Another Perspective of Truth

Here in Northern New Mexico a series of local letters to the editor and editorials have appeared regarding the recent actions of Israel. In these several writers, sharing similar Points Of View, reference what they purport to be the “facts”. They then proceed to present a series of “half-truths”, speculations, rumors, and innuendos in support of their position. There are a few “facts” verifiable through minimal research which they fail to raise, which may be relevant if “truth” still holds any complementarity to the search for knowledge.

1. The killing of non-combatant civilians, in declared or undeclared war, “police action”, intervention, or even within a group of humans purporting membership in a “civilized” society, is MURDER, plain and simple. It cannot be re-defined as self-defense or “collateral damage”. Its fault cannot be re-directed to victims who “were in the wrong place at the wrong time”, or who happened to support a political party whose ideology is unpopular with others. All who kill or support the killing of the innocent, participate in a crime against humanity for which they, or those they represent, must be held accountable.

2. Recently, over six hundred human beings, in a publicly transparent international mission of peace, were searched and cleared of contraband by x-ray machines and metal detectors. They then boarded ships and set out to sea. These were avowed peace activists on a declared humanitarian mission. In darkness, and far out in international waters they were boarded by Israeli commandos after which at least nine civilians were dead, six were missing and another 48 wounded by gunshots. Calling them “terrorists”, extremists or insurgents, or even a lynch mob does not magically transform the nature or intent of their mission. One of the nine, a 60 year old man, was shot four times, once each in the temple, chest, hip, and back. Another, a 19 year old Turkish-American boy, was shot 5 times, once in the face, the head, twice in the legs and once in the back. All the civilian dead and wounded were shot by trained military commandos at close range. This is hardly a textbook description of “self defense.”

In another incident at sea in 1985, the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro, was hijacked off the coast of Egypt, this time not by Israeli commandos but instead by four members of the Palestine Liberation Front. A disabled, Jewish – American passenger was killed and thrown overboard. In that instance the United States, Israel and the world were outraged, prompting the creation of:

Article 3 of the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation of 1988, stating it is an international crime for any person to seize or exercise control over a ship by force, and also a crime to injure or kill any person in the process.

Apparently the Rome convention overlooked the obvious fact that this international law was meant to apply only in cases where Palestinians attacked Israelis and not the reverse. Or so it would seem in the case of the deaths aboard the Mavi Marmara.

The one local author in his letter to the editor, made the claim, “A state, in a time of conflict, can impose an embargo and carry out embargo activities in international waters,” a statement which holds partial truth under “The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflict at Sea 14 June 1994.” There are, however, 18 pages of guidelines for naval conflict among which are the ground rules for establishing a naval embargo or blockade. Within these guidelines, a blockade is considered “illegal” when: a.) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival or, b.) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade.

Numerous reports by the United Nations, and internationally recognized humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International, Red Cross, Oxfam, and UNICEF, CARE International, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde, Save the Children and Trocaire, have taken the position that a humanitarian crisis exists in Gaza. Among the reasons which have led to their conclusions:

  • Unemployment rates in Gaza of over 40% (with 70% of those gainfully employed before Operation Cast Lead now jobless),
  • Over 4000 private residences destroyed with little or no access to materials for rebuilding (creating 20,000 homeless and 10,000 w/o access to drinking water),
  • Non-availability dozens of basic medicines (World Health Organization),
  • 1.1 million of a total 1.5 million residents are now completely dependent upon external aid for basic survival (65% of these being children).

Although as many as 10,000 truckloads of goods entered Gaza as recently as January of 2007, that number had decreased to 3000 by January of 2009. Contributing significantly to this worsening situation was Israel’s implementation of “Operation Cast Lead” against both the military and civilian populations of Gaza, destroying individual homes, small business’, hospitals, and sewage/water treatment facilities upon which residents were dependent (The latter resulting in 40-50 million liters of raw sewage being dumped into the sea daily). Lack of access to necessary materials has meant that much of the damage incurred by Israel’s attack has to date not been repaired.

Basic necessities deemed by Israel to be legitimate definitions of “humanitarian aid” consist of a list of roughly 81 items, subject to daily reclassification and change. As Israel will not publicly release the guidelines for classification, the list of items which in the past have been designated as “contraband” under an increasingly implausible banner of Israeli “self defense” can give some indication as to what types of international “aid” would not be allowed to enter Gaza. The following is a partial listing of these items:

Musical Instruments – Light Bulbs – Sheets – Mattresses – Cutlery – Crockery – Glasses – Electric Wheelchairs – Cancer Treatment Medicine – Dentistry tools – Plastic Toys – School Desks – Blackboards – Pencils- Chalk – Paper – Books – Jam – Nuts – Canned Fruit – Dried Fruit – Candy – Spare Parts for cars and other machines – Refrigerators – Washing Machines – Plaster – Paint – Tires – Glue – Floor Tiles – Book Bags – Crayons – Sports Equipment – Carpeting – Curtains – Textiles – Thread – Needles – Chocolate – Fruit Juice – Water Filtration equipment – Fabric for Clothing – Wood for Furniture –Wood for Construction – Furniture – PVC pipe – Solar Panels – Cement – Generators – Fresh Meat – Coriander – Ginger – Nutmeg – Seeds – Fishing Rods – Ropes for Fishing – Donkeys – Horses – Goats – Cattle – Chicken Hatcheries – Chickens – Newspapers – Macaroni – Tomato Paste – Lentils- Empty cans for Canning – Margarine – Vinegar – Honey

Goods designated by the San Remo Manual, (governing legal embargo) lists as “free goods” (therefore not subject to capture) the following:

a.) religious objects
b.) articles intended exclusively for the treatment of the wounded and the sick and for the prevention of disease
c.) clothing, bedding, essential foodstuffs, and means of shelter for the civilian population in general, and women an children in particular, provided there is not serious reason to believe that such goods will be diverted to other purpose, or that a definite military advantage would accrue to the enemy by their substitution for enemy goods that would thereby become available for military purposes.
d.) items destined for prisoners of war, including individual parcels and collective relief shipments containing food, clothing, educational, cultural and recreational articles;
e.) goods otherwise specifically exempted from capture by international treaty or by special arrangement between belligerents; and
f.) other goods not susceptible for use in armed conflict

Immediately evident is the fact , that were independent flotillas of ships allowed direct access to the Ports of Gaza, many of the goods and materials international law deems “essential” would fall among those items Israel has arbitrarily classified as luxury, contraband or nonessential. There is a perverse irony inherent in the fact that goods “destined for prisoners of war” ((d.) above) are denied to a civilian population which Israeli propagandists have claimed to be free of even the restraint of “occupation.”

Numerous alternatives to the commando assaults of the recent weeks exist within international law. Under embargo, Israeli inspections could be or have been made of the cargoes of neutral aid ships (such as Turkey, Ireland, or the United States) in their ports of origin. Another option would be that of a warship from the sponsoring country accompanying an aid ship or flotilla to insure security and integrity of the cargo. The sponsor country, prior to departure would verify the cargo to be humanitarian aid. In these examples aid ships, within the guidelines of embargo, could sail directly to the ports of Gaza without additional inspection or impediment. There is an additional possibility that some humanitarian aid ships might offer, although not legally required to do so (and this was the case with the “Freedom Flotilla”), to be voluntarily boarded and inspected by members of the Red Cross or United Nations prior to landing in a port. These are very real alternatives, some of which are put forward in the same text of International Law which Israel has used to “legitimize” its embargo.

As eyewitness reports become public and being aware of the legal options already in place , one has to wonder why non-confrontational, state supported options for the delivery of aid were rejected in favor of a “ marine commando” assault under cover of darkness. It would not have been difficult to predict the possibility of what actually ensued (i.e. the illegal seizure in International waters of several ships, crews, cargoes, passengers and their personal effects, replete with the confusion, confrontation and unwarranted deaths) would, in fact, occur. The greatest threat posed by the non-confrontational options for the delivery of aid would seem to be the extreme limitations these options would place upon Israel’s ability to self-determine, (without respect to international law), what commodities are to be considered contraband and which would be allowed to pass. The obvious disparity between legally defined “free goods” and those commodities previously banned by Israel lead one to question the actual motivations behind the embargo.

Contrary to the claims of Israel, conditions under which the civilian population of Gaza currently reside are deteriorating. These extreme conditions were initially created and influenced by the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure during Israel’s’ “Operation Cast Lead”. They have been artificially extended and maintained by the severe limitations imposed by the Israeli aid embargo. So abysmal is the situation that it led Navi Pillay, the United Nations’ human rights chief, to determine, in an August 2009 report, that it constituted collective punishment. This determination by the United Nations, not only makes the blockade illegal under the San Remo Manual guidelines, but a crime under guidelines set forth by the Geneva Conventions.

If we presume ourselves civilized and governed by law, then law must be applied equally and equitably. Rogue states cannot be allowed to recognize the legitimacy of the International community only when it is convenient for them to do so. If heads of state cannot be depended upon to enforce these laws, then we, the worlds citizens, through the strength of our unified voices, through boycott, through public protest and resistance must lay claim to the birthright of our collective humanity.

T.E. Origer is a disability retired USMC combat veteran of America's War in Vietnam. He attributes many of his political views to his experiences in one of the largest socialist organizations in the country, the United States Marine Corps. He can be reached for comment at: Read other articles by T.E..

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on June 10th, 2010 at 11:43am #

    I suggest we become inch by inch much or completely simple-minded. Then we wld finally-late, but never too late, see an enormous, but obvious SIMPLICITY.

    Btw, it had been a genius, who never went to school, who noted that it takes a genius to see obvious; the rest of us getting complexities from tv-press, instead of simplicities and with cobwebs in our brains, cannot see them.

    I am not a genius but still managed to finaly espy THE SOLUTION!
    Let us just ask or even bleed-suffer for guidance-teachings-tutoring and not a rule, ‘laws’, governance.

    The moment one human rules another, in any degree, it amounts to a diktat and an automatic deception.

    It may be noted that for us humans to have been able to survive and give birth also to greatest criminals, we must have had guidance-tutoring by timocratic guides. {who now turn in their mucky graves}

    However, even if not, it is not too late to scream or bleed for it now! But u aint gonna ever be taught-guided if u don’t at least ask for it. No, folks, never.

    So, the next time a pol comes to ur town start screaming bloody murder. It is of no use whatever to use langauge on these criminals.
    They only understand action! tnx

  2. Rehmat said on June 10th, 2010 at 4:56pm #

    United Nations’ humanitarian slogans and International Criminal Court’s “unbaised justice” is not for the people whose leaders happen to be against the world as seen through Zionist prism. The latest ‘crippling sanctions’ passed by the UNSC 12:2 with Lebanon abstaining – is the living exaple who controls the international organs. Israeli war criminal leader who have been sentenced for genocide of Palestinian and Lebanese by British and Spanish courts but International Criminal Court (ICC) refuses to investigate the Jew criminals or their government as recommended by UN’s Gladstone Report and UN Human Right Watchdog. However, the same ICC was glad to issue warrant of arrest for Sudan’s sitting Muslim President.

  3. hayate said on June 10th, 2010 at 8:04pm #

    “Here in Northern New Mexico a series of local letters to the editor and editorials have appeared regarding the recent actions of Israel. In these several writers, sharing similar Points Of View, reference what they purport to be the “facts”. They then proceed to present a series of “half-truths”, speculations, rumors, and innuendos in support of their position. There are a few “facts” verifiable through minimal research which they fail to raise, which may be relevant if “truth” still holds any complementarity to the search for knowledge.”

    Apparently these sayanin/hasbarats took this article by Walt very seriously:

    Here are my 21 handy talking-points when you need to apply the white-wash:

    1. We didn’t do it! (Denials usually don’t work, but it’s worth a try).

    2. We know you think we did it but we aren’t admitting anything.

    3. Actually, maybe we did do something but not what we are accused of doing.

    4. Ok, we did it but it wasn’t that bad (“waterboarding isn’t really torture, you know”).

    5. Well, maybe it was pretty bad but it was justified or necessary. (We only torture terrorists, or suspected terrorists, or people who might know a terrorist…”)

    6. What we did was really quite restrained, when you consider how powerful we really are. I mean, we could have done something even worse.

    7. Besides, what we did was technically legal under some interpretations of international law (or at least as our lawyers interpret the law as it applies to us.)

    8. Don’t forget: the other side is much worse. In fact, they’re evil. Really.

    9. Plus, they started it.

    10. And remember: We are the good guys. We are not morally equivalent to the bad guys no matter what we did. Only morally obtuse, misguided critics could fail to see this fundamental distinction between Them and Us.

    11. The results may have been imperfect, but our intentions were noble. (Invading Iraq may have resulted in tens of thousands of dead and wounded and millions of refugees, but we meant well.)

    12. We have to do things like this to maintain our credibility. You don’t want to encourage those bad guys, do you?

    13. Especially because the only language the other side understands is force.

    14. In fact, it was imperative to teach them a lesson. For the Nth time.

    15. If we hadn’t done this to them they would undoubtedly have done something even worse to us. Well, maybe not. But who could take that chance?

    16. In fact, no responsible government could have acted otherwise in the face of such provocation.

    17. Plus, we had no choice. What we did may have been awful, but all other policy options had failed and/or nothing else would have worked.

    18. It’s a tough world out there and Serious People understand that sometimes you have to do these things. Only ignorant idealists, terrorist sympathizers, craven appeasers and/or treasonous liberals would question our actions.

    19. In fact, whatever we did will be worth it eventually, and someday the rest of the world will thank us.

    20. We are the victims of a double-standard. Other states do the same things (or worse) and nobody complains about them. What we did was therefore permissible.

    21. And if you keep criticizing us, we’ll get really upset and then we might do something really crazy. You don’t want that, do you?

    Repeat as necessary.

  4. hayate said on June 10th, 2010 at 8:13pm #

    My own personal opinion of these sayanim/hasbarats operating outside israel is that they should be treated as spies normally are treated in time of war in the countries they are operating in. Why “in time of war”? Because israel literally considers itself to be at war with every country on the planet and this is what israeli foreign policy is based upon. This is why “allies” are treated as occupied territory, and why everyone not occupied is damned as hitler.

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 11th, 2010 at 3:07am #

    When one contemplates the global situation, where Zionist cold, calculated, execution, (with multiple gunshots to the head,as de Menezes suffered in London inflicted by UK police killers trained,where else, but in Israel) is exculpated, or, as in the case of the ritual murder in Dubai,praised with truly deranged, racist, enthusiasm, and Iran is once again attacked, for no good reason, we must face terrifying but undeniable facts. As with the detestable, morally corrupt and thoroughly biased, so-called ICC, which seems to have a de facto ‘prosecute only Africans who are not stooges of the West’ policy, the UN has long been an instrument of US psychopathy and bullying. International law does not apply to Israel because the religiously fanatic ruling circles in Israel and the zealous amongst the Diaspora simply hold the real international community and all non-Jews in absolute contempt. This is partly religious, the hatred of a group that decided to create the mythology of their divine status some three thousand years ago and which has viewed all non-Jews since as enemies or servants, partly geopolitical, the contempt of extreme racist colonisers for their victims and their victims’ supporters, and partly an outgrowth, explicable if not forgiveable, from the Nazi Judeocide. Simply put, a significant fraction of Jewry, one hopes a minority, but one sadly doubts it, hates non-Jews with fanatic intensity.The spearhead of this Judaic hatred, the thoroughly trained killers who murder without mercy, we know, from testimony of decent Israeli troops repulsed by the carnage in Gaza, are increasingly the spawn of the settler Taliban, and are inculcated by fanatic Rabbis with religiously inspired rubbish about ‘sons of light fighting sons opf darkness’ before each new atrocity against civilians. We know, from their own words, that this segment of Judaic religious belief holds that killing civilians, even children,is not just defensible, but a religious good deed,or ‘mitzvah’.Israel is now become, inevitably I believe, given the years of Western complicity in its increasingly vile crimes, and given the psychopathy of intense hatred shared by the Judaic Right and their Sabbat Goy allies in the West, a terror state capable of any abomination. To make matters worse Israel and the Fifth Columns of wealthy Jews who own the political, media and financial infrastructures of the West, are impelling the world to a global despotism of the ‘Judeo-Christian’ world over the rest, a planetary apartheid system, where the control and barbarisation of unwanted non-Western masses of ‘useless eaters’ will be achieved by means being tried and perfected in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The battle against Zionism is the battle against the horrific dystopia that the international parasite class has in store for the planet, as the market capitalist neo-feudal project enters its most crucial phase, that of intensifying and perpetuating the rule of the parasite psychopaths amidst global resource depletion, ecological collapse financial implosion and geo-political challenge from China.