Thursday, June 03, 2010

My love of good writers is giving me an overdose

ANOTHER champion of freedom with a aptitude for expressing it.

Call (stupid) and Response (wonderful)

To the editor ...

Odd it is how Israel is always the bad guy. I saw the video the Israelis released, and they were without question attacked by a mob with clubs, chairs, and knives. (Nobody was sleeping, as claimed by pro-Islamic media.) Does Mr. Strakon not think it is right for them to search all ships coming in, considering the thousands of rockets that were lobbed into Israel from Gaza after Israel gave Gaza back to them?

You people who are always against Israel never posit the solution you'd like to see them submit to. I'd like to know specifically what Mr. Strakon would like to see them do, and if he really believes it would actually work considering the Islamics are committed not to peace but the death and destruction of Israel. You people amaze me, there is blind madness in thee.

Frank Schlernitzauer
June 1, 2010

Nicholas Strakon replies

I thank Mr. Schlernitzauer for his comments, except for the incivility in his closing.

As for the substance of what he writes, I begin by addressing the proposition that it was the commandos who were "attacked" aboard the vessel. That is the single most bizarre notion that's being advanced by supporters of Israel in connection with the pirate raid. Imagine a band of thugs complaining to the police that when they invaded a dwelling, the householder "attacked" them and that, when they killed him, they were only defending themselves! As revolting moral inversions go, that one is hard to beat. Uttering it in serious company takes a lot of gall, also known in some quarters, I believe, as chutzpah.

The next time Somali pirates board a vessel and attempt to take it over, and crew members defend themselves, it will be interesting to see who cheers for whom. Maybe it would help the pirates, in the eyes of Israel loyalists, if they tricked themselves out in Israeli military costumes.

I must say, the claim that it was the ship's crew who initiated force is so odd that I wonder whether I've missed some crucial but underreported fact. Did the convoy open the hostilities by firing 20mm AA cannon at the helicopters, which just happened to be flying nearby?

Now to the first question Mr. Schlernitzauer poses. I think it is wrong for Israelis, or anyone, to initiate force against civilian shipping on the high seas.

Some background on Israel's blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007, may enable us to see the aid convoys in context. CBS News says that with "small exceptions for international aid projects," the Israelis ban importation of "raw goods vital for trade and construction." And that's just for starters. Other banned items include instant coffee, margarine, fresh meat, vinegar, jam, honey, and spices. According to the CBS story, "A Palestinian industry report says the blockade has wiped out over 100,000 jobs in Gaza by banning raw materials and stifling trade."

From time to time, and unpredictably, Israel revises the list of what is banned. A BBC "guide" to the blockade reports that "building materials such as cement, concrete, and wood were nearly always refused entry until early 2010, when some glass, wood, cement, and aluminium were allowed in." However, according to TVNZ, of New Zealand, cement still falls under the interdict: "The convoys would be taking in 10,000 tonnes of supplies, including cement — a material Israel bans, citing fears Hamas could use it to construct bunkers — as well as water purification kits, pre-fabricated homes, and medical equipment."

Before I drown this discussion in detail, I had better get to my point, which is that whatever the state of the Israelis' highly mutable list on May 31, if the Israelis found banned items on board any of the ships, they no doubt "seized" them. And that's state-speak for "stolen." The Israelis claim that if only the ships had docked at the port the Israelis chose, the cargo could have been unloaded and shipped overland to Gaza. What they don't mention is that they would have stolen a good deal of it first, at gunpoint. In case Mr. Schlernitzauer is wondering, I think robbery is wrong, too.

There's yet more that I think is wrong. According to CBS, the Israelis ban steel and fertilizer from entering Gaza for fear of their being used to manufacture weapons. Well, steel and fertilizer don't shoot people; people shoot people. I oppose gun-control — more generally, weapons-control — and not just in this country.

Driving toward my correspondent's second question, involving what the Israeli state should do, I must comment in passing on the business about Israel's giving Gaza back to the Gazans, apparently in an act of gentle generosity. In fact, Gaza was never rightfully in Israel's gift; it was never rightfully in Israel's possession.

So what should the state of Israel do now? Why, it should immediately dissolve itself, of course. Those who feared the results of that would either have to prepare to defend themselves — and in light of the present confusion I emphasize defend — or leave. But not-so-fearful Jews and Muslims would at least have a chance to build a free society with a free economy, together or at arm's length.

If Israel vanished from the political map, leaving free territory in its place, that would be one down, 194 to go.

The problem is that almost all Palestinians — Jewish and Muslim alike — believe in the state. But the popularity of statism does not mean that statism may rightfully continue, any more than the popularity of chattel slavery meant that it might rightfully continue.

I understand that the Israeli state apparatus will not voluntarily dissolve itself. States sometimes collapse, but they rarely commit that kind of suicide. The question really is, What should individual Jews and Muslims do? Just what all people everywhere should do: come to understand, and cherish, and promote liberty, justice, and peace.

Now, one who stopped short of my anarchism but still valued liberty, justice, and peace would probably propose more-moderate actions, among which would be a reversion to Israel's original borders, a return of all land stolen from Muslim Palestinians, and an end to all vestiges of Jewish privilege in the country's laws and regulations. That might, I suppose, have to include a renaming from "Israel" to "Palestine."

And, oh, yes, before getting to all that, our moderate liberty-lover would expect the Israeli state to stop accepting the fortune in money that is periodically stolen from U.S. taxpayers.

Some commentators are saying that the pirate attack has accelerated the "delegitimizing" of the state of Israel. If so, that would be one good thing to emerge from the crime, along with — I hope — new complications in the neocon and Israeli push for war with Iran.

Widening my scope, I see something else odd in this matter, as it pertains to The Last Ditch. I'm speaking generally: I don't blame Mr. Schlernitzauer for it; he's not responsible for the larger picture; and a man is free to comment or refrain from commenting on whatever he wants. I posted "Blackbeard's freedom" to our "Stop and Think" section two days after posting an installment titled "Forever FUBAR." In that entry, I wrote, "Let's choke the [U.S.] imperial legions with hurt feelings, discrimination complaints, assault investigations, pregnant soldierettes, queer diseases, and romantic melodramas in the midst of battle...." And I wrote that "if we're lucky, one thing we can have is a weaker [U.S.] military, less able to drown the world in bloody atrocity and less able to hold us normal people hostage to that atrocity." And even in the "Blackbeard" entry presently under discussion, I take a couple of shots at the U.S. military along the way.

If I had written any of that during Woodrow Wilson's second term, I'd almost certainly be behind bars right now, assuming I hadn't been beaten to death by Wilson's unofficial muscle-heads. I dare say that if I'd written it twenty-some years later, I'd be scheduled for a chat with President-for-Life Roosevelt's FBI goons. Even now, one might expect that I'd receive one or two missives denouncing me as a traitor, seditionist, un-American scoundrel, and the like. But it doesn't happen. I've explicitly called for the defeat of U.S. forces in the Middle East on a number of occasions. Negative response: zero. The indignation meter doesn't so much as twitch.

But let me criticize the Israeli military, and Katie bar the door!


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