Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Israel's psychopathic state

Nothing, it seems, is beyond the limits of wilful Israeli murder and aggression.

Having tracked the looming possibility that Israel would attack the Gaza aid Flotilla, it still comes as a shock to hear of the actual callous, pre-determined violence that has been unleashed.

May I extend my deepest sympathies to the victims' families and solidarity with the convoy activists.

What kind of extraordinary, arrogant power is Israel being permitted to wield?

Precisely similar to Cast Lead, and the pre-planned murder of over 1400 Palestinians, this cabinet-approved operation was intended to send out the strongest of messages to anyone standing in Israel's way: we can, and will, kill you.

It's not just a question any more of Israel acting with impunity. This is naked, raw violence, politically-conceived, militarily-executed and calculatingly-intended to terrorise Israel's opponents into dutiful submission. It's saying: 'don't even think about sending any more of your convoys.'

But there's something else, something even more disturbing, lurking beneath this deterrent message: Israel's dark, indulgent pride in its free-roaming ability to enact human execution. In short, the psychopathic nature of its actions.

There's a deep and significant paradox here. The Israeli hasbara (propaganda) network is in full swing trying to smooth-talk the diplomatic world and present a respectable public front for its conduct. Thus, we hear of Israel being 'reluctantly forced' to intercept these ships and of 'daring commandos overcoming club-wielding resistance' from those on board. This is all deceitful lies and spin, part of the necessary PR exercise enabling Israel to cope and participate as a member of the 'international community.'

Yet behind that veneer, the Israeli state craves another much more indulgently threatening image: that of the able assassin, the little-guy country, flexing its big gun and feeling the power-rush confidence, the exhilaration, of being able to take murderous liberties - and get away with them.

This is why there is no peace process. With no legal or moral argument to present over its occupation and oppression, no leeway from Zionism's expansionist project, Israel has simply nothing left to offer but more violence.

Among even its own guilty coterie of warmongering allies, this is a state 'on the run', a rogue amongst rogues, now prepared to enact any kind of execution and revel in its notoriety.

What do we know about Israel's latest 'hit' and the remaining detainees? With Mark Regev and his cohorts controlling the media access, very little, so far.

All we do know, for sure, is that Israeli forces have committed a criminal act by boarding a legally-constituted, flag-flying, vessel in international waters. We know that in excess of 10 people have been murdered. We can speculate that many more have been injured and that the passengers have been kidnapped and are being held in illegal detention.

As Jonathan Cook has noted, the hasbara machine has been in overdrive, with Israel being allowed to impose a news blackout on Regev's terms, while a "stenographer" mainstream media act, effectvely, at Israel's behest, dutifully repeating its version of events.

Which prompted this letter to BBC Online News:

Dear Steve Herrmann

I'd like to complain in the strongest terms over the BBC's gross distortions in reporting Israel's attack on the Turkish aid vessel bound for Gaza.


The BBC reporter talks of "armed Israeli officers wearing masks trying to control the up to 600 people on board."

Why is it assumed that the intentions of these soldiers was one of "control"?

We can be reasonably sure that they had more immediately murderous intentions in mind. But even allowing for claim and counter-claim, what reasonable excuse did this reporter have for selectively stating that the soldiers were engaged in a control-type exercise rather than a directly offensive one?

The selective interpretation goes on:

"Clearly when you've got as many as 600 people on board these ships, at night, in the high seas, it is a very, very difficult situation…and you can imagine a rather chaotic situation. Of course the Israeli military is very well experienced at dealing with crowd control."

Is this a reasonable and accurate way to describe the illegal boarding of an aid ship in international waters and the actions of a military force which has just carried out a massacre of civilians?

Why has this report been pitched in a way that rationalises the IDF's killing?

What kind of context does this kind of reportage convey to viewers unfamiliar with the flotilla story?

Why was there no prior reporting of the flotilla, and Israel's threats to it, before Saturday on BBC News Online?

I look forward to your considered response.


John Hilley

No response has been offered.

Ignored by the BBC and other media outlets, we also have some valuable raw footage of the attack from Al-Jazeera and Press TV reporters witnessing the killing and mayhem on-board.

In the film, one of the reporters keeps repeating that this is an unprovoked attack taking place in international waters.

As Cook reminds us, not only does Israel have no jurisdiction to intercept a ship on the international seas, it has no right to control the nautical area off Gaza:

Israel has no right to control Gaza’s sea as its own territorial waters and to stop aid convoys arriving that way. In doing so, it proves that it is still in belligerent occupation of the enclave and its 1.5 million inhabitants. And if it is occupying Gaza, then under international law Israel is responsible for the welfare of the Strip’s inhabitants. Given that the blockade has put Palestinians there on a starvation diet for the past four years, Israel should long ago have been in the dock for committing a crime against humanity.

The related issue here is Israel's attack on another state's vessel. Craig Murray, former UK ambassador, turned dissident, was once in charge of maritime affairs during his time at the Foreign Office. Here's what he has to say "on the legal position, which is very plain":

To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody's territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

Though Turkey have accepted a watered-down US resolution condemning the action, Ankara, in tune with the Turkish populace, is still seething over this attack. And, as a NATO member upholding key US geopolitical and military interests in the region, it carries not a little leverage in such matters.

While thousands of people have been on the streets of Turkey demanding action, thousands more have demonstrated in cities across the world. The political elite may be able to issue their token 'regrets' and 'condemnations', but the real demand for serious, punitive action against Israel will, sooner or later, have to be met.

Beyond the token condemnations of Ban Ki-moon, the UN, in the wake of the Goldstone report, will be pushed to exert greater pressure on Israel to end the blockade. Many government ministers are now being forced to heed and support this call - including, in the UK, Clegg and Hague. Such are the glaringly unconscionable actions of Israel and gathering global opposition to them.

Expect, also, another decisive effort from intenational legal groups to indict Israel for this latest war crime.

Meanwhile, a cocky Israel continues to ignore the protests of the world. In the West Bank, Emily Henochowicz, a protesting US citizen has been shot in the face by an Israel soldier and has lost her eye.

It's not even the wicked 'eye-for-an-eye' shibboleth that prompts Israeli brutality any more, but a resolute, gratuitous freedom to crush all dissent, whatever the costs.

As Norman Finkelstein has accurately put it following the flotilla massacre: "Israel is a lunatic state."

Which, again, alerts us to the dark anticipation that it has nothing left but more violence.



Anonymous said...

John, here are some petition links to circulate. Keep up the good work! Neil


http://www.amn esty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID =699

http://www .waronwant.org/campaigns/fighting-occupa tion-in-palestine/hide/action/16927-writ e-to-your-mp-to-demand-the-government-ho ld-israel-to-account-for-the-freedom-flo tilla-attack

http://www.w aronwant.org/campaigns/fighting-occupati on-in-palestine/hide/action/16928-write- to-the-foreign-secretary-and-deputy-prim e-minister-to-demand-the-government-hold -israel-to-account-for-the-freedom-floti lla-attack?utm_source=E095E&utm_medi um=email

http://www.avaaz.o rg/en/gaza_flotilla_3/98.php?CLICKTF

John Hilley said...

Many thanks, Neil.


Anonymous said...

No probs John. Here's another couple of links calling on the UK Government to support an international inquiry into the attacks and end the blockade of Gaza.



Go forth and multiply. Neil