Tuesday, June 01, 2010


It's hard to describe the recent Israeli attack on the 'Gaza Flotilla' as anything but piracy. The legality of the Gaza blockade is disputed, but what is not disputed is that the attack too place in international waters (reports vary as to how far out it was). It is entirely possible that some of the Turks on board fought back against the assault, but the difference between Israeli pirates and Somali pirates can be seen in that the Somalis usually don't kill anyone even if the crews of the ships they attack also fight back. Reports on the total death toll vary, but it included at least nine people with many others wounded. Reports that are beginning to trickle out from people released from Israeli detention are, of course, wildly different from the claims of the Israeli military. The latter would be more believable if it wasn't sticking to its wild story that the soldiers boarding the ships began by "firing paintballs". Oh...I am really sure ! Perhaps forewarned by its intelligence services that the ships' cargoes had been thoroughly verified by independent observers Israel has not even tried to "plant" weapons in the seized goods. This, at least, would have been a more plausible lie than "paintballs". Once a silly claim has been made of ten enough , however, you have to stick to it no matter how absurd it is.

The world reaction has been immediate and vehement with demonstrations across the globe and condemnation from governments usually accustomed to toe a soft line with Israel. Those with residual sympathy for the Israeli government have reacted by claims that the military action was an ill-conceived mistake. Others have opined that the Israeli government is "insane".

I think both opinions are wrong. There are two countries in the world who have attacked US Navy ships and "gotten away with it". One is North Korea in 1968. The USS Pueblo is still held captive in North Korea. The other was Israel which sunk the USS Liberty in 1967- ironically in the same general area as the attack on the Gaza flotilla. Both Israel and North Korea have a long standing reputation for erratic and seemingly irrational actions, especially as they involve twisting the tail of the tiger. The only difference between world opinion of the two nations is that North Korea has no apologists (outside of tiny Stalinist sects- bizarrely enough most common in the USA). Nobody thinks North Korea makes "tragic mistakes".

Are Israel and North Korea "insane" ? Far from it. Crazy like a fox is a much better term. What both regimes want to project is the appearance of insanity, to give potential foes (and wavering friends !) the impression that they will lash out unexpectedly and violently with none of the usual considerations of costs and benefits. I call this the 'Beserker Card'. During the Middle Ages Norse warriors had a reputation for "going beserker" ie falling into a demented state where they would wildly attack without consideration of self preservation - or even of who was friend or enemy. They were certainly not the first to cultivate such a reputation. 'Celtic Fury' predated the Norse by almost a millennium. One has to wonder just how often this sort of thing really occurred and how widespread it as during military encounters because....the reputation of having such behavior is probably (certainly ?) a much more effective weapon in demoralizing an enemy than the act itself.

That is what I think is behind the Israeli actions during their recent act of piracy. I know it is impossible to prove, but it is a distinct possibility that the IDF were sent in with a deliberate tactical plan of creating an atrocity. It is at least more probable than paintballs. Whether such an action will backfire against its perpetrators is for the future to determine. To date the Israeli state has operated on a principle of "massive retaliation" ( or sometimes "massive aggression" )against its Palestinian foes. The relative death tolls say it all. This has failed to cow the Palestinians into submission. What the effect will be when the victims are internationals and the acts are group murder rather than individual murder I really don't know.

1 comment:

Werner said...

Support for a "jewish homeland" was seem amongst some prominent nazis. Today around the internet hatred for Israel is increasing. So ten years from now anti-semitism will return to the west while politicians establish a new "dialogue" with the Taliban. Maybe the Zionists will join forces with the islamic fundies .... my head hurts.