Back to top

DOBBIN: Israeli murder on the high seas

 More people murdered by Israel. It is so commonplace now that hearing it takes you to the place you were the last time you heard of such an outrage. And you know that there will be no justice.  The impunity and the casual excuses for the action follow on like night follows day – with a terrible certainty.

No other nation on the planet, save for the US imperial regime, gets away with murder like the state of Israel. This is what happens when a heavily armed and sophisticated state like the Zionist regime is guaranteed its protection by that same empire. It is, like the US, described by the term exceptionalism: in other words, everybody else has to live by the normal rules and ethics of the community of nations – except Israel.

The US gets to have soldiers and bases in 140 countries and it is no so commonplace that it has become normal.  Only the US can arrogate to itself the role of being the world’s policeman – and ignore the fact that cops are corrupt. Only Israel can ignore international law, murder opponents, ignore repeated UN resolutions (like the one last year demanding it end its brutal and illegal blockade of Gaza),  and continue an occupation that is actually worse by many accounts that the Apartheid regime if South Africa.

The tragic irony –  a tragedy born almost entirely by Palestinians – is that a people who experienced amongst the worst mass murders in history is utterly contemptuous of human life that is not Jewish or Israeli. It does not matter if it is a young American, Rachel Corey, defending Palestinian rights, or a ten year old boy assassinated by a shot through the forehead by a teenaged Israeli soldier, or peace activists on a ship in international waters.

It seems intuitive that a people who experienced the Holocaust would become hyper-sensitive to the sacredness of life. But when a nation based on religion is given the power to act with impunity it rapidly descends into a kind of special hell for itself and its victims. It is a vicious circle: the first slaughter of innocents in Deir Yassin in the 1948 war which established the Israeli state also went unpunished. And each time a slaughter or killing was similarly justified and then ignored by the state, it was also integrated into the culture of Israel. Inevitably the “enemy” is totally dehumanized.

They cannot be human – otherwise we would be punished for killing them. This is how the Israeli European elite – quintessential colonialists – established Palestinians as less than human, just as the Catholic Church in the 1600s declared the indigenous people of South America less than human, just as the Boers did with indigenous Africans.

The murder of the activists on the humanitarian aid flotilla is just the latest chapter. And if you want a lesson is Israeli arrogance you simply have to watch Benjamin Netanyahu justify the murder: when the troops landed on the ship they were attacked. They had no choice but to kill.

There is no mention and indeed probably no thought about the fact that the operation took place in international waters and was thus an act of piracy. They did have a choice – they could have obeyed international law and fundamental justice and allowed the ships to dock and unload their cargo.

But that would require on the part of Israelis – its government and its citizens - the acknowledgement that Palestinians are human. That the universally condemned blockade has made Gaza into what observers have called an “open air prison.”  That every time Israel violates the human rights of its fellow-Semitic people, the Palestinians, it generates hatred and contempt for itself everywhere in the world.

It raises the question: do Israelis ever imagine a future where their criminal behaviour will not go unpunished? Do they imagine a time when the US will not be there to bankroll their exceptionalism? Do they even know that their racist oppression of Palestinians has all but destroyed their soul?

The same question could be asked of Canadian Jews who have eagerly embraced the total support for Israel expressed by Stephen Harper. It is precisely this kind of uncritical support that creates the monstrously deformed society that pro-Israeli groups in Canada are responsible for defending.

Maybe they should repeat a simply slogan: Friends don’t let friends murder people.

Murray Dobbin is an author, broadcaster and journalist. He is the author of five books and his work appears regularly in the Tyee.