Friday, June 4, 2010

Defending "Peaceful" Violent Resistance

On Monday morning, the Israeli Navy carried out their part in what should have been a well rehearsed script. Free Gaza sent a flotilla to run the Gaza blockade under the cover of a humanitarian mission. Israel's offer to transfer all the aid through the port of Ashdod under the watch of Free Gaza was turned down because it avoided the primary goal of running the blockade. The script was simple. Israel would stop the ships and tow them to Ashdod. The aid would be transferred to Gaza. Free Gaza promised publicly over and over again, that they would abide by their mantra of peaceful resistance.

As dawn approached Israeli commandos armed primarily with paintball guns strapped to their backs, they carried out their part of the script. 5 of the 6 boats cooperated and went off with out a hitch. However the lead boat had decided to change the script. They attempted to kill the soldiers, as they boarded the ship. The soldiers had no choice but to defend themselves, which resulted in the deaths of 9 of the 'peace activists'.

For the first few days Free Gaza claimed that it was not possible that the soldiers were attacked. There was a baby on the ship, plus at the shipped raised the white flag and all activists were trained in non-violent confrontation. When it was proven that the attacks did take place, they should have said the boat was commissioned by the IHH and did not act in accordance with the mission. Instead they have claimed the passengers had a right to attack the soldiers. Israel should have done things differently, they should have landed during the day, they should have sent less soldiers, they should not have been stopped in international waters. Even under attack, the soldiers should not have killed anyone. They can make all the excuses they want but if they had resisted peacefully, as promised, as was done on the other 5 ships nobody would have been hurt. Instead they have declared that IHH is welcome to participate in future flotillas.

As this entire episode was about PR, Free Gaza has won. Israel has rejected, demands from around the world to allow an impartial international investigation into the incident. For those who have already passed judgment this is just further proof that Israel is guilty.

The United States has suggested that Israel appoint a high profile international judge to conduct the investigation. Who would be respected enough by the world, who would consider all the facts before drawing conclusions? The logical choice would be the judge who carried out the independent investigation into the Iran elections. The judge had a lot more to consider. There was vote rigging, demonstrators shot dead in the street, unjustified arrests and beatings all under the watchful eye of the world. There were at least 69 deaths and over 4000 initial arrests. The results of the findings were factual, indisputable and accepted by both sides.

What did you say? There was no investigation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the issue on September 14th, 2009.

"The recent elections in Iran and the subsequent protests over the result were a reminder of both the vitality of Iran's civil society and political life, but also of the towering constraints that peaceful activism faces. I call on the Government to release those detained for peaceful protest, to investigate reports of their ill-treatment, and to ensure respect for human rights "

Israeli soldiers kill 9 people, from a mob of 'peaceful' protesters that were trying to kill them. Iran kills 69 people for peacefully marching the streets to protest a rigged election. In one case the UNHRC calls for an internal investigation and the other an international investigation. What could possibly be the mitigating factors that determine who should conduct an investigation?

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