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Sinking the Mavi Marmara



The following is my most recent piece for Al Jazeera.

The release of the findings of the UN panel of inquiry into the May 2010 Israeli attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla endeavoring to deliver aid to besieged Gaza, was recently delayed for the fourth time since the originally scheduled release date over three months ago.

Israel initially claimed the delay occurred at the behest of Turkey; Turkey claimed it happened at the behest of Israel. The latter version of events would seem to be validated by a Sunday report on Israel’s Channel 2, according to which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has asked the US to delay the release another six months. According to Haaretz, the UN panel’s findings will nonetheless be published this Friday.

Either way, the latest delay follows Netanyahu’s unsurprising affirmation that Israel will not apologise for the deaths of eight Turkish activists and one 19-year-old Turkish-American activist shot – most of them execution-style – by Israeli commandos (IDF) who intercepted the ship.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a Turkish “Plan B” in the event that an Israeli apology does not indeed materialise.

Inverting cause and effect

From the point of view of the Israeli regime, an apology is not required given that the IDF commandos, and not the slaughtered activists, were the victims of the encounter at sea.

This innovative approach to logic was presented by IDF spokeswoman Avital Liebovitch at a post-attack press briefing, during which she announced that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara had engaged in “severe violence against our soldiers”. Liebovitch’s alarming summary of premeditated passenger violence involving weapons “grabbed” from commandos did not address the issue of why the IDF had not thus thrown a wrench in the works by simply refraining from raiding the ship.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the violent intentions of the seafarers by adding the category, “Weapons found on Mavi Marmara” to its Flickr photostream and uploading images of marbles, kitchen knives, keffiyehs, and a metal pail. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s detection of ties between the Gaza flotilla and global Jihad was additionally upheld by a Flickr photograph featuring a slingshot colourfully decorated with stars and the label “Hizbollah”.

The Foreign Ministry has yet to explain whether Hizbollah always labels its Gaza-bound slingshots in English, or why the photograph is specified as having been taken on February 7, 2006, i.e., over four years prior to the flotilla attack.

As for the Israeli proclivity for inverting cause-and-effect relationships – such that commandos who shoot guns while descending from helicopters onto boats become the victims of the unarmed humanitarian activists onto whom they are descending – an application of this formula to other phenomena in the physical world results in the unexpected discovery that slabs of meat impale themselves on butcher knives and that armadillos attack the wheels of cars.

‘Delegitimising’ Israel

Quite fortunately for Israel, its acrobatics in defiance of truth are sanctioned by regrettably influential media figures like New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, who obediently assigned quotation marks to the “flotilla of ‘humanitarian’ activists” in his analysis of the maritime confrontation.

Along with his decree that “[t]here is no question that this flotilla was a setup”, Friedman’s reference to the “violent confrontation that the blockade-busters wanted” echoed the assessment by Israeli government spokesman extraordinaire Mark Regev that the flotilla passengers were intent on accruing “headlines for their cause” by “initiat[ing] violence”.

Resurrecting his Operation Cast Lead-era philosophy that persons wanting to critique Israel’s actions in Gaza should recall that Islamist suicide bombers were also blowing up people in Iraq, Friedman updated the prerequisites for post-flotilla criticism of Israel to include more examples of unsavory behavior by regional Arabs and Muslims, such as that Syria was a suspect in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He subsequently warned of a “trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimise Israel”, resulting in a situation in which, “[i]f you just landed from Mars, you might think that Israel is the only country that has killed civilians in war”.

Leaving aside the minor detail that Israel was not at war with the Mavi Marmara, hypothetical Martian visitors might also be confused by other formulaic discrepancies such as the complete lack of suicide terrorism in Iraq prior to the US invasion and the fact that Islamist suicide bombers are not the primary recipients of military aid from the global superpower. Some Martians might even be inclined to assign blame for encouraging “violent confrontation” not to humanitarian aid flotillas but rather to foreign affairs columnists for the US newspaper of record who champion the mass killing of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon and advocate for civil war in Iraq.

As for the project to delegitimise Israel, I was able to witness this firsthand last year when I attended the funeral ceremony at Istanbul’s Beyazit mosque for Cevdet Kiliclar, one of Friedman’s “‘humanitarian’ activists”.

For non-Martians trained in the strategic proliferation of quotation marks, the scene might have been described as consisting of thousands of “mourners”, including “women”, “children”, and “students”, who had gathered to celebrate the “killing” of their “compatriot” and the opportunities it provided to sell headbands declaring “Hepimiz Filistinliyiz – We are all Palestinian”.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Al Jazeera.


1 Comment

  1. Brian Durrans says:

    It’s not often that a serious subject like this is written about with wit as well as wisdom. Hugely appreciated!

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