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Was it a Non-Violent Flotilla or Intentionally Violent, Even Military Action

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I've been accustomed to seeing activists using the non-violent approaches of Ghandi and ML King to bring change to Gaza. I thought the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was one of those peaceful efforts. Rachel Corrie died hewing to those precepts. Her death has special meaning because she was engaging in non-violent protest.

Now I'm having some doubts. I have yet to speak to or hear from any of the people who were on the flotilla, but a May 25th press release of the Free Gaza Team, which was one of the leading organizations of the flotilla stated, ""However, we will non-violently resist Israeli attempts to seize our boats."

Non-violence is not easy in the face of police or military actions. It requires strong intention, strong group discipline and, often, significant training and preparation.

The above quote came from an article title, We Will resist Israel's attempts to stop us. That could hve been done non-violently, but with 500-600 people on the main vessel of the flotilla, that would have required very strong leadership, preparation and discipline.

At best, the non-violent intentions failed. At worst, there were agents provocateurs on the ship who had no intention to keep the attempt to break the Israeli blockade non-violent. Israel provides images of people brandishing iron rods. This does not look like an attempt to be non-violent. It looks like a prepared group of a handful of people who wanted to escalate the expected confrontation.

Regardless of whether the intent to be non-violent was shared by all or whether it was sabotaged by people who planned a violent response, the result was the same-- nine people killed and many wounded.


Regardless of the actions of the people on the flotilla, Israel engaged in an act of war. A naval blockade IS an act of war. That might have worked for Israel when it was dealing with Hamas and Gaza, but the vessels Israel boarded were flagged by Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Boarding them could be interpreted as acts of war against those nations and Israel has little defense against those charges. Israel's story does not work because past boats coming to Gaza were handled differently. Israel chose to escalate their response, and that is what led to the confrontation. Israeli's bad judgment led to the deaths.

But we must still face the question of intention of ALL the flotilla participants. If I was on that flotilla, with the understanding that it was to be a non-violent action, then I would have known what it meant to be non-violent. It means you don't fight back. The freedom riders and protesters along side Martin Luther King did not fight back. The throngs of people who protested with Ghandi did not violently respond.


Were there a handful of people who betrayed the plans, the confidence and intentions of the vast bulk of the people in the flotilla?

Israel accuses one of the Turkish sponsors-- the organization that came up with the big money to buy the ships-- ardim Vakafi (IHH) of having connections to Hamas and Al Qaeda. Organizers deny this. I have no answer and don't accept the Israeli report at face value. But all of the nine killed were Turkish. I'm assuming the Israelis shot people who were wielding weapons or attacking soldiers, or at least in close proximity. Maybe I'm wrong.

Yesterday I wrote an article, Not In My Jewish Name. I stand by that. Israel should not have boarded the flotilla on the open seas in international waters. They could have been there at the docks, and monitored unloading. This massacre could have been prevented.

But we really need to consider whether some of the 700 people on the flotilla actually were planted to engage in violence, with the expectation that a violent confrontation on a humanitarian ship would produce the outraged world response we're now seeing.

I support non-violent efforts to break Israel's Gaza blockade. I support boycotts that aim to force Israel to end its apartheid, the same kinds that worked to force South Africa to end its abhorrent policies. But we must also be careful that good hearted, innocent humanitarians are not exploited by people who would use violent means-- the same people who use suicide bombers and explosions in marketplaces and mosques to send their messages.

Israel was clearly ensnared in a trap that led to a horrific media disaster for Israel and all Jews. The Israeli leaders who allowed the Israeli Navy to fall into the trap failed Israel. That's obvious. But we must also ask what happened to the non-violent flotilla? Was discipline broken or were the vast majority of peaceful people on the flotilla betrayed by infiltrators with violent intentions? Or was the violence actually intended by the leaders and planners of the flotilla, while claiming non-violent intentions.

Let's hope that any investigations explore ALL the questions-- not just the ones on the Israeli side. Because peace and justice activists have a right to expect that their non-violent intentions are not exploited.

I'm expecting to take serious flack for this article. So let me be clear that I supported and still support a non-violent flotilla effort challenging Israel's inhumane siege of Gaza. But I would never support an effort that purports to be non-violent and recruits people to participate, expecting a non-violent action, where the leaders actually planned to allow or employ violence, even in self-defense. That would be exploitation of the innocent humanitarians.

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Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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Rob is, with Opednews.com the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and OpEdNews.com, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

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Whether Israel is putting out propaganda or not, a... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:41:59 AM
So, I've seen plenty of non-violent protesters att... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:59:37 PM
"Israeli commandos started shooting from the air w... by Old Uncle Dave on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:57:44 PM
After listening to the account of a former US Amba... by Stan Brooks on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:03:49 AM
Don't you mean, "At best, the non-violent resisten... by GLloyd Rowsey on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:10:26 AM
The bottom line is that some of media, Bloggers an... by Paul Roden on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:53:07 AM
that a provocation was probable in that case on bo... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:10:48 AM
1-Non-violent actions stay non-violent. They don't... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:25:50 AM
At best, you can only control the actions of your ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:03:03 PM
when the Commandos started shooting before they la... by Ernest on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:13:18 PM
We here thus should refrain from self- indulgence... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:37:18 AM
Non-violence is a myth.You cannot do it.Not in wha... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:41:02 AM
Ghandi and King made it work.Non-violence is not e... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:43:30 PM
And both Ghandi and King were involved in violent ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:23:59 PM
Ghandi's had a very violent threat backing him up:... by Richard Pietrasz on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 2:38:57 AM
Ghandi and King made it work.Israel/ Palestine is ... by Aurora on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 3:54:13 AM
Who entered the ship? Who had rights to enter the ... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:12:56 AM
You don't know me, but if you took the time to rea... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:17:09 AM
Actually it might help. It might help you with you... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:20:25 PM
Like them I believe in non violence. It can and ha... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:03:20 PM
Ghandi's way.There was violence at the salt mine. ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:05:50 PM
why would I blame Gandhi for that? In fact I prais... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:28:22 AM
I was not on that ship. I only know that a video w... by siriusss on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:19:52 PM
Sorry Rob, I know you are nice, I'm just angry, I ... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:33:42 AM
I am seeing witness after witness who is being rel... by Mac McKinney on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:37:23 AM
Thanks, Mac, for speaking truth. When the Isrealis... by Cathy Lynn Pagano on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:37:52 PM
On PBS News Hour I saw a certain Mr. Shapiro who a... by John Lorenz on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:40:08 AM
Its amazing how Israel's claims to self defense in... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:19:48 PM
The premise that Israel does not have the right to... by HarveyY on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 11:43:38 AM
Anything goes because it's to 'protect' and ensure... by Ned Lud on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:27:10 PM
Several times in the past, boats have challenged t... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:40:08 PM
Yeah, remember Israel's fault, not Jews fault, so ... by Debbie S on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:02:56 PM
Possibly the soldiers thought they really did have... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 3:10:21 AM
Basically all our government did concerning Cuba a... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:08:19 PM
Think about a liquor store armed robbery. If the c... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:12:22 PM
in so much as he wanted to see an important discus... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:50:05 AM
The Arab people of Palestine have been at the rece... by Aaron Aarons on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:30:17 AM
The Israelis SEIZED ALL recording devices, cameras... by madams on Thursday, Jun 10, 2010 at 1:52:13 PM
Ray emailed me and then we spoke on the phone. Her... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:27:39 PM
It wasn't the people on the ships who started bein... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:20:50 PM
Undoubtedly, there were a wide range of motivation... by Eugene Elander on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:44:32 PM
as we know film can be edited and even faked IE al... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:47:16 PM
See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB_CKL5h2_8&am... by Aurora on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:58:55 PM
NF: ... Israel attacked a humanitarian convoy in i... by Aurora on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:04:34 PM
to put an end to any peace talks or any discussion... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:24:54 PM
the second(real) site I found and posted correlate... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 4:46:56 PM
Thanks, Rob, for this piece. Some people aren't ca... by Bill Samuel on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 12:59:39 PM
none of this matters.This is blaming the victim fo... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:28:23 PM
The writer is correct to question the assertion th... by Harold Shabo on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:02:14 PM
the author should become an Israeli Arab and live ... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:32:03 PM
If this flotilla was preparing in advance to cause... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:44:52 PM
NormanFinkelstein, a holocaust survivor who was de... by Aurora on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:13:57 PM
What precisely were Normans comments on this recen... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:41:04 PM
Since much of this is challenged elsewhere, let me... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:38:42 PM
My take is that Israel provoked violence and then ... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:10:31 PM
See the second post concerning how Norman Finkelst... by Michael Shaw on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 4:00:39 PM
Interesting.... the God of Israel tends to go for ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:42:39 PM
Why do we never finish?An eye for an eye, a tooth ... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 1:17:36 PM
The Gaza Peace Flotilla was a deliberate act of pr... by Paul Karsh on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:16:34 PM
Another person who is only quoting Israel's side o... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:46:37 PM
As trigger happy as the Israelis appear to have be... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 7:06:58 PM
its own business rappelling onto the ships armed t... by Ralph Lopez on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 1:59:44 PM
This goal of this article is really a wonky, nuanc... by Rob Kall on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:49:13 PM
Rob, I have read most of the comments, and it seem... by Tony Duncan on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 2:24:11 AM
What's the best way to get people inside a house t... by Kyle Griffith on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:21:25 PM
Is it possible that the Israeli governmenthad some... by Brian Jenkins on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:32:59 PM
The same tactic has been used against the protest ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:24:57 PM
Why did Israel do it? It could have handled it dif... by Peter Wedlund on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 2:49:37 PM
One hint to understanding what's really going on i... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:13:59 PM
It doesn't matter if the people fought back from w... by Robert N Smith on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 3:58:20 PM
This article is completely wrong. Mainly because i... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 5:57:05 PM
Although my mother fled Nazi Germany, as a child, ... by Phil Rockstroh on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:13:30 PM
One problem is that this piece equates pacifism wi... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 7:01:45 PM
Playing Rob Kall advocate here :-), however, I wou... by Oh on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 7:45:19 PM
and so does non violence? There is no doubt Gandhi... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:31:37 PM
why not fearlessly drop goods by air into the occu... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:57:39 PM
I don't think so. The US has provided Israel with ... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 1:32:30 PM
Yes Lynn they could and with that risk the wrath o... by Michael Shaw on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 2:00:01 PM
Michael,Of course you are right about the US posit... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 3:22:48 PM
I actually heard on DN from an eyewitness account ... by Michael Shaw on Friday, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:26:24 PM
Our first clue to what happened was the Israeli me... by ear on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 8:40:13 PM
I still keep coming back to the analogy of felony ... by Samson on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 8:58:46 PM
Continue your rationale of defense vs. offense leg... by boomerang on Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:09:30 PM
First I MUST address the negative characterization... by madams on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 12:22:17 AM
Once they started killing people what should they ... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 2:47:28 AM
I think I understand the nuance you're reaching fo... by Jim Arnold on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 4:09:39 AM
I have never been a harsh critic of Israel, and I ... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:40:30 AM
that painball guns have also been used for crowd c... by John Sanchez Jr. on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 8:30:59 AM
when I first heard about those paintball guns on t... by Michael Shaw on Friday, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:48:30 PM
Note the internal inconsistency in Israel's story:... by Perry Logan on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:54:13 AM
Perry. And with America riding shotgun for them, I... by GLloyd Rowsey on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 8:44:00 AM
Mr. Kall you are a decent person except when it co... by liberalsrock on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:18:36 AM
Rob, I can appreciate your enthusiasm for vetting ... by Vincent Guarisco on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:19:07 AM
☼ Well Done Rob! Now Look at what you've gone &... by iamjmb on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:24:38 AM
☼ Please don't misconstrue my scenario with the ... by iamjmb on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:46:18 AM
Keep writing Rob. You educate the intellectuals wh... by Chris Landau on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 11:11:44 AM
Most here seem to be awfully quick to cast the bla... by POdVet on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 6:30:08 PM
The Goldstone report criticizes both sides in last... by Lynne Kringler on Thursday, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:01:46 PM
Most here seem to be awfully quick to cast the bla... by Lynne Kringler on Monday, Jun 14, 2010 at 12:37:11 AM
However, several eyewitnesses have stated categori... by Brian O'Keefe on Saturday, Jun 5, 2010 at 1:09:54 PM
☼ Update on non-violence VS self defense:http://... by iamjmb on Thursday, Jun 10, 2010 at 11:15:58 AM