Saturday, 5 June 2010

Which may perhaps be expected

If The Guardian story is true then it really was a massacre. Reporter Robert Booth writes:

Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.

The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine

and goes on...

The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a "shoot to kill policy".

He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase
So says, the chairman of Friends of al-Aqsa - which may perhaps be expected.

If it is true, all claims of self-defence, all the videos before and during the raid, count for nothing. If it is true that the autopsies - that only Robert Booth has seen - do say this, then there's no point in denying it was a massacre, equivalent to My Lai - in which case the equivalent of Lt Calley should be brought before a court and tried. (Though no one boycotted the USA as a result of it.)

On the other hand no one else carries this story - I repeat no one else - not even the BBC which has never been friendly to Israel. Why doesn't the BBC carry it? Why doesn't any other paper or news organisation? Is Robert Booth any relation to Lauren Booth?

Whether he is or not, if the story is true, that hardly matters. It is an enormous scoop if true. Dammit - it should be the biggest front page headline throughout the world!

But nobody else is running with it.

Could it be that the all-powerful Zionist Lobby that controls the world, the BBC, and the comments on the Guardian's CiF, as well as everything else, has sent out its greasy, hook-nosed Goldfinger brigade to threaten everyone with annihilation?

Or could it be that the story is wrong? Though even if it is wrong, there will only be more of those who would prefer it to be right. It will have succeeding in exacerbating tensions, raising the temperature, and providing extra heat to hotheads who least need it.

Again, I don't know whether it is true or not. How could I possibly know? I would, of course, prefer it not to be. Because, if true, it would radically change my understanding of the I/P situation. Nevertheless, the fact is that I don't know. All I know is that it is The Guardian that leads on it.

Which may perhaps be expected.

In the meantime, another ship approaches...


Another ship...

Just to bear out what I say above regarding the BBC - this is how the headline has it on the situation at 11:45.

Israeli soldiers 'board aid ship'
Israeli soldiers say they have "peacefully" boarded a ship trying to take aid to Gaza, days after a deadly clash with another boat.

See those scare quotes there?


While we're on the subject, here is Michael Totten.


Ship boarded. Scare quotes gone. 12:45.


Billy C said...

There are so many wrongs going on here that it's dificult to sort the wheat from the chaff. One thing I do know having worked in dangerous circumstances, self preservation is a powerful driving force. I've seen the videos of the way the Israeli cammandos were 'greeted' and I can say without doubt that had I been in their shoes...

"was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back,"

...would have been the least of their worries and my machine pistol would have been glowing red. It's not a nice thing to say, but that's life. Or death.

Mark Granier said...

'If it is true, all claims of self-defence, all the videos before and during the raid, count for nothing. If it is true that the autopsies, - that only Robert Booth has seen - do say this, then there's no point in denying it was a massacre, equivalent to My Lai - in which case the equivalent of Lt Calley should be brought before a court and tried. (Though no one boycotted the USA as a result of it.)'

George, I have seen some of that video footage and cannot make head or tail of it (though no doubt others can); I also seem to recall hearing that the videos were carefully edited by the Israelis.

Not sure why you use My Lai as an example. It happened over forty years ago. And, more significantly, the majority of victims were women, children (including babies) and old people. The My Lai villagers were not, so far as I know, attempting to challenge the US military or score a propaganda coup. So in fact, when it comes to war crimes, the Israeli commandos are not in that league.

And I can see (or think I can see) the Israeli point of view, since they invited the ships to use their port and have the cargo checked. Would the Israelis have delivered the supplies, considering that their list of banned items does seem pretty OTT? I don't know.

That apart, the defying of the blockade is a deliberate act of protest, though the protesters do have a good argument, that the people of Gaza are in dire need of supplies, etc. The commandos seem to have used 'excessive force', to put it mildly, but there must be better analogies than My Lai. I will have to read more before commenting farther.

For the record, I for one do not wish the Guardian report to be true and my sympathies are for the friends and families of those who've been shot or wounded in these raids (including the commandos, who were presumably carrying out orders), and beyond that for the people of Gaza and Israel and everyone who is caught up in that tragic, interminable conflict.

George S said...

I use My Lai because a massacre is a massacre, and that is what the Guardian claims it was. I am also using it to demonstrate that if it does turn out to have been a massacre - albeit without the rampaging slaughter of My Lai, as you point out Mark - the USA was not denounced as a whole.

The dire need of the Palestinians in Gaza is another of those things taken for granted, but there is also a lot of evidence to show that Gaza in most respects is pretty well provided for in terms of food, amenities, and even entertainments. I could point you to videos of them, not taken by the IDF.

But I am reasonably confident that there is some need.

My suspicion is that the need has to be there for political purposes - not Israeli political purposes but Hama purposes, and the purposes of a Middle East that has never accepted the state of Israel.

You will remember the refugee camps. Those refugee camps were kept as refugee camps for generations. They were refugee camps because the states they were in did not choose to assimilate the refugees. Had they chosen to do so it would have been an admission that Israel was legally a state and that they felt an obligation to absorb the population of those camps.

(Having been a refugee myself I presume I could still be in a refugee camp in some part of the UK if this country did not recognize the existence of Hungary and wanted to keep a finger pointing at the illegitimate government running the ancient territory settled by Hungarian incomers - a thousand years ago, granted, but we have long memories here and we must maintain our position).

There are enormous stakes here that, for an ideologue (especially a political-religious ideologue), supersede the lives of this or that individual, so suicide bombs are acceptable parts of the process.

This does not excuse a massacre by the Israeli troops, if that is what happened.

And Billy - yes, I accept that things might have happened as you described, but it is still a matter of military discipline that they should not. (What if the British police had shot some poll-tax rioters?) The question then is whether young Israeli soldiers lost their heads, or whether they were instructed to fire by a superior oficer, or whether - and this is what the anti-Israel camp would want us to believe - the political atmosphere in Israel is so paranoid and self-justifying, so indifferent to human suffering, that it inevitably produces massacres.

Billy C said...

George, we're priveleged to have the luxury of pontificating from a distance. Both those on the ship and the Israeli commandos had no such luxury. Orders? Discipline? They go out of the window when your life is threatened and even though I'm very aware that we saw an edited version of events, there was no ambiguity about the reception those soldiers got. It was those events I was talking about. Perhaps the commandos had already opened fire before they landed that made those on the ship so aggressive. Perhaps those meting out beatings with iron bars and the like were hardliners. To me, it was a case of action and reaction. That's human.

I don't think you can make an analogy with the poll tax riots. I wouldn't even make one with the miner's strikes, and they were worse. This was a case of a group of people confronting an army and not a civil, unarmed force.

I've tried to take a balanced view of all that's been going on. Obviously, the blockade will have have had an affect on some innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip. Equally, Hamas is the sworn enemy of Israel and they do import weapons from Iran and Syria to wage war against Israel. So I understand the reason for the blockade. The banning of building materials might sound draconian, but when those same materials are used to build tunnels to bring in arms rather than homes, then the ban takes on another aspect. It's the denial of those facts and the denial by many that Israel has a duty, yes: A DUTY, to protect it's citizens every way they can that makes me critical of those who are prepared to be one-sided in this affair.

I'm not an expert of what's happening there, but a few simple facts don't escape me. Nor should they escape anyone else and nor should such a one-sided narrative such as the one you've pointed out have any legitimacy. Unfortunately, those with vested interests will make full use of them and the unthinking will believe all they read.

Coirí Filíochta said...

It is interesting how cartoonish the language of the rhetoric on all sides - demonstrates how emotion and blind human passion to a cause, influences how we paint our pictures and rationalize the world around us into the moral 'good' and 'bad'.


Where the people of the boat 'peace activists' as they claim, or 'terrorists' as the Israeli's claim?

Not a serious question.

I was listening to the radio the other morning, and the presenter was talking to someone in Gaza, saying the first thing that strikes you as you drive out somewhere, was the smell of raw sewage because the infrastructure is shot to pieces. She catalogued a raft of stuff that would paint Gaza as not a great place to live in, which the Israeli supporter could no doubt claim was propoganda of misguided fanatasists without a real grasp of what's going on.

The Palastinians would claim they are being herded into camps by the sons and daughters of Holocaust victims - whilst the opposing position, exemplified by Netanyahu when he said those in Gaza were just being 'put on a diet' and that this boat was 'not a love boat, but a hate boat'.

The Totten site George links to has some interesting comments, from armchair generals:

Sorry, I vote for just sinking the boat.

'One warning, one missile, boat sinks.'

Anyone have a link so that I can provide $$$$ to support Israel?

'Turkey wants a war.

They might get one.'

If the Israelis let this one through without inspecting it, then the next one will be carrying serious weaponry.

'I second sinking the boat. Not without warning of course, but board the ship, evacuate the passengers, and sink the boat. Then do it with the next one. Then stop, because the third boat will probably be booby trapped.'

"Rachel Corrie ship won't divert course"

Sink her.

I'm getting tired of this bullshit.

'They were as much "civilians" as a suicide bomber is a "civilian."

George S said...

Yes, I saw those Coiri. They exist on both sides. Sites which sympathise with one or other side are bound to attract them.

Out there in the world of the general media the balance is very much the other way.

It was, of course, the Totten post, not the comments on it that I was pointing to. But I suspect you know that, don't you?

Coirí Filíochta said...

I was merely making the point that the langauge of the rhetoric was cartoonish, and evinced the comments from the blog to support the point.

George S said...

Well, yes. That is the nature of rhetoric: it must verge on the cartoonish.

The role of the cartoon is an interesting subject anyway. In some ways it helps to de-humanise subjects, to reduce their complexity when people are at odds with each other. No energy can be left for complexity once you get to that point. It is, as Billy says, life or death then. You use your whole energy to survive.

The hard thing is to decide when you have arrived at that point. There are times in life when people do arrive there. I am, naturally, all for delaying that point as long as humanly possible. In other words you jaw-jaw as long as you can before its war-war. (Though of course some of the jaw-jaw refers to the imminent threat of war-war).

Human history, however, does not suggest that jaw-jaw is guaranteed to succeed.

Coirí Filíochta said...

That's it George. It's easy to get carried away on blogosphere and before you know it, we are all foaming at the mouth and throwing infantile nonsense about, getting sidetracked and spouting all kinds.

I have found my own beliefs get more unsure the longer I am surfing. For example, I will be reading a comment thread or piece of journalism, and be fully agreeing with the author's position, and then the next commentator will write something that makes me go a full 180.

I was following the Bilderberg blogger Skelton on the Guardian today, who is very much ranting about secret NWO cabals meeting in secrecy and undermining democracy - and agreeing with every comment; going from one extreme to the other - and then a poster came on and wrote something that I thought to be along the lines of - all you unelected people telling others about democracy. Get elected and make a difference that way if you are so bothered.

This was earlier today and I remember thinking, this is the one bit of sense that has undercut all the armchair know-alls and what I would agree with.

However, when I went back to try and get the quote in full; I realized I had misread it, and far from being on the side of the fence I thought, it was on the total opposite. At least, I think it was:

There are far toomany unelected people telling everyone what to do and it is all hidden, and we have the cheek to lecture others on democracy.

People also want to look closely at common purpose whose grubby fingers are everywhere.

It's the web in general. I am arriving at the point where I think I've spent as much time as is going to be useful to me on it as a tool for the unpublished wannabe poet to get their rhetorical spurs. Gained a critical skin via this free medium.

I got on in 2005 and have spent five years concentrating on it as the outlet for learning; but now feel it's time to withdraw and start writing more considered pieces that aren't written straight off the bat in one go.

I dunno. We've gone from being a world of passive receivers of information to contributing commentators, all too often going off half cocked and filtering our facts to suit our prejudice/belief/whatever.

It's been coming since 2006 - a need to collect the poems I have into some coherent whole. Take a rest from my own voice.

Anyway, here's to free speech and poetical discourse. All power to the elobow.

Coirí Filíochta said...

I suppose my unsureness surrounding the act of reading on the blogosphere - ties in with your deciding where the end of jaw-jaw ends. At some point, like Nick Laird said in relation to himself - he had to unplug the net to get down to serious writing.

If you don't hear from me in the next few years; you know I've followed suit.

I have learnt a lot from others more experienced though, not least of all your good self. I remember reading your Poetry contribution of a full page prose-poem-y piece that used dashes and had no periods - one long flowing thought - that immediately struck me as highly nickable - and Anslem Berrigan (unless he was up to it anyway) doing the exact same thing in a few of his blog pieces on Harriet (before they closed it down) - and in general, I suppose, trying to get some purchase on the business of being a poet in the new blog realm - unafraid and shamelessly imitating - knowing we learn this way - by brazen unconcern - poetry and prose at the dump that is - the internet.

Thanks very much George.

George S said...

I have been keeping a blog since January 2005, Coiri, and it's manageable - or has been so far. But it is true you can't do serious writing and be constantly distracted by anything. It doesn't have to be the internet that distracts of course.

But I try not to get too involved in longer punch-ups at the web-face. Here at home, it's a little different. In fact it is exactly like being at home. A little conversation now and then is very welcome.

Otherwise I do spend my entire time working.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, anyway. I'm off to bed now...