Flotilla to Gaza: Facts and Meditations

If you have been following Facebook, Twitter, or the news, you have probably heard of the flotilla that was captured by the Israel military sometime our Sunday night. Six boats filled with humanitarian aid deporting from several European countries were headed to Gaza. Organized by the umbrella organization Free Gaza, the ships were trying to break a blockade and bring much needed supplies.

The flotilla aimed to deliver aid to Gaza, to break an Israeli and Egyptian blockade on the territory. According to the UN, Gaza receives about one quarter of the supplies it used to receive in the years before the blockade was tightened in 2007. The ships were carrying 10,000 tonnes of goods, including school supplies, building materials and two large electricity generators. The activists also say they wanted to make the point that, in their view, the blockade is illegal under international law. (BBC).

I found this video rather helpful to explain who and what the mission was trying to do. But the flotilla had to abort the mission when the Israeli Defense Force boarded the ships in international waters, killing 10 people and wounding 30. The boats were captured and taken to Israel. Though there are two sides to the debate, the attack was brutal – no side can deny that. Upon boarding the ship (armed and w/ body protection), the military began shooting the civilians. The soldiers said they were being attacked, (though technically since the soldiers jumped on the boat in international waters, the soldiers were the attackers). The aid workers carried no ammunition on the boats; the video evidence (from the Israeli side) shows slingshots and sticks (link). Video evidence from Al Jazeera shows gunshots going off even after the boat raised the white flags.

There has been an international outcry about the attack and the disappearance of the 700 people on the boat. Yesterday, within 24 hours of the attacks, protests were happening all around the world. This interactive map shows just how many people hit the streets as soon as this happened. Here in Los Angeles, people rallied in front of the Israeli Consulate – I went to go see what it was all about and gather some interviews while at it.

Only just this afternoon has the Israeli government released information on the the well-being of the passengers. Though most of the people on the passenger list were European, there were also some Desis on board the ships.

“Islamabad has strongly condemned the attack on the humanitarian mission and it is seriously concerned over the well-being and whereabouts of Pakistani citizens and media personnel on board,” he said. Interior Minister Rehman Malik called upon Interpol to help recover TV anchor Talat Hussain and the other Pakistanis aboard Gaza aid ships. (Daily Times link)

Also see this:

The US and Interpol have assured Pakistan that three of its nationals on board a peace flotilla carrying aid for the Gaza Strip were safe and detained in Israel after the Israeli Navy attack. Interior Minister Rehman Malik separately said that the Interpol was making ‘personal efforts’ for the release of the three Pakistanis – journalists Talat Hussain and Raza Mehmood Agha of the Aaj TV channel and aid worker Nadeem Ahmed Khan of the Khubaib Foundation – who are currently detained in Israel. (Sify)

But that’s Pakistan some of you will say. What about the so-called Israel-India alliance? Well it seems the government India also has expressed outrage:

India joined several other governments around the world in condemning Israel for its use of disproportionate force leading to the death of 20 passengers on a flotilla carrying relief supplies to Gaza.

“India deplores the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to the people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn. We extend our sympathies to the families of the dead and wounded. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue and not through use of force,” said a Ministry of External Affairs statement. (The Hindu)

The discrepencies between stories on either side have been large. There were reporters on the boats reporting live, but their transmission was cut as soon as the boat was captured. The only news that the international community has been able to attain since the attack were those being spun from the IDF desks. And I do mean spin. All other accounts have been censored and media has not been able to get into the area to talk to activists. Arguments have been made from Israeli supporters to me, that we can’t jump to conclusions and respond hastily to what actually happened on the humanitarian boats. But to me, the fact that 1) the boats were attacked by IDF in international water 2) the activists on boats were without firearms 3) IDF detained all 700 passengers without allowing them contact with the outside world and 4) the outright media censorship of not allowing journalists in nor allowing journalists on the boats the right to report out clearly implies who the protagonists are in this situation. If IDF had nothing to hide, they clearly wouldn’t be hiding it and spinning it the way they have been.

+++

It’s no surprise to people on what side I am on this. I’ve written about the Gaza protest in Los Angeles before and was one of the organizers of an Art for Peace event in L.A. in support of Gaza last year. What may surprise you is that I usually do hate going to protests, especially here in Los Angeles. I think they can be nonstrategic and ineffective, unless you are targeting your message at a location where the power holders will hear it (like D.C.). But I attended the protest yesterday for a few reasons. The first reason is because it was an immediate worldwide action. Within 24 hours of the attack, people around the world were coordinating protests stating their disapproval of the action. I really feel it was due to interactive web tools like twitter and google maps that this happened so quickly. The second was that we were protesting in front of the Israeli Consulate – an access ‘perk’ that people in the Muslim world do not have. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, for example, though there is a Palestinian Embassy they do not recognize Israel as a nation state and thus, they are not allowed to have a embassy in Dhaka.

The third reason is this. As I was talking to my mother yesterday about the situation, my mom said something that really struck me. She said, ” I do feel bad that they died. But they were taking boats into a dangerous area. They should have known what was going to happen.” It surprised me she would say something like that, given our family history.

Recently, I was traveling in South Asia. I was there initially to collect personal family stories on revolution, though as the trip continued it started to get bigger. There was the story that my grandfather told me of how he went to college in Calcutta, and whenever he crossed the Ganges river, Hindus would throw rocks at him because he was Muslim. But it was due to the generosity of a Bengali man that his family able to escape under the cover of celebration of Holi. There was the story of an uncle who was a police officer in Bangladesh in 1971. He left the force when the Pakistan army took over, but decided to go into the office seven months later when they called police officer back to the force. It was only when he went back to his office, that he realized it was a ruse. A non-Bengali saved him. There was the Sinhalese activist woman I met in Sri Lanka who dedicated her life to support the Tamil and Muslim people still stuck in the IDP camps. There was the Hindu cabbie that got out of the cab to give me salaams as I got out of the cab in Calcutta. Muslims had helped him escape out of Bangladesh in the 70s when he was a baby.

My point is – that as South Asians, our roots are deeply intertwined with struggle and revolution. And despite the many sides to the political arguments we always hear coming out od the Desh, buried underneath it all are stories of humanity, of people helping each other to survive. Caste, race, religion no-bar. Our history as being American is also deeply entwined w/ revolution intertwined with humanity. The situation with the flotilla’s to me personally was not about Hamas or IDF, it was about peace activists who were doing humanitarian good. They were bringing much needed supplies to blockaded people, people of a land who are being used as pawns in an international power game.

We have to take that personal risk to save other people. The power I find in the people that were on the boat is that they went to provide aid despite knowing they were going to put themselves in a risky situation. People have been doing that for me since before I was alive. I think I need to honor that by paying it forward, and supporting the people that put helping other people ahead of themselves.

No matter what side of the Gaza argument you are on, I hope that we can all at least agree on that.

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About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

111 thoughts on “Flotilla to Gaza: Facts and Meditations

  1. Israel has an absolute right to stop Hamas from getting material to build rockets etc. to bomb Israel. That is the only purpose of the blockade. An Israeli Human Rights Organization has put together a list of items which are prohibited. Here is the list. If you read the list, it will make perfect sense as to why this has nothing to do with collective punishment but has everything to do with defending Israel.

    List of Prohibited Items:

    sage – cardamom – cumin – coriander – ginger – jam – halva – vinegar – nutmeg – chocolate – fruit preserves – seeds and nuts – biscuits – potato chips – dried fruit – fresh meat - plaster – tar – wood for construction – cement – iron – glucose – industrial salt – plastic/glass/metal containers – industrial margarine – tarpaulin sheets for huts – fabric (for clothing) – flavor and smell enhancers – fishing rods shampoo – various fishing nets soap – buoys – ropes for fishing – nylon nets for greenhouses – hatcheries and spare parts for hatcheries – spare parts for tractors – dairies for cowsheds – irrigation pipe – ropes to tie greenhouses – planters for saplings – heaters for chicken farms – musical instruments - size A4 paper – writing implements – notebooks – newspapers – toys – razors – sewing machines – heaters all canned food – horses – donkeys – goats – cattle – chicks

    http://gisha.org/UserFiles/File/HiddenMessages/ItemsGazaStrip060510.pdf

  2. Do you mean that we all should agree that all activists should be honored because they are zealous? This is shades of the Vanni Mercy Mission. It’s not enough to bring the vital needs to a population–you actually have to get it to them. I agree with your mother–activists zealous enough to put themselves in harms way should not be exalted over any other poor bugger who is unfortunate enough to die or be injured.

    I honor the Sinhalese families that sheltered my pregnant mother and helped to spirit her out of the country in 83 by acting where and when I know I my efforts will benefit someone else, not simply when I feel righteous, as it benefits no one to be perpetually on the cusp of getting help.

  3. Nice recollection of help from surprising quarters. In my own family, my maternal grandmother (Hindu) was aided by a Muslim neighbor to get out of East Bengal and into Calcutta in 1947. Her husband was already in Calcutta and could not get her himself because the riots were already getting out of control. But, it’s not all good news. My Chicago-based uncle lost his brother in the Bombay blasts of 1993.

    The comparison to Gaza falters on this – the modern Israeli, who is more likely to trace his roots to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, has no connection to his Arab neighbor, unlike in Bengal where Hindu & Muslim spoke the same language, and with a few meat restrictions, ate the same food, learned the same alphabet.. You could make the case that up until the 90′s, there was some degree of cultural overlap between the estranged communities in Israel. In older Jewish circles, there are misgivings about the influx of “the Russians” – with complaints of their manners, ties to organized crime, etc. But Jewish Israelis see having to put up with the Russians as a price to pay to keep up Jewish population numbers.

    BTW – keep on an eye on the comments, lest it get threadjacked by someone wanting to list every crime over the past few centuries.

  4. Taz,

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

    Please watch the thread carefully — and send in “commandos” to delete comments. Use Israeli style of spin: if commenters “attack” you, you have the right to defend (by deleting comments). After all, your thread would be under existential threat from anti-Taz commenters. For what it’s worth, if you delete, the commenters would have at least been in your waters. In fact, you could go delete-happy in other people’s threads, I suppose, since apparently one can attack anyone anywhere, it seems.

    Let’s remember that there are 19 people dead. Let’s remember what they were bringing in: antibiotics, wheelchairs, cement for construction, and food. Two years on, most Gazans are living in TENTS, with no running water. Human rights organizations (who ALL hate Israel and are anti-Semites and are all seekret Islamists and Al Quaida, we all know) report Gazans as “suffocating” under “horrific, inhumane conditions.”

    This is not an issue of whose God loves its chosen people more. This is about morality and humanity. If we want to keep tallies: 1,600 Gazans killed in 2009; 1,106 Lebanese killed in 2007…19 yesterday…

    I hope Amitav Ghosh thinks to donate some of his half-million prize towards food and education for Gazans. Otherwise, his stance against the Commonwealth prize is hypocritical posturing. His book In an Antique Land very clearly equates Zionism with European colonization…and here he is accepting half a million dollars from an institution started by one of the most brutal Zionists in Israel’s history, one who announced that Palestine was empty of people…while simultaneously agonizing over the Arab problem of Palestine.

  5. Good post, Taz. It is yet another instance of Israeli brutality directed against civilians who are protesting peacefully to bring attention to what is happening in Gaza. Remember Rachel Corrie?

    While watching the you tube clips, kudos to all those hundreds of people who stood in the line of fire on those flotillas. And, Say what you want, Al Jazeera may not be the unbiased objective news agency, but they have their reporters in the most dangerous parts of the world.

  6. To think that the Israeli people have forgotten their history, revisiting it only to inflict acts of terrorism against ghettoed civilians. Just deplorable.

  7. “This is shades of the Vanni Mercy Mission.”

    True. Although the ship was not attacked but escorted into Colombo Port and then turned away… the ship went to India was not allowed into Indian waters but finally the shipment was unloaded in Chennai and then sent to Colombo. I think the organisers of the ‘Vanni Mercy Mission’ were actually hoping for an Israeli-type response to use as propaganda.

  8. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue

    Let us see if India can follow continuing in this path to counter the terrorists & Naxals. Preaching is always easier than practicing.

  9. Let us see if India can follow continuing in this path to counter the terrorists & Naxals. Preaching is always easier than practicing.

    Didnt Chidambaram just start talks with the Maoists/naxals? I’d take that as “practicing”.

  10. How is this a “South Asian” issue?

    Or is this simply Sepia Mutiny deciding how South Asians should feel about this issue and giving us orders. I guess creating a “South Asian” identity is pretty comprehensive.

  11. Information on this incident is pretty spotty, having said that, the peace activists seemed pretty prepared with what they had, to take on the Israeli Navy boarding party. Watching the video of the incident, those guys fast roping down on the top deck of the were immediately surrounded and beat with clubs/sticks. International maritime law is kinda weird and not clear cut when it comes to Navies boarding ships in international waters. There are lots of drug/piracy interdiction missions on the open seas that fall into this grey zone as well.

    The fatalities COULD have been avoided if both, with hindsight being 20/20, the Israeli Navy and activists would have taken a different tact. The activists were pretty foolish to take on Israelis with clubs and sticks – that’s literally bringing a stick to a gunfight and not settling down an already edgy Israeli military. Israel could have used more standard non-lethal deterrents like tear gas to disperse the crowd. It’s ironic that a “peace activist” group looking at non-violent means to break the blockade, resorts to standard rioters tactics. On the flipside, Israeli Navy probably didn’t expect a violent response and immediately went “hot” once its personnel assumed the worse.

    To me (again, in lieu of an actual clean picture that’ll take some time to filter out), both sides were looking for a confrontation of some sorts. I’m sure both will be re-thinking their tactics and strategy, too. Activists have to be smarter and not put their fellow comrades at undue risk. If you want to peacefully break a blockade, turn the other cheek. If you’re planning on actually fighting the Israeli military, then it isn’t just “activism”. Israel should have known it was already dealing with a passionate group and instead of taking everything head on like it does, used other means avoiding the type of response it took.

  12. Thanks a lot for the post. Explains the whole situation beautifully. Although, I kind of like the Israelies but this time it is very clear that they are on the wrong side.

  13. How is this a “South Asian” issue?

    Because there are Muslims in “South Asia”. Kinda MKG and Khilafat redux I’d say.

    I guess creating a “South Asian” identity is pretty comprehensive.

    Well, Pakistan is a Middle Eastern/West Asian nation even though this blog includes under the “South Asia” umbrella it for convenience. But then reality intrudes every now and then.

  14. @Gujudude,

    Information is not spotty. The kind of information deluge you want is already there. The IDF spin machine has been working HARD for the past 24 hours, and the only people you will find on US MSM are Israeli mouthpieces. So if you are waiting for a clearer picture, don’t hold your breath, unless of course you mean you are looking only for the Israeli spin. In which case, you already know “the truth”.

    The activists were not well-prepared to take on the world’s third most powerful military force. Nobody looking for a fight goes to face Israel forces with wooden sticks. The activists fought back after the military rappelled in and started shooting.

    As usual, no independent government body nor any journalist is being allowed anywhere near Gaza — and certainly not inside Gaza. So all the “hard news” you can expect will be from Israeli spin-doctors. An about the independent inquiry? Israel has refused to allow any independent inquiry by an international body.

    So, don’t wait. Let me tell what the “truth” will be soon: 1. the Israeli commandos that rappelled onto the boats in early dawn surrounded by state-of-the-art Israel battle ships were expecting to be greeted with matzo balls and bagels. 1. The “peace activists” are Islamists who hate joos and want to destroy Israel (hence no offerings of bagels). 2. These peace activists were funded by Al Quaeda. In fact, hot damn, there were a few Al Quaeda operatives on the ships. 3. These peace activists are funded by Iran, which is another reason to bomb Iran 4. These peace activists were funded by Hamas and Hezbollah, and they were funded by Iran, and they were transporting uranium among used clothes. So, bomb Iran. 5..These activists were funded by Turkey’s terrorist Islamists, who have ties to Iran, which means: Bomb Iran.

    Basically, the “real story” consists of the buzz words Islamists, terrorists, bomb Iran, self-defense, right to defend, existential threats, anti-Semites, etc…

    And if you want more spin: 1.Gazans are not starving. They are enjoying camping outdoors in the lovely weather they are having. 2. Israel is benevolent and kind, even to those terr-rists who seek to destroy them. Hurr durr derp derp.

  15. @Neha

    Great post!

    Israel has no reason to exist in the middle east. It doesnt even have a reason to exist as a nation, because last I checked, having a religion did not grant you a country on land that you did not own.

    So, to recap history, the Jews left the middle-east/dead-sea and moved to Europe in search of money (oil wasn’t discovered yet I guess), then the Europeans got sick of being joo’d-out, and one guy started killing em en-mass. Then the Christians/Europeans got together and decided that the best way to get rid of the problem altogether is to shove them away in the middle-east, and told the Arabs, “here, now they’re your problem”.

    And Britain, the greatest colonial empire ever!, decided to split the Palestinian area(coz they didn’t have a flag!), so now we have “west bank” and “gaza strip”, two split parts of one-people, eerily similar to what the Brits did with east and west Pakistan. What is it with Britain shitting everywhere and not cleaning up before leaving?

    Eitherways, “chosen people” ? umm yea, jews are the embodiment of jesus, chosen to be persecuted/tortured and carry the sins of all humanity. Oh wait, the jews killed jesus, right?

    Gah!!!

  16. @Neha

    The media buzzwords will contain the word “Islamist” because there were islamists on board this propaganda expedition. This flotilla was less humanitarian and more of a political stunt, mostly by the turks.

  17. @16 Passerby,

    You are cute. patting your head

    You forgot to mention that in addition to Islamists, the flotilla included Hamas, the Iranian National Guard, anthrax, Hezbollah, mobile units of weapons of mass destruction, Taliban, Al Quaeda, a fully functioning nuclear warhead, men stoning helpless women, honor killing, burkas, Freedom-haters, and anti-Semites.

    1. teri_maa on June 2, 2010 2:54 AM

    So, to recap history, the Jews left the middle-east/dead-sea and moved to Europe in search of money (oil wasn’t discovered yet I guess), then the Europeans got sick of being joo’d-out, and one guy started killing em en-mass. Then the Christians/Europeans got together and decided that the best way to get rid of the problem altogether is to shove them away in the middle-east, and told the Arabs, “here, now they’re your problem”.

    If these are the comments being left by the anti-Israel people, I’m more then glad to show my support for the brave people of Israel in there struggle.

  18. Video evidence from Al Jazeera shows gunshots going off even after the boat raised the white flags.

    Yeah Al Jazeera has a history of being fair when it comes to any topic related to Israel!!!!!

  19. 19 · Suki Dillon on June 2, 2010 5:00 AM If these are the comments being left by the anti-Israel people, I’m more then glad to show my support for the brave people of Israel in there struggle.

    Dark humor is totally lost on you beta, unless by “brave people of Israel in there(sic) struggle” you meant to humor me in return.

  20. There are reports that militarty supplies were found on the vessel–bulletproof vests, night-vision goggles, and gas masks. If Israel didn’t stop this ship, then tons more weapons and equipment would start to flow into Gaza, and we know how that goes. Israel needs to defend itself against its enemies, which includes most of the Muslim world.

  21. There are reports that militarty supplies were found on the vessel–bulletproof vests, night-vision goggles, and gas masks. If Israel didn’t stop this ship, then tons more weapons and equipment would start to flow into Gaza, and we know how that > goes. Israel needs to defend itself against its enemies, which includes most of the Muslim world.

    There were no military supplies found (even according to Israeli authorities). They laid out the knives and things that the activists were using, but there were no vests/goggles/masks. Dont you think the activists would be stupid to bring so much awareness and light to their “freedom flotilla” if they were actually carrying weapons of destruction or anything contraband by Israel (which includes chocolate. Imagine that. No chocolate for Gaza kids!)

    Enlighten yourself : http://mondoweiss.net/2010/06/mystery-solved-flotilla-cargo-contents-revealed.html

  22. Israel has no reason to exist in the middle east. It doesnt even have a reason to exist as a nation, because last I checked, having a religion did not grant you a country on land that you did not own.

    This attitude is exactly what Israel is up against – people who want it wiped out of the face of the earth.

    Jews have ALWAYS been apart of the Middle East. Until Islam, Jews and Christian tribes lived in what today is Saudi Arabia. It is Muslim only now because it religiously cleansed of Jews, Christians, and Arab Pagans from the land. Jews have lived in many parts in the Middle East until they were made into refugees by their own countries – how is that for COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT! These refugees were taken in by Israel. One country taking in refugees from many other countries.

    How many Arab Muslim countries are there in the Middle East? How many of them took Arabs of Palestine and integrated them fully? One group of Arabs and multiple Arab Muslim countries and there is an Arab Palestinian problem? The one country that should have been able to have taken all the Arabs of the Palestine region is Jordan which is 100% created out of the Palestine region, which was created out of the majority of the entire Palestine region 75% of the whole region of Palestine, whose population is 3/4 Palestine Arab. http://www.mythsandfacts.org/conflict/mandate_for_palestine/mandate_for_palestine.htm Why didn’t this Arab Palestine country take in all its refugees? THERE ARE ALREADY 2 STATES created out of the Palestine region, and it was done in 1922. And the most generous amount of land -75% was given to the Arabs to create their own country. The difference is they don’t call it Palestine but Jordan.

    As for religious state – The one religion that 56 countries is ruled under despite there being people of other religions in them is Islam. Don’t you think those non-Muslim minority would like to live in a non-religious state? So don’t talk.

  23. No, suede here is a link to the military supplies that were found.

    I’m not quite inclined to believe the Jerusalem Post, considering their bias in this case. Here’s the flickr stream of http://www.freegaza.org, with pics of

    Paper from a city in Norway. http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza/4598807095/

    Wheelchairs http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza/4592045338/

    I’m totally ok if you think these are biased as well, so lets see if we can find Independent reports from an unbiased third-party that proves there were vests/masks.

    Are you sure these werent scuba masks (and not gas masks)? Floating vests (and not bullet-proof vests) ? Typical for a ship to have, right?

    It is absolutely clear that Israel as a nation is on a path of self-destruction. Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest thinkers of our times, thinks so. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCtYecGbQz8

  24. Let’s hear from the Middle East the purpose of this. This site translates Media coverage in the Arab and Muslim world into English. Here is an English translation of an interview done on Arabic TV: http://www.memri.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/239/0/2490.htm Those Islamists on the flotilla were chanting: “Khaybar Khaybar Oh Jews the Army of Muhammed will return.” Google what happened to the Khaybar Jews. This was not a non-violent group of activists. These were jihadists hoping for martyrdom in a confrontation with the Israelis (see the clip). Israel was set up. And they fell for it. They brought paint balls to a club and knife fight.

    Egypt – an ARAB MUSLIM country – also has a blockade against Gaza. Ever think of that? Looks like they don’t trust them either. If an Arab Muslim country is blocking Gaza for security reasons, is it any wonder that Israel needs to as well?

  25. This site translates Media coverage in the Arab and Muslim world into English.

    and on its board of Advisors ( http://www.memri.org/content/en/about.htm ) , I see Ehud Barak, Former Prime Minister of Israel , among other supposedly non-biased people.

    I’ll agree to your comment about “Israel was set up”. Yes it was. The activists were looking for media attention and they got it.

    On the flip side, if Israel would have said “thanks for the aid. We welcome it.”, this whole thing would have been a non-issue. yes?

  26. No, suede here is a link to the military supplies that were found.

    I’m not very inclined to believe “Jerusalem Post” as fair and un-biased.

    I’m quite certain that the “bullet-proof vests” they found were actually floating vests, and the gas-masks were scuba masks, which is typically found on a ship. Again, they’re just trying to spin this and create fear among Israelis and their supporters. Fear is a powerful tool, commonly used by governments to control people and public opinion.

    Here’s Noam Chomsky’s general opinion regarding Israel ( from an old video interview). You should try to understand what he is saying because there’s a lot of intellectual truth in what he says. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCtYecGbQz8

  27. Israel allows aid. It asked for the ship to land in Israel so they could search the items first. The boat refused saying it only will stop in Gaza. So it would have been a non-issue if it were not for them, the Islamists looking for a fight and exactly the coverage they wanted. They would not have gotten this publicity now would they. This is a flotilla – there were five to six ships. No problems on the other ships. One only:

    “The flotilla was “fully prepared for the different scenarios” that might arise, and organizers were hopeful that Israeli authorities would “do what’s right” and not stop the convoy, she said.

    “We fully intend to go to Gaza regardless of any intimidation or threats of violence against us,” she said. “They are going to have to forcefully stop us.”

    After nightfall Sunday, three Israeli navy missile boats left their base in Haifa, steaming out to sea to confront the activists’ ships.

    Two hours later, Israel Radio broadcast a recording of one of the missile boats warning the flotilla not to approach Gaza.

    “If you ignore this order and enter the blockaded area, the Israeli navy will be forced to take all the necessary measures in order to enforce this blockade,” the radio message continued.

    The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported that the ships changed course to try to avoid a nighttime confrontation, preferring a daylight showdown for better publicity.

    The flotilla, which includes three cargo ships and three passenger ships, is trying to draw attention to Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. The boats are carrying items that Israel bars from reaching Gaza, like cement and other building materials. The activists said they also were carrying hundreds of electric-powered wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.

    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that after a security check, permitted humanitarian aid confiscated from the boats will be transferred to Gaza through authorized channels. However, Israel would not transfer items it has banned from Gaza under its blockade rules. Palmor said that for example, cement would be allowed only if it is tied to a specific project.

    This is the ninth time that the Free Gaza movement has tried to ship in humanitarian aid to Gaza since August 2008. Israel has let ships through five times, but has blocked them from entering Gaza waters since a three-week military offensive against Gaza’s Hamas rulers in January 2009. The flotilla bound for Gaza is the largest to date.http://cbs5.com/national/israel.ship.attack.2.1724166.html

  28. @Nitin

    you’re saying that : 1. It is ok for one nation to blockade another and even prevent humanitarian aid through (letting only 1/4th of what is needed http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10195838.stm last line “But the UN says this is less than a quarter of what is needed“) 2. It is ok for a nation to enter international waters and board a ship by force

    If so, this discussion is over, since I don’t have the patience to argue with you.

  29. this is a tough one Taz, it is a big fight between some mediterranean groups over identity and land and so on. It combines so many facets that it makes the head spin, revival of ancient middle-eastern culture (jews) as a nation (israel) , colonialism (role of european powers in creating israel), arab feeling of supremacy (arab rejection of israel), palestinian suffering (israel use of force), cold war (1950-80), terrorism (killing of isreali civilians), and on and on and on.

    Another commment I would make about your examples from south asia is that there are a different set of constraints operating there. Identities are yet not so hardened – india continues to have a significant islamic culture and minority – and to some extent the same applies in bangladesh for hindus. Only in pakistan do we see a similar hardening of identity – maybe the case can be made that the Babri Masjid movement in India had a similar goal. But the latter didnt achieve most of its goals in india…

  30. @ Neha

    Actually, information IS spotty for the very reason that emotions are pretty amped up right now and the fact that there is massive spin, from Israel and her detractors. The information deluge does not equal a cohesive narrative. I think the BBC did a decent job of capturing thoughts of some of the activists on board, an Israeli journalist with the Israeli Navy, and tyring to piece together this thing. If one looks at accuracy with regards to journalistic reporting, it tends to improve as you give it more time. The first bits and pieces coming out are always scattered or there is too much information with lots of noise that doesn’t lend it self to quality reporting. I’m not going to engage in snark, because it really doesn’t help move any conversations forward here. I try my best to write on the internet as I would discuss issues with people face to face.

    I think there should be amendments to how the Israeli-Egyptian (Egypt has temporarily opened its border) blockade will be enforced, particulary with regards to allowing humanitarian aid. Probably will come to to some agreement where aid will be escorted by neutral groups under international inspections.

  31. I’m glad Nitin has put in some truthful comments.

    The comments about Israel not existing is ridiculous. Jews have been in the Middle East forever. And like most other nonMuslim minorities, had, what to us would be considered second class or third class rights.

    So what if people left the Mid East and moved to Poland, where the king gave them more rights, than the Muslim rulers of so many middle eastern countries. That comment about Jews having no place in the middle east is disgusting. It’s unfortunate that the muslim governments, kingdoms have treated other indigenous groups, like Jewish middle easterns as nothing.

    None of us living in the West, or India would put up with this treatment. I’m waiting to hear more about what exactly went on.

    Right now the protesters were attacking soilders and a bat and pipe and knife can easily kill. If the soldiers were defending themselves than the protesters should only blame themselves.

  32. @ Taz Aapaa

    plz explain ..before u delete/edit a comment…

    where did u disagree with me…

  33. Taz may not have deleted your comment; all of us chip in on moderating threads.

    We are deleting comments that use stereotypical language or that express religious chauvinism (either anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim). We are also deleting ad hominem, “flame war” type comments directed against other commenters. We may also delete comments that express really extreme points of view without substantiation, as they might lead to thread-jacking.

  34. This flotilla was less humanitarian and more of a political stunt, mostly by the turks.

    Perhaps so, but it was executed perfectly and exposed the IDF/Cheil Hayam for the war criminals that they are. Worldwide attention has been drawn to medinat Israel’s atrocities and the fact that they will commit any number of crimes in anyone’s front yard to remove their perceived enemies (Dubai, anyone?).

    In short, Medinat Israel is doing a fantastic job of digging its own grave. I only shudder at the thought of who all they will try to take with them to the grave.

  35. Israel circle-jerk over the idea of pre-emptive attacks on Iran. http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=176835

    And to think that I hear about this from foreign press and absolutely no US media coverage (et tu fox?) Maybe its just fake propaganda, but I love the sensible “sponsored comment” from an Iranian below the article.

    On another take, When oil runs out from the middle-east, what would happen? Will US continue supporting Israel ? Will there finally be peace or chaos?

  36. That comment about Jews having no place in the middle east is disgusting. It’s unfortunate that the muslim governments, kingdoms have treated other indigenous groups, like Jewish middle easterns as nothing.

    I’m not sure of the nature of that comment (could well be genuine anti-semitism); but the Babylonian Talmud clearly states that the forceful recapture of the land of Israel is a violation of divine will and that Jews are to live in accordance of the laws of their adopted lands. Thus, a State of Israel is anathema to (Talmudic) Jewish identity. Of course, not all Jews are talmudic or even religious, so it’s a bit of a moot point where modern politics are concerned.

    Also, the muslim Ottoman kingdom provided a decent quality of life to citizen Jews. Muslims aren’t entirely antagonistic to Jews.

  37. SM Intern: Can you please delete teri maa’s comments and all comments that respond to her? She is just trying put on black face, if you will, and pretend to be Muslim and turn this into a supposed existential crisis issue by spouting off nonsense.

    This thread is about Israel needing to protect itself against…mounds of used clothing and pokeman toys…by murdering humanitarians. This thread is also about how Israel thinks Hamas is MacGuyver and can fashion bombs out of fruit preserves. chocolate, and paper. I hear Hamas can fashion a mean missile out of cardamom and goat marinated in cumin paste.

  38. Suede,

    Don’t expect any coverage on truth from U.S. media. Check out the video Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land on YouTube for an insight into U.S. media. Even AIPAC has Obambi by the balls and bent over.

    NYTimes is featuring a “researched article” (aka handed over to NYTimes by IDF) about how the flotilla is funded by Islamists. They will throw whatever they can to see if something sticks.The Atlantic has comments posted by “journalists” who are pretty much Netanyahu’s mouthpieces for US media.

    On the other hand, Glenn Greenwald is worth reading over at salon.com He is fantastic. Also check out Alternet.org and Truthout and DemocracyNow for real journalism from real U.S. journalists, not the IDF echoers.

  39. I’m going to go out on a limb and post a really large comment, most of which is quoted from a speech (props for guessing the author)

    On the 11th of September 1922, ignoring Arab outrage, the British government proclaimed a mandate in Palestine, a follow-up to the 1917 Balfour Declaration which imperial Britain issued, with its army massed outside the gates of Gaza. The Balfour Declaration promised European Zionists a national home for Jewish people. (At the time, the Empire on which the Sun Never Set was free to snatch and bequeath national homes like a school bully distributes marbles.)
    In 1937, Winston Churchill said of the Palestinians, I quote, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”

    (Churchill has also said “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”, and these aren’t even his witty quotes. More choicest quotes at my post http://rakshan.blogspot.com/2009/05/winston-churchills-infamous-quotes.html)

    That set the trend for the Israeli State’s attitude towards the Palestinians. In 1969, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “Palestinians do not exist.” Her successor, Prime Minister Levi Eschol said, “What are Palestinians? When I came here (to Palestine), there were 250,000 non-Jews, mainly Arabs and Bedouins. It was a desert, more than underdeveloped. Nothing.” Prime Minister Menachem Begin called Palestinians “two-legged beasts.” Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir called them “grasshoppers” who could be crushed. This is the language of Heads of State, not the words of ordinary people.
    Over the decades there have been uprisings, wars, intifadas. Tens of thousands have lost their lives. Accords and treaties have been signed. Cease-fires declared and violated. But the bloodshed doesn’t end. Palestine still remains illegally occupied. Its people live in inhuman conditions, in virtual Bantustans, where they are subjected to collective punishments, twenty-four hour curfews, where they are humiliated and brutalized on a daily basis. They never know when their homes will be demolished, when their children will be shot, when their precious trees will be cut, when their roads will be closed, when they will be allowed to walk down to the market to buy food and medicine. And when they will not. They live with no semblance of dignity. With not much hope in sight. They have no control over their lands, their security, their movement, their communication, their water supply. So when accords are signed, and words like “autonomy” and even “statehood” bandied about, it’s always worth asking: What sort of autonomy? What sort of State? What sort of rights will its citizens have?
    What lessons should we draw from this tragic conflict? Is it really impossible for Jewish people who suffered so cruelly themselves – more cruelly perhaps than any other people in history – to understand the vulnerability and the yearning of those whom they have displaced? Does extreme suffering always kindle cruelty?
    Is there some advice the world can give the people of Palestine? Should they just take Golda Meir’s suggestion and make a real effort not to exist?
  40. As a South Asian blog by ABDs, I don’t think Israel-Palestine issues belong on this board. For a piddly population smaller than Bombay, Chennai, Delhi or Calcutta, they get way more coverage than India with more than a billion people, in multiple forums and platforms. They and we don’t need Sepia Mutiny to add to the noise. Just my 2 cents.

  41. I was sent this email which makes a great point about the double standard in the outrage in the islamic world.

    Those condemning the attack (Muslims for the most part) across Europe and North America geared up in large numbers, mobilizing over the deaths of anywhere from 9 to 19 activists (whether or not they were peaceful depends on which side of the fence you’re on.)

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations even issued a statement asking Obama to condemn the attack.

    Now jump from the Promised Land to Pakistan—where another 12 doctors, patients, nurses and security guards where killed after gunmen stormed the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore—the same hospital where many victims of the twin Ahmadiyya Mosque attacks were brought.

    All this just a couple of days after 93 Ahmadi-Muslims were shot or bombed to death by raging Islamic fanatics who felt killing the prayer-goers during the Jummah (Friday) Prayers would give them room in heaven.

    Yet, not a sound from the Islamic ‘Ummah’—not a peep from CAIR nor any protests from the self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ Muslims. I am still waiting for a sheikh or Imam with enough dignity to condemn these attacks.

    But you won’t hear it.

  42. Yet, not a sound from the Islamic ‘Ummah’—not a peep from CAIR nor any protests from the self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ Muslims

    i assume you also condemn aipac for not just ignoring the victims of the flotilla attack, but actually condoning and boosting israel’s right to murder unarmed folks on the boat?

    btw, cair’s agenda is american-islamic relations, and israel’s actions are deeply intertwined with the extent of american and intl support, so it makes sense to speak out about this, but not the ahmaddiya massacre in pakistan which has little to do with american policy.

  43. As a South Asian blog by ABDs, I don’t think Israel-Palestine issues belong on this board. For a piddly population smaller than Bombay, Chennai, Delhi or Calcutta, they get way more coverage than India with more than a billion people, in multiple forums and platforms. They and we don’t need Sepia Mutiny to add to the noise. Just my 2 cents.

    hear, hear

  44. @ Neha,

    Yeah, I’m not expecting NBC/CBS or any local station to deliver real news that I’d be interested in. Its times like these that make me appreciate the democratizing power that the Internet brings to News Media.

    I’m apalled that the Rachel Corrie incident didn’t create any outrage in the US (or perhaps I was not paying attention in 2003). Reminds me of the tank-man of Tiananmen. Israel has also attacked the USS Liberty, a neutral ship, in International waters in 1967, on no provocation (and the US was a supporter since 1948).

    Israel as a nation, has a psychological sickness, not unlike N. Korea. Its “need for recognition and approval” and paranoia is quite sad.

  45. NYTimes is featuring a “researched article” (aka handed over to NYTimes by IDF) about how the flotilla is funded by Islamists. They will throw whatever they can to see if something sticks

    “This is an Islamist charity, quite fundamentalist, quite close to Hamas,” said Henri J. Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University. “They say they do charity work, but they’ve been accused of gunrunning and other things, and their rhetoric has been inflammatory against Israel and sometimes against Jews.”

    http://www.carnegieendowment.org/experts/index.cfm?fa=expert_view&expert_id=400

  46. @ Manju,

    Dig a little more.

    Henry Barkey is a former State Department official who has received funding from neocons over the years. He is a joke, and like most career politicians on the pro-Israel/AIPAC feed is now moving into “education.”

    He’s a hack. Just like Richard Pearle and his ilk.