By Moshé Machover, MRZine – 3 June 2010
I am grateful to MRZine for inviting me to comment on “Israel in the current conjuncture, in the wake of the attack on the Freedom Flotilla and international reaction to it”. But in truth I have very little to add to the excellent comments and analyses that have been presented in various left-wing publications, both in print and online.
Perhaps I can just make an observation regarding the significance of Israel’s brazen attempt to depict its latest aggression against a humanitarian mission as “self-defence”, and the murder of peace activists by its commandos as a legitimate response to the “lynching” of these heavily armed innocents who were set upon by a “mob of terrorists”.
This astounding piece of hutzpah is actually quite instructive, inasmuch as it typifies and constitutes a reductio ad absurdum of the age-old method of hasbarah, the propaganda machine of the Zionist project and its Israeli settler state.
It amounts to this: protected by a Western empire, you colonize a part of the world, ethnically cleanse as many of its indigenous people as you can, and confine the remainder to stew in a series of besieged reservations, which are in effect open prisons. And when the victims try to resist, you depict them as “savages” and “terrorists”; and present yourself, the colonizer, as acting in “self-defence”. Similarly, when humanitarian sympathizers of the colonized try to provide them with some help.
By the way, if all this sounds vaguely familiar to US readers, it is no accident. Colonizers often act and speak like this. Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2008–9 is a 21st century echo of Wounded Knee, magnified by a modern war machine and destructive technology.
Let me add one more observation, which as far as I know has not been made so far. It concerns an issue which is tangential to the Mavi Marmara incident, but in my view is also very instructive. This issue is the purpose of NATO. Sailing in the high seas, the Mavi Marmara was a piece of sovereign Turkish territory. It was subjected to hostile military invasion by Israel. If NATO were indeed an organization for mutual defence, as its propagandists claim, then surely it would have sprung unequivocally to take the side of its attacked member, Turkey. It would have taken all necessary steps against the aggressor, Israel. But don’t hold your breath. Because, as we on the left have always said, NATO is in reality not about mutual defence but an instrument of US imperial hegemony. Beyond uttering a few worthless platitudes, it will not side with its Turkish member against Israel, the favourite client of the US boss.
Moshé Machover is an Israeli socialist anti-Zionist activist and co-founder of the Socialist Organization in Israel (Matzpen). He is currently living in London, England. He is emeritus professor of philosophy, King’s College, London University. His most recent book is Israelis and Palestinians: Conflict and Resolution.
All IOA commentaries by Moshé Machover
For more on the NATO and the US question, see
Craig Murray: Israeli Murders, NATO and Afghanistan
The complete IOA coverage of the Gaza Flotilla