June 2010 Archives

A question of Israeli sovereignty

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Its everywhere. In Facebook. In the local (and international) newspapers. In the local chat rooms and Internet forums. Even over the proverbial office cooler. Muslims all over (and even our non-Muslim friends) are outraged over the attack of the pro-Palestinian humanitarian ships. Its state sponsored terrorism. Its murder by a Zionist state. Outrage, do you hear? OUTRAGE!

A great majority of people (i like to call such people "Followers") take things for face value. They don't examine the facts, they don't try to understand the history and issues behind an incident. The see everyone being angry over the attack, they read the surface context, declare themselves outraged and proceed to repeat what they think is the truth.

Consider the following.

- Israel gave the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinians (as part of a peace agreement) unblockaded. Hamas smuggled in as many as 10,000 rockets and, over time, lobbed them into Israel. Targetting civilians. Where was the outrage then?

- Israel initiated the blockade (similar to how the US blockaded Cuba during the Missile Crisis of the 1960s) to stop weapons reaching the hands of Hamas, as a means to protect its own people. Is a blockade to protect your own citizens legal from the perspective of international law? Its arguable, of course, but put yourself in their shoes -- if Malaysia was being shelled by Singapore with weapons supplied from Indonesia, wouldn't you want to stop that too? Singapore is a tiny island, it would be easy to blockade it with sufficient planes and warships.

- Israel (and Eygpt too, a Muslim nation) said: if the Muslim world is sending through humanitarian aid, you're welcome -- send them through our ports so that we can inspect the items (to make sure no one tries to sneak in a missile or two).

- Greta Berlin, one of the organizers of the "Freedom Flotilla", on May 27, 2010 (as reported by AFP), said - "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege on 1.5 million Palestinians." This is where it gets tricky -- if the blockade is legal (and there are strong arguments to support this case), any attempt to break a blockade is an act of war. Just because civilians, not soldiers, were manning those ships doesn't mean that they are immune to the penalties of an act of war. If you engage in such acts against a nation state, you can't cry foul when the state responds, even if with deadly force.

- The fact that the flotilla chose to run the blockade instead of sending the goods through the ports designated for humanitarian aid,  reinforces the argument that the flotilla's intentions were not purely peaceful. If you willingly run a military blockade, despite repeated warnings, despite offers from the UN to mediate the impasse -- then, if things go badly, your moral position becomes much weaker.

- Everyone has seen the video of the boarding and the shootings. Israeli troops boarded the Mavi Marmara (presumably to stop it from running the blockade), they were surrounded by activists, some armed with pipes and crowbars, the activists attacked (did you see the video where a soldier was thrown off the ship?), the soldiers retaliated. Greatly outnumbered, surrounded, and attacked with weapons -- while its arguable the response was excessive, what options did the soldiers have? Stand there and take the beating? Run away? Not board the ship at all? If they didn't board the ship, the ship would have continued sailing into port, defying the blockade. They had to stop it.

- The thing about claiming non-combatant status is also a dicey one. You're a civilian, yes. Doctors, journalists, even plain sailors. But the moment you pick up a weapon and show an intent to use it, its very arguable that you lose that status (and relative protection) of a non-combatant. Does it warrant you being shot to death? Perhaps not. Perhaps the Israeli soldiers should have come prepared with non-lethal crowd control weapons instead. That's a question the commanding officer of the operation will have to account for. But can you stick to your high-moral ground and claim innocence? Perhaps you can't. The moment you chose to run a state sponsored blockade, you committed an act of war against that state. The moment you picked up a weapon to attack the soldiers, you step into a very grey area where your status as a non-combatant comes into question.

Who knows who really opened fire first. Did the Israelis shoot first? Did the sailors attack first? Was it an accident that just escalated out of control? We weren't there, so we can't possibly know the truth; we can believe what we want, depending on which side of the fence we are on, but in the end, its pure speculation.

So lets stick to the facts, and the things we can probably know for certain.

As a Muslim, there are several questions i want myself to answer. I suggest you ask yourself the same.

- Why is it ok for Hamas to murder Israeli civilians through rocket attacks? Were you outraged then? Or were you jumping in joy that a few more Jewish women and children were blown up?
- If your nation was under attack, would you do all you can do (including initiating a military blockade) to protect it? What if someone tried, belay that, openly declared that it was going to run a blockade designed to protect your nation, what would you do? Just let them through? What does that say about your nation's sovereignty then?

The people who talk about being "outraged" over these attacks -- they probably know nothing or very little about the history of the conflict or even why current events have come to pass. Being angry with a little knowledge is a very bad thing. Being a hypocrite is just slightly worse.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2010 is the previous archive.

August 2010 is the next archive.

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