Israel Fail

Israel, Israel, Israel. WTF. I’ve already had a lovely and lively discussion about the Gaza flotilla episode with some of my wonderful Israeli friends. The conversation prompted me write out my thoughts on the matter and clarify what I was trying to convey.

First, this situation does not have anything to do with my feelings toward Israel, its legitimacy, or anything of that nature. That’s a whole different post. This post is all about how stupid the Israeli government is and how poorly this situation was handled. It’s also about why I’m angry as an American, as we support Israel diplomatically, militarily, and economically. When they do stupid things, it makes us look stupid. Also, as a side note, stop playing games with us. Don’t lie about knowing about building settlements, you just look stupid. Also, let Noam Chomsky in when he comes to visit. Once again, you look stupid when you stop letting people in based on their viewpoints. You’re supposed to be a democracy; act like one.

That being said, let’s get to the facts here. First, here’s some brief background information on the situation. The Gaza Strip is a small piece of land (a little bigger than Brooklyn) within Israel that is not controlled by Israel, but rather the Hamas run government. However, Israel does controls most of Gaza’s borders (with the exception of its border with Egypt. Egypt also dislikes Hamas.), it’s waters, and it’s airspace. This pretty much puts the Gaza Strip into a little bubble that is very hard to enter/exit. Hamas has a nasty habit of launching weapons at Israel from within Gaza, and since there are no weapons plants within the territory, it’s obvious that they are coming from somewhere else. Also, Israel is very concerned with Hamas utilizing just about any materials for the wrong reason, and so they’ve banned items such as concrete from entering the territory (building materials were being used to construct underground smuggling tunnels). Hamas argues that it needs these building materials to repair Gaza after the 2008-2009 war it had with Israel as well as just for general building.

Enter the “Free Gaza Movement” which claims to be a humanitarian aid movement designed to bring aid to Gaza. They have a number of famous members such as Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire and Mairead Corrigan, Desmond Tutu, and Tony Blair’s sister-in-law. The Free Gaza Movement has landed a few times in Gaza successfully (August and October 2008, and then in June 2009). In June 2009 the Israelis had inspected the supplies that the boat was carrying, approved them and then delivered the goods to Gaza themselves (or so they say).

In May 2010, the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) attempted another trip to Gaza to deliver 20 million dollars worth of aid (including building materials such as concrete). Several vessels with a wide range of flags (American, Turkish, Greek, and more) left Istabul with over 600 people including a member of the Knesset, and Mairead Corrigan. On May 30, the Israeli Navy flanked the head ship, the Mavi Marmara with two boats and a helicopter and warned them that they are getting close to Gaza (40 miles from the Gazan shore and 28 miles deep in international waters) and to turn back or they can bring their aid supplies through Israeli checkpoints on land if they want. The FGM refused, and Israeli troops boarded the ships. Details at this point are controversial so I’m not going to state anything. The Israeli navy and government state that the activists/terrorists had  pistols and knives and tried to fight. The boaters deny this. In the end 9 members of the FGM were killed including an American citizen who was shot 4 times in the head and once in the chest. 34 other FGMers were hospitalized. The Israeli government states that 10 solders were injured including two gunshot wounds. Israel has stated that it will conduct it’s own investigation of the incident and international observers are welcome to watch but will not be allowed to conduct their own investigation.

Most recently, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to explore “creative solutions” to facilitate the flow of good[s] into Gaza.”

That’s the nuts and bolts of the situation in 3 short paragraphs. Of course there are a billion details to this, and most we probably won’t ever know. I have several problems with this situation, but they do not include Israel’s blockade of Gaza. If Israel wants to block Gaza’s borders, then go ahead. I think that is completely reasonable. Hamas is a danger to Israel and Israel should do everything possible to protect itself. What is ridiculous is the way the Israelis carried out this operation. First, as soon as the FGM boats cross into Gazan waters, then warn them and sink their ships if they don’t turn around. Do whatever you want, but not in international waters. They weren’t breaking any laws at that time. Preemptive strike on a bunch of Nobel Prize winners? Come on….

Furthermore, where are these guns and weapons that the Israelis found? The photo they released has about 20 knives and some wooden dowels. I have more knives in my apartment (except for that big badass one in the middle. Jeez, what’s that for? Slaying dragons?). Also, did they just happen to be piled nicely on that Arabic cloth? Is that supposed to make some connection in our mind (knives+Islam!). Any of these items would be on a ship anyway. Does the Israeli government really think 600 activists were planning on fighting their way to Gaza with 20 knives and some wooden sticks? Also, where’s that gun that the Israelis said was on the boat? The people aboard said there was absolutely no gun as they were all x-rayed before boarding the ship in Turkey.

Next: they killed an American citizen! We should be fuming! Not only killed him but murdered him. He was shot 4 times in the head and once in the stomach. That doesn’t seem like it was a act in defense. You killed an American citizen and now we, the United States, are going to conduct our own investigation (we’ll probably end up paying for the one you do anyway). The facts aren’t adding up and I’m pissed.

Turkey, who is Israel’s closest Islamic “friend” is pissed as hell. They said the next time a FGM boat goes out, it’s going with a couple Turkish frigates to watch over it. Nice. Israel also pissed off everyone else. Egypt was so angry that it opened its border with Gaza for the first time in a year and a half. Everyone from the Iran to the United States agrees that Israel acted completely ridiculous and should apologize. Israel refuses to apologize for this and continues to state that they were well within their legal rights, which is BS. The “Law of the Seas” which has roots back to Wilson’s 14 points, demands a freedom of navigation. That’s why we fuck up pirates when they get involved in any country’s business.

On the plus side, Netanyahu has agreed to review the Gaza blockade policy and possibly make revisions. This really doesn’t make up for the fact that Israelis killed a bunch of activists. No apology and I can’t wait to see what this revised policy looks like. I’m guessing a whole lot of nothing and we’ll just keep delaying it until the world press finds something else interesting to concentrate on.

On a side note, Israel has one prominent supporter for its actions, the accredited international law authority and astronaut, Sarah Palin: http://www.newser.com/story/90905/sarah-palin-let-israel-know-we-stand-with-them.html


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