Mission impossible

‘We have to support it, what else can we do?’ I was talking to a teacher last night at a huge gathering to commemorate the first anniversary of the incident involving the Mavi Marmara, the aid ship that was violently stopped on the way from Turkey to the Gaza strip, which led to the death of nine people. Thousands of people gathered, and supported the plan to send another ship to Gaza this June. The answer to the teacher’s question was not so difficult for me: you don’t have to support it. You can support Palestinians without supporting the Mavi Marmara mission.

IHH, the organizing body, held a press conference yesterday at which they said they will be peaceful. I believe that, at least in the sense that I don’t think they will carry arms or the like. For the rest, it depends on your definition of ‘peaceful’. Willingly sending out a ship that has no chance whatsoever of reaching its destination when you know it can lead to serious violence with a number of deaths, is not a peaceful mission. It’s a provocation.


That’s also why it surprised me that Mr. Davutoglu, Turkey’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said he hoped that if the Mavi Marmara sets course for Gaza again, ‘Israel will not make the same mistake’. Of course, we all hope that, but I’m sure Mr. Davutoglu is smarter than that and he knows the initial mistake is sending the Mavi Marmara out. He can’t say that because it wouldn’t be smart with less than two weeks to go to the elections – many Mavi Marmara supporters arealso AKP supporters.

Let’s do some logical thinking. IHH says their aim is to send aid to Gaza. They are not going to get to Gaza, that’s already clear. Also, they say they want to break the ‘siege’ – but Gaza is not closed off anymore, since the Rafah gate between Egypt and Gaza is now open. IHH turned that around by stating that it’s thanks to them that Rafah is open: Israel is afraid of the next Mavi Marmara and that’s why they allowed Rafah to open. Which doesn’t make sense to me: I think Israel is aware of the fact that plain logic is not going to stop the Mavi Marmara from sailing.

Another thing: if aid is the aim, why take as much as 1500 people, as is the plan? Couldn’t that space be better used for sugar, flour, construction materials etc? Why put the lives of 1500 people in danger? Yesterday at the demonstration I heard that Israel won’t react violently again now that the eyes of the world are on them. Aren’t the eyes of the world on Israel already? They were last year, and Israel got away with killing people on the Mavi Marmara. Why would they hesitate this time? No major regime change has occurred in Israel, has it?

Rising tension

And imagine the worst, which would be that the whole mission impossible leads to deaths again. Who’s going to benefit from that? Not the people of Gaza. They might even suffer from rising tension. Also if Israel doesn’t react like they did last year, the Palestinians have nothing to gain from the Mavi Marmara mission. The goods will not arrive. If you genuinely want to help the people in Gaza, try to send goods through the opening that has recently become available. I’m not sure if that’s possible, I’m not informed enough to say anything about that, but an opening at least has more chance than the non-opening that Gaza harbour is.

So, who does benefit? Anti-Israel propagandists. And in the short term the religious parties in Turkey: the AKP and the smaller Saadet Partisi (it looked huge yesterday at the demonstration though, I guess practically all Saadet Partisi supporters showed up). However it turns out, the people of Gaza will be left empty-handed. They deserve more sensible and more sincere support.

10 replies
  1. Alexander Christie-Miller
    Alexander Christie-Miller says:

    I was at the IHH press conference on the Mavi Marmara yesterday, and all the speakers were pretty plain about the fact that what they are doing is primarily political rather than humanitarian.

    But I’d question whether sending a boat full of pro-Palestinian activists to run the blockade is a ‘provocation’, as you say. Could it not also be viewed as a form of non-violent protest?

    If the Israeli blockade of Gaza is unjust, as many people believe, then challenging it in this way is a perfectly legitimate form of protest- provided that protest is non-violent.

    As for your point about putting people’s lives at risk, I remember interviewing many people who were on the boat last time. Every single one of them said that they had been prepared to die. One British activist I spoke to had even updated his will before going.

    I agree with your pessimism about how it’s going to go down though. It’s hard to see what positive results this trip can achieve, asides from boosting the domestic prestige of IHH yet further. It will no doubt also help the Turkish government, which is heroically refusing to interfere in the activities of a civil society organization – a temptation it normally finds hard to resist.

  2. brisketfactory
    brisketfactory says:

    First off, this article does not mention once that the “siege” of Gaza by the Zionist state is illegal under international law. The international community recognises “Israel”s blockade as unlawful, and thus it is not Turkish charity vessels which are provocative, but the Zionist state. The fact that this article fails to mention the illegality of the blockade immediately colours it as the most vulgar Zionist propaganda.

    Secondly, it is perfectly peaceful to set about delivering supplies to people in need. If you drove down to a charity drive to deliver supplies and were attacked by a carjacker and hit him when he illegally burst into your car with a gun, would we decry your lack of “peaceful intentions”? The very idea is absurd, just as is “Israel”s behaviour and blaming the victim of its awful behaviour for being “provocative”. It’s provocative to illegally blockade territory which you have no legal claim over. Numerous nearly unanimous U.N. resolutions attest to the illegality of “Israel”s behaviour.

    The phrase “You can support Palestinians without supporting the Mavi Marmara mission.” again attests to the ludicrous levels of Zionist extremism acceptable in mainstream discourse. If peaceful delivery of supplies to an illegally blockaded territory is “too much”, then HOW shall we support Palestinians? By eating falafel?

    “They are not going to get to Gaza, that’s already clear.” I love how we accept “Israeli” illegal behaviour as a given. Imagine if we had such a blasé attitude about the illegal behaviour of, say, China? Say China illegally occupied Mongolia at present, would we brush off those who wished to send aid to Mongolia and say “Well they can’t get through the Chinese, they should just accept that”? Even if we did, would we then say “There are other ways to support the Mongolians other than peacefully delivering aid”?

    “but Gaza is not closed off anymore, since the Rafah gate between Egypt and Gaza is now open.” This is an exaggeration. As happy as I am that Rafah is now “open”, it’s not open to everyone. Not even all Palestinians are free to cross. (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/05/28/114939/egypt-gaza-border-opening-leaves.html) There are a lot of detailed rules for Palestinians who wish to enter and leave, and I can’t imagine they’d be less strict for foreigners.

    “I think Israel is aware of the fact that plain logic is not going to stop the Mavi Marmara from sailing.” This sentence assumes that the “Israeli” government’s behaviour is ruled by “logic” and that the İ.H.H. does not respond to logic. I can’t vouch for the I.H.H.’s decision making, but the “Israeli” government has never been particularly logical. They showed up in Palestine before WWII, seeking to start a “Jewish state” in a land where 90-something percent of the population was non-Jewish and the majority of local Jews opposed such a plan. How logical is that? Then after the U.N. recognised the state’s existence, they started the 1967 war and illegally occupied Palestinian territory, as recognised by that same U.N. Since then, it has continued to steal more and more Palestinian land, expecting the United States to protect them even though the majority of the populace on the land they control is now non-Jewish again, all while claiming to be a “Jewish and democratic state” and “the only democracy in the Middle East” (what are the borders of this Middle East and how do you define democracy?). If “Israel” is so logical, why do they continue insisting upon recognition of its “right to exist” as a precondition for negotiations with the Palestinians? “Israel” is clearly a country ruled by fanatical and single-minded devotion to continuing settler colonialism, NOT logic.

    “Why put the lives of 1500 people in danger?” Because everyone’s fully aware that the less people you have, the more the Zionist army can just kill everyone and call them terrorists. More people means more witnesses, more foreigners means more of an international incident. Years of Zionist massacres of unarmed Palestinians have taught the İHH at least some of the “logic” you claim to seek. Unfortunately, that logic isn’t beneficial for Zionism, but why should we be going on the assumption that the logical choice is what “Israel” wants?

    “If you genuinely want to help the people in Gaza, try to send goods through the opening that has recently become available.” If you genuinely want to help the people in Gaza, don’t draw attention to the illegal blockade! Just ignore it! Play nice with the most out-of-control counry in the region! Everything will be fine if we are just nice to a country that constantly starts wars and constantly massacres civilians under the guise of “self-defense”! (http://ifamericansonlyknew.com/)

    “So, who does benefit? Anti-Israel propagandists. And in the short term the religious parties in Turkey: the AKP and the smaller Saadet Partisi” Anti-“Israel” propagandists don’t need the help. 🙂 Being against “Israel”s behaviour is something the entire United Nations seems to agree on, being against “Israel”s existence becomes more and more a matter of that famous “logic” you’re so fond of, the longer it exists, the more that non-Jews outnumber Jews, the more ridiculous “Israel”s behaviour gets, and the more humanity accepts that nation-states are a foolish idea, in “Israel”, in Turkey, or anywhere else. However, the A.K.P. is NOT anti-“Israel”. It’s very pro-“Israel”, and that’s why this is the most upsetting bit in your entire disappointing piece. It is true that the A.K.P. uses the Palestinian cause to bolster support, but what’s upsetting isn’t that there are Turkish people who hate “Israel”, what’s upsetting is that the A.K.P. refuses to take any sort of action which will actually weaken its economic and military ties with the Zionist state. They will only throw their words behind the İ.H.H.s actions: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1066956/1/.html, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=business-as-usual-between-turkey-israel-2011-05-30

  3. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    Alexander, I am definitely sensitive to the argument of ‘peaceful protest’, you could definitely look at it that way too. That they say it’s higly political makes my conviction even stronger that nothing good can come of this…

  4. Ali Akfidan
    Ali Akfidan says:

    This is a typical article of 1980s, basically saying (if not dictating ina very diplomatic-journalistic way) what Turkey should do. I am struck that many journalist who cover Turkey still do not understand the social dynamics, perception and understanding of Turkey. I do not agree with mavi marmara, I doubt whether it should be sent it again. However, when the west (read as western people or western states) send their ‘peace’ missions or civil protestt to anywhere in Africa or Asia, it seems perfectly fine to all. Why do they see negatively when Turks or others do and initiate it? This is a repurcussion of a typical mental hypocracy and superiority complex which assume that whatever we do is right, whatever the rest do in their own way is not right. Under international law, UN reports and all other human right organizations, Gaza siege is considered as illegal. So what is the problem? simply nothing from ethical point of view, even from political point of view. The biggest question is when the west will face its own fake israeli (jews) perception, threats and gultiness that they have toward them?
    Just a reminder: eurocentrism is over! New has not born yet, but it is on its way…

  5. mattia
    mattia says:

    I wanted just to punctualize that non violence HAS to be a provocation, otherwise there’s no protest at all. Let’s just think to the Gandhian movement, wasn’t it a provocation to stand against the British government? Or to Rosa Parks, wasn’t it a provocation to sit in the place not assigned to the coloured people.An d both they knew they were going to encunter a strong and violent answer from the authorities. But this, I suppose, it’s the very aim of non-violence.

    Other than that, I am suspicious too about the IHH aims and this particular form of non-violence and its consequences…most of all I hate the fact that in this way Erdoğan is viewed as the Middle East saviour, or smthing like that…while in reality the commercial links between Turkey and Israel continue to be very strong…

  6. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    Mattia you’re right, Alexander pointed that out too. Still, there is a difference: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, they are inspiring examples, but protesting for their own cause. Not that there is anything wrong with solidarity with other people’s cause, but then at least it has to potentially lead somewhere and preferably not possibly harm the people you say you stand up for, which might be the case here.
    Thanks all for the reactions, keep em coming!

  7. Turk
    Turk says:

    I don’t know if you are going to publish this but I wanted to explain you the other side of the story ,my view , a Jewish man that was born in Turkey and gone to live in Israel . I am teared apart from what i hear and read , cause I live both cultures :Turkish and Jewish .

    I don’t understand how you do not see the facts.
    There is Israel , a Jewish state within over 1 million Arab and Muslim citizens, democratic and legal , the only democratic country in the region, comparing to the other Arabic states .

    68 years of existence . A lot of achievements in medical , science , irrigation , agriculture , art ….

    On the other hand there is a refugee country made because of denial to the Jewish state, denial of UN resolution for 2 countries to 2 people . A war that has been started at 1948 , continued at 1967 , Arabs hoped to conquer the whole terrain and not a part of it , Arabs hoped to destroy Israel . They could not stand to an idea that there will be a tiny , puny Jewish state in Jewish homeland .
    There was never a Palestinian state in this land . The first time that they could have a state they chose war .

    Gazza primary goal is to destroy Israel .
    They kill innocent children , women , people over 60 years, sending more than 12000 rockets , every single day . They don’t see if the people is Jewish or Arab, they just bomb everywhere, even in the bus .

    Hamas is ruling at Gazza by extreme Islamic rules, no human rights , no woman rights . So far Palestinians are divided to 2 parties : PLO and Hamas , killing each other .

    Israel has the right to defend itself. Israel not only defends Jewish citizens , they defend also more than 1 million Arab citizens . They defend the holy places for all religions . Not trying to rule the world with their rules like Islam wants to. When in Gazza they destroy church , synagogues , in Israel , the Muslim citizens are building mosques .

    Gazza people are suffering ? Correct , but why ? Because of Israel ? No, because they deny a peace with the Jewish state . They want to fight . They don’t want to have 2 countries for 2 people as UN resolution but only one Arab , Islamic country .
    They want to show themselves as poor victims .

    In the eye of the world every time Israel attacks it is a massacre but when Gazza attacks Israel , so this is okay , Israeli children are much cheaper than Gazza children ?

    Israel has stopped more than 3 ships full of rockets and weapon coming from Iran , to destroy Israel . So if the blockade will not continue , Gazza will be full of weapon. At the end , it will be a war of massacre for both sides, a lot of people will die . Today’s humanitarian flotilla will be tomorrow’s war tool.

    Turkey is using the suffer of both sides for its politics and there is no humanitarian action here. Blockade is preventing a possible war . There is nothing missing in Gazza strip , they don’t die because they don’t have food . Palestians are not suffering because of Israel . If you want to help Palestinians , support them to trough away their fanatic leaders. Israel is ready for peace . 6 million Israeli Jews and 1 million Israeli Arabs wants peace .
    Stop this hypocrisy !

  8. Ali Akfidan
    Ali Akfidan says:

    Dear Fréderike Geerdink,

    Frankly I am very disapponted that you accept publishing a ‘propoganda’ commentary, which is very very superficial reading of developments in the region and history. Many people, including myself, will think that you as a distinguished journalist are completely agree what is written by leting this propaganda go on in your website.
    Neither myself, nor any other person with a ‘normal’ mindset will deal with this propoganda, nor will anyone reply it. The situation of some of our Jews citizens, such as so-called Turk, is very much like a Turkish proverb: bir kisiye kirk defa deli derseniz, o kisi deli olduguna inanmaya baslar! I am sure this propoganda has been repeated much more than fourty times, so it is very normal that people believe that they are ‘peacekeeper’ and ‘peace-wanting’. Don’t forget: Yalancinin mumu yatsiya kadar yanar!

  9. Turk
    Turk says:

    Dear Frederike Geernik,

    You can see how it works. When the words stops , so the insanity starts .
    This guy called Ali , threatening your judgement of what to publish or not , hinting that if you publish so called propaganda will make you a “not distinguished journalist ” , then calls the other side not normal or “deli ” . Telling that what i write is a propaganda while his writings is the mother of all hate , racism and yes propaganda .
    I doubt the sincerity of a human , dipped in hate , believe in conspiracy and refuses any kind of peace call. So blind on his believe that even a slight chance for communication is cutted with a sharp sword : insults . I feel sorry of being a part of such a hate between two people that i like most . People are really suffering, dying, others are using this to insult . Shame .


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