Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Israeli pirates they?

(This is a picture of Sir Francis Drake, a famous British privateer)

I usually try to stay away from topics related to issues in the Middle East for the simple reason that I am Egyptian and that most people generally tend to dismiss anything I have to say as biased. I think I'm a very factual and rational person though, so this time I will go for it. Today's topic is the Israeli attack on a Gaza aid boat (which you have probably heard about by now... if not you should seriously read the news more).

I'm going to assume that you've already read the news and just dive in. To me, this is the most blatant example of state sponsored piracy since privateering was outlawed in 1856. Let's go over the facts:

1) Israeli boats fired at the aid boat.
2) Israeli soldiers rappelled down onto the ship in international waters.
3) Israeli soldiers, who met resistance from the crew, opened fire, killing at least 9.
4) They then seized the ship, its crew, and its cargo, and took it back to their home port.

If these Israelis had been Somalian... well I don't imagine I have to explain this further do I?

Israel is defending its actions by claiming that 1) there was evidence that the boat had Hamas militants on it 2) the soldiers were acting in self defense when they shot the people onboard 3) the boat was violating the Israeli blockade of Gaza and Israel was defending itself from possible terrorist attacks. I'm going to do what I usually do and explain why I think all of these things are total bullshit:

1) If there was evidence of Hamas on the boat, can we please see it? While it is very possible that there might have been militants on the boat, Israel cannot continue to use the same tired excuse every time it raids a ship or blows up a building. There needs to be some sort of control in place to double check that Israel isn't abusing the trust that the "western powers" are placing in it. During the recent conflict with Lebanon, Israel attacked several UN (UNITED NATIONS) locations claiming that "they had intel" that suggested there were members of Hamas in those buildings. That's great, but when it's Israel's word against the United Nations, I'm going to request that Israel share the "intel," even if it's after they've raised an entire village to the ground. At least that way someone can make sure they don't do it again.

2) SELF DEFENSE ONLY WORKS IF YOU ARE ATTACKED FIRST. That's what self defense means. It means that if someone goes into your home, you can shoot them in self defense. It does not mean that you can invade a country or a boat, in this case, come under attack, and then claim self defense. The people on the boat were the ones practicing self defense. What kind of bullshit excuse is self defense. How are they even allowed to say this on television???? If I were on a boat in INTERNATIONAL WATERS and people came down from helicopters with guns onto my boat, my first reaction would be "holy shit we have to defend ourselves, we're being attacked by pirates." The Israeli soldiers had absolutely no right to be on that boat whatsoever, and by boarding it, became the attackers themselves. Did they expect to be greeted with flowers when they forcibly boarded a ship? Are they the masters of the universe that wherever and whenever an Israeli soldier goes and demands anything the demand must be met? This is ridiculous.

3) Firstly, the boat was in international waters. Let me repeat. INTERNATIONAL waters. Waters where everyone has the right to do whatever they want. Waters that do not belong to Israel and are not Israel's to police. Their army has absolutely no jurisdiction outside of their boarders, airspace, and waters. Any action taken by the IDF outside of their own territory is no longer considered defense. If they wanted to block the boat, they should have waited until the boat entered Israeli waters, where they have jurisdiction to stop it. Secondly, the blockade of Gaza itself is ILLEGAL and is a gross violation of international law because it blocks humanitarian aid to a region that is in desperate shortage of food, construction materials, and health and sanitation equipment.

A few more things:

-Props to Turkey for being very tough on Israel about this. The Turkish leader condemned the attack as a gross violation of international law and stated that the life of an Israeli soldier is no more valuable than that of a Turkish citizen. Also, double props to Turkey for reminding Israel that it is at risk of loosing its biggest Muslim ally (Turkey was one of the first countries to recognize Israel as a sovereign state when most of the countries in the region had not... and some still don't).

-Props to the UK, Spain, France, Russia, and other countries who have come out and called Israel's actions as completely inapropriate.

-Props to Nicaragua for breaking diplomatic ties with Israel, in an effort to... I don't know.. attract more tourism?? This one really baffles me but what the hell.

-Shame on the US. The US government, as usual came out and said a couple of words that basically mean "Israel we continue to support you 100% for absolutely no reason, please do whatever you please." While our government did state that there needed to be an investigation as to what happened on the boat and why there were deaths involved, they also said that they were confident that ISRAEL (the guilty party here) could conduct the investigation themselves. Are you fucking kidding me???? That's like asking OJ to give himself a fair trial. What kind of bullshit is this? Can we have someone at least partially independent like.... say... the fucking United Nations?? Isn't that what they are for??? Settling international disputes??

-And finally, shame on the word for getting into the details of who attacked who first and reviewing video footage while overlooking the bigger picture: why is it okay for Israel to stop any ship they desire anywhere in the world for any made up reason? Why do we assume that when Israeli soldiers come down onto any ship, that the crew must obey unquestioningly. Why is this issue not addressed AT ALL by anyone???

It's not often that I talk about the Middle East, but if anything like this ever happens again, you can expect me right there, doing my part to make sure that those accountable are held accountable.

Mo out. Hopefully the Department of Homeland Security doesn't show up at my house now...

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