The Gaza Flotilla: Facts and Official Reactions

, September 15, 2010

No. 102

  • The Gaza flotilla was a well-thought-out provocation against Israel. The flotilla was falsely presented as an enterprise of humanitarian aid to a needy population. If that were indeed the case the organizers would have accepted Israel’s offer to dock the flotilla at the port of Ashdod. The main ship, the Turkish Mavi Marmara and two others, transported people only and no aid. Part of the aid, such as camouflage netting, was clearly meant for Hamas’s military purposes. Some samples of the aid, such as medicines, were past their sell-by date. One of the undeclared aims of the main organizers was to support the Hamas regime that rules Gaza. In its charter Hamas promotes genocide of Jews.
  • The main organizers of the Gaza flotilla were the Turkish IHH, a body for which there are strong indications of having terrorist links. There were also others on board with terrorist links. Several of the participants on the Mavi Marmara were prepared for violence with weapons and attacked the Israeli soldiers. The weapons found were far from normal for a ship purporting to be bringing humanitarian aid. Seven of the nine dead had expressed their wish to die as martyrs before they departed on the journey.
  • Negative opinions about Israel were hastily expressed by senior officials of various countries and international bodies. They did not care to wait until a reasonable amount of facts were known. Today if one analyzes their statements one finds many fallacies in them. In view of many other far more violent actions by some Western countries on various occasions, the claims about disproportionality of the Israeli interception of the flotilla convey double standards.
  • The German response to the flotilla affair merits special investigation. On 2 July the German parliament issued a unanimous resolution with an anti-Israeli bias. Never in its history has the Bundestag issued a resolution against any rogue state. The Jewish Central Council in Germany adopted a statement saying that the Parliament’s resolution was based on incomplete information and a mixture of half-truths and prejudices.

I. Introduction: The Flotilla

On 30 May 2010, a flotilla of six ships left Northern Cyprus heading to Gaza, carrying 718 people from thirty-seven countries and up to ten thousand tons of what the organizers called humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip.[1] The proclaimed intention of the flotilla organizers was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza and break the blockade on the territory, which Israel imposed in 2007 to prevent arms from reaching Hamas, the Islamist terror organization that rules the Strip.[2] It later became clear that three of the ships were not for freight and were not carrying any humanitarian aid. Among these was the largest one, the Turkish Mavi Marmara. The other two were the Challenger 1 and the Sfendonh.[3]

The Israeli government warned the flotilla organizers in advance that they would not be allowed to enter Gaza. However, Israel offered that the flotilla could dock at the Israeli port of Ashdod. The Israeli authorities would then inspect the cargos for weapons and subsequently deliver the humanitarian goods to Gaza by land. Israel additionally offered to coordinate with a third party representing an independent organization such as the United Nations during the proposed goods transfer. The flotilla organizers, however, rejected the offer.[4]

On 31 May 2010, an IDF naval commando unit intercepted the flotilla on its way to Gaza, in international waters about eighty miles from the Israeli coast. The commandos landed on the Mavi Marmara by descending on ropes from helicopters. Video material showed activists wielding metal bars while awaiting the IDF commandos. One can see the activists sawing through the ship’s railing to use it as iron bars against the soldiers.[5]  Israel says the activists used axes and knives, and fired shots from a gun taken from the soldiers, and from some weapons they had brought. In the fighting nine people aboard the ship were killed, of whom eight were Turkish and one a Turkish-American.[6] Fifty-three activists were wounded along with seven of the Israeli commandos, two of them seriously.[7]

Preparations for Violence on the Mavi Marmara

Video and photo material released by the IDF reveals that prior to the boarding, numerous passengers of the Mavi Marmara were preparing for a violent confrontation: they put on gas masks and armed themselves with rods, slingshots, broken bottles, metal objects, and water hoses. When the IDF soldiers landed on the ship, large groups of passengers immediately started to attack them with these objects.[8] They threw one soldier over the side of the ship. As the flotilla organizers themselves admitted, some of the passengers seized weapons from soldiers.[9]

The IDF says the activists also shot at them. Initially the Israeli commandos used paintball guns. When ferociously attacked, the commandos opened fire to defend themselves. An internal military probe, conducted by Israel and released on 11 July, found that shots were initially fired at the boarding commandos from weapons that the passengers had brought with them. The bullet that was extracted from the knee of one of the soldiers was of a different caliber than that used by the Israeli navy.[10]

(1) The Flotilla Organizers

The major organizer and funder of the flotilla was the Turkish organization IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief). It was established in 1992 and formally registered in Istanbul in 1995. According to a 2006 report by the Danish Institute for International Studies, the IHH had links to Al-Qaeda and global Islamist networks during the 1990s.

The IHH was the subject of a Turkish criminal investigation in 1997, when sources revealed that senior IHH activists were purchasing automatic weapons from other Islamist groups. When they searched the IHH offices, Turkish security services found weapons, explosives, instructions for manufacturing IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and documents indicating that IHH members were planning to participate in terror activities in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya.[11]

The report also notes that the current president of the IHH and organizer of the “Freedom Flotilla,” Bulent Yildrim, had galvanized anti-American sentiment, and incitement against U.S. troops, in these areas during the Iraq War.[12]

The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) describes the IHH as a “radical Islamic organization” that has prominently supported Hamas in recent years, as well as global jihad networks. According to the ITIC, the IHH transfers “significant amounts of money to Hamas institutions in Judea and Samaria, including the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron and the Al-Tadhamun Charitable Society in Nablus – Hamas’ two central ‘charitable societies,’ both outlawed by Israel.”[13]

A report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that “in the mid-1990s, Yildrim was directly involved in ‘recruit[ing] veteran soldiers in anticipation of the coming holy war [jihad]. In particular, some men were sent to war zones in Muslim countries in order to acquire combat experience.’”[14] The IHH telephone records in Istanbul reportedly included repeated telephone calls in 1996 to an Al-Qaeda guesthouse in Italy and to North African terrorists active in Europe. In addition, a 1996 CIA report on terrorist abuse of charities stated that the IHH had links to “Iranian operatives.”

The IHH is a member of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than fifty Islamic funds and foundations around the globe that channels money into Hamas institutions in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories. According to Palestinian intelligence, this organization “is considered – with regard to material support – one of the biggest Hamas supporters.” Israel outlawed the Union of Good in February 2002, and the United States named it a specially designated global terrorist entity in November 2008.[15]

Because of its support for Hamas, the IHH was also outlawed by Israel in January 2008.[16] According to U.S. State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner in June, the United States is likewise considering designating the IHH a terrorist organization.[17] In July 2010, a group of Italian lawmakers under the lead of legislator Fiamma Nirenstein proposed that IHH be included in the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. “The Islamic fundamentalist nature of IHH has been documented by numerous declarations praising martyrdom and Israel’s destruction,” said Nirenstein.[18]

In Germany, the Coordinating Council of German Nongovernmental Organizations against Anti-Semitism likewise called on the government to place the IHH on the EU list of terrorist organizations, because “like Hamas the IHH is an anti-Semitic organization that promotes terrorism.”[19]

Former French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, who investigated the IHH in the late 1990s, said the group was connected to a 1999 plot by Al-Qaeda to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. He described the IHH as having “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism,” and stated that the group was “basically helping Al-Qaeda when Bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil.”[20]

Other Participants in the Flotilla

The Free Gaza Movement, the second group involved in organizing the flotilla, is a multinational coalition of pro-Palestinian groups and activists. It has been trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza since 2008. The Free Gaza Movement has been endorsed by international figures, including South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire. Israeli intelligence agencies say the coalition has grown to include dangerous Islamic organizations with terrorist links.[21]

A number of individual passengers, not directly affiliated with the IHH or the Free Gaza Movement, appear to have ties with terrorist organizations. In early June, the IDF released a list of five passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara who are linked to terrorist organizations, and stated there might be more. One was Ben O’Keefe, an American-British anti-Israeli activist who, according to the IDF, wanted to enter Gaza to form and train a commando unit for Hamas. Another of the passengers, Ahmad Umimon, a French citizen of Moroccan origin, was identified by the IDF as a Hamas operative. According to the IDF, Hussein Urosh, a Turkish citizen, was supposed to assist in smuggling Al-Qaeda operatives via Turkey into Gaza.[22]

Also on the boats were several functionaries of the Turkish party BPP, which experts describe as militant and anti-Semitic. The BPP has been linked to the murder of an Armenian-Christian journalist in 2007. Michael Kiefer, a German expert on Islam, said the BPP’s program is in some aspects comparable to that of the NPD, the German neo-Nazi party. The German Left Party, three members of which participated in the flotilla, described the BPP as having a “racist-nationalist orientation” and a “propensity to violence and…totalitarian structures.”[23]

In contrast to the public claims of the flotilla organizers on their nonviolent intentions, the IDF concluded from the preparedness of the activists that the violent attack on the Israeli soldiers was “clearly premeditated.”[24]

Prepared for Violence and Martyrdom

Passengers on the other ships peacefully complied with the instructions of the Israeli soldiers and were led safely to shore in Israel’s southernmost port of Ashdod. It was only on the Mavi Marmara that numerous passengers violently resisted the boarding. All casualties occurred on this ship.

Photos from this ship show an Israeli soldier who appears to be crying in anguish, gripping the back of his head while someone from behind grasps his arm to direct him down a flight of stairs. His face is bruised and cut, his shirt is ripped open, and he does not appear to have his weapon. Another soldier lies on the floor with blood on his hand while activists look as if they are removing his bulletproof vest. In other pictures this soldier is either being carried or dragged down the stairs; then hands are seen on his chest. He may be attempting to fend them off with his own raised hands. Some of the pictures show a figure in civilian clothes holding a short, black-handled, serrated knife. It is not clear whether this could be a military knife taken from one of the commandos.[25]

In a video shot on board the Mavi Marmara on 30 May by one of the passengers, Yildrim is seen on board telling dozens of activists to throw Israeli commandos overboard if they attempt to board the ship. “If they board our ship, we will throw them into the sea, Allah willing!” he says.[26]

The MEMRI research institute has released footage of statements made by Yildrim prior to the flotilla raid, which read: “From here, I call upon all the leaders of the Islamic world, and upon all the peoples…. Anyone who does not stand alongside Palestine – his throne will be toppled…. everything is progressing towards Islam…. What Can The Enemy Do To Me?… If They Kill Me – That Is Martyrdom for the Sake of Allah….”[27]

In footage that the IDF captured on the Gaza flotilla, a passenger describes how he has attempted in previous convoys to become a martyr and that “with God’s luck” he will succeed on this flotilla.[28]

Of the nine passengers who died, eight belonged to the IHH radical Islamic group, and seven of them had expressed their desire to die before the flotilla set sail for Gaza. According to a Turkish newspaper, nineteen-year-old Furqan Dogan, the youngest of those killed in the fighting, had written in his diary: “These are the last hours before I join the sweet experience of being a shahid. Is there anything more beautiful than this?”[29]

“Humanitarian” Intentions?

After the deadly clash of 31 May, the flotilla organizers repeatedly affirmed that their intentions had been of a purely humanitarian, nonviolent nature. However, a statement issued by the Gaza Freedom March before the raid revealed that the outbreak of violence was considered a possible, if not desirable option from the beginning: “A violent response from Israel will breathe new life into the Palestine solidarity movement, drawing attention to the blockade.”[30]

In contrast to the “humanitarian” posture that most of the activists were careful to stress before and after the raid, a MEMRI video and translation showed that Yildrim explained at a Hamas rally in Gaza that the operation was part of a global jihad to overthrow governments and install Islamist dictatorships.[31]

Content of the Cargo

The content of the cargo that was supposed to meet the needs of the Gaza population raised further questions about the alleged humanitarian objectives of the organizers. When the IDF inspected the goods, they discovered that some of the medication brought by the flotilla has passed its expiration date by more than a year. Also found on the ships was fabric in camouflage colors, apparently meant for Hamas terror operatives. Hamas refused to let aid material enter Gaza after the raid.[32]

According to a report by the ITIC, most of the fifty-three injured passengers, twenty-three of them severely, in the confrontation on the Mavi Marmara have been identified as activists of the IHH and Turkish local networks collaborating with it. All but one of them are Turkish nationals. They are “most probably Islamist by nature.”

On the other hand, not one of the injured passengers belonged to pro-Palestinian organizations or human rights organizations from Western countries. The report concludes that “this is yet another testimony that human rights activists who joined the flotilla out of humanitarian considerations took no part in the violent confrontation initiated by IHH.”[33]

As a Washington Post editorial pointed out,

Turkey’s ambassador to the United States makes the argument that Israel had no cause to clash with the “European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor” who were aboard the flotilla. But there was no fighting with those people, or with five of the six boats in the fleet. All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic “charity” that owned the ship, the IHH.[34]

Open Jew-Hatred among the Activists

On 25 May, a Greek activist aboard one of the ships compared the flotilla to the fight against Nazi Germany, claiming: “We’re helping the Palestinians, just like the Greeks helped during World War II against the Nazis.”[35]

On 29 May, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “If the ships reach Gaza, it’s a victory for Gaza. If they are intercepted and terrorized by the Zionists, it will be a victory for Gaza, too, and they will move again in new ships to break the siege of Gaza.”[36]

An audiotape published by the IDF revealed that the activists on the flotilla told the IDF to “go back to Auschwitz” when the IDF commandos contacted the boats via radio. The activists also said, “We’re helping the Arabs go against the US, don’t forget 9/11 guys.”[37]

An Al-Jazeera report from 28 May, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, shows activists on board before departing for Gaza, chanting intifada songs aimed at Jews and praising martyrdom. Chants include “Intifada, intifada, intifada! Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews! The army of Mohammed will return!,” referring to a battle between early Muslims and Jews in the seventh century.[38]

The Turkish Government’s Involvement in the Flotilla

Before the flotilla departed, Turkish officials turned down Israel’s offer to deliver the humanitarian goods via Ashdod, claiming they could not impose their will on the IHH, which they described as a nongovernmental organization. The fact that Murat Mercan, a deputy of the ruling AKP, participated in an earlier land convoy to Gaza raises further questions about the Turkish government’s alleged noninvolvement in the affair.[39] The IHH has strongly praised Turkish prime minister Erdogan in the past. “All the peoples of the Islamic world would want a leader like Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Yildrim proclaimed at a Hamas rally in Gaza in 2009.[40]

According to the ITIC report, Erdogan maintains close links to the IHH. The flotilla was launched “with the full knowledge and agreement of Erdogan, who expressed personal interest in its success and his intention to exploit it [to] promote his status in Turkey and the Arab-Muslim world.” The report quotes passengers saying that prior to the flotilla, Erdogan reasoned that a possible confrontation with Israel could serve his own needs. These statements were supported by descriptions found in files on laptop computers belonging to the passengers.[41]

The AKP’s Support for Hamas

Since coming to power in 2002, the AKP has consistently shown that it views Hamas as a legitimate authority, both verbally and through its actions. For instance, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal visited Ankara in 2006.[42] On 20 July 2010, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Meshaal in Damascus, reportedly to discuss efforts to heal the rift between Hamas and Fatah.[43] Reuters reported that Davutoglu and Meshaal also discussed how to “break the Israeli blockade” of Gaza during their talks. “Davutoglu affirmed to Meshaal that Turkey will stand by the Palestinian people until the Gaza siege is lifted,” a Palestinian politician with Hamas connections told Reuters in Damascus.[44]

Erdogan repeatedly voiced his opinion that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, but “Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”[45]

In what can be seen as a particularly noteworthy development, Turkish justice minister Sadullah Ergin reached an agreement with his Hamas counterpart Faraj al-Ghoul in early July 2010 to cooperate in suing the Israeli officers who took part in the flotilla raid. Ergin stated that “Turkey is ready to co-operate to reveal Israel’s outrageous crimes against humanity,” and that “extensive legal measures must be taken in order to operate against the occupation’s commanders in the international courts.” If the legal action continues, it will be filed at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. [46]

On 4 June, Namik Tan, the Turkish ambassador to the United States, called for engaging Hamas in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “For a final solution, you cannot ignore Hamas. That’s what we are saying,” said Tan. “This is not the first time that we are trying to bring this into the discussion. We have told this to the Israelis, to our American friends, to our international interlocutors, everyone. How could you imagine a final solution without Hamas?”[47] The AKP government has expressed this view on several occasions. For example, in May 2010, Turkish president Abdullah Gul stated that “unfortunately Palestinians have been split into two…. In order to reunite them, you have to speak to both sides. Hamas won elections in Gaza and cannot be ignored.”[48]

According to a columnist for the major secular daily Hürriyet, the public attitude in Turkey toward Hamas – and Israel – has changed over the past couple of years. He writes that “today pro-Hamas and anti-Israeli demonstrations attract hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey, and the country is witnessing drastic changes in popular attitudes toward Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian issue.”[49]

II. Background Information:

(1) The Gaza Blockade

Following the Oslo agreement of 1993, Israel handed over administrative and police authority in Gaza to the newly established Palestinian National Authority. In 2005, Israel, under the lead of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, dismantled all the Israeli housing units in Gaza, thus evacuating about eight thousand Israeli citizens from the territory.[50] In the Palestinian elections of 2006, the militant Islamist organization Hamas won the majority of the votes. In the summer of the following year, Hamas launched a military coup against the Fatah forces in Gaza. The organization has been in de facto control of the territory since then.[51]

Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, and the European Union.[52] Its charter calls for the elimination of Israel and the murder of all Jews, quoting classical anti-Semitic documents such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well as religious sources such as the Quran and the Hadith.[53]

From 2001 to 2008, Hamas launched more than eight thousand rockets and mortar shells into populated Israeli areas.[54] In 2006, Hamas abducted then nineteen-year-old IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has since then been held hostage in Gaza. Hamas has refused visitation requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross. When Schalit’s family asked the flotilla organizers to bring aid to their son and to pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to visit him, the organizers declined. Nick Kaufmann, attorney for the Schalit family, commented on the rejection: “I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights.”[55] In 2010 as well, rockets have been fired against Israeli civilian targets from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

To prevent arms from reaching Hamas, Israel has maintained a naval blockade around Gaza since 2007. Yet at the same time, and despite the ongoing attacks by Hamas, Israel transfers about fifteen thousand tons of supplies and humanitarian aid every week to Gaza, which is home to about one and a half million people. From 18 January 2009 to 5 June 2010, Israel transported more than a million tons of aid, including almost fifty thousand tons of cooking gas and 136 million liters of fuel. Israel’s humanitarian-aid corridor is regularly used by international organizations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross. Israel also provides water and electricity to Gaza.

In addition, Israel allows the transfer of medical patients out of Gaza. The Palestinian families treated in Israel receive the same subsidized healthcare as Israelis. This comes to about 10 percent of the cost for the same treatment in the United States.[56]

Contrary to what is often claimed, statistical data reveals that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Considering infant mortality and life expectancy, the two most important indicators for the humanitarian situation in a country, Gaza shows better results than most other Arab countries as well as Turkey, from which the flotilla was launched.[57]

As Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini noted in a column on the question of additional flotillas, “it is a little strange that humanitarian aid comes from people whose situation is much worse, and goes to people whose situation is much better. It could be that there is a need for additional ships. But the direction should be reversed. It is Turkey that needs the help. It is the Gaza Strip which should join the aid delegation for the benefit of the poor Turks.”[58]

(2) Legal Aspects of the Blockade

As international law expert Ruth Lapidoth points out in a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, naval blockades have been in existence for hundreds of years. They were first specifically mentioned in the 1856 Declaration of Paris Respecting Maritime Law, and described in further detail in the 1909 London Declaration on Naval Warfare. Even though this declaration was never formally ratified, states actually followed the rules laid down in it, and thus it became binding customary law.[59]

This framework concerning naval blockades was updated in 1994 into a legally recognized document called the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. The manual established three key requirements for a naval blockade: a blockade must be declared and notified to all belligerents and neutral states; access to neutral ports cannot be blocked; and an area can only be blockaded that is under enemy control. “On the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade is legal,” said Philip Roche, partner in the shipping disputes and risk management team with law firm Norton Rose.[60]

The Israeli military advocate general, Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, told the Israeli public commission that is investigating the flotilla incident – also known as the Turkel Committee – that the maritime blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza is motivated solely by security considerations of preventing weapons from reaching the Strip. He added that this was in total compliance with international law.[61]

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz pointed out that the firing of thousands of rockets into Israel by Hamas constitutes an act of war, to which a blockade is a legally justified response. “When the United States blockaded Cuba during the missile crisis, the State Department issued an opinion declaring the blockade to be lawful,” Dershowitz notes. “This despite the fact that Cuba had not engaged in any act of belligerence against the United States. Other nations have similarly enforced naval blockades to assure their own security.”[62]

(3) Legal Aspects of the Interception of the Ships

Examining the interception of the flotilla, Lapidoth points out that the relations between Israel and Hamas are characterized by “armed conflict.” Consequently, the IDF operation on the high seas must be viewed according to the internationally recognized rules of armed conflict. Lapidoth writes that “[t]his means that Israel may control shipping headed for Gaza – even when the vessel is still on the high seas. Israel may not do so in the territorial sea of a third country, such as Cyprus, but in time of armed conflict Israel may check vessels on the high seas that are headed for Gaza.”[63] An expertise paper by the Research Service of the German parliament reached the same conclusion.[64]

Force may be used in the boarding of the ships. “If force is disproportionate it would be a violation of the key tenets of the use of force,” said Commander James Kraska, professor of international law at the U.S. Naval War College. Yet this does not exclude the use of guns in a situation where, as occurred on the Mavi Marmara, the forces are being attacked with weapons such as knives and clubs. “While the full facts need to emerge from a credible and transparent investigation, from what is known now, it appears that Israel acted within its legal rights,” said J. Peter Pham, a strategic adviser to U.S. and European governments.[65] Regarding the fact that the IDF operation was carried out in international waters, Dershowitz notes that it is legal to enforce a blockade even before the offending ships cross the line into domestic waters. “Again the United States and other Western countries have frequently boarded ships at high sea in order to assure their security.”[66]

Because, under international law, the interception of the flotilla is considered a state action, it cannot be viewed as an “act of piracy” as some of Israel’s opponents claimed. Commander Kraska commented: “Whether what Israel did is right or wrong, it is not an act of piracy. Piracy deals with private conduct particularly with a pecuniary or financial interest.”[67]

III. International Reactions

1) Reactions from International Institutions

The reactions of international institutions as well as individual countries have been categorized below according to the following issues: (1) statements concerning the interception of the flotilla; (2) statements addressing the question of an international investigation; and (3) statements on the Gaza blockade in general.

 United Nations

(1) “The Security Council expressed deep regret at the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation early on Monday in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza. It condemned those acts which had killed at least 10 civilians and wounded many more.”

(2) “It took note of the statement of United Nations Secretary-General on the need to have a full investigation into the matter and it called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.”

(3) “Stressing that the situation in Gaza was not sustainable, the Council re‑emphasized the importance of the full implementation of resolutions 1850 (2008) and 1860 (2009).  In that context, it reiterated its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and stressed the need for the sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza, as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout the enclave.”[68]

On 21 July, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs presented a briefing to the Security Council. It stated that convoys such as the Gaza flotilla “are not helpful to resolving the basic economic problems in Gaza and needlessly carry the potential for escalation.” The briefing also called for the “immediate release” of Schalit and called the lack of humanitarian access to him “inexcusable.”[69]

On 23 July, the UN Human Rights Council named a panel of experts to investigate whether the Israeli interception of the flotilla had been a breach of international law.[70]

The UN secretary-general has since established a commission of inquiry that includes representatives of Israel and Turkey. This commission will also examine the internal inquiries of the two countries. Much has become known about the Israeli investigation and little if anything about the Turkish one.

European Union

Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, rushed out on 31 May to make a statement.

(1) She “condemned the violence that claimed the lives of nine passengers on ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.”

(2) She “demanded an ‘immediate, full and impartial’ inquiry into the confrontation.”

(3) Ashton also “appealed for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the Palestinian territory in 2007. Her remarks were echoed by Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, who added that the blockade was ‘unacceptable and counterproductive.’”[71]

 European Parliament

The European Parliament adopted – with a majority of 470 to 56 and 56 abstentions[72] – a resolution on 17 June that “condemned the attack against the flotilla in international waters, which is a breach of international law.” The resolution also called for an international and impartial inquiry and urged Israel to end its blockade of Gaza. On the other hand, the resolution demanded that all attacks against Israel cease immediately and warned that the perpetrators must face full responsibility, and called for the release of Schalit.[73]

There was no substantiation for the claim that the attack was a breach of international law. If media had interviewed those MEPs who voted for the resolution, one wonders how many of them could have explained why the Israeli act against the flotilla constituted such a breach.

Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)

The OIC is an international organization composed of fifty-seven Muslim countries. It was established in 1969 and has a permanent delegation at the United Nations. The organization describes itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.”[74] Its charter lists as one of its goals “to endeavor to work for revitalizing Islam’s pioneering role in the world” and “to enhance and strengthen the bond of unity and solidarity among the Muslim peoples and Member States.” It also calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.[75]

(1) As far as positions on the three issues are concerned, the OIC published a statement on 31 May 2010: “the OIC Group strongly condemns the illegal, brutal and provocative Israeli aggression carried out in international waters against the civilian convoy of ships that was carrying vital humanitarian aid to be delivered by hundreds of international peace and human rights activists to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The OIC Group also condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing and injury of several civilians by the Israeli military forces that attacked the Turkish vessel in the humanitarian convoy.”

(2) “The OIC Group stresses that the Israeli military aggression on the civilian convoy of ships constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law, and also constitutes an explicit act of piracy under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea…. The international community must undertake all necessary measures to hold Israel accountable for the perpetration of this condemnable and illegal act. The OIC Group…calls upon the United Nations Secretary-General to immediately initiate a full, impartial, transparent, independent and credible investigation in conformity with international standards into the Israeli military aggression and demands that the perpetrators of this crime be brought to justice.”

(3) “The OIC Group reiterates that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip constitutes collective punishment on a massive scope and scale and is tantamount to a war crime against the Palestinian people. The OIC Group reiterates its firm and unwavering demand for an immediate end to this unlawful Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and the opening of all crossing points to allow for the freedom of movement of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip and to allow for unfettered humanitarian access.”[76]

Arab League

The Arab League’s position on the interception of the flotilla stated:

(1) “The Arab League strongly condemns this terrorist act.”[77]

(2) The Arab League announced that it would “file a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice over Israel’s attack on the Gaza-bound aid convoy and violations of international laws” and “said the Arab Summit should reconsider the status of the Arab Peace Initiative in the light of Israel’s stances.”

(3) The Arab League also called for “the lifting of the siege on the Gaza Strip and demand[ed] that measures and mechanisms be taken and adopted to achieve this.”[78]

(2) Reactions from Individual Countries

Many countries reacted to the flotilla incident. Most issued statements, while a number of them resorted to diplomatic measures against Israel. In view of the silence of the international community vis-à-vis much more severe incidents, many reactions to the flotilla raid can be characterized as highly disproportionate.

Below is a selection of official reactions in a few countries. An overview of many more countries can be found in the appendix.

(A) United States

U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell said:

(1) “The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injury suffered among those involved in the incident aboard the Gaza-bound ships.”

(2) “We joined in and we support the security council’s  statement on this tragedy

(3) and will continue to work aggressively to see that the full range of the needs of all of the people of Gaza are met.”[79]

(B) EU Countries

The position of a number of EU countries is discussed below.

Germany

Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle (Free Democrats) said:

(1) “I am deeply concerned about the serious incident off the shores of Gaza. I deeply regret that it led to deaths and injuries.” Even after the Germans and other nationals from the flotilla had left Israel, “there can be no normal transition to the normal agenda.”

(2) “We need a full, transparent and neutral inquiry as soon as possible…. Were that inquiry to show that the principle of proportionality enshrined in international law had been violated, this would be unacceptable.”

(3) “It is of vital importance to us that humanitarian supplies can at last be delivered unhindered.”[80]

Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that members of the Middle East Quartet should participate in inquiries in Israel.[81]

On 2 July, the Bundestag, the German parliament, issued a resolution calling for the immediate lifting of the Gaza blockade and an investigation with international participation into the behavior of “both sides,” meaning the flotilla organizers’ links to radical Islamist organizations as well as the IDF operation on the high seas. While the document repeatedly stresses the importance of what it calls “Israel’s legitimate security needs” and refers to “hints” of the flotilla organizers’ links to “Hamas and other radical Islamist groups,” it says there is “strong evidence” that Israel violated the “principle of proportionality” in the raid. It also calls the blockade of Gaza “counterproductive,” claiming it “does not serve the political and security interests of Israel.”[82]

All parties of the political spectrum, ranging from the conservative CDU (Christian Democratic Union) to the extreme-Left Die Linke, voted in favor of the resolution.[83]

Three members of the Bundestag from Die Linke (or the Left Party), the party most hostile toward Israel, had participated in the Gaza flotilla. Die Linke had originally proposed a resolution much more condemnatory of Israel, but finally agreed to the final version supported by all other parties. Die Linke’s foreign policy spokesman, Wolfgang Gehrcke, said “for the first time on the Middle East question, all parties in the chamber have a joint motion. This signal will certainly be recognized in the Middle East as well, especially in Israel and Palestine.”[84]

Reactions to Germany’s Official Statements

Why did the Bundestag issue such a unique declaration? Benjamin Weinthal commented in the Weekly Standard: “The Bundestag resolution is the first post-Holocaust legislative act in the Federal Republic to apply disparate treatment to Israel…. Given the so-called German-Israeli special relationship based on Israel’s security needs being integral to the interests of the Federal Republic, a detached, objective observer could interpret the resolution as a brazen act of betraying Israel’s national security.”[85]

Several Jewish organizations voiced strong protest against the resolution. The Jewish Central Council in Germany came out with a resolution saying it could not remain silent about the attempts to make Israel responsible for the escalation in the Middle East and the difficult situation of the Palestinian population in Gaza. It pointed out that as far as the Gaza flotilla was concerned, “too many important details remain in the dark and the truth will come out one day. Only then judgments can be made and legitimate claims formulated for the future.”

It then addressed the motion of the Bundestag (and the proposed motion of Die Linke, which was later withdrawn), saying these were based on

incomplete information and a mixture of half-truths and prejudices. They were one-sidedly taking a position against Israel. This behavior is without precedent in the history of the friendship of Federal Germany and Israel. It aggravates the conflict in the Middle East instead of enabling a peace perspective.

The claim for an immediate lifting of the Gaza blockade is not complemented by a realistic solution to prevent the smuggling of weapons over the land and sea borders.[86]

The council pointed out that the entire strategy behind the document was seriously deficient.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in a public statement that “We heard no such unanimity from German politicians when Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists targeted Israeli civilians, including Holocaust survivors and their families.”[87] European Info Press commentator Dean Grunwald pointed out that the Bundestag had never in its history issued a resolution against any of the true “rogue states in the world, no matter how inhuman they are.”[88]

For twenty-three years, until 2009, Gert Weisskirchen was a member of the Bundestag on behalf of the Social Democrat Party. He criticized the decision on many levels, saying that before the vote all the parliamentarians should have inquired who had organized the flotilla and which propaganda purposes it served. He asked since when the German parliament could decide what served the interests of Israeli security. And even if it did, how could it make such a decision without an intensive dialogue with the Knesset? Weisskirchen added that possibly not all the parliamentarians knew that, according to its charter, Hamas seeks to destroy Israel.[89]

Weinthal suggested that “the anti-Israel Bundestag resolution is not an expression of prudent foreign policy criticism, rather an act of absolution for a guilt-ridden country that frequently views Israel as a disturber of the peace instead of a liberal democracy with shared Western values.”[90]

It is interesting to note that on 4 September 2009, a German officer in Kunduz, Afghanistan, called in an airstrike that killed up to 142 Afghans, of which an estimated eighty were civilians. A NATO report revealed that the deadly operation “was the result of a combination of ineptness and deliberate misinformation, without which the airstrike would never have occurred.” As a result of what became known as the Kunduz affair, former German defense minister Franz Josef Jung was forced to resign from his new job as labor minister. Others also had to draw personal consequences. A parliamentary investigative committee was set up to examine the incident.[91]

Yet this incident, with its far larger number of deaths, triggered neither international outrage nor resolutions by parliaments of foreign countries. This was despite the fact that in Kunduz civilians were killed who had not taken part in any provocative actions. The participants in the flotilla, however, knew they were running risks and most of those killed were seeking to be “martyrs.”

Sweden

(1) State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Frank Belfrage said: “In view of the very serious incident and the boarding of the humanitarian fleet, we summoned the Israeli Ambassador this morning and requested an explanation of what has occurred and what has happened to our compatriots. What has happened is completely unacceptable and if, moreover, these events have occurred in international waters this is even more serious and Europe must react strongly.”

(2) Foreign Minister Carl Bildt requested on the same day that the European Union’s Political and Security Committee (PSC) be convened.[92]

(3) Sweden has been calling for some time for the blockade to be lifted. In January 2009, Bildt emphasized the importance of breaking Gaza’s isolation, which he called “serious in humanitarian terms.”[93] In March 2009, Gunilla Carlsson, minister for international development cooperation, said in a speech in Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai: “Gaza can never truly develop without private initiative, free trade and economic interaction. For all these reasons the Gaza borders must be opened unconditionally and immediately, for goods and persons, for aid and trade.”[94]

Immediately after the raid, Bildt met the two Swedish flotilla activists in Istanbul, where he expressed his sympathy for them and their cause and condemned Israel.[95] He also stated that Israel’s Palestinian policy was “catastrophic” and “leads to one problem after another.”[96]

Sweden’s reaction requires particular attention. Anti-Israeli incitement is of major proportions in the country’s political system. It comes mainly from the three opposition parties, the Social Democrats, the Greens, and the Left. Yet the current foreign minister, Bildt, from the largest government party, the Moderates, has often taken anti-Israeli initiatives as well. He is on record for the statement: “It is possible to make peace without Hamas the same way it is possible to make peace without Netanyahu on the Israeli side.”[97]

Yet another reason for a special interest in Sweden’s position is the frequent anti-Israeli incitement in the media, parts of the Lutheran Church, and other elements of civil society. Malmö can be considered a serious candidate for the title of the European Union’s capital of anti-Semitism. Half of the town’s Jewish population has left in the past few years because of frequent harassment and the subsequent disinterest of the authorities.

Commentator Ilya Meyer has written:

In an average month of 30 days, there are never more than 3 days without some negative reporting on Israel in the publicly-funded TV (SVT). Check out the news function on teletext and on a minimum of 27 days out of 30, there will be a story about Israel. Not about Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Bangladesh. The standing joke in Sweden is that one can always tell when there is a new employee at the taxpayer-funded SVT, because that is the day there is no anti-Jewish item on teletext. New recruits never make the same mistake twice, if they wish to keep their jobs. Sweden’s state-funded radio, SR, is the same.[98]

Bildt’s harsh reaction to the flotilla affair is all the more notable in light of his approach to Iran, a country ruled by Islamists who deny the Holocaust, call for Israel’s destruction, and run a highly suspicious nuclear program. When the European Union deliberated on tougher sanctions against Iran, Bildt tried to stall these efforts and questioned the legality of such sanctions. He even suggested supporting the nuclear-fuel-swap deal with Iran that Brazil and Turkey proposed in May 2010, which, in the words of Wall Street Journal commentator Mats Tunehag, “would have done nothing to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program but would have saved Tehran from additional sanctions.”[99]

United Kingdom

UK foreign secretary William Hague addressed the House of Commons on 2 June. He said:

(1) “There is real understandable and justified anger at the events which have unfolded…we deeply deplore the loss of life and look to Israel to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of this unacceptable situation. The UN Security Council and the European Union have rightly condemned the violence which resulted in the loss of these lives.”

(2) “The United Kingdom has played its full part in the European Union and United Nations in agreeing on the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events. Our goal is a process which ensures full accountability for the events which occurred and which commands the confidence of the international community, including international participation.”[100]

(3) “They [the events] arise from the unacceptable and unsustainable situation in Gaza which is a cause of public concern here in the UK and around the world. It has long been the view of the British Government, including the previous Government, that restrictions on Gaza should be lifted, a view confirmed in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1860 which called for sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and which called on states to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation. That this has not happened is a tragedy…. We will therefore continue to press the Israeli Government to lift the closure of Gaza….”[101]

Hague said the European Union could help control the flow of goods into Gaza and make sure no arms would reach Hamas.[102]

On a visit to Turkey in late July 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron strongly condemned the flotilla raid and likened the situation of Palestinians in Gaza to that of a “prison camp.” “The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable,” he said. “I have told prime minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous.” Cameron added: “Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”[103]

Cameron did not mention the genocidal character of the Hamas Charter during his stay in Turkey. A party in power that calls for mass murder of Jews apparently is no longer worth mentioning or condemning by a British democratic politician if that does not suit the host prime minister. It might also have been considered impolite as Turkey has not yet recognized its guilt in the Armenian genocide during World War I.

Turkey

A negative Turkish reaction to Israel’s interception of the flotilla was inevitable given that nine of its citizens had been killed and others wounded. This was so even if the flotilla was provocative and the ship on which the violence took place brought no aid. However, the content, duration, and vehemence of the Turkish government’s reaction to the incident indicated that it was using it to address other agendas.

The reaction was not only among the strongest but also one of the most significant, given Turkey’s decades-long history as Israel’s closest ally in the Muslim world. Many observers have interpreted the particular harshness of the official Turkish reaction as a sign of the Islamist Turkish government’s attempt to style itself as a new key player in the Muslim world while partly turning its back on the West.[104]

In its official statement following the IDF operation, the Turkish Foreign Ministry not only condemned Israel in the harshest terms but also made more general statements on what it seems to perceive as Israel’s “character”: “Israel has once again clearly demonstrated that it does not value human lives and peaceful initiatives through targeting innocent civilians.”[105]

Furthermore, the statement hinted at a downgrading of the two countries’ diplomatic ties, asserting that “[t]his grave incident which took place in high seas in gross violation of international law might cause irreversible consequences in our relations” (emphasis added).[106] Turkey had already withdrawn its ambassador from Israel and announced it would not fill the post unless the Israeli government formally apologized for the killing of the nine Turkish citizens.[107] Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Israel would face legal action in a Turkish court.[108]

At the UN Security Council, Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the IDF operation “‘murder’ conducted by a State…. A nation that followed that path,” he argued, “lost its legitimacy as a respectable member of the international community” (emphasis added).[109] Later he added that the normalization of Turkish-Israeli relations would depend on Israel accepting an international inquiry.[110]

Turkey’s deputy prime minister said his country would work to reduce its military and economic cooperation with Israel. Existing contracts, he said, would be reviewed and revised or canceled.[111]

Erdogan made some particularly hostile remarks. Thus, he said: “They [the Israelis] have once again showed to the world that they know how good they are at killing people.”[112] In what can be read as a reference to the traditionally anti-Semitic child- murder libel, he claimed: “They even slaughtered 19-year-old Furkan. They did not even care for the babies in the cradle.”[113] He also said Hamas was not a terrorist organization, but “fighting for their own land.”[114] Erdogan also reacted as a typical Holocaust inverter, claiming that “the world now perceives the swastika and the Star of David together.”[115]

In light of the extraordinary outrage displayed by the Turkish government, Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, drew a comparison in the Washington Post between the situation in Gaza and the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. He pointed out that, whereas the Turkish occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus amounted to a “forced ethnic cleansing,” the only people Israel had forcefully evicted from Gaza were Jews in 2005. Likewise, he noted that since 1973, 160,000 Turkish citizens had settled on formerly Greek lands in Northern Cyprus whereas “not a single Israeli community remains in Gaza.”

Pipes concluded that Northern Cyprus “resembles an ‘open-air jail’ more than Gaza does. How rich that a hypocritical Ankara preens its moral plumage about Gaza even as it runs a zone significantly more offensive. Instead of meddling in Gaza, Turkish leaders should close the illegal and disruptive occupation that for decades has tragically divided Cyprus.”[116]

Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center in Israel, said that many Turks who support opposition parties see the Gaza flotilla as practically a conspiracy. “A radical Islamist group close to the government organized this whole affair which, while nominally independent, enjoyed the Turkish government’s patronage. This flotilla was a semi-official operation by the AK-ruled state apparatus.”[117]

Erdogan’s demonization of Israel as a naturally violent, murderous entity is all the more perverse in light of his own militant statements on Kurdish rebels just three weeks after the flotilla affair, in which he threatened that the rebels “would drown in their own blood.”[118] As the Turkish military admitted on 18 June 2010, Turkish soldiers killed no less than 120 Kurdish rebels in air raids and ground incursions in Kurdish Iraq during May and June 2010.[119]

The Israeli Investigation

Amid the international outrage, Israel conducted its own military investigation of the IDF operation. On 11 July, a detailed report was delivered to the chief of staff, Lieut.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and nonclassified sections were made public the following day. The report listed a number of “mistakes” that had been made in the planning stage of the operation, but said there was no evidence of operational failures.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, who headed the probe, said: “There were mistakes, also on the high military levels, but happily, they were not the result of negligence.” He censured the navy for not preparing a backup plan for the operation, saying the navy should have reconsidered rappelling commandos onto the Mavi Marmara’s upper deck after noticing that there were several dozen activists on board prepared to resist violently. According to Eiland, the navy did not have technology that would have enabled it to stop the ship ahead of the operation without putting soldiers on board its upper deck to take control of the bridge.[120]

In parallel, a civilian commission has been set up by Israel. It is headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, after whom it is also named, and includes two international observers, namely, Nobel Peace Price laureate David Trimble of Northern Ireland and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ken Watkin of Canada. The Turkel Committee is investigating the security circumstances behind the Gaza blockade and the international legality of the blockade as well as of the actions of May 31.[121]

Countries Taking Diplomatic Measures

Twelve Latin American countries condemned Israel’s actions: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.[122] Ecuador also recalled its ambassador, while Nicaragua cut all its diplomatic ties with Israel.[123]

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez stated in reaction to the flotilla events: “Israel is a damned, terrorist and murderous country. Long live the Palestinian people!”[124]

Holocaust inverter former Cuban president Fidel Castro said in a statement issued to the United Nations: “The hatred felt by the state of Israel against the Palestinians is such that they would not hesitate to send the 1½ million men, women and children of that country to the crematoria where millions of Jews of all ages were exterminated by the Nazis,” adding, “It would seem that the Fuehrer’s swastika is today Israel’s banner.”[125]

South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest of the flotilla raid, but returned him to Israel almost two months later on 20 July.[126]

IV. Conclusion

The Gaza flotilla was a well-thought-out provocation against Israel. One of the undeclared aims of the main organizers was to support the Hamas regime that rules Gaza. Hamas in its charter promotes genocide of Jews. In January 2006, Hamas gained a majority of the seats in Palestinian elections that former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and others said were democratic.[127] Hamas’s victory thus expressed the wish of the Palestinian people. In 2007, Hamas forcefully took sole power in Gaza while using great force against other Palestinians including the murder of many civilians. The way in which the flotilla organizers operated showed that they were allies of a Palestinian party with a genocidal charter.

The flotilla also aimed to further blemish Israel’s international image, in which it broadly succeeded. The flotilla was presented as an enterprise of humanitarian aid to a needy population. In reality, a totally different picture emerges behind the humanitarian mask of the flotilla propaganda:

  • The main organizers of the Gaza flotilla were the IHH, a body for which there are strong indications of having terrorist links. There were also others on board with terrorist links.
  • Several of the participants on the main ship, the Mavi Marmara, prepared for violence with weapons and attacked the Israeli soldiers. The weapons found were far from normal for a ship purporting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • The Mavi Marmara and two other ships transported people only and no aid. Seven of the nine Turkish dead had expressed their wish to die as martyrs before they departed on the journey.
  • The flotilla organizers refused to bring the aid to an Israeli port for transfer to Gaza after it had been checked.
  • Part of the aid such as camouflage netting was clearly meant for Hamas’s military purposes.
  • Some samples of the aid, such as medicines, were past their sell-by date. True humanitarians would have avoided such a situation.
  • The organizers refused to bring a letter from his parents to the captured soldier Gilad Schalit.
  • Part of the aid was sent from countries where the living standard is lower than in Gaza.
  • The provocative nature of the flotilla was also stressed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who considered the flotilla a win-win situation.

European Reactions

The bona fides of many of the reactions of international institutions and various countries are largely doubtful for a number of reasons:

  • Several elements of the provocative nature of the flotilla were well publicized in the media. (These include the refusal to bring the aid to an Israeli port, the refusal to act in favor of Schalit, and the enthusiasm with which terrorist leader Haniyeh welcomed the flotilla.)
  • Negative opinions about Israel were hurriedly expressed by senior officials of various countries. They did not care to wait until a reasonable amount of facts were known. If today one analyzes their statements one finds many fallacies in them.
  • In view of many other actions by some Western countries on various occasions, the claim about disproportionality expressed double standards.

Within this framework of double standards, certain specific questions emerge concerning the accusations about Israel’s possible disproportionate use of force in this case. If it existed at all, how small was this disproportionality compared to the actions of many European countries at present or in the past in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. These Muslim countries had not launched any military attacks or terrorist acts against the European countries providing Western forces. This issue gains even more weight in view of the killing by Western soldiers or their allies of many civilians in both countries.

Germany

The German attitude in the flotilla affair merits a special investigation. This country has by far the most genocidal past in Europe. The Holocaust stands out as the major crime in modern history. During past anti-Israeli demonstrations, shouts of “Death to the Jews!” have again been heard on the streets of Germany.[128] This drew much less attention than Israel’s action against the Gaza flotilla. The German historian Susanne Urban asserts that there is blindness in Germany about the current anti-Semitism, which has changed and been adapted to fit the twenty-first century. She adds that there are no large-scale activities by German non-Jewish activists against leftist anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.[129] The Bundestag’s unanimous vote on the statement must also be seen against this background.

As mentioned, last year German troops were involved in an incident in the town of Kunduz, Afghanistan, that led to the killing of 142 people, of which an estimated eighty were civilians.[130] There were, however, no calls for an international investigation anywhere.

One often hears that there are many German declarations of solidarity with Israel. It would, however, be wrong to offset the onetime anti-Israeli position by the Bundestag with these multiple positive declarations. Taking the moral high ground toward Israel while looking away from many far more severe incidents, in which both Western states and dictatorships are involved, is one of many signs of a mentality change taking place in Germany and should be carefully monitored.

Neither should one offset this attitude with the large number of activities in Germany honoring the Holocaust and its victims. These concern dead Jews, whereas the critical attitude toward Israel relates to living Jews. This is not a uniquely German phenomenon but rather a widespread one. In addition, there are counterforces in Germany trying to undo the honoring of its victims. In July, neo-Nazis hacked into the website for the Buchenwald concentration camp. They put Nazi slogans on its welcome page and redirected visitors to a revisionist site.[131] There have been a number of similar attempts to damage memorial sites.

Britain and Sweden

UK prime minister Cameron made highly biased statements against Israel. During his visit to Turkey he strongly criticized Israel’s actions against the flotilla, and described Gaza as a “prison camp.”[132] He was thus mainstreaming a word that is commonly used by radical anti-Israeli inciters.

Three years ago at the annual luncheon of Conservative Friends of Israel, Cameron said that attacks against Israeli often slid into anti-Semitism. He added, “If by Zionist you mean that the Jews have the right to a homeland in Israel and the right to a country then I am a Zionist.” He also said support for Israel is “in the DNA” of members of his party.[133]

The harsh condemnation of Israel by Swedish foreign minister Bildt was in line with his frequent support for anti-Israeli organizations.[134] There are parliamentary elections in Sweden in September. If the present right-wing coalition remains in power, the level of anti-Israeli actions will depend to a substantial extent on whether Bildt remains foreign minister. If the Social Democrats and their allies win, official incitement against Israel is likely to increase greatly.

Turkey

The extremely hostile Turkish reaction to Israel’s action against the flotilla cannot be seen solely as a reaction to the killing of the Turkish nationals. Most had joined the flotilla to become martyrs and the Turkish authorities were aware of this. Several years ago Turkey had already started promoting hateful policies against Israel, one of which was whitewashing Hamas with its genocidal charter. At the same time it tried to improve its international image by being a mediator in Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations.

The Turkish reaction to the flotilla incident has to be seen mainly as part of a long-term policy change by the AKP under Erdogan’s leadership. In this process Israel is, for the Turks, mainly a pawn and scapegoat.

This change of direction in Turkish politics was summed up by Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the AKP did not share the dream of a liberal, Western Turkey. In his view the party “used the EU accession process only as a tactical ploy to shed its Islamist image, gain Western legitimacy and curb the power of the secular military. Having thus made the AKP palatable for Brussels bureaucrats and liberal Turks alike, the AKP dropped the EU accession process as soon as it was expected to implement, and not just pass, tough reforms.”[135]

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), noted that “the deterioration of relations between Ankara and Jerusalem is a Turkish initiative, over which Israel has no influence.” He gave a number of examples where Turkey had turned away from the West, only one of which was its support for Hamas.[136]

One can only hope that the UN investigation of the flotilla incident will research in depth a number of key issues where Turkish-government involvement is suspected. Questions have to be asked such as, who financed the flotilla? Were any official Turkish bodies involved? Since there are many indications that the IHH has terrorist links, its interactions with the Turkish government should be investigated. How much did the Turkish authorities know about the violent plans of many of its nationals on the Mavi Marmara? Did the Turkish authorities try to prevent the flotilla or did they encourage its initiators? Did they try to convince them to accept the Israeli offer to transmit the aid via an Israeli port?

The Turkish government may in the coming months send out contradictory messages to the Western world on a variety of issues, thus trying to create confusion about where it is headed politically. Its attitude toward Israel should be followed as it is likely to be an indicator of the overall direction of its policies.

The Demonizing of Israel

Many reactions to the flotilla incident must be seen against the background of the increasing delegitimization and demonization of Israel in the world by a large number of perpetrators. Senior members of various European governments have participated in this delegitimization. Frequent demonization of the Jews in past centuries has led to major murders and genocide. These crimes were often committed by Europeans after they had demonized Jews. In today’s complex postmodern society, the biased European condemnations of Israel and their other contributions to the country’s delegitimization may help others who wish to murder Jews.

There are at present two identifiable avenues that may lead to the mass murder of Jews, primarily Israelis. The first current of the ongoing aggression against Israel by Arab and Muslim states, organizations, individuals, and their many allies is one of physical violence. This includes wars, initiating warlike incidents such as rocket attacks, and acts of terrorism. In combating this physical warfare and other violence, Israel to date has been very successful.

The second current of anti-Israeli aggression consists of non- or low-violent actions. In this Israel’s enemies are helped by various allies, Western and others. Some are Israeli and other Jews. The aggression comprises a great variety of activities such as legal actions, boycotts of Israelis and Israeli produce, attacks on shops that stock Israeli products, pressure for divestment of shares of Israeli companies and of suppliers to Israel, anti-Israeli demonstrations, sending ships with pseudo-humanitarians to Gaza to provoke Israel, using biased semantics, promoting sanctions, disrupting lectures by Israelis, providing false information to the media, media attacks on Israel, distorted academic teaching, preaching hate in churches, and so on. In the fight against such activities the Israeli government and authorities have often behaved as incompetent amateurs.

Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler has referred to the anti-Israeli endeavor as the method of the “thousand little cuts.”[137] All these little bruises together are aimed at bleeding Israel to death. Or, more likely, they could force Israel to accept concessions in the name of an agreement that semantically would be called a “peace treaty.” This would bring Israel back to what Abba Eban called the Auschwitz borders. If such an agreement is broken by the Palestinian side, Israel might find itself in a situation where it can no longer defend its citizens.

Breaking All Taboos

The blowing out of all proportion of an event as internationally insignificant as the action against the Gaza flotilla is indicative of Israel’s situation as a country toward which all taboos are increasingly breached. The reactions are also representative of the attitudes of those who cause larger incidents, who commit major war crimes, and who severely transgress human rights. The reactions to the flotilla incident provide a deep insight into the mental state of Europe. They tell us much more about the European Union, with the confused norms and values it represents, than about Israel.

In 2005 Jeffrey Gedmin, now president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, said:

The typical European approach to Israel is to wait until Israel reacts to an attack and then criticize it. The Israeli government states that it is important to clean out terrorists from Jenin. The Europeans react by calling it a “catastrophe” or a “massacre.” Then Israel decides that an alternative approach to stopping terror is killing the leaders of the Palestinian terrorist groups. Europeans then react by saying, “That is against international law.” Thus the Israeli government decides it is more peaceful and civil to build a fence to cordon off the terrorists. Then the Europeans say that is not a good idea.

One would expect the Europeans to say at least once, “This is what we would do. Our proposal is credible for a number of sound reasons. We will support it in the following ways. If you accept it and it fails, we will protect you by taking a number of major actions.” On that front, however, the Europeans are totally absent.[138]

The European attitude is also indicative of a new type of racism. None of the countries that condemned Israel on the Gaza flotilla systematically condemn Muslim nations for much more serious incidents as they do Israel. They do not ask for investigations of the multiple, major human rights violations by these countries. This represents in part fear of Muslims – including those who have immigrated to their countries – as well as realpolitik.

However, there is also a major underlying worldview in the West that can be called humanitarian racism. This is defined as explicitly or implicitly attributing reduced responsibility to certain people. These can be ethnic or national groups or even layers within society, such as the socioeconomically weak. Though this tacit mindset is of a different nature than the old, open, “ugly” European racism, it is racism nevertheless.[139]

Israel’s Reactions

Often Israeli military actions are well prepared as far as the physical aspects are concerned. However, the results of these actions are often diminished by the political and media aftermath. This time, however, there was a clear failure to understand who the people on the various ships were and how they would react to an Israeli attempt to take over their ships.

The Israeli military action encountered major problems partly due to faulty intelligence. Though Israel’s dealing with the media was far from perfect, it certainly was much better than in the past. Videos showing the violent nature of the so-called humanitarians were made available to the press for the evening news on the same day the flotilla was intercepted. Videos posted on YouTube that were provided by the IDF or other pro-Israeli organizations received millions of hits within a relatively short time. These viewings of the videos far outnumbered the live coverage of Al Jazeera that made its way into mainstream media in the early hours after the flotilla.

Far more, important, however is that the enemies of Israel can continue to develop additional provocations. If some do not work they may move on to others. The flotilla initiative was well thought through. It involved nationals from many countries and thus created a certain necessity for many governments to refer to the issue. For Israel it thus becomes crucial to prevent the development of further sophisticated and effective provocations. This cannot, however, be dealt with on an ad hoc basis; only a systemic approach will do. The continued large-scale ignoring of this fact adds to the major risks Israel is facing from external forces.

Can the Situation Deteriorate Further?

Some additional observations have to be made. To begin with, the current prevailing Western perception of both the Palestinians and Israel needs to be taken into account. As far as the former are concerned, an imaginary Gaza has been created that is part of a Virtual Palestine. In it live only innocent people who are victims. They are passive and do not undertake any harmful actions against anybody else. The suffering of the people of Gaza is blamed almost totally on Israel even though the blockade is the direct consequence of the state of war Hamas initiated against Israel.

The large support for Hamas in the Palestinian elections enabled it to take power in Gaza. The democratic character of the elections in Gaza is not contested. Yet the responsibility of the people who elected a genocidal party is denied even though its murderous charter was known to them. The blockade was not a result of what is written in the charter but of the raining-down of thousand of rockets on Israel and the abduction of Gilad Schalit.

As far as Israel is concerned, at present the European approach consists largely of strong rhetoric and one-sided condemnations with few concrete actions on the ground. These frequent condemnations, and the accompanying attitude, have a cumulative demonization element. In classic anti-Semitism, demonization always preceded actual deeds against the Jews. For instance, in the Netherlands today the three left-wing parties – all in opposition – which together comprise more than one-third of the seats, all favor a suspension of Israel’s association treaty with the European Union if Israel does not make concessions to the Palestinians.

Another aspect is: do all the positive remarks by European governments about Israel offset the criticism? The positive remarks are mere general declarative statements, though one should be happy they too are made. But all this does not offset the unfounded assertions about disproportionality and the operational consequences of demanding that the blockade be lifted. Media by nature stress the negative remarks and many may even have deleted the positive ones. The pressure on Israel that led to the lifting of the blockade was revealed as counterproductive when Hamas treated it as a victory and once again rockets were fired at Israeli civilians.

Sustainability is a fashionable new word in Middle Eastern politics, taken from the world of environmental studies. In recent months it has been repeated often, with many in the West claiming the situation in Gaza is not “sustainable.” Those who apply pressure to abolish the blockade, however, do not ask themselves whether this leads to a more sustainable “situation.” There are many so-called “unsustainable” situations in the world where those in charge are muddling through, because alternatives would be worse. A typical one is the immigrant problem in many West European countries. This has been allowed to develop by various governments, and the present situation concerning some of these immigrants in several countries is not sustainable either.

Appendix

Below are reactions to the flotilla incident by a number of additional countries:

Austria

Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said:

(1) “I am dismayed over the bloody escalation of events on the main ship of the ‘solidarity fleet’ for Gaza. Such bloodshed is shocking….”

(2) “I expect a quick and full investigation.”

(3) “Israel must end the counterproductive blockade policy toward the Gaza Strip, as this has been firmly and repeatedly demanded by the UN Security Council in New York and by the European Union.”[140]

Belgium

Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere was “outraged” to learn of the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation.

(1) “Nothing can justify the disproportionate use of force against a civilian humanitarian initiative aiming to improve the living conditions of Gaza’s people,” commented the minister. He has invited the Israeli ambassador to provide an explanation.

(2) The foreign minister “advocates a fast, clear reaction by the European Union and supports the decision of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton to call an emergency meeting of the Policy and Security Committee.”

(3) “Belgium is very worried about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and has made several appeals to the Israeli government for permission to provide the humanitarian aid and supplies needed by the civilian population. Steven Vanackere wanted to make a humanitarian visit to the people of Gaza during his recent trip to the region, out of concern over the situation. He deeply regrets the Israeli government’s refusal to provide him with the assistance required to gain access to Gaza.”[141]

Bulgaria

(1) Bulgaria summoned the Israeli envoy over the raid.[142] President Georgi Parvanov stated that the strong international reaction in Europe and of the United Nations was fully justified.[143] “Bulgarian EU Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, will make a visit to the Gaza Strip sooner than scheduled after the crisis caused by an Israeli raid on 6 vessels carrying aid for the Palestinian territory.”[144]

(2) Prime Minister Boyko Borisov declared that Bulgaria’s position coincided with that of NATO and the European Union, demanding a quick investigation of the attack.[145] Bulgaria’s Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy is joining the international community, represented by the United Nations and the European Union, in the request for an independent investigation of the incident in Gaza.

(3) The Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Policy also stated that humanitarian aid must reach the Palestinian population without any radical activities. “These people are very poor and poverty is a breading ground for extremism; they must receive any humanitarian aid,” committee chair Zhivko Todorov stressed.[146]

Czech Republic

Czech Senate president Premysl Sobotka stated that “the Turkish flotilla was a planned provocation designed to entrap Israel.” He went on to say that “many in the European Community feel as I do but they are afraid to speak out.”[147]

Denmark

Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said:

(1) “No matter what, I deeply regret the tragic loss of life. My thoughts go to the dead and wounded. Regardless of what happened and who is responsible, disproportionate use of force is not acceptable.”

(2) “It is of the utmost importance that this tragedy be thoroughly investigated. This point was made absolutely clear to the Israeli ambassador when he was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain the events.”

(3) “Today’s confrontation once again highlights the need for a full opening of the flow of humanitarian aid, persons, reconstruction materials and commercial goods in and out of Gaza. It is a Danish and European priority that conditions for the civilian population improve rapidly. Today’s tragic events underline that this is also in the interest of Israel.”[148]

Estonia

(1) “Estonia condemns the incident that took place with the ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.”

(2) “Like all European Union member states, Estonia demands the thorough investigation of the attack and the clarification of all aspects of the event.”

(3) “Estonia shares in the concern over the continuing humanitarian situation in Gaza. This incident only emphasizes the need to find a sustainable solution for removing the blockade. All the EU member states, including Estonia, call for the border points into Gaza to be opened to humanitarian aid, goods and people.”[149]

Finland

Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said:

(1) “I condemn the use of violence. This must not be repeated…. The Ambassador of Israel has been summoned to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.”

(2) “The event must be investigated thoroughly and reliably by an impartial body….”

(3) “As the EU has long demanded, the blockade against Gaza must be brought to an end.”[150]

France

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said:

(1) “I am profoundly shocked by the tragic consequences of the Israeli military operation against the ‘Peace Flotilla for Gaza.’ We do not understand the human toll, which is still provisional, of such an operation against a humanitarian initiative that was known about for several days. Nothing can justify the use of such violence; we condemn this violence. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims who were so cruelly attacked.”[151]

France summoned the Israeli ambassador over the raid.[152]

(2) “Full light must be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy and we hope that a detailed investigation will be initiated immediately. We are fully mobilized alongside the French nationals taking part in this operation.”[153]

(3) “These events remind us that the current situation in Gaza is intolerable and that it requires an urgent political response. We will take all the necessary measures to prevent this tragedy from leading to a new escalation of violence.”[154]

Kouchner additionally suggested that the European Union take responsibility for oversight of materials entering Gaza from the sea.[155]

Greece

Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said:

(1) “There can be no justification for the use of such extreme violence. We condemn it.”

The government summoned the Israeli ambassador and decided to discontinue the joint military exercise currently underway and to postpone the visit to Athens of the head of the Israeli Air Force General Staff, which was to take place the next day.

(2) “…from the very outset we have been in contact and coordination with our European partners. As you will know, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Catherine Ashton, has already asked the Israeli Foreign Minister to carry out an in-depth investigation into the conditions under which these incidents occurred.”

(3) “Greece has from the very outset called for an immediate end to hostilities and the maintaining by Israel of corridors for the transport of humanitarian aid…. NGO activities should be unhindered as long as they’re  are not illegal. And allow me to add that it is obvious that the legality or illegality of such an activity cannot be judged unilaterally by anyone.”[156]

Hungary

The Foreign Ministry stated:

(1) “We express concern over the use of military force and its consequences, and, at the same time, extend our condolences to the families of the victims.”

(2) “We support international efforts to demand a prompt and thorough investigation into the matter.”

(3) “We call on Israel to provide adequate channels for the safe delivery of aid to the Gaza strip.”[157]

Ireland

Foreign Minister Micheál Martin said:

(1) “Ireland condemns the actions by the Israeli military as completely unacceptable and disproportionate,

(2) calls for a full, independent and international enquiry into yesterday’s events, preferably under UN auspices,

(3) [and urges Israel to end the] illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.”[158]

Italy

(1) Foreign Minister Franco Frattini expressed his deep sense of sorrow for the victims in the belief that nothing can justify the loss of human life.

(2) Italy voted against the UN resolution, noting that Israel is a democratic country, able to conduct credible and independent investigations.[159]

(3) Italy called for aid to begin flowing again to Gaza. “The situation in the Gaza Strip is becoming untenable,” Frattini said. [160]

Latvia

The Foreign Ministry stated:

(1) “Latvia considers that the Israeli troops during a military operation in international waters have applied disproportionate force causing the loss of lives and injuries of a large number of activists on board a humanitarian aid flotilla.”

(2) “Latvia stands for a prompt, thorough and impartial inquiry into the circumstances of the Israeli military operation.”

(3) “Latvia, together with other Member States of the European Union believes that the situation in Gaza requires an urgent and sustainable solution, and urges to open the borders without delay for the deliveries of humanitarian aid and for the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza.”[161]

Lithuania

The Foreign Ministry stated:

(1) “Lithuania is following with deep concern the situation that has emerged after Israel’s military forces raided a flotilla of aid-carrying ships bound for Gaza Strip on 31 May.

(2) Lithuania calls for an investigation of the human casualties and expresses condolences to the families and relatives of those who perished. Lithuania will consult its partners in the European Union about the common reaction to these events.”[162]

Only one week after the flotilla incident, on 7 June in Vilnius, Lithuania announced that it aimed to intensify political, economic, and cultural cooperation with Israel.[163]

Luxemburg

(1) Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn regretted that human lives had to be sacrificed in the attempt to lift the blockade.

(2) His preferred option for investigating the event would have been a commission under UN auspices.[164]

Malta

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Dr. Tonio Borg said:

(1) “Malta condemns the disproportionate use of violence

(2) and demands a full inquiry into the attack.”

(3) “The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains a source of grave concern. We need to urgently achieve a durable solution to the situation in Gaza.”[165]

Netherlands

Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said:

(1) “I want clarification today from the Israeli ambassador in The Hague…. I was shocked to hear of the fatalities.”[166]

(2) “The Netherlands is in complete agreement with the UN Security Council’s call for a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of the events surrounding the convoy of ships carrying aid bound for Gaza. The initial responsibility to investigate lies with Israel. If desirable, it can also be done by the flag states of the convoy ships. Only after these investigations have taken place may a role for the UN or other international bodies be appropriate.”[167]

(3) “The Netherlands would like Israel to open the borders fully to humanitarian aid, trade and human traffic.”[168]

Poland

Poland’s Foreign Ministry stated:

(1) Poland is “deeply concerned over the incident”

(2) and “calls on Israel to carry out an independent inquiry without delay.”[169]

Portugal

(1) The Portuguese government expressed its “deep concern” over the Israeli storming of an aid flotilla heading for Gaza, condemning the “excessive use of force against civilian targets”

(2) and called for an “impartial” investigation into who was responsible for the Israeli military operation.

(3) Portugal also expressed “deep concern” over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, calling for the respect of humanitarian law.[170]

Romania

(1) Romania’s Foreign Ministry “expresses its concern over the negative impact it [the action against the flotilla] might have on the regional peace and stability, including the evolution of Israeli-Palestinian relations.”

(2) Romania “calls on all those involved to show restraint and responsibility so that the situation does not get out of control resulting in the further loss of human life”

(3) and “is equally concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip; in this respect, it calls for the identification of a lasting solution conducive to an improvement in the living conditions of the local population.”[171]

Slovenia

Slovenia’s Foreign Ministry stated:

(1) “Slovenia condemns the killing and wounding of civilians during the Israeli military operation and offers condolences to the families of the victims.”

(2) “Slovenia calls for an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation of facts, including the international law aspects of the operation.”

(3) “The continued policy of closure of Gaza is unacceptable. Crossings should be opened immediately and unconditionally for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons.”[172]

Spain

The government of Spain stated:

(1) “The Government of Spain condemns the military action carried out against the crew of the flotilla of activists and members of NGOs…. The Government considers that the action was completely disproportionate.”[173] Spain summoned the Israeli ambassador.[174]

(2) Spain “fully supports the EU’s request to Israel to conduct an investigation and to assume responsibility.”

(3) Spain “reiterates its request that the blockade of the territory of Gaza be lifted.”[175]

(C) Non-EU Countries

Switzerland

(1) The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs “expresses its very serious concern following an incident of the coast of the Gaza Strip resulting from an assault by Israeli forces on an international convoy of ships bringing humanitarian supplies to the people of Gaza.” The Israeli ambassador was summoned.

(2) Switzerland “asks that a humanitarian inquiry be conducted to cast light on the circumstances of this tragic event.”

(3) Switzerland “considers it is necessary to find a lasting solution to meeting the supply needs of the civilian population in Gaza and the reconstruction of the territory. It has proposed on several occasions that an international mechanism be put in place to allow regular access to the Gaza Strip while taking into account Israel’s security needs.”[176]

Norway

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre stated:

(1) “Norway is shocked that Israeli naval forces have shot and killed civilians while boarding a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza. I condemn this use of military force against civilians.”[177]

(2) Norway voted in favor of the UN resolution on an international investigation of Israel’s boarding. Støre added that “it is important that the mission establishes the facts and examines the international law aspects of the boarding.”[178]

(3) According to Støre, “Norway has repeatedly called for an end of the blockade of Gaza so that humanitarian aid and other necessary assistance can reach the Palestinian population.”[179]

“Norway’s military…has cancelled a special operations seminar because the Defence Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program. Military spokeswoman Maj. Heidi Langvik-Hansen says the Defence Ministry was unhappy that the Israeli officer, identified only as Col. Toledano, would be delivering a talk in Oslo only weeks after Israel’s deadly commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.”[180]

Russia

In a press release, the Foreign Ministry stated that it

(1) “voices condemnation and profound concern in this connection, especially in view of the deaths and injuries among the ‘humanitarian convoy’ participants.”

(2) “There is a need for clarification of all the facts of what happened.”

(3) “We consider the incident as confirmation of the need for an early end to the siege of Gaza by Israel and for the implementation of real steps to alleviate the humanitarian and social situation for the people of the Strip.”[181]

 

*     *     *

Notes

*With many thanks to Tamas Berzi for his assistance in the research for this essay. The comments of Leslie Wagner on this text were most helpful.

[1] “Flotilla Incident as Presented by Eiland Team of Experts,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, 13 July 2010,  http://idfspokesperson.com/2010/07/13/videos-of-flotilla-incident-as-presented-by-eiland-team-of-experts-hebrew-version-13-july-2010.

[2] “Q&A: Israeli Deadly Raid on Aid Flotilla,” BBC, 14 June 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10203726.stm.

[3] “Summary of Equipment and Aid aboard the Gaza Flotilla,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 7 June 2010,

www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2010/Equipment_aid_Gaza_flotilla_7-Jun-2010.htm.

[4] “The Freedom Flotilla Fraud,” Washington Times, 1 June 2010, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jun/1/the-freedom-flotilla-fraud/.

[5] www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXrzF0IOQYE.

[6] “Weapons Found on the Flotilla Ship Mavi Marmara Used by Activists against IDF Soldiers,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, 31 May 2010, http://idfspokesperson.com/2010/05/31/weapons-found-on-the-flotilla-ship-mavi-marmara-used-by-activists-against-idf-soldiers-31-may-2010/.

[7] Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, and Anshel Pfeffer, “Israel Navy Commandos: Gaza Flotilla Activists Tried to Lynch Us,” Haaretz, 31 May 2010, www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-navy-commandos-gaza-flotilla-activists-tried-to-lynch-us-1.293089.

[8] ” Video: Weaponry Overview and Footage of Mavi Marmara Passengers Preparing Weaponry, 3 June 2010,” IDF Spokesperson Blog , 3 June 2010, http://idfspokesperson.com/page/4/.

[9] “Gaza Flotilla Organizer Admits Activists Seized Weapons from Israeli Soldiers,” Haaretz, 3 June 2010, www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/gaza-flotilla-organizer-admits-activists-seized-weapons-from-israeli-soldiers-1.293929.

[10] Yaakov Katz, “IDF Probe: Army Didn’t Have ‘Plan B’,” Jerusalem Post, 12 July 2010, www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=181182.

[11] Evan F. Kohlmann, “The Role of Islamic Charities in International Terrorist Recruitment and Financing,” Danish Institute for International Studies, Working Paper No. 2006/7, http://www.jcpa.org/program%20files/qualcomm/eudora/attach/www.diis.dk/graphics/Publications/WP2006/DIIS%20WP%202006-7.web.pdf.

[12] Ibid.

[13] “Portrait of IHH,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 26 May 2010, www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e105.htm.

[14] Matthew Levitt, David Makovsky, and Jeffrey White, “Fallout from the Gaza Flotilla Tragedy,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, PolicyWatch #1662, 1 June 2010, www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=3208.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “Background Information: Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH),” Independent Media Review Analysis, 27 May 2010, www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=48166.

[17] “U.S. Investigating IHH,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism, 8 July 2010, www.investigativeproject.org/blog/2010/07/us-investigating-ihh.

[18] Benjamin Weinthal, “Italian Lawmakers: Put IHH on EU Terrorist List,” Jerusalem Post, 28 July 2010, www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=182846.

[19] “U.S. Investigating IHH,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism, 8 July 2010, www.investigativeproject.org/blog/2010/07/us-investigating-ihh.

[20] Thomas Joscelyn, “Flotilla Organizer Has ‘Clear, Long-Standing Ties to Terrorism and Jihad’,” Weekly Standard, 4 June 2010, www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/flotilla-organizer-has-clear-long-standing-ties-terrorism-and-jihad.

[21] “Profile: Free Gaza Movement,” BBC, 1 June 2010, www.bbc.co.uk/news/10202678.

[22] “Specific Flotilla Passengers Linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Other Terror Organizations,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, 6 June 2010, http://idfspokesperson.com/page/4/.

[23]  “Deutsche Linke in einem Boot mit türkischen Islamisten und Rechtsextremisten,” ARD Report Mainz, 7 June 2010, [German] www.swr.de/report/-/id=233454/nid=233454/did=6324366/1deci0w/index.html.

[24] “Israeli Navy Soldier Describes the Violent Mob aboard Mavi Marmara,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, 1 June 2010, http://idfspokesperson.com/2010/06/01/israeli-navy-soldier-describes-the-violent-mob-aboard-mavi-marmara-31-may-2010/.

[25] “Photos from Turkish Aid Ship Shows Blood and Chaos,” Reuters, 6 June 2010, www.alternet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE65507F. htm

[26] “IHH Leader Tells Gaza Flotilla Activists to ‘Throw IDF Soldiers Into the Sea’,” Haaretz, 18 June 2010, www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/video-ihh-leader-tells-gaza-flotilla-activists-to-throw-idf-soldiers-into-the-sea-1.296993.

[27] “Anyone Who Does Not Stand alongside Palestine – His Throne Will Be Toppled,” MEMRI, 4 June 2010, www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4300.htm.

[28] “Video: Flotilla Passenger: ‘I Want to Be a Shahid (Martyr)’,” IDF Spokesperson Blog, 3 June 2010, http://idfspokesperson.com/2010/06/03/video-flotilla-passenger-i-want-to-be-a-shahid-marytyr-3-june-2010/.

[29] Yaakov Katz, “7 Flotilla Victims Wanted to Be Martyrs, Report Says,”  Jerusalem Post, 14 July 2010 www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=181358.

[30] “Israel and the Blockade,” New York Times, 1 June 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/opinion/02wed1.html.

[31] Barry Rubin, “Gaza Flotilla’s Leader Explains: It was a Jihadist Attack not a Humanitarian Operation,” Global Politician, 4 June 2010, http://globalpolitician.com/26447-israel-gaza-flotilla.

[32] “Hamas Refuses to Allow Flotilla Aid into Gaza Strip,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 June 2010, www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Government/Communiques/2010/Hamas_refuses_flotilla_aid_Gaza_Strip_2-Jun-2010.htm.

[33] “Most of the Injured in the Confrontation on Board the Mavi Marmara Positively Identified as Activists of IHH and Turkish Organizations,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 6 July 2010, www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/ipc_e103.htm.

[34] “Turkey’s Erdogan Bears Responsibility in Flotilla Fiasco,” Washington Post, 5 June 2010, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/04/AR2010060404806.html?nav=hcmoduletmv.

[35] Aviel Magnezi, “Gaza Mission Activist: It’s Just like Facing Nazis,” Ynetnews, 26 May 2010, www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3894282,00.html.

[36] “Haniyeh: Gaza Flotilla a Triumph,” Jerusalem Post, 29 May 2010, www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=176812.

[37] Yaakov Lappin, “Gaza Flotilla: Go Back to Auschwitz,” Jerusalem Post, 5 June 2010, www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=177566.

[38] Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdick, “Flotilla Participants Chanted Islamic Battle Cry Invoking Killing of Jews,”  Palestinian Media Watch, 31 May 2010, http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=676&fld_id=676&doc_id=2337.

[39] “Is Turkey Turning?,” The Economist, 10 June 2010, www.economist.com/node/16333417?story_id=16333417.

[40] “Turkey’s Erdogan Bears Responsibility in Flotilla Fiasco,” Washington Post, 5 June 2010, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/04/AR2010060404806.html?nav=hcmoduletmv.

[41] “IHH Preparations for a Violent Confrontation with IDF Soldiers aboard the Turkish Ship Mavi Marmara,” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 7 June 2010, www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e110.htm.

[42] Soner Capagtay, “Hamas Visits Ankara: The AKP Shifts Turkey’s Role in the Middle East,” Washington Institute for Near East Policy,” PolicyWatch #1081, 16 February 2006, www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2445.

[43] Peter Cave, “Turkey Discusses Peace with Hamas,” ABC News, 20 July 2010, www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/20/2959504.htm.

[44] “Turkey Talks to Hamas about Healing Fatah Rift,” Reuters, 21 July 2010,  http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE66K4J720100721.

[45] Josh Rogin, “Turkish Ambassador Calls for Engaging Hamas,” Foreign Policy, 4 June 2010, http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/04/turkish_ambassador_calls_for_hamas_to_take_part_in_final_solution.

[46] Jessica Elgot, “Turkey and Hamas to Sue Israel Flotilla Officers,” Jewish Chronicle, 10 June 2010, www.thejc.com/news/world-news/32926/turkey-and-hamas-sue-israel-flotilla-officers.

[47] Josh Rogin, “Turkish Ambassador Calls for Engaging Hamas,” Foreign Policy, 4 June 2010, http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/04/turkish_ambassador_calls_for_hamas_to_take_part_in_final_solution.

[48] “Russia, Turkey Back Role for Hamas in Peace Process,” Middle East Online, 13 May 2010, www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=38964.

[49] Soner Cagaptay, “The AKP’s Hamas Policy I: How Turkey Turned,” Hurriyet, 29 June 2010, www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=the-akp8217s-hamas-policy-i-how-turkey-turned-2010-06-29.

[50] “Q&A: Sharon’s Gaza Plan,” BBC, 21 June 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4094590.stm.

[51] “Hamas Takes Control of Gaza,” The Guardian, 15 June 2007, www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/15/israel4.

[52] Glenn Kessler, “Takeover by Hamas Illustrates Failure of Bush’s Mideast Vision,” Washington Post, 15 June 2007, www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/14/AR2007061402098.html.

[53] “The Hamas Charter (1988),” Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 21 March 2006, www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_charter.pdf.

[54] “Hamas Exploitation of Civilians as Human Shields,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 January 2009, www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e028.pdf.

[55] Ahiya Raved, “Schalit Family’s Offer to Back Gaza Flotilla Declined,” Ynetnews, 27 May 2010, www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3895077,00.html.

[56] “Behind the Headlines: The Israeli Humanitarian Lifeline to Gaza,” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 May 2010, www.thejerusalemgiftshop.com/israelinews/israel/israeli-news/676-behind-the-headlines-the-israeli-humanitarian-lifeline-to-gaza.html.

[57] “Country Comparison – Infant Mortality Rate,” CIA World Factbook, July 2010, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html.

[58]  Ben-Dror Yemini, “The Humanitarian Show,” Jerusalem Post, 11 July 2010, www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=181118.

[59] Ruth Lapidoth, “The Legal Basis of Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Issue Briefs, Vol. 10, No. 4, 18 July 2010,  ww.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=442&PID=0&IID=4402&TTL=The_Legal_Basis_of_Israel%E2%80%99s_Naval_Bl.

[60] Jonathan Saul, “Q&A: Is Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza Legal?,” Reuters, 2 June 2010, www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65133D20100602.

[61] Dan Izenberg, “Mandelblit: ‘Gaza Blockade Is Legal’,”, Jerusalem Post, 27 August 2010, www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=186160.

[62] Alan Dershowitz, “Israel Obeyed International Law: Legally, the Gaza Flotilla Conflict Is An Open-and-Shut Case,” New York Daily News, 2 June 2010, www.nydailynews.com/opinions.2010/06/02/2010-06-02_israel_obeyed_international_law_legally_the_gaza_flotilla-conflict_is_an_openand.html.

[63] Ruth Lapidoth, “The Legal Basis of Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Issue Briefs, Vol. 10, No. 4, 18 July 2010, www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=1&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=442&PID=0&IID=4402&TTL=The_Legal_Basis_of_Israel%E2%80%99s_Naval_Bl.

[64] Christian Rath, “Israels Angriff könnte zulässig sein,” taz, 14 June 2010, [German], www.taz.de/1/politik/nahost/artikel/1/israels-angriff-koennte-zulaessig-sein.

[65] Jonathan Saul, “Q&A: Is Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza Legal?,” Reuters, 2 June 2010, www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65133D20100602.

[66] Alan Dershowitz, “Israel Obeyed International Law: Legally, the Gaza Flotilla Conflict Is An Open-and-Shut Case,” New York Daily News, 2 June 2010, www.nydailynews.com/opinions.2010/06/02/2010-06-02_israel_obeyed_international_law_legally_the_gaza_flotilla-conflict_is_an_openand.html.

[67] Jonathan Saul, “Q&A: Is Israel’s Naval Blockade of Gaza Legal?,” Reuters, 2 June 2010, www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65133D20100602.

[68] “Security Council Condemns Acts Resulting in Civilian Deaths during Israeli Operation against Gaza-Bound Aid Convoy, Calls for Investigation, in Presidential Statement,” UN Security Council 6325th & 6326th, 31 May 2010, www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/sc9940.doc.htm.

[69] Jordana Horn, “UN: Aid Convoys to Gaza Don’t Help,” Jerusalem Post, 22 July 2010, www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=182172.

[70] Yaakov Katz, “‘Flotilla Probes Are out of Line’,” Jerusalem Post, 25 July 2010, www.jpost.com/Israel.Article.aspx?id=182547.

[71] “EU Condemns Violence Used during Israeli Military Operation against Gaza Flotilla,” EU News, External Relations and Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, http://europa.eu/news/external-relations/2010/05/event_en.htm.

[72] www.votewatch.eu/cx_vote_details.php?id_act=784&lang=en.

[73] European Parliament resolution of 17 June 2010 on the Israeli military operation against the humanitarian flotilla and the Gaza blockade,

www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2010-0235&language=EN&ring=P7-RC-2010-0345.

[74] Organization of the Islamic Conference website, www.oicun.org/2/23.

[75] Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, www.oic-oci.org/is11/english/Charter-en.pdf.

[76] “OIC Secretary General: Israeli Aggression on the Relief Convoy Heading for Gaza Is a Crime and Blatant Violation of All International Laws Norms and Standards,” OIC, 31 May 2010, www.oic-oci.org/topic_detail.asp?t_id=3833.

[77] “Arab League Calls Israel’s Raid a ‘Terrorist Act’,” FOXNews, 31 May 2010, www.foxnews.com/world/2010/05/31/arab-league-calls-israels-raid-terrorist-act.

[78] “Arab League to File lawsuit over Aid Convoy Attack,” Malaysian National News Agency, 3 June 2010, www.mmail.com.my/content/38509-arab-league-file-lawsuit-over-aid-convoy-attack.

[79] George Mitchell, “Remarks on the Situation in Gaza Following the Flotilla Tragedy,” U.S. Department of State, 3 June 2010, www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rm/142612.htm.

[80] “Gaza: Forderung nach umfassender und transparenter Aufklärung,” German Foreign Ministry, 3 June 2010, [German], www.auswaertiges-amt.de/diplo/de/Aussenpolitik/RegionaleSchwerpunkte/NaherUndMittlererOsten/AktuelleArtikel/100531-BMFreeGaza.html.

[81]  ”Merkel: Mideast Quartet Should Help Flotilla Probe,” Ynetnews, 3 June 2010, www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3898806,00.html.

[82] “Ereignisse um die Gaza-Flottille aufklären – Lage der Menschen in Gaza verbessern – Nahost-Friedensprozess unterstützen,” Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/2328, 30 June 2010, [German],  www.fdp-fraktion.de/files/253/1702328_1_.pdf.

[83] “‘Israel muss Gaza-Blockade beenden,” FAZ, 2 July 2010,  [German], www.faz.net/s/RubB30ABD11B91F41C0BF2722C308D40318/Doc~E2520F4BC29904051995F6B7D08590EDC~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html.

[84] Henryk M. Broder, “Einigkeit und Recht und Gaza,” Der Spiegel, 4 July 2010, [German], www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,704501,00.html.

[85] Benjamin Weinthal, “Germany Smacks Israel with Critical Resolution on Flotilla Raid,” Weekly Standard, 6 July 2010, www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/germany-smacks-israel-critical-resolution-flotilla-raid.

[86] Press Release: Resolution des Zentralrats der Juden zur Gaza-Solidaritätsflotte, der geplanten interfraktionellen Auträge der Bundestagsfraktionen und der aktuellen Entwicklung im Nahen Osten, 30 June 2010, [German],.

[87] “Hypocrisy and Double Standard (Im)Morality Won the Day in the Bundestag,” Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1 July 2010, www.wiesenthal.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=lsKWLbPJLnF&b=4441467&ct=8493313.

[88] Dean Grunwald, “Kommentar: Resolution des Deutschen Bundestages gegen Israel,” European Info Press, 3 July 2010, [German],

www.eip-news.com/2010/07/resolution-des-deutschen-bundestages-gegen-israel.

[89] Gert Weisskirchen, “Anmassende Abgeordnete,” Jüedische Allgemeie, 8 July 2010, [German],.

[90] Benjamin Weinthal, “Germany Bashing Israel to Ease Guilt,” Jerusalem Post, 6 July 2010, www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=180586.

[91] John Goetz, Konstantin von Hammerstein, and Holger Stark, “Kunduz Affair Report Puts German Defense Minister under Pressure,” Der Spiegel, 19 January 2010, www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,672468,00.html.

[92] “Israel’s Ambassador Summoned to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs,” Government Offices of Sweden, 31 May 2010, www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/6671/a/147011.

[93] “Carl Bildt: Break the Isolation of Gaza,” Government Offices of Sweden, 13 January 2009, www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/11422/a/118449.

[94] “Speech at the International Conference to Support the Palestinian People, Sharm El Sheikh,” Government Offices of Sweden, 2 March 2009, www.sweden.gov.se/sb/d/11722/a/121580.

[95] Mats Tunehag, “Iran’s Swedish Protector,” Wall Street Journal, 21 July 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703724104575378431908678308.html.

[96] “Swede Bites Dog,” Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2010,  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704862404575350534066015218.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

[97] Gil Hoffman, “Swedish FM Likens Netanyahu to Hamas,” Jerusalem Post, 10 April 2007.

[98] “When Does Interest Become Obsession?,” 8 August 2010, http://ilyameyer.com/english/2010/08/09/when-does-interest-become-obsession.

[99] Mats Tunehag, “Iran’s Swedish Protector,” Wall Street Journal, 21 July 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703724104575378431908678308.html.

[100] “Foreign Secretary’s Statement to the House of Commons on Gaza Flotilla,” British Foreign Ministry, 2 June 2010, www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=PressS&id=22313385.

[101] Ibid.

[102] “EU soll sich im Gaza-Streit engagieren,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 7 June 2010, [German], www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/international/guetertransporte_gazastreifen_1.5962118.html.

[103] “David Cameron: Israeli Blockade Has Turned Gaza Strip into a ‘Prison Camp’,” The Guardian, 27 July 2010, www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/27/david-cameron-gaza-prison-camp.

[104] “Is Turkey Turning?,” The Economist, 10 June 2010, www.economist.com/node/16333417?story_id=16333417.

[105] “Press Release Regarding the Use of Force by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla to Gaza,” Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, www.mfa.gov.tr/no_-115_-31-may-2010_–press-release-regarding-the–use-of-force-by-the-israeli-defense-forces-against-the-humanitarian-aid-fleet-to-gaza.en.mfa.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Sebnem Arsu, “Turkey: Apology from Israel is Sought Before Envoy Post is Filled, Official Says,”  New York Times, 29 June 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/06/30/ world/Europe/30briefs-TURKEY.html

[108] “Q&A: Israeli Deadly Raid on Aid Flotilla,” BBC, 14 June 2010, www.bbc.co.uk/news/10203726.

[109] “Security Council Condemns Acts Resulting in Civilian Deaths during Israeli Operation against Gaza-Bound Aid Convoy, Calls for Investigation, in Presidential Statement,” UN Security Council 6325th & 6326th, 31 May 2010, www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/sc9940.doc.htm.

[110] “Turkey Calls for International Inquiry to Israel Flotilla Raid at CICA,” National Turk, 8 June 2010, www.nationalturk.com/en/turkey-calls-for-international-inquiry-to-israel-flotilla-raid-at-cica-summit-436234264.

[111] Hilary Leila Krieger, “‘Turkey Has Embraced Iran, Hamas’,” Jerusalem Post, 4 June 2010, www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=177512.

[112] “Turkish PM: Raid ‘a Massacre’,” Jerusalem Post, 1 June 2010, www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=177138.

[113] Hilary Leila Krieger, “‘Turkey Has Embraced Iran, Hamas’,” Jerusalem Post, 4 June 2010, www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=177512.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Marc Champion, “Rift Arises in Turkey over Reaction to Raid,” Wall Street Journal, 8 June 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704749904575292780934163298.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines.

[116] Daniel Pipes, “Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza,” Washington Times, 19 July 2010, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/19/turkey-in-cyprus-vs-israel-in-gaza/?page=2.

[117] Barry Rubin, “Turkish Regime Changes Sides, West Averts Eyes,” GLORIA Center, 6 June 2010, www.gloria-center.org/gloria/2010/06/turkish-regime-changes-sides.

[118] “Erdogan droht PKK-Rebellen mit Härte,” Welt, 20 June 2010, [German], www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article8119472/Erdogan-droht-PKK-Rebellen-mit-Haerte.html.

[119] “Turkey’s PM Erdogan Vows to ‘Annihilate’ PKK Rebels,” BBC, 20 June 2010, www.bbc.co.uk/news/10359237.

[120] Yaakov Katz, “IDF Probe: Army Didn’t Have ‘Plan B’,” Jerusalem Post, 12 July 2010, www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=181182.

[121] Dan Izenberg, “Terkel C’tee Begins Flotilla Probe,” Jerusalem Post, 28 June 2010, www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=179757.

[122] “Israel Rejects International Investigation of Flotilla Raid: New Photos of Attack ,” Examiner, 8 June 2010, www.examiner.com/x-28320-World-News-Examiner~y2010m6d8-Israel-rejects-international-investigation-of-flotilla-raid-New-photos-of-attack-Video–Photos.

[123] “Ecuador Recalls Envoy; Chavez: Israel a Murderer,” Ynetnews, 3 June 2010,  www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3898523,00.html.

[124] Ibid.

[125] Luisa Yanez, “Fidel Castro’s Statements on Israel Called Anti-Semitic,” Miami Herald, 15 June 2010, www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/15/1682203/fidel-castros-statements-on-israel.html#ixzz0r0cl3FwB.

[126] “‘South Africa to Reinstate Israel Envoy, after Recalled over Gaza Flotilla’,” Haaretz, 20 July 2010, www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/south-africa-to-reinstate-israel-envoy-after-recalled-over-gaza-flotilla-1.303031.

[127] “The January 20, 1996 Palestinian Elections,” Final Report, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, The Carter Center, 1997.

[128] “Antisemitismus in Berlin und Duisburg,” Kontraste, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, video, 15 January 2009 [accessed: 2 March 2009], [German].

[129] Susanne Y. Urban, “The Jewish Community in Germany: Living with Recognition, Anti-Semitism and Symbolic Roles,” Jewish Political Studies Review, No. 21, Vols. 3-4 (Fall 2009): 45.

[130] “Rot-Kreuz-Bericht erhöht Druck auf Guttenberg,” Stern, 10 December 2009, [German],  www.stern.de/politik/deutschland/luftangriff-von-kundus-rot-kreuz-bericht-erhoeht-druck-auf-guttenberg-1528320.html.

[131] www.the local.de/society/20100729-28815.html.

[132] Nicholas Watt and Harriet Sherwood, “David Cameron: Israeli Blockade Has Turned Gaza Strip into a ‘Prison Camp’,” The Guardian, 27 July 2010, www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/27/david-cameron-gaza-prison-camp.

[133] Assaf Uni and Amiram Barkat, “Tory Leader Calls Himself ‘Zionist’; U.K. Jews Campaign against Boycott,” Haaretz, 13 June 2007, www.haaretz.com/news/tory-leader-calls-himself-zionist-u-k-jews-campaign-against-boycott-1.223009.

[134] “Swede bites dog,” Wall Street Journal, 7 July 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704862404575350534066015218.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

[135] Soner Cağaptay, “Turkey Lost Turkey,” Wall Street Journal, 12 July 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704911704575326712932649550.html?mod=googlenews_wsj.

[136] Efraim Inbar, “Turkey Says Good Bye to Israel and the West,” BESA Center Perspectives Papers, No. 108, 6 June 2010, www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/perspectives108.html.

[137] Irwin Cotler, personal communication.

[138] Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Jeffrey Gedmin, “Experiencing European Anti-Americanism and Anti-Israelism,” Israel and Europe: An Expanding Abyss? (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2005), 153-54.

[139] For a description of humanitarian racism, see Manfred Gerstenfeld, Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2008), 22-23.

[140] “Foreign Minister Spindelegger on the Gaza Ship Convoy,” Austrian Foreign Ministry, 31 May 2010, www.bmeia.gv.at/en/foreign-ministry/news/presseaussendungen/2010/aussenminister-spindelegger-zu-gaza-schiffskonvoi.html.

[141] “Steven Vanackere on the Tragedy off the Gaza Coast,” Belgium Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, http://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/newsroom/news/press_releases/foreign_affairs/2010/mei/ni_310510_vanackere_tragedy_gaza_coast.jsp?referer=tcm:312-101307-64.

[142] “Bloody Navy Raid Puts Israel in the Eye of Storm,” Global Times, 1 June 2010, http://world.globaltimes.cn/mid-east/2010-06/537168.html.

[143] “Bulgarian Journalists Nabbed in Gaza Meet Diplomats in Israel,” Novinite, 1 June 2010, www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=116739.

[144] “Crisis Makes Bulgarian EU Commissioner Hurry for Gaza Strip,” Novinite, 31 May 2010, www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=116721.

[145] “Palestinians in Bulgaria Rally against Israeli Blockade in Gaza,” Novinite, 1 June 2010, www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=116751.

[146] “Bulgaria Joins UN Request for Investigation of Gaza Incident,” Novinite, 4 June 2010, www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=116837.

[147] “ECI Salutes Czech Senate President for Standing Up for Israel,” Right Side News, 4 June 2010, www.rightsidenews.com/2010060410439/editorial/eci-salutes-czech-senate-president-for-standing-up-for-israel.html.

[148] “Statement from Danish Foreign Minister Concerning Israel,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, 31 May 2010, www.amblondon.um.dk/en/menu/TheEmbassy/News/StatementFromEspersenRegardingIsrael.htm?printmode=True.

[149] “Statement of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet Regarding Incident with Aid Ships Headed to Gaza,” Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, www.vm.ee/?q=en/node/9536.

[150] “Foreign Minister Stubb’s Statement on the Situation in Gaza,” Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 1 June 2010, http://formin.finland.fi/Public/Print.aspx?contentid=193763&nodeid=15145&culture=en-US&contentlan=2.

[151] “Operation against the ‘Peace Flotilla’ for Gaza – Statement by Bernard Kouchner,” French Foreign Ministry, 31 May 2010, www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files_156/israel-palestinian-territories_290/israel_2157/events_4069/operation-against-the-peace-flotilla-for-gaza-31.05.10_13983.html.

[152] “Bloody Navy Raid Puts Israel in the Eye of Storm,” Global Times, 1 June 2010, http://world.globaltimes.cn/mid-east/2010-06/537168.html.

[153] “Operation against the ‘Peace Flotilla’ for Gaza – Statement by Bernard Kouchner,” French Foreign Ministry, 31 May 2010, www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/country-files_156/israel-palestinian-territories_290/israel_2157/events_4069/operation-against-the-peace-flotilla-for-gaza-31.05.10_13983.html.

[154] Ibid.

[155] “European FMs: We’ll Monitor Ships,” Jerusalem Post, 7 June 2010, www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=177705.

[156] “Alternate FM Droutsas’s Briefing of the Parliament on the Israeli Military Operation,” Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, www.mfa.gr/www.mfa.gr/Articles/en-US/01062010_ALK1054.htm.

[157] “Foreign Ministry Statement Regarding the Israeli Military Action against the ‘Freedom Fleet’,” Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 June 2010,

www.mfa.gov.hu/kum/en/bal/actualities/spokesman_statements/20100601_kozlemeny_szabadsag_hajoraj.htm.

[158] “Minister for Foreign Affairs Briefs Government on Flotilla Crisis,” Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, 1 June 2010, www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=83556.

[159] “Informativa urgente del Governo sull’azione condotta da militari israeliani nei confronti di una nave recante aiuti umanitari diretta a Gaza che ha causato la morte di dieci civili,” Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 June 2010,  [Italian] , www.esteri.it/MAE/EN/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Approfondimenti/2010/06/20100603_InformativaGoverno.

[160] “Italy, U.K. Call for End of Gaza Aid Blockade,” Calgary Herald, 8 June 2010, www.calgaryherald.com/news/Italy+call+Gaza+blockade/3125587/story.html#ixzz0qGDpz4xY.

[161] “Foreign Ministry: Israeli Troops Have Used Disproportionate Force against Flotilla Carrying Aid to Gaza People,” Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Latvia, www.mfa.gov.lv/en/news/press-releases/2010/june/06-02.

[162] “Statement of Lithuania’s MFA Regarding Israel’s Military Operation against Gaza-Bound Flotilla,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, 31 May 2010, www.urm.lt/index.php?2139669080.

[163] “Lithuania Aims to Intensify Political, Economic and Cultural Cooperation with Israel,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, 7 June 2010, www.urm.lt/index.php?-982800306.

[164] “Statement of Lithuania’s MFA Regarding Israel’s Military Operation against Gaza-Bound Flotilla,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, 31 May 2010, www.urm.lt/index.php?-1087160300.

[165] “Statement by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Tonio Borg,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malta, 31 May 2010, www.foreign.gov.mt/default.aspx?MDIS=21&NWID=1054.

[166] “The Netherlands Requests Clarification from Israel on Violent Interception of Ships to Gaza,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, 31 May 2010, www.minbuza.nl/en/News/Newsflashes/2010/05/The_Netherlands_requests_clarification_from_Israel_on_violent_interception_of_ships_to_Gaza.

[167] “Netherlands Supports Security Council Call for Gaza Convoy Inquiry,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, 2 June 2010, www.minbuza.nl/en/News/Newsflashes/2010/05/Netherlands_supports_Security_Council_call_for_Gaza_convoy_inquiry.

[168] Ibid.

[169] “Statement by Foreign Ministry of Poland on Israeli Aid Convoy Raid,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland, 31 May 2010, www.mfa.gov.pl/Statement,by,Foreign,Ministry,of,Poland,on,Israeli,aid,convoy,raid,36190.html.

[170] “Portugal Condemns ‘Excessive Use of Force’ by Israel,” Earth Times, 31 May 2010, www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/326457,portugal-condemns-excessive-use-of-force-by-israel.html.

[171] “Israeli Military Operation against Flotilla Heading for the Gaza Strip,” Romania Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, www.mae.ro/index.php?unde=doc&id=15674&idlnk=2&cat=4.

[172] “Slovenia Condemns Israeli Military Operation against the Gaza Flotilla,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, 31 May 2010, www.mzz.gov.si/nc/en/tools/cns/news/article/3247/27031.

[173] “40-2010 Communique,” Foreign Ministry of Spain, 31 May 2010,  [Spanish], www.maec.es/en/MenuPpal/Actualidad/ComunicadosDGComExterior/Paginas/40comunicado20100531EN.aspx.

[174] “Bloody Navy Raid Puts Israel in the Eye of Storm,” Global Times, 1 June 2010, world.globaltimes.cn/mid-east/2010-06/537168.html.

[175] “40-2010 Communique,” Foreign Ministry of Spain, 31 May 2010,  [Spanish],  www.maec.es/en/MenuPpal/Actualidad/ComunicadosDGComExterior/Paginas/40comunicado20100531EN.aspx.

[176] “Switzerland Asks for an International Inquiry Following the Israeli Armed Assault,” Switzerland Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, www.swiss-cooperation.admin.ch/gazaandwestbank/en/Home/News/News_Detail?itemID=192459.

[177] “Norway Calls for an International Investigation of Israel’s Boarding of the Convoy Carrying Humanitarian Supplies to Gaza,” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 31 May 2010, www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/press/News/2010/israel_investigation.html?id=606513.

[178] “Norway Voted in Favour of UN Resolution on an International Investigation of Israel’s Boarding,” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 June 2010,

www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/press/News/2010/unhr_factfinding.html?id=606812.

[179] “Norway Supports the Security Council’s Demand for a Transparent, Impartial Investigation of the Israeli Operation against the Gaza Convoy,” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 June 2010, www.regjeringen.no/en/dep/ud/press/News/2010/investigation_israel.html?id=606557.

[180] “Norway Cancels Military Seminar Slated to Include Israeli Officer Following Gaza Flotilla Raid,” The Record, 4 June 2010, http://news.therecord.com/article/722515.

[181] “Incident with ‘Humanitarian Convoy’ for Gaza,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 31 May 2010, www.mid.ru/Brp_4.nsf/arh/D383242A209FAA29C325773500293C15?OpenDocument.

About Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, where he founded and directed the Center's Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism program. Dr. Gerstenfeld is an international business and environmental strategist. Dr. Gerstenfeld is the author of many books including Revaluing Italy; Environment and Confusion; Israel's New Future Interviews; The State as Business: Do It Yourself Political Forecasting; Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment; and The Environment in the Jewish Tradition-A Sustainable World. His latest book, Europe's Crumbling Myths exposes the origins of post-Holocaust anti-Semitism.