The Israeli assault on the Peace Flotilla trying to deliver humanitarian relief to the besieged people of Gaza reveals much about the logic of empire.  The flotilla was in international waters carrying medicine, playground equipment and building supplies such as cement to help rebuild a demolished community before it was boarded and attacked. The result included at least ten deaths and many injuries.  The tragic event would not have happened in the first place were it not for the illegal blockade of Gaza by the Israeli government.  But what can we learn from the ongoing justifications from Israel about their actions? The official response is a mixture of ‘regret’ followed by rationalizations of self-defense.  If it weren’t so tragic it would be amusing. 

If you observe the news coverage of this event in North America, people are scrambling to characterize the attack as just that, an act of self-defense by heavily armed Israeli commandoes against the provocative purveyors of medication and children’s’ toys.  For example, Riyad Mansour, the UN Observer of Palestine, was interviewed on Power and Politics by Evan Solomon and was asked to explain why these provocateurs attacked the commandoes and beat them.  Mr. Mansour properly explained that the flotilla was in international waters and itself the object of aggression, not the other way around. Solomon then proceeded to accuse Mansour of not answering his question of why the activists viciously attacked the vulnerable soldiers.  That, in a nutshell, illustrates the logic of empire.  It’s not that Mansour didn’t answer the question; it’s that he did answer the question.  Mr. Solomon just didn’t understand or couldn’t hear the answer.  The answer, which had to be repeated, was that the commandoes were the aggressors, attacking a ship in international waters that was proportionally incapable of defending itself.  The fact that some on board fought back with whatever was available is hardly surprising. 

Put another way, if a heavily armed person broke into your home and shot you while you attempted to fight the intruder with whatever resources you had, would it make sense for the intruder to claim self-defense as a justification for their crime?  Hardly, but this is exactly the logic that sane and otherwise reasonable people are seduced by every day.  For states that choose expansion and empire at the expense of security and peace, it’s the only way to rationalize what is in reality pure moral confusion.  The fact that the media, in this case the CBC, behaves more like adjuncts to state power is not surprising, it’s just disappointing. 

As I write this, CBC’s Carole Mac Neil, on cue as if to prove my point, is interviewing a former American ambassador who was on one of the ships in the peace flotilla and was  a corroborating witness, and she is red faced with petulant frustration at the ambassador’s refusal to admit that the flotilla was the provocation in this situation, and Israel was within it’s ‘rights’ to defend itself.  I guess reality and facts interfered with the preferred journalistic narrative.  Once again, empire and those supporting empire need no justification for aggression.  As usual, it is self-justifying.

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