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Jun 04 2010

Update on the Gaza aid flotilla attack

More news about what happened on the aid boats that were attacked by Israel is emerging even though, as Stephen Zunes describes, Israel tries to prevent the release of any information that they have not filtered:

The Israelis confiscated all of the passengers’ cameras, laptops, cell phones, and other personal devices. The world, therefore, can only see some carefully edited versions from cameramen that accompanied the Israeli commandos. What won’t be seen, for example, will be the accounts of eyewitnesses of commandos with stun guns assaulting passengers who nonviolently formed a ring around the ship’s bridge, the savage beatings of elderly pacifists as they lay on the ground, and other acts of excessive violence.

An Al-Jazeera reporter who was on board one of the ships gives an eyewitness account of what happened during the assault, and of his detention. Other reporters are still being held, as are their laptops, cameras and cell-phones and those of their passengers.

Here is another harrowing account by a survivor. More stories will inevitably start to come out and the rest of the world will see and hear them in great detail, even if people in the US and Israel hear mainly the Israeli version of events. And because of this ignorance, when the next attack on Americans comes as a result of some person seeking revenge, people will be puzzled and wonder “Why do they hate us? It must be because of our liberal values.”

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read update on the attack on the flotilla (with important links to the news dribbling out about what happened on the boats) that says that one of the nine dead was a 19-year old American who had four bullets to the head and one to the chest. The US response? “State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the U.S. has made no decision on a response to Dogan’s death.” Of course. Since he, like Rachel Corrie and the sailors on the USS Liberty, was killed by Israeli forces, his death obviously doesn’t count since clearly Israel is the one country in the world that has been given the green light by the US to kill Americans.

As Justin Raimondo says:

The reason for this peculiar passivity is because, contra Hillary, protecting the welfare of American citizens is not considered a fundamental responsibility of our government insofar as it means protecting their welfare against the government of Israel. In any conflict between American and Israeli interests, Washington’s instinctive response is to uphold the latter and ignore the former.

An American is killed as heavily armed soldiers of a foreign nation board a ship in international waters, firing live ammunition at the passengers as they rappel onto the deck. Among those passengers: a former US ambassador, a former US colonel and Pentagon official, several members of the European parliament, a member of the Israeli Knesset, and members of parliament from several Arab countries.

This was no “accident.” The Israeli government knew precisely what it was doing, it knew there were Americans on those ships, and chose to go in guns blazing: it was the equivalent of spitting in Uncle Sam’s face.
After all, how dare those Americans try to freeze the building of settlements in what is “Greater Israel”? How dare Obama tell us what we can and cannot do?! We’ll show them! Let’s kill a few. Don’t worry – they won’t retaliate. We own them: and they know it.

In view of the Obama administration’s shameful crawling, one can hardly disagree.

Greenwald also has a scathing attack on the tribal mindset that permeates the thinking of so many people that causes them to abandon commitment to any principles as soon as ‘my’ side is criticized. He lists many Democratic politicians, usually progressive on many issues, who are prisoners of this tribal mindset and vice president Joe Biden has to be added to that list since he too speaks approvingly of the attack on the flotilla. Robert Scheer talks about his own experience at the receiving end of this tribal thinking when he dared to criticize Israel’s actions in the past.

Greenwald has a great quote by Noam Chomsky where he elaborates on how oppressor countries create a narrative in which they are the victims in order to justify their actions.

In one of his many speeches, to U.S. troops in Vietnam, [Lyndon] Johnson said plaintively, “There are three billion people in the world and we have only two hundred million of them. We are outnumbered fifteen to one. If might did make right they would sweep over the United States and take what we have. We have what they want.” That is a constant refrain of imperialism. You have your jackboot on someone’s neck and they’re about to destroy you.

The same is true with any form of oppression. And it’s psychologically understandable. If you’re crushing and destroying someone, you have to have a reason for it, and it can’t be, “I’m a murderous monster.” It has to be self-defense. “I’m protecting myself against them. Look what they’re doing to me.” Oppression gets psychologically inverted; the oppressor is the victim who is defending himself.

Journalist Jeremy Scahill effectively debunks the pro-Israeli propaganda advanced by the former mayor of New York Ed Koch who, as usual, tries to divert the discussion into all manner of side issues.

Raimondo makes the comparison that should obviously occur to anyone: “Imagine if Iran had done this. Washington would have reverberated with the sound of thunder emanating from the White House, and the attack fleet would already be steaming toward the Gulf, taking up position. That the culprit was Israel, however, puts a whole different face on the matter, at least as far as our government is concerned: they’re content to let the Israelis “investigate,” and let the matter drop.”

One wonders is there is any action at all that Israel can take that would elicit criticisms from its supporters in the US.

POST SCRIPT: The Daily Show‘s view

Jon Stewart tries to salvage some grim humor from the tragedy of the flotilla and the plight of Gazans.

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