Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Israel takes on bogus crusade

What's Turkey's Islamist AKP regime playing at?

It is laughable to hear the Prime Minister of Turkey describe Monday’s raid by Israeli commandoes on the so-called ‘Freedom Flotilla’ in which nine ‘peace activists’ -- eight Turks and an American of Turkish origin -- were killed as a “bloody massacre”. If the death of eight Turks who set upon the Israeli commandoes with knives and clubs, and shot at them after seizing their pistols, is a “bloody massacre”, then the chilling atrocities committed on Armenians by Turks surely amount to the genocide which they are described as but persistently denied by Turkey.

Let us not forget that the Armenian Genocide witnessed little girls being snatched from their mothers’ arms, dragged to the streets, raped and left to bleed to death; that young and old, men and women, were despatched to horrific deaths; that Armenian property was looted and what could not be stolen was set on fire; and, that tens of thousands were disinherited of their nationality and forced to seek shelter in alien lands. And all this happened without Turkish authorities lifting so much as a finger in admonishment.
Neither should we forget that till date Turkey has not owned up to that crime against its own people and against humanity, nor has it allowed others to recognise the massacre and worse for what it was. So much so, US President Barack Hussein Obama, who has sought a full report on the raid on the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “ASAP”, chose not to use the word ‘genocide’ in his message on the 95th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide after promising to do so, presumably because he was mindful of Turkish sentiments.

Therefore, we really need not be distracted by the official reaction of Turkey which, apart from indulging in fiery rhetoric denouncing Israel and allowing thousands of Islamists to march on the Israeli Embassy in Ankara, has recalled its Ambassador to Tel Aviv. This could be Turkey’s first step towards snapping diplomatic ties with Israel, a country with which it has had cordial relations for six decades. It is Turkey’s sovereign right to decide how it conducts its foreign policy, as much as it is Israel’s right to decide how it responds to what is clearly a blatant Turkish provocation inspired by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, which is increasingly veering towards assertive Islamism for reasons which I shall dwell upon later. First, a brief account of what happened on Monday and who is responsible for what Turkey has so colourfully described as a “bloody massacre”.

The ‘Freedom Flotilla’, a convoy of six ships of varying sizes, led by the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, had set sail for the coast of Gaza, ostensibly carrying “urgently required relief material for impoverished Palestinians” living in the blockaded territory. The three-year-old blockade of Gaza Strip is being enforced by two countries, Israel and Egypt, for different though inter-linked reasons. Israel has imposed its blockade, including maritime blockade off the coast of Gaza, because it is currently in a “state of armed conflict” with the Hamas regime which has repeatedly attacked civilian targets in Israel with weapons that have been smuggled in via the sea route and through tunnels connecting the Palestinian territory with Sinai in Egypt. Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt has also been consistently misused by the Hamas militia for smuggling in arms, ammunition and explosive material. Egypt, which has a peace agreement with Israel and whose President Hosni Mubarak is not enamoured of either the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the progenitor of Hamas, or the Islamists who dream of Hamastan instead of Palestine, has not only closed the Rafah crossing but is also building a steel-and-concrete underground wall to prevent tunnels from being dug. The blockade of Gaza Strip, really, is in effect a joint Jewish-Arab enterprise. We could endlessly quibble over the details, but that would not change the reality on the ground.

The ‘Freedom Flotilla’ was ostensibly organised by the ‘Free Gaza Movement’, which claims the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza Strip are living in abject poverty on account of the blockade. Israel says food, medicines, fuel and all civilian goods are allowed to pass through the blockade and tales of suffering, impoverished Palestinians are either sheer propaganda meant to generate support for Hamas or exaggerated to paint Jews as the persecutors of helpless Arabs, put countries otherwise favourably disposed towards Israel on a guilt trip, and keep the mills of anti-Zionism grinding in Arabia and beyond. What is true is that Israel has prohibited the supply of material which can be used for building tunnels and fashioning improvised rockets that are regularly fired by the Hamas militia.

The tenuous ceasefire that followed ‘Operation Cast Lead’ has held, but there’s nothing permanent about it as Hamas considers it no more than a hudna, to be used for regrouping and rearming its forces before launching fresh attacks. Israeli authorities had repeatedly requested the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ organisers to hand over its ‘relief supplies’ for inspection before being despatched to Gaza Strip and not to attempt reaching the Gaza coast. The organisers refused to either allow an inspection of the cargo or to hand it over to the relevant Israeli authorities.

That’s understandable, because the purpose behind the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ was not to help the poor and the famished of Gaza Strip, but make a political statement that would find a resonance around the world, forcing Governments and people to lend their voice to a ‘moral crusade’ while ignoring Israel’s national security imperatives. The media chose to romanticise the ‘Freedom Flotilla’, sensing a soft story that would tug at the heartstrings of newspaper readers and television viewers, instead of raising relevant questions about the entire dubious exercise and exposing the real organiser of the flotilla, the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi, or IHH, an Islamic charity with a radical anti-Western orientation. There is sufficient documentation to prove that beyond its legitimate philanthropic activities, the IHH provides extensive support to radical Islamist organisations, including Hamas, and that in the past it has maintained contacts with and provided support to global jihad organisations.

Given these facts about those behind the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ and its dubious cargo of material to help Hamas build tunnels and produce improvised rockets, Israel was within its rights under international law to stop the ships in international waters as the purpose behind the ‘moral crusade’ was to undermine Israel’s sovereignty. Israel had two options: Either score cheap brownie points by retreating before bogus ‘moral crusaders’, or court equally bogus international opprobrium by protecting its national interest. It chose the latter, which, we in India with an effete Government must concede, requires a lot of gumption.

This brings us back to the enraged reaction of Turkey, more specifically of the AKP regime in Ankara, to Monday’s unfortunate incident provoked by the belligerence of the so-called peace activists, among them a crew of Al Jazeera and a Pakistani television anchor, on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara. A recent poll suggests a dramatic shift in Turkish public opinion with the Left-secular Republican People’s Party, or CHP, surging ahead of the Islamist AKP. The CHP is now seen to be commanding 33 per cent of the vote, compared to 31 per cent for the AKP. The Right-wing Turkish nationalist MHP stands third with 19 per cent of the vote. The next election is scheduled for 2011, but the AKP, according to reports, has been toying with the idea of calling an early poll rather than risk a worsening economic situation. In such a scenario, what better way for the AKP to shore up its electoral fortunes than by painting Jews as villains guilty of “bloody massacre” of Turks and by extension Muslims? Other Islamist regimes have played this game successfully, so why not the AKP regime?

[This appeared as the main Edit Page article in The Pioneer on June 2, 2010.]


Arun said...

1. They were not Turkish government ships. Many members in the ship were not Turkish - there were other Europeans including a Nobel prize winner and a best selling author. You cannot conclude that they were sent by Turkish government to provoke Israel.

2. On what basis did you buy the Israeli argument that the ships contained "dubious cargo"? Given its record, is it not perfectly possible that Israel was lying?

3. When a ship is going in International Waters, if a bunch of commandos run in attacking the ship, what should the sailors do? Attacking back with clubs and knives to those holding the best machine guns in the world... Yes, enough reason to kill 20 innocent people...?

4. If Turkey cannot take a moral stance on the killing of its own citizens in International Waters, because of its involvement in Armenia, then can India take a moral stance if its "peace keeping", non military ships to Afghanistan is attacked by Pakistan Navy when in International Waters, and many Indians killed, because of its own record in Kashmir, North East, Gujarat, Sikh massacre and everything else?

5. All this without even starting with the whole Palestinian question and the Gaza siege by Israel.


pulkit mishra said...

The reason why India has reacted so sharply is an open secret.India can't do the same when Pakistani sailors take our innocent fisherman and put them behind the bars to languish. India is antion of lions led by donkeys for the last many years.
Israel has taught us one thing taht you should go to any extent to save your people.But our politicans will never learn.

GoddAM(n)IT said...


1)The ships sailed out of turkish shore as well plus it was a ship with mixed nationality maybe the idea was to give you this very insane point to defend their stance?? Its like Pakistan arguing that its independent mujhaids are acting against India and it is innocent like a 2 year old baby.

2)"Dubious cargo"-- cause they were not allowed to be inspected.

3)I think you havent yet seen the video

The commomdos were just landing there on the ship when they were attcked by even a FIRE BOMB along with other things, I dont see no guns being used on those "innocent peace activists"

4)Wow what a point you have made you must be Arundhati
Roys biggest fan or something
Kashmir- ???? what are you views on the etnic clensing of Kashmiri pandits , sikhs and other non muslims?? what do you have to say to the Support moral, tactically and as foot soldiers by Kashmiris??
Army is there to protect its land, there are times when boundries would be blurred you cant compare that with Armenian GENOCIDE, do you even have the facts and figures on the Armenian genocide????
Clear case of comparing Chalk and cheese.
North east- ???? what about it?
I am beginning to wonder do you even understand the word GENOCIDE???????

Sikh riots- wrong and shameful but done by a few from one political party unlike what happened in Turkey

Gujrat- ha-ha do you even have the numbers???? do you understand there was a provocation "Burning down of a train in GODHRA, 1/3 of those killed were majority and the no. was no where near what you can cal a genocide

Amit Sinha

Manik Ghoshal said...

This is a short response to ‘Arun’ (whose actual name I would love to know.)
1)The 6 ships loaded with, God only knows what, were heading for the Gaza shore which is controlled by Hamas, an arch enemy of Israel. Israel has a right to conduct a search if they suspect that contraband goods, for e.g. arms and ammunition were hidden on board.
2)The navy did announce a number of times in English language to the ships to be steered towards the port for inspection and customs clearance and possible systematic distribution of aid later.
3)It was when the ships did not alter course, the navy and airforce attempted to board the ships uninvited. The first three guys who landed on the deck were beaten and overpowered by violent mobs and their pistols snatched.
4) The next batch of commandos then descended and also faced rods and knives. It is then something horribly went wrong and shots were fired.
5) International waters is not valid reason for Israeli forces to not take action if they suspect an impending threat to their security. They have the right to take action before terrorists or fodder for terrorists land on their shores. I hope people remember the American determination to attack threats before they reach their shores.
6)If in this case it was international waters, in the case of Afghanistan it was foreign land!
7) Why can’t the Palestinians live peacefully on the Gaza strip which was handed over to them a few years ago, in spite of tremendous Jewish protests? Instead of working towards economic development for the people Hamas is obsessed with the wish to defeat Israel and reverse the Nation building by the Jews. Why can’t the Muslim people live peacefully with people of other faiths and wish to carve out an Islamic nation every time?
Manik Ghoshal

mpanj said...


BJP’s post-2004 strategy is akin to Ratan Tata selling Nano in the luxury market.

There are simply no buyers for it. Because the message and its audience are completely mismatched.

BJP has maneuvered itself into a strategic misalignment vis-a-vis the ground realities of India’s political market place.

Indian electoral landscape, broadly segmented, looks something like this:

A) 10% middle and upper middle class – thinks (or aspires to think) in English.
B) 20% minorities
C) 70% subdivided into regional, class and caste identities

Group A seldom votes, wearing its ‘disdain for politics’ as a badge of honor (Ex: 43% voting in Mumbai post-26/11)
The battle over secularism is of interest to groups A and B.

Group B will never vote for BJP – unless BJP gets self-neutered and gives up on issues dear to its ideological core.

As things stand – BJP’s message and the means used to deliver it (Blogs, websites, etc.) are targeted principally at group A. And therein lies the problem – Selling Nano to Anil Ambani.

Bottom line: Win Group C = rule India.

Group C is too involved with its own daily survival to be concerned with exotic governance doctrines.

Moreover, riots, bandhs and yatras tend to have a direct impact on Group C’s livelihood.

BJP’s altered strategy should focus exclusively on Group C. BJP needs to position itself as a more efficient, more efficacious mai-baap.

Remember both Raman Singh and Shivraj Chauhan won (atleast partly) due to their quasi-socialist policies of free rice and welfare schemes.

NaMo’s “Garib Kalyan Mela” should be a default program in every state.

Also, BJP must focus on visible markers of good governance – i.e. aspects of governance that touch the aam admi. Aam Admi is not too concerned about big ticket corruption but if BJP can show more efficiency at their levels – better sanitation, better schools, mid-day meals for the poor, etc. they can show case these achievements against what the Congress does.

IMPORTANT: Launch Good Governance programs under a single brand “Garib Kalyan Mela” across all BJP ruled states and show case these programs so that BJP (and not just individual states) can claim credit for it.

Go a step further. Involve the Sangh in distribution of this largesse in BJP ruled states and use it as a recruiting tool, much as Missionaries and Madarasas use their financial clout to harvest souls.

Grow Sangh’s membership by using the state as a sponsor. Create within each state a voting block that represents 25-30% of the electorate.

Then go into battle.

As things stand today – all this talk about centrist party, soft Hindutva is going nowhere. It sounds great in TV studios, but as evidenced (repeatedly) by outcomes of various electoral contests, what matters is solving the basic issues of sustenance.

The battle for India will be fought in the heart of Bharat.

Anonymous said...

Good article. It is very clear that the flotilla mission was neither peaceful nor meant for humanitarian aid. The blockade is not big issue anyway, the left and hamas supporters trying to make it one. As long as basic needs of people in Gaza taken care of there should be no issue. Blockade can be lifted when Hamas stops attacks.

Karmasura said...

@ Arun and others like him who may want to comment:

Israel had discovered a terror cell of the IHH on the ship.

To know more about the IHH, check this link: http://bit.ly/dyU6mx

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