Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | June 8, 2011

The Gaza flotilla: Community organizing the Middle East

Team Obama has made inept attempts to deter the upcoming Gaza flotilla, which reportedly include offering Turkey a role in the Arab-Israeli peace process if the Turks will prevent the Turkish-sponsored ships from getting underway this month.  The overly clever, tin-eared – and destabilizing – character of that move is worth a post in itself, but my topic today is the “US Boat to Gaza”:  the ship named Audacity of Hope that will reportedly join the blockade-busting Gaza flotilla later this month under the US flag.

What Obama’s cohort no doubt perceives as a form of civil disobedience can justifiably be seen by Israel as a hostile act – an attempt to break her blockade of Gaza – and responded to with armed force.  Israel isn’t demonstrably on the wrong side of international law with the blockade.  She is on the other side of a political divide from those who want Hamas to have as much access to weapons as it wants.

But in that political divide, the policy of the United States is not on the side opposite from Israel’s.  To demonstrate that it was, we would have to have proclaimed our opposition to the blockade and our intention not to honor it.  We have never done so.  That is the salient point, and it ought to govern what we do about the career proposed for the Audacity of Hope (hereinafter AOH).

The marine venue in which AOH will operate makes this situation different from that of US citizens engaging in civil disobedience on another nation’s territory. There exists no “right” to operate a ship under the flag of the United States.  Doing so is entirely a matter of privilege conferred by the US government, including conformity with US laws and the international conventions recognized by the US.

The concept of a “flag state’s” responsibility for the behavior of ships operating under its flag is by no means fully developed in explicit law, but it is a longstanding convention, codified in both the Geneva Conventions on the High Seas of 1958 and the UN Convention on Law of the Sea of 1982.  (Most discussions of this topic revolve around national responsibility for the behavior of fishing vessels, and for pollution and emission control.)

It is not clear what Israel could hold the flag states of the ships in the next flotilla accountable for, under international conventions – but what is clear is that there is a responsible way for the flag states to handle the problem, and an irresponsible – cynical – one.  It is not a responsible approach to stand by and allow Americans to attempt to break a blockade – commit a hostile act – under the US flag, without the authorization of the US government and indeed in contravention of its own policy.

But what can be done?  Andrew McCarthy offered an answer in the summer of 2010, shortly after the plans for AOH were announced by the Free Gaza Movement in the US.  The possibility of Americans trying to perpetrate unauthorized actions at sea was foreseen by US lawmakers a long time ago, and that is why Title 18 of the US Code contains Section 962, which makes it a crime to “furnish, fit out, or arm” (or “attempt to furnish, fit out, or arm”) a vessel that will be used to “cruise or commit hostilities” against a nation with which the United States is at peace.

McCarthy suggested using Title 18 Section 2339B as well, which makes it a crime to provide support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.  As McCarthy and others have laid out in detail, the Free Gaza Movement has extensive ties to Hamas (designated a terrorist organization by the US government); whenever Free Gaza attempts to break the blockade that hampers Hamas’s arms pipeline, it is providing support to Hamas.  McCarthy points out that the laws he cites make the attempt a crime, as well as the accomplishment of the prohibited acts.

Other commentators have also pointed out that the US could take action against the funding sources of the Free Gaza Movement, given its terrorist ties.  One step would be revoking the 501(c)(3) status of the American Educational Trust (AET), through which tax-deductible donations to Free Gaza can be made.

New information about the 2010 flotilla reinforces the concern that participating in one of these flotillas involves both supporting terrorism and incurring an armed confrontation.  Although it was reported that the passengers on the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara last year were “unarmed” (except for metal pipes, rocks, and other items used as weapons), photos obtained by Israeli news outlets last week show that at least two of the passengers on the ship were armed with handguns (see here and here).

It doesn’t matter that the planners of this year’s flotilla state that they will be going in unarmed.  They said that last year too.

The Obama administration may cynically calculate that Israel isn’t going to break off ties or void agreements with the US because of AOH joining the flotilla under a US flag.  But relying on that assumption – and not caring about the consequences of a disorderly attempt mounted on the high seas – is not demonstrating global leadership or integrity.  It’s acting like the world’s worst nations.  It’s acting like a community organizer, whose priority is provoking disorder and undermining the sources of order and security.

That’s the central issue in this drama for the US.  In a case like the Gaza flotilla, what is considered reliable “law” or convention will be what the US upholds or doesn’t.  Obama will be setting an example with his handling of the high profile, US-flagged flotilla participant: one that will send ripples through the ill-disposed segment of the geopolitical world.  What the US will not enforce, anyone will feel free to breach.  That will come back on us as quickly as it will affect Israel.

Perhaps the Turkish government will succeed in its new effort to discourage the Turkish participants in the flotilla.  Perhaps a lawsuit filed by a Canadian will result in an injunction against the participation planned by a Canadian ship.  Perhaps Israel’s arm-twisting in the capitals of Europe will bear fruit, or the warnings of Israeli lawyers about the liability of international marine services firms like Inmarsat, the marine communications company.

But the US should be taking the lead in enforcing maritime order here, including warning and deterring our own citizens.  There is no bureaucratic manual, no book of step-by-step instructions, that dictates what we must do in this situation; rather, we have a policy choice – a choice of national character – to come down on the side of order or disorder.  If we choose the latter, we cannot for long remain the source of global standards and conventions, for operations on the high seas or for anything else.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.


  1. —-Israel isn’t demonstrably on the wrong side of international law —-

    “not clearly guilty” is a fine characterization of Israel’s blockade,

    ” unsuccessful and overbroad” might be better.

    • fuster, my old buddy.

      I’m perplexed. Are you just normally a pathologically disagreeable individual? Do you just maybe resent the OptiCon because she’s a woman? Are you perhaps resentful of her education and her professional accomplishments in life? By continuously attacking her commentary do you somehow gain some measure of self-esteem in your perspective?

      Do you just plain dislike American global leadership and our traditional support of Israel?

      Do you want Vancouver to beat Boston for the Stanley Cup?

      Do you covet Anthony Weiner nude photo shots?

      Oh, and BTW. Have a nice day. 🙂

      • yeah, Jim, I’m a crusty curmudgeon. I hate and fear women. I resent Dyer for her intelligence and love her for her close-mindedness and shallow reasoning in all their areas outside her expertise.

        on the other hand, I wish our support for Israel to continue, for Israel to thrive, and for the stupid and shortsighted SOBs currently running the Israeli government to cease confusing intransigence and truculence with strength, and maybe have the Israelis be aware of our costs for supporting them.
        when you have one friend and ally in the world, and you need that friend more than the friend needs you, you might be a little careful.

        no., but Mavs in six suits me,


        no, but feel free to enjoy any that you have. I won’t think less of you.
        feel the goat.

  2. I like the summation offered by the headline “Community Organizing in the Middle East.”

    The flotilla challenge presents in a microcosm a mirror event which may engulf the world because a green light is given to the anti-Israel maniacs. Just like the flotilla will result in loss of life on both sides without its unstated purpose being accomplished (destroy Israel), so will the “Community Organizing” policy of Obama end.

    • Welcome, Megatron. I certainly hope neither the flotilla nor the Obama assault on the USA and world order results in loss of life — but I hope equally that you are right, and the attempts fail to achieve their unstated purpose.

  3. Followed your link to the always immoderate McCarthy.

    —-Hamas remains at war with Israel and has continued firing rockets at Israeli civilians.
    The blockade is thus a legitimate national-defense measure.
    Still, Israel does not bar humanitarian assistance, which is permitted entry into Gaza after inspection.—

    three sentences, the first true, the second a horsehockey conclusion that doesn’t follow from the first, and the third an obvious untruth.

    • Israel does permit humanitarian assistance into Gaza after inspection, fuster. In fact, Israel provides the vast majority of it. Your statement that this is an “untruth” is incorrect.

      • no, opticon, Israel permits only what Israel permits and allows only some humanitarian assistance and bars quite a bit of the assistance.

        the statement by McCarthy is untrue, sadly untrue.

        • If Israel allows “some” (an interestingly vague term, like “quite a bit”) assistance, then the sentence “Israel does not ban humanitarian assistance” is true.

          Plus, perhaps you can tell us what assistance the flotilla will be bringing the Gazans that they couldn’t get otherwise. How will they be saving Gazan lives and improving Gazan conditions.

          You don’t like the way Israel deploys its blockade. Fine. Someday, you’ll have your own blockade of some country lobbing missiles at you, and you’ll be much better at it. But that has nothing to do with these flotillas, which are predicated on a denial of any right to have the blockade in the first place, and reflect a determination to break it. I notice you say nothing about that–but that’s the only real issue here.

          • It’s a good teaching moment, adam. Here is what Israel allows and provides:


            fuster can say “no” and “you’re” wrong all he wants. Those are the facts.

            • Israeli propaganda smells no sweeter than does anyone else’s.

              The talk about some stuff going in omits mention of the stuff that doesn’t and certainly doesn’t mention the stuff that’s not allowed out. The blockade is still tighter now than it was three years ago.

              • —–“In addition, The Jerusalem Post has learned that COGAT is compiling a new list of supplies and goods that will be banned from import to the Gaza Strip. One of those goods will be wood.”—–



  4. no adam, if Israel allows ALL humanitarian aid sent to pass through then the sentence “Israel does not ban humanitarian assistance” is true.

    allowing only some renders it false.

    • So, if Israel, say, allows medicines and food but prohibits, say, wood (whether that prohibition is justified or not), you think it is true to say that Israel bans humanitarian supplies? Your own propaganda doesn’t smell so good–fortunately, it’s easily enough pierced. If Israel prohibits wood, then it’s true to say that Israel bans wood, not “humanitarian supplies.” Since we seem to working on a very basic level of grammar and meaning here, perhaps you will tell me if you think it would be true to say, after the passage of a law outlawing “assault rifles,” that “the US government bans weapons.” (To be very scrupulous here, I now realize it would be true, because there can be an implict “some” here–the “weapons” which is the object of “bans” doesn’t have to be ALL weapons. Nevertheless, in almost any imaginable context, the sentence would be extremely and almost certainly deliberately MISLEADING)

      • adam, I said that McCarthy’s statement was untrue and it is. The statement was false AND misleading.

        I’m not going to join the crowd that says that Gaza is being starved to death and is the world’s largest open-air prison.

        THAT’s bs propaganda.

        But I’m not gonna buy into the Israeli crud either.

        The blockade is meant to screw the people of Gaza, destroy what little there was of an economy in Gaza, and not to allow the people of Gaza to rebuild the destroyed housing. The aim of this stuff is to keep the Gazans miserable in hope of getting them to turn against Hamas.
        Good goal, lousy methods.

        • So, the flotillas, then, are bringing in building supplies?

          • what, you think they’re delivering yellowcake and centrifuges?

            the last bunch brought bags of cement (probably the building supply least needed) and wheelchairs, in various states of repair.

  5. I clicked on the Canadian lawsuit link and then linked to one of the attorneys (Neil Sher) for the plaintiff (Cherna Rosenberg.)

    Happy to see such a formidable warrior as Mr. Sher who as “Director of the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), directed and led our government’s efforts to identify, investigate, and bring to justice Nazi criminals living illegally in the United States.” (From Mr. Sher’s resume)

    Mr. Sher also has an interesting article on Isser Harel, one of the founders of the Mossad who actually knew and counseled Mr. Sher. Wow.

    Isser Harel is best know for his capture of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960.

  6. How did giving them input into the Libyan mission work out, seeing how Obama’s blather, has given cover for Erekat, well that’s just the frosting on the cake, isn’t it.

    • how DID it work out?
      seems that it was the Turkish government that did the 180 and ended up supporting the effort to oust Daffy.

  7. The Arab world does not care one bit about the Palestinians. A permanent homeless, underclass of humanity is useful from time to time as a mascot to use against Israel.
    The PLO sought to carve out a piece of Jordan in 1970. The Hashemite Kingdom answered with brutal and effective force.
    The so called leaders of the Palistinians have done very well for themselves over the years. Mrs. Arafat was left very comfortable in Paris was she not?

    The problem of land ownership, reparations etc. is a legitiment question.

    Israel is a shinning beacon of western style democracy (warts and all) and a dynamic private sector economy.

    The success of Israel is very embarrassing to the Arab world.

    I would wager if Israel did not exist Eqypt and Syria would be very wealthy countries. Literacy would be tip top. Corruption would be unknown. Dictators that enrich themselves would be unheard of. Violence against the populace would not be tolerated by the educated elite. Technology and infrastructure would be cutting edge.

    If only Israel did not exist.

  8. This is taking place against the background of blind Israeli panic in the face of growing passive resistance by the Palestinians to their dispossession, humiliation, and occupation. The Israelis are also aware that while our democratic allies were opposed to violent resistance on the part of the Palestinians, they are resolutely supportive of freedom for the Palestinians no less than they have been supportive of freedom for the Libyans and Egyptions. US opposition to peaceful Palestinian resistance in the form of blockade-busting, civil disobedience, peaceful reoccupation of stolen land, and most importantly, the declaration of recognition by the UN, will have little support among the family of democratic nations and our NATO allies. Nor should it.

    Some points:
    1.The blockade or siege of Gaza, insofar as it extends beyond an embargo on armaments, is completely illegal.
    2. The “blockade” is regarded as an occupation in international law (It is the “ghettoization” of a civilian population. Ghettoization is a collective punishment and a war crime. I need not remind you why)
    3. Military occupiers are deemed responsible under international law for the health and welfare of the occupied population.
    4. The intentional destruction of the housing, educational, health, administrative, and civil infrastructure upon which an occupied population depends is a war-crime. So too is a blockade which embargoes the means whereby the civilian infrastructure can be rebuilt and restored.
    5. US citizens can proudly fly or wear their flag wheresoever and whensoever they wish in accordance with their Constitutionally protected freedom of expression. The suggestion that their fundamental rights should be curtailed for the convenience of a violent foreign ethnocracy is abhorrent.
    6. US citizen pilots displayed the Stars and Stripes on their Warhawks in China and their Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, even though the US was a neutral country at the time. The American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War went into battle under the Stars and Stripes. Rachel Corrie was proudly wearing the Flag on her lapel when she was murdered by the IDF. The Audacity of Hope or any other vessel under the control of Americans is perfectly entitled to fly the Flag irrespective of whether or not the US is the country of registration of the vessel concerned.
    7. The civil registration of vessels, and compliance with American marine safety and shipping construction regulations, is certainly a matter for the civil authorities of the US. Non-compliant vessels can be removed from the register with consequences on their ability to trade.
    8. The Mavi Mamara was going about its lawful business on the high seas when it was attacked and seized by armed pirates who murdered several of her complement – including citizens of NATO-member, Turkey. There has never been a whit of evidence that the ship was carrying goods which are regarded as contraband under international law (She was independently inspected before leaving Cyprus). Neither was she involved in illegal or unlawful actions when she was attacked. Neither was her objective of running the illegal siege of Gaza an illegal activity.
    9. There is no evidence whatsoever that the crew of the Mavi Mamara carried firearms. The attack by the armed pirates was recorded on camera by the crew. The pirates seized the cameras. I wonder why the Israelis were so interested in suppressing evidence? In the circumstances, any Israeli photos which you say have suddenly appeared should be taken with the same grain of salt the world now regards anything the Israelis say. The evidence of the victims is that they disarmed the first wave of armed pirates and threw their arms overboard. No Israelis were injured by firearms. All the murdered crew were.
    10. Having been attacked by armed assailants the crew of the Mavi Mamara would have been legally entitled to defend themselves with deadly force had they the means. They hadn’t and they didn’t.
    11. Americans are perfectly entitled to protest against injustice wherever it occurs.
    12. Our government has no function in enforcing the illegal actions of foreign countries.
    13. The Turkish authorities have no legal means of interfering with the legal actions of its citizens. Neither has ours.
    14. Immarsat is a completely private commercial company providing satellite communications to its contractees. In any case, the people involved in the flottila are not breaking any US or international laws and the US has no power to interfere with the contracts between Immarsat and any flottila crew with immarsat contracts.

  9. If international law makes it illegal to blockade a country firing missiles into your civilian centers (not that I concede that it does) then international law is an ass. Any country that allows its citizens to be killed and its very existence threatened over hostile interpretations of international law doesn’t deserve to exist, and I don’t think Israel has gotten to that point. Israel certainly needs to prepare for some tough times ahead, and needs to formulate a strategy that assumes the US will be unhelpful, if not actively hostile, while Obama is in office–still, it’s hard to see what all this amounts to. You can catch the Israelis by surprise only once with these kinds of stunts (like with the border crossings from Syria)–it doesn’t seem that difficult to defuse these situations with little if any death or injury. Higher fences in the north; and, clearly no flotilla gets past the Israeli Navy–so why not just keep them from approaching land until they get tired of it and go home? Or another flotilla comes and brings the first one help–they’ll get tired as well. Of course I support the means suggested above of making life difficult for the showboating friends of Hamas–in general, Israel and its supporters need to get much better at that kind of thing. Maybe this is how they start to learn. I’m sure the Israelis know that while they are willing to fight for their country, only a few fanatics are willing to fight, much less die, for “international law”

    • Well, Adam. International law (just like our own domestic law) allows proportionate self-defence. Say the police suspect that someone from the “Projects” on the other side of the tracks (a neighbourhood which is under the control of gangs) is responsible for a series of murders in your nice neighbourhood, the police don’t burn down the area in which the robbers live, nor do they destroy the schools and hospitals and water and sewage facilities, nor do they kill more than one thousand of the people in the “Projects”, and then mount an armed blockade to prevent the schools etc.being rebuilt. That is exactly what Israel is doing in Gaza, and that is why she is attracting international opprobrium.

      Under international law collective punishment of an occupied civilian population is a war-crime. We hanged people after WWII for doing exactly this.

      The flottila obviously isn’t going to solve the situation in Gaza. Only the ending of the siege will do that. The flottila is an act of protest against an illegal occupation and siege. Its purpose is to draw attention to the ghettoization of the people of Gaza. The last time I heard, peaceful protest was perfectly legal. The last time I heard, attacking ships engaged in lawful activity on the high seas was piracy.

      I don’t support illegal violence. By anyone.

  10. The people running the blockade knew that they would almost certainly be confronted and proceeded with that expectation. The supplies being delivered were less important to the folks in the flotilla than was the looming confrontation.
    They got what they wanted.

    • “Got what they wanted”

      Like the students in Kent State?

      Like the protesters in Syria?

      Like the protesters in Sharpville, South Africa?

      There is no question that main purpose of the Mavi Mamara flottila was to make a protest and to highlight the situation in Gaza. Protest is a perfectly legal activity. An armed attack on a ship on the high-seas is piracy. Now, it is perfectly reasonable to say that if the legal protestors had turned guns on their armed attackers and killed a number of them, the armed attackers “got what they wanted” (or deserved). However, while it can be supposed that the people on the Mavi Mamara may have expected to be interdicted and taken into custody by the Israelis, it is grossly offensive to the victims to allege that they expected to be murdered, or might have welcomed it.

      The Mavi Mamara attack, and our support for the perpetrators rather than the victims has cost our nation dearly in terms of future co-operation from NATO ally, Turkey (A nation in a vital strategic location, and whose assistance in relation to our disengagement from Iraq is vital – and whose troops have fought alongside ours). You will need no reminding that the Israelis have never fought alongside us. They are into the US taxpayer for billions of dollars. They flout our values, and disregard our entreaties to stop stealing the land of non-Jews. They are a complete strategic liability for the US without one redeeming strategic value I can think of.

      • no, it’s not reasonable to say that the blockade runners wanted or expected to be killed. no evidence that I’ve seen suggests it, although it was certainly a possibility,
        however, there’s no escaping that they were running a military blockade and weren’t going to stop unless force was employed to stop them.

        nor is it reasonable to compare the protesters with the people killed at Kent State. that’s kind of stupid.

        • They were running an illegal military blockade, and they were legally protesting (as were the Kent State students), and given the threats made by the Israelis, they would have anticipated (illegal) interdiction, and the probability that they would have their liberty (illegally) taken from them, at least temporarily.

          People who protest against violent regimes and oppression always run a risk. Muberak would still be in power, and Assad would have stood unchallenged if people weren’t prepared to take that risk.

  11. I can see way Hamas supporters rely upon comprehensive interpretations of international law to make their case–the “lawfare” assault on Israel is obviously their best approach. Israel and its supporters can make their own international legal arguments–I don’t find it all that interesting, because international law is not an “operational” reality, like domestic law, but, aside from some marginal cases, more of a way of framing arguments in international disputes. And the entire post-Nuremberg human rights international legal system is a leftist concoction–obviously a lengthy rap sheet on each country’s violation will tell us nothing about what is really going on in the world. Nor does a lengthy rap sheet on Israel answer the only question that really counts: are the Palestinians ready to make and capable of enforcing and sustaining an agreement with Israel that the Israelis themselves can accept? Preferring to try and cut through the hysteria and accusations to the reality, I answer that question “No” and try to figure out the consequences. Since I obviously have a different assessment of Israel and its worth to the US and the world than the Hamasites seeking its destruction, my only concern is to consider how Israel can come to terms with the obvious end of the “Peace Process,” and the fact that it will have to more or less unilaterally decide upon the disposition of the territories taken in 1967, and it will then have to live with and defend that decision. These are very difficult issues, and I don’t think most Israelis have come to terms with them–the “obviousness” of the two-state solution has sunk very deep roots in Israeli politics. One advantage of accepting the end of the peace process is that it simplifies things rather radically, even while making things more difficult in a lot of ways.

    • I don’t really care what Hamas (or Likudists like the OC for that matter) think about international law. They all try to dine a la carte on its provisions – selecting the bits they like, and ignoring the bits they don’t. (Even in the case of the OC, inventing or hypothesising outlandish new international laws as she does in this piece). The rules of international law are not a “socialist plot”. They are a codification of principles which are based on norms with which Americans are familiar within our own legal system. This isn’t surprising because American jurisprudence and American jurists were most influential in their formulation. In fact, its difficult to see how the rules outlawing ghettoization, collective punishment of civilian populations, and proportionality of force, could have anything to do with “socialism”. Very much the opposite. Collective reprisals and all the unlovely actions of the military occupier inevitably also include the suppression of free economic activity on the part of the occupied population. And so it is in Gaza. The outlawing of the seizure of the property and economic resources of occupied populations by their occupier is hardly “socialism”. Very much the opposite.

      I am not hugely hopeful for the peace process. No one has yet explained how two hundred thousand Jewish settlers – many of them extremist religious fanatics with a propensity to violence – can be removed from their stolen land on the West Bank – or who will do it.
      I think that the Israelis are still hoping to frustrate any peaceful settlement while continuing their land-grab and pursuing a policy of making life as difficult and unpleasant as possible for the Palestinians with a view to encouraging as many as possibly – particularly those who want advancement and education – to leave their homes and land. Hence the Israeli policy of using various subterfuges to cancel the residency permits of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who take up educational opportunities abroad. It will be interesting to see what the Israelis will do once their land-seizures have frustrated the possibility of any viable Palestinian state, and the Palestinians start campaigning for legal equality.

  12. p.s. I would be fascinated to know what you think the “worth” of Israel is to the United States.

    I think that it is a foreign ethnocracy with a euro-socialist economy which has never fought alonside the US, which (because of our complete one-sided bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) is a constant source of antagonism between our nation and Arab and Islamic opinion, and which is a multi-billion dollar dependent of the US taxpayer. Recently, it has done tremendous damage to our relationship with Turkey – a democratic and vital strategic ally. Its military and economic value to the US is completely negative.

    • the damage in our relationship with Turkey isn’t enormous, and it isn’t all about Israel. It’s more about the nature of the regime in Turkey, and how they wish to position themselves in the world and the nature of the previous administration of our government and the decision to undertake the adventure into Iraq in ’03.

      Turkey has chosen to pursue links to the Middle Eastern states, mostly because it’s blocked out of the EU, and being closely allied with the US is not convenient for a nation wishing to trade on it’s imperial and Islamic past in that pursuit.

      Turkey ain’t all that vital and it ain’t all that democratic…..and real soon it’s going to get a good deal less democratic.

      • The damage is enormous because of its effect on Turkish public opinion, and the fact that the government (as all elected governments will) react to, and reflect, public opinion. There is no question that there is a sea-change underway in Turkish foreign policy, and they have seen that NATO membership has done them no favours nor offered any protection to their citizens when illegally attacked by a non-NATO power.

        You are partly correct in what you say about Turkey looking eastward. Just as importantly, the economic crisis in the Eurozone, and the contrasting recent success and growth in the Turkish economy has made the Turks reappraise their situation and ask themselves whether they would be better maintaining their independence and seek a looser arrangement with the EU.

        Turkey is a democratic nation. Due to recent reforms, it is almost completely compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (a prerequisite for EU membership). The ECHR enshrines the liberal rights which are enshrined in all democratic constitutions – including non-discrimination on grounds of religion and ethnicity and protection of private property and economic rights. Needless to say, Israel observes none of these basic norms and could never be eligible for EU membership. There is no evidence whatsoever that Turkey is about to become “less democratic”. The evidence is all in the other direction. The current government which seems likely to be re-elected has presided over a consistent programme of reform – including removing the last vestiges of military participation in the political process.
        (You are probably making the same ridiculous connection between “Israel-friendly” and “democratic” which you frequently see in the US press)

        • what do you know of Turkish public opinion and what is the worth of same?

          ( I am not making any “Israel-friendly” and democratic connection and you’re being a bit of an ass to make that assumption sans any bit of evidence to support that bit of horsehockey)

  13. I am also curious to see how Israel handles the enormously difficult task of incorporating territory with an overwhelmingly hostile population. I have my own ideas about how best to approach this, but none that most Israelis are willing to entertain at the moment. I imagine that, as in most cases where history throws up unsolvable problems, the Israelis will stumble along, relying upon the advantages their deeper culture of freedom and democracy confer, probably never completely “solving” the problem.

    Support of Israel is ultimately support of a free, creative culture assailed by cultures of resentment, sterility and violence. To abandon Israel, to surrender the Jews once again to a demented death cult, would not only constitute a shame we would never live down but would whet the appetite of the most virulent elements of Arab and Muslim culture; while every time Israel defeats and humiliates the forces aimed at its destruction we see that it is possible to do so and ultimately give the cultures of tyranny, violence and death the utter, unmistakable defeat that is necessary if Arabs and Muslims are ever to free themselves from them. Who can look at the societies surrounding Israel and say “What excellent models of human development! We must help them flourish!” It’s better to distract attention from the squalor by scapegoating Israel.

    By itself, Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, even putting the worst construction on it, would not garner much attention in a world of mistreated individuals and groups; it is the belief that this mistreatment is somehow the CAUSE of much greater conflicts and threats that is the source of the attention and also a central myth consolidating relations between the postmodern, human rights left, Arabs and Muslims, and their apologists within the West. It’s a myth that also represents a deeper social sickness, the victimary sickness, one that also embraces anti-Americanism. Supporting Israel is also a way of devising a therapy for this sickness.

    Americans and Israelis have never fought side by side, but I think most Americans feel sure (as do I) that the Israelis would do so if we needed them (unlike the Turks, who cost us God knows how much in lives, wealth, and political capital by refusing us entry into Iraq from their territory in 2003).

  14. The Gaza border with Egypt is open, which makes the “Peace” Flotilla even more of a sham.

    • on the other hand, Hamas has been able to import Grads despite the blockade, which also renders the blockade a sham.

  15. Gee, opticon, just how clumsy were those attempts to get Turkey to pull out of the flotilla?

    How come the inept and hostile-to-Israel , in your assessment, community organizer was able to the get the neo-Ottoman Islamist hate-the-Israelis Turkish government, in your assessment, to pull out of the flotilla?


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