Monday, June 7, 2010

Flotilla Mythbusting Part 1: "Self-Defense"

When the news of the Flotilla Raid last week first broke, the HPers and other Palestinian supporters were claiming that Israel had carried out a "massacre." That was quickly proven not to be true, but rather than apologize for their slander against Israel (ha!) the Free Gazans and Friends instead changed their tune to two more complex (and therefore more difficult to counter) arguments. We'll start with one of the most common ones, which is what a talkbacker on this blog, as well as on the HP, has made:
"What do you expect when a group of soldiers suddenly rappel down in the middle of the night! Of course the activists were going to defend themselves and their ship! They were more than justified in mobbing the soldiers under the principle of self-defense."
 Okay, let's start with analyzing whether the activists were justified in defending themselves with deadly force. Under just war theory, violence for the purposes of self-defense can only be used if (a) people's lives are in imminent danger and (b) if all other methods for resolving the situation have been tried and failed. I claim that Israel did fulfill these obligations, while the activists did not.

So first of all, did the activists take every available option to avoid violence? They most certainly did not. Israel told them to turn back many times but they refused to do so. Every offer for Israel to inspect the cargoes and ship them in were turned down. When the ships and helicopters appeared around them, they could have surrendered at any time but continued to press on. And as we can see in this video, the activists were going to use violence long before they even saw the IDF soldiers:

And this:

Later video evidence proved that the activists were psyching themselves up to fight the Israelis before they even left. See here, here and here. So now that we have covered that the activists have failed on the first part (to avoid all attempts to avoid violence) we must ask the second: Were people's lives in danger to the point where the activists were required to use violence to defend themselves against the IDF?

Well, since we weren't there we have no way to know for sure. Certain activists have claimed the the IDF rappelled down "with guns blazing" but these have never been confirmed. And as Matt wrote earlier, recent testimony has come out that it was only after the activists took hostages of IDF soldiers that the decision to use live fire was used. So we have ambushing of soldiers (under a white flag), taking hostages and playing the victim. Sounds a lot like terrorist tactics to me, don't you think?

Of course, there is also the fact that the other five boats were boarded and taken in exactly the same way and somehow no one on either side was killed. There have been unsubstantiated rumors by activists that the IDF soldiers hurt them anyway, but we have long known that they will lie through their teeth at the slightest provocation.

Ultimately, none of this matters though. Because I can just as easily turn it around. Fine, the activists were justified in using violence to defend their boat. But then the IDF soldiers were just as justified in using violence to defend their own lives and the lives of their fellow soldiers. If the Free Gazans want this situation to end with the conclusion that both Israel and their activists were justified in their actions, and therefore no punishments will be taken, that is perfectly fine with me. But somehow I don't think they would be.

So "self-defense?" Sorry guys, you'll have to come up with something better.

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