestinian and Israeli situation is markedly different to that of other oppressed peoples (and I include Israelis and Palestinians as oppressed) such as Afghans and Iraqis.

The world as a whole needs to end what is effectively an approach of non-intervention and look for agreements that would satisfy the most moderate 80% of the people in each country - after all, is that not our approach in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Jabba the Cat said...

Whenever the beardie weardies, liberal terrorist apologists and other useful idiots in the political bubbles, general population and the msm have a hissy fit and start throwing their toys out of the prams over some perceived hooman rights violation or whatever by the Israelis, I send the boys and girls in the IDF a round of pizzas and drinks at www.PizzaIDF.org, just to let them know that there are still people in the west who support them.

amjamjazz said...

At the beginning of next week a new flotilla ariives. One of the main ships is Irish owned.
"The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after an American woman killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, set off yesterday from Malta, organisers said.
It was carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, as well as 15 activists, including Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior UN diplomat.

"The MV Rachel Corrie, a converted merchant ship bought by pro-Palestinian activists and named after an American woman killed in the Gaza Strip in 2003, set off yesterday from Malta, organisers said.
It was carrying medical equipment, wheelchairs, school supplies and cement, as well as 15 activists, including Northern Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Denis Halliday, an Irish former senior UN diplomat."

Naturally there will be more to follow. In its demented state, Israel has chosen the wrong battlefield and the wrong weapons.
The apologists for Zionism will now have a massive task on their hands as the body of world opinion exploits this weakspot in the armour of the Nuclear Israeli apartheid state.

Stepney said...

Well said Iain, my thoughts exactly. Classic Israel. Justified to respond - but completely and utterly over the top.

OldSlaughter said...

If they didn't want to get shot they should not of tried to beat, kill and steal weapons of soldiers. Reviewing the video the self-defence claim is prima facie.

amjamjazz said...

'They hit us with sticks' is no excuse for shooting unarmed people, as these were. Even if there were also women wielding them.
Sharpeville was the turning point in global opinion of racist South Africa, and this is a close echo.
That semi-fascist regime had its stout defenders among the tory party of the day (and even now in the closet) and the grand old tradition goes on of apologising for the atrocities committed by the powerful. The bully-worship of the chronic tory mind persists undiluted through the generations.
Typical.

amjamjazz said...

There isn't a lot to add to this. Mark Steel sums up the obscene sickness of Zionist paranoia very nicely.

'To strengthen their case the Israelis have released a photo of the weapons they found on board, (which amount to some knives and tools and wooden sticks) that the naive might think you'd expect to find on any ship, but the more astute will recognise as exactly what you'd carry if you were planning to defeat the Israeli army. It's an armoury smaller than you'd find in the average toolshed in a garden in Cirencester, which goes to show the Israelis had better destroy Cirencester quickly as an essential act of self-defence.

It's a shame they weren't more imaginative, as they could have said "We also discovered a deadly barometer, a ship's compass, which could not only be frisbeed at someone's head but even had markings to help the assailant know which direction he was throwing it, and a set of binoculars that could easily be converted into a ray-gun."

That would be as logical as the statement from the Israeli PM's spokesman – "We made every possible effort to avoid this incident." Because the one tiny thing they forgot to do to avoid this incident was not send in armed militia from helicopters in the middle of the night and shoot people.'

http://marksteelinfo.com/writing/default.asp?id=164

Jimmy said...

'They hit us with sticks' is no excuse for shooting unarmed people, as these were.

It wasn't just sticks. It's clear from the film evidence that they had cutlery on board too.

amjamjazz said...

You mean that sailors carry knives, and that ships have kitchens? What next?
Please. Don't embarrass yourself any further. It's too painful to watch.
It's clear to the rest of the world that this was an appalling act if thuggery. What went wrong with you?

Unsworth said...

@ Jimmy

Killer Spoons.

neil craig said...

It obciously remains impossible for anybody at all to dispute that anybody who does not say Israels acts here probe them to be thousands of times more humanitarian (& lawful( than any of our senior politicians is simply a Nazi anti-Semite.

It is, of course, possible that amjamjazz & others have indeed criticised non-Jews appropriately & will be able to provide links showing it.

dazmando said...

People will always take sides in the case of Israel. I can understand how this kind of situation happens. Its a reaction to their history and there current situation in the world.

I have blogged about how some countries like israel react like children http://bracknellblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/israel-and-north-korea-tamptums.html

amjamjazz said...

It is what happens to states under siege. Paranoia sets in and fear becomes the currency.
You missed out Stalin's Russia, The Terror of the French Revolution, and much of Tudor England.
This is a real syndrome, with real causes, and I'm not sure flippancy helps much.

Craig Ranapia said...

So that's why I can't man the barricades and automatically jump to Israel's defence here. Sometimes Israel makes life very difficult for even its most ardent supporters.

Thank you, Iain -- I find it hard to disagree with you. Benjamin Netanyahu may consider identity theft and behaving like a Somali pirate is appropriate behaviour towards friendly nations.

But it takes no imagination to predict what the reaction would be in Tel Aviv if British intelligence agents were found with forged Israeli passports, again. Or if a British warship commandeered an Israeli-registered ship in international waters, and were responsible for the deaths of Israeli citizens. And quite rightly so.

Friendship and respect is a two way street, Bibi.

Craig Ranapia said...

Steve Tierney wrote:
if the Israeli army tell you that you are not allowed to do something and then you go ahead and do it anyway you have nobody but yourself to blame.

Wow, that would be amusing if it wasn't such a God-damed tragic apologia for (armed) mob rule and the rule of law be damned.

jojoko said...

Now that a NATO member's (Turkey) ships have been attacked, will Turkey ask NATO to come to its defense as NATO was asked to come to America's defense on 9/11? If the call comes, what will be the response? Is this the end of NATO?

Nowrin said...

Iain, I have a huge amount of respect for you but I was unimpressed when watching press preview.
The thousands of rockets being fired to Israel were due to anger of the blockade. Israel likes to shoot Hamas down instead of actually going to the root of the problem.
The blockade is beyond useless, not to mention illegal. If we allow the Palestinian economy to grow again, stop Israel pushing borders (giving a lot of the land they pushed into back too), allow more aid in (only a quarter of what is needed is being distributed at the moment), we would have far less hatred and anger from the Palestinian people.

What probably annoyed me the most was this "well . . . we don't know what these aid workers are like, erm, and we don't know about the provoking . . . and proper procedure erm . . .". If you were going on a ship preparing to fight the Israeli army, you would be taking more than medical supplies, kitchen knives and metal bars.

People don't come to hate others for no reason, when a country treats you like a battery chicken for your whole life, you're bound to be full of resentment and anger. Peace in the Middle East can only come about if we actually look at the root of the problem, not shooting through frilly veils.

neil craig said...

Amjamjazz has not made even a token attempt to show that his anti-Jewish rants are even fractionally matched by any condemnation if infinitely les defecnible act by other nations.

And that is what the whole thing comes to - the entire anti-Israel movement is dominted by people who are openly & unrepentently racist.

amjamjazz said...

No racism on display on saturday, or anywhere else. Just justifiable outrage, sadness, and concern about the security of people of the entire region, Israelis included. The only thing the anti-zionist movement want is justice.
Anti-Zionism is not racist, as everyone who respects language accepts. Zionism is just another squalid ultra-nationalism. Politically unidentifiable from Slobodan Milosevic' mythical prophesies of the return of an exiled people to its ancient tribal Homeland.
An increasing number of Jews now realise the monstrous folly of mangling Bronze Age cosmology to modern industrialised society. Even some of the most orthodox jewish groups reject the state of Israel on theological grounds. Naturei Kurta claim that the Talmud forbids such an entity.
So no conceivable racism there. Just the lies and scapegoating of the ultra-nationalists. Shame on them for abandoning the memory of the Shoah.
The international reaction to the Siege of Gaza is entirely human. And has created a battlefield which the IDF cannot control without totally alienating itself from world opinion. The murders on the Marmara represent a 'Sharpeville' moment, when world opinion decided that Gaza should be allowed its Weapons of Mass Construction. Israel cannot win this one by force. And it has no arguments for stealing the cargoes of the inbound flotillas.
If it wants security it has to first reveal a humanity which deserves security. But hitherto, the political face of Nuclear Israel is the only one visible to the world. And it is not a pretty sight.
http://biginabox.blogspot.com/2010/06/freedom-flotilla-demonstration.html
When is this blog going to allow full ID, with HTTP, by the way?

neil craig said...

So Amjamjaqzz not one single word of condemneation of infinitely more criminal actions carried out by pro-Nazi governments of which you approve. I

ndeed, just for fun, you tell an extra lie about the victims or perhaps you can provide some evidence of that racist lie you put in about Milosevic?

Hamas is certainly part of the "anti-Zionist movement" which you pride yourself in belonging to. Your claim that the "only thing" these genocidal anti-Semitic savages want is "justice" clearly represents the staqndard of honesty to which most of you anti-Israelis & assorted Nazis aspire. Next you will be telling us the Jewish Holocuast was justified by the Protocols & the slavic one becuase they were "Untermensch".

amjamjazz said...

More hysterical semi-articulate splutterings.
You should get a grip before you explode.
Playing the Whabout game may keep a few fat columnists in port, but it doesn't bring a single schoolbook to Gaza. Or any other weapon of mass construction.
What you will never understand is that this is a popular struggle, not a Hamas defence league. Kurdish organisations support abhor the siege of Gaza as loudly as anyone, in spite of the recent actions of the Turkish government.
If Israel didn't want Hamas, why did it set it up and bankroll it? I'll tell you in case you don't know - to split Palestinian opinion between religious and secular objectives.
If you're so worried about the actions of Tehran and Beijing and Washington and other opponents of human dignity, why are you supporting the Zionist state in its primitive fetishisation of land, do you really believe that a man in the sky promised it to you?
Not even those who truly believe in the Man in the Sky believe that. The Talmud says so.
( www.littlerichardjohn.blogspot.com )incedentally.