Bibi, Stop Racist Talk against Turks and Release All Footage!

(expanded version of Occupation Magazine post)

Today (Saturday), Israeli PM `Bibi` again claimed, in rather crude terms, that the reason why the IDF killed 9 activists on Monday but today boarded the MV Rachel Corrie peacefully, is because of “…the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don’t agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists…”

This continues a race-baiting campaign against the Turkish ship and IHH, which started well before Monday’s attack.

As CindyCasella’s excellent diary shows, just like in previous controversies the Israeli PR machine churns mostly lies. They are already backtracking from a claim IHH has Al Qaeda ties. But they’re still at it.

Call Bibi’s racist bluff: demand that Israel release all Mavi Marmara media taken by all sides last Monday.

Bibi’s poisoned praise today for the people aboard MV Rachel Corrie for not putting up a fight, completely banks upon the “casual” racism in Western and Israeli society. We are conditioned to expect dark and/or Muslim and/or Arab people to be more violent, and “pink” Western people to be less violent.

I admit even I have this subconscious bias, reinforced by early-life indoctrination and countless movies, books and the rest of popular culture. So surely Bibi feels like he has a winning wedge-theme here with this it’s all because the Turkish and Arab “terrorists” on Mavi Marmara, if it was only among us civilized Westerns it would have all been okay.

I do hope he’s wrong and the the West will not take the bait. But in Israel it works great. After a brief tentative embrace of multiculturalism in the 90’s, Israeli public opinion has reverted to anti-brown racism in general, and anti-Arab racism in particular, with a vengeance. The fact that there are many brown faces among Israeli Jews does not refute this sad reality, but in fact makes it worse (this is a side issue here, so I’m not following up with links – although there is plenty of evidence).

Back to Bibi and the flotilla: there are some teeny cracks in his “Israelis good, Arabs bad, Irish good, Turks bad” schpiel:

1. MV Rachel Corrie had barely 20 people on it including crew. MV Mavi Marmara had over 600 people.

2. Mavi Marmara happened first. The knowledge that people on a previous ship had been shot in the back of the head from a few cm, tends to help you make sure it won`t happen to you to, and not try anything funny. Is that the famous “deterrence” Israel keeps hoping for? Perhaps.

3. MV Rachel Corrie is an integral part of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. It just got delayed a few hours en route to Gaza, and therefore was not attacked on Monday. The entire flotilla was organized by Free Gaza, with many groups taking part.

4. The clearly racist baiting of the Turkish IHH and Turks and Arabs in general, is a very shameful line of defense especially when coming down directly from the PM`s office. By its activities, the IHH is a Muslim humanitarian organization. There were accusation by a right-wing hack made 4 years ago, based on half-truths and misrepresented bits of information, that the IHH was *sometimes* used as a front for terrorism. Fact of the matter, the IHH remains legal in all countries except Israel, and is active in over 100 countries.

The IHH Wikipedia entry has been a battlefield since last weekend. I admit having participated in the “battle” before the attack on Mavi Marmara. At that point some right-wingers overran the entry trying to portray the IHH as a terror-affiliated group. I prevented that from happening before the attack. Shortly afterwards it was overrun again. Since then, it seems that some grownups have entered the fray, and a voice of reason has finally taken hold over the entry.

In truth, all the allegations against IHH are controversial at best, and come from the usual suspects. As part of this propaganda battle, the Al Qaeda claims were made and now retracted.

5. Last but not least: Mavi Marmara and other ships’ passenger testimonies now finally coming out, as well as Turkish autopsy results, do not support the Israeli version (to put it mildly). Yes, the forensic physicians carrying out the autopsy were Turks, but somehow I trust their integrity more than Bibi’s.

If we are really after the truth here, rather than try to spin today`s second shameful takeover of a Gaza flotilla ship in a racist direction, I call upon Bibi to make sure *all* media taken by Mavi Marmara passengers (video, audio, pics), and by the IDF troops attacking them, be released immediately.

This way, we will finally know the truth about Monday`s bloodshed.

Or, if you had already destroyed evidence, have the guts to admit that you don’t want the truth to be known, rather than continue propagating racist lies that ultimately undermine Israel’s long-term prospects in the Middle East.


interview with Greta Berlin of Free Gaza Movement UPDATE: Israel takes over boat.

By Jesse Bacon

Here’s a clip of Greta Berlin, who is twittering at @FreeGazaOrg

She says boat should arrive within half hour if not stopped. IDF is jamming all transmission, but boat can be seen through binoculars from shore.

Greta Berlin of Free Gaza Movement.

UPDATE: Tweet from onboard says that Israel is towing boat to Ashdod.


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