The Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara: the violence of “violence”

The carefully managed and expensive PR campaign starts to “prove?” that the IDF commandos descending on the top deck were subject to “violence”. The footage, which we have no reason to believe was doctored, shows:

A commando being thrown from the top deck one deck down
A smoke bomb being thrown (back?) at the commandos
Passengers (not more than 20) fighting commandos with metal rods and one or two deck chairs
The Israelis shooting military ordinance to kill

The concept of “violence” is overstretched if it is made to apply to the takeover of a peaceful passenger vessel by commandos and the unarmed defense of terrified women and children in orange jackets below decks, who can be seen in al-Jazeera footage.

On the high seas, the crew and passengers retain a natural right of self-defense when outside the protection of a modern state. The Turkish citizens were the responsibility of Turkey, which has protested their treatment. The US and British citizens, although the responsibility of the USA and Britain, seem to have been abandoned, as was Rachel Corrie, the activist murdered by an armored bulldozer in 2003 in Gaza.

Palestinian Christians have little or no sympathy from US Christians of the religious right; the Israeli public relations machine has made US lives of less value than Israeli lives as in the case of Rachel Corrie.

The Palestinians, whether in Gaza or on board, are a set of people inverse to the concept of hostes omnium gentium. They belong to a set of people with no standing in international law and no name.

Hostes omnium gentium (enemies of all men) are the well-known “terrorist” and the Pirates of the Caribbean, men and women who may legitimately be pursued and executed by any legitimate state actor.

Victimae omnium gentium consists of the people who are deprived of the protection normally afforded by the modern state’s monopoly of force. If state actors have a right to use high-tech state violence (well-trained commandos) against hostes (which the innocent, activist, humanitarian passengers of the Mavi Marmara were not by any means), then people who are left even partly outside the protection of the state’s monopoly of force have a natural right of self-defense.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which I support, gives this right to Americans in writing. It is a natural right. How dare conservatives deny this to the passengers of the Mavi Marmara?

The top deck fighters of the Mavi Marmara were courageously exercising this right since they were not under the protection of the Turkish navy or US Sixth Fleet, which they should have been under; we seem to afford more protection to goods off the pirate coast of Somalia than to these people.

We need a distinct name for high-tech equipped and highly trained specialists exercising state violence on people who are not recognized by Israelis as fully human citizens when resident in Israel, or human beings with rights to be let alone when in Gaza.

We need another name for the violence of the temporarily or permanently stateless when attacked by pirates. “Hero” would do nicely.

When John Wayne or Harrison Ford exercises violence, Americans want to see the victim die messily; but when the black or brown or young or unemployed get rowdy, this is “violence” of the second form which by some strange rule gives the high tech state actor to coldly use overwhelming specialist force.

We might observe that there is a complete ban in American media outside of YouTube on early pictures of American victims of 9-11. A Japanese news account is available somewhere on YouTube showing a policewoman being led from the scene sobbing unable to perform her duties; since this goes against the narrative grain, it has not been shown. A sculptor tried to memorialize 9-11 with a falling woman; his installation was said to be in extremely poor taste.

Whereas Americans view with equanimity the suffering of the non-American, and try to justify it with footage of men reacting as they would in self-defense if they have any balls whatsoever.

The IDF attacked the ship on the high seas. The passengers, outside the protection of any navy whatsoever, fought back as did the heroic passengers of United Flight 93, the highjacked flight of 9-11 that crashed in Pennsylvania.

In other words: there is a growing class of people world wide, the poor, the black, the brown, the Muslim who can be defined by expensive public relations, not globally, perhaps, as hostes omnium gentium but as punching bags and targets, for whom the protection of civil society, taken for granted by us in the west and here in Hong Kong, can be quietly suspended.

If a member of this class speaks out, that is a threat of violence and therefore an assault; but a commando, representing Jews and Jews only, descending on your boat is the government, and he’s there to help you.

Get real.

Most Americans encounter uniformed “responders” as benign angels of mercy and assistance, which of course most American cops and military are almost all the time, with regards to their fellow citizens. Most of us who behave ourselves never are in the position of being in the presence of l’homme arme, who will kill us or imprison us. And we lack the empathy to know what it feels like.

Women and children flee: we men get rowdy in defense of women and children.

(Sexist? I don’t care anymore. Let us not speak falsely now the hour is much too late, and Israel’s brand of Fascistic feminism is an affront to the folkways of the Middle East.)

Violence, concedes Franz Fanon, is a tragedy. The first IDF commando was seized in his helmet and body armor and thrown, not in the sea, but to the next lower deck. I’m not a military specialist, but it seems to me a bad idea from the IDF’s point of view to send one man at a time down on cables or ropes, since the first men can be handled one at a time. In all of its cold, vicious planning, the commanders of this operation never seemed to have expected that they were sending men, not onto a Carnival Cruise ship, but into an instant riot, and you don’t quell a riot one cop at a time.

Israel’s consistent folly, of course, has been to militarize police matters such as its response to Qassim rockets; the lives or safety of the commandos didn’t really matter.

The passengers fought back. Good for them.

Arguably, Ghandi’s passive resistance in 1919 may have so angered Sir Reginald Dyer that he was able to command Gurkha troops to fire several hundred Lee-Enfield rounds into unarmed and fleeing men, women, and children at the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar that year. The Intifada and today’s events may be the reason why Israel has not yet tried to destroy the Palestinians.

We need not have “second thoughts” when we see the IDF footage used to justify murder and piracy. Yes, the lads on the top deck fought back. Good for them. I wish I was there. They are the Hungarians, fighting Soviet tanks in 1956. They are the Man of Tianamen Square.

If your government gives you merely formal recognition as a citizen with no nonsense, it is indecent to fight its police as long as the cops are following procedure. But the monopoly of force is over once the government treats you as a second-class person or the government you elected as moot, as does Israel with respect to Gaza’s Hamas administration.


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