Friday, June 04, 2010

assymetrical adroitness vs. state ultra-violence

Video - Free media fighting.

Guardian | It takes some nerve, and a special kind of detachment from reality, to claim that your soldiers were "lynched" by "terrorists" when they have just shot dead at least nine unarmed human rights activists and wounded dozens of others while suffering no fatal injuries themselves. But that is the line Israel's propaganda machine spun while it held nearly 700 international pro-Palestinian campaigners incommunicado in the wake of Monday's assault on six boats bringing humanitarian aid to the besieged people of Gaza.

It has already turned the Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev into a figure of international ridicule. And as hundreds of foreign nationals seized in the attacks were deported from Israel yesterday, a more credible picture started to emerge: of shooting even before the commandos landed, according to Haneen Zuabi, a Palestinian Israeli MP; of stun grenades, electric shocks, tear gas – and reports of bullet wounds to the head.

The charge of piracy from Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, can scarcely be regarded as hyperbole, when on a string of counts Israel has acted in flagrant violation of international law. Not only did the attacks take place in international waters, but its blockade of Gaza supports an illegal occupation and unlawfully deprives the population of essential supplies in an outlawed policy of collective punishment.

The Israeli military was well aware there were no arms on board the boats in the flotilla as they had been repeatedly searched by the Greek and Turkish authorities. And the fearsome weapons it said it had discovered turned out to be a collection of chair legs and kitchen knives. Those campaigners who used sticks against the attacks of heavily armed soldiers were evidently acting in self-defence, and the bravery – underlined yesterday as the MV Rachel Corrie, an Irish boat, sailed on towards Israel's exclusion zone – cannot be in doubt.

But whether this outrage was a trigger-happy display of incompetence or an attempt at deterrence that spun out of control, it has spectacularly backfired. What Erdogan branded an act of state terrorism has both set the seal on the rupture between Israel and its one-time Turkish ally and forced open cracks in the siege of Gaza that the attacks were presumably intended to close.

Egypt, the junior partner in the blockade, has been forced to open its border with Gaza; and the western governments that have connived in the siege since Palestinians voted for Hamas and the movement took over in 2007 now feel compelled to speak out against it. Hillary Clinton conceded the situation in Gaza was "unsustainable", while Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's ambassador to the UN, dared call it "unacceptable".

That's still a long way short of condemnation, let alone pulling the plug on the enforced suffering of more than one and a half million captive people. It's that political vacuum citizens across the world are now taking action to fill. Far from being ships of hate, the Free Gaza movement flotilla with 40-odd nationalities, its eight seaborne predecessors and the Viva Palestina convoys represent a growing global movement that has understood governments are not spontaneously going to turn against barbarities they themselves sponsor.


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