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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/3/10

The Politics Of Victimhood

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Nothing that Israel's does is ever wrong. It's always the other side. Like a petulant child that never grows up, its always "they started it." But the world is growing tired and weary of Israel's carefully crafted propaganda that its sets in motion when it does stupid things and tries to blame it on the victim. There are some immutable facts that everyone knows: Israel has a criminal blockade around a strip of land that is one of the poorest and most densely populated places on earth where over 80 percent of the population cannot find work.

The Gaza Strip is a place where rubble, unpaved streets, bombed out houses, and raw sewage are ever present. The Gaza Strip is the world's largest refugee camp where Israel controls how much food, water, fuel and medicines get in and who gets out. It is a brutal 21st century form of apartheid that is far worse then the now defunct and discredited South African model.

No matter what Israel says, how it spins it, and no matter what its international sponsors say these are fundamental facts. Here are some other facts. One, Israel boarded a boat carrying a Nobel Peace Prize winner, former politicians and prominent people from Europe and the United States and others moved by the unbearable suffering of the Palestinians.

And despite Israel's well-practiced technique about being attacked, and claims that "we acted in self defense," the act of boarding the boat in international waters was and is an act of provocation. Here's the reasoning: the Turkish government inspected the boats and verified their cargo and found no weapons on board. The Israelis knew this but stung by open defiance to its diktat they decided on this reckless and confrontational course that ended with tragic consequences and sparked international condemnation.

In the wake of miscalculating the intensity of international outrage Israel fell back on tried and tested techniques. First, the boat was not a love boat but "a hate boat." Next, Israel's commandos acted in "self defense" the people on the boat should have just simply lay down on deck while "God's chosen people," who are never, ever wrong manhandle, bully and arrest everyone without any justification.

This flotilla of boats was not a military convoy and Israel's use of its military in international waters violates international rules of conduct. The state of Israel was not threatened or under attack. The intention of the flotilla was to break a criminal and inhumane blockade by peaceful means and bring food, water, medical supplies and personnel to help a people suffering under the brutal conditions of Israel's occupation. Israel says that the flotilla was "a provocation" but I submit that the provocation came when its commandos without authorization or justification boarded a boat that did not carry one soldier or rifle.

Now the new line from Israel's right wing prime minister is to play the Iran card. This is a careful and well thought out tactic. "Israel is facing an attack of international hypocrisy," he said, asserting that the Jewish state is the victim of an Iran-backed campaign to arm the Hamas rulers of Gaza with missiles that could hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Come again?

Netanyahu said the aim of the flotilla was to break the blockade, not to bring aid to Gaza. If the blockade ended, he warned, hundreds of ships would bring in thousands of missiles from Iran, to be aimed at Israel and beyond. The result, he said, would be an Iranian port on the Mediterranean. "The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they would be targeted tomorrow," Netanyahu said.

Such mind-boggling drivel is not only calculated to deflect international condemnation and anger over an action by an aggressor state that should not have happened but to suck the United States and other international sponsors into a new round of anti-Iran attacks. Israel understands that the only state in the Middle East that down the road can rival it for hegemony is Iran and that the cooling of tensions between the US and Iran is not in its best interest.

If relations between Iran and the United States cooled the big loser would be Israel. While I am no fan of Iran, it is part of the justification for billions of US military and other aid to Israel. Iran, a brutal dictatorial theocracy, prevents Israeli hegemony in the area. Why else would the Israeli Prime Minister draw Iran that clearly had absolutely nothing to do with its actions, the flotilla or its origins into a mess of its own creation?

Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to draw Iran into its game is a new version of "I am the victim here." But Israel cannot plaster over, deflect or obfuscate the facts. Again here are issues that are beyond doubt. The U.N., Europe and others harshly criticized Israel after its commandos stormed the six-ship flotilla in international waters, setting off the clashes. About 700 activists -- including 400 Turks -- were trying to break the Israeli and Egyptian naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by bringing in 10,000 tons of aid.

According to the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has appealed to Israel to let a private Irish ship deliver its aid cargo to Gaza, but he admitted that Israel would probably block the ship because part of the cargo was concrete, which Israel bans from Gaza because it might be used by Hamas. Therefore homes that Israel bulldozed and razed to the ground and other bombed out structures more than 60 percent of Gaza cannot be rebuilt by order of Israel.

The 1,200-ton ship Rachel Corrie is also carrying wheelchairs and other medical supplies. It was named after a U.S. college student crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer while protesting house demolitions in Gaza. The ship was supposed to join the aid flotilla but was delayed by mechanical problems and is waiting off the Libyan coast. Those aboard include Mairead Corrigan, a 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner from Northern Ireland, and Denis Halliday, who previously ran U.N. humanitarian aid programs in Iraq. Hardly the terrorists that Israel wants us to think are on board.

And of course not to be outdone the wing-nuts in the US came out swinging in support of Israel. Fox 5 claimed that the flotilla had ties with Al-Qaeda of course, providing absolutely no proof or evidence. US Vice President Joe Biden who just a few months was embarrassed by the Israelis during a state visit dutifully reiterated the Bush Administrations mantra that "Israel has a right to defend itself." From what and whom one might ask. He repeated the falsehood that Hamas "reigns down 3,000 rockets on Israel." Biden could care less that for all the spin by the Israeli state machine it could not produce ONE WEAPON only some grainy video 24-hours later when it alone had sole access to the media.

These are the kinds of actions that make Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East hate America. Every time Israel behaves badly the US feels duty-bound to brown nose and genuflect and wax all patriotic about how "America is Israel's friend" as if the world needs reminding. But this is a policy that has to change. A friend should not be afraid to tell a friend when something is wrong.

By coddling Israel and rushing to reaffirm support even when it is clearly in the wrong makes America look as a fawning sycophant doing the bidding of a small, aggressive and petulant nation. The world is tired of the spin, victimhood and a persecution complex that Israel uses to justify its wrongdoings. Its blockade of the Gaza Strip far from weakening Hamas only serves to reenergize and strengthen it. Israel's actions give Hamas a reason to exist.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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