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Oy Vey, Flotilla

3 June 2010 6 Comments

Pillar of Peace: Cross-cultural Understanding
Commentary by Liora Herman, Marketing and Outreach Manager

Just when we thought there was some quiet and relative calm in the Middle East, BAM! Flotilla flashes across news headlines and Israel is immediately condemned as the aggressor. But is she?

Why is Israel always the bad guy in any scenario? All too quickly people forget the youth and challenged existence of the Jewish State. Israel is constantly defending her borders, and considering her size, one would think it would be a bit easier. But the international community keeps sticking its nose into her affairs, making it increasingly difficult to protect her citizens.

Rocket shrapnel behind Sderot Police Station.

It is no secret that I am pro-Israel. Here, I will say it: “I Liora Herman, am pro-Israel.” BUT before you run off and accuse me of bias, I am also pro-PEACE. I believe that

Palestinians, the ones not shooting rockets at Sderot (been there and seen the damage first hand), have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately,moderate Palestinians are not the ones in power and are not the ones making news headlines.

I am a well educated, informed woman who can think for herself. After reading several news sources and watching lots of video interviews, here is what I surmise.

  1. There has been a military blockade in place around Gaza for the last three years. And it’s not just Israeli policy but also Egyptian policy. (No big secret, and the captain of the flotilla should have been well aware.)
  2. There was a flotilla of six boats. Five were taken without violence. It was only on the sixth ship that violence broke out after the Israeli soldiers were attacked.
  3. Yes, the flotilla was in international waters. But under Article 51 of the UN Charter, a country has the right to self-defense.
  4. Israeli commandos arrived on board with paint ball guns and used their firearms only after one of their own was shot and wounded.
  5. Hundreds of trucks of humanitarian aid pass from Israel to Gaza each day. (I have been to the check point they pass through and seen the aid processed with my own eyes.)

Karni Crossing in Israel bordering Gaza

So why, with these clear facts, do countries such as France and Great Britain scold Israel?

What I find shocking and surprising is the amount of video coverage of the actual attack―video clips that are readily available on YouTube. If I am witnessing it for myself, how can I spin it against Israel?

Also consider:

These are my truths and opinions. I believe there are multiple truths in any situation. I encourage you to share yours. And I might regret asking this, but, what do you think?

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6 Comments to “Oy Vey, Flotilla”
  1. Rachelle Pachtman says:

    Great piece, Liora. You have inspired me to stop worrying about posting a perfectl balanced comment (although yours IS pretty near perfect) so here’s mine:

    Stop the “black or white” thinking.

    I too am pro-Israel and pro-peace. I am also pro-Palestinian. I would like an end to the occupation. And I would like the world to stop trashing Israel.

    I would like an end to the automatic default to “black or white” thinking. Smarter people than me can explain exactly why this is one of the most complex geo-political problems on the planet. I have been fortunate to get to know some of the many people on both sides who are thoughtfully, painstakingly working toward sustainable peace — through cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue, non-violent resistance and just plain old fashioned “getting to know you” time. These people on both sides just keep on keepin on, no matter how difficult and no matter what anyone labels them.When something like a flotilla happens it breaks my heart because it is a setback to all their hard (and heart) work.

    I know that I am a Jew but I also know my Palestinian friends and I love them and care about them, their families and their future. They are committed to peace, no matter what it takes.

    Let’s all commit to peace and stop slapping labels on others. Oh yes, one more thing. People who live in glass houses……you know the rest. So those countries and organizations who quickly declare that all Arabs want to chase the Jews into the sea, or that Israel is a terrorist state, why don’t you check out your own hen-house. If their is a fox minding your hen-house, think before you label.

  2. Arshi Saleem Hashmi ( Sisters Against Violent Extremism) SAVE says:

    Israeli attack on the Flotilla

    Arshi Saleem Hashmi

    These comments are on the SAVE blog as well.

    Students of International Relations and world politics are often told to separate emotions from real politics. Crises are dealt with calculative policies and public outbursts are often ignored on the basis of being too emotional. Having said that, I believe I will have to for a brief period, leave being a political analyst and university faculty to express my views as a human being. Israeli insane action recently has not only disappointed the Muslim world but the peace activists in Israel are equally appalled by Israeli attack on humanitarian aid flotilla.

    We in Pakistan are concerned because there were Muslims in the flotilla but also because of the fact that there were three Pakistanis from the media were part of this humanitarian effort.

    If we look at the issue politically, it has united the people in the Muslim world like never before, but this does not mean that the regimes in the Muslim world are equally hurt by Israeli actions. The 126 people who are now freed by Israel were from 13 different countries. It is for sure that Israeli administration has emerged as the biggest abuser of the basic human rights in this age of globalization and “peace initiatives”.

    Israel is encouraged not only by unconditional US support but the inactive, indifferent attitude of the Muslim regimes as well. Israel will think twice if there is no US support available for its unfair actions towards the Palestinians but also that a strong Muslim reaction would be forthcoming wherever there is any injustice done by the Israeli administration. It is so disappointing that many a times despite strong public resentment and agitation in Muslim states against Israeli administration; the Muslim regimes do not appear to compromise their short term interests and do not come up collectively against wrong actions by Israel.

    The actions taken by Turkey and Iran were little drops in the ocean but they did manage to get the attention of the world and particularly the UN and US. Jordan and the US managed to get the prisoners released by the Israeli government.

    We have to wait and see if Israel continues with its highhandedness against Palestinian or reevaluates its unfair, unjust policies in the region.

  3. Liora says:

    Here is another article that sticks to the facts.

    I am just presenting the issue. Draw your own conclusions and share them here.

  4. Mares Hirchert says:

    Dear Liora,
    For the past 5 days I have been reading articles and trying to get my local press to even cover the murder of the 9 + civilians on the 600 passenger ship with the Turkish Flag. I got involved with the Palestinian-Israeli issue back in 2004. I met the parents of Rachel Corrie in Ann Arbor, MI while they were on a speaking tour trying to get help to find out what happened and who was responsible for their daughter’s death. They were in civil court in Haifa just this past spring, 7 years later, suing in an Israeli court to get information. I next got involved with trying to get demolition orders lifted on a kindergarten in Al Aqaba, West Bank, Palestine that the Rebuilding Alliance rebuilt in 2004. My husband and I contributed to that effort and traveled to Wash DC to lobby our Michigan Congressional delegation to help us. We brought postcards, petitions, etc. We visited PeacexPeace, too, in Feb 2009. The Gaza war was what sent me over the edge. 326 Palestinian children were killed and what the answer was in response was a negation of those childrens’ lives. The Israeli Gov’t and their PR people kept on topic. Bottom line for them is that Israeli security trumps childrens’ lives. I have since learned that the current Israeli State is not democratic, has a two tier system of laws, separate roads, illegal settlements, 27 foot walls and accepts the deaths of Palestinian children as acceptable collateral damage to keep exisiting. If the Jewish State continues to persecute and terrorize not only the Palestinians but also international humanitarians and peacemakers, then maybe it doesn’t deserve to keep existing. At least I don’t want 3 billion US dollars supporting terrorism, illegal settlements, flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions and International law. I’m a member of Jewish Voice for Peace but am neither Jewish nor Arabic. I’m Irish, English, Polish, and human. Israel no longer represents Judaism.

    I no longer believe the Israeli PR people after talking to them personally during the Gaza War. Their information came thru the military. The Western media were not allowed into Gaza. Anderson Cooper of CNN sat on a hill outside of Gaza.
    The IDF took all the video, cameras, etc. of the passengers and sent them home with only their clothers and papers. There is no Free Press in Israel and I sometimes wonder about the US as well.

    I’m listening to interviews on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now with Huwaida Arraf and Col Ann Wright both women were on the boats. I’ve met Huwaida and I know of Col Wright and I believe their version of events. I’m no longer listening to the PR from Israel or our US media that parrots it.

    Go and listen to their interviews and see what you think!

  5. Anne Foster says:

    I thought David Brooks, on NPR on June 4, had it right. Israel was “morally completely justified and politically kind of stupid.”

    Ms. Herman pleads Israel’s youth and challenged existence, and while Israel has been a modern sovereign nation for more than 60 years, it has not been an easy 60 years. But 60 years seems a long time to continue to be fighting against and denying the rights of Palestinians. It’s difficult to be a moderate Palestinian, and certainly Palestinians can make at least as great a claim to a challenged existence to excuse behavior which is not peace-loving.

    I can only imagine the moral courage it takes for both Israelis and Palestinians to continue to call on their governments to pursue peace and work to build trust. I am glad for this venue which gives voice and encouragement to those who have that courage.

  6. Christine Quelch says:

    Below, is the real reason why Israel is so desperate to subdue the people of Gaza. It is about who owns what, and the need to avoid paying compensation for large tracts of stolen land. All these people either owned their properties, or, under the terms of the United Nations mandate, are entitled to own them on the basis of being the long term residents of a country that was colonized by the Ottomans. What Juan Cole says below is acurate:

    A majority of the 1.5 million Gazans is not even from Gaza, but rather, from what is now Israel.

    Americans do not know … that 68% of Gazans are refugees living in 8 refugee camps, who were ethnically cleansed and violently expelled from their homes in 1947-48, in what is now Israel. And no, they were not combatants, just civilians caught up in a civil war of sorts. They lost massive amounts of property and their homes, which would now be worth billions, but have never received a dime from the Israelis in reparations or compensation. Then in winter of 2008-2009, the Israeli military destroyed one in every eight Palestinian homes, rendering even more people homeless.

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