Israel’s self-fulfilling bunker mentality.


The Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla was an overt political act aimed at breaking the siege of Gaza.  Bringing food, medicine, and supplies to humans suffering extreme privation in defiance of “the authorities” is an act far less theatrical or playful but conceptually tantamount to hippies stuffing flowers into rifle barrels as a form of protest so good-natured and free of overt threat as to be disarming and impossible for the world audience to find the least bit menacing, much less provoking a violent response.   Indeed, military responses to expressions of “flower power” are unthinkable, and would instantly discredit and delegitimize those bearing actual weapons in support of establishmentarian power.  While the analogy may be imperfect, it generally seems that Israel has done the unthinkable by shooting the flower children dead, including an American and some Turks, citizens of their most critical allies.

As Daniel Larison points out, Turkey and Israel had rather decent relations, to an extent where Turkey allowed the Israeli air force permission to fly in its air-space for training missions, but the countries became increasingly alienated as Israel increasingly rode roughshod on reciprocity, to the point where Turkish prime minister Erdogan now threatens to send battleships to accompany the next flotilla to Gaza.

Just before Operation Cast Lead began, Erdogan had been using his improved relations with Syria to mediate an Israeli-Syrian peace in which the Olmert government was supposedly interested. Olmert turned around almost immediately after meeting with Erdogan and launched the operation against Gaza. Erdogan understandably felt that he had been left in the dark about Israel’s intentions and saw Olmert’s decision as sabotage of his mediation effort. In other words, the Turkish government was attempting to help Israel with a long-standing diplomatic problem, and Israel rewarded them by making Erdogan look like a fool. Add to that the damage and the deaths caused by the operation and the genuine outrage the Turkish public felt about these things, and one can understand how Erdogan has become so combative.

Since the Netanyahu government came into office, it has been actively contributing to the downward spiral of Israeli-Turkish relations. In response to an offensive Turkish television show, Israel’s Foreign Ministry deliberately and publicly insulted the Turkish ambassador, which led to the last major diplomatic row before now. To protest objectionable content produced by Turkish citizens, Israel drastically overreacted by further wrecking relations with the Turkish government. Erdogan does demagogue the Palestinian issue, but everything the Olmert and Netanyahu governments have been doing for the last year and a half have provided him with more than enough ammunition.

Four years ago, the AKP government had reasonably good relations with Israel. The “myth” of friendship Klein dismisses was quite real. Things began going wrong when Israel responded to Hizbullah’s capture of three of its soldiers by launching a full-scale war against all of Lebanon. Like most other nations, Turks were appalled by what Israel had done, and relations began souring from then on. Even if one wants to blame Erdogan for being irresponsible in demagoguing and whipping up Turkish anger, there would have been no occasions for his demagoguery if Israel had not engaged in its excessive and destructive military actions in Lebanon and Gaza.

Israel has shown extremely poor reciprocity toward the United States, as well, in part indicated by its espionage scandals, weapons sales, and recalcitrant attitudes about settlements.  Murdering Turkish and American humanitarian “flower children” on the high seas was just another data point showing the complete disregard Israel has for its allies.

Leon Wieseltier fears that Israel is succumbing to  a paranoid bunker mentality:

Rules of military engagement that allow soldiers to fire on political activists (I leave aside the question of their humanitarianism for a moment) may signify something still deeper and even more troubling. It is hard not to conclude from this Israeli action, and also from other Israeli actions in recent years, that the Israeli leadership simply does not care any longer about what anybody thinks. It does not seem to care about what even the United States-its only real friend, even in the choppy era of Obama-thinks. This is not defiance, it is despair. The Israeli leadership seems to have given up any expectation of fairness and sympathy from the world. It is behaving as if it believes, in the manner of the most perilous Jewish pessimism, that the whole world hates the Jews, and that is all there is to it. This is the very opposite of the measured and empirical attitude, the search for strategic opportunity, the enlistment of imagination in the service of ideals and interests, that is required for statecraft.

As I noted elsewhere, there appears to be a gleeful abandonment of reason and humanity in some segments of Israeli society over this latest incident of excessive violence against peaceful political statements, a reaction that led not only to the murder of allied citizenry, but the celebration of those unthinkable acts in front of the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv.  Whether this truly represents despair or glee, it is quite simply madness, and this apparent go-it-alone bunker mentality is a self-fulfilling and self-defeating attitude.


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  1. enough, that none of this would be possible without US acquiescence.

  2. Some of us are inviting both the Americans and Israelis back to the table of humanity to eat and drink.

    • banger on June 4, 2010 at 14:32

    He deals with the politics of the internal dynamics of Jews in this country. Read it here.

    This elegantly written examination of the real issues needs to be looked at closely by anyone interested in the issues surrounding the policies of Israel and their support by the Jews living in the U.S.

  3. of writing. Answers a lot of questions.

    I got to let this stew in my brain for a while.

    Much appreciated.

  4. …I assume this is an “approved” I/P diary.  I read it last night but didn’t comment because I saw no indication as to whether or not it was approved.  (This marine mammal tries to avoid oily waters).

    I suggest it would be helpful, given the I/P approval policy, for admins to indicate at the top of any essay on this subject that it has been approved.  If there is no such indication, we can assume it has not been approved.

    Thank you.


    The aid workers maintain that 6 people are still missing, suggesting that the death toll may be 15, not 9 (Israeli Army radio reported 16 dead early on Monday, and surely they knew). You wonder if they had an impromptu burial at sea to get rid of the evidence (forensic analysis of the bodies would be eloquent about Israeli tactics).

  6. I have done so.


    I greatly appreciate that you allowed me to post on the flotilla massacre.  I hope that I didn’t disappoint you.  You may recall at the time that I had asked for a 7-10 day temporary lift of the ban, with the hope that the policy could be re-evaluated.  You gave me a one-shot, but I hope we can still consider re-evaluation.

    As you state in the FAQ:

    All of the ‘rules’ are subject to …..MY subjectivity. All of these rules are changeable. And challengable! But….I am The Decider.  The Zen Dictator of Docudharma…meaning, I will have a hands off policy and position as much as is possible, but if it comes to me having to make a decision, I will do so as quickly as possible and take full responsibility for it. If the site is successful and we get too big for me to pay attention to every case, the rules will be changed. Which should lead to some interesting discussions!

    First of all, I just re-read the FAQ.  All that it says on I/P is:

    Inflammatory discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not allowed. What constitutes inflammatory is my subjective call. If you wish to publish on this issue please e-mail me for more details.

    My strict reading of the policy is that:

    (1)  Inflammatory discussion is not allowed.  I would gather that applies to BOTH essays and comments.

    (2)  If you wish to publish, contact you for (implicitly) guidelines.  It does not mention pre-approval and is posed as a [firm] request, not a demand.

    Per the wording in the FAQ, I have no objection to the policy whatsoever.  Your request that people contact you for details is perfectly reasonable.  There is no mention of “I will ban you if you don’t,” though I assume that if — per the above wording — someone didn’t contact you and was inflammatory, their ass would be banned right pronto.  (And I note that you have been readily approving essays.)

    However, in ek hornbeck’s Ex Cathedra post, he states:

    If you wish to discuss Israeli/Palestinian issues you are expected to submit your content in advance to buhdy who will discuss it with other site Administrators and Contributing Editors and decide whether your content is inflammatory or not.

    There is quite a discrepancy between the FAQ stated policy and the ek stated policy.  Has the FAQ changed in the past week?  Is there a shadow policy, the “real deal” behind the curtain?

    ek hornbeck goes on to state:

    Discussions of I/P almost always instantly degenerate into knee jerk apologies for unconscionable actions on the one hand and anti semitic hate speech on the other.

    He puts this in quotes, with perhaps an implication that this too is from the FAQ.  In the ensuing discussion on that post, MomCat cites this quote twice.

    If this is indeed the rationale for a pre-approval policy, I must say that — in the responses to my Eyeless in Gaza essay and in the others that you have approved, flame wars have not been the case on Docudharma.  I noticed that while, Kos used to have flame wars over this, there have been many side diaries on Kos in the past week, and while there has been some smoke, there has been no fire.  Is this because the Kos community has suddenly had an affliction of good manners?  Perhaps, but I suspect that it results from a  political shift in the past year, capped by the fallout from the flotilla massacre.  There is no basis for serious flame war on a PROGRESSIVE site because there is no humane foundation for the old kind of blind defense of Israel in the current climate.  That has certainly been the case on Docudharma.

    The only “flame war” Docudharma has seen on this has been on ek’s post.  Both Kitty (“the contents of this thread confirms that the rule is a good one” and MomCat (“Most of the comments have confirmed our resolve to enforce it”) apparently consider the discussion on ek’s post as justification for the ban.  Indeed, Ed Encino said some bad shit and rightly got his head handed to him, and there was Diane’s “brownshirt” remark which she herself regrets.  A few other of the 211 comments were unnecessarily nasty.  But a major part of the heat on the thread was generated in reaction to the moderators or directly BY the moderators.


    Now you can feel free to hate me just as hard and long as you want, my ego is quite robust and I assure you it can withstand your assault. I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think anyway.

    … certainly takes the “moderate” out of “moderator.”  And when people wanted to discuss the policy, they were confronted down the line with “this is the policy, we will enforce it, you must not have read the FAQ.”  I got variations of this response 5 times from MomCat, and you and she both know I have read the FAQ.  The belligerence does not reflect well on Docudharma.

    But my bottom-line argument — apart from I/P posts on Docudharma NOT “almost always instantly degenerat[ing] into knee jerk apologies for unconscionable actions on the one hand and anti semitic hate speech on the other” is as I stated on the thread:

    it is simply that when there is murder and oppression going on, we have not only a right but an obligation to speak out.  Anywhere.  Even if some are made uncomfortable.  To do otherwise is to commit the crime of silence.

    To single out I/P sends a chilling message, whether intended or not, and fears of constant flame wars are highly exaggerated.

    Night Owl has requested:  “It would also be nice… to know the criteria for approval. ‘Inflammatory’ is way too vague a term to be of much guidance.  Apart from the pre-approval issue, I think that would be helpful.”

    In any event, I know you are navigating difficult waters, and thank you for considering this.


  7. And this is why we have the rule.

    People are taking out their anger at Israel out on each other.

    The rule stands.


    I have no comment on the meta, and I doubt I will. Except one.

    Stop it, everyone, this is out of control.

  8. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

    “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

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