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The Flotilla Massacre: Historical Perspective, Aftermath and Implications
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
Israel's history has been bloodstained, barbarous, and out-of-control – and for most of it generously funded and heavily armed with the latest weapons by the U.S. to reign terror on the region and Palestine. Early on, Israel was a regional menace. It's now a global one, posing a grave threat to world peace and stability.
During the Mandate period and throughout its existence, Israel's history has been bloodstained, barbarous, and out-of-control - and for most of it generously funded and heavily armed with the latest weapons and technology by its Washington paymaster/partner to reign terror on the region and Palestine. Early on, Israel was a regional menace. It's now a global one, posing a grave threat to world peace and stability.
The Flotilla attack was just the latest among its thousands of other atrocities, large and small, including preemptive wars, smaller incursions, bombings, killings including targeted assassinations, torture as official policy, and numerous other crimes against humanity as advocated by early leaders like David Ben-Gurion (Israel's first prime minister) saying:
Or former IDF Chief of Staff Raphael Eitan (1978 - 1983) saying:
Or the secret (1976 published) Koenig Report saying:
Or Benjamin Netanyahu, as Deputy Foreign Minister, saying "Israel should have exploited the (1989 Tiananmen Square violence), when world attention focused on (China), to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories."
Little wonder why Israel's history is so bloodstained, some notable examples below:
And now the Flotilla massacre, Israel's latest crime against humanity, enraging millions worldwide, getting Turkey and South Africa to recall their ambassadors, Nicaragua to downgrade diplomatically to a consular level, and several other countries to consider their own measures.
Qatar announced it will pay to take Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and will fund a worldwide media campaign on the incident and Gaza siege.
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News.com) reported that the Egyptian Bar Association is collecting material to file an ICJ suit, its chairman, Hamdi Alifa, saying they're being reviewed to file "giant lawsuits" against Israeli crimes, including the Flotilla attack and Gaza siege.
Haaretz reported that Swedish dock workers will blockade Israeli ships from June 15 - 24. Norway announced it cancelled a scheduled special operations seminar because its Defense Ministry objected to an Israeli officer's participation. In Bournemouth, England (with a large Jewish population and Jewish mayor), people demanded cutting city relations with Netanyahu.
The French operator Utopia said it won't screen the Israeli-made film, "Five Hours From Paris." Israel flags were publicly burned in many cities. New Delhi Muslims demanded their government sever ties with Israel. The BBC reported that 200 or more in Belfast protested the Rachel Corrie seizure, five days after the Flotilla massacre.
Ynet News.com reported that President Shimon Peres will likely cancel a scheduled Asia trip, because he's supremely unwelcome, and longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas said Israeli Jews should return to Germany, Poland, and America, prompting B'nai B'rith's international VP Daniel Mariaschin to say:
On June 7, Haaretz reported that a Knesset panel voted 7 - 1 to "strip Balad (Party) MK Hanin Zuabi (an Israeli citizen) of privileges over (her) Gaza flotilla participation."
In a same day op-ed piece, Haaretz's Ruth Gavison called measures to "limit dissent and protest" dangerous by "enforc(ing) the platforms of those who claim Israel is becoming a belligerent country that belittles democracy and human rights."
In fact, throughout its history, Israel has always been belligerent, and has never respected democracy, human rights, or the rule of law.
Global Outrage - Resonating and Growing
After the massacre, world protests erupted, including in many US cities - among them:
New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC in front of the White House, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Boston, Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Atlanta, Tampa, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Charlotte, Raleigh, Knoxville, Fresno, Dearborn, Denver, Sioux Falls, Fort Wayne, Fayetteville, Portland, Boise, and Seattle.
US major media reports ignored them, but aired Israeli propaganda blaming the victims, calling them terrorists, and claiming the Netanyahu government acted responsibly to prevent "pro-Palestinian radicals, jihadists" from smuggling in arms to Hamas - Palestine's legitimate government, falsely called a terrorist organization to justify premeditated murder, a suffocating siege, claiming they're for self-defense, another refuge for scoundrels caught red-handed as evidenced by the worldwide outrage.
On May 31, Al Jazeera headlined what millions around the world feel: "Global outrage over Israeli attack" - condemnation from high officials to street anger everywhere, Hamas leader Ismail Haniya proclaiming May 31 "freedom day" in calling on Palestinians throughout Gaza and the West Bank "to carry out a total strike (throughout the Territories) to show solidarity (against) Israeli crimes."
Longtime Palestinian supporter, Hugo Chavez, expressed condolences to the families and friends of the "heros who were victims of this crime," calling on "those responsible for the murders (to) be severely punished."
In early 2009, over Cast Lead atrocities, Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Israel and hasn't restored them.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly condemned Israel's attack as "despicably cowardly, brazen, reckless, and vicious - against international law, against the heart of humanity, against world peace," referring to the massacre as an "abhorrent terrorist attack" against a humanitarian mission in international waters.
He recalled his ambassador, cancelled three jointly scheduled military operations, called for an emergency Security Council meeting, asked for immediate international community action, and said "Everything has a price. And this government will have to pay (it)."
Aside from its latest appalling crime, a litany of explanatory lies, and a common street thug as prime minister, Israel and America (its paymaster/partner in all belligerent acts) have a whopping PR disaster on their hands, given world outrage resonating to top officials who must answer to their own constituencies.
Moreover, the Netanyahu government's farcical justification compounds its untenable position. Obama's indifference and Security Council obstructionism exposes his, along with outrageous congressional comments. These people can't even lie well, or perhaps as automatically count on reliable allies ahead, getting fed up with ones more an albatross.
Objectives of Both Sides
Flotilla planners' clear agenda included:
On the pretext of blocking the entry of weapons, Israel carried out a premeditated, carefully planned and rehearsed military operation, designed to commit murder and mass casualties against unarmed civilians, even announcing it in Maariv, one of Israel's leading dailies, days in advance, the caption reading:
"On the way to violence, one of the boats is on its way," suggesting a kill-or-be-killed encounter with "terrorists."
Israel's plan had specific objectives:
On June 5, the UK Independent's Catrina Stewart reported an interview with Jamal Elshayyal, one of eight Al Jazeera on board reporters, seven on the Mavi Marmara, saying passengers found on Israeli commandos a list of names and photos, Alshayyal telling Stewart:
Autopsy reports show Flotilla members were shot multiple times at close range, two or more in the head, indicating murder, not self-defense as Israel claims.
The Israeli Project produces pro-Israeli propaganda, claiming it's information is accurate, unbiased, and "not related to any government or government agency."
In its post-Flotilla attack conference call, Rep. Brad Sherman (D. CA) accused Flotilla activists of aiding Hamas in violation of US law, then called on US Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute US participants on terrorist charges, saying:
Sherman, a so-called "liberal" Democrat, supports the most extremist elements of Israel's government, Netanyahu and Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman among them, notorious sponsors of state-terrorism.
The entire Senate and most House members also back Israel's belligerence and broader objective to destroy PA authority to subjugate all Palestine - by ruthless attacks against civilians, considered legitimate targets to weaken their will to resist through mass slaughter, other atrocities, and numerous other abuses.
Cast Lead did it horrifically, the Flotilla slaughter just the latest example of how far Israel will go - with Washington's full support through generous funding, the latest weapons and technology, and use of its Security Council pressure and veto.
Stratfor Global Intelligence on the Flotilla Massacre
Providing information and insights to world decision-makers, Stratfor's CEO George Friedman examined the effect of Israel's attack, calling it "unprecedented in size" for an assault of this kind, citing three factors differentiating it:
In addition, because of Israel's "direct action, a web of international relationships will be affected," and Turkey can leverage the incident by "providing military escorts (for) future aid flotillas that could increase in size" and further heighten tensions if Israeli recklessness continues.
Already, Middle East instability has increased, "the last thing" America needs with more than enough on its plate. In addition, Washington-Tel Aviv relations are affected, at least overtly as well as Israel's Western and regional relationships. Fumbling a "military action against a civilian convoy....is something that works directly against American policies."
Given what's happened and world outrage, "the issue has....shifted from a military question to a political one." Key ahead is how Israel, Washington and Ankara will react, besides the potential effect on other world governments, given growing demands for accountability and mass public calls for action.
Friedman discounts the idea that the commandos used "paintballs" in the attack, calling them "training rounds" not likely to be used during a mission of this sort, especially on a ship with over 600 activists. Claiming it flies in the face of up to 20 killed and many more wounded, Friedman added:
Israel's Shayetet 13 force is an elite Naval Special Forces unit, specializing in sea-to-land incursions, assassinations, counterterrorism, sabotage, and other belligerent acts - not crowd control, "so a civilian opposition would not necessarily be their area of expertise," a mission Israeli police could have handled.
Friedman omitted what Today's Zaman reported (an English language Turkish daily) on June 7, stating:
The paper's photographer, Kursat Bayhan, was on the Mavi Marmara and related his "30 hours in cell number 5202" in Beer-Sheva Prison. All their belongings were taken. They were body-searched, handcuffed, photographed, forced to sign a document saying they weren't harmed, those requesting return of their luggage and passports then beaten, how Israel treats virtually all detainees.
Fallout from the Flotilla Massacre
Joshua Landis is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and Professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. On his June 1 web site posting, Syria Comment, he headlined, "Israel Pays High Price for Attack on Turkish Flotilla with Aid for Gaza," saying the damage is mounting:
On May 31 in Foreign Policy, Professor Stephen Walt headlined "Israel's latest brutal blunder," saying:
Importantly, the Flotilla attack "poses a broader threat to US national interests" because the world associates Israel's actions with Washington, given the "unbreakable bonds" between them. It's clear that "the special relationship with Israel has become a net liability." Tel Aviv portraying itself as a blameless victim is wearing thin, a shameless canard, increasingly likely ahead to fall on deaf ears.
On January 19, 2009, after Cast Lead, Walt addressed "The Myth of Israel's strategic genius," saying:
The record shows otherwise. Israel's military victories are often strategic failures, showing it's expert only at shooting itself in the foot, so far at least without consequences, but for how long.
According to noted Israeli supporter Leon Wieseltier, its settlements project was another "moral and strategic blunder of historic proportions," one, in fact, "never openly debated within the Israeli body politic," but taken behind closed doors.
For decades, Israel has stumbled from one strategic blunder to another, showing there's "no reason to think (it) possesses uniquely gifted strategists or a national security establishment that consistently makes smart and far-sighted choices."
Yet remarkably, some of its most incompetent leaders, including Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon, and Netanyahu are rewarded with new chances to repeat mistakes, perhaps because of Washington's unflagging support, but for how long, given the price America pays for damaged goods, compounding its own appalling record abroad and at home with a shelf life of definite limits and an ability to preserve it running out of cash.
Perhaps also its willingness to stick with a dubious partner, the same problem Washington faces with allies, sooner or later to get fed up and walk away, cutting their losses to advantage their own futures. The same ones Americans should consider for their own welfare, and assess how far they'll go to defend it.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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