June 10, 2010
Another article from Ms Phillips - wrong again.
Israel was not entitled to act the way it did re the flotilla. The assault was in international waters, the blockade itself is illegal - collective punishment of a population according to the UN. How then can enforcement of the blockade be legal? None of the boats proceeded 'peacefully' to Ashod. They were forced at gunpoint to divert, under apparent threat of death. Video evidence is partial (on both sides), unclear, and far from conclusive either way. Why not establish an international inquiry under the UN to establish the truth of the matter? Would Ms Phillips support that - if Israel's case is so strong, why not?
Hamas, like it or not, is the democratically elected, legitimate Government of Gaza - perhaps it would not be if Fatah had been given something from Israel to show its people that talking to Israel leads to something better than yet more settlements. Israel does not claim Gaza. It may consider itself to be at war with Gaza, and is entitled therefore to act on that assumption, but how then can it deny Gazans the right of self defence it claims for itself? How can it logically deny the right of Gazans to obtain whatever weaponry they can to defend themselves with? Is that not what happens in a war situation? Why is the rest of the world always wrong, and Israel always right? State piracy seems about right in this instance - Israel's right of self defence should not depend on illegality. Ms Phillips confuses cause and effect. The blockade is itself an act of aggression. Hamas is bound to respond - how can they be denied the same right of defence that Israel claims for itself?
Phillips repeats the claim that Gaza is not starving - why then does the UN say that there are severe shortages of foods, and many other materials required for normal civilian life to go on? Following the establishment of the Hamas Goverment in 2006, an Israeli spokesperson, rather charmingly boasted that Gazans will be put on a diet. That rather undermines Phillips claim. We have a choice - believe Israel, or believe the UN.
Yes, obviuosly the flotilla was about breaking the blockade. A perfectly legitimate aim, and one now openly shared it seems by the US and the EU - both have said it should end. Ms Phillips sinks into hysterical and intemperate language, when she talks about 'preparing Israel for the slaughter', and 'tightening the noose of lies'. The noose is around the collective necks of the captive Palestinian population, and it is a real one rather than figurative. Talk of demonisation, and de-legitimisation is moot - Israel demonises itself through its actions, and while the state of Israel is entirely legitimate, its actions again are not.
She goes on to list allegedly fabricated claims against Israel, but I have looked at them, and I dont think it was wise of her to raise the subjects here - they do not help her case. The massacre at Jenin has been well documented. The 2006 lebanon war resulted in 1400 deaths - mostly civilian by some margin/ against some 120 Israeli dead - almost all military. The cast lead massacre resulted in some 1300 palestinian dead - mostly civilian by some margin/against some 12 Israeli dead - almost all military. The term aparthied can be used to describe Israel's occupation of the west bank, and ethnic cleansing undoubtably took place during and immedietly after the 1948 war. Foreign minister Lieberman is on record as having called for more of it - palestinians and incredibly Israeli arab citizens into Jordan. As for Israel being the aggressor in the middle east – what else can one call invading Lebanon twice since 1982, occupying part of it between those invasions, brutally surpressing both intifadas, cast lead, bombing Syria? If that does not qualify as aggression, the word has no meaning.
She asks – why do so many believe these lies about Israel? Well maybe they have credibility because they are truths. ‘We find ourselves in a nightmare situation’ she says. Indeed we do, but it is a nightmare of Israel’s making. Would that she would wake up – settle with the Palestinians in justice and peace, stop invading other countries, and become a more normal state.
I met Melanie Phillips once. Coming down from my scaffold in Flanchford Road (for I am a roofer), we exchanged a few pleasantries – she seemed very nice. I wonder if she remembers me? I used to read her in the Guardian long ago, and liked her writing, especially on social matters. I fear she has lost her edge on this subject – a torturous defense of the indefensible. She would be much better directing her considerable abilities to campaigning for the Government of Israel to act with some purpose, humanity, and sense of strategic insight. Otherwise, what hope is there for the future of Israel and the middle east?
Forgive the spelling - not spell-checked.