Enough

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Obama Administration

First off, if I were President Obama, I would so get in Benjamin Netanyahu’s face and tell him that if he gets Israel into a war with Turkey, Israel is on its own. No help from us. Not so much as a “good luck” card.

Here’s the deal: Turkey says its navy will escort the next aid flotilla to Gaza, and if Israel tries to stop it … well, seems to me that could be construed as an act of war. And don’t forget, Turkey is a NATO country. If Turkey were to invoke Article 5 of the NATO charter, it would put the U.S. and the U.K. in a very nasty spot.

Sean Paul Kelley explains that Israel’s actions weakens moderate forces in Turkey, emboldens extremists, and forces Turkey closer to Syria. Way to go, Bennie.

As Jeffrey Goldberg says, it’s not clear exactly what happened with the flotilla yesterday. Apologists for Israel claim the people in the flotilla somehow provoked Israeli commandos into boarding the ships. The Israeli Navy released a video that clearly shows violence on a ship, which the Israeli Navy says justifies the deaths on the flotilla.

But, says I, obviously this violence occurred after Israeli commandos with live ammo had boarded the ship. So who was provoking whom?

The one encouraging thing I heard this morning was from Juan Cole, who writes about the UN Security Council condemnation of the incident.

This development is head-spinning in its implications. The United States almost never allows UNSC resolutions condemning Israel to go forward (though this text was admittedly a presidential statement rather than a full resolution). But here it is clear that President Barack Obama instructed his ambassador to the UN to join in the condemnation of the Israeli “acts.” Since Turkey is currently a non-permanent member of the UNSC and led the charge on the condemnation of Israel, it is possible that the US felt it had to trade horses with Ankara if it has any chance of still getting a UNSC resolution tightening sanctions on Iran (a step that Turkey opposes, as does Brazil, though neither has a veto). It is also possible that Israel’s rash attack has sabotaged the Obama administration’s push for increased UN sanctions on Iran, hardening opposition to an Israel-driven policy toward Tehran.

Compare/contrast with Jack Tapper, who claims a White House official told him the U.S. would “stand with Israel.”

I’m told there won’t be any daylight between the US and Israel in the aftermath of the incident on the flotilla yesterday, which resulted in the deaths of 10 activists.

Regardless of the details of the flotilla incident, sources say President Obama is focused on what he sees as the longer term issue here: a successful Mideast peace process.

I don’t see how knee-jerk support of every damnfool thing Benjamin Netanyahu’s government does is going to enable a “successful Mideast Peace process.” I think either Tapper or his “source” is blowing smoke.

The Usual Peabrains are loudly insisting that Israel can do nothing wrong and that the Israeli Navy’s actions were 100 percent justified. There doesn’t seem to be so much as a glimmer of awareness from them that this act puts the United States into a terrible position, threatens war between two U.S. allies, threatens to break NATO, makes peace with terms to Israel’s liking damn unlikely, and probably isn’t doing the security of Israel much good, either.

See also Jackson Diehl, “Obama, Netanyahu and the Free Gaza flotilla.”

Update: Here’s another perspective, from Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., whose opinion I respect.

Update Update: See Blue Texan, especially the part about “Nothing like invoking Der Dolchstoßlegende in a pro-Israeli/anti-American rant.” Heh.

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37 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Jennifer  •  Jun 1, 2010 @1:10 pm

    Last night I was messing around with my brand new Roku box (for viewing Netflix) and found a free channel – Al Jazeera news in English. I loaded it and what to my surprise, but the incident in full color. Here’s what they are saying: “Israel boarded the ship 65 miles from Gaza’s shores, where Israel is not supposed to have jurisdiction outside a 20 mile zone.

    Also, that the flotilla immediately hoisted a white flag “before” gunshots were fired.

    That Israeli thought-police (my words) were swarming the newscasters with repeated attempts to tell their side of the story and eye-witness accounts.

    There is probably more, but I didn’t watch the whole broadcast.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 1, 2010 @1:18 pm

    Weiner may well be right, but the optics don’t look good on this one.
    It has long looked to me, and some others, I’m sure, that Gaza is a version of “The Warsaw Ghetto,” and the settlers actions like some version of “Lebensraum” lite. I know this may sound anti-Semitic, but I’m not. Israeli hypocrisy needs to be pointed out.
    Netanyahu always seemed to me to be like an Israeli Dick Cheney. And this incident did nothing to dissuade me from that opinion.
    I understand that Israel is in a very tenuous position, and has to do what it can to protect itself. And that the Palistinians are no angels, but then neither are the Israeli’s.
    Oh, and I suggest we sit out any military actions. We’re already neck deep in the region with two occupations, and two more potentnial military issues with Pakistan and Iran. Protecting Israel is important, but we’ve already lost enough blood and treasure in the Middle East protecting our and their interests. If they want to pick a fight with Turkey, well, understand, you are responsible, and you are on your own.
    Pick you spots better. Taking on people bringing in relief supplies just looks bad. And pissing off Turkey does not do anything to improve your position.
    Enough already. A two-state solution is inevitable as the only alternative. Any better alternatives, other than the current murderous status quo, please let everyone know.

  3. felicity  •  Jun 1, 2010 @1:26 pm

    I continue to believe that Benny-the-shit-stirrer and his partners in shit-stirring do what they do, promote the policies they promote to keep the Middle East in a state of constant turmoil. It’s probable, if historical evidence is any indication, that in a state of turmoil a direct attack by conjoined Middle East countries on Israel won’t happen.

    I also believe that the United States continues to hold the really strange, actually demented belief that Israel is this country’s only guarantee that the US will continue to have access to oil. The Pentagon, not a collection of our most brilliant minds, seems unaware that given our modern weaponry we no longer need to have bases of operation no further than 20 miles away from an enemy.

  4. Bonnie  •  Jun 1, 2010 @3:41 pm

    I respect Weiner’s opinion, too. But, Israel has been on the wrong side of the angels since they bombarded the Palestinians in Gaza last year. They are truly doing inhumane things to these people. There is no excuse for this inhumanity. The Jewish people should know better.

  5. erinyes  •  Jun 1, 2010 @5:21 pm

    “The Jewish people should know better”.
    Indeed.The holocaust industry has worked it’s magic, what happened to the European Jews under Hitler was beyond evil, but that does not give license to exterminate their foes.
    BiBi and his fellow extemists won’t stop until the last Palestinean is on display in a zoo.
    He’ll just tell Obama to piss off, and we will all just piss off.
    I remember in the 80′s when the IDF ran Arafat into Beruit and used cluster bombs to kill the Palestineans; I told my wife that the Israelis would one day spark WW3, I believe they just might have.
    There are many Zionists in positions of great power in our government, this is fact, not some tin foil hat BS.We have a BIG problem.We cannot allow the Israeli “tail” to wag this dog!
    Lots o’ luck, Erinyes……..

  6. mnpundit  •  Jun 1, 2010 @5:37 pm

    Remember, 76 Senators signed the “Don’t be so MEAN to Israel!” letter last week. If Turkey and Israel go to war, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Congress declares war on Turkey without even bothering to consult Obama.

  7. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2010 @6:24 pm

    Every bobblehead I saw on the tube today recites the same talking points; Israel has a right to defend itself, Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, Hama’s is a terrorist organization that has called for an end to the Israeli state, blah, blah, blah. Amazing that they all say the same thing as if? Though Glen Greenwald was on msnbc and he let them have it, it was quite good. I would argue it is questionable if Israel is a democracy, they have racial purity laws as part of the requirements for immigration, Arabs can’t serve in certain sections of the military, that don’t sound democratic to me. Israel has the right to defend (of course but how do unarmed activists on a boat pose a threat)?And the last one is a classic, what if the united states went around attacking every country that called for an end to our statehood? Boo Hoo they said they don’t like us let’s start a war……

    I predict Obama will do as every administration before his has done, Israel gets what Israel wants, the UN, EU or NATO be dammed.

  8. joanr16  •  Jun 1, 2010 @6:43 pm

    Netanyahu always seemed to me to be like an Israeli Dick Cheney.

    I’d say that’s accurate. I was shocked for about two minutes after hearing of this cruel, stupid attack, and then I remembered who’s in charge in Israel once again (I’ll call him Zombie Bibi: “He’s baaack….”).

  9. erinyes  •  Jun 1, 2010 @6:50 pm

    There is a strong resurgence of anti-semitism in Europe.
    The EU has rebuilt Palestinean villages many times, and are sick of Israeli barbarism.
    When the Likud party took over several years ago, I was very afraid it would end badly.
    Many conservatives side with Israel for no other reason than end of times prophesy; and they call the Muslims extremists……….
    I’m over it, no more support.

  10. uncledad  •  Jun 1, 2010 @7:02 pm

    Weiner says “No matter what the US should stand up for Israel”. Well that’s the problem isn’t it? No matter what, what if they decided to start gassing the Palestinians, we should support that? Weiner is just another Zionist posing as an American politician. I agree with him on most things but he’s way off the farm on this.

  11. Ian  •  Jun 1, 2010 @7:18 pm

    I’m having trouble getting over the whole “international waters” part of this whole thing … if Israeli forces boarded the ships using deadly force in international waters, then kidnapped everyone on board and confiscated the ships and all cargo… How, exactly, is that different from straight-up piracy?

    I mean, I could almost understand if Israel did it in Israeli waters … they would have full rights to board the ships if they wanted, and you could almost see how that might end in violence, and if that happened you could justify arresting everybody on board and taking the ships as evidence or something.

    But that didn;t happen. It happened well out beyond Israeli raange.

    Why am I not seeing the word “piracy” everywhere?? Am I just misunderstanding something?

    -me

  12. Kevin  •  Jun 1, 2010 @8:16 pm

    [Note: I read this comment twice and also checked out the author's website. I don't think it's a spoof. Believe it, or not. -- maha]

    Boarded the ship with live ammo?? I think you’re projecting your own assumptions on the situation and using language like that to imply it that assumption on your readers.

    It’s pretty clear, if you watch the video, the Israeli commandos have paintball guns in their hands…which if you are going into a situation with violence in mind, seems pretty….well, silly.

    So it seems pretty obvious that the Israelis boarded with less than lethal aims in mind, since their primary weapon (what they had in their hands) was a paintball gun. Paintballs, which, if you’ve ever played the game, hurt but are very non-lethal…and once you realize that, aren’t much of a deterrent.

    [On the other hand, the flotilla was loaded with concrete. Proof they were up to no good. -- maha]

    Again, if you watch the videos, it’s rather obvious why they then upgraded to their secondary weapon (handguns with live ammo). I see “peace activists” swing pipes and stabbing with knives. I see “peace activists” throwing Israeli commandos off the deck. I see “peace activists” chasing down commandos and throwing things after them.

    The videos alone show the Israelis were attacked by the “peace activists” and given how ill-equipped the Israelis were for a violent confrontation, it seems pretty clear they boarded without the intention for violence.

  13. Doug Hughes  •  Jun 1, 2010 @9:10 pm

    In this polarized world no issue is more polarizing than Israel. The Jewish State is paranoid – not without reason – and they are convinced that a flow of supplies into a Palistinan State will include weapons of war. On that point, I can almost agree with Israel – they have a right to prevent the flow of weapons which will be used against Israel.

    But this legitimate objective doen’t look like what’s happened in Gaza. In free & fair elections, the Palistinians elected Hamas officials – and Hamas did not stop the ineffective but threatening launch of rockets into Israel. Enter reprisal. The war agains Gaza was puntative in nature – aimed against the civilian population and the blockade has impoverished the Palistinians to the point of starvation. So I read in acounts by independent groups.

    Where is the sanity? I agree with and endorse the inspection of ships bound for Gaza as they are loaded. It should be possible to seal the hatches post inspection and require inspection of the hatches before unloading – and require inspection of contents if the seals are broken. With that stipulation in place, there should be unlimited non-military relief to Gaza. This needs to be the position of the US – and military aid to Israel needs to become contingent on it.

    With that policy in place, the flip side needs to be that the Palistinian State will not be aggressive to Israel. This won’t be easy since the Palistinains have no reason to respect or trust Israel. But at this point the Palistinians have very little to lose in a war – and if they are allowed to build Gaza, they won’t want to see it decimated again.
    Maybe.

    But the current track of blockade leads to certain war – and aid to the Palistinians MIGHT lead away from war. Right now that’s the best I can hope for.

  14. YY  •  Jun 1, 2010 @9:20 pm

    It would just about be par for the course if United States had to go to war with itself as member of NATO and at the same time big brother to Israel in the coming war.

    Rachel Corey, I don’t think is a Turkish vessel so the impending clash might still be avoided.

  15. Dave S  •  Jun 1, 2010 @9:22 pm

    With that stipulation in place, there should be unlimited non-military relief to Gaza.

    By not allowing nonmilitary aid, Israel is creating extremists and aiding it’s own enemies. But I know our own righties don’t understand that concept, so I don’t expect Bibi to get it either. This is only going to get worse.

  16. A Canadian Reader  •  Jun 1, 2010 @10:09 pm

    The best analysis I’ve read of the situation is what Amos Oz wrote in today’s New York Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02oz.html?hp

  17. mnpundit  •  Jun 1, 2010 @10:09 pm

    Ian, the piracy thing doesn’t work. According to the Law of the Sea, if a flotilla of ships is heading for a blockade, the blockading country is within their rights to stop them in international waters.

    Now there may be some other issues, such as if Israel is occupying Gaza then they can’t actually blockade the people they’ve occupied because it would violate the laws of war that occupying powers are responsible for the well being of the inhabitants. But that’s why the international waters thing, while making things extra heinous, is not in an of itself obviously illegal.

    Of course that doesn’t mean what was done was morally right either.

  18. Swami  •  Jun 1, 2010 @11:07 pm

    He’ll just tell Obama to piss off, and we will all just piss off.

    You got that right,erinyes! Bibi told Obama to go shit in his hat over the building expansion for settlers in the occupied territories. Bibi does what Bibi wants cause Bibi’s got more clout in the American government than Obama does.

  19. eric  •  Jun 2, 2010 @1:14 am

    Egypt opens Gaza border after Israel ship clash

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6502H820100601

  20. joanr16  •  Jun 2, 2010 @8:43 am

    Israel has now released and deported all the activists they detained. No charges against anyone for the acts alleged in Israel’s version of events. All just a misunderstanding, apparently.

  21. Lynne  •  Jun 2, 2010 @9:28 am

    Uncledad-
    Weiner didn’t say “no matter what” -that was the writer of the article. Look closely.

  22. uncledad  •  Jun 2, 2010 @10:14 am

    OK I sit corrected Weiner said: “Even if we are the only country on earth that sees the facts here, the United States should stand up for Israel”.

    Same difference isn’t it? The whole world is wrong and the US and Israel are right, so now we believe in Israeli exceptionalism as well. I still say Weiner is an Israeli firster in the mold of Joe L, its unfortunate that we continue to compromise our place of leadership in order to enable the Apartheid State of Israel.

  23. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 2, 2010 @10:38 am

    When did Israel become the 51st state, or the 6th borrough of NYC? I must have missed the memo.

  24. Kyle  •  Jun 2, 2010 @5:11 pm

    Israel is like a spolit teenager, using his policeman daddy’s money and gun collection to belligerently pick fights with the neighbors, while claiming to always be the victim and running to hide behind daddy when there’s any retaliation.

  25. Kevin  •  Jun 2, 2010 @5:42 pm

    I’ll note you don’t actually refute anything I said in my original comment maha….just offered snarky dismissal rather than intellectual rebuttal. Which is fine of course, you get to choose the topic and your overall aim isn’t well served by the facts that the Israeli commandos were forced into violent action in self-defense.

  26. maha  •  Jun 2, 2010 @6:15 pm

    Kevin — I don’t have time to waste refuting absurdities. The bottom line is that the Israeli commandos boarded — nay, forced themselves onto — foreign ships in international waters. When they did that, they lost the right to complain they had been “attacked.” All other details, real or imagined, are irrelevant.

  27. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 2, 2010 @6:26 pm

    What’s amazing is that this didn’t happen in Israeli waters, where they might, or would, have been at least justified in some of their actions, but they werer clearly in INTERnational waters, 60 to 70 miles out to sea.
    Yes, others have pointed out the LEGALITY of doing that. My quesiton is, the OPTICS. It looked terrible.

  28. maha  •  Jun 2, 2010 @6:35 pm

    c u n d gulag — right; if they had done the same thing in Israeli waters they would have had some justification. But in international waters it’s absurd for the commandos to complain about being attacked. It’s as if I broke into your house and then complained if you attacked me. Brain dead wonders like Kevin don’t seem to get that. Amazing.

  29. uncledad  •  Jun 2, 2010 @7:41 pm

    “Brain dead wonders like Kevin don’t seem to get that. Amazing”

    But Maha didn’t you see his website, he has a waving american flag!

  30. uncledad  •  Jun 2, 2010 @7:45 pm

    Reminds me of an old John Prine tune:

    Your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore
    There already overcrowded from your dirty little war….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp1mIYJNKWQ

  31. erinyes  •  Jun 2, 2010 @7:57 pm

    Swami, I remember Karen Kwiatkowski calling Washington “Israeli occupied territory”, and many on her Penatgon staff agreed with her.
    Israel has way too much clout.’Ain’t gonna end anytime soon.

  32. Kevin  •  Jun 2, 2010 @7:57 pm

    According to Reuters, the blockade (and therefore the boarding) is completely legal.

    They boarded in a peaceful manner to inspect the cargo for weapons. They were attacked. I don’t know how you can watch ANY of the videos of the incident and come to any different conclusion.

  33. Kevin  •  Jun 2, 2010 @7:58 pm

    Here is the Reuters article explaining the legality of the blockade:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65133D20100602

  34. Kevin  •  Jun 2, 2010 @8:19 pm

    Maha – Your new “point”, that it was bad because it was in international waters, has nothing to do with the original post you made but I’ll play along. Let’s go with your analogy.

    “It’s as if I broke into your house and then complained if you attacked me.”

    Except that that’s not the situation at all….international waters remember?

    If we want to stick with your analogy. It’s more akin to two people on the sidewalk outside someone’s home, where the Turk has expressed his intention of going inside the Jewish guy’s home. The Jewish guy expresses a desire to inspect the Turk’s backpack first….and the Turk responds by stabbing the Jew.

    Face it Israel did nothing wrong here. They have a lousy neighbor (several actually) intent on killing them. They want to make sure no weapons are getting in, but humanitarian supplies they’ll allow (and they have). They boarded a vessel intent on violating their legal blockade, and they boarded in a peaceful manner. The “peace” activists had preplanned for violence, as evidenced by the weapons on board and the fact that Arab reports indicated they were prepared for martyrdom (http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4265.htm).

    So since I am “brain dead” perhaps you can explain what exactly Israel did that was wrong?? Use small words, perhaps I’ll understand, as I’m just a dumb flag waver remember….although at least I’m addressing points rather than just casting about insults.

  35. maha  •  Jun 2, 2010 @8:55 pm

    According to Reuters, the blockade (and therefore the boarding) is completely legal.

    Reuters is a news service. It doesn’t have legal opinions. Reuters quoted somebody saying that, obviously, but you don’t say who. I assume it was someone from the Israeli government.

    Certainly Israel would have had a right to board the ships and inspect for weapons in Israeli waters. In international waters, if the Israeli commandos boarded the ships without the permission of the people on it, is another matter entierly. Here’s an article from the British newspaper The Guardian that explains what international law actually says. It is almost certain any international court would find the boarding illegal.

    They boarded in a peaceful manner to inspect the cargo for weapons. They were attacked. I don’t know how you can watch ANY of the videos of the incident and come to any different conclusion.

    Yes, after the boarding, the commandos were attacked. That is not the issue. If I broke into your house in the middle of the night you would be justified in attacking me, wouldn’t you? Here’s an analysis from Foreign Policy that explains how the Israeli commandos screwed up and brought the attacks on themselves.

  36. maha  •  Jun 2, 2010 @9:07 pm

    Except that that’s not the situation at all….international waters remember?

    Oh, please, you are too stupid to discuss anything with. I will explain this one point and then I’m putting you in the twit filter.

    Dude, from the beginning of sea travel, a ship on the “high seas” has been considered the territory of the nation whose flag it is flying. I thought anyone with a grade school education would know that. I understand the ships were flying the Turkish flag. Therefore, in effect, the Israeli commandos attacked Turkey. That’s why this is such a grievous international incident, because Turkey is a NATO member, you bleeping idiot. Are you capable of grasping the serious consequences of that? What a terrible position stupid Israel has put the United States in? Well, no, of course you can’t see that, and I’m not going to waste any more time on you. Please read this article explaining the legalities. Now, bleep off.

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