You are here
Home > News > Headlines

Which was more awesome: power of nonviolence, or right of self-defense?

IDF raid on Mavi Marmara, Freedom Flotilla
Give praise to Allah where praise is due
 
As the Freedom Flotilla made its slow approach last week, a popular Huffpo article pronounced the convoy a testament to the awesome power of nonviolence. That sentiment went about as viral as activist-geeks can get. But the blockade running denouement proved something of the opposite, didn’t it? I hope the sanctimonious pacifist will be brave enough to admit it. The Muslim Brotherhood bravely charging the Israeli navy was surely the definition of martyr, if anyone has ever earned it. Without pushing the IDF to bare its authoritarian fangs, there would have been no story, no outrage, the end. An entirely compliant convoy would have been led by the nose to Ashdod and diplomatic compromise. Neither Gandhi nor King nor Mandela gained without a massacre they didn’t provoke. It’s a slander to their legacy that nonviolent movements have been co-opted by religious purists who subordinate social justice to self-fulfilment, generally in the guise of your post-earthly reward. Labor organizers used to curse the industrialists’ first line of union busters, the churches which practiced appeasement and promised “pie in the sky when you die, by and by.”

We may view and review the IDF night vision tapes which recorded the hardly nonviolent reception given Israel’s would-be swashbuckling commandos. Those convoy defenders delivering the first blows may appear to be having way too much fun for our sense of propriety. But it’s hard to begrudge men who’ve suffered under the Israeli boot, perhaps even Israeli torture, who’ve never gotten closer to their oppressors than an Israeli sniper’s range would allow. Perhaps they have loved ones to avenge, or ideals higher than secular humanists can credit. Whatever hatred or anger, the bravery it took to lift metal pipes against modern firepower is undeniable. And just like the stone-throwers of their youth, this is the indomitable spirit that buoys their survival. Without this fight, their numbers would entropy to servitude and attrition, lifeless bodies suspended on their invader’s web, to feed the occupier’s young until they are gone.

From our church pews and academic perches we can supplicate they heed the road most honorably traveled. What do Westerners know of pragmatics? At best our reality is theoretical. Really, who are we, we are always wrong. We can neither elect presidents who matter, nor pass legislation that does not agree with our corporate landlords. And we presume to advise on struggles that mean life and death.

Am I saying that there is no efficacy to nonviolent action? Not at all. But I do say, give human nature and righteous anger its due. Nonviolent passivity is for sheep. It will lead us all to an unceremonious death. Wolves count on sheep that don’t bite back. If humans can be divided between wolves and sheep, be upfront with the sheep and perhaps you’ll rouse in some of them a wolf’s courage. That is what will lift your collective humanity.

At this moment a second wave of the Freedom Flotilla is poised to make a second go at Gaza. The MV Rachel Corrie waits in mid Mediterranean for reinforcements to join it, whereupon it too will push Israel’s buttons. Rumors are already circulating that a diplomatic compromise may already have been reached to divert the aid supplies through Egypt. Of course that rumor was spread about the recent flotilla. From the horses mouth however, the Rachel Corrie crew are expressing the desire to avoid a similar disaster, they vow to sit peaceably with arms raised lest IDF interlopers mistake resistance.

This may be the false pacifist bluster that led Israel to underestimate the fighting spirit of the Mavi Marmara’s above deck. Or it may be genuine. Which Israeli game theorists will be eager to plug and play. The MV Rachel Corrie wheelhouse will be handed to the IDF just as a harbor pilot boards to guide a ship into port, IDF gunboats serving as tugboats, aid supplies unloaded at Ashdod, then transferred through an approved border crossing with as much fanfare as collaboration with occupiers will garner. Humanitarian relief delivered but no blockade breached. A Pyrrhic victory that means private interests will forever subsidize the bill which Israel owes.

I have more faith than that in the Free Gaza Movement, they’ve played their cards superbly, if of course lacking the visual aids which it would seem would greatly enliven media coverage. But I’m second guessing there too. Perhaps an imagined picture is better than the reality mundane. The public knows enough about what happened on the Mavi Marmara with just a sliver of video coverage. Even with IDF fine-tuned selective snippets, the public imagination can run with the truth. And organizers are not at liberty to praise the Marmara martyrs. So I will.

I was dismayed when heard on the Marmara’s last video stream, someone pleading with the “brotherhood” to cease their resistance because the activists were facing live ammunition. The admonition was in English, meaning most of the brotherhood would not understand it anyway. If you watched the continuous broadcast, it was almost exclusively in Turkish, suited to its main audience in Turkey. When participants wanted to testify in another language, many onscreen slunk their shoulders until the Turkish was back. Bilingual announcers who asked the hosts which language they should speak were always advised against English. So when the final plea was made to the “brotherhood,” the language seemed deliberately aimed at the Western viewer, a telltale conceit that would bolster Israel’s version of events.

For the most part, what Israel says happened is what happened, to the most significant degree. A lot of damning gunfire may have been omitted from the IDF tapes volunteered to skew public perception, but what pretext more did the brotherhood need to defend the ship against the surprise nocturnal invaders? None.

Just as Israel insists on its right to defend itself, it can hardly deny the convoy the same right.

What is utterly clear is that the Muslim brotherhood didn’t raise its arms chanting Kumbaya, neither did they lock arms to be trampled afoot. As the Israeli special-ops came down from the helicopters, the brotherhood gave them their best wallops. They had no guns, nor swords nor explosives nor booby-traps. They showed amazing restraint for the anger they carried. Yet in the face of overwhelming firepower they ran straight forward, some of them armed only with a plastic chair. I had practically to sympathize with the soldiers coming one at a time down the ropes. That brave first one certainly caught the brunt of a violent ride. Only an inhumanly ardent partisan could not feel pain for that solitary first Israeli battered like a rag doll. We are certainly never treated to videos which have shown that IDF soldiers might feel the pangs in the face of what the violence they are committing.

6 thoughts on “Which was more awesome: power of nonviolence, or right of self-defense?

  1. Eric, your commentary is written in an utterly dumb and thoughtless mindset all your own.

    First off, there is no Muslim Brotherhood involved here. The words have meaning that you simpy are totally ignorant about. You obviously don’t know who the Muslim Brotherhood is, or you wouldn’t be parroting Israeli propaganda as you are doing. They are a major Far Right Wing theological political grouping often very active in Egyptian politics.

    But Israel does know who the Muslim Brotherhood is and has incorporated charges that they confronted members of this group in defense of their own Jewish State’s unprovoked assault on these boats and the people on them.

    Their videos, now shown all over the media and internet, show several individuals flailing away with thin metal tubings from some of the boats railings as Israel launched its armed assault on unarmed passengers. Since Israel confiscated all other video and pictures from the passengers, they have been able to doctor up the appearance to look like their own military assault platoon were under attack, and not the passengers!

    This is a crock of military propaganda though, so why do you come along and parade it along as if it were honorable TRUTH? Because you’re stupid, Eric. That’s why?

  2. Dear Pile, normally I am enlightened by your insight, but on the brotherhood matter it looks like you haven’t been keeping up with the events.

    But let’s say for arguments sake that it had been IDF propaganda, that doesn’t preclude the opportunity to poke fun at Israel’s logic, however contrived.

  3. You have not poked fun of the IDF’s propaganda but have adopted their propaganda as your own and celebrated what was a doctored version of what happened as if it were true.

    ‘But let’s say for arguments sake that it had been IDF propaganda, that doesn’t preclude the opportunity to poke fun at Israel’s logic, however contrived.’

  4. Oh by BTW, since you now call me ‘Pile’ (like in pile of shit), I want you to know that the feeling is mutual, Eric.

  5. Eric, verbally celebrating what has all the looks of being the choreographed work of Israeli military agents among the people on board the ship Marmara, still makes me sick just rereading his almost sexual excitement once again. Eric, you are a clueless idiot! These activists died in what appears to be an ambush and setup by the Israeli military and you’re getting your cocks off to it???? What the heck is wrong with you?

  6. Reflections by a Former US Marine on the Mavi Marmara

    On Cowardice and Violence

    By KEN O’KEEFE

    Istanbul

    In 2002 I initiated the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq because I knew that the invasion of Iraq had been planned well in advance, that it was part of a ‘Global Spectrum Dominance’ agenda as laid out by the Project For A New American Century. I knew that protests had no chance of stopping the invasion, and that largely these protests were just a way of making us feel better about the coming mass murder; by being able to say “I protested against it.” With that understanding I argued that the only viable way to stop the invasion was to conduct a mass migration to Iraq. A migration in which people from around the world, especially western citizens, would position themselves at sites in Iraq that are supposed to be protected by international law, but which are routinely bombed when it is only Iraqi, Palestinian, generally non-white, western lives who will be killed. I felt 10,000 such people could stop the invasion, or at the very least, expose the invasion for what it was from the start, an act of international aggression, a war crime and a crime against humanity.

    I have for many years understood that we, people of conscience, are the true holders of power in this world. Frustratingly however we have largely relinquished that power and failed to reach our full potential. Our potential to create a better world, a just world. Nonetheless I have conspired with others of like mind to reveal and exercise our true power.

    When our two double decker busses travelled from London to Baghdad through Turkey, it was ever clear that the people of Turkey also could sense the power of this act, and they were the biggest participants in it. In the end we did not get the numbers required to stop the war, with at least one million Iraqi’s dead as a result, but I remain convinced that it was within our power to prevent the invasion. A massive opportunity lost as far as I am concerned.

    In 2007 I joined the Free Gaza Movement with its plan to challenge the blockade of Gaza by travelling to Gaza by sea. From the moment I heard of the plan I knew it could succeed and ultimately I served as a captain on the first attempt. The Israeli government said throughout our preparation that we were no better than pirates and they would treat us as such. They made clear we would not reach Gaza. And still I knew we could succeed. And we did. Two boats with 46 passengers from various countries managed to sail into Gaza on August 23, 2010; this was the first time this had been done in 41 years.

    The truth is the blockade of Gaza is far more than three years old, and yet we, a small group of conscientious people defied the Israeli machine and celebrated with tens of thousands of Gazans when we arrived that day. We proved that it could be done. We proved that an intelligent plan, with skilled manipulation of the media, could render the full might of the Israeli Navy useless. And I knew then that this was only the tip of the iceberg.

    So participating in the Freedom Flotilla is like a family reunion to me. It is my long lost family whose conscience is their guide, who have shed the fear, who act with humanity. But I was especially proud to join IHH and the Turkish elements of the flotilla. I deeply admire the strength and character of the Turkish people, despite your history having stains of injustice, like every nation, you are today from citizen to Prime Minister among the leaders in the cause of humanity and justice.

    I remember being asked during the TJP Human Shield Action to Iraq if I was a pacifist, I responded with a quote from Gandhi by saying I am not a passive anything. To the contrary I believe in action, and I also believe in self-defence, 100 per cent, without reservation. I would be incapable of standing by while a tyrant murders my family, and the attack on the Mavi Marmara was like an attack on my Palestinian family. I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with those who refused to let a rogue Israeli military exert their will without a fight.

    And yes, we fought.

    When I was asked, in the event of an Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, would I use the camera, or would I defend the ship? I enthusiastically committed to defence of the ship. Although I am also a huge supporter of non-violence, in fact I believe non-violence must always be the first option. Nonetheless I joined the defence of the Mavi Mamara understanding that violence could be used against us and that we may very well be compelled to use violence in self defence.

    I said this straight to Israeli agents, probably of Mossad or Shin Bet, and I say it again now, on the morning of the attack I was directly involved in the disarming of two Israeli Commandos. This was a forcible, non-negotiable, separation of weapons from commandos who had already murdered two brothers that I had seen that day. One brother with a bullet entering dead center in his forehead, in what appeared to be an execution.

    I knew the commandos were murdering when I removed a 9mm pistol from one of them. I had that gun in my hands and as an ex-US Marine with training in the use of guns it was completely within my power to use that gun on the commando who may have been the murderer of one of my brothers. But that is not what I, nor any other defender of the ship did. I took that weapon away, removed the bullets, proper lead bullets, separated them from the weapon and hid the gun. I did this in the hopes that we would repel the attack and submit this weapon as evidence in a criminal trial against Israeli authorities for mass murder. I also helped to physically separate one commando from his assault rifle, which another brother apparently threw into the sea.

    I and hundreds of others know the truth that makes a mockery of the brave and moral Israeli military. We had in our full possession, three completely disarmed and helpless commandos. These boys were at our mercy, they were out of reach of their fellow murderers, inside the ship and surrounded by 100 or more men. I looked into the eyes of all three of these boys and I can tell you they had the fear of God in them. They looked at us as if we were them, and I have no doubt they did not believe there was any way they would survive that day. They looked like frightened children in the face of an abusive father.

    But they did not face an enemy as ruthless as they. Instead the woman provided basic first aid, and ultimately they were released, battered and bruised for sure, but alive. Able to live another day. Able to feel the sun over head and the embrace of loved ones. Unlike those they murdered. Despite mourning the loss of our brothers, feeling rage towards these boys, we let them go.

    The Israeli prostitutes of propaganda can spew all of their disgusting bile all they wish, the commandos are the murderers, we are the defenders, and yet we fought. We fought not just for our lives, not just for our cargo, not just for the people of Palestine, we fought in the name of justice and humanity. We were right to do so, in every way.

    While in Israeli custody I, along with everyone else was subjected to endless abuse and flagrant acts of disrespect. Women and elderly were physically and mentally assaulted. Access to food and water and toilets was denied. Dogs were used against us, we ourselves were treated like dogs. We were exposed to direct sun in stress positions while hand cuffed to the point of losing circulation of blood in our hands. We were lied to incessantly, in fact I am awed at the routineness and comfort in their ability to lie, it is remarkable really. We were abused in just about every way imaginable and I myself was beaten and choked to the point of blacking out… and I was beaten again while in my cell. In all this what I saw more than anything else were cowards… and yet I also see my brothers. Because no matter how vile and wrong the Israeli agents and government are, they are still my brothers and sisters and for now I only have pity for them. Because they are relinquishing the most precious thing a human being has, their humanity.

    In conclusion; I would like to challenge every endorser of Gandhi, every person who thinks they understand him, who acknowledges him as one of the great souls of our time (which is just about every western leader), I challenge you in the form of a question.

    Please explain how we, the defenders of the Mavi Mamara, are not the modern example of Gandhi’s essence? But first read the words of Gandhi himself. I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence…. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. – Gandhi And lastly I have one more challenge. I challenge any critic of merit, publicly, to debate me on a large stage over our actions that day. I would especially love to debate with any Israeli leader who accuses us of wrongdoing, it would be my tremendous pleasure to face off with you. All I saw in Israel was cowards with guns, so I am ripe to see you in a new context. I want to debate with you on the largest stage possible. Take that as an open challenge and let us see just how brave Israeli leaders are.

    Ken O’Keefe is a former US Marine and Gulf War veteran.

Leave a Reply

Top