Comments: BREAKING: Hillary Clinton Condemns Israeli Aggression on High Seas

But it was all justified. The 85 year old Holocaust survivor on the flotilla drew a knife and frightened the Israeli forces. So they had no choice but to board and start shooting people.

Posted by Gar Lipow at May 31, 2010 04:44 AM

It's really very simple, Jon: international law is for other people, not the United States or its most intimate friends.

Posted by Duncan at May 31, 2010 08:04 AM

Jon, I think you'll be amused by the second last paragraph in otherwise sensible Australian coverage of the atrocity:

Hamas's refusal to release Mr Shalit is cited by Israel as one of the main reasons for imposing the economic blockade on Gaza in the wake of the group's violent takeover of the territory.

Actually, perhaps amused isn't the right word...

Posted by weaver at May 31, 2010 08:55 AM

I just saw the news on Yahoo and then it is all over the web. I am shocked and feel sick. I am not in the mood for any jokes or wisecracks. Sorry. If anyone has seen a statement from the President or the State Dept, PLEASE post the link. Thanks. I could not find any.

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 09:32 AM

Rupa,

There may be something more recent now, but the live Jazeera feed posted a short statement released by the WH a couple of hours ago:

"The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

UNSC supposed to meet this afternoon (US time I guess) per Lebanon's request.

Here's the Jazeera blog feed, with more stories on the main site:

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/05/31/live-coverage-israels-attack-gaza-flotilla

Posted by MM at May 31, 2010 10:19 AM

I agree, Rupa, this is not the right time for jokes. Everyone reading this, please call the State Department, call your Congresspeople, call the White House and let them hear your anger at full force. Free Gaza is also asking that people call the Israeli Foreign office and insist that they tell us who has been killed and wounded and where the prisoners are.

These people are heroes who've risked and lost their lives, and this is the least we can do for them.

Posted by John Caruso at May 31, 2010 10:32 AM

Free Gaza also says: "Three people wounded on the European Campaign to the End the Siege boat, including the captain. More than one ship attacked." Remember that when you run into Israel's army of moral grotesques who'll be out in force today rationalizing the murder of innocent people; these are the same people who happily vectored Israel's vicious lie that Tom Hurndall, shot in the head by an Israeli sniper while trying to get children out of the way of Israeli gun fire, was actually "armed, wearing tiger fatigues, and shooting at an Israeli Defense Force outpost, taking cover behind a nearby building between shots."

Posted by John Caruso at May 31, 2010 10:37 AM

@MM
Thank you for the link.
WH currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy
I wonder how long it will be before they UNDERSTAND the circumstances. This attack happened in International waters, for heaven's sake.

@John Caruso
I just want to cry. Have already sent a strong worded email to the President but am not holding my breath to receive a response.

For Chicago readers of this blog......
The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and the Free Gaza Movement are joining together for a massive rally and demonstration at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 1, in front of the Israeli Consulate at 111 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago (just east of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive).

20+ organizations are endorsing this rally and demo. If you live in Chicago, please be there and send a message to our govt and Israeli govt, "This atrocity is totally unacceptable to ordinary Americans".

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 11:07 AM

"This atrocity is totally unacceptable to ordinary Americans".

Actually, I imagine it's probably pretty much perfectly acceptable to ordinary Americans.

Extraordinary ones, not so much.

Posted by NomadUK at May 31, 2010 11:11 AM

I have to concur with Nomad. This will not really add up to much here in the States.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 11:17 AM

this is not the right time for jokes

Disagree, it's never not the right time for jokes, as long as they don't interfere with other things.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 31, 2010 11:31 AM

@NomadUK
I consider myself an ordinary American and I know many like me who want justice for EVERYONE and think of themselves as ordinary Americans. And they will be at the rally tomorrow.

I have just received an email from Israel and it has live blog........
Just straight news....
here
http://www.promisedlandblog.com/?p=2759

@Jack Crow
I hope, the next few days will prove you to be wrong.

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 11:34 AM

Rupa,

Me too.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 11:34 AM

I consider myself an ordinary American

And I could consider myself George Washington, but it wouldn't make it so.

I hope, the next few days will prove you to be wrong.

I'll be ecstatic if that's the case. Good luck.

Posted by NomadUK at May 31, 2010 11:40 AM

@ Mr Schwarz
Disagree, it's never not the right time for jokes, as long as they don't interfere with other things.

There are times when one is so overwhelmed, even if one wants to laugh, one can not.

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 11:45 AM

This is heartbreaking.

Posted by Susan at May 31, 2010 12:34 PM

For Memorial Day, Chris Floyd has a meditation on militarism that is well worth reading.
http://www.chris-floyd.com/articles/1-latest-news/1973-memory-meaning-moments-and-madness-wanderers-in-no-mans-land.html

Keep in mind that the so-called Israeli Defense Forces were defending themselves in this incident, or so they say. They got away scot-free with the attack on the USS Liberty (see Wikipedia), and there's no reason to suppose things are different now.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at May 31, 2010 12:39 PM

Disagree, it's never not the right time for jokes, as long as they don't interfere with other things.

I'm suggesting that maybe we should let the blood dry on the boats before we start treating this massacre with wry, detached irony.

Posted by John Caruso at May 31, 2010 12:58 PM

[My candidate for most outrageous Orwellian propaganda statement so far. Of course, the spin cycle has just begun.]

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev accused the leaders of the flotilla of looking for a fight.

"They wanted to make a political statement. They wanted violence," according to Regev, who said Israel wanted a peaceful interception of the ships trying to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. "They are directly responsible for the violence and the deaths that occurred."

"9 dead as Israeli forces storm Gaza aid convoy"-- CNN 5/31/2010 12:32pm EDT

[The "your peaceful non-violent activity forced me to become violent" line reminded me of a line from the open letter "A Call for Unity" (signed by eight white clergymen) to which Martin Luther King directly responded in his "Letter from Birmingham Jail"...]

"Just as we formerly pointed out that 'hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions,' we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in Birmingham."

[Your actions, "however technically peaceful those actions may be", are inciting my hatred and my violence against you. Therefore, to quote the Israeli government spokesperson, because you wanted to make a political statement about my unjust and indefensible ongoing oppressive behavior, then logically you wanted my physical and deadly violence inflicted upon you. Ipso facto kalamazoo, you are "directly responsible for the violence and the deaths that occurred."

See how that works? It's all so simple.]

Posted by Steve in L.A. at May 31, 2010 01:08 PM

I'm suggesting that maybe we should let the blood dry on the boats before we start treating this massacre with wry, detached irony.

Well, one man's wry, detached irony is another's attempt not to walk around their home breaking things.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 31, 2010 01:13 PM

You're right, Steve - the Israeli media response is the logic of the wife beater, the child molester and the rapist.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 01:14 PM

Blessed be the peacemakers, and the technical peacemakers too.

A report I just read indicated that most of those killed were Turks, and that "passengers aboard the ships included retired U.S. diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Col. Ann Wright, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, and former UN assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, as well as humanitarian aid and human rights workers, several MPs from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Malaysia, and Palestinian members of the Knesset." Plus, Obama and Netanyahu were about to have a fence-mending meeting, which Netanyahu has now cancelled.

So attacking that flotilla was a really, really big deal.

Notice that the Turks have now been hit hard right after trying to broker a deal with Iran, the fences between Obama and Netanyahu won't get mended right away and may never, and everyone in Europe has been reminded that famous peace activists can die too. All that sounds like what a far-right Israeli militarist would really like.

Posted by N E at May 31, 2010 02:55 PM

[Propaganda Statement Candidate #2 from CNN "Israeli military gives version of flotilla incident" 5/31/2010 11:03am EDT:]

Nine people were killed in the resulting violence early Monday as Israeli troops attempted to stop the flotilla.

An Israeli commando said upon descending into a boat with ropes, he was immediately attacked by a group of people.

"They beat us up with metal sticks and knives," he said. "There was live fire at some point against us... They were shooting at us from below deck."

Some of the soldiers were tossed from the top deck to a lower deck by the activists, and jumped in the water to save themselves, he said.

Activists grabbed soldiers and tried to hold them hostage, stripping them of their helmets and equipment, he said. About 30 activists, all speaking Arabic, carried out the attack, he said.

Activists have said the Israeli soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians. Neither account could be independently verified by CNN.


[Alternative headline written by Israeli government spokesperson: "Arabic-Speaking Peace Terrorists Armed with Dinnerware Utensils Activate Daring Plan to Kidnap Fully-Armed and Attacking IDF Commandos and Transport Them to Gaza to Join Gilad Shalit"]

Posted by Steve in L.A. at May 31, 2010 03:02 PM

I'm suggesting that maybe we should let the blood dry on the boats before we start treating this massacre with wry, detached irony.

And with this, combined with the About Me section here, I think the wry, detached irony is no longer working for me and I'll have to move onto another strategy to stop from breaking things.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 31, 2010 04:01 PM

mistah charley, ph.d.

The Israelis are now a big part of our national defense strategy, and I don't think they were nearly as much in 67, because then there was still a lot of lingering anti-Semitism and more importantly, our military and diplomatic corps still worried about pan-arabism and Nasser becoming another Saladin, so we didn't want to get too close to Israel. So our commitment to them then was more tentative, and the Israelis might even have had reason to worry about the signals intel the Liberty was engaged in.

But yes, as in the case of the Liberty, nothing is going to be done about this. NomadUK is probably right. There's even less reason to expect any punishment in or from the US this time, though Turkey and Europe may be another matter. I don't know what will happen from that side of the Atlantic.

As for that Chris Floyd article, I was almost ready for some tantric sex after the conclusion, but seriously, I can never figure out how Chris Floyd expects us to arrive at our "numinous moments" and "flashes of awareness" and "deeper apprehension of being" and "moments of connection and awareness that the free flow of being can provide" or how we can improve "this crabbed,cruel,diminished, hollowed-out travesty that we have been teaching our children about for generations." Personally, I don't think for a second that Chris Floyd knows what my mother taught me, or your parents taught you, or that he could have taught any of them that much about life. He has misidentified the problem, perhaps because that sentence just sounded so good and made him sound so wise.

I would take some of that passionate rhetoric more seriously if you wrote it, or if Rupa did, or perhaps tony, or the very moral Arthur Silber, but not because those words themselves have any real meaning or power to me. I would draw something from then in those instances because of the source, basically despite the content, because we most definitely do NOT live 'in an age where murderous pigstickers and corporate Coprophagoi demand that we tip our caps to them and sing songs of their goodness and glory, and praise the hideous system they have made." That obviously is not the age we live in. The success of Chris Floyd's site and his article ironically enough proves that we do not live in that age. We most definitely do not have to love our rulers or praise 'the hideous system they have made,' let alone 'sing songs of their goodness and glory.' Almost nobody is doing that.

The age we actually do live in is hard to identify, because it is characterized by deception and self-deception, but it is a very permissive age, and yet it is as vicious as its predecessors while generating tremendous fear and anger in most of us. To me it looks like only pundits sing praises of the system and the goodness and glory of our rulers, and they do it only to earn their pay. The rest of us grumble or rant or tell jokes or break things or turn to prayer, and we argue with each other about what is going on, but still we can't really escape the fear or the anger and, most of all, the dishonesty and deception that bombards us. That deception is unrelenting, and neither pining for the quickening power of numinous moments nor unleashing bombastic tirades at the Charlatan in Chief is any real protection from it. We seem to me to live in an age of managed rage.

Don't ask me what to do about it. I'm just glad thankful there are still some people who are willing to die just to do the right thing, because there is inspiration in that, and I would rather play my small part in a tragedy than a farce.

Posted by N E at May 31, 2010 04:02 PM

Turks sending in their Navy, now (to accompany new convoys)?

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/turkey-threatens-action-israel-on-alert/116743-2.html

Brave new world.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 04:39 PM

Time to break out the popcorn.

Posted by NomadUK at May 31, 2010 04:43 PM

And here is the Israeli version, for whatever it is worth...........

"Close-Up Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Attacking IDF Soldiers (With Sound)"
here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LulDJh4fWI

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 05:37 PM

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.

Posted by Cloud at May 31, 2010 06:17 PM

Either you are attempting to break a blockade or you are not.

If you are attempting to break a blockade you are either doing so in the mood of Gandhian non-violence or as a military action.
If you are on a humanitarian mission you are presumably taking a non-military approach.

If your ship is going to be boarded you either allow it to happen or you fight back.

If you fight back and are fired upon why are you surprised?

Why would anyone attack trigger-happy commandos who were just going to secure and divert the ship?

This is not like Birmingham-MLK didn't urge his marchers or sitters to sing hymns until they were set upon and then begin fighting the police-that doesn't work.

You can't have it both ways.

Posted by seth at May 31, 2010 07:05 PM

@Cloud
I noticed that you have posted the same video that I did just before your comment.
Here, Andrew Sullivan agrees with you about the activists having to fight back.
here

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/05/videos-of-the-raid.html

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 07:08 PM

WH currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy

Because the ordinary understanding, when IDF commandos board a civilian boat in international waters by force, kill nine people, and wound who knows how many more, obviously isn't an acceptable way to understand it.

Posted by Nell at May 31, 2010 07:32 PM

So a failure to go quietly means they had it coming, eh, Seth? Just like those troublemakers in Warsaw.

Posted by Nell at May 31, 2010 07:40 PM

Nell:

Well there is a difference in that the troublemakers in Warsaw were facing death either way,and that was an established fact.

The activists aboard the ships were facing no present danger whatsoever, except an (anticipated) detour to an Israeli port.

So your parallel is totally askew.

Posted by Seth at May 31, 2010 08:34 PM

International waters, Seth. I don't give a rat's arse if the people on board went after the attacking commandos with machetes and Chicago pianos. The Israelis are the aggressors here. They own the violence and the deaths. As usual.

Posted by weaver at May 31, 2010 08:43 PM

@Seth
To my recollection, you have never questioned Israeli govt's policies, whether it be 40+yr occupation of Palestine, home demolitions and expropriating their land, collective punishment, building settlements, restricting Palestinians' movements etc, ALL ILLEGAL under International Laws ( PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I AM WRONG ).
Do you think it is possible that when majority of the nation members of United Nations believe that Israel is breaking these laws with impunity that they could be right?
Of course, you have a right to your opinions but do you think it is possible that you could be mistaken and wrong about your views of Israel as to what it stands for? From what little I know, the Israeli society is itself divided very bitterly about which we do not hear in our MSM.
Also, have you ever considered that when people are critical of Israeli govt's policies, they are not critical because they do not like the state of Israel, but rather they care about it enough that they want it to exist in peace and security and are trying to prevent it from destroying itself from within?

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 31, 2010 09:30 PM

Well, one man's wry, detached irony is another's attempt not to walk around their home breaking things.

Odd. I didn't take your posts as wry, detached irony. I took them as blistering sarcasm, which I don't consider inappropriate.

Now, if you want dry detachment, read N E's comment. Unmistakable and indubitable Israeli crimes (and this is just the latest in a long string, many of them far worse) don't excite him as much as the possibility that the US might have engaged in black-bag actions that killed Americans. ... I would rather play my small part in a tragedy than a farce, he concludes. As long as it's only other people who pay with their lives, of course. I'd much rather have farce than tragedy, but I wasn't consulted.

Yes, Seth, international waters. And as I wrote here a few months ago after Wikileaks exposed a US massacre in Iraq, if someone busts into your house and shoots you when you hit him, he can't claim self-defense, certainly not morally. I've seen Israeli claims that their stormtroopers stepped into a "lynch" (later translated as "ambush"), which is very Clarence Thomas of them. But then we must remember that if a Palestinian kid throws a rock at an Israeli tank, the kid is Goliath and the tank is David.

Posted by Duncan at May 31, 2010 09:35 PM

Rupa Shah:

I agree with all of that-I have said on this site many times that Israel needs to return to status quo ante bellum (1967).

I think that the US should stop giving Israel military and economic aid and devolve it to regional status.

I have never been to Israel and do not vote along pro-Israel lines at all.

International waters or not, the activists were foolish to militarily engage trigger-happy commandos on the high seas. What were they expecting to happen?

Nobody is even pretending that they would have been harmed if they had surrendered the ship.

It was foolhardy. Did the commandos shoot up the other ships? No-just the one where the activists "defended" the ship.

Posted by seth at May 31, 2010 09:43 PM

Seth: AGREED.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 31, 2010 09:55 PM

"Militarily engage"

That's some high grade bull shit, chappy.

That's just like calling the actions of a woman defending herself against a rapist "sexually provocative," what what, because she's twisting her hips whilst trying to escape.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 10:14 PM

Jack Crow:

I don't think that analogy holds up either.

The activists decided to fight against soldiers who weren't going to harm them. What's the point of that?

Obviously the Israelis were trying to interdict the ships. The activists knew this could happen.

For some reason they decided to take a stand.

This wasn't the Altalena-nobody needed to get hurt.

Posted by Seth at May 31, 2010 10:32 PM

"Weren't going to harm them"?

So, so long as the raping rapist fuck doesn't actually punch his victim and leave any bruises, the bitch should just take it, right?

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 10:36 PM

Sure-in the name of preserving their virtue and honor it was necessary to commit suicide by soldier.

You do understand that you are reifying your analogy, 'Chappy'?

Posted by seth at May 31, 2010 10:45 PM

Gods, at least use the word "reify" correctly.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 10:52 PM

Whatevs, dude-use analogies correctly.

Posted by seth at May 31, 2010 10:59 PM

Simile, hasbara, simile. Jeebus.

Here's a hint: "like."

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 11:05 PM

All right chappy.

First of all a simile is a species of analogy. You didn't know that?

Second of all, hasbara means "explanation." Just because you misuse a Hebrew word or two in doesn't put you in the know.

Eichmann also fancied himself an expert on the Jewish question. Didn't mean he knew anything.

Posted by Seth at May 31, 2010 11:24 PM

Of course, we don't want to get too distracted by maritime law. If the flotilla had continued on its intended course, it would have passed from international waters to Gazan waters, not making an Israeli attack any more legitimate.

Posted by weaver at May 31, 2010 11:28 PM

Hasbara meant explanation. It means something else now.

Posted by weaver at May 31, 2010 11:31 PM

A simile is not a type of analogy, Seth. Similes, which are a type of metaphor, and analogies are not co-identical. They have different functions, especially using English idiom.

They all involve comparison, but the constituent parts are ordered differently, and retain different characteristics - depending on the needs of the writer.

And hasbara has come into English use, as a noun. I'm sorry that disappoints your hasbara narrative, but here it is:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n05/yonatan-mendel/hasbara

Perhaps, Seth, when you can grasp basic parts of English speech and expression, you can get a promotion in whatever apologists circle currently employs you to explain Israeli atrocities in a positive light.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 11:35 PM

Hasbara isn't used to refer to a person.

And a simile is a form of analogy-no grammar teacher in the world would dispute that.

Why are you splitting hairs instead of dealing with my point-that the comparison of the ship to a raped woman is specious.

Prig.

Posted by Seth at May 31, 2010 11:45 PM

Heh:

http://www.supaproofread.com/blog/using-analogies-similes-and-metaphors/

And I don't really care how you want "hasbara" to be used in English. It is used, in English, to cover both the explanation and the explanation brigades.

As for "specious" comparisons - I was using the simile to make a point. A point you ignored, in order to attack my grammar.

A point to which I still adhere, given the sort of logic used above, and upon which I was originally commenting.

It's justifier's logic, on par with that commonly offered by rapists, child abusers, pederasts and wife beaters.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 31, 2010 11:54 PM

I should have said I prefer lethal tragedy to lethal farce, for the especially literal reader lurking out there on the beach, or perhaps I should have waxed emotional for effect so you could get bent out of shape about that instead.

Enjoy your vacation.

Posted by N E at June 1, 2010 12:11 AM

I didn't attack your grammar: I critiqued your logic.

Posted by seth at June 1, 2010 12:12 AM

Unless one just wants to die, when attacked by a WELL ARMED force and one has no better weapons for defence than pipes or bats one may chance to pick up then its best to surrender. Now the Israelis may have even fired first it remains to be seen. Facts are that the ship finally fell to the boarders because the ship's personel were NOT armed enough to resist them.
Surely those people on the boats KNEW they were unarmed and could REASONABLY expect to be boarded. Blockade running IS an old and time honored PROFESSION and should be left to the professionals. Amatures, such as these, just get themselves killed or arrested with NO product getting to the VERY REAL NEEDS of the Gaza People. IF these Nobel Laurettes and such ACTUALLY wanted to bring RELIEF to the Gaza People they would have hired a PROFESSIONAL SMUGGLER.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 12:52 AM

Translation of Mike Meyer: "If the humanitarians really wanted to help Gazans, they'd have given the Israelis a clear pretext, by deliberately engaging in forbidden activity, which would have allowed Israel and the US to outright condemn them, hold them indefinitely under anti-terrorism statutes, and vilify them with little PR backlash. Instead, the fools openly and publicly declared their intention to break an illegal, immoral and murderous blockade, without subterfuge or deception, thereby depriving Israel and its patron state, the US, of a defensible justification for the ensuing, unprovoked act of high seas piracy, slaughter and possible war crimes."

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 01:18 AM

Jack Crow: MEANWHILE, back in Gaza, Ahmed and the Missus and the kids , are looking forward to ANOTHER candle lit dinner of (maybe) some barley and the last half of that can of sardines Dad's been saving up.
WHY NOT instead a fleet of 7 boats, EMPTY, so's one could haul 7 boatloads of PALESTINIANS to say the Gulf Coast of Louisana to help with the cleanup and a chance for a bettter life in the Good Ole USofA. Gaza IS full of DEPLETED URANIUM by now. At least 7 boatloads of maybe just women and children. BIG political statement there.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 02:12 AM

Well, one man's wry, detached irony is another's attempt not to walk around their home breaking things.

I understand that right to the bone, and I'm sorry if I put you on the spot. I have no doubt how you feel about this (and never did).

I know people who were on the flotilla. In fact one of them was taken prisoner with me and others by the Israelis when we broke the siege of the Church of the Nativity. And I have no idea if those people are alive or dead now.

And Seth, you--and all those like you--are worth less than the shit the people on those boats people take at the end of the day, which at least serves the useful purpose of eliminating waste from the body. You sicken me.

Posted by John Caruso at June 1, 2010 02:31 AM

My, what an active comment thread this has become.

Into everyone's arguing to and fro about whether the activists' defense of their ship was foolhardy or not, let me toss this bizarre element from an AP story "Bloody Israeli Raid on Flotilla Sparks Crisis":

A soldier identified only as a sergeant told reporters at a military briefing that the activists on board "were armed with knives, scissors, pepper spray and guns." He [the Israeli soldier] said he was armed only with a paintball rifle. "It was a civilian paintball gun that any 12-year-old can play with," he said. "I saw my friends on the deck spitting blood."

The high-seas confrontation was a nightmare scenario for Israel, which insisted its soldiers were simply unprepared for what awaited them on the Mavi Marmara, the ship carrying 600 of the 700 activists headed for Gaza. Instead of carrying their regular automatic rifles, the Israelis said they went in with non-lethal paintball guns and pistols they never expected to use.

[So the IDF is claiming their highly trained commandos were armed only with paintball rifles and paintball pistols and were expecting to not have to play a game of paintball as they forcibly boarded a largish vessel on the high seas??? Which doesn't exactly explain how the nine activists were killed or the dozens of others wounded, does it? I'm not sure whether this IDF claim is more bizarre as propaganda or reality.]

Posted by Steve in L.A. at June 1, 2010 02:40 AM

Antony Loewenstein has the full IDF cover story up, complete with paintball guns etc, if you're wondering how it's supposed to fit together.

Posted by weaver at June 1, 2010 03:02 AM

Who ever heard of ANYBODY'S SWAT Team with paintball guns. I'll bet the helicoptor bringing them to the boat had a big paintball gun on it.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 03:07 AM

@ weaver:

Thank you for the link to the Loewenstein column reprinting within heavy ironic quotation marks the very exciting current IDF story as told by pro-government reporter Ron Ben Yishai in his article "A Brutal Ambush at Sea" wherein the brutal peace activists ambushed and assaulted the peaceful IDF one-by-one as the Israeli marines slid down the ropes from their helicopter innocently expecting only "Bilin-style violence."

I especially liked the part where the activists "tied [the rope] to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down". Wow-- talk about reckless endangerment of a hostile military boarding party in international waters!

The paintball rifles, Yishai writes, were similar to "paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin." Later Yishai writes that "the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok."

Bilin-style violence? Bilin is a West Bank Palestinian village and the scene of many demos against the apartheid wall. In "Bilin-style" violence, the IDF gets to shoot with impunity live fire, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters directly AT unarmed civilian demonstrators, on occasion killing them with impunity when not just shooting them in the legs or arm or stomach or putting out an eye, literally.

Where's the impunity?

And the "weapons" found on board the ship? The knives (including the knife sharpener and the screw driver-- what, no box cutters?) look like knives found in... a ship's galley and the tools and wooden handles and chains, cables, ropes look like equipment found in... a ship's engine room and repair shop.

A strange and smelly story.

Posted by Steve in L.A. at June 1, 2010 04:29 AM

Emily Henochowicz should have listened to her mother, clearly, as she got her eye put out by what must have been a paintball gun, since all IDF forces are, and have always been, armed only with paintball guns.

And loading those gallon paint cans into the breeches of tank guns and letting them go: what a mess! But, hey, good fun.

Posted by NomadUK at June 1, 2010 06:53 AM

Seriously, N E, lay aside your hopes for comedy and consider an exciting career as an Obama speechwriter. That comment of yours struck exactly the right note of gaseous pomposity and moral callousness.

hasbarista seth, there are reports that other ships were fired on by the IDF thugs; the captain of one was injured. I would never assume that stormtroopers swarming down from the sky don't plan to pull the triggers regardless of what I do. The people who died as a result of this attack are going to be martyrs; the men who killed them are going to be regarded as murderers.

Posted by Duncan at June 1, 2010 07:31 AM

The people who died as a result of this attack are going to be martyrs; the men who killed them are going to be regarded as murderers.

Unless you're an insane sociopath — or Melanie Philips, which amounts to the same thing.

And, no, I haven't read it, because doing so would no doubt cause me to put my fist through my monitor, and it's company property.

Posted by NomadUK at June 1, 2010 07:57 AM

Really, Mike Meyer? The answer to the Siege of Gaza is to haul seven boat loads of Palestinians off to NOLA, in order to use them as clean up corvee?

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 08:01 AM

May be, some will consider joining the newly formed facebook group to "Protest Gaza Flotilla Massacre, Demand UN Investigation, End to Gaza Siege!"
here
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=121801321193432&v=info

Also, the live blog at Promised land which I posted yesterday ( May 31, 2010 11:34 AM ) reports victory for the Flotilla group.....RAFAH crossing has been opened indefinitely.....same news items have appeared in YNet news and Ha'aretz.

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 1, 2010 10:49 AM

@seth at May 31, 2010 09:43 PM
I will make a mental note of your position vis a vis Israel.
I am a bit surprised at your phrase "International waters or not". Are you trying to say, laws of the Seas are irrelevant? Why do we have them then? If commandos of any other nation had dropped out of helicopters on any other ship with the intention of taking over that ship in International waters, would you have condoned that action? Aren't laws to be applied universally? Just wondering!

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 1, 2010 11:06 AM

Jack Crow: That would save seven boatloads from a life in a rabid sardine can and possible genicide. I know what YOU are thinking, "Not in MY neighborhood!" That's why I suggested the Gulf Coast, people are moving out due to US Government nonintervention.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 11:42 AM

MM:"That would save seven boatloads from a life in a rabid sardine can and possible genicide."

So you'd fully back the Trail of Tears, too? You know, because it "saved" the Tsalagi from "genicide" in their homelands?


MM:"I know what YOU are thinking, 'Not in MY neighborhood!'"

No. I'm thinking that your argument rather perfectly embodies the logic of the conqueror who cannot see that his "humanitarian" solutions are really just more colonial imperialism.

MM: "That's why I suggested the Gulf Coast, people are moving out due to US Government nonintervention."

Whoa. Nelly.

So - because the US State isn't doing its part in the Gulf, the US State should kidnap thousands of Palestinians from their only homeland, deport them to Louisiana (a notorious, historic slave and Jim Crow state), in order to work them in a toxic environment, cleaning up the disaster caused by a multinational capitalist zaibatsu?

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 11:55 AM

@seth
May be this report might interest you. Account given by the passengers is different from what Israeli govt claims!
here

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gbT81EG8EVUYrrBd8vcdedgyvWpQ

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 1, 2010 12:33 PM

"people who aren't worth shit" . . . That's an ugly idea. The left isn't ever going to be as hateful as the right, and it would be wise not to try.

Duncan

I don't understand what you get out of insulting me, but it was that habit that led me to make the mistake of thinking you very young. I don't pay much attention to opinions laden with insults, so don't waste too much time on substance if you're going to sprinkle them into your views so liberally. Nothing is easier to ignore than rudeness.

Posted by N E at June 1, 2010 12:41 PM

Rupa Shah

Thanks for that URL. I recall Jonathan cited a book some time ago written by a US diplomat who had been involved in the KAL shootdown firestorm to the effect that one of the lessons they learned was how important it was to get the government PR (lies) out to the media in a timely way. The media-savvy governments and militaries of the world all know that now. They probably have regular procedures relating to it, none of which involve much investigation of actual facts. So for me it's hard to believe their official accounts, and my presumption is that what happened is a lot closer to what the witnesses describe at that Google News story. It doesn't matter if the truth comes out outside the news cycle after the controversy is over. Nobody will pay any attention then, and there is zero accountability for lying.

Posted by N E at June 1, 2010 12:52 PM

I read on the web somewhere that "people become mad before they destroy themselves"
The following video is frightening in more than one ways.......

"Israelis celebrating attack on Turkish Aid Ship - infront of Turkish Embassy,Tel Aviv
here

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=6a3_1275348204

Posted by Rupa Shah at June 1, 2010 02:37 PM


"If you fight back and are fired upon why are you surprised?

Why would anyone attack trigger-happy commandos who were just going to secure and divert the ship?"

Did the trigger-happy commandos expect to be greeted with hugs and air kisses? They were not trained in how to handle a bunch of international humanitarians brandishing a few 'weapons' available at your local Ace Hardware?

Thanks for conceding they were trigger-happy, though. And you are right that the humanitarians should have known better. No one has ever lost money betting on the IDF to do something brutal and stupid.

Posted by Steve at June 1, 2010 09:06 PM

Jack Crow: I don't believe I ever mentioned kidnaping. I'll bet that given the choice they would GLADLY take oilsoaked Louisana right now, FOOD AND WORK. SURELY YOU realize that all those munitions that Israel dropped on Gaza were made in the USA by hard working folks like U&I. U&I make OUR munitions with a colorful thin shell of DEPLETED URANIUM, just like gramps used to. I just imagine EVERY household in Gaza has a taste embedded in the walls somewhere. No place to raise children.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 10:08 PM

Mike,

You really don't understand that you use the logic of the colonial imperial oppressor, do you?

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 10:37 PM

Mike,

You really don't understand that you use the logic of the colonial imperial oppressor, do you?

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 10:37 PM

N E: Your own comments are typically laden with insults. That's of interest only because you complain when others respond in kind. I've been answering your "arguments" here for a couple of years now, addressing what you say and usually just getting evasions, more falsehoods and distortions, and cute suggestions that I take up stand-up comedy. But that's not important. What is important is your consistent snide remarks about those who aren't as enlightened as you, your misrepresentations, your misinformation. If you can't take it, don't dish it out.

The most revealing thing you've said, for me, was your reaction when you denied that you'd ever said certain things about Chomsky and Zinn, I quoted your own words back at you, and you accused me of playing "Gotcha." In other words, you're not responsible for what you say, and it's "rude" to remind you of what you've already sent down the memory hole. That, I think, merits some insult; certainly it merits no respect.

Posted by Duncan at June 1, 2010 10:50 PM

YOU're just saying that because I'm a Zionist Jew. Fact of the matter is that U&I PAY to have those Palestinians bombed, shot, burned and otherwise live under siege conditions. The Israelis oppress the Palestinians because it suits AMERICAN INTERESTS and U&I PAY them well to do so. ALL. OF. US.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 1, 2010 10:55 PM

Having said that, I've meant to say something else here. I'm outraged by the Israeli attack on the flotilla, but I'm not as outraged as many of the rest of y'all seem to be. It's not as if this is at all surprising; Israel has killed thousands of innocent people in the recent past. The attack on Gaza at the end of 2008, for instance, upset me far more than this one.

That's not to say that I'm retreating into smug cynicism. In fact, I've written more mail to my Congresspeople and to the White House than I have for years. (I'm in Korea right now, so phone calls are not practical.) I am outraged and upset by Israel's latest crime, but I can't say I'm Shocked! Shocked! by it. I just feel old and tired, maybe because I'm both.

Posted by Duncan at June 1, 2010 10:56 PM

"YOU're just saying that because I'm a Zionist Jew. Fact of the matter is that U&I PAY to have those Palestinians bombed, shot, burned and otherwise live under siege conditions. The Israelis oppress the Palestinians because it suits AMERICAN INTERESTS and U&I PAY them well to do so. ALL. OF. US."

If this is addressed to me, I can only sit for a moment in silent wonder.

I know nothing about your political opinions or your ethnicity. Well, until now.

I was responding to your argument, not your ethnicity. Just as my accidental ethnicity (sephardim and amerindian) has naught to do with my critique of your logic.

Your is the logic of the colonial oppressor.

And I don't think you really, truly see it.

Posted by Jack Crow at June 1, 2010 11:00 PM

This thread is striking....what does one see? Numerous posts from folks declaiming their strong (past and/or present) aversion to Israeli actions whilst mercilessly eviscerating each other.....over, over,......what exactly?

I am indeed perplexed.

Posted by bobbyp at June 2, 2010 12:25 AM

Jack Crow, God**** it.

Don't you know sarcasm when you see it??!

Posted by Nikolay Levin at June 2, 2010 12:55 AM

BobbyP, agreed.

Too much pecking their companions in the cage and too little of much else.

Posted by Nikolay Levin at June 2, 2010 12:59 AM

Mike, the point of the flotilla was not just to bring aid, but also to dramatize the continuing barbarism of Israel's blockade. And it seems to have worked--the US press has been forced to pay attention and the NYT even wrote an editorial condemning the blockade, though as much because of the problems it causes for Israel as for any suffering undergone by Palestinians. Rather odd that the NYT ignored it for so long and only now says something.

Posted by Donald Johnson at June 2, 2010 10:29 AM

Duncan

If I have insulted you, such as by calling you consistently snide, sarcastic, pompous, pretending to be enlightened, misrepresenting facts and full of distortions, or meriting insult but not respect, I apologize. I do sometimes lose my patience in argument, but I will redouble my efforts to stick to substance.

Maybe you have been lucky enough to avoid too much close experience with human limitations, but if so that's a mixed blessing, because powerlessness can be a good teacher. When I was younger, most things came easily to me, some of them so easily that I didn't even know it, and like most young people I thought mostly in terms of myself. I really didn't understand what Debs had embraced as the purpose of his life, and though I liked mysticism even then, I liked it the way Samuel Jackson liked the Bible verse he read in Pulp Fiction before he killed people--it sounded cool. The idea in the mysticism of the passage of the Gospel of Thomas that mistah charley so generously quoted was beyond me, and frankly it probably still is now much of the time. I don't easily see as much beauty in someone dying in pain and physical depletion in a hospice as I can see in a lovely flower or a beautiful woman, and even after a great deal of experience it's hard for me to see through some of the walls erected by accidents of neurochemistry before what the poets and theologians call the soul. I only receive occasional moments of such grace, but I'm quite grateful for them. They are my favorite moments.

I'd like more of those moments, and I'm not trying to fool you, toy with you, or piss you off. To paraphrase Samuel Jackson's soliloquey in the diner in Pulp Fiction, "I'm trying, Duncan. I'm really trying here." (Don't worry. I'm not a bad-ass like he was, and weirdly enough, I haven't had my own gun since I reached adulthood a few decades ago.)

I'm far too cynical to talk like Kahlil Gibran, or even Debs, but even though too many weddings have ruined First Corinthians 13 the same way Yoda ruined saying anything pithy about the dangers of fear and hate, my view is that First Corinthians 13 is right. So if I've insulted you, I'm sorry for that, because my goal is not to bring anger into your world. That really is not what I'm trying for. I'm really just on the trail of the truth as I see it, with the hope that it will make a small contribution towards the world improving. I may not see what you see, but I'm not good enough to try to report the truth as you see it even when I do agree with you, and when I don't agree with you, I just don't agree with you. I'll always tell you why, because I'm not really trying to be more clever. If that were my goal, I'd do it for money.

Enjoy Korea and your vacation. And when you're there I hope you find you find some of that light from above that mistah charley mentions now and again. Let me know if you do, because I'm looking for it.

Posted by N E at June 2, 2010 11:28 AM

Donald Johnson: Yeah, I know, they've been anouncing for weeks what they are trying to do. I figured when they left Turkey that someone would get shot which IS why it seems foolish to me. These people seem to think they will make life better for the Gazans, but I just don't a good end for their situation. NO two state solution, NO making peace with each other. Just more taking potshots at each other or worse. Will those supplies EVER reach the Gazans? I doubt it. And if, in the end, The Gazans aren't given some relief through these efforts and deaths, then its just ends up getting someones picture in the museum. Meanwhile the Men, Women, and CHILDREN of Gaza have to take the heat for it. I feel that to stop financing Israel and Egypt with OUR TAXDOLLARS would be a more reliable effort. Can't be a pirate without a pistol and a boat. U&I bought the pistol and the boat and therein lies the piracy problem.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 2, 2010 12:10 PM

Mike--Making people aware of what Israel is doing would be the first step in changing our policy of supporting Israel no matter how badly it behaves. As it stands most American politicians fall over each other in their rush to say they support Israel in their war against evil terrorists. This sort of protest is meant to call attention to what's really going on--it may even have had some effect.

Though I'm not getting my hopes up too much.

Posted by Donald Johnson at June 2, 2010 01:19 PM

Donald Johnson: Most Americans want Israel to do what is going on. Think about it, this whole situation is another Rowanda waiting for just the bestest rightwing radio show to set it off. All it takes is some old Jew saying, "God told me to tell you to dash out the babies' heads" and they'ed follow him like Jim Jones. MEANWHILE THE REST OF US will just sit and watch, doing nothing more than show the world how offended WE are.

Posted by Mike Meyer at June 2, 2010 02:52 PM

N E, please note that I'm not concerned about myself here. I don't feel singled out, because you react the same way to everybody who doesn't agree with you. (And thanks for confirming my diagnosis of your manner by producing another example of it, right down to the smug piety.)

You see, someone who responds to reasoned arguments the way you do -- and please remember that I'm talking about everyone's arguments, not just mine -- discredits himself, establishes himself as a vacuous blowhard, shouts to the world that he has nothing of value to say.

As for "the light" you claim you hope I find, how do you know I haven't already found it? If you look at the historical record, enlightened people are mean mothafuckas. I don't claim to be enlightened, but I won't be preached to by the likes of you.

Posted by Duncan at June 4, 2010 11:58 PM