Saturday, 5 June 2010

Justice Needs Universal Attention, Not Selective Condemnation

What the Palestinians have had to endure over the decades is inconceivable; for example, the draconian procedures at check-points, the reprehensible forced evictions and bulldozing of family homes, and the forced settlements. Conversely, one should not be blind to the distasteful truth that Hamas are not rendering favourable circumstances for the Palestinian people either – they have breached international humanitarian law, such as using civilian human shields; attacking civilians; using weapons that are indiscriminate; and failing to distinguish between combatant and civilian targets. These all constitute breaches of international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict), namely The 1949 Geneva Conventions. They have contributed to the brutal treatment of innocent Palestinian civilians; Hamas are simply fanning the flames of oppression and bloodshed. Nevertheless, this post does not intend to evaluate the degree of Israeli or Hamas’ culpability for alleged human rights violations, nor whether Israel has a right to exist in its current location; the focus of this article is purely on the recent furore surrounding the Israeli response to the flotilla aid convoy, and the selective condemnation of states endorsed by the media and international community.

Concerning the legality of the boarding of the sixth boat in international waters, Rule 67(a) of the San Remo Manual provides that in times of conflict a state may impose an embargo. It cannot carry out embargo activities in the territorial waters of a third party; however, it may carry out such activities in international waters. By virtue of this provision of international humanitarian law, it is permissible to attack neutral vessels on the high seas if they are “believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband items, or breaching blockades, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture”.

It has been argued that the sixth boat was in breach of the blockade by attempting to sail to Gaza, where some of the goods on board were banned goods, such as cement, which is banned under the blockade because it is used by Hamas in the production of mortars. In accordance with Rule 67(a), Israel was acting legitimately, given the boat in question blatantly defied requests and instructions to divert their route to the port of Ashdod, whereas the other five boats of the aid convoy chose to comply with Israel’s diversion. Why did these other boats comply, but not the sixth boat? Why did the boat in question refuse to comply and some of its passengers were armed with knives, axes and poles, ready for when the soldiers boarded the boat? Why was the PR and mouthpiece of the Islamic Republic of Iran - Press TV - on that particular boat? Their presence is more than just news, it's a ready snapshot for propaganda. Why were there 'ready martyrs' on that boat? The families of the sixth boat have stated that their members who were injured/killed went with the intention of being “martyrs” - there have been footage released of them chanting implicit threats, referencing ‘Khaybar’ and claiming to be martyrs. No humanitarian aid activist ever goes to provide aid prepared for martyrdom – ‘martyrdom’ and ‘aid’ are principally incompatible.

In addition, there is the issue of violence – the people on the sixth boat used violent force against the boarding soldiers. They were not under attack at the time, the soldiers were boarding to divert the boat to Ashdod; however, the passengers cast the first stone against the Israeli soldiers by greeting them with poles, crow-bars and eventually blades. After a few long minutes of violence, the soldiers had to react in a similar vein. ‘Martyrdom’ realised.

These facts serve as indications that the situation with the flotilla is not as black and white as the media and some people make it appear to be; Israel did not flagrantly disregard international law in this instance. International press and general public opinion concerning Israel’s handling of the situation has been harsh and judgemental; yet where was their harsh judgements when Ahmadinejad executed his coup in the June 12, 2009 Iranian Presidential elections? Where was the international outcry when the oppressor and subjugator of women, the Iranian Government, was called to sit on the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women? Where is the furious uproar of the same general public of the international community against the ten executions per week of students, women and minority groups in Iran simply because they disagree with a totalitarian mafia regime?

The incident with the sixth boat is not about Palestinian suffering, nor is it about the popularity of Turkey in the Muslim world after it failed to join the EU. It is about extremists hijacking the humbling nobility of humanitarian aid by transporting their hidden agenda on the Turkish boats in order to coax Israel into a state of negative publicity and conflict with a possible new recruit – Turkey; thus, establishing an international dispute. As a result, Turkey is now contemplating severing economic and political ties with Israel, giving rise to the extremists’ much anticipated collapse of diplomacy in hope of a call to arms. Yet, all are easily distracted from the fallacy of the Iranian Government's destructive agenda; now they have set their foot through the door of the international arena, playing the much unsuited role in the UN's Commission on the Status of Women. Justice needs universal attention, and not selective propaganda.


  1. Dear Mehrtash,
    There are more than 3000 afghans on IRI death rows,
    if they carry out this it means more than 10 executions on a daily base non stop, this is the latest
    You can visit the underlying press release @

  2. Anonymous06 June, 2010

    a thoughtful contribution to a complex conundrum enveloped in centuries of dogma ... thank you


  3. Dear Mehrtash,
    If IRI is uprooted and replaced with a system based on democratic values , separation of powers, and secular, then it will be and will generate peace for the whole region

  4. Thank you, Klawe.

    Homayoun, I personally believe that if an international remedy to the problem of human rights in Iran can be found, then it will be a good framework when tackling other countries' human rights problems.

  5. Michael A.06 June, 2010

    your articles are like oxygen.

  6. Regarding the suffering of Palestinians, let me note that all around the world, other people suffer far worse than Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank, and these others receive NO aid, and are paid attention by NOBODY.

    The so-called Palestinian suffering is a drama staged to teach the world that its problem is the Jews. The double standard applied here is stunning. What European state would tolerate a territory on its doorstep that lobbed 10,000 rockets into it in five years, without obliterating said territory? Answer, none. But that is exactly what has happened to Israel AFTER it vacated Gaza.

    When Israel departed Gaza in 2005, it left hundreds of millions USD worth of the best vegetable greenhouses in the world. Government led mobs immediately destroyed them. SO MUCH FOR THE ISSUE BEING THE SUFFERING OF THE ARABS. Any normally functioning people, left such largess, at no cost, capable of feeding all Gazans and then some, would have treasured it; they trashed it. The Islamic clerical fascists and their quiet sponsors in the west WANT Gazans to suffer, or at least appear to suffer -- that's their designated role, so that well intentioned people will say "both sides do harm and both sides suffer."

    As for the flotilla: Israel does not have an embargo in place, it has a blockade. Under the governing law, the San Remo Manual, the blockading party MUST capture, or if capture is refused, attack any boat it has reason to believe means to breach the blockade. If it does not, the blockade is void.

    Knowing this, the forces wishing to break the blockade set up this provocation, permitting Israel either to a) make its blockade void or b) seize the Mavi Marmara, which, the plan was, would be presented to the world as a massacre by those terrible Jews.

    Contrary to popular belief, the guiding hand here was not the huffing and puffing Khamenei-lover Erdogan. It was the EU. The EU put out a full policy statement on the Mavi Marmara incident before 7:14 GMT (UK time) on May 31st, just after the conclusion of the incident. That's when EU foreign minister Ashton's statement was quoted by Reuters. The statement condemns Israel, demands a complete opening of Gaza to free movement by people and material -- effectively a death warrant for Israel. It is absurd to think that the EU could have discussed all the issues - including the all important issue of blame - and come to such monumental conclusions, including that Israel was guilty, shortly after a night time incident in the sea far away -- and issued a statement, too. So obviously, the EU prepared the statement in advance, knowing what would transpire.

    This is being done partly in response to the Iranian rebellion. The Western Powers staged the flotilla incident, using Erdogan to do the dirty work, because they want to return to the good old days when Islamism was perceived as a victim, not a butcher, and they want to hobble or destroy Israel because they can see, from what happened in Iran, that the modern ideas existing in Israel are a dangerous beacon. The timing of the incident - the end of May start of June -- was picked in order to demoralise Iranians and divert from their struggle on the anniversary of the start of the rebellion.

  7. Anonymous16 June, 2010

    I always enjoy reading your articles and learn fram it. Well done.