Israel’s war against non-violence

Today, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak, praising the Shayetet 13 commandos who slaughtered at least nine humanitarian activists on board the Mavi Marmara, said:

“…we live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak…”

A year ago President Obama declared in Cairo:

Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America’s founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It’s a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end.

But if the violence is being committed by Israelis then it is all too evident that this particular world leader lacks the courage and moral conviction to speak out.

When the slaves of Zionism are called on to break out of their chains, instead, their own fear of political and financial retribution guarantees that they will maintain their silence.

Obama is not only incapable of condemning Israeli violence; he cannot even acknowledge its existence!

When unarmed and non-violent Americans are the victims — whether killed, maimed or abused by Israeli soldiers — the government of the nation that proudly describes itself as the most powerful nation on earth has nothing to say in defense of its own citizens.

If it wasn’t being used to justify murder, this headline in the Washington Post would be laughably absurd:

Israel says Free Gaza Movement poses threat to Jewish state

The report says:

Once viewed only as a political nuisance by Israel’s government, the group behind the Gaza aid flotilla has grown since its inception four years ago into a broad international movement that now includes Islamist organizations that Israeli intelligence agencies say pose a security threat to the Jewish state.

The Free Gaza Movement’s evolution is among Israel’s chief reasons for conducting Monday morning’s raid on a ship carrying medicine, construction materials, school paper and parts for Gaza’s defunct water treatment plant. The movement once drew its support almost entirely from activists and donors in Australia, Britain and the United States. But the ship that Israeli forces stormed Monday morning was operated by a Turkish charity that Israeli intelligence agencies and others contend has connections to radical Islamist groups.

Radical Islamist groups — the hobgoblins of the Israeli psyche have also enfeebled the judgement of most Americans. Raise the specter of such a threat and the rational mind freezes.

This is the psychology of cowardice, where fear becomes omnipresent.

Those thus enslaved, cloak their own weakness with fables about the demons they hope to destroy. But their deceit is transparent. This is heroism merely self-declared, visible to no one else.

Arrogance and cowardice are the two faces of the fear of fear. Israel’s might is the mask behind which it conceals its own lack of courage — its terror of looking weak.

Hours after Israeli commandos were out slaying sea monsters, an Israeli soldier in the West Bank faced the threat of an unarmed American 21-year old.

Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration at the Qalandiya checkpoint. She is a talented young artist who will now only be able to follow her passion with one eye — the other was removed in surgery yesterday.

Does the soldier who shot her believe Israel is now safer?

When a state blinds or even kills individuals whose “crime” is their willingness to stand up in defense of justice, what is it that national security is securing?

As Robert Fisk duly noted yesterday:

[I]t is a fact that it is ordinary people, activists, call them what you will, who now take decisions to change events. Our politicians are too spineless, too cowardly, to take decisions to save lives. Why is this? Why didn’t we hear courageous words from [Britain's prime minister and deputy prime minister] Messrs Cameron and Clegg yesterday [after the flotilla massacre]?

For it is a fact, is it not, that had Europeans (and yes, the Turks are Europeans, are they not?) been gunned down by any other Middle Eastern army (which the Israeli army is, is it not?) there would have been waves of outrage.

And what does this say about Israel? Isn’t Turkey a close ally of Israel? Is this what the Turks can expect? Now Israel’s only ally in the Muslim world is saying this is a massacre – and Israel doesn’t seem to care.

But then Israel didn’t care when London and Canberra expelled Israeli diplomats after British and Australian passports were forged and then provided to the assassins of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. It didn’t care when it announced new Jewish settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem while Joe Biden, the Vice-President of its erstwhile ally, the United States, was in town. Why should Israel care now?
How did we get to this point? Maybe because we all grew used to seeing the Israelis kill Arabs, maybe the Israelis grew used to killing Arabs. Now they kill Turks. Or Europeans. Something has changed in the Middle East these past 24 hours – and the Israelis (given their extraordinarily stupid political response to the slaughter) don’t seem to have grasped what has happened. The world is tired of these outrages. Only the politicians are silent.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

Posted in Gaza, Israel/Palestine

{ 29 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. lysias says:

    “No mercy for the weak” sounds a lot like the Nazi idea that all of life is a struggle.

    • kapok says:

      It’s the sort of thing you hear from the lips of the mouth-breathers and knuckle-draggers who call into the talk shows on AM radio.

  2. Only the politicians are silent.

    slight — actually, very important — correction to an otherwise powerful essay, Mr. Woodward: Not ALL the politicians are silent.

    Turkey’s President Erdogan, who dared to confront Israel in January 2009, has again taken the moral ground that Americans are pleading with their government to take.
    As well, Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s ambassador, made the journey that Netanyahu cancelled. Davutoglu flew to Washington and met with Hillary Clinton. Clinton minced and parsed her words predictably; Amb. Davutoglu’s statement was crystal clear: This is about what is right and what is wrong. What happened in international waters off Gaza’s coast was wrong.

    There ARE politicians who ARE displaying life-and-death courage.

    In an interview with Charlie Rose, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was asked several times if he feared for his life (he was the victim of an Israeli assassination attempt: Israeli agents poisoned him, then Israel was forced to provide an antidote.) Meshaal did not claim the martyr’s crown that Rose was so eager to press on his head; Meshaal has more important things to do.
    President Obama apparently has other fears and better things to do as well: he fears that if he speaks out harshly against Israel’s criminal behavior, Jewish support in the next election will dry up.

    Try this on for size, Mr. Obama: take a risk on the American people.
    We have just as deep an interest in our country as Jews do in Israel.

  3. “…we live in the Middle East, in a place where there is no mercy for the weak…”

    It’s the old “This is a rough neighborhood” line. This is a veiled confession that Israel has the right to act above the law.

  4. decentjew says:

    There will always be plenty of foot traffic between the two sewers of the United States and Israel, but other countries should declare Israelis persona non grata and refuse them entry.

    No one wants these environmental contaminants on their shores any more.

  5. DavidSiden says:

    Psychopathic god, you say, Turkey’s President Erdogan, who dared to confront Israel in January 2009, has again taken the moral ground that Americans are pleading with their government to take.

    Erdogan denies Turkey massacred 1.5 million Armenians.
    What did Hitler say! Who remembers the Armenians.
    Apparently Erdogan wants you not to remember them.

    • MarkF says:

      Israel and the ADL didn’t remember the Armenians. Israel has relations with Turkey (and South Africa). The ADL worked to block a resolution to call what happened to the Armenians genocide.

      So let’s make that last sentence more accurate, or maybe more inclusive:

      Apparantly Erdogan, Israel and the ADL wants you not to remember them.

  6. DavidSiden says:

    To Robert Fisk.
    How should Israel have acted differently when its soldiers fell into a lynch mob?”

    • MarkF says:

      The soldiers didn’t fall into a lynch mob. They trespassed on [roperty that did not belong to them. How would you react to a home invader?

      How should they have reacted? They shouldn’t have boarded what was not theirs.

  7. demize says:

    They disdain the courage to confront a more powerful enemy, because this is part of their false mythos, so seeing what they don’t posess they become enraged and lash out. What they see in the activists and Palestinian resistance is David against their Goliath something they’ve told themselves is the opposite. Cognitive dissonance, anger, rage.

  8. Avi says:

    Emily Henochowicz was hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired directly at her by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration at the Qalandiya checkpoint. She is a talented young artist who will now only be able to follow her passion with one eye — the other was removed in surgery yesterday.

    She was injured and bleeding, but the Israeli army didn’t take her to the hospital or administer aid on the scene.

    What happened instead, a Palestinian journalist drove her himself to the Hadassa hospital.

    Incidentally, two days ago I stumbled upon her blog. I don’t remember how I ended up there. But, what I saw was just captivating. Her paintings conveyed such depth of emotion that I was immediately struck by this girl’s beautiful grace and humanity.

  9. Schmok says:

    “No mercy for the weak” means, that Israel will be destroyed if they are not aware enough. It doesn’t mean: We have nor mercy with the weak. Two complete different things.

    And no all of you are with Erdogan? The man who is the chief of a country that kills Kurds and left-wing unionists for decades now? Don’t you applause to the wrong one? Is he better than the Irsali leaders like Sharon, Netanjahu or Barak?

    • Shmuel says:

      Schmok (charming name, btw),

      I’ve boycotted Turkey and Turkish products for a lot longer than I’ve boycotted Israeli products, but in this case, Turkey is right and Israel is wrong. Why do we have to pick a “team”?

    • Shmuel says:

      Your blog looks interesting. Too bad my German’s so rusty :-(

  10. demize says:

    Schmuck. Just say they suck. Its easier. Especially if you’re not comfortable in English.

  11. rachel says:

    Frankly I don’t understand this complaint that there is no outrage. It has been wall to wall outrage. Everywhere you look, there is outrage and comdemnation. As Jon Stewart joked yesterday, ” It is Israel vs the world!” Huge shitstorm everywhere you look. On TV, editorials, letters to newspapers, the internet, etc. Every single politician that counts made a statement condemning the raid. Sure being politician they use diplomatic language. Would like Sarkozy to raise his fist and yell “death to Israel”? I don’t know what you want to hear.
    As for Emily, it is too bad she lost an eye. Nobody deserves to be maimed. But there is no outrage because of the flotilla is the bigger story. That’s just how media operates. I am not saying it is OK what happened to her but she inserted herself into a volatile situation and knew the risks. She was not attacked in New York.

    • potsherd says:

      There is no outrage where it counts, in the NY media, in the Congress. Anywhere else, BYahoo can ignore.

    • Chaos4700 says:

      but she inserted herself into a volatile situation and knew the risks.

      Just to clarify, those risks were gun-toting violent racist Zionists who have an established history of firing on unarmed civilians, yes?

      • potsherd says:

        “She walked down the street wearing a short skirt, she knew the risks.”

        • rachel says:

          “She walked down the street wearing a short skirt, she knew the risks.”

          Yes, your Honour, I know this is Afghanistan and should have worn a burqua.

        • alec says:

          Nice point of view Rachel. Evidently you condone rape in the right neighbourhoods.

          Based on your comments, I have some trouble believing you are a woman at all. The loss of an brilliant artist’s eyesight at a peaceful demonstration for no particularly good reason is no big deal for you.

          Welcome to Israel! Shalom!

    • Donald says:

      Potsherd is right. I’d actually concede something Zionists say–that much of the world seems to focus on Israel’s crimes. I think the main reason for that is that Israel is, like South Africa 20 years ago, (correctly) seen as the last vestige of European colonialism. But in US political circles it’s just the opposite–the vast majority of our politicians will line up behind Israel no matter who it kills and officials will go “off the record” just to say more supportive things about Israel. (I saw that today.)

      And it doesn’t balance out. Israel only cares what the US government says and as long as they have their support, they’ll continue to behave like thugs.

      As for Emily, she wouldn’t get much press flotilla or not, at least not much American press. If anything, the flotilla story gives a natural launching point to talk about other cases where Israel has shot activists. But they’re not taking the opportunity, I think because there’s no way they can play her as someone who was threatening the lives of Israeli soldiers. Doing this story would look like “piling on” poor little Israel.

      And media types apparently do think that way. In the book “The First Casualty”, which is about war correspondents, there’s a story about Operation Speedy Express, where the 9th Army Division killed several thousand Vietnamese civilians over a period of six months due to the emphasis put by the general on achieving a high bodycount. Some Newsweek editor refused to allow the reporter Kevin Buckley to do a huge story (as opposed to a small piece) on it because it was soon after My Lai had come to light and he didn’t want to “pile on”. I don’t think they feel that way if we’re talking about the crimes of our enemies, but if it is our crimes or the crimes of friends then that reasoning kicks in.

  12. rachel says:

    ” I think because there’s no way they can play her as someone who was threatening the lives of Israeli soldiers. Doing this story would look like “piling on” poor little Israel”.

    I don’t know who is this “they”. Listen, the average Joe has no sympathy for people who get hurt while protesting against their own governement, never mind against a foreign government thousands of miles away. There is a well documented phenomena of “war tourism” , “disaster tourism” , and also ISM activism tourism. So yes, shit happens when one travels. Suppose Emily was hurt protesting against the Cuba embargo for instance, would most Americans give a shit?

    • Donald says:

      “They” meant the press. The press in the US is careful not to seem too critical of Israel.

      As for what the average Joe thinks, who knows? If they feel the way you claim, it’s unfortunate. I have a friend from a conservative background who had an uncle that the rest of the family regarded with horror. They told my friend he was a nefarious character and had been to jail. When my friend reached adulthood, he found out that his uncle had been jailed because he’d been involved in civil rights activism. So I guess that’s the sort of thing you are talking about.

      As for activists, I’m sure young people who go overseas to protest are doing it out of good motives, but there’s probably also a sense of excitement and adventure involved. That’s natural, and not wrong and certainly not a reason for blowing off the crime involved when some creep fires a tear gas cannister at her face.

      Probably the young people (some Jewish) who went down South during the 60′s had the same mixture of idealism and harmless curiosity (what you call activism tourism).

      I’m not sure where this need to mock people who risk injury or death for the sake of a good cause comes from, but it’s not pretty.

      • rachel says:

        “I’m not sure where this need to mock people who risk injury or death for the sake of a good cause comes from, but it’s not pretty.”

        I am not mocking. She is a big girl. She knew what she was doing. I am trying to undrstand the lack of interest for the story. It is not just because the press is not critical , it is because the girl chose to play in a fucking war zone!

        • demize says:

          I suppose you could say the same about the three “hikers” in prison in Iran, but I’ve yet to see that narrative in the media.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          So, rachel, do you blame Israeli settlers for “settling” in a fucking war zone? I take it you must be opposed to the security wall then — I mean, the Israeli settlers took it upon themselves to break the Geneva Conventions and transfer to occupied territory. Clearly, Israel has nothing to complain about.

        • Shmuel says:

          So, rachel, do you blame Israeli settlers for “settling” in a fucking war zone?

          Or olim who put themselves and their children in danger for the sake of their ideology; or people who go to pray at the Kotel or Rachel’s Tomb, or the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Hebron); or tourists who go to Sinai; or Israelis who go to sit in a cafe during a period of frequent bombings (I lived in Jerusalem throughout the period of the suicide bombings, and avoided public places like the plague).

          And what is it with these teargas canisters? They are obviously being fired from too close, at incorrect angles, with the intent of hurting or even killing people, or at least with the knowledge that this will happen. Getting killed or maimed by a teargas canister is no more comforting or humane than getting killed or maimed by live ammunition.