Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israel: a morally bankrupt country

Day after day a new nail is hammered in the coffin of any claim that Israel has any shreds of morality or decency. For decades, their high powered propaganda machine and their real control on many major news outlets managed to blind the average Westerner about the truth in that unlucky part of the world that is 'blessed' with Israel's presence. Europe is almost free from the mental fog about Israel that the US is still clouded in. But even here, American Jews and non-Jews alike are getting to see the truth.

After all, how many times can a bully claim that beating and shooting a little unarmed kid is necessary because the kid is an existential threat to the bully?

In these sad times, only Turkey stands out as a symbol of dignity and pride (here and here). This gallery shows how much Turkey's posture is appreciated throughout the world.

Arab governments, not surprisingly, exhibit the usual lack of spine, lack of pride and even lack of simple dignity. Egypt miserly 'eased' its own blockade of Gaza (!!!) to allow crossing of Medical emergencies and students traveling to study outside Gaza, as if these cases should have been blockaded at any time. And even Algeria, thousands of miles away, was cowardly enough to ban demostration in support of the victims of the flotilla massacre.

The US wanders between wishy-washy stance by Obama and the State Department on the one hand, and the stupid comments by Biden on the other (See also Gaza flotilla raid:'So what's the big deal here?' asks Joe Biden ).

American media is busy with whatever the heck they keep themselves and the average American busy with. And until Jon Stewart says something about it on The Daily Show, most Americans probably would not have even noticed what is going on there. And after a few laughs, they would not even remember what he was talking about anyway.

Most European governments seem as if they are just tongue-tied, while their people are on the streets in front of Israeli embassies protesting. (See Norwegians ready to boycott Israel, and
Thousands protest flotilla deaths, clashes in Athens).

Nothing I say will make you feel different, and I am tired of shouting that Israel is an immoral regime because it is so obvious.

On the bright side, honest and righteous Jews everywhere seem to have the loudest voices critical of Israel in the media and in pro-Palestinian organizations all over the world. So I will only provide links to several article and videos that may be a source of comfort. All the links are from Israeli source, or by non-Israel Jewish authors and journalist. So, let us see some of their contributions:

And for many moving pictures from all over the world, check this gallery: Anti-Israel protests (The Guardian, UK). One of that galleries pictures truly embodies the new pro-Palestinian spirit in the world, and the immorality and brutality of the Israelis: American woman shedding blood for Palestine.

The 'blood letting' is courtesy of our Israeli allies at no cost to the American peace activist, other than her share of the 3 billion dollars of military aid we give Israel every year.

I know justice will come, and Israel as we know it will not last.


Addendum (June 8, 2010):
Related and interesting links related to the legal aspects of the flotilla massacre:
In views of some of the discussions in the comments section about the legality of Israel's massacre, I have listed below some of the available links with legal insight. It is not as simple as some of the pro-Israel comments make it look like.


  1. I don't know when this global -and American- apathy towards all the wrongful deed that Israel does. When does this fear of being labelled as ant-semitic, would go away, and people would be objective about the illegality of the lane confiscations, the human rights abuses -by the so called only democracy in the middle East-, the other countries invasion, the mass killing, the mass jailing etc etc. When would all -or part of- that stop? I hope to be to convince myself that it will happen one day. I would not mind if it does not happen in my life time, as long as it happens.

  2. Part of the reason why the response from so many governments has been so blase, is that nothing Israel did was illegal according to international law and convention. If the US, or Algeria, or any other government were to condemn Israel, that government would thereby impair its own ability to enforce maritime blockades, and/or inspect ships at sea.

    Most people do not realize that all regular navies have the right to stop and inspect all civilian vessels in international waters. If no pirates or contraband is found on board, and no resistance is made, the ships must be then set freely on their way. But if a ship refuses to stop for inspection, any naval force is allowed to use force to stop that ship.

    I am sure that the organizers of the flotilla knew this, even if most of the peace activists did not.

    It's no coincidence that this happened just as it looked like the Palestinian Authority and Israel would resume serious negotiations. The organizing group, the IHH, has strong ties to Al-Qaida as well as Hamas. They do not want peace for the Palestinians. Palestinian suffering is gold to them.

    If the IHH had actually wanted to HELP the people of Gaza, they could have landed their ships at Ashdod or at Port Said, and had the goods enter Gaza through Egyptian or Israeli checkpoints. Both Egypt and Israel offered to let them do that, with international supervision. Instead, they chose to pull this publicity stunt, knowing international law, knowing full well how Israel would react. They knew the publicity would force Abbas to pull back from negotiations.

    I really feel bad for the people of Gaza and wish their "Muslim brothers" would stop jerking them around, creating more suffering for them and using them to fuel rage against the West.

  3. I'm no lawyer, but if you want to know which law beckyzoole is talking about, see the San Remo manual, rule 67(a).

    But hopefully, this will cost the Israeli Right political clout. Israeli polls show that a vast majority of disapprove of how the interception was handled and is split evenly on the blockade.

  4. I am not really sure where you came with all these facts from Becky.
    As for "Muslim brothers" jerking Palestinians around and causing their suffering, I would say that your are, to put mildly, disingenuous. The injustices Israelis, with support and funding from their "Jewish brothers" around the world, have been inflicting on Palestinians have been going on for decades, long before their "Muslim brothers" got involved.
    And to be franc and more intellectually honest, I think the Jewish brothers in the US are particularly to blame for most of the horror we see today. It is American Jewish money that keeps pouring in the building of and expanding settlements, illegally. It is the "Jewish brothers" that leave behind their native land to go and serve in the occupier/oppressor military of another country they know only from childhood myth and fantasies about some divine promise by a God a lot of them do not even believe in.
    Not to mention the contributions of Israel's Zionist "Christian brothers" that keep the egging going on to speed up the End of Time when Jews are exterminated at the hands Jesus.

    What international law are you talking about: expanding national waterline at will, stopping any ship anywhere by any country’s naval ship, dropping commandoes on board and shooting at unarmed people ??????????

    Let us see if Iran stops the next Israeli ship for ‘inspection', where all this flexible understanding of the international maritime law would go. And with all the havoc Israel is causing, stopping and Israeli ship seems more legitimate than stopping the Turkish ship by shooting its passengers. You are aware of what Israel does allover the world, right? If not, think about this: nuclear weapon illicitly produced, and offered for sale in the past to apartheid South Africa, extraterritorial assassinations, kidnapping citizen and non-citizens from where ever in the world Israelis see fit, largest illegal arm smuggler in the world being Russian Israeli citizen, illicit weapons trading with a lot of the rebel groups in Africa, Kurdistan, etc.

    And about the blockade of a small strip of land that you claim Israel withdrew from: Israelis have been rationing calories that go into Gaza to maintain 'controlled' starvation; and choosing to allow rice but not pasta, couscous but not jams, etc.
    If that seems kosher to you, it seems like a lot of pork to me – metaphorically speaking.

    It is also interesting how the European countries are coming around albeit slowly - check the latest news from UK and Germany, not to mention earlier news from Sweden and Norway.

    The United States is still not moving fast enough. But, is it because they see is as legally OK, and not a big deal, or could it be just politics and domestic calculations? The latter seems to be a very important factor in US calculation. And that seems to be the opinion of an American Jewish Israeli citizen and writer, while assessing why Obama seems to be backpedaling from previous strong stance on peace issues. Read this from the Jerusalem Post '.fear of losing Jewish money drives Obama shift re Israel'. Here is the link from Mondoweiss blog with links to the JPost article

    Becky: I know you have the right to sympathize with your brothers there as much I sympathize with mine. But your logic is flawed.

  5. Also, and for those who wonder where Palestinian Christians and other Christians of the world stand on this catastrophe, please see a GREAT collection of reactions and replies by christian institutions around the world.

    The Churches Respond to Gaza Aid Flotilla Assault ( )

    Yet again to prove that the problems in not only an Islamic problem. It is a Palestinian problems and a justice problems for the fair minds no matter what their religion is.

  6. Arafat said this long time ago (1974): Israel is America's cry baby.

  7. "..nothing Israel did was illegal according to international law and convention."

    Supporters with this convoluted understanding of law make it difficult for any meaningful change to occur.

    People were killed. There is not much more to debate.

  8. Michael:
    In a previous comment you also mentioned that you were no a lawyer. And I responded at that time that you sound like one, and that was not necessarily a complement considering how many lawyers use their skill to pick and choose from the law. It is a ‘déjà vu allover again’ today. You again sound like a lawyer.

    But let us be reasonable here. Let us compromise. How about I yield to you on the international rule of taking over an un-armed ship and killing passenger, and you yield on another thing; may be occupation, or using the natural resources of the land you occupy, or settling your own people in occupied territories and cleansing it of its original inhabitants.
    Anything in the international law you seem to quote about that?

    I am not a lawyer, but I know that occupation is illegal under international law, that the use of natural resources of occupied territories is extremely illegal, even in situations were occupation is accepted as a temporary measure, and that resettling your own people in occupied land is a ‘big no no’.

    Actually, civilians settled in occupied territories by the occupying power are deemed combatants and are NOT entitled to the protection granted to civilians at times of was.

    So, if you get your people to leave the occupied lands (no if’s or but’s), remove their criminal enterprises called settlements from ALL occupied lands, and pay back for all the resources they used and stole from all the Palestinian occupied lands over the decades they benefited from it (water, oil, minerals, tourism, etc).

    If your people do that, I will personally plead to exonerate Israel from the criminal deed they committed during the flotilla massacre.

    Does that sound OK to you?

  9. International maritime law has been expounded on in many places on the web, but this site puts it succinctly:

    The US routinely stops and inspects ships in international waters. If a ship does not stop, the US does not bother with boarding first, it simply shoots up the ship. It happened just last January, off the coast of Guatemala:

    Israel no longers occupies Gaza. It is in a state of war with Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza. Blockades are normal during wartime. What is frankly unusual is to allow humanitarian supplies in at all -- when the US imposed a maritime blockade on Cuba, for example, it did not allow "rice but not pasta, couscous but not jam", it simply shut down all shipping into Cuba altogether.

    You and I may both have much to criticize about Israel's actions, but they are "legal" according to international law and custom. As to whether they are wise, or more importantly ETHICAL, that is another question.

  10. Part 1
    I do not think there is much we can agree about. Before we agree you need to be consistent: Are you for _Legality_ or for _legitimacy_?

    If you are for legality, then give me a clear opinion of the other legal issues I raised:
    - occupation
    - on going theft of resources of occupied land
    - settling the occupier's so-called civilians in occupied territories.
    - non-compliance with numerous UN resolutions, not to mention Security Council resolutions 242 and 331

    If you are for legitimacy and for morally-appropriate arguments then tell what you think about this:
    - Legitimacy of bringing Jews from wherever in the world to settle in land that is not theirs, as long as the appropriate rabbi give them the stamp of approval - while you will not allow Arabs to marry from outside of the state to bring their spouses in, thus manufacturing ethnic pattern for political purposes.
    - the morality of claiming democracy as a system of governance (i.e., rule of the majority), yet dictate special rules for Jews, and impose an eternal 'Jewishness of the state', even if the Jew will not be the majority one day.

    You have commented before on several blog posts, I do not recall you making any opinion about these issues that I raise not so infrequently. I am sure the first response against all these legal and moral issues - that Israel repeatedly violates - would be: "But Israel and Jews are a special case, and we need to consider the history, the persecution, the antisemitism, etc, etc, etc". - and please do not even think of bring the arguments about having ancestors living their for few centuries over 2000 years ago, and a claim and a promise in the old testament to some ancient tribes.

    But again, you and most Israelis would not commit to one stance: legally binding rulings or morally binding opinions on the topics I raised before.

    Why? because you simply want the convenience to pick and choose: one time you like it legalistic, and in other time you do not.

    The title of my blog is about a country that is MORALLY bankrupt. Nothing you said, no matter how legalistic it is will change the fact that the title actually describes Israel.

    Another thing: The notion which Israel repeats about its entitlement to 'self defense' is laughable. For a nation that does not even admit to any specific borders - the whole mark of states with sovereignty - defending those 'undeclared borders' seems an arbitrary (even whimsical) process, leaving the morally-bankrupt and eternally-occupier state free to do whatever it wants whenever it wants. A great back up plan for when they need more land for one reason or the other.

  11. Part 2
    Finally, and not to ignore the legal issues you raised, a quick search leads to legally differing opinions from those you 'selected' to present. So I took the liberty of 'selecting' the other half of the arguments that you ignored, or that the sources you chose to research selectively (and conveniently) ignored.

    It is a long reading, but you started the legalese battle.
    "Article 102 of the San Remo Manual, it states that a blockade is prohibited if the damage to the civilian population is excessive in relation to the military advantage."

    "A 2009 report by the UN Human Rights Council showed that Israel's restrictions of both imports to and exports from Gaza were unclear and often inconsistent, denying the civilian population adequate nutrition. Such arbitrary items that were barred include sage, cardamom, ginger, jam, fresh meat, fishing rods, among other items. Although there is much aid available, Israel was not allowing a sufficient amount to enter Gaza. This amounts to a breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment. Nothing could be clearer than Israel's"

    "In actual fact, since Israel is exercising _effective control_ over Gaza, it is still the occupying power.
    Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations states that "Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army" and this imposes on Israel several responsibilities towards the civilian population, which as we have seen above, have not been fulfilled.

    Article 55 of the Geneva Conventions specifically provides that the occupying power must provide food and medical supplies at an adequate level, and reports by both the UN and several human rights organizations have shown this not to be the case. Grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Conventions are war crimes.
    Part 3 to follow

  12. Part 3
    Washington Post
    Anthony D'Amato, a professor of international law at Northwestern University School of Law is among those who believes the raid was

    illegal. "That's what freedom of the seas are all about. This is very clear, for a change. I know a lot of prominent Israeli attorneys and I'd be

    flabbergasted if any of them disagreed with me on this," he said.
    But D'Amato said the document [San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflict at Sea] applies to a situation in

    which the laws of war between states are in force. He said the laws of war do not apply in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which isn't

    even a state. He said the law of the Geneva Conventions would apply.
    The influential rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch says that Israel is within its right to "control the content and delivery of

    humanitarian aid, such as to ensure that consignments do not include weapons." But the group said "Israel's continuing blockade of the

    Gaza Strip, a measure that is depriving its population of food, fuel, and basic services, constitutes a form of collective punishment in

    violation of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

    The U.N. Security Council has already weighed in on the blockade (of which the flotilla attack is one part), attacking it in Resolution 1860

    for collectively punishing the people of Gaza. The resolution calls for “the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of

    humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel, and medical treatment.” The criticism of the embargo as illegal is heavily rooted in the logic

    of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 3 of which mandates that states take all possible steps (even when formal wars have not been

    declared between two states) to protect noncombatants. Behavior that is expressly prohibited includes any actions that are a threat to

    individual life (9 civilian activists were killed in the flotilla attack). The taking of hostages (including the more than 660 seized by Israel)

    for political or military purposes is also prohibited. The blockade is illegal in that it violates the legal principles behind the Geneva

    Conventions, which were created for the general purpose of prohibiting states from engaging in collective punishment against civilians

    during times of conflict. Israel’s collective attack on the civilians of Gaza (and its refusal to even acknowledge that they are under assault)

    represents a clear violation of the spirit and letter of the Geneva Conventions.

  13. Khaled,

    I leave one comment citing one short law. You respond by saying I "sound like a lawyer", but then you out do me ten-fold.

    From reading your comment, I see that you falsely interpret my views. I left a very short comment and you already assume that I'm a Likudnik. I would agree with most of what you said. But I don't see how you justify calling all settlers "combatants". At least cite some law. Doing something illegal such as settling without proper authorization does not make you a combatant.

    To relieve you of your ignorance, I'll share with you some of my views. I oppose all Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank, but I do favor IDF presence in the West Bank for security purposes, and lets not pretend that there was no security threat from the West Bank before and after 1967, and even before 1948. I believe the blockade has many dumb restrictions, but at the end of the day, there has to be some filter between Hamas and its arms supplier, Iran.

    I don't have time right now, but I'll participate in your discussion on the interpretation of international law later.