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Three Years Since the Gaza Flotilla Attack, Israel Is Still a Police State

Here is another post from my archives, from June 9, 2010. It refers to the May, 2010 attack by the Israeli military on a humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters headed to the Gaza Strip.

The Police State of Israel

June 9, 2010

The nearly unanimous backing of the Israeli military’s siege of the Gaza aid flotilla last week by America’s conservatives is continuing this week. As I wrote in this space a few days ago, many people have been persuaded by the Israeli government’s careful manipulating of events since the beginning of the siege, especially from the Israeli-produced video of the events that did not include the actual beginning of the actions (video of the commandos already shooting from their helicopter before landing on the ship). It seems to be more of an emotional tie to Israel, rather than a rational and objective view of both Israel and Gaza, that keeps so many people believing of the Israeli government’s propaganda, and conservative talk host and columnist Dennis Prager is no exception:

…Though Hamas runs a theocratic police state based on torture and terror, though it recognizes no freedom of speech and no freedom for any religious expression outside of radical Islam, though it seeks to annihilate the Jewish state, and though its state-controlled media depict Israelis and Jews as worthy of death, the world sees Israel, not Hamas, as the villain.

Let’s hope the world is right…

…Turning to American newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, in its editorial, posed some deep questions. Here are three:

“Were the boats ferrying novelists and Nobel Peace Prize winners and elderly Holocaust survivors, as news accounts have suggested, or seething Israel haters, as defenders of the raid would have us believe?”

Apparently, the Los Angeles Times believes that novelists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and elderly Holocaust survivors cannot be “seething Israel-haters.”

A lot of the support for the Israeli government’s actions really was based on the edited video that the Israeli military produced and provided to the news media. Those who try to be objective in all this have asked: if this situation of commandos approaching the ship (albeit already shooting) and then being beaten by ship’s passengers and in turn commandos shooting at the beaters is such a clear-cut case (even though the commandos’ shooting preceded the beating), then why was it necessary for the commandos to confiscate all the passengers’ cameras, cell phones radios and laptops? Investigative journalist Philip Weiss had this update yesterday on that situation:

Today I tuned in on an Institute for Middle East Understanding presser that included Huwaida Arraf, longtime Palestinian-American activist, and filmmaker Iara Lee relating their experiences in Israeli custody following their arrests on the flotilla.

Both women said that their recording equipment had been seized by the Israelis: blackberries, laptops, hard-drives, cameras, phones. And held by them. “We demand that all our equipment get returned to us,” Iara Lee, who is described online as being Korean-Brazilian, said, and then she said that some of the passengers’ recordings were being used, heavily edited, on the Israeli hasbara youtube broadcasts aimed at painting the flotilla as jihadists.

Arraf, who has American and Israeli citizenship, told of being freed at the port and refusing to get into an Israeli truck until her computer and phone were returned to her. She sat down on the floor. Then she was beaten and dragged and forced on to the truck, and dumped outside the port. Later she was treated for her injuries, which she now dismisses, as others suffered more.

What is our government doing about this? When will the passengers get their equipment back? What shape will it be in? Look, here is the Committee to Protect Journalists denouncing Israel’s use of confiscated footage. And how can anyone trust the Israelis to conduct an investigation of this episode if they have already seized and misrepresented evidence so as to manipulate the court of international opinion?

Lee will be having a press briefing showing some uncensored footage of the flotilla tomorrow afternoon at the U.N. in New York.

I really don’t understand the Israel-First-Above-the-U.S. people, who will believe whatever the Israeli government tells them, just like those who will believe whatever the U.S. government tells them. And it seems that, no matter how many cases of Israeli spies against the United States that come up, that’s okay, because Israel is our “friend” in the Middle-East. There has been an ongoing case of a young Israeli named Anat Kamm who is on trial for espionage against her own country, because, during her time as a military clerk, she burned classified information to CD and made copies of material and gave them to a Haaretz newspaper reporter, Uri Blau, whose report of the military’s alleged wrongdoing was published by Haaretz. Ms. Kamm explained,

There were some aspects of the IDF’s operational procedures in the West Bank that I felt should be public knowledge…

…When I was burning the CDs I kept thinking that history tends to forgive people who expose war crimes…

Apparently, Kamm isn’t being accused of spying on behalf of another country, but she is being accused of compromising Israel’s security by releasing those documents. It seems, however, that she genuinely believed that some of the military’s actions were wrong, even criminal, and she believed that it was her duty to make that public. If we citizens here in the U.S. suspect that government or military officials are engaged in some kind of wrongdoing, wouldn’t the moral thing be to expose those corrupt or even dangerous public officials? I wonder what Dennis Prager thinks of this situation, given that he has spent much time on his radio show discussing issues of morality. British journalist Jonathan Cook puts it this way:

During her conscription, Kamm copied possibly hundreds of army documents that revealed systematic law-breaking by the Israeli high command operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, including orders to ignore court rulings. She was working at the time in the office of Brig. Gen. Yair Naveh, who is in charge of operations in the West Bank.

Blau’s crime is that he published a series of scoops based on her leaked information that have highly embarrassed senior Israeli officers by showing their contempt for the rule of law.

Really, Anat Kamm is on trial for embarrassing high officials, as well as exposing possible corruption, incompetence or high crimes. And similarly, the U.S. military is now charging a U.S. soldier for being a “whistleblower.”

Now, given that Israel has spied on the U.S. so many times now, there are times that the United States perhaps ought to exercise greater caution in the choosing of military advisors. For example, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi has raised doubts about a principle advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Dr. Lani Kass, who was born and raised in Israel and was a major officer of the Israeli air force and in more recent years has been working in the U.S. Department of Defense, apparently concentrating on cyber-warfare and issues related to possible war with Iran. Giraldi notes about Kass:

…She comes from a country that has a history of large scale and highly aggressive espionage directed against the United States and she appears to continue to have close ties to her birthplace.  Dr. Kass has become a naturalized American while apparently retaining her Israeli citizenship and her three children were reportedly born in Israel, not the United States.  The information she has access to would be extremely valuable to Israel and potentially damaging to US interests, particularly as she likely knows what the US Air Force response to a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran would be…

So we have in Israel a young lady (Anat Kamm) who thought it was her duty to expose possible incompetence at best and war crimes at worst but who is herself being charged with espionage and is being called a traitor by many among the Israeli population, who apparently love their government more than they love their country and prefer to not question the judgment of military officials, just as many people in America do not want to question the judgment of government officials (including those who knowingly gave false information to get the U.S. to war with Iraq). And we have a very influential U.S. military advisor whose loyalty might be more to Israel than to the United States.

At the same time, we can’t question the judgment of the Israeli military who could very well have disabled the flotilla ship and prevented it from continuing to get through the Gaza blockade but instead chose to begin shooting from the helicopter and attack the ship and murder several passengers, including one American who was shot in the head five times. And many people are satisfied with the Israeli military’s edited video while at the same time could not have seen any other videos from passengers given that all the passengers’ videos and cameras and cell phones were confiscated by the military.

That reminds me of how, here in the U.S., we are not allowed to videotape police officers making arrests (or allegedly harassing citizens or worse), but at the same time, our government can have surveillance cameras and keep us under careful watch, and worse than that given there are government officials who want to force us to carry biometric IDs. As Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com has noted, and several times, it’s a “bizarro world,” and this stuff with Israel, this Israel-First-Above-the-U.S. is probably the most bizarre I’ve seen yet.

The Israel-First-Above-the-U.S. crowd doesn’t want to deal with the fact that Israel is virtually a police state, just as is America, and more and more each day. The Soviet Union kept their people enslaved and they were made to be serfs of the State, kept in the tightly guarded prison and no one could escape—it is the same situation in which the Israeli government are keeping the Palestinians. And, just as the Soviet Union stifled dissent, so they do also in Israel.

As Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s own nephew, Jonathan Ben-Artzi, after having served 18 months in prison for being a military conscription conscientious objector, and now studying for a Ph.D. in the U.S., wrote,

…. Israel pumps drinking water from occupied territory (in violation of international law). Israelis use as much as four times more water than Palestinians, while Palestinians are not allowed to dig their own wells and must rely on Israeli supply.

Civil freedom is no better: In an effort to break the spirit of Palestinians, Israel conducts sporadic arrests and detentions with no judicial supervision…

…We must remove travel restrictions from West Bank Palestinians. How can we live in peace with a population where most children cannot visit their grandparents living in the neighboring village, without being stopped and harassed at military checkpoints for hours?…

…. If Americans truly are our friends, they should shake us up and take away the keys, because right now we are driving drunk, and without this wake-up call, we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.

It is inherent in totalitarian regimes to suppress speech, stifle dissent and the press, and throw in jail those who attempt to expose the incompetence, corruption and treason of the agents of the State and its hired guns the police and military. These are the reasons why Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and why the writers of the U.S. Constitution were forced (kicking and screaming) to include a Bill of Rights.

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