A few observations about the deadly, tragic fiasco off the coast of Gaza:
Collectively, we are dupes to assume that we are always empowered and privileged by access to information in the digital age. For more than 24 hours after the events of May 31, the state of Israel was largely able to commandeer the news agenda. Its Prime Minister stated that his commandos were attacked and justly defended themselves. There is still precious little information from the mouths of the activists who are being released from Israeli detention. Whatever happened…whoever was responsible for the deaths, the world remains largely unaware of what actually occurred. Israel is resisting calls for an independent international inquiry; it says it will look into the matter itself. It’s Wednesday, June 2.
Netanyahu’s Toronto speech on Sunday in which he proclaimed yet again that Israel is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ was also widely reported in backgrounds following the events at sea. The only democracy, you say? Well, Bibi, perhaps then the people of, at least, the West Bank, and not just the Israeli settlers who reside there, should be allowed to vote in Israeli elections. The lives of Palestinians in the West Bank have been controlled by the state of Israel and its military since 1967….43 years and counting. To the best of my understanding, Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel itself can vote and have significant legal rights, but most do not enjoy the same package of rights, services and responsibilities that Jewish citizens enjoy. Democracy? Just asking. I write from a country with an appointed chamber of Parliament and a non-elected representative of the British monarch with very real constitutional powers, so I know full well that democracy is a slippery notion, but I am troubled by Netanyahu’s assertion and the North American media’s generally easy acquiescence in it.
The raid on the high seas off Gaza underscores another geopolitical factor: The state of Israel has scant respect for the American administration of Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton may say that the siege of Gaza is “unsustainable and unacceptable”, but the Americans seem largely impotent or simply unwilling when it comes to doing something about it.
Turkey is a member of The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkey is a candidate to join the European Union. It would appear that the state of Israel under its current government has decided that it can pursue what it considers its “legitimate security concerns” with barely a nod to the international norms of the democratic club to which it claims membership.