Here are some too brief thoughts on the recent ‘incident’. These thoughts are a response to some of the issues raised and talking points made over the last few days and are not intended to be some sort of analysis, just a kind of out loud thinking. More to follow.
Violence and Self Defense
According to the mainstream media (and too much of the ‘progressive’) the most pressing question is “who fought first”. From the Israeli spin (through willing agencies of mass media): seizing a convoy with commandos (which requires, we would think, some manner of force) is not ‘violence’, but self-defense. While trying to prevent your vessel from being boarded in said commando raid is not self-defense, but ‘violence’.
Are you effing kidding me? Really. Firstly, the “who fought first” argument assumes that there is some sort of equity between the sides. Between the Israeli Navy and Special Forces and the Free Gaza flotilla, equity? When a father beats his child, no one asks if the kid hit first. And between Israel and Palestine the chasm of inequity that is oppressed and oppressor runs. Secondly, from the standpoint of justice (though not legality, but more on that later) “who struck first” in an incident of confrontation is entirely incidental.
But let’s answer it. The Free Gaza flotilla made no attempt to board, detain, subdue and appropriate the vessels of the Israeli Navy while the Israeli Navy clearly did all of that and more to the flotilla. In fact, the flotilla wished to avoid the Israeli Navy altogether. This seems to pretty definitively answer the question of “who fought first”. As to “violence” and “self defense”, that entirely depends on where your sympathies or interests lie. Israel thought it was defending its interests (debatable given the outcome) and the flotilla was defending the interests of…. justice (affirmed given the outcome). You can tell where my sympathies (and interests) lie.
On this point I want to be crystal clear, and the movement should be as well: the resistance shown by some on the Mavi Marmara was entirely legitimate, indeed it was heroic (as was the more passive resistance displayed by other participants, including on the other ships). In the face of overwhelming odds and in the face of elite Israeli units those brave folks attempted to defend their lives (reminder: the IDF shoots unarmed protesters on an almost daily basis) and their cause with their bodies and whatever was at hand. And they paid for their commitment with their lives.
I was once charged with assault on a police officer (dropped) and resisting arrest (not dropped) because I didn’t simply fall limp at the point I was violently grabbed and thrown to the ground by undercover officers. I certainly did struggle…I couldn’t breathe! The logic of the IDF, both in this incident and in relation to the Palestinians in general is that of the rapist who demands that their victim quit resisting the penetration…then it won’t hurt so much. This is the ‘compassion’ shown by imperialists the world over. ‘Why are you struggling? Relax, it’ll be easier on you. Hell, you might even like it.’ Only a rapist, or an empire of rapine, thinks in such terms.
—thoughts in a similar vein from from Harpymarx