On August 9, Israel's self-appointed Turkel Commission, its planned whitewash, began hearings into the Freedom Flotilla massacre, a humanitarian mission delivering essential aid to besieged Gazans, Israeli officials blaming the victims, not themselves.
After the incident, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said organizers incited the attack. His deputy, Danny Ayalon, connected them to international terrorists, trying to smuggle in arms, bogusly claiming weapons were found on board the mother ship, the Mavi Marmara.
Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev accused the activists of "initiat(ing) the violence," insisting IDF commandos "were attacked with knives, clubs, and even live fire." Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers were forced by violence to open fire.
He and other Israeli officials lied, clear evidence showing commandos attacked peaceful activists even before boarding, shooting others multiple times at point blank range, some in the head. Their well-planned mission was to interdict, attack, assassinate designated targets, seize the ship's cargo, take prisoners, brutalize them, then send them to an Israeli prison for interrogations.
Straightaway, damage control cover-up began, including appointment of the Turkel Commission, Israel's thinly veiled whitewash, hearings now underway - on day one, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the first witness, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishing his full testimony. Let the charade begin.
Deceiving no one, he absolved his government and IDF commandos, saying they:
"conducted themselves in accordance with international law....display(ing) a rare courage in fulfilling their mission and in defending themselves against a real threat to their lives. I have full confidence in our soldiers, and the State of Israel is proud of them. (My) appearance before this committee is the best evidence of the high standards by which Israel's democracy functions."
Democracy or hypocrisy? In Israel, as in America, for the privileged, not others; for Jews, not Arabs; why observers call Israel a failed state, a rogue one - reckless, lawless, and out-of-control, the Flotilla massacre one of many examples, murdering civilians in international waters, the Prime Minister condoning it, his above statement self-explanatory - words of a criminal, not a leader, asserting bald-faced lies, making false accusations, saying:
"Israel has always been different (from other Middle East states) - very different. Israel is a liberal, democratic country governed by the rule of law, with independent courts, a bona fide parliament, and a free press."
False - Israel spurns democracy, the rule of law, and free expression, treating Jews one way, Palestinians another, including 1.5 million Arab citizens, denied their rights, treated like a fifth column in an alien land - persecuted, threatened, and intimidated to leave, perhaps expelled one day if they won't.
Yet Netanyahu cited "unprecedented threats of war and terrorism," his government "defend(ing) the security of its people and protect(ing) its democratic values, (meeting) this challenge for 62 years."
No nations threaten Israel, the region's only nuclear power, its history blood-drenched in violence against neighbors and Occupied Palestinians, living for 43 years under conditions Westerners can't imagine, surviving and persisting nonetheless, determined one day to be free on their own land in their own country, reclaiming just 22% of what Israel stole, or living cooperatively in one state treating Muslims, Jews, Christians and all others equally, renouncing violence to live peacefully, what Israel won't do and never has, its politics driven by violence, its motive - a dominant Jewish-only Greater Israel, dividing and subjugating other regional states, rendering them weak and subservient, what's never acknowledged but true. What the Turkel Commission knows but won't hear or discuss.
Netanyahu then bogusly called Hamas a terrorist organization, "work(ing) toward the destruction of Israel," assisted by Iran, "also (wanting) to wipe Israel off the map....equipp(ing) Hamas with thousands of rockets, missiles, and other weapons, (transforming Gaza) into a terrorist enclave." False, but Turkel Commission members won't dispute it.
Asked by its members to justify military action, Netanyahu called it "a last resort, and the instructions were to conduct it with as little friction as possible." False again. Planned weeks in advance, commandos had names and photos of activists to assassinate. Even IDF video was faked, filmed in advance on a look-alike ship, staged to comply with Israel's version of events, the real ones entirely different, showing intent to commit premeditated murder.
Yet Netanyahu claimed Flotilla activists were terrorists, "interested with clashing with the IDF," saying commandos had a right to defend themselves from violent attacks, the way Israel always blames victims for its crimes, in this case courageous activists delivering humanitarian aid, risking their lives and welfare doing it, knowing the risks, yet committed as are other planned flotillas coming, determined to break Israel's illegal siege.
Haaretz Writer Gideon Levy Comments
On August 8, ahead of Netanyahu's testimony, he headlined, "Missing the forest," saying:
"Does anyone actually know the meaning of the term 'Jewish state'? Wouldn't it be better to live in a just democracy," instead of Israel's fake one?
Levy calls Israel's "forest of political, governmental and institutional racism....dark and deep, (containing many) poisonous trees: Citizenship laws, loyalty laws, conversion laws, the razing of Bedouin villages in the Negev," Israeli citizens losing their homes to make way for Jews, "and even the story of the Arab delivery man who was convicted of rape for pretending to be a Jew."
Few see the "big picture....several times worse than the sum of its components," more than ever today under Netanyahu, Israel's most extremist ever leader, backed by a rogue government - militant, racist, fundamentalist, and dangerous, threatening everyone in the region.
"Defining Israel as a Jewish state condemns us to living in a racist (one). This is the new definition of Zionism," moving relentlessly from one injustice to another, a character "embedded in the state's most fundamental values. There is no other state" where religion is so blatantly one-sided.
"Jewish blood, whether authentic or dubious, is kosher. Other blood....is unacceptable." Does this not reflect "a new kind of 'racial purity....a religious ethnocracy or an apartheid state? Wouldn't it be better to live in a just democracy? And how is it even possible" to call a Jewish state democratic, especially one defiling the rule of law, committing crimes of war and against humanity throughout its history, murdering humanitarian activists in international waters, claiming it's self-defense, suppressing truths too disturbing to reveal under a leader even Jews should fear, Levy earlier saying Israelis should be worried.
Discussing the Flotilla attack, he cited a "chorus singing songs of falsehood and lies," accusing activists of committing "a violent attack on Israeli sovereignty," outrageous propaganda claiming the aid convoy violated international law, not the siege but legitimate aid trying to break it, so stopping it by cold-blooded murder is righteously justified.
"We (are now) portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing," Israel's friend, Mario Vargas Llosa saying the "occupation was approaching its grotesque phase."
More astute analysts know that passed long ago, reaching new heights under Netanyahu, Levy calling him "Tricky Bibi," a pathetic outrageous extremist, preaching peace while waging war, practicing deceit, a man "betraying himself in his own words as a con artist," worst of all a dangerous, treacherous one, endangering Jews like Arabs, Exhibit A the Flotilla massacre exposing Israel's true face, revealing what everyone in the region fears, most of all peace and democracy advocates, notions Netanyahu and his colleagues won't tolerate.
A Final Comment
On June 2, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) approved formation of an international committee (like the Goldstone Commission) to probe the Flotilla attack, comprised of lawyers and international law and human rights experts. They'll visit Israel, Turkey, Greece, and the Flotilla coalition, then present its findings in September, during the Council's three week Geneva session. If they investigate as admirably as Judge Goldstone, expect a true account of Israeli lawlessness, exposing the real face of a rogue state.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.