Of Course, They Were Asking for It

It’s time the Israeli government’s PR team made the most of its talents, and became available for hire. Then whenever a nutcase marched into a shopping mall in somewhere like Wisconsin and gunned down a selection of passers-by, they could be on hand to tell the world’s press “The gunman regrets the loss of life but did all he could to avoid violence.” Then various governments would issue statements saying “All we know is a man went berserk with an AK 47, and next to him there’s a pile of corpses, so until we know the facts we can’t pass judgement on what took place.”

To strengthen their case the Israelis have released a photo of the weapons they found on board, (which amount to some knives and tools and wooden sticks) that the naive might think you’d expect to find on any ship, but the more astute will recognise as exactly what you’d carry if you were planning to defeat the Israeli army. It’s an armoury smaller than you’d find in the average toolshed in a garden in Cirencester, which goes to show the Israelis had better destroy Cirencester quickly as an essential act of self-defence.

It’s a shame they weren’t more imaginative, as they could have said “We also discovered a deadly barometer, a ship’s compass, which could not only be frisbeed at someone’s head but even had markings to help the assailant know which direction he was throwing it, and a set of binoculars that could easily be converted into a ray-gun.”

That would be as logical as the statement from the Israeli PM’s spokesman – “We made every possible effort to avoid this incident.” Because the one tiny thing they forgot to do to avoid this incident was not send in armed militia from helicopters in the middle of the night and shoot people. I must be a natural at this sort of technique because I often go all day without climbing off a helicopter and shooting people, and I’m not even making every possible effort. Politicians and commentators worldwide repeat a version of this line. They’re aware a nation has sent its militia to confront people carrying provisions for the desperate, in the process shooting several of them dead, and yet they angrily blame the dead ones. One typical headline yesterday read “Activists got what they wanted – confrontation.” It’s an attitude so deranged it deserves to be registered as a psychosis, something like “Reverse Slaughter Victim Confusion Syndrome”.

Israel and its supporters claim that Viva Palestina, made up of people who collect the donated food, cement and items for providing basic amenities such as toilets, and transport them to Gaza, wanted the violence all along. Because presumably they must have been thinking “Hezbollah couldn’t beat them, but that’s because unlike us they didn’t have a ballcock and several boxes of plum tomatoes”.

One article told us the flotilla was full of “Thugs spoiling for a confrontation”, and then accused them of being “Less about aid and more about PR. Indeed, on board was Swedish novelist Henning Mankell.” So were they thugs or about PR? Did they have a thugs’ section and a PR quarter, or did they all muck in, the novelist diverting the soldiers with his characterisation while the thugs attacked them with a lethal spirit level?

But some defenders of Israel are so blind to what happens in front of them there’s nothing at all they wouldn’t jump to defend. Israel could blow up a cats home and within five minutes they’d be yelling “How do we know the cats weren’t smuggling semtex in their fur for Hamas?”

If this incident had been carried about by Iran, or anyone we were trying to portray as an enemy, so much condemnation would have been spewed out it would have created a vast cloud of outrage that airlines would be unable to fly through.

But as it’s Israel, most governments offer a few diplomatic words that blame no one, but accept the deaths are “regrettable”. They might as well have picked any random word from the dictionary, so the news would tell us “William Hague described the deaths as ‘hexagonal’”, and a statement from the US senate said “It’s all very confusing. In future let’s hope they make every effort to avoid a similar incident.”

  • First published in The Independent.
  • Mark Steel is a stand-up comedian who has done done weekly columns in Socialist Worker, the Guardian and the Independent. Read other articles by Mark, or visit Mark's website.

    6 comments on this article so far ...

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    1. hayate said on June 3rd, 2010 at 12:25pm #

      Well done.

    2. lamella said on June 3rd, 2010 at 12:33pm #

      lol, good read. I have a better arsenal in my apartment than they had aboard the Mavi Marmara.

    3. bozh said on June 3rd, 2010 at 1:16pm #

      The newest amerigo-israeli ‘explanations-descriptions’ ab another amerigo-israeli ‘defensive’ action appears directed mostly at israelis and their supporters.
      And the ‘descriptions’ {read, please, socalled or indicates fictive symbolic value} will receive 96% support from israelis.
      The case ‘elucidated’ and the story or mystory ends for all time. Recall, please, that the A people {‘jews’} and the B people {a meri gos} do not have to listen or talk to us.
      As the creme de la creme, they do not have to answer to C, D, E, F people or peoples let alone to g,h,i people or peoples like iraqis.

      So once again i say to mad iranian priests: Make the bomb. Don’t allow another pre-pre ‘defensive’ action by the ameriko-talmudnik soyuz against ur people.
      It wld be criminal of u not to get a bomb. For devil’s 3 or ur god’s 3 sake, sell all of ur oil and by da bomb[s] if u can’t make it! spasibo! Ur Bogumil = dear to god 2!

    4. mary said on June 4th, 2010 at 12:22am #

      You’ve heard the expression ‘Break a leg’! For Israel, it’s break an arm, literally, to stop the news getting out.

      http://cpj.org/2010/06/cpj-denounces-israels-use-of-footage-seized-in-flo.php

    5. GLebowski said on June 4th, 2010 at 2:46am #

      Israel is an avocado that has past its prime by 3 months. The israeli people better get their shit together and split apart from Israel; kick the fascists in the balls. The Holocaust and its memory cringes in shame and disgust at Israel now.

      Un fucking believable

    6. mary said on June 4th, 2010 at 2:46pm #

      As I said when I heard of the killings early last Monday morning. They are bloody bastards. ‘Shot in the head at close range.’ ’30 times’ (excuse my language)

      Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range
      Exclusive: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal
      Robert Booth guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 June 2010 22.00 BST

      Crowds at the funeral of one of the Turkish victims of the Gaza flotilla raid, at the Beyazit mosque in Istanbul. Photograph: Vadim Ghirda/AP

      Israel was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.

      Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.

      The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.

      The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a “shoot to kill policy”.

      He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.

      The new information about the manner and intensity of the killings undermines Israel’s insistence that its soldiers opened fire only in self defence and in response to attacks by the activists.

      “Given the very disturbing evidence which contradicts the line from the Israeli media and suggests that Israelis have been very selective in the way they have addressed this, there is now an overwhelming need for an international inquiry,” said Andrew Slaughter MP, a member of the all party group on Britain and Palestine.

      Israel said tonight the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. “The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation,” said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London. “Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation.”

      Protesters from across the country will tomorrow march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy to call for Israel to be held to account for its actions.

      Earlier this week, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said the government would call for an inquiry under international auspices if Israel refuses to establish an independent inquiry, including an international presence.

      The autopsy results were released as the last of the Turkish victims was buried.

      Dr Haluk Ince, the chairman of the council of forensic medicine in Istanbul, said that in only one case was there a single bullet wound, to the forehead from a distant shot, while every other victim suffered multiple wounds. “All [the bullets] were intact. This is important in a forensic context. When a bullet strikes another place it comes into the body deformed. If it directly comes into the body, the bullet is all intact.”

      He added that all but one of the bullets retrieved from the bodies came from 9mm rounds. Of the other round, he said: “It was the first time we have seen this kind of material used in firearms. It was just a container including many types of pellets usually used in shotguns. It penetrated the head region in the temple and we found it intact in the brain.”

      An unnamed Israeli commando, who purportedly led the raid on the Mavi Marmara, today told Israeli news website Ynet News that he shot at a protester who approached him with a knife. “I was in front of a number of people with knives and clubs,” he said. “I cocked my weapon when I saw that one was coming towards me with a knife drawn and I fired once. Then another 20 people came at me from all directions and threw me down to the deck below …

      “We knew they were peace activists. Though they wanted to break the Gaza blockade, we thought we’d encounter passive resistance, perhaps verbal resistance – we didn’t expect this. Everyone wanted to kill us. We encountered terrorists who wanted to kill us and we did everything we could to prevent unnecessary injury.”

      Tonight the Rachel Corrie, an Irish vessel crewed by supporters of the Free Gaza movement, remained on course for Gaza. Yossi Gal, director general at the Israeli foreign ministry, said Israel had “no desire for a confrontation” but asked for the ship to dock at Ashdod, not Gaza.

      “If the ship decides to sail the port of Ashdod, then we will ensure its safe arrival and will not board it,” he said.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/04/gaza-flotilla-activists-autopsy-results