“We would never tolerate this from our enemies”

The letters in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. Hear the rising anger about the pass Australia and the West in general have given Israel for decades. Public opinion is shifting. Feel it:

I am sick of the PR spin. I am sick of the tired justifications, I am sick of the diplomatic niceties and double standards. I am sick of the excuses. I am sick of this having no end in sight. I am sick of the inhumanity.

Israeli commandos boarded vessels in international waters and killed several people. Period. The Israeli government has, for decades, oppressed, terrorised and reduced to near starvation close to a million people. Collective punishment is a war crime. There are no excuses.

We would never tolerate this from our enemies. Why on earth is it tolerated from our friends?

Adrian Bain St Leonards

When did the act of repelling invaders from your vessel in international waters become an act of aggression? Mr Netanyahu tells us that his soldiers were ”attacked with sticks and iron bars” and that ”the invaders started it”. The soldiers rappelling in the dark from helicopters were coming to help, were they?

When will the Australian government have the courage to tell Israel to stop the blockade and the occupation?

Edward Poole Annandale

Far be it from me to leap to Israel’s defence. Having signed the Independent Australian Jewish Voices letter in support of the Palestinians, I nonetheless feel condemnation of the Israel Defence Forces is becoming too automatic.

There may be many reasons to condemn the Israeli military, but its actions on board the flotilla are not among them. Ask yourselves what you would expect any other nation to do if ships were sent, in violation of its military blockade, and if its soldiers were attacked when they rappelled on board.

The blockade may be unjust (it is), and Israel may have a long record of terrible PR-disasters (it does), but the blame for this event rests with the individuals who behaved as peace-loving idealists, but who came armed with knives, clubs and cans of Mace.

You do not need more than 600 activists to get supplies into Gaza, you only need the supplies. And unless your intention is simply to create a scene, you send them via the appropriate channels.

Simon Holloway Newtown

At what point is Israel not the victim?

Ted Keating Tallai (Qld)

For a letter so scathing about melodrama and hysteria, Gabriel Sassoon’s (June 2) has a good deal of both. The Turkish ships were in international waters, not Israeli waters, and no one disputes that. They were not ”storming”, but carrying cargo such as building materials, prohibited by Israel and badly needed for humanitarian reasons to repair the damage that Israel itself unlawfully perpetrated.

Scott Poynting Manchester (UK)

There were no ”armed terrorists entering Israeli controlled waters”, as Gabriel Sassoon says. The attack took place in international waters. The only small arms used were – as reported by the Israelis – taken from the Israeli forces. The ”calculated melodrama, the confected hysteria, the feigned shock and anger” he decries may be caused by the fact that unarmed civilians died and were injured in the attack.

The Israeli line that those on board started the violence holds no water. No violence would have happened had the Israelis not boarded the boats. He and the other apologists do their cause no good by refusing to believe Israel can do no wrong.

Pip Denton Guildford

There you have the whole, complex problem in a nutshell. The world is divided into ”the anti-Israel propaganda machine” and ”the rest of us”.

William Cattell Sydney

The Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, says the Gaza flotilla was a media stunt. Of course it was. The organisers wanted to show what thugs the Israelis are. They wanted to show the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and how little the Israelis allow in for the state to survive. They wanted to show how Israel deals with other views and how little it cares.

We now know.

Paul Stephen Yamba

Susan Jewell (Letters, June 2) and her fellow defenders of outrageous political stunts gone wrong should watch the video evidence, which shows ”unarmed” civilians beating Israeli commandos with iron bars and throwing them from an upper deck – hardly the actions of a group of unarmed peace activists. If Israel’s intent had been anything other than to resolve this with the minimum of force, that would not have happened.

Yammering about these vessels being in international waters is an attempt to fool a public ignorant of what a navy is allowed to do. A navy may board another vessel in international waters for a whole host of reasons. Even if Israel was in the wrong to board them, you are never legally right to attempt to repel naval personnel with violence (just as you are always in the wrong to resist arrest by a police officer).

This incident was a publicity stunt, not an aid convoy. There were other methods to get the aid delivered; this one was taken only because of the publicity generated by the inevitable Israeli attempts to stop it, or because the real intent was to deliver munitions to Hamas.

Anyone with even a passing interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict has seen numerous incidents like this manufactured to get airtime in the Western media. Sometimes I think Hamas could paint a red cross on a tank and the media would call it an ambulance and criticise Israel for blowing it up.

James Ramsay Bexhill

”We came for peace,”’ said the commando, one of the first Israeli soldiers to board the Mavi Marmara. ”They [the activists] came for war” (”There was madness in their eyes – they were trying to kill us”, June 2).

So let me get this straight. Israeli commandos land on the deck of a boat, in international waters, at night, with weapons, and this is in peace. The people on board, armed with nothing more than would ordinarily be found on such vessels (and humanitarian supplies), come in war. This really is a parallel universe, isn’t it?

Gina Hay Bayview

”The organisers’ intent was violent, their method was violent and, unfortunately, the results were violent.” – Danny Ayalon, Israel’s deputy foreign minister.

”The flotilla organisers’ intent was violent, the methods employed were violent and, regrettably, the result was violent.” – Yuval Rotem, Israeli ambassador to Australia.

At least one side has its story straight.

Cliff Jahnsen Bowral

The blockade of Gaza by Israel – and by Egypt – has the blessingof the United States. These nations would have us believe the blockade is not intended to hurt the Gazans, but to bring down Hamas.

One cannot help feeling that while the raid on the flotilla by Israel’s navy commandos may have deprived the Gazans of basic daily needs, it has served to strengthen the support for Hamas, not only within Gaza but throughout the region.

Sam Nona Burradoo

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