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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Gaza Flotilla: The New York Times Calls for an "Impartial International Investigation"

In an editorial entitled "Israel and the Blockade" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02wed1.html?hp), The New York Times proffers the opinion that the Gaza flotilla confrontation requires an "immediate and objective international investigation".

The Times editorial board is quick to opine, notwithstanding the fact that it has no knowledge concerning the identities of all the flotilla "activists" (some 50 are tied to global jihad organizations) and that it is unaware of all items found on board the ships (let's see what the Israeli government is willing to disclose).

Eliminate the blockade? And who will take responsibility when Iran supplies Hamas with M-600 missiles capable of hitting any target in Israel, i.e. the same missiles which Iran is currently supplying to Hezbollah.

The Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews and rejects any peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the past eight years Hamas has fired more than 10,000 missiles, rockets and mortars at Israeli civilian targets, as the world stood by indifferently. If the blockade should be lifted, Hamas would be entirely free to receive advanced weaponry from Iran. Query: Would the Times so sanguinely allow Cuba to receive such weaponry if it had hit Miami with rockets over the course of almost a decade and had proclaimed its intention to eliminate the whole of the U.S. by way of jihad?

I question whether the person who wrote this opinion piece ever spent time in the Israeli town of Sderot, which for many years has been the target of Hamas rockets, particularly during the hours when its children are en route to school.

An "impartial international investigation"? This sounds like an oxymoron, but by all means: Let's investigate the deaths of nine persons who came armed with knives, clubs and Kevlar vests, intent on a confrontation with the Israeli military. Peculiar, however, that the Times is not calling for an "impartial international investigation" of a recent U.S. drone attack that killed 23 truly innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Strange, also, how the Times ignores Turkey's horrifying abuse of its Kurdish minority – some 15 million people – who are desperately seeking independence. Shouldn't there also be an "impartial international investigation" of the plight of the Kurds, who continue to be tortured and murdered, who suffer economic and educational discrimination, and who are even prevented by Turkey from using their own language?

International "aid" organizations are free to ship food and medicine into Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod (notably, Egypt, which also borders Gaza, is neither offering nor being asked to provide port services to unload such goods en route to Gaza). Unfortunately, the shipment of food and medicine is not the goal of most such highly politicized bodies, which rely on "benign" benefactors such as Saudi Arabia for their budgets, and which are desperately seeking confrontation with Israel, even at the cost of human lives.

17 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your well written comment to the Rag's editorial on the flotilla incident.

    Apparently most of these idiots dont remember the Cuban Missile Crisis or choose not to remember it. This, plus the support your blog gives, most unfortunately, just proves the point that -antisemitism is alive and well.

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  2. I came across your opinion reading Comments section to Friedman's article.
    I agree with you. But does Israel really want to use this argument against Turks? It will completely alienate them.
    Can Israel afford another archenemy like Turkey?
    My hope is that cool heads will prevail.

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  3. Really? Try this one on: I question whether the person who wrote this opinion piece ever spent time in Gaza City, which for many years has been the target of Israeli missles, particularly during the hours when its children are en route to school.

    A man with a hammer sees every problem as a nail.

    Your country's unfortunate leadership is now an international pariah. A bunch of clowns on a boat in international waters is not the problem Netanyahoo makes them out to be. Ayalon: an armada of hate!? There is no threat to Israel from them, yet Israel rappelled commandos in the pre-dawn darkness and then we're all supposed to be shocked or outraged when they get clubbed?

    You're really surprised that 10 000 rockets went to Israel from Gaza? Why not? those people have nothing to loose, and live under a military occupation. Hamas charter? As worthless as the paper it's printed on. Irrelevant.

    Do you not see how utterly unsustainable the situation is? Does Israel really relish the title of military occupier?

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  4. Lev, I have spent more time in Gaza City and throughout the Gaza strip than you can imagine. It is you who has never been there, as is plain from what you write.

    You ignore the suicide bombings that emanated from Gaza, resulting in the closure of the border, which in turn prevented tens of thousands of Gazans from commuting every day to work in Israel. And yes, Lev, unlike you, I have also witnessed the aftermath of suicide bombings. (Yeah, sure, the Hamas charter calling for the murder of all Jews is irrelevant . . .)

    Gazans have nothing to live for? How do you know? You never visited their new olympic-sized swimming pool. You never dined at the Roots Club in Gaza, where the food is truly excellent (see: http://www.rootsclub.ps/movie.php). And Gaza's stores are currently swollen with consumer goods.

    Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005 and was rewarded with rocket and missile fire aimed at civilian population centers (again something you never experienced), yet you blithely state that Israel is a "military occupier". It would seem that you have also forgotten that Gaza borders on Egypt, which is also deeply worried by the radicalism of Hamas. Is Egypt also a "military occupier"?

    Given that you are unfamiliar with the area, it comes as no surprise that you are also unaware of the 8% GDP growth being experienced by Palestinians in the West Bank, who are not busy accumulating rockets to fire at Israel and are more concerned with building their economy.

    By the way, Lev, a pity you've never seen the aftermath of an "honor killing" in Gaza or witnessed the execution of Fatah members by Hamas in Gaza. I can assure you that these phenomena are occurring precisely because, contrary to what you write, there is no Israeli military occupation of Gaza.

    In short, Lev, you indeed hit the nail on the head: You've never been to Gaza (or the West Bank for that matter), and although deeply impassioned, you are entirely unfamiliar with what you're writing.

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  5. Thank you for your reply.

    True I've never set foot in Gaza, The WB or into Israel. I'm unable to see what you do from your vantage point. That said, the 8% GDP in the WB is something, but hardly a substitute for freedom or independence - while the military closes and opens settler-only roads at will. Think of that. Settler-only roads. If you're the wrong ethnic-religious-citizen-group, it's not for you. Forbidden from use. Are the license plates still different colors based on religion/ethnicity/etc?
    There is little democracy in the west bank.

    Agreed, there is horrific malice on the part of Hamas. They, by any standard, are a tried and true terrorist group. They aim to maim, kill and murder civilians. The civilians in Gaza (many of whom must have voted for them as by all accounts the election was basically transparent) still live in squalor (if the 80% poverty rate from the CIA correct) and are subject to the whims of an increasingly belligerent Israeli administration, who collectively punish the population with an embargo that strengthens the idea of Hamas 'the resistance', and apparently doesn't hit Hamas' leaders, whether it's possible to change their behavior or not.

    Economically, through state-terror (I can't think of another word for many of the Israeli actions over and in Gaza), the Israeli gov't has the last word. Always. Supersonic booms overhead. Missile attacks from apaches. No one leaves Gaza (apart from burrowing through tunnels) without Israeli approval. Not to study in the US on scholarships, not to go overland to the WB, to go nowhere. That is the occupation. Shut off the water. Stop the importation of fuel. With-hold tax revenue.
    How long can this continue?

    When you say 'Israel left Gaza' in 2005 and was rewarded with rockets- they pulled the settlers out, demolished what they could and then left the Palestinians to settle their own scores. A swimming pool and a Mexican-themed restaurant don't make up for the abysmal facts on the ground. Crap in stores doesn't warrant indiscriminate bombing in a dense urban environment, killing many with a missile to get to one. Repeatedly.

    Blockaded by air, sea and land the people are crammed into the equivalent of an open-air prison.

    What precisely is the end game here? Will they wake up and 'recognize' Israel? The way Netanyahu insists it be recognized? Or will another 40 years pass and nothing come of it, except more of the same? What precisely are the expectations of a people perpetually subject to this kind of control?

    I'm really at a loss here.

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  6. Lev, I am limited in time - I also need to work - but I believe that before writing anything, you should try to get the facts straight for yourself. However, you're not alone: Look at the first, extremely popular reader comment to the NYT editorial: "Hamas rockets do not pose an equal threat to the starvation of millions." There are no instances of starvation in Gaza, and the population is only some 1.4 million.

    Re settler-only roads designed to reduce terror attacks, you're again not on top of the news. Pursuant to an order of Israel's High Court, Highway 443 was opened up to everyone. Also, if you were to take the time to learn the facts on the ground, you would be stunned by the drastic reduction in the number of West Bank highway checkpoints by your friend Netanyahu.

    "There is little democracy on the West Bank"? You should complain to Fatah, which is actively striving to prevent Hamas from raising its head on the West Bank by way of arrests. Now also tell me where democracy exists in the Arab/Persian Middle East?

    "No one leaves Gaza without Israeli approval"? Wrong again. You seem to insist on forgetting that Gaza also has a common border with Egypt, and Egypt is free to decide which persons and goods go in and out of Gaza.

    Israeli "state terror", as you call it? Again, if you are not here, how can you know? Today, Israel almost exclusively reacts after rocket fire from Gaza.

    "Indiscriminate bombing in a dense urban environment, killing many with a missile to get to one"? Again, you are writing things without knowledge or understanding. Compare civilian deaths caused by Israel in Gaza with civilian deaths caused by U.S./NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The evidence of Israeli restraint is overwhelming.

    "Blockaded by air, sea and land the people are crammed into the equivalent of an open-air prison." Did it ever occur to you that a large part of the problem is the fertility rate, i.e. more than five children per woman? Compare Gaza's population in 1967 (some 400,000) with today. I don't care where you live, if birth control is not practiced, the population is going to swell, and the economy is going to suffer.

    "What precisely are the expectations of a people perpetually subject to this kind of control?" I can't speak for the Israeli government, but if Gazans were to recognize the right of Israel to exist and halt the practice of suicide bombings and rocket attacks, I am confident their economy will grow with concurrent freedom of movement.

    Again, I'm limited in time, but would suggest that you take the time to visit, learn the relevant languages and learn the facts on the ground before reaching an opinion. I would also add that I personally favor a two-state solution and will be delighted to see an independent Palestinian state; however, I am also aware that Israel is only 9 miles wide at its midsection, that Ben-Gurion Airport is only 5 miles away from the Palestinian border (making passenger jets vulnerable to rocket fire), and that adequate security and confidence building measures will need to be in place.

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  7. Excellent points in your comment above, JG!

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  8. Jeffrey! Your style is brilliant. Why do not you write a book? Something more comprehensive than the reaction on day to day events.

    This Lev, obviously, would like Israel to give up, rather than Hamas. At least, it became clear in your discussion that these are his personal preferences, regardless of all his "arguments".

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  9. Thanks, Marina.

    I'm pleased that Lev took the time to send comments, notwithstanding the fact that they are not anchored upon Middle East realities.

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  10. Dear JG,

    It's true that there are 10-15 million Kurds living in Turkey but your portrayal regarding their treatment is completely wrong.

    Only a tiny fraction -less than 10 percent- of Kurds living in Eastern Anatolia want a seperate independent state. Even Abdullah Ocalan, convicted leader of the PKK, clearly states that PKK and Kurds should seek federalism, not an independent state, and this is the most radical view. Majority of the Kurds, especially the ones living in western cities, do not even share this view since it's not rational both in economical and sociological terms.

    Today there is no segragation or different rules imposed on Kurds, they have the same economic rights as the Turks and they can use their own language. For God's sake, there is even a state sponsored television channel broadcasting in Kurdish!

    Recently the Republican Party - CHP, founded by Ataturk & the current opposition in the parliment, elected Kemal Kilicdaroglu as its president. For you information, he is a Kurd and an Alevi.

    EU and other international organizations are free to visit Turkey to evaluate the living conditions by forming impartial commissions. There is no need for special permissions since there is no blockade. You can even visit predominantly Kurdish parts of Turkey as an ordinary tourist.

    Best Regards,

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  11. Dear Mr. Emin,

    You obviously missed the following Reuters report of today's date entitled "PKK rebels say scrap ceasefire on Turkish forces" by Shamal Aqrawi (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6523BG20100603):

    "Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have scrapped a year-old unilateral ceasefire and resumed attacks against Turkish forces, a PKK spokesman said on Thursday. The move follows an escalation in violence with the onset of summer between Turkish armed forces and PKK guerrillas fighting from bases in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. 'Two days ago, we started waging attacks against the Turkish army in response to their repeated military attacks against the party and political attacks facing Kurds in Turkey,' PKK spokesman Ahmed Danees told Reuters in Kurdistan.

    . . . .

    He blamed a lack of progress on a political reform package announced last year by the Turkish government, and military operations of the kind late last month when Turkish warplanes attacked some 50 PKK targets in northern Iraq.

    . . . .

    More than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed since the PKK took up arms against Turkey in 1984 for an independent homeland. The rebels say they now want greater rights and autonomy for Turkey's estimated 15 million Kurds.

    . . . .

    The PKK, branded terrorists by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, declared a 'period of non-action' in April 2009, saying they would halt fighting except in self-defense. The gesture coincided with a pledge by the Turkish government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to expand Kurdish rights under a reform package designed to end the conflict. But the initiative suffered a setback in December, when the Constitutional Court outlawed the Democratic Society Party (DTP) on charges of being the political wing of the PKK.

    '... they have not presented any real projects that might aid the Kurdish issue since the announcement of the last constitutional reform package of the government,' Danees said. 'We find ourselves compelled to defend ourselves, to protect our people and our national question in Turkey,' he said."

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  12. Dear JG,

    Thanks for noticing me about the recent Reuters news report.

    I did not say that PKK give up arms. I said, even the PKK which is supported by the most radical Kurds, is fighting for greater rights and federalism, not a complete independent state. The report from Reuters confirms that too:

    "The rebels say they now want greater rights and autonomy for Turkey's estimated 15 million Kurds."

    In the last elections, DTP -the party which is charged by being the political wing of the PKK- got only %5 percent of the votes in Turkey and only earned 20 seats out of 550 seats in the parliament. Why not their voting base is not close to %20 percent, if all the Kurds are oppressed terribly and seek independence?

    It is not close because equating PKK with the Kurds living in Turkey is simply wrong.

    As a final word, let me point that I am not saying the Kurds do not have any problems but their actual situation is clearly better compared to your depiction.

    Best Regards,

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  13. Dear Mr. Emin,

    You write, "I am not saying the Kurds do not have any problems but their actual situation is clearly better compared to your depiction." Actually, I believe their situation is worse than that which I described. For example:

    - Some 40,000 dead Kurds according to Reuters.
    - Some 3,000 Kurdish villages destroyed.
    - Some 2 million Kurdish refugees resulting from the destruction of their villages.
    - Imprisonment of Kurdish minors.
    - Mayors of Kurdish towns ousted for providing information concerning municipal services in the Kurdish language or for addressing written New Years greetings in the Kurdish language.
    - MP Leyla Zana sentenced in 2008 to two years in prison for saying that Kurds have three leaders, Massoud Barzani, Celal Talabani and Abdullah Ocalan.

    Erdogan wishes to assist Hamas, which calls for the murder of all Jews and refuses a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? First he should make peace at home with the PKK and redress the historic wrongs inflicted upon Turkey's Kurdish minority.

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  14. Dear JG,

    I respect your opinions but let me give some clarifications about the information you have given:

    - Some 40,000 dead Kurds according to Reuters.

    This number also includes Turkish civilian & military losses. And the dead Kurds are mostly armed PKK members. You can refer to this article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkey_%E2%80%93_Kurdistan_Workers'_Party_conflict

    - Some 3,000 Kurdish villages destroyed.
    - Some 2 million Kurdish refugees resulting from the destruction of their villages.

    Kurdish settlements in south-eastern anatolia are destroyed because PKK was hiding in villages & forcing villagers to cooperate. Some of them are deliberately destroyed by PKK.

    There is no refugee camps in Turkey, and these people are not forced to relocate but migrated to cities usually because of conflict & unemployment in the region.

    Kurdish civilians who are affected adversely from the conflict have right to sue Turkey in European Court of Human Rights. Also, Turkey welcomes national & international organizations who would like to ease the pain of the adversely affected civilians.

    - Imprisonment of Kurdish minors.

    Kurdish minors are not imprisoned for arbitrary reasons. They are mostly imprisoned for stoning/attacking cops or other security officers. They are imprisoned only in juvenile prisons. Their situation is a recent debate topic and the government has plans to ease their conditions. Their situation is a very sensitive issue. Just like islamic terrorist organizations, PKK is using juveniles.

    - MP Leyla Zana sentenced in 2008 to two years in prison for saying that Kurds have three leaders, Massoud Barzani, Celal Talabani and Abdullah Ocalan.

    As you already know Abdullah Ocalan is the convicted leader of the PKK, an internationally recognized terrorist organization. She had many remarks and activities to spread out terrorist propaganda. What else would have happened?

    Also I have few to things to say about your paragraph regarding Erdogan.

    Why do you assume I completely support Erdogan's views? I personally don't support Hamas and just like you I also think Turkey should first solve its own problems before lecturing others. But this still does not make your depiction right.

    Best regards,

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  15. Dear Mr. Emin,

    Thank you for your comments and for your politeness. Please feel more than welcome to participate in future discussions.

    Best wishes,
    Jeffrey

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  16. JG: thank you for bringing up the Kurds, a people whose right to self-determination has been denied since the betrayal after WW1. The specifics in Turkish Kurdistan today are not the point. The Kurds have proven they are worthy of their own nation, yet Turkey aligns with Syria and Iran in large part to deny the Kurds their chance in what will surely be longterm, concerted attempts to destabilize Iraq, solely because Iraqi Kurds have their Kurdistan.

    After all, a united Kurdistan would control most of the water resources in the Middle and Near East.

    As to that NYT editorial? I disagree with the NYT, but do believe it is in Israel's interest to include some credible neutral participants to any investigation, if only to avoid the inevitable charges that Israel corrupted their evidence. It should NOT be underthe auspices of any international organization, but an Israeli-led intitiative that includes non-Israelis, based on technical qualifications.

    Otherwise, we will just have to wait for the tv series NCIS to show us how it is done. I expect a new episode to show US Navy Seals in a "Free Guantanomo Flotilla" boarding gone bad, but we will have to wait for October.

    K2K

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  17. For information concerning Turkish death squads which murdered Kurdish political and community leaders, but were never prosecuted, see:

    http://www.jstor.org/pss/3012887

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