amid the horror of gaza flotilla massacre, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture

I have been absolutely sickened by the accounts of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre in the mainstream Israeli media. Not surprised, of course, but sickened nonetheless. These stories are positively Orwellian in their twisted attempts to blame the attack on the victims themselves. (My policy is never to link to disinformation, but if you haven't seen any of these yet, they're easy to find.)

I'm reminded of the response of a US military official after it was reported that three inmates in the Guantanamo concentration camp had committed suicide. (The three men were actually tortured to death.) He said: "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." There are times when victim-blaming becomes an exercise in absurdity.

Meanwhile, as the survivors of the Flotilla attack are released and speak to the media, we are hearing very different stories. A 19-year-old shot five times, including four bullets to the head at point-blank range. Reports of wounded people being dumped overboard. From the Guardian:
The first British survivor of the assault on the Mavi Marmara Gaza aid ship to return to London has told of her terror as Israeli troops ignored SOS calls for medical aid and continued to fire live rounds at activists.

Sarah Colborne, director of campaigns and operations at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who was on board the Turkish ship when the Israeli navy mounted a raid early on Monday, gave a press conference in central London still wearing her grey prison fatigues from her spell in jail in Be'er Sheva, southern Israel. She described how she saw one man fatally wounded from a gun shot to the head and how passengers feared for their lives as Israeli troops trained laser sights on the activists through the ship's windows.

Colborne, 43, from London, insisted the activists on the boat were on a purely humanitarian mission and the passengers were aged between one and 89. She claimed:

• Unarmed activists were shot by Israelis using live ammunition;

• The death toll of nine is likely to rise, because some activists remain missing;

• The Israelis ignored calls over the Tannoy and on written signs calling for them stop firing and to evacuate the critically injured;

• The Israeli forces handcuffed members of the activists' medical team who were sent to help treat the injured.

This post from firedoglake pulls together many stories of witnesses and survivors of the attack. (Thanks to Nick, JoS/wmtc crossover friend.)

Peace activists and people of conscience around the globe are reeling from this attack. But please, let's not lose sight of the big picture. In my earlier post, I asked,
"What could be more shameful than slaughtering people trying to bring aid to a trapped and dispossessed people? The apartheid system that dispossesses those people in the first place.

When activists and volunteers are murdered, we often see more shock and horror expressed than we do for the people those activists were trying to help. The people of the US were shocked by the 1964 murders of three young civil rights activists - more so than by the thousands of lynchings and other acts of terrorism and degradation lived every day by African Americans in the Jim Crow South.

In other words, let's not forget why the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is needed in the first place.

As international resistance to Israel's apartheid policies grows, Israel's repression grows in response. And as that repression becomes more blatant, Israel sows the seeds of its own undoing. We saw it in the US civil rights movement, we saw it in apartheid South Africa, and we will see it here, too.

[Update. Tomorrow in Toronto, join the Gaza Freedom March for an emergency protest. Details here.]


Stephanie said...

Thank you for this most important reminder Laura. Indeed, in an effort to not loose sight (and in support of the MV Rachel Corrie still making her way to Gaza) there will be an action tomorrow in Toronto as part of a Global Day of Action. This is the description from the Gaza Freedom March website:

June 5 also marks the 43rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Our action aims to draw the world’s attention to Israel’s continuing illegal occupation, its refusal to abide by international law, and its massacre of innocent humanitarian workers.

More details available here

If you are in the Toronto area please join in. If not please spread word.

L-girl said...

Ah, Stephanie, thanks for that, I can't beleive I forgot to include that info in the post! I will add it right now.

Stephanie said...

Great thanks!

redsock said...

Nine Turkish activists killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship were shot a total of 30 times and five died of gunshot wounds to the head, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported on Friday.

Autopsy results showed the men were hit mostly with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range, the Guardian said, quoting Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine which carried out the autopsies on Friday. ...

The autopsy results showed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back, the Guardian said.

A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has U.S. citizenship, was shot five times from less than 45 cm (18 inches) away, in the face, the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back, it said.

Two other men were shot four times. Five of those killed were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, the Guardian quoted Buyuk as saying.


Six of the nine passengers killed in an Israeli raid on an aid convoy bound for Gaza were shot by a single Israeli commando, who is being considered for a medal of valour for saving his injured comrades as passengers attacked them with clubs, knives and even guns they had taken from downed Navy Seals.

David Cho said...

Israeli press claims the passengers called out anti-Semitic slurs through radio (I won't link to that).

Max Blumenthal reports that the audio has been doctored.

The forgery is really lame and amateurish, but yet the press reports it as fact.

L-girl said...

Thanks, David, much appreciated (all around).

Even if we assume the audio is authentic, which does not seem to be the case, are we supposed to believe that some bigoted name-calling is just case for murder and abduction?

redsock said...


International fallout from Israel's bloody boarding of a flotilla offshore Gaza intensified, moving beyond angry denunciation from Israel's foes to protest measures in some Western countries.

In Sweden, dockworkers are set to launch a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods, a union spokesman said Saturday according to Associated Press.

Peter Annerback, a spokesman for the Swedish Port Workers Union which has around 1,500 members, said workers are urged to refuse handling of Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 boycott.

Norway's military says it has canceled a special operations seminar because the Defense Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program, AP reported. ...

A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry said a dock action like the one being urged in Sweden was illegal, according to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.


Citing a Court of Human Rights when some people object to your commission of murder?

L-girl said...

Good going on those dockworkers! Perhaps it will build to a global action.

L-girl said...

A, do you have a link I can post on FB w/o a subscription? Thx.

L-girl said...

Found several.

David Cho said...

Laura, since when has the American right become the rabid supporter of Israel?

I am very familiar with the role of the Religious Right, but conservatives who aren't particularly religious line up behind Israel just as passionately as Evangelicals and orthodox Jews do.

Someone told me that I sounded like David Duke in the Palestine/Israel debate. Sure enough, his website is up in arms about the flotilla massacre, and taking the Israeli government to task. Well, bad people can have good ideas, I told him. That David Duke agrees with me does not automatically discredit my position. Logic 101.

I don't think he is particularly concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. His beef with the Israeli government is just an extension of his long held anti-Semitism.

But the rest of the right is solidly behind Israel. Are they suppressing the long held anti-Semitism simply because there's bigger fish to fry, which in this case are Muslims? Muslims have been around for a very long time.

L-girl said...

Re agreeing with David Duke, whenever something similar happens to me, Allan says the wingnut (usually a right-wing columnist) agrees with me for once, not the other way around. I like your take, too - bad people can have good ideas.

I assume the US right-wing thinks "Israel = US ally, therefore supporting Israel = supporting US" AND "Palestinians = terrorists" so whatever Israel does to "them" is good.

People who only see MSM actually believe that suicide bombings or other similar actions come out of nowhere, those "crazy Arab terrorists" are at it again. They see no context, none of the violence and repression that Israel visits on the Palestinian people. They believe Israel is containing a violent terrorist threat within its own borders, what's wrong with that?

Then there's the Christian Zionist stuff you have told me so much about.

And there's the right-wing knee-jerk response, seemingly to all people's freedom movements. They seem to support any repressive regime, as long as it can't be called communist.

For how long or since when, that I don't know.

L-girl said...

Continuing on that note...

The US right-wing, rank-and-file edition, will generally follow whatever the US does militarily, no questions asked.

So in the 1980s you have Reagan & Co claiming Nelson Mandela is a communist and controlled by Moscow, in order to make US support of apartheid South Africa - for economic reasons - appear just. So right-wingers automatically lined up for the South African regime - it's not as bad as they say, white people brought prosperity to Africa, they've been there many generations too and fear for their lives, the apartheid system will slowly evolve into democracy, and so on.

The current justifications are slightly different, but much of the idea is the same: this is what the US backs militarily, therefore we will find a way to support it. Our might is right.

redsock said...

The US right-wing, rank-and-file edition, will generally follow whatever the US does militarily, no questions asked.

Unless a Democrat does it. Clinton got a ton of shit for sending American troops somewhere they "did not belong" and putting their lives in danger. A Republican doing the exact same thing would have been cheered to the skies.

L-girl said...

Unless a Democrat does it. Clinton got a ton of shit for sending American troops somewhere they "did not belong" and putting their lives in danger. A Republican doing the exact same thing would have been cheered to the skies.

I was going to say that, but didn't want to get tangential. So thanks.

David Cho said...

The rise of neoconservatism has much to do with it, I suspect, and neoconservatives see Israel as a "good guy" in the sea of evil.

I subscribed to National Review back in the early to mid 90's. The writers were unanimously perturbed by the little known, but growing faction in the right called neoconservatism. I will have do dig them up.

Now the magazine is a neocon mouth piece and it only got worse since the death of William Buckley.

redsock said...


The Israeli government has been forced to apologise for circulating a spoof video mocking activists aboard the Gaza flotilla, nine of who were shot dead by Israeli forces last week.

The YouTube clip, set to the tune of the 1985 charity single We Are the World, features Israelis dressed as Arabs and activists, waving weapons while singing: "We con the world, we con the people. We'll make them all believe the IDF (Israel Defence Force) is Jack the Ripper."

It continues: "There's no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the biggest bluff of all."

The Israeli government press office distributed the video link to foreign journalists at the weekend, but within hours emailed them an apology, saying it had been an error. Press office director Danny Seaman said the video did not reflect official state opinion, but in his personal capacity he thought it was "fantastic". ...

The clip features a group led by the Jerusalem Post's deputy managing editor Caroline Glick, wearing keffiyehs and calling themselves the Flotilla Choir.


L-girl said...

I saw wingnuts online circulating this vid, but didn't realize its official connections. Wow.