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My deep condolences go to the family, friends, and comrades of those who were killed or injured by this latest unjustifiable atrocity.  

There was a demonstration here in Boston yesterday, one of many around the world against Israel's act of piracy.  I learned about it too late to go, and haven't yet heard anything about how it went.  But when I was thinking about if I could go, a chant came to me, bearing the message I would have wanted to say there.  I doubt it would have been welcome.  I was thinking:

<i>No more pirates; no more knives -
No more games with human lives!</i>

It's been awhile since I've participated in the kind of non-violent direct action (not the same as protest) that the Free Gaza flotillas have brilliantly exemplified.  But I have done so, and I know that its success depends on the firm commitment of participants to maintain a non-violent approach, even when resisting unjust violence by armed authorities.  

As much as I am repulsed by Israel's unnecessary and self-destructive brutality, and knowing that they are fully responsible for the assault and the murders they committed, I must say that I am also disgusted with what I see as the betrayal committed by those participants in the Free Gaza flotilla who took up arms against the invading Israeli commandos.  Not because I think self-defense is illegitimate; I don't.  But let those who want that kind confrontation organize their own effort, train themselves in hand-to-hand combat if they wish, and then go out to provoke an attack so they can be glorious martyrs all by themselves.  I will grieve for them and for their choice.  

Instead, for their hour of exhilaration, they brought down the fury of Israel's enraged and frightened special combat forces also on their nonviolent partners to whose path they had made, or feigned, a commitment.  Do you think the commandos retaliated so precisely that the casualties of their attack were all and only the ones who beat them?  Neither do I.  

Videos show some of the passengers gathered to receive the rappelling commandos with iron blows, and hurling bodies over the side (reminiscent of Hamas's treatment of Fateh supporters during the civil conflict in Gaza after the Palestinian election).  These videos will be broadcast as widely and frequently as the Israeli government and its defenders can manage.  Naturally, Free Gaza spokespeople are downplaying this as an almost instinctive and understandable, if regrettable, lapse into self-defense.  But what will be the effect on FG's image and prospects in the coming year?  On their ability to recruit the necessary support from various governments, prestigious international leaders, and other participants commited to nonviolence?  On the prospects for their, or anyone's future challenges to the blockade?

Israel's response to the violent defense they encountered on the Turkish boat was so ugly (and Free Gaza so European and non-Palestinian) that they are taking quite a hit in the international arena.  Is this a propaganda victory for those who risked both their own and their nonviolent comrade's lives to provoke that response?  What if they had exercised the passive resistance for which Free Gaza (they say) had trained them?  No carnage, no international criticism?  I don't think so.  I think we've all experienced enough images of the massively armed Israeli David defending itself against the feeble brutality of the antizionist Goliath to know that whatever criticism of Israeli aggression it engenders is undercut by the perception of two comparably nasty antagonists endlessly slugging it out. 

Much of Palestinian gains have come through nonviolent means.  Minimal as those gains are, they still make a significant difference in both the lives of Palestinians under occupation and in the political prospects of the Palestinian people as a whole.  In the West Bank, for example, there is now a rapid rate of economic growth and job creation in the West Bank, where the leadership has also, with the support of the Obama administration, more or less forced a reluctant right-wing Israeli government to enter into final status negotiations and give lip service at the outset to a two-state solution.  This coincides with the most extensive network of internationally supported (including support from much of the Israeli left, as in Sheikh Jarrah) nonviolent Palestinian resistance to occupation there has ever been, laying the groundwork for the international campaign of "anti-apartheid" boycott, divestment and sanctions that would likely emerge as the next phase of struggle if a two-state solution is taken off the table by another failure of negotiations.  How much of this could have been accomplished by, or even during, the Al-Aqsa intifada?  None.  Compare this to the bleak situation in Gaza, for which Hamas proudly claims violent "victory," where the economy and public health are tatters and the ability of ordinary Palestinians to engage in independent political resistance is extremely limited.  

Participants in the Free Gaza movement cannot afford to "make Israel look bad" at the cost of crawling down into the mud with them.  The power and beauty of passive resistance is that the passengers could just as well have exposed Israeli aggressiveness without losing the moral high ground and, more importantly, without loss of life - all while growing the pool of credible and influential future participants.  I hope Free Gaza's internal response to this tragedy will be as incisive and clear-minded as what I've seen so far of their public response.  

But supporters of Palestinian rights must examine our own motivating impulse at a deeper level than a strategic cost-benefit analysis.  Are we confronting zionism as an irredeemable evil that we must reveal (or goad the zionists themselves into revealing) to a world that stubbornly refuses to adequately recognize it?  Or do we want to model - and thereby invite from those who, in fear, stand against us - the kind of compassion, humility, and repentance that are ultimately essential for reconciliation to occur?  Because that is the underlying spiritual vision of nonviolent action.  

Love and blessings,
-Hayyim

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could someone show me where to see the videos showing Israel attacking first. Here in the States all I see is the ones that appears as if those on the ship are beating the IDF. I know they must exist but I dont know where to see them.
Here is something you should see but first let me say that the attack started when some unidentified people started dropping down from helicopters in the middle of the night with masks over their faces carrying machineguns and shotguns.

Having said that the video below shows an IDF “masked individual” shooting this 19-year-old American activists with a shotgun at a range of 3 feet.

Israeli Commandos Execute American Citizen
Israeli soldiers allegedly killing Furkan Dogan 19 years
http://www.countercurrents.org/dogan110610.htm

What exuse did this soldier have for murdering this boy-?
What does it matter that Israel clearly attacked first? I don't know if the passengers who fought back against Israel's military force with their grossly outmatched street-fighting weapons did so because they were stupid or because they wanted to provoke another spasm of Israeli violence for the world to see. Nor do I care. What I object to is not their possible stupidity, but their betrayal. They betrayed, first of all, the commitment I understand them to have made as a condition for participating in the flotilla - not that they would go passively into their cabins if attacked, but that they would resist only by the kind of nonviolent means in which Free Gaza gave them advance training. But more importantly, they betrayed their supposed comrades to whom they made this commitment and whose lives and purpose they put into jeopardy by doing so.
I guess it mattered to me but I am just a person interested in the truth of what really happened.
Sholem aleichem Patti,

Sorry for the confusion. If you look at the different levels of indentation of the various comments and the pale right-angle arrow at the top left of each one, you'll see that not every comment is in reply to the one immediately above it on the page. It's not always easy to see who is responding to whom (software design problem?), and I often find myself having to scroll up and down or even go back and forward between pages in order to keep track.

Anyway, it was not to you that I replied "what does it matter," though I can see why you might have thought it was. I was responding to the first of Basil's comments, further above. My point to him was, what does it matter to the question of the betrayal of nonviolence by some of the Marmara passengers, who were clearly fighting in self-defense against being forcibly boarded even if they did attack the commandos first, but who should not have been fighting at all because that was their commitment to the whole Free Gaza flotilla including the hundreds of other passengers on the same boat with them whom they put into danger.

Who did what to whom and when certainly matters to the important effort to thoroughly investigate and establish what actually happened, and I applaud your commitment to that and your effort to find and evaluate the contending videos.

Blessings,
-Hayyim
Hi Basil!
It's been a while... but I had to come and "listen" so I could reach a sound conclusion on this whole ordeal.
First, it's an understatement to say the flotilla's attack on the IDF "wasn't smart". It was violent. This was NOT non-violent direct action as was stated in the post... Right? I think it was clear the IDF did not want any casualties from the get-go. And... off the subject a little... I had to read SEVERAL articles from big name news entities like cnn before I came across the fact that IDF were injured in the process. THEY COMPLETETLY LEFT IT OUT (or mentioned it in the LAST LINES of the article) That's a little off, don't you think? I was not impressed, to say the least, by the media's representation (or lack thereof).
" can't expect any major truth in the US media" -- why not? What is the presumption?

Israel's case, from international law on sea blockades to the interdiction of wheelchair gel-type batteries used to provide nitrate for nitroglycerin, has been made numerous times on the web; moreover, lifestyle and market conditions in Gaza have probably been more resolved or made more observable this month than at any time in the recent past through the provision of aid throughput statistics, photographs (made by Gaza-based photojournalists) and video.

In my opinion, the Israeli Governement looks just fine! It's the Israeli press, especially disingenuous writers like Gideon Levy, who are not looking too good for always looking critically on Israel while looking the other way when it comes to everyone else.
"lifestyle and market conditions in Gaza have probably been more resolved or made more observable this month than at any time in the recent past through the provision of aid throughput statistics, photographs (made by Gaza-based photojournalists) and video."

++++ So UN based relief organizations etc are just liars ? Who actually deliver that food & hold hospitals and so on in gaza, and can more trustfully tell what is humanitarian & health situation. But i guess you just wanna read those "nice" news.
Hayyim,
I suspect that it is some of each. some of those on the boats believe that Zionism is one of the evil isms (you know, racism, imperiaism, sexism, capitalism) and some were moved solely by concern for the the Palestinians of Gaza. Yes, there's a lot of antisemitism out there in the Muslim world and in Europe, but why should the kneejerk reaction of Israel be to turn to arms? No weapons have been found on the cargo from these ships.
The IDF Seals should never have descended onto the Marmara, especially not in international waters. Whatever the truth, people will believe what they want to believe; pro-Zionists will believe that the IDF was within its rights and acted out of pure self-defense and pro-Palestinians will characterize the IDF as pirates and terrorists.

Naomi
Naomi

You are wrong. I am a very deep and committed Zionist. Zionism is not about killing innocent people. A real Zionist will recognize when the state of Israel is wrong and when it is right. It is not Zionism you're talking about , it is Jewish nationalism which is a very recent phenomena.
Gabriel then please tell me why Israel refuses to allow aid to Gaza? As a Zionist do you think that is wrong?
This latest act of pure brutality has turned many against Israel. Israel is cutting off its own nose to spite its face.
The greed and inhumanity is being shown to the whole world.
The sad thing about it is that the majoraty of Israelies long for peace and harmony, but thse acts overshadow the good people.
"Oh Israel you are killing your own children"
My heart grievs for the people of Gaza

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