Monday, 31 May 2010

Obama's big opening.

The BBC has moderated its story, but at the time of writing this, it still slants the story from the Israeli propaganda perspective, continuing to fail to mention that the boat was in international waters, even though it gives the distance off shore as 40 miles, it doesn't spell out the consequences of that for readers who don't realise that means it's outside Israel's jurisdiction. Its video is cut from the Turkish video streamed live from the Mavi Marmara - the Turkish Aid Boat - and seems to show a Passenger hitting a soldier who has just landed on board with a baseball bat, although it also shows other passengers being herded around by soldiers. This seems to justify its outrageous comment saying 30 passengers were injured (it doesn't mention the dead again after the headline) but 10 Israelis were injured - one badly!!! Actually 16 Passengers were gunned down by those poor injured lambs, BBC, were their injuries strained trigger fingers? If the weapons used by those on the boat were so vicious, why don't the Israelis get rid of their guns and use baseball bats instead?
If someone invaded my boat on the open sea, I would sure take to hitting them until they gave up their gun, I think. It is the responsibility of the invading force to save lives, the defenders have the right to defend themselves at all costs, although they had told the world that they were in fact unarmed, and would not start shooting. I'm damn sure that if Somali pirates killed crew members who were resisting their invasion with baseball bats, the international community would try the Somalis for murder, and give medals for bravery to the crew. What's different?
And so it is good to see that the International Relations Minister for the EU has said that the EU will have an Inquiry into these events, having previously said that the EU requires restraint by Israel and that the siege is illegal. Remember Turkey is a European power, with Candidate status in the EU. This Inquiry will certainly delay response to Israel for some time into the future, and nothing will happen unless the Americans give the lead - Spineless EU. But the range of sanctions available, such as the option of canceling preferential trade agreements would be a serious threat to Israel, hanging over their heads until the Inquiry is resolved. So if enough pressure is applied, Israel is going to have to make concessions.

Which makes all this Obama's great opportunity to show world leadership. When Netanyahu visits Obama this week, this is what Obama should say:
"We've told you before that the siege of Gaza must end, and normal life be permitted to begin there. We have offered ships to search merchant vessels for arms, but you have declined, saying you insist on doing the job yourself, because Gaza is a threat to you that fires rockets at you. So we took you seriously and have given you, for free, a rocket defence system which you extensively and successfully tested just last week. So now you don't have any need to be afraid of attack from Hezbollah or Gaza, so if we let you carry on like this, it begins to look to the world as if are complicit in collective punishment of Gaza, with repercussions for our relations elsewhere in the world - so you have simply got to learn the lesson that civilian lives cannot be terminated without consequences.
"Furthermore you have refused to even participate in a regional Nuclear Free Middle East Conference, and give up or at least declare your nuclear arsenal. The US has put significant resources into restraining Iran, at your request, and has voluntarily reduced nuclear arms to bring confidence to the rest of the world. So now its time for Israel to play ball. Stop behaving like a spoilt child and get behind all the International treaties that you haven't yet signed, like the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
"Attacking ships with US flags and citizens in International waters is unacceptable, and we will be stationing ships, jointly with our core ally Turkey - which has behaved with dignity and restraint - in the Mediterranean to ensure that it never happens again, and that while we will stop arms to Gaza, trade in everything else to Gaza will be FREE. This is for your own good, because you are our most important ally in the world, and we want to protect your image."
But will he? I don't think it is as wide of the mark as many of you who read this blog will. If good can come out of the decomposing bodies of the Turkish dead, this is it. Let's see.
If not, the struggle will go on. The struggle to end oppression is greater than the lives of any individual, including mine, and here is my epitaph to the Dead, in the words of Dylan Thomas:
"And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

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