I don’t have anything particularly new to say about the Flotilla incident. I think the killing of innocent civilians is absolutely terrible and despicable and there should be a full investigation into what happened and why. My inbox is blowing up with emails about protests all over the country.
Furthermore, one point I want to make is that a lot of people are saying: “This time Israel has gone too far.” Well, Israel has been “going too far” for a long time in how it treats Gazans — this isn’t the first time. But I’m glad at least it seems like the mainstream media and citizens are taking note this time and are equally disapproving of the events that have taken place.
If you’re looking for additional coverage on the issue, here’s a roundup of excellent posts and analysis from some of the smartest bloggers on the topic, in my opinion:
An epic post from Glenn Greenwald (it’s long but I highly recommend reading the whole thing):
It hardly seemed possible for Israel — after its brutal devastation of Gaza and its ongoing blockade — to engage in more heinous and repugnant crimes. But by attacking a flotilla in international waters carrying humanitarian aid, and slaughtering at least 10 people, Israel has managed to do exactly that. If Israel’s goal were to provoke as much disgust and contempt for it as possible, it’s hard to imagine how it could be doing a better job.
It looks to me as if the Israeli government has again replied to a gnat with a bazooka. The disproportionate use of force, the loss of life, the horrifying impact of the blockade of Gaza in the first place: it makes Israel look like a callous, deranged bully, incapable of accepting any narrative that it cannot control and responding instinctively with disproportionate violence.
The suicide continues … and US aid to Israel, especially military aid, should be suspended until the Israeli government starts acting like something other than a rogue state.
I’m not going to try to keep up with the breaking events, as world governments and publics scramble to figure out how to react. Instead, I’ll just say that the bottom line for Washington is that the U.S. can not ignore this or try to hope that it will pass quickly so that it can resume business as usual. It is rapidly spiraling into one of the most intensely galvanizing issues in the Arab media — and around the world — since the Israeli war on Gaza itself. If Obama goes ahead and meets with Netanyahu as if nothing happened, then his administration’s outreach to the Muslim communities of the world is effectively over.
My second question is: “Will the Obama administration show some backbone on this issue, and go beyond the usual mealy-mouthed statements that U.S. presidents usually make when Israel acts foolishly and dangerously?” President Obama likes to talk a lot about our wonderful American values, and his shiny new National Security Strategy says “we must always seek to uphold these values not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.” The same document also talks about a “rule-based international order,” and says “America’s commitment to the rule of law is fundamental to our efforts to build an international order that is capable of confronting the emerging challenges of the 21st century.”
Well if that is true, here is an excellent opportunity for Obama to prove that he means what he says. Attacking a humanitarian aid mission certainly isn’t consistent with American values — even when that aid mission is engaged in the provocative act of challenging a blockade — and doing so in international waters is a direct violation of international law. Of course, it would be politically difficult for the administration to take a principled stand with midterm elections looming, but our values and commitment to the rule of law aren’t worth much if a president will sacrifice them just to win votes.
…Over the next few days, keep an eye on how politicians and pundits line up on this issue. Which of them thinks that Israel “crossed a line” and deserves criticism — and maybe even sanction — and which of them thinks that what it did was entirely appropriate? Ironically, it is the former who are Israel’s friends, because they are trying to save that country before it is too late. It is the latter whose misguided zeal is leading Israel down the road to further international isolation — and maybe even worse.
Yesterday’s murders were an unwarranted attack on civilians by elite units of one of the most fearsome and best-equipped army in the world. It’s not a “blunder” or poorly planned attack — the decision to raid the boat is itself illegal, immoral and is what needs condemning.
Before I talk about the diplomatic aftermath I would like to first of all throw in my opinion on this, though it’s probably self-evident and those of you that follow this blog will already know it. Israel deserves nothing but condemnation in the strongest possible terms for what it has done here. There was absolutely no good reason for it. At this stage, I do not believe that the activists on the boats were really armed. I believe that they may have tried to defend the ship from being boarded, but consider that it was in international waters at the time, I don’t see what’s illegitimate about that. Boarding a ship in international waters may well constitute an act of piracy thus making self-defense perfectly reasonable.