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LQD: The Hypocrisy of Netanyahu

by shergald Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 10:24:17 AM EST

This morning Netayahu announced that there would be no investigation of the Gaza flotilla attack, and presumably Israel will not assist in an international or UN effort. If anyone wonders why Israel would not seek to at least justify the killings of nine peace activists and the wounding of many dozen others, Juan Cole threw some light on the problem: hypocrisy. Actually, deception or lies might also sum it up. (Links in the original)


The sloppy Israeli propaganda effort against the Free Gaza humanitarian flotilla has been so bad that the pictures released by the Israeli army have been tagged by alert bloggers as forgeries, some of them having been on the Web for years. This site alleges that many of the pictures put out by Israel purporting to show arms on the aid ship still contained internal tags allowing them to be identified as old photos from years ago. Even if the charges of forgery are false, the photos show chains, sticks, an axe- things that would be on any ship.

The defiant speech on Wednesday of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defending the Israeli boarding of an aid flotilla headed for Gaza, and his insisting that the blockade of Gaza would continue displayed all the problems with hyper-nationalist Israeli discourse, of inappropriate analogies, factual errors, propaganda, and magical thinking. These fallacies have dominated the narrative presented by members of the Netanyahu government and those who support it.

The first fallacy is to identify all the people of Gaza with the Hamas party-militia, dismissing them all as "terrorists." But over half of the 1.5 million people of Gaza is children, who can hardly be terrorists. And if Palestine Authority elections had been held in both the West Bank and Gaza this spring, likely Fatah (which recognizes Israel and has agreed to peace talks) would win, not Hamas, according to a recent Angus Reid poll. (The news is even worse for Hamas: nearly a third of Palestinians want to throw in the towel and seek Israeli citizenship. Oh, yeah, Palestinian nationalism is such a threat to Israel; geez, this is like a third of Americans in the 1950s announcing that what they really wanted was Soviet citizenship).

So collectively punishing all the people of Gaza, as Israel does, is just wrong. It necessitates half-starving little children, since they are so much of the population. And the Israeli perpetrators of the blockade assume that they are punishing Gaza supporters of Hamas when it is clear that a majority of Palestinians would not vote for Hamas at this point.

The Israeli hyper-nationalists argue from contiguity, from things being next to each other, demonizing entire groups and peoples rather than considering their actions in the real world. Thus, IHH, the fundamentalist Turkish charity that sponsored the lead ship in the aid convoy, sympathizes with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The ship was then branded a "Hamas" vessel. But none of the passengers is known ever to have actually engaged in anything like terrorism and the Turkish government would not allow it to operate if it were actually considered radical (look at the way Turkish security tracks down the Turkish Hizbullah).

And, since Iran sympathizes with Hamas, as well, and since IHH is a known sympathizer with the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, actually the ship is not just a Hamas ship but is an Iranian one. Even though Iran had nothing to do with it and even though it had no weapons aboard. All of Gaza is transformed by this way of thinking (if you are sympathetic with a group, you are identical to that group and they are identical to you) into an "Iranian port on the Mediterranean." In fact, of course, the Israelis do not allow the Gazans to have a port at all, much less an Iranian one. And, if that were the danger, then surely Tyre (in Lebanese Hizbullah territory) is already an `Iranian port on the Mediterranean,' since Iran is a patron of Hizbullah. But wait, that situation already exists. And no one in Europe has been menaced by Tyre, of which most of them have not heard. Imaginary dangers in the future can always be dressed up as more menacing that mundane existing situations.

The fallacies of guilt by association, appeals to emotion, poisoning the well, etc., etc. reach such a crescendo in this Israeli discourse that the IHH charity is simultaneously accused of being a stalking horse for Shiite Iran and for Shiite-killing hyper-Sunni al-Qaeda. The absurdity of a whole host of European parliamentarians, former US diplomats, Nobel prize winners, and a Swedish novelist, being fronts for `al-Qaeda' is so profound that it is like a Monty Python skit. `No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!'

Netanyahu also presents Gaza not as a territory conquered and occupied by Israel, but as an independent Hamas "regime" with which Israel is actively at war- a war that would justify a military blockade that must be honored by other nations. But Gaza isn't an independent `regime'. It is not a state at all. It has no army or navy. It is the height of cruelty for Netanyahu to deny the Palestinians statehood but then to declare that he may half-starve them because he is at war with a Palestinian state! Gaza is a territory occupied by Israel, which controls its borders, air space and seas, and even whether its children may have chocolate and nutmegs (the answer is no, and I can't help hearing in my mind a version of the line from Seinfeld about the cranky soup chef: `No nutmeg for you!')

So the entire `blockade of an enemy state during war' analogy to World War II trotted out by Netanyahu and his minions is mind-bogglingly stupid.

Since in the real world Israel is the Occupying power in Gaza, it is responsible under the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 for the welfare of its residents. Israel may not alter their lifeways, may not engage in collective punishment, and may not arbitrarily "put them on a diet" as a Likud spokesman observed was the real motive of the blockade when it was first tried out.

And since there is no Gazan state with which Israel can be at war, but only a squalid slum under the Israeli jackboot, it is not in fact legal for Israel to rampage about attacking civilian aid ships in international waters, summarily murdering the humanitarian workers aboard them.

After all those imbecilic World War II analogies that the Neoconservatives tried to sell us about Iraq, the idea that Netanyahu is yet again just doing his bit to defeat Adolph Hitler by shooting down humanitarian volunteers rings hollow indeed. It isn't always 1938 or 1942, folks. Get over it.

In reality, the poor Israelis have gradually become one of the last colonial regimes in the world, and they are acting the way the French did in Algeria or the British did in 1950s Kenya before decolonization. The Israelis have the same chance of ultimate success that the British and French empires had once local people began mobilizing socially and politically, which is to say, none. The French polished off several hundred thousand people during their futile resistance to Algerian independence, and that seems to be where Israel is now headed. Except that France was large, populous and could retreat across the Mediterranean, whereas Israel is small, lacking in manpower, and stuck with defending a postage stamp territory from 300 million Middle Easterners almost all of whom deeply sympathize with the people of Gaza. Netanyahuism can hasten the end of this story, to Israel's detriment, but can do nothing to stop the rest of the Middle East from getting wealthier, better educated and more militarily sophisticated over the next decade.

Not to mention that several of the nationals the Israel troops murdered were Turks, whose state is already in the G20 and who already possess a formidable military capacity within a NATO context (which Israel lacks).

All this does not end well for Netanyahuism, which, moreover, is itself bankrupt and hypocritical. Israel, which keeps screaming about nuclear proliferation, has as many nuclear warheads as the UK. Netanyahu, who says `terrorist' as often as other people say the word `the' openly celebrates the Zionist terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel late in the British Mandate, which infuriates the British. Netanyahu had a prominent Hamas leader actually poisoned nearly to death in the late 1990s, and the Clinton administration made him produce an antidote because they wanted to negotiate with him. Khaled Mashaal, Netanyahu's intended murder victim, recently declared that if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza ended, so would the resistance to it. That's as close as you will get to a peace offering from Hamas; it couldn't have been made if Netanyahu had succeeded in his bungling attempt to lift the plot of some old Agathie Christie murder mystery.

Netanyahu's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, may be the most corrupt and thuggish politician now serving in elective office anywhere in the world. A former member of the racist Kach party, Lieberman has a thing about wanting to drown people, whether it be prisoners or the entire Egyptian nation. Why it is acceptable to fete Netanyahu and Lieberman in Washington but not to so much as negotiate with Hamas is incomprehensible. And these Israeli thugs get to shoot down innocent aid volunteers in international waters with impunity.

But, well, reality cannot be postponed forever. There will be unpleasant consequences for Israelis of their inhumane and illegal blockade of Gaza. Already, a plurality of Norwegians is eager to boycott Israeli products over what they see as Israel's Apartheid policies toward the Palestinians. If Netanyahu and his successors go on like this, that sentiment is sure to grow throughout the European Union. Israel deeply depends on trade and technology transfers with Europe, and if those dry up in the next decade, it will limit Israel's growth and even military strength.

According to the Bible, the ancient Israelis once had a prophet, who dared instruct Pharaoh, "Let my people go!" The Israelis have fallen into a shameful role for Jews, playing Pharaoh, denying Palestinians not only food, medicine and cement but the very right of citizenship in a state, which is the basis for all civil and human rights. They have to let those people go. We know what happened to Pharaoh when he refused.


By permission.

have been tagged by alert bloggers as forgeries, some of them having been on the Web for years.


still contained internal tags allowing them to be identified as old photos from years ago.

Check the thread on this where it looks most likely that someone may have simply not set the date on his camera. (If someone could tell me how to check this data on the Mac, I'll be glad to do a random check on some of my pictures and see if this makes sense).

Even if the charges of forgery are false, the photos show chains, sticks, an axe- things that would be on any ship.

Precisely. Why confuse the issue by bringing in charges of fakery? All the Israeli apologists have to do is prove that they are not fakes, and they will give uninformed people the impression that they are right about all the rest. If Israel was going to fake the pictures, you'd think they would also include a few phosphorus grenades and other real weapons, wouldn't you?

But my main disagreement with your diary is with the title. I don't believe that Netanyahu is a hypocrite. My feeling is that he really believes what he is saying. And that is a lot worse.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 10:46:40 AM EST
The title was Juan Cole's, and the article goes well beyond the phony evidence Israel is releasing around the internet.

See my comment below, re. another article on the topic.

by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I generally respect Juan Cole, but I guess he's not an expert on technology. I see nothing in his first link to indicate that the pictures have been available on the Web for years.The rest of the article makes a clear case for everything Netanyahu is saying being wrong, but no hint of evidence that Netanyahu doesn't believe in all the contradictory things that he is saying.

You later link does the right thing, mentioning the "fake" story in passing, but not making a big deal of it, let alone leading with it.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:40:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm glad that you decided to actually read the article, anyway. I don't think that Cole believes himself to be a technology expert, but in quoting others, you certainly have the option here of contradicting him with your own technology expertise. I don't mean to be gruff here, but there is room for debate. I'm certain there are many proIsrael bloggers out there doing that right now.

by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but in the case of the technology issue, there really is almost no room for debate. And having this phony debate is exactly what Israel wants people to do, because it focuses attention on what they didn't do, and distracts from what they did.

My technology expertise in digital cameras is almost nonexistent, but thanks to Migeru's comment in another thread I did my own experiment (posted on that thread) that proves he is almost certainly correct. My own camera (on which, like most people, I never bothered to set the date) registers dates about 3 years before I took the picture.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:59:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Correction: I meant JakeS, not migeru....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 12:32:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is most likely the case that the IDF forgot to set the camera as you state, though it is not a forgone conclusion.

It does contribute, though, to an atmosphere of unprofessionalism. I expect a higher quality of work from the IDF than I would from you.

Ok - maybe I don't, but I hope you get my idea.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 12:33:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you haven't heard the story before, look at this account of how the U.S. military used black highlighting on a PDF document  to classify some of it. By these standards the IDF is very competent....

In any case, it's a combination of factors. If they had got pictures of real weapons, I might not have been immediately suspicious of the claim that they were fake. I saw the story on mondoweiss yesterday, but decided not to post on ET because I immediately suspected something was wrong.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 12:39:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the article first noting the bad datestamps, that's only an aside, and they focus on the ridiculousness of the "weapon!" claims. I found this one the funniest:

deepvisual says:
they managed to use them while they were still in their wrappers... damn those Turks are clever..
Posted 3 hours ago.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 01:28:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of us misunderstood the point they were trying to make. I assumed that they were making the equally ridiculous claim  that they were bringing them to gaza to fight israeli troops with....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 02:38:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether it be JakeS or whomever who can authenticate these pictures, anyone who would take them as representing an arsenal of weapons is naively buying into Israeli propaganda. How absurd of Israel to contend that, after killing passengers, some of them should in turn fight back. Israel was shooting amunition even before soldiers rappelled down from the helicopter. It has led some observers on the ship to suggest that they intended to kill some passengers as a warning to future Gaza bound humanitarian convoys.

by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 02:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Authenticating" them is, of course, impossible. But the balance of evidence indicates that there is a high probability that they are not forgeries, in the sense that they were actually taken on the ships in question, depicting items that were found on those ships.

Of course, in another sense they are entirely and completely fake; namely in the sense that they depict items that could be found on any ship, anywhere in the world - kitchen knives, wrenches, whetting irons and so on and so forth.

The notion that the images are doctored is actually counterproductive in the extreme: We should want them to be real, for the simple reason that if they are real, they demonstrate beyond a shadow of doubt that the ships were not, in fact, smuggling contraband.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 08:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While there is no way to confirm or deny the validity of your assumptions (e.g., that the Israel troops were using four year old cameras, hence the deceptive dating of the photos), I agree thoroughly that such arguments merely diminish what happened in a fog of details.

It was murder on the high seas and no number of claims claming the passengers, that they defended themselves, is going to change that. The cargo was inspected prior to leaving port. The passengers were peace activists from over 40 countries, concerned with the plight of the Gazan Palestinians. No only did Israel act illegally on the high seas, but it has been acting with total impunity (illegally) in its attempts to starve out the Gazan residents, all while continuing its colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In this sense, Gaza has been nothing more than a red herring for Israel, which it is reluctant to give up.

by shergald on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 11:06:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The cameras don't have to be four years old. The software can be older than the cameras.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 01:34:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, at this point, what is needed are the facts. Netanyahu however is unwilling to provide them.

by shergald on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 05:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Daniela Perdomo at Alternet just posted this interesting account of Israeli photo evidence.

Israel's Propaganda Machine Produces Photos That Imply Peace Activists Were Armed... With Bullet-Proof Vests

Israel's public relations/propaganda efforts are going at full blast as the IDF tries to justify why its commandos ambushed a flotilla of humanitarian civilians in international waters Sunday, leaving at least 9 of them dead.

On the Israel Defense Ministry's official Flickr page, photos have been posted of weapons they say were seized from the peace activists' flotilla headed to Gaza. Let's take a look.

LINK: http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2010/06/02/israels-propaganda-machine-produces-photos-that-imply -peace-activists-were-armed-with-pepper-spray/

by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:01:56 AM EST
We are starting to get information about what happened firsthand, here from an Al Jezeera reporter who was on board during the incident:

Somehow I am reading that if Israel can prove that some of the passengers actually fought back, they are at fault. What sleight of hand boloney. Israeli soldiers by that time had already killed passengers. Listen in.

by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 01:31:42 PM EST
And it wasn't the commandos fighting on board, but shooters on the helicopters and boats.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 01:44:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since when has it been illegal for passengers and crew on board a ship on the high seas, in international waters, to attempt, however well or ineffectually to repel hostile boarders? Had Israel waited until the ships actually entered Israeli waters, they might have a case. As it stands there doesn't seem to be one. Had there been Turkish soldiers aboard with shoulder fired missiles, they would have been entitled to shoot down the helicopters and sink the boats. But the US Government would still uphold the right of Israel to take such action. Just an extension of "Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 12:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Had Israel waited until the ships actually entered Israeli waters, they might have a case. As it stands there doesn't seem to be one.

Unfortunately, as was analysed here, we are mistaken about international law: preventing the breach of a blockade and clear refusal to stop, or intentional and clear resistance to "visit, search or capture" is sufficient ground to attack a neutral country's ship in international waters.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 04:12:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...except if what goes on in Gaza is NOT qualified as a war.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 04:13:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As was analysed on the big orange - can't be bothered to find the link, though - that isn't true if the blockade itself is clearly illegal. Which the Gazan blockade certainly is.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 06:04:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "analysed here" link, to the extent it is applicable, only shows the extent to which "terrorism" has been allowed to corrupt law. In any case, were North Korea to employ the same justification for boarding a US flagged vessel in international waters, regardless of the justification, do you really think the US would then accept a similar interpretation. If not, then "law" is being replaced by "power" and begins to be meaningless.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 10:25:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As someone who as strong sympathies with Anarchism, I have been quite surprised with the reasonableness of international law. Perhaps some day I will change my mind. Not yet though.


Why San Remo Does Not Apply

Every comments thread on every internet site on the world which has discussed the Israeli naval murders, has been inundated by organised ZIonist commenters stating that the Israeli action was legal under the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.

They ignore those parts of San Remo that specifically state that it is illegal to enforce a general blockade on an entire population. But even apart from that, San Remo simply does not apply.

The manual relates specifically to legal practice in time of war. With whom is Israel at war?

There is no war.

Israeli apologists have gone on to say they are in a state of armed conflict with Gaza.

Really? In that case, why do we continually hear Israeli complaints about rockets fired from Gaza into Israel? If it is the formal Israeli position that it is in a state of armed conflict with Gaza, then Gaza has every right to attack Israel with rockets.

But in fact, plainly to the whole world, the nature and frequency of Israeli complaints about rocket attacks gives evidence that Israel does not in fact believe that a situation of armed conflict exists.

Secondly, if Israel wishes to claim it is in a state of armed conflict with Gaza, then it must treat all of its Gazan prisoners as prisoners of war entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. If you are in a formal state of armed conflict, you cannot categorise your opponents as terrorists.

But again, it is plain for the world to see from its treatment and description of Gazan prisoners that it does not consider itself to be in a formal position of armed conflict.

Israel is seeking to pick and choose which bits of law applicable to armed conflict it applies, by accepting or not accepting it is in armed conflcit depending on the expediency of the moment.

I have consistently denounced Hamas rocket attacks into Israel. I have categorised them as terrorism. If Israel wishes now to declare it is in armed conflcit with Gaza, I withdraw my opposition and indeed would urge Hamas to step up such attacks to the maximum.

Does Israel really wish to justify its latest action by declaring it is at war with Gaza? That is what the invocation of San Remo amounts to.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 12:01:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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