Monday, May 31, 2010

Suicide by Murder

Israel again attempts suicide by putting the gun to someone else's head:
Ten Dead as Israel Storms Aid Ships

(Reuters) - Israeli commandos stormed a convoy of Gaza-bound aid ships on Monday and more than 10 of the mostly international activists aboard were killed, provoking a diplomatic crisis and Palestinian charges of a "massacre."
I particularly like the stylism of putting massacre in quotes, lending an air of incredulity to the very idea that Israel would be capable of committing anything other than aggravated victimhood. And the New York Times takes it a step further from culpability with their headline:
At Least 10 Killed as Israel Intercepts Aid Flotilla
The Israeli Navy raided a flotilla carrying hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and tons of supplies for Gaza on Monday morning, according to the Israeli military. Some Israeli media reports put the death toll higher.
See there? Now you don't even know how they died! 10 killed by whom? Soldiers? Each other? Sharks? Aliens??? All you can tell from this lede is that Israel raided some ships carrying "pro-Palestinians" and "supplies". What kind of supplies? Well, if they were "pro-Palestinian", they were probably nuclear bombs!

Here's what happened: a group of ships in international waters full of unarmed civilians seeking to take food and medical supplies to the humanitarian disaster that is Gaza, who made no secret of their mission, was attacked by heavily armed commandos who then claimed they had no choice but to open fire and kill as many as 19 people because when they boarded, people came after them with pipes and knives and shot at them. Of course! Because Israel has the right to defend itself! Especially from unarmed civilian non-combatants! In fact, mostly from unarmed civilian non-combatants, and little else these days.

The spokeswoman for the flotilla flatly denies her people had guns or opened fire on the soldiers. Footage of the event I've seen does seem to show a soldier being hit out at by a guy with a long stick or pipe, though he doesn't seem to take any damage from it. But let's back up a step. Here's one of the most heavily-armed countries in the world (thanks to us) watching every move these ships made, and yet to stop their mission they had no choice but to board them? They couldn't have blocked their path? They could only pull a Bruce Willis? They have devolved to such a level that they can only meet opposition with deadly force, no matter how peaceful that opposition is? Well, yes, it looks like that is exactly what they have sunk to. Following in Uncle Sam's footsteps, they save their most murderous adventurism for those known to be easy marks, the littlest kids on the playground.

But as long as we raise the specter of the right to self-defense, what is the right of a ship at sea in international waters when boarded without the Captain's permission by those with hostile intent? International law states that attacks occurring in neutral territory are prohibited and may be met with force.

For something a little more like journalism and less like Israeli PR, here's live coverage of the attack by the Guardian. In the meantime, I'm waiting to hear the US response to this. My bet's on a little finger-wagging and a sincere expression of condolences. Then we'll send them a few billion more for weaponry.

UPDATE: The UN Security Council took a vote, and agreed to condemn "acts" (as opposed to the actors) that led to the deaths of 9 civilians. The language was watered down to accommodate the US:
Earlier, Turkey — the unofficial sponsor of the convoy — had proposed a statement that would have condemned Israel for violating international law, and demanded a United Nations investigation, the prosecution of those responsible for the raid and compensation for the victims. It also called for the end of the blockade.

But the Obama administration refused to endorse a statement that singled out Israel, and proposed a broader condemnation of the violence that would include the assault by passengers of the Israeli commandos as they landed on the deck of the ship.

As the wrangling continued late Monday night and the early hours Tuesday, the two countries were trying to work out their differences on the wording, including whether to specify that the investigation should be conducted by outsiders, diplomats said.
Emphasis mine. You see, even though Israel violated the neutrality of international waters by having its armed soldiers board a ship with aggressive intent, and even though the passengers had the right, under international law, to defend themselves against those soldiers, and even though there were numerous other options open to Israel in handling this issue other than killing people, the United States of AIPAC still feels compelled to defend their indefensible behavior by blaming the dead, balking at the idea that anyone but Israel should investigate its own actions, and tsking-tsking at people trying to accomplish what we should have done years ago. Our own Alejandro Wolff, in a statement, said:
The direct delivery by sea was not appropriate, or responsible. He expressed deep concern over the suffering of Gaza civilians. The situation was unsustainable and not in the interest of anyone concerned. It was necessary to address the full range of the population’s humanitarian and recovery needs. Hamas’ interference had complicated humanitarian efforts in Gaza, and it had undermined security and prosperity for all Palestinians.
Yes. Those "deep concerns" have really made a difference for half-starved Gazans, haven't they? As for Hamas' interference, well, I guess that would be the word to use if you were on the losing side of a popular election, if you come from a country whose idea of democracy is a conditional state where the validity of a vote depends on its acceptability to the corporate masters and relies on whoever has enough money or guns to challenge the result.

So I was right about the finger-wagging and condolences. The money should be sent out any day now.

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