Tuesday, June 01, 2010

What other nation besides Israel....

  • Could drop a bunch of highly trained, elite commandos onto a boat carrying humanitarian supplies and hundreds of people who they know are very angry at the Government of Israel, and then complain when those commandos are actually attacked?
  • Could claim that it was "self defense" when these commandos kill and injure dozens - on a boat they boarded in international waters?
  • Would so carelessly toss away their relationship with the only majority-Muslim nation in the world willing to be some kind of friend to Israel?
  • Would embroil its key (perhaps all too soon, only) ally, the United States, in yet another crisis, at a time when the U.S. is flailing about with a massive, uncontrolled oil spill, a war in Afghanistan, a devastated economy? [hey, maybe that's precisely why they did it now!]
  • Could insist that they can carry out their own "impartial" investigation into this debacle and, yes, massacre?
Imagine if the "tables were turned".

Imagine a boatload of Jews heading to the Promised Land, with nothing but food, cement, medical supplies and some metal bars on board the ship. Then the ship is boarded by heavily armed and well trained commandos. Do the Jews on board simply give up? No! They have learned their lesson. They will fight back valiantly, with few weapons, but a strong sense of righteousness. Miraculously, the commandos are forced on the defensive, and then they unleash deadly weapons fire on the ship passengers, killing and wounding dozens. And the Jews or more specifically in later versions of these stories, "Israelis" (meaning: Israeli Jews) are heroes.

This is precisely the kind of story told over and over again (at least in Jewish families like mine and to members of synagogues), from the founding of the State of Israel: courageous, outgunned Jews performing miraculous, virtuous acts as they stand up for their ideals and those among them who are unable to defend themselves.

The parallels and contradictions between those "Jews as victims-no-longer" stories and the events of the last few days are striking and disturbing. And of course Israel cannot be seen as the persecutor in such tales - Israel is always on the side of good and right, it never does anything wrong. It only defends itself. Yeah, right. Save it for...American Jews.

The Government of Israel complains about how they are singled out for criticism, how they face "existential" challenges from states like Iran. It seems more and more clear, quite sadly, though, that the worst enemy faced by Israel today is its own militarized, ultra-right government, its fundamentalist, extremist political organizations (currently in control of the government) - and the American Jews who believe Israel can do no wrong, and will provide political and financial cover for every red line the GofI crosses.

Soon, Israel will be widely regarded as a true rogue state - precisely because the Government of Israel insists on taking rogue actions.


Steven Feuerstein said...

I've had two people comment on this post, essentially offering the Government of Israel narrative about what happened with its illegal boarding of the Turkish vessel in international waters.

I don't feel any need to repeat such stuff - you can find it all over the Internet and beyond. So I rejected those comments.

In fact, I have decided that in general I will not post comments on my Middle East related posts. I don't want to get this blog or embroiled in the all-too-common blistering back-and-forths. So on my blog, you get to read my view, and we will leave it at that.

Jay said...


The main reason I commented on your blog postings is because I had hoped they would help you think more critically about what you're writing about. I have read your blog postings because I'm interested in hearing your perspective. It is only by hearing all perspectives that one can truly evaluate a situation. You're a smart guy. So for you to write a completely one-sided statement about a complicated topic makes me think that you're not hearing other perspectives. But based on your latest posting you no longer seem interested in reading other people's thoughts, or perhaps you're just tired of arguing over the same old nonsense. So I will no longer waste my time sharing my thoughts with you, or reading yours.

Steven Feuerstein said...

I decided to post this comment because it was the only to reply to Jay and anyone else who was offended by my position.

I have studied and argued and acted for a number of years now on this issue. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I don't need a post on my blog to get me thinking "critically". I read lots of different opinions. I am simply not interested in having a debate about this on my blog.

But, hey, post all the comments you want, Jay. I will definitely read anything you send. I simply won't be making it available for others to read. If your objective is to "help me think more critically," then whether or not I post them publicly should make no difference to you.