The Madness of Arrogance

Israel's Attack on the Gaza Aid Flotilla

Israel’s attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla on America’s Memorial Day was all too predictable, although the form it took surprised even me. And it confirms the old proverb that “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” for the attack was the kind of madness only unbridled arrogance can assume.

It wasn’t just that foreigners as well as Palestinians, flying flags other than that of Palestine, were attacked. Israel has a long history of doing such things, especially to the UN. But except for the USS Liberty incident in 1967, it has generally done that on inland sites — Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon — where it can largely block news and visual evidence, and control the spin it puts on events, counting on its friends in the US and other mainstream media to say little or nothing to contradict them.

The Attack Reprised

Not this time. An attack on the open seas, in acknowledged international waters, against unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid with passengers and crews from many countries — especially a direct attack against a Turkish ship — is a different matter, and potentially an explosive one. The number of shipboard casualties indicates that once fighting started, the Israeli commandos simply sprayed automatic weapons fire into the people around them — another of their long-standing habits.

And technology is their enemy here, just as it became in an earlier day the enemy of communist regimes in the former Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. Too many images and videos were taken, and some sent, and too many witnesses reported what was happening, before the Israelis were able to suppress communications from their victims.

Bad for their victims, but also potentially very bad for Israel, and the initial Israeli public-relations damage control efforts show that they are at least dimly aware of that fact. Trying to cast the attack in international waters as an exercise in self-defense would be ludicrous in the best or worst of circumstances — has anyone ever seen wheelchairs used as offensive weaponry?

And for the Israeli spokeswoman to try to spin an assault by warships and armed commandos as defense against a “lynch” (I guess she was trying to push an American “hot button” for Obama — someone should tell her it is “lynching” or “lynch mob”) would have embarrassed even her public relations soulmate, Dr. Josef Goebbels. But desperate do what desperation dictates, I suppose, although this time they may well have gone way too far.

A Judging, Long Overdue

And that is what the initial responses appear to affirm. All of the major US and many other media outlets are carrying this story, and even with the slant from many Jewish correspondents based in Jerusalem or Ashdod, the bloody particulars are slowly coming through to at least a general American audience for the first time:

1. The unarmed ships with unarmed passengers were trying to ferry humanitarian and reconstruction aid to ravaged and embattled Gaza.

2. Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, probably if not certainly in violation of international law, supported largely by US vetoes in the UN Security Council.

3. Israeli warships and commandos intercepted and attacked the aid flotilla in international waters — which is an act of war, piracy or state terrorism, depending on one’s view of the details.

4. Under attack, some of the passengers tried to defend themselves, scores were killed or wounded, and some Israeli commandos were also wounded — doubtless a surprise to them, but then their usual run of victims may have made them a bit too cocky.

5. Many governments and publics around the world — not only in Arab capitals — are openly outraged, and the discussion forums on US news web sites carrying the story suggest that much the same is happening at a public level in this country.

6. But for Israel, this is just another “we are the misunderstood victim” incident in a long, sordid and utterly unbelievable litany of such things — except that this time, they may not get away with it.

Seizing the Moment

This is a time for those interested in justice for Palestine to seize the moment and act, building on the promise engendered but not fulfilled after the submission of the Goldstone Report to the HRC.

I would like to think that President Obama would take a stand, and perhaps he will, but if he does it will be with words and not with deeds. Neither the Congress nor Rahm Emanuel would let him do much more, whatever his predisposition — and who knows, he may believe the “lynch” metaphor, or pretend to do so.

Americans shouldn’t bother with letters or emails to US Senators or Representatives, or Obama; AIPAC will be there ahead of you with more letters and money than you can generate. Go instead directly to the local offices of US Senators and Representatives, stay until you speak personally to the senior person there, and make your case as forcefully as you can. Make sure as many people hear you as possible — but be polite, and leave your signs at home.

For the world community, now is the time and this is the incident to drive home the UN “Uniting for Peace” Resolution, in both the Security Council and the General Assembly as needed. The nationalities of the victims will at least neutralize many European countries that might have opposed it before. Sanctions, embargoes, even the suspension or expulsion of Israel from the UN itself, do as much as quickly and as forcefully as possible. Press the BDS campaign everywhere hard.

And for the US armed forces, on this Memorial Day, it would be well to reflect on the meaning of duty and service to country and people. Oaths of allegiance, obedience and loyalty are important to professionals in the armed forces, in or out of uniform. They were to me when I was in the Marines, and later as a civilian at West Point and the Army War College. I’m sure serving professionals today are no different.

But the elected and appointed civilians overseeing the armed services have also taken their own oaths, and many have violated them by serving the interests of Israel rather than the US, itself, and especially by spending American lives and treasure furthering Israeli interests rather than safeguarding American ones. This, to me, is clearly treason, and utterly negates any loyalty anyone else owes to them.

Remember that the cornerstone of our oaths is not to obedience, but to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Think about it on this Memorial Day.

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a writer and consultant specializing in national and international security affairs. In December 1988, he received the Superior Civilian Service Award after more than five years of service at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, and holder of the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Alan.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 2:55pm #

    Updates from

    From various news reports:16 dead, 6 Turks, 10 Internationals, 50/80 wounded,3 wounded from European campaign boat.Opening fire on all boats about 7 hours ago via web

    Countries calling Israel for explanation about attacking us Greece, Sweden, France, Austria, Spain, Turkey. Condemnation from China and Russia about 2 hours ago via web

    Call the State Department 202 647 4000 and ask them what they are going to do about this attack and the American flagged boat about 2 hours ago via web

  2. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 3:05pm #

    Turkey: Future Gaza Aid Ships Will Have Military Escorts Massacre Further Harms Israel-Turkey Ties

    by Jason Ditz, May 31, 2010

    Once Israel’s closest ally in the region, the Turkish government has reacted with fury at last night’s Gaza aid ship massacre, condemning it as ‘inhuman state terror.’

    The attacked ship was Turkish in origin and at least two of the slain aid workers were Turkish citizens. Turkey says future aid ships will be dispatched with a military escort so as to prevent future Israeli attacks.

    Turko-Israeli relations have been on the decline in recent months, including a staged photo-op by the Israeli Foreign Ministry designed to shame Turkey’s ambassador. Israel also reportedly arrested a Turkish citizen weeks ago for being a member of a humanitarian group involved with the aid ship.

    Israeli officials have defended the killings as “self defense,” claiming the aid workers were secretly in league with al-Qaeda. A top Israeli investment house has also called for a divestment from Turkey to protest Turkey’s criticism of the massacre.

  3. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 4:58pm #

    Israel’s american quislings now announce their total subservience to israel and their full support for this terrorist act of piracy by zionazi, inc.

    Remarks by Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at an Emergency Session of the Security Council

    Alejandro Wolff
    Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
    U.S. Mission to the United Nations
    New York, NY
    May 31, 2010

  4. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 6:05pm #

    From Latuff:

  5. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 6:27pm #

    Mondoweiss compiled a collection of early reports made as the israelis were attacking. I’m posting this here so this info will be available later once everything gets lost in the mass of reports about this crime.

    Reports – 19 people killed, 30-60 injured in Israeli attack on freedom flotilla

    by Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz on May 31, 2010 · 550 comments

    BTW, the comments are worth reading also, as they show the reaction of regular people, and the zionist internet response at work, to this crime. Something distinctly missing from the israeli occupied american and anglo media.

  6. hayate said on May 31st, 2010 at 6:55pm #

    Norman G. Finkelstein: What happened with the Gaza flotilla was not an accident. You have to remember that the Israeli cabinet met for fully a week. All the cabinet ministers discussed and deliberated how they would handle the flotilla. There were numerous reports in the Israeli press, numerous suggestions, numerous recommendations about what to do. At the end of the day, they decided on a nighttime armed commando raid on a humanitarian convoy. Israel is now a lunatic state. It’s a lunatic state with between two and three hundred nuclear devices. It is threatening war daily against Iran and against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah in Lebanon has already stated on several occasions: if Israel attacks it will retaliate in kind. Things are getting out of control. We have to ask ourselves a simple, basic, fundamental question: can a lunatic state like Israel be trusted with two to three hundred nuclear devices when it is now threatening its neighbors Iran and Lebanon with an attack?

    ‘Israel is a Lunatic State’ – Finkelstein on Gaza Flotilla Attack

    Political scientist Norman Finkelstein has spoken to RT to give his assessment of Israel’s raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

  7. mary said on May 31st, 2010 at 10:11pm #

    Israel have the ships, the people and the cargoes.
    Israel has total control of this event and is manipulating the media, certainly here in the UK.

    We still do not know:
    How many people were killed
    How many were injured
    What the injuries were
    Which hospitals the injured are in
    The names of the dead and injured
    and so on.

    It is most important that Israel carries out NO autopsies. Bullets could be removed and other tampering could take place. The corpses must be repatriated intact.

  8. hayate said on June 1st, 2010 at 1:10am #

    Blistering speech from Turkey at the UN:

    Turkey urges UN to punish Israel for raid on Gaza Flotilla

  9. Deadbeat said on June 1st, 2010 at 1:14am #

    This is what RACISM looks like. This is why YOU CANNOT compromise on RACISM. Unfortunately many on the Left has for much too long. Chomskyism has crippled it for years. Perhaps this incident will awaken the indoctrinated.

  10. Max Shields said on June 1st, 2010 at 7:44am #

    It is clear that this outlaw nation knows exactly what Obama will “do”: NOTHING!!!

    You can expect more of the same leading up to the election. Uri Avnery’s piece in Counterpunch makes clear what we know in terms of how these things have gone (with the exception of Eisenhower’s re-election) since Truman. Obama is not a person of priniciple.
    Let’s get that straight so we can take those wishes of hope and toss them so we can begin acting on what we know.

    There are two more humanitarian flotilla on their way. What will happen? What audacity and wretched actions will the criminal state of Israel display? It is time to boycott this lunatic state. It must be demilitarized, first eliminate its nukes. Defang the sob!! Otherwise, before November it will invade a surrounding neighbor, or rain hell on Gaza. This sh*ts got to END!

  11. bozh said on June 1st, 2010 at 8:17am #

    DB, right,
    We cannot compromise with greatest criminal minds- root of all evil for us indians and neoindians.
    The indians sit on pristine lands; possessed by untermenschen. Octo-millennial criminal minds will never take a rest from murdering-stealing unless they are stopped!