Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Margaret Atwood's moral wager

Perhaps because I noted among the many panels at WisCon that I couldn't (but wished I could) attend "We Have Mixed Feelings about Margaret Atwood," I thought of Margaret Atwood when I read last night and again this afternoon about the Israeli commando assault on the European flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza and killing at least ten.

In his cogent, thoughtful post Exploring Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (posted before the attack on the flotilla) for Tikkun, Peter Marmorek characterized the anticipated confrontation between the flotilla and the Israeli Government as "a lose-lose situation" for Israel.

And as zunguzungu quoted Margaret Atwood's tersely comment today:
Margaret Atwood: “Bet on Gov’t of Israel to act sanely, humanely, & in own best interests re: Gaza Aid Flotilla. Lost bet.”
The prize, by the way, was a cool $1 mil., which she shared with Amitav Ghosh. She accepted it less than a month ago. In accepting it, she was betting, as notes in her comment, that Israel would act "sanely and humanely."

The government of Israel has, as usual, been lying about what happened. (They're just like the US (and many, many police departments) in that respect, aren't they.) Here's some of what the Guardian says about the commando assault:

Survivors of the Israeli assault on a flotilla carrying relief supplies to Gaza returned to Greece and Turkey today, giving the first eyewitness accounts of the raid in which at least 10 people died.

"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood," said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara's chief engineer.

She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack," she said.

"There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters."

Cetin is among a handful of Turkish activists to be released; more than 300 remain in Israeli custody. She said she agreed to extradition from Israel after she was warned that conditions in jail would be too harsh for her child.

"I am one of the first passengers to be sent home, just because I have baby. When we arrived at the Israeli port of Ashdod we were met by the Israeli interior and foreign ministry officials and police; there were no soldiers. They asked me only a few questions. But they took everything – cameras, laptops, cellphones, personal belongings including our clothes," she said.

Kutlu Tiryaki was a captain of another vessel in the flotilla. "We continuously told them we did not have weapons, we came here to bring humanitarian help and not to fight," he said.

"The attack on the Mavi Marmara came in an instant: they attacked it with 12 or 13 attack boats and also with commandos from helicopters. We heard the gunshots over our portable radio handsets, which we used to communicate with the Mavi Marmara, because our ship communication system was disrupted. There were three or four helicopters also used in the attack. We were told by Mavi Marmara their crew and civilians were being shot at and windows and doors were being broken by Israelis."

Six Greek activists who returned to Athens accused Israeli commandos of using electric shocks during the raid.
There's more, so go check out the article here. Of course Israel's Interior Ministry confiscated cameras and cell phones as soon as they could get their hands of them-- elimination of photos documenting what really happened is these days more important than silencing witnesses, since images tend to make a great impact on the world than voices speaking mere words.

One thing you won't hear human rights workers ask is "Why do hate us?" They-- and we-- all know why that is.


Anonymous said...

So, Israel pisses off the one ally they have in the region.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Just so. That's the only aspect of this fiasco that truly astonishes me.

Unknown said...

Actually, all I did was quote her; those were Atwood's own twitter-words. It's nice that she admitted having been wrong, I guess, but I expect we'll wait in vain for her to do anything about it. Unless she gives the money to a charity for Gazan orphans or something, it's a totally empty gesture.

As Daniel, a commenter on that post, quite nicely put it,

"For those with white privilege in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, an analysis of complicity without solidarity is mere posturing or self-flagellation; but solidarity without an analysis of complicity can be a false and privilege-blind claim to victimhood.”

Timmi Duchamp said...

Thanks, Aaron, for the clarification. I've updated my post to make it clear you were quoting Atwood.

PS You're doing great work on your blog.