The Flotilla Incident

Reminder: Saturday June 5 at 4 pm is our Washington DC meet-up at Union Station. Email me for details if you wish to attend.

This is the storyboard that you would definitely have heard. A ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza is illegally stopped by Israeli armed forces on the high seas (not Israel’s territorial waters) and then the Israeli forces open fire on aid workers killing nine of them.

What perhaps you will not hear, at least not so readily, is that the humanitarian flotilla was the brainchild of an organization called IHH which has been linked to dispatching Jihadi fighters to different battle hotspots and also have been known to be involved with the Al Qaeda Millennium Bomb Plot at Los Angeles airport. In other words, this was not your Red Cross mission of mercy. The ship was full of “peace workers” singing songs whose lyrics essentially called for death to Jews [Video from Al Jazeera] and for quite a few, their stated aim (as told to the camera in the previous video) was to attain martyrdom (which shows that they were there just to precipitate conflict). When the Israeli soldiers landed they went at them with whatever they could, threw one soldier off the railing (all captured on video)—-again not so much to inflict a victory by superiority of forces but to force a reaction. And they got one. The exact one that they wanted.

This incident is interesting to me for several reasons. First of course there is the whole issue of legality. The blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel is definitely illegal as per international law. In that respect, the Israeli soldiers had no legal rights to enter the ship. Plain and simple. However this is where things get murky. The Gaza strip is controlled by Hamas,whose explicit stated aim is the decimation of the state of Israel and the annihilation of Jews. They are not coy about this.

The Gaza strip has, in the past, been used several times to launch missile attacks against Israel and the Israelis have retaliated with equal brutality. Given that a state of war exists between the two countries, and given the nature of the passengers and the organization that was sending the flotilla, would it have been pragmatic for Israel, considering that their neighbor wants to wipe them out from the face of the earth,  to allow the ship to pass without ascertaining whether it had weapons or perhaps even a bunch of “fighters” , the kind of which IHH, in particular, is famous for dispatching? It is an interesting legal conundrum for a nation under siege, one without any definite answers.

The second reason I find this interesting,as someone interested in the Middle East conflict, has been the role of Turkey. According to historians like Vali Nasr, one of the defining motifs of the Middle East conflict has been the competition among Arab nations to emerge as the flag-bearer of the Arab cause, principally by providing leadership on the issue that unites everyone in the region (except the Jews of course)—-the fate of Palestine.  Initially it was Egypt, which had traditionally seen itself as the leader of the Arab world, that tried to take the lead through military campaigns launched by the largely secular socialist regimes of Nasser and Sadat. Their humiliation at the hands of Israel (everytime they fought Israel, it gained more and more Arab territory) led to the rise of radical Islam as the “solution” to the Arab problem, a movement that had its origin predictably in Egypt (Syed Qutb, the guru of Osama, being an Egyptian dissident who died in an Egyptian prison). Then Iraq, under the socialist and secular Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein, tried its luck but it too lost its power and influence in the process.

As radical Islam became more and more popular, the secular regimes of Egypt and Iraq increasingly turned right. But to no avail. The leadership of the Arabs then passed over to the most right wing country of all—Saudi Arabia.It is said that they were the ones who provoked the megalomaniac Saddam to attack Iran as a win-win strategy—if Iraq won then the Shia regime of the Ayatollah would be destroyed (the Saudi princes being very scared of the bad example set by the Iranian-type revolution—of clerics overthrowing a king). And if Iran won, then Saddam, their main rival for Arab leadership, would be finished. It was when Saddam realized how he had been had by the Saudis that he invaded Kuwait, sent Scuds into Israel to tell the Arab world that it was he who was fighting Israel whereas the Saudis, who were siding with the Americans, were traitors. This of course led to the first Gulf War and finally to Saddam’s ruination.

With their victory in the Gulf War, the Saudis had the ascendancy. Their tactics had historically been different from those of Egypt and Iraq. Instead of a direct engagement with Israel, they used their petro-dollars to finance local terrorist movements in the West Bank and in the Gaza strip, especially inciting those elements which subscribed to their flavor of Islamo-fascism, most noticeably Hamas. As time went by, Hamas became more and more powerful at the cost of the more secular, left wing Fatah whose leader was the legendary Yasser Arafat.

But direct confrontation was still demanded by the Arab on the street.  Iran, a country which by virtue of being majority Shia had historically been kept off the Arab table (According to Valy Nasr, Shias being considered an even bigger enemy for Sunni radicals than even Jews) was now doing its bit to step into the vacuum. Leveraging their oil money and their friendship with Syria, they started a proxy war against Israel through Hezbollah in a bid to show their “Arab credentials” (though they arent really Arabs) , a fact that did not go down well with the Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia and their proxies, the Hamas (It is little known that the strongest condemnation of Hezbollah attacks on Israel come from Saudi media).

Throughout this tumultous history, Turkey remained an enigma. Despite having the second largest army in NATO after the US and despite being one of the most well-off Muslim countries with a strong Arab population, it had always adopted a hands-off approach to Palestine (it was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the state of Israel , as early in 1949) . In an interesting conversation I had with a Turkish researcher while at Stanford, he told me how the Turkish government had always tried to gain acceptance as part of Europe rather than as a constituent of the Arab world. Hence it had historically maintained a very good relationship with Israel and ,though it made populist noises in favor of Palestine from time to time as a sop to its population, it remained one of Israel’s biggest friends. However with the growth of radical sentiments inside Turkey, the country now sees it fit to make a play for the leadership of the Arab world and this provocation of Israel is to be seen in that light, a possible opening of a whole new front in this impossibly complicated multi-party struggle for hegemony.

As someone primarily interested in sub-continental politics, what is most interesting for me however, more than the role of Turkey, is the difference between India and Israel in their reactions to provocation, being in similar boats—- — democratic countries with strong militaries, surrounded by antagonistic countries on many sides, eager to provoke them to conflict over disputed territories.

Let us consider a hypothetical situation. Pakistan has been taken over by the Taliban who publicly declare their intention to wipe out India. Just to show they mean business, they send over a few rockets to this side. Then on international waters India sees a ship coming towards Karachi, sent by an organization that specializes in sending Jihadi fighters and lethal arms and ammunition. It however claims to be on a peaceful mission. Now what would India do then?

In actuality if this happened, India would be able to do nothing because it would not even know that such a ship existed in the first place. I mean we have no idea even as to who is in our waters, as evidenced on 26/11, such is the state of our intelligence. But even assuming we did, I am pretty sure that we would let the ship pass, deciding it to be too troublesome to do anything.

Consider another situation. During the Kargil war, the Pakistani forces were getting re-enforcements  through Pakistani territory enabling them to dig in deeper and inflict further damage to Indian forces. The war would be much easier to fight for India if we made a foray into Pakistani territory and cut off supply lines. But we never did that and instead took the resultant damage in terms of loss of life.

How would Israel have reacted in this situation? Would they, like India, have cared for world opinion given that the world was silent on Pakistani aggression (because Pakistani fighters were not in uniform) but were ready, fangs bared, to jump on India should it step on Pakistani soil, even though in a purely defensive action?

We know the answer. They would not have cared even a bit.

This is because Israel and India approach the same problem from totally different directions. For Israel, an Israeli life and particularly that of a soldier is a non-negotiable. They pretty much prefer to show the middle finger to the UN and to everyone else in the world rather than put a single Israeli’s life in jeopardy. For that they are prepared to hit international law and conventions for a six—-raid ships on the high seas, go into enemy territory to kidnap suspected terrorists, throw a missile or three. If they were fighting Kargil, they would have just said “If one soldier’s life can be saved by going into Pakistani space, we are going in. Let the world hate us for it. They will perhaps hate us anyways”. Of course Israel can afford to be so gung-ho and aggressive because USA has always had its back, no matter what they do, including indefensible crimes against humanity like the Sabra and Shatila masscare.

In India, however an Indian life is expendable. We do not care. More so if it is an Army man. There are not many countries in the world where, when a battalion of paramilitary forces is wiped out, there will be intellectuals, feted by the press, congratulating their murderers while most citizens stay more concerned about IPL than that small incident. For us, death of our citizens is not a non-negotiable. Public opinion and perceived correctness is more a concern. Hence we adopt a more hands-off approach—taking action just when the pin on the grenade lands at our feet. Again unlike Israel, we have no powerful backers and so one misstep ,we know, we will have the whole world with their boots on our necks. So you cannot blame India also for being perennially on the back foot.

The emotional reaction in India, typically after a terrorist attack, is often a cry of— “India should be more like Israel”. But should it? Let us go back to the flotilla. A number of Israeli military men go onto the deck. Should they have? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no.

Once they do enter, they are attacked by small weapons. The protesters who were “Death to Jews” to the cameras are probably repeating that when they see actual Jews. One of the Israeli forces is hurled from the railing. The commanding officer sees his men at risk and following the dictum “One Israeli life is too much” gives the order to use lethal force. There are many ways to deal with violent crowds, especially when you yourself aren’t exactly on solid legal ground. Shooting them down isn’t really the only way. However it is the most vengeful.  And it is the one which sends the “Dont mess with us” message the best.

This aggressiveness of the Israeli often admired is however also their Achilles heel. It makes them deadly predictable. You see many of those men did not mind getting killed (As one says on the video—there are two happy endings—-Gaza or martyrdom) as long as it was for the cause. If not this flotilla then there would have been a more provocative flotilla down the line. And the Israelis, given the way they are, would fall for the bait sooner or later. They fell for it sooner.

The Turkish government reacted with well-rehearsed fury, getting the applause of the Arab world and their citizens. Which is exactly what they too wanted. The world attention now goes right back to the siege of Gaza. Protests take place everywhere. The UN passes resolutions of condemnation. Passions against Israel are stoked. Unlike other years, the US president, with the Nobel Prize in advance, is very wary of world opinion and so the US support is much more muted than the past.

In short, Israel has screwed itself. Badly. Simply because of its predictable, unreasonable macho-ness.

Maybe, from a purely strategic point of view, being “spineless” once in a while isnt such a bad thing after all.

We Indians however take it to another predictable extreme.

That is, of course, our problem.

252 thoughts on “The Flotilla Incident

  1. And finally second. 🙂

  2. oh Greatbong, you are so Hindutva 🙂 Your liberal credentials in the intellectual circles are sinking! Forget India. India is screwed, and hardly any light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. Classic post! 🙂 I just feel that Obama will still have to support Israel simply because supporting the Islamic cause is far more dangerous than Israel. And of course, we do take the other extreme and take pride in that.

    Also, at the end of the day, it will only be the human rights activists who’ll condemn Israel for the act but nobody gives a damn to them anyways. So, I really hope that Israel still has it their way and successfully wipe out Islamic terrorism in that area in a few years.

  4. Nice article Arnab.

    ….despite being one of the most well-off Arab countries, it had always adopted a hands-off approach to Palestine …”

    Turkey is not a Arab country and never considered itself one..
    Historically, the Turks, Arabs and post-Islamic Persians competed with each other to claim credit for who spread Islam the most.

    Pedictability is a feature of all the sides in the Middle East. So it is not a handicap.

    I the current posturing by Turkey is an indication of a further weakening political support in Europe vis-a-vis Israel.

    Note that Egypt (a self professed Arab Islamic country) is giving a carefully neutral response.

  5. @ deep3rdMan
    As self deluded ones would say.

    Greabong is a Mossad agent.
    And Islam is a religion of peace.

  6. GB – Nice post.
    I have been to Turkey many times and I dont think Turks consider themselves as part of the Arab World. Infact vast majority like themselves to be considered Europeans & modern.
    Unfortunately for India, we never humbled Pakis once and for all. We won wars and gave back the land bcoz we did not value human life. So Pakis never went on the backfoot and now have grown into a formidable enemy unlike Egypt, Jordan, Syria etc..

  7. @Aditya. “So, I really hope that Israel still has it their way and successfully wipe out Islamic terrorism in that area in a few years.”.. Do you really think that Islamic terrorism can be wiped off.. I, for one, believe that Islamic terrorism will sink the whole world with it, wiping out the humanity off the face of the earth. By far, Muslims are the most populous community in the world and most fast-growing community in the world. They grow in scores by geometric progression. This will in turn will provide a never-ending supply of Jihadis, powerfully indoctrinated and ready to die for the cause.

    This brutal, dangerous breed of fighters, will become such a nuisance to the whole world that governments will expend their entire resources to fight this scourge rather than in productive activities. This will lead to economic stagnation perpetuating poverty, thereby stoking unrest. This will become a vicious cycle, enveloping particularly low and middle income countries as it is these countries that house most of the population and especially vulnerable to political unrest due to spread of fangs of poverty.

    Quite a doomsday scenario, isn’t it? I would not be surprised if it indeed happens.

  8. Hi Arnab,

    I have read different views about the legality of the blockade. One of the articles which says that the blockade and the consequent action against the flotilla was legal is here:

    The author is a professor at Harvard Law school.

  9. Well written article. So by your logic, Spine less India should surprise everyone next time around by acting aggresively(as also Pak is tired of attacking us left right and central and still our MMS loves them and trusts them leaving them frustrated what to do next. Hope it’s not another way of defeating terrrorism :))

  10. Great Bong Bhai!

    Your articles on Indo-Pakistan are an authority on the regional current affairs.

    However, this time, it seems you have ventured into unknown territory.

    Read up on the genesis of HAMAS. HAMAS was a little known organization supported by Israel to counter the popularity of Fatah led by Yasser Arafat until HAMAS fell foul with their masters. Pretty much like Pakistani Taliban, nurtured and trained by Pakistan army, turning on their masters.



  11. [i]despite being one of the most well-off Arab countries, it had always adopted a hands-off approach to Palestine …”[/i]

    I am shocked. How come Turkey is an Arab country?

    I have this feeling that all Indian Hindus lump Muslims into Arabs. including Indonesians and Malaysians.

    As Rishi pointed out, Turkey is not an Arab country and most Turks would take offense at being called an Arab. Read up on the rise of the Ottoman empire and the Arabs loosing the seat of the Caliphate to the Turks.

  12. Junaid,

    I have. Thank you. You can take your version of history (the L’ Humanite one) with the conspiracy theories and I mine. Do your read up a bit too. Start with good old Wikipedia, which does have one sentence on L’ Humanite but does have a lot about Saudi funding of Hamas.

  13. Dude, we have a population problem…Israel doesn’t. THAT should explain the contrasting attitudes wrt loss of lives.

  14. israel only survives because the western world supports it. And typically the western world will support any catholic/jewish state or if it is the gutless US then it will support anyone with money and power also. its a fact that the church has always wanted power. so have the muslims. its sad to see that both these faiths are pretty much dividing the world in all manners. strategy has no place here. it will simply embroil us in firther trouble

  15. Good post. In a poker table, India is the weak passive fish waiting to be bluffed off a good hand, and Israel is the hyper-aggressive bully waiting to be slowplayed into a deadly trap. With infinite bankroll — dollar, petro or otherwise — and fearless foot soldiers, both approaches can be endplayed mercilessly. Majjhim pantha is the way to go.

  16. Ur posts have always been hugely entertaining…but whats even more fascinating is that some of ur recent posts have been An Education. U have piqued my interest in all the history and geography books i`d shut out after my 10th boards.

  17. I like the comparasion between India and Israel and Pakistan and Palastine.
    II and PP.
    Striking similaraties 😀

    One of the best posts from you, according to me. 😀


  18. I stopped reading at:

    This incident is interesting to me for several reasons. First of course there is the whole issue of legality. The blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel is definitely illegal as per international law. In that respect, the Israeli soldiers had no legal rights to enter the ship. Plain and simple.

    That plain and simple fact nullifies all your next paragraphs.

  19. Greatbong,

    Good post. I have been following your articles for quite some time. Yes, Hamas might have been (supposedly)created by Netanyahu as a counterbalance to the PLO. Its starting was based on a mission that it would tread along the lines of Muslim Brotherhood, a (supposedly) peaceful organisation, to create Islamic universities and charitable organisations, but it expanded its influence over other areas before becoming what you witness today, and this happened largely because of Gulf funding of Hamas.

    And as far as the response of Israel goes, please see that Israel was created in turmoil. A place which the Israelis could call home upon being pushed away from all sides, and hence, their aim to value israeli life above all else would hold deeply in their hearts than a place like India. India has, since ages, been seen as a non-violent country trying to promote peace and choosing dialogue based negotiations over war. So, a change in military tactics to aggressive role is something that might go against our principles.
    In India we believe in showing the other cheek when we get slapped on one. No offence to the Mahatma..

  20. On the day before the Gaza flotilla confronted the Israeli navy, Al-Jazeera TV documented the pre-battle atmosphere created by men on board the flotilla, chanting a well known Islamic battle cry invoking the killing and defeat of Jews in battle:

    “[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”

    Khaibar is the name of the last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army in 628. Many Jews were killed in that battle, which marked the end of Jewish presence in Arabia. There are Muslims who see that as a precursor for future wars against Jews. At gatherings and rallies of extremists, this chant is often heard as a threat to Jews to expect to be defeated and killed again by Muslims.

    Israeli Navy Commander Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom Briefs Forces Set to Intercept Gaza Flotilla

    IDF Naval Officers communicating with the Gaza Flotilla

  21. Well written Arnab.

    But why so pro-Israel? Is it because Israel is pro-US?


  22. @ Human, from Huffington post, ” Human rights organizations, governments and U.N. officials have criticized Israel’s enforcement of the blockade as cruel, if not necessarily illegal.”

  23. Excellent analysis, GB. Of course there will be the usual skeptics (oops!) who tell you to stick to Prabhu ji and spoofs, but very well done dude. Keep up the great work.

  24. @GB
    I read somewhere…albeit in a piece of fiction something like this..

    around 1960’s…when the problemm started…an israeli commander was telling an american..that the world did not give a damn about us when we were getting annihilated all over Europe.. we realised then that we have to be on our own….and thats why now we dont care what the world thinks of us.

    Is Israels attitude explainable by something like the above statement?

  25. Very detailed posting indeed…btw who will be reading the complete posting ??!!I lost my interest in the fifth para as it was too much of soo much…anyway,before jumping to the conclusion, did you checked the youtube video which says that they were singing the song of death of the jews..I watched the video twice but I cudnt see the line “Death of the jews”…Arnab Pl check before you post something.
    I am a Hindu and I strongly condemn the killing of innocent people in any part of the world.

  26. the next flotilla headed towards Gaza is called MV Rachel Corrie….

    just another innocent victim to Israel’s gung ho manners!

  27. Hi Greatbong,

    nice article.

    i read this article ( sometime back and wonder if this is the reason we never punish pakistan.


  28. @ joyjit, “Corrie’s death was unfortunate, but more unfortunate is a Western media and cultural establishment that lionizes ‘martyrs’ for illiberal causes while ignoring the victims those causes create.”

  29. I think all Indians should rejoice at Israel’s provocative acts.
    It will take the attention of the international jihad machine away from Kashmir onto Palestine.

  30. @GB: I almost agreed with your conclusion about “Israel shooting itself in the foot” but then I realized this is not as simple as it looks… i feel this Israel’s way of “sending a message” before they start the ‘peace talks’ in US! Not to forget they might actually use this pretext to get away from the proposed talks.

    @Dib: National Review (NR) is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as “America’s most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion.

    Thats the only quote you could find in that whole ghastly incident!!!

  31. A writing from an idiotic imbecile with lot of just hatred. As usual a perfect sample for historical ignorance. I just have one thing to say all…”I Pity your Gods, for they cant save human lives, but take them for their existences. If god exists then he is not more than a Nero. Strike them down

  32. As a famous person once said:

    In all the Arab Israeli wars, Israel has won. But that hasn’t ‘really’ hurt the Arabs. In other words, the Arabs can afford to lose.

    However, Israel need only lose once for it to cease its existence.

    So you will have a fight or flight response. For now, its fight. Unfortunately for them, there will be no flight option if they lose the war.

    One thing is for sure, their standing in the international community has taken a serious hit.

  33. @Israel’s risk

    Do you really think that they care about their international reputation.?

  34. @Israel’s risk

    Knowing that fight or flight is the only option, and further knowing that the option of flight will only intensify the fight for their existence, I think Israel is left with no option than fighting.

    And as Great Bong said, Israel does not care about international reputation. What will international reputation help in if the country itself does not exist

  35. Blockades have been used time and again by countries over the years to attain militaristic ends.The US embargoed Cuba during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the UK embargoed the Falklands during the Falklands War, and even our very own India got prepared to embargo Pakistan during the Kargil War-so much so that Nawaz Sheriff later admitted that the Pakistani’s were in a dire situation given that they had only 6 days worth of fuel stocks.

    The international law with regards to the present scenario would be the San Remo Manual of 1994- the one preceding that i.e., The London Declaration of 1909 did not get enough ratifications amongst the participating countries while the Geneva Conventions only dealt with use of Navy in armed conflicts.The Manual explicitly states the legality of imposing maritime embargoes by countries who are in a state of war.

    Under the Additional Protocol 1 of the above mentioned manual Paragraph 7 sub-section e reads as follows:-

    The following activities may render merchant vessels military objectives:
    (e) refusing an order to stop or actively resisting visit, search or capture;

    Given that the events were precipitated by the “resistance” of the “activists” to inspection,I wonder how the charge of illegality holds water?

    Cruel?maybe or maybe not,
    Disproportionate?I think that depends on your sense of proportion.
    Illegal? No!

  36. And Turkey which can not even stand the mention of the Armenian genocide or has crossed Iraq borderlines to pursue the IPK guerillas in 2008 now talk about fairness?

  37. Well if Pakistan were overtaken by the Taliban & India sees a ship coming towards Karachi, sent by an organization that specializes in sending Jihadi fighters and lethal arms and ammunition…Well then the most likely reaction from the current Indian Government : An “Emergency Meeting ” would be held at the PM’s residence & a committee of Group of Ministers( G.O.M ) would be formed under Shri Pranab Mukherjee, to study the issue !

  38. Awesome post GB..u captured a very complex situation brilliantly.

    Specially the Saudi angle to the issue. I reckon Iran is next on the crosshairs of the Saudi conspiracy.

    Believe it or not the survival of Israel is critical to the survival of India in some ways. Once Israel goes the whole Islamic terrorist infrastructure will bear down on Kashmir.

    Both India and Israel may ultimately perish in this ceaseless super-war called jihad. Launched 1300 years ago this super-war is unrelenting and may wipe out humanity one day. Our only hope is if we can take them out totally even as we go down ourselves.

    BTW in my opinion the whole fact that India still survives as a promarily Hindu country is an absolute miracle in itself. Consider that greater civilizations like persia and egypt were completely wiped out. Only the extraordinary courage of indians can explain this miracle. Dont know how we have become so supine.

  39. @Srinivas,

    >!!I lost my interest in the fifth para as it was too much of soo much

    And despite that, you point out that the video did not say death to Jews. Just shows the power of indoctrination…doesnt it?

    “Khaibar oh Khaibar oh jews. The army of Mohammed shall return”—did you notice that subtitle for the song they were singing in the video? Google for what happened at Khaibar (Khaybar). Or better read the description given right at the bottom of the video.

  40. [i]


    I have. Thank you. You can take your version of history (the L’ Humanite one) with the conspiracy theories and I mine. Do your read up a bit too. Start with good old Wikipedia, which does have one sentence on L’ Humanite but does have a lot about Saudi funding of Hamas.

    I think you did not like me pointing out historical, geographical and cultural mistakes in your article.

    I am just a fan of yours. Just wanted to give some input.



  41. Marvin Belsky June 2, 2010 — 1:55 pm

    @ Greatbong
    Thanks in advance for allowing my message.

    We regret the violence, unnecessary casualties, and loss of life instigated by the anti-Israel flotilla when it defied national and international law, and provoked a confrontation with Israel early this morning.

    It did not have to be like this.

    Israel has sought peace and compromise with its neighbors for all of its 62 years.

    However, Hamas activists and supporters, in an intentional provocation against Israel, violated international law, violently attacked Israeli military and security personnel with steel pipes, knives, rocks and, according to the most recent news reports, with gun fire, and provoked bloodshed.

    It did not have to turn out this way.

    The organizers of the anti-Israel flotilla claimed that their goal was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza’s residents. Israel offered to accommodate them in any way possible, and deliver the donated goods through Ashdod, using normal search procedures. The activists rejected the offer.

    The Israeli navy contacted the boats, and warned them not to proceed to Gaza, but to go instead to Ashdod. They refused.

    Their refusal violated international law and directly attacked Israel’s sovereign rights. The Oslo Accords give Israel sovereignty over the Gaza coast, and international law allows countries to ask suspicious boats to identify themselves before entering their waters, and to require that they conform to the nation’s laws and security needs.

    Israel cannot allow unknown goods and people to enter Gaza. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist regime that calls for the murder of Jews, the “obliteration” of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist theocracy. In the past, Israel has intercepted weapons-laden boats headed for Gaza’s coast.

    No government allows unidentified people and goods to flout their border regulations and enter their countries freely. If these activists behaved similarly at passport and security control in the U.S. or any other nation’s shores, ignoring their official protocol and violently attacking security personnel, they would also have been stopped and arrested.

    It should not come as a surprise that any country’s navy would find it necessary to board and search a vessel attempting illegally to enter their sovereign shores. What is surprising is that the Israeli security personnel were brutally attacked with knives, lead pipes, and other weapons when they carried out predictable and routine security procedures.

    Israel has pressing security needs on its border with Gaza, which is controlled by a terrorist organization, and has become a center of other terrorist entities as well, such as Al Qaeda and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas was responsible for close to 40% of the suicide attacks against Israeli citizens, has launched over 8,000 rocket attacks at communities in southern Israel since 2005, and intensively smuggles weapons to continue its war. Israel could not give a free pass to vessels that might contribute to Hamas’ terrorist efforts.

    It did not have to be like this.

    The flotilla organizers claim they are “peace activists.” They should be very concerned that the Hamas government they seek to aid is an enemy of peace, opposes all compromise and negotiations, and systematically incites its people to hate and kill Israelis. They should be concerned that Hamas is a brutal regime that has tortured and murdered almost a thousand Palestinian rivals, summarily executes alleged Israeli “collaborators,” terrorizes and oppresses Gaza residents, and has held kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit incommunicado for nearly three years, violating all human rights standards. They should also be concerned that in supporting the Hamas regime, they endorse the murder of Jews and the genocidal threats of Hamas’ main sponsor, Iran.

    It did not have to be like this.

    The flotilla organizers could have sincerely sought peace by urging Hamas to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, accept past Palestinian-Israeli agreements, and reject terrorism and violence. Instead, the flotilla activists endorse Hamas’ current extremism and belligerence.

    People of good will everywhere should condemn the flotilla’s goals and its violence.

  42. I don’t know too much about the Israel-Arab conflict. So no comments on this aspect. However, what I found interesting was when you compared a possible Indian response to a similar situation. While it can be argued that if Israel had China and Pakistan as neighbors it would have been wiped out long back. It is also interesting to look at some tiny efforts at showing military muscle on our part over the last three decades.

    All this is quoted from memory. Please point out inaccuracies.


    When Rajiv Gandhi was PM there was this incident in Jaffna when India sent humanitarian aid through the sea route. The aid was blocked and the boats turned back mid sea.

    Thereafter IAF transport planes dropped aid over Jaffna peninsula. The transport planes were flanked by IAF fighters MIG 29 or Mirage 2k. Predictably there was no resistance. It was more of a symbolic act than any serious attempt at delivering aid.

    It was sad that the show of force came out against SL which could have been the friendliest and the least damaging neighbor to us.

    It must also be noted that Rajiv Gandhi was hit by rifle butt by a SL soldier. This was when Rajiv was accepting the guard of honor. IPKF got involved in a messy fight and finally Rajiv was assassinated. Not all these things can be called a direct consequence but were important enough to mention.

    The second incident was when Maldives was attacked by mercenaries. President Abdul Gayoom called Rajiv Gandhi and Indian armed forces drove out the attackers (most of whom had fled anyway by then once they saw serious challenge approaching).

    Thereafter there was a long period of silence. One would not expect the governments of VPSingh + Devi Lal (remember him?) to get adventurous. PVN and MMS were too busy building the economy.

    This was followed by Gowda and Gujral and then BJP.

    BJP did fight the Kargil war. You have listed out a lot of things we could have done but did not do. Let me point another one. On the first day of introducing air power we lost two fighter jets. Ajay Ahuja’s body (forget his rank) was mutilated when returned. He was obviously tortured. I am sure it is a violation of international conventions on PoW. What did we do?

    Nothing. Can anyone confirm how we treated the Pakistani PoW? I do not recall any authentic stories on that aspect or were we as bad as Pakistan?

    Then there was this Atlantique incident. A recon aircraft of PAF had violated Indian air space and was shot down over Kuch (Gujarat). 16 soldiers on board died. It happened soon after Kargil. This was the last time Indian forces were involved in hostile action.

    Then we have had MMS one and two. He is every ready to get into bed with anyone he deems powerful or uncontrollable – China, US, Saudi Arabia even Pakistan. No self esteem, no self respect – forget about action.

    Sorry, I forget. There were a few instances on high seas when the Navy engaged pirates and the last was when various Indian Army commanders and Naval Commandos were flexing their muscles in front of TV cameras during 26/11. This show went on till the then NSG commander JK Dutt took charge and restored order.

    One thing stands out clearly. Action against Pakistan is not possible as long as we have a Punjabi PM. They will be torn between candles-at-Wagah and guns-at-Rajouri. We also need strong leaders and stable governments to be militarily adventurous. Rag tag coalitions don’t have the desire to take on more than they can chew. One nuclear deal led to huffing and puffing by this government. Imagine what would be a messy / not so successful military action do.

    I am not taking a pro or anti military adventurist stand. GBs remarks set off an interesting chain of thoughts and I thought I’ll share it with you.

  43. [i]BTW in my opinion the whole fact that India still survives as a promarily Hindu country is an absolute miracle in itself.Consider that greater civilizations like persia and egypt were completely wiped out.[/i]


    I dont know of your intellectual caliber, however, to put the record straight, the Egyptian civilization of Biblical times perished ages before the Arabs reached Egypt.

    The Persian civilization still exists and the Persian language still thrives. Are you trying to say that by accepting Islam the Persian people lost connection to their culture? I think culture and religion though closely related are still two different aspects of human life. Would you have said the same if the Persians had accepted Hinduism? Outside India, Hinduism is practiced in Indonesia and Malaysia by many indigenous populations. Can one use the same logic and reasoning for the civilizations of the Malay and Indonesian indigenous populations?

  44. Hey Arnab,

    I think that this was a nice article to start with..
    it was also good in the middle…but somewhere down the line
    you lost it.I know you were trying to tell us about how both the
    theories have their problems….but according to me you overdid it.

  45. @Anonymous

    [i]Can anyone confirm how we treated the Pakistani PoW?[/i]

    I found this youtube video which explains how Pakistani PoW were treated in 1971.

    Some of my father’s friends were PoWs in 1971 and have now went on to become generals in Pak Army. Since they are all fit and fine, I would assume they didnt get tortured.

    I guess during those days, India- Pakistan didnt hate each other that much and even wars were fought with dignity and honor.

    Here is another video which proves my point.

    I am just wondering if there any such impartial proofs of Pakistani good behavior as well?

  46. @ Junaid

    you are wrong.

    The real Persians who refused to convert to Islam, found refuge in India.
    The Tatas and the great Parsis are their proud offspring.

    Dont spread lies.

  47. @Anonymous

    Damn you…what do you mean that nothing can be done on pakistan until we have a punjabi PM…I guess you have forgot that the punjabi sldiers are the ones that are fighting and giving their lives for the nation…also that
    we have had many many punjabi army chiefs…i guess that wasnt a problem for you…
    and yeah Manmohan is atleast someone who is more educated than whole of your family can ever be…better than you so called radical stern illiterate PMs..

  48. Very well written.

    I really look forward to your writings.

    I would request you to consider covering India-China friction and rivalry from
    various angles. THe past, the present and the future. Territorial dispute,
    fight for resources and territories, and pros and cons the way both operate.

    I think your posts have been largely on Indo-Pak conflict, and if I missed India/CHina
    post, (except for the Dongrilla Land and Amrish Puri one) I apologize.

  49. @Sachwal

    In that case, the Tatas and other great Parsis no longer speak Persian and no longer identify themselves as Persians either.

    It seems the Tatas have lost touch with their Persian culture while those who stayed behind and were forced to accept Islam still speak Persian and celebrate Noruz.

  50. You consider a hypothetical situation to compare the Indian Vs other nation’s approach, why not use real incidents. What did India do during the Kandhar hijack[released the terrorists] when similiar such situations in France and Russian theatre saw execution of the hijackers/kidnappers even if it meant loss of a few civiians along with it.

    You are “bong” [:)] on when you say that an Indian’s life if non – negotiable, but what I also feel is Indians when they do act/react to a crisis/demanding situation is that the DO NOT think of what message they will end up sending, its just not in there list to think on what message goes out.

    great post besides.

  51. @Junaid,
    Without going into specific cases of Persia and Egypt, are you trying to deny that there hasnt been mass violent conversion into Islam? and hindu societies in malay or indonesia are quite irrelevant compared to how many societies were razed into submission by islamists from various parts of middleeast?

  52. PLEASE don’t bite Junaid’s bait! If you read GB’s previous posts, he is a Kashmiri earning his bread in Delhi and dreaming of “Azaadi” while pontificating on how evil India is.

  53. @GB: Thanks for providing the other side of the story.

  54. Great writeup man. You have hit the nail on the head and the comparision with Indian was spot on. I will only disagree with you on one matter, that of Israel’s aggressiveness causing its downfall. It is not Israel’s aggressiveness but the unwillingness of the rest of the world to face upto islamic aggression that has left Israel isolated globally, thereby putting more and more (unreasonable) pressure on them.

  55. Grt analogy between India and Israel ur conclusions was awesome, also fact of the matter is Pakistan is not Gaza and India does not have internal peace on communal lines.

  56. GB,
    Factual correction: Turks are not Arabs.
    Over all, I find myself disappointed after reading your article. Things missing from your article: a background of the flotilla, the legality of the mission itself, the confusion about the legality of Israeli action, the fact that Israel has done similar actions in the past and how they got away with it.

    Western media have Arab-sympathizers (mostly left) and Zionist-sympathizers (mostly right) in equal numbers. Plus Israel has a very strong lobby in US government and they carry huge reputation among republican law-makers (which is why Barry Obama is more pissed off with them). Saudis too have a huge lobby in Washington but they are smart enough to keep their business interest separate from political interest. Both US and Israel do not care for international reactions (which is the result of cheer-leading of mostly well-fed disconnected-from-reality European commies/socialists anyway) as long as they control the right to exercise UN bans (a western version of fatwa). So, the sum of these facts is that Israel would get out of this mess once again. A smart and focused leadership would always cultivate right set of allies and that is the trump card Israel has over Arabs. Jews not only managed to get right set of allies, but they know when to use allies and when to use force. In that sense, their reactions are not always predictable.

    In our case, we must develop good allies whose interests are at least temporarily aligned with us. We should also learn to analyze when to use force and when to use allies by cultivating a dedicated and focused group of qualified diplomats. Nature of warfare has changed in last fifty years and war fare has expanded beyond battle-fields. Now-a-days war is being fought in media including print, visual and internet. Maoists have recognized this earlier than state and state must recognize it. Sooner than better.

  57. @Sid,

    “Turks are not Arabs”

    Please note what is in the article now. Turkey is looking to lead the Arab world. The word “Arab” was originally a secular ethnic term. Now the term “Arab” is synonymous with “Muslim”. As Rishi said, it is in that context that Turkey is providing leadership to the “Arab cause” which is now the “Muslim cause”. Rishi pointed out a typo in the original article which has now been corrected when you read it.

    I say “In an interesting conversation I had with a Turkish researcher while at Stanford, he told me how the Turkish government had always tried to gain acceptance as part of Europe rather than as a constituent of the Arab world.”

    There is a difference between the “Arab world” and the ethic term Arab. Like this headline implies “” [Turkey’s Soft Power In the Arab World]

  58. Brilliantly written on a topic that has been sliced, diced, wrenched, cut and dried. I have been to the R&D capital/ embedded systems hub (yes the amount of small hi-tech tech shops are amazing) a couple of times and the precautions that they take for entry and exit in airports is simply fascinating.

    The Ken Follet classic – Triple is a great treatise on the how the nation behaves in an albeit slightly dramatic way.

    Most of the world are of the opinion that Israel is being unrealistically paranoid and over a period of time; this paranoia has become a habit, a state of mind and often this is the management style that the country’s leaders are forced to toe in order to keep their nation binded. The same world at the same time treats this country with grudgin respectwith a dont mess with them policy – something that South Asia must learn and also incorporate….and soon

  59. @ Prakash
    Actually, the Islamic conversion of Hindus and Buddhists in Malaya, Java and Sumatra (the 2 islands of Indonesia that were targetted) were equally violent.

  60. One essential difference between the Israel-Arabs/Iran issue and the India-Pakistan issue:

    Pakistan has nukes, Arabs/Iranians don’t (yet).

    The fact that Pakistan has nukes circumscribes India’s options quite a bit. Of course your point about the Indian citizenry being more concerned about the IPL and not the Dantewada massacre is well taken.

  61. Arnab Da,

    I usually like your reasoning, but am in serious disagreement with your current analysis.

    Comparing India and Israel’s defense tactics is fine, but you are missing the context: the actors in the scenario. Pakistan has proven nuclear stockpiles, which is not the case with any of Israel’s adversaries. If you really want to compare what Israel would have done (in a situation that India finds itself in all-too-often), look at the recent stand-off between the Koreas. Everyone knows what the North did, but neither USA nor anybody else dare mess with it militarily owing to the potential nuclear retaliation that might follow. Hence the pusillanimous bickering going over more futile sanctions!

    Israel possibly understands the gravity a similar scenario might entail for it in the near future, and so is motivated to keep scheming how to prevent its neighbors from going nuclear (be it Iraq in the 1980s or Iran now) Also, it is not always true that Pakistan alone does nuclear brinkmanship – India did the same during the Kargil war, surprising everyone given its historical aversion to conflicts. Evidently, being not-so-predictable has its virtues too! 🙂

  62. June 2, 2010 — 5:41 pm

    Well, I am not sure Israel would continue with their masochism if Palestinian has Nuclear weapons. So its really futile to compare India’s reaction to Israel ‘s ,unless you are advocating for an all out war !!!

  63. One of the differences between palestine (or any of the arab/ottoman states) and pakistan is that pakistan has nuclear weapons whereas for all their supply of jehadis, the other gulf states don’t.
    guess this too needs to be factored in when it comes to india’s responses vis-a-vis israel.

  64. Pakistan didnt have nuclear weapons before the mid 90s. What did we do before that? BTW Pakistan would never use nukes if India went into its territory to cut off supply lines because the worldwide fallout of using a nuclear device would be too devastating.

    By the way, what nuclear brinkmanship did India use?? You think a country that doesnt dare to enter Pakistan to fight a defensive move would threaten a nuclear attack and not have people laugh in its face?

    Summing up, to say that India didnt go into Pakistan for fear of nukes being used is plain silliness. It didnt because it would get rapped on its knuckles by Pak-friends like the US.

    Last time I looked Afghanistan didnt have a nuclear capability. Why didnt India send commandos to Kandahar? You bet Israel would have, had it been in the same situation. Why did India never make an attempt to kidnap Dawood out of Pakistan or assassinate him ? For fear of Pakistan nuking India? Israel, in our situation, would have tried and possibly succeeded.

  65. Well… Israel’s masochism is not shown only in this exercise. One of its best exhibition was in Operation Thunderbolt (also known as Operation Entebbe).

    Have to really appreciate Israel for the value they put on their nationals life and also the courage shown in planning and executing such activities. Very few nations however big they may be can actually boast of such precision acts.

  66. too good… I learned a lot from this article

  67. Engrossing n thought provoking.

  68. You have two misrepresentations in this post:
    1. Israel did NOT massacre any Muslims in Sabra and Shatila. Israel did not stop the massacre but it did not killed anyone directly. Please read more thoroughly the wikipedia page you link to –
    “300,000 demonstrating Israelis put pressure on their government to investigate on the massacre. The Kahan Commission concluded in February 1983 that Israel bore part of the “indirect responsibility” for the massacres, advised Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon to be dismissed from his post and not to hold public office again.”
    We don’t massacre people. When millions of your people were killed in the holocaust you will never do that to others.

    2. The soldiers only started firing at the terrorists after two of their hand guns were stolen and the terrorists opened fire on them. I’m Israeli and I served my time in the army. You can believe me or not, but no Israeli soldier will never open fire on innocents. Sometimes mistakes happen and innocents get hurt like in the shelling on Qana in 1996 where artillery was fired BY MISTAKE on civilians.
    You can check the following two videos to hear what the soldiers told:

  69. Israel’s approach is a lesson for India. Although we can’t afford fighting with pakistan(not because they are militarily superior but because of possible nuke war killing millions of people) we can handle the terrorists from bangladesh in the same way. But first of all i believe that if we need to take some action to stop terrorism we should start it from our home. Strict action against naxals and enemies inside the country is enough to get past the terrorism issue. If government wishes to solve the problem, they should start here.

    Someone in the blog made comments like “A punjabi PM can not control the situation”. Are you an Indian or enemy who is creating difference between us Indians with such remark. I will put you in the same rank as jihadis.

    @Juanid … we don’t need lesson from a pakistani how to take care of our internal issue. Look at your own country and stop the terrorism there. This will help us actually.

  70. Shaswata Panja June 2, 2010 — 7:06 pm

    Greatbong great article as always but you got to answer me on this!!!! India needed that diplomatic backing and symapthy or whatever you might want to call it from the West and tht’s why we had to fight the Pakistanis head on and not go on behind theit backs and cut the supplies…You know why? you very well know why—WE ARE NOT ISRAELIS, WE ARE NOT PART OF THE WESTERN WORLD. Whatever Israel does it will always have the tacit or grudging support of the white world because of various reasons…Be it reasons of guilt borne out of Holocaust or be it reasons of Biblical Prophecy…It was always said in the Bible that Jews will come back and reclaim the Holy Land and will have to fight many battles with the Devil or the reign of Devil for it ..Jews all over the world have turned this into a Self-Fulfilling prophecy and Christians especially in US egg them on to it because it suits them to see the aggressiveness of the Arab states as the machinations of the Devil..Only after Israel becomes prosperous can the Devil or Anti-Christ can reign over for 1000 years…Christians all over the world love to fit everything in Middle East as part of the end of world devilry narrative That is why they support Israel..Israel still exists because the policies of the richest countries in the world have been shaped by their Christian worldview..If India was to be like Israel, you could have very well kissed goodbye to our IT export boom, foreign call-centres, and 200 billion dollar a year export Industry..We would have become little more than a supersized Cambodia or North Korea..

  71. Well, much has been said and written about the Kandahar episode, and a couple of people (including the author) here commenting about how India should have sent commandoes.

    That sadly could not have been done, because a significant number of Talibani soldiers had the plane covered within an hour of its landing (as reported by BBC / CNN). They were telling the media that “they did not want the terrorists to escape”, but actually they were preventing any chance of Indian commandoes coming in.

  72. Oh my! And I thought you took your research seriously… May I suggest that you read any of the books which talk about the history of Pakistan’s nuclear program: The Nuclear Jihadist , Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons Pakistan had a bomb ready by 1984 and even the design of a warhead (given by China) by 1985. It is disputed when it actually implemented the warhead design.
    The best shot India had of stopping Pakistan’s nuclear program was in 1983 when Israel proposed to use Indian airspace to destroy the Kahuta Research Laboratories (like it did in its attack on the Ozirak Reactor in Iraq in 1981 ) Unfortunately US came to know of the plans and Indira Gandhi buckled under the pressure.

    Also, come on, do you really think that it is silly to suggest that the nuclear consideration is real! If you believe that Pakistan will never use the nuke option only because it fears worldwide fallout, you are sadly mistaken. Pakistan is unique in the amount of control the Army exerts over all its activities: in which other country does the nuclear option rest with the military leadership? There is a flawed radical mindset taking hold in that country and any such foolish measure on its part (read “using the nuclear option”) will be seen as an act of heroism by the audience it is intended for, irrespective of the eventual outcome.

    I contend that the Kandahar and so many other crises could be better handled and also that Indian citizens need to be more sensitive to army casualties. However, comparing India to Israel is unreasonable, because that country has the guts to do what even the US dare not do. Which other country would have dealt with the Entebbe Incident the way Israel did? Those are stuffs for legends.

    Bottom-line: A stronger stance does not give always give a “Don’t mess with us” message: Look at the long-standing Russian-Chechen conflict if you want further proof.

    PS: I admire how you conveniently side-stepped the uncomfortable Korea stand-off argument entirely! 😛

  73. Marvin Belsky June 2, 2010 — 7:11 pm

    Dear Greatbong:
    Thanks for allowing my post.
    Dont be so harsh on yourself, because we in Israel admire you people a lot.
    Historically, when the Catholics, Romans, Muslims were discriminating against us, Hindus were the only people who gave us refuge.

    Jews will always be indbeted to Hindus for that.

    Afterall, you are the only people who managed to survive 1000 years of Islamic rule and despite immense losses of territories and populations to conversions, you still have managed to come out as the world’s oldest and still the third largest religion.

    No other ciilization have achieved that feat.

    Persia, Egypt, Anatolia, all great civilizations could not survive, but you did and you came out hurt but Okay.

    There must be some amongst you, who did it right and even though they wer few, they did what it takes to get it right for the past 4000 years, generation after generation

    My ode to them and those of them yet to come.

  74. LoonyTalk,

    I applaud your “research”. Now (

    “In 1985, Pakistan crossed the threshold of weapons-grade uranium production, and by 1986 it is thought to have produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Pakistan continued advancing its uranium enrichment program, and according to Pakistani sources, the nation acquired the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion in 1987.”

    Note Pakistani sources, which arent exactly reliable. And note the “ability to carry out a nuclear explosion” does not imply a nuclear bomb—-since a bomb needs to be “delivered”.

    “In the 1990s Pakistan began to pursue plutonium production capabilities. With Chinese assistance, Pakistan built the 40 MWt (megawatt thermal) Khusab research reactor at Joharabad, and in April 1998, Pakistan announced that the reactor was operational. According to public statements made by US officials, this unsafeguarded heavy water reactor generates an estimated 8-10 kilotons of weapons grade plutonium per year, which is enough for one to two nuclear weapons. The reactor could also produce tritium if it were loaded with lithium-6”

    Which shows the development of a nuclear arsenal was a 90s thing. And even today, there are doubts as to how ready technology wise both India and Pakistan are in delivering a nuclear bomb.

    Your comment displays a shocking ignorance of the Pakistani Army. The Pakistani Army would *never* do anything that jeopardizes their business interests in Pakistan since they are the largest mafia in the country. In other words, nuking India and then getting a nuke back is the LAST thing they want. They are different from the Pakistani Taliban who are truly mad in their desire for genocide. The Pakistani Army, despite everything, isnt mad. Their radicalism extends only in triggering violence in India. Not to the extent of being suicide bombers.

    Plus do realize that when someone makes a comment, I answer only a few of their points just like I answer just a few comments. You may take that as a stunned retreat on my part in front of your rhetorical luminescence, if that makes your day.

  75. GB,
    “Now the term “Arab” is synonymous with “Muslim””
    I am wondering what would you call the Christians who are ethnic Arabs. Even a lot of Jews are ethnic Arabs. But this is not to pick up fight with you. I read something in the article which looked like that you were saying that Turks belong to Arab world which is only correct if you believe that all “Arab”s are “Muslim”s.

  76. @ Sid
    Arnab, I feel, was trying to convey a general point which we all get.

    There are many Arabs who resisted conversion to Islam, who are Coptic and Maronite Christians and many Arabs who are Jews and live in Israel, Egypt and North Africa.

    In fact, racially, the Jews and “Arabs” are the same people.

    Also, many Muslims who call themselves “Arabs” in order to psychologically feel closer to Mohammed’s ethnicity (and thus get more previledge in Islam), are not Arabs atall.

    The Lebanese, Syrians, many Iraqis (Mesopotamians, Assyrians) and many North Africans were never Arabs before they got consumed by the Mohammedan faith.

  77. Sid,

    Its not a question of what I believe. Its a question of what has come to pass. As a matter of fact the Ba’ath Party, the flag-bearer of Arab nationalism, was founded by Michel Aflaq, an Orthodox Christian. However once the ideal of socialism failed to beat the Israelis, people turned towards Islam as the unifying force. This is when the Arab identity (as distinct from the Arab race) lost its socialist secular nature and become one with the Muslim one.

  78. This is nothing, as compared to what followed after the “Black September”, which is infamously known as (Golda Meir’s) “Operation Wrath of God” .

  79. GB,
    Mmmmm…you are confusing the point. A group of humans we call “Arab” and a group we call “Muslim” has huge intersection between them but neither is a sub-group of the other. So I do not accept the proposition. Turks have subscribed to the Arabic culture (to some extent, but concept of honor is not central in Turkish society as it is in Arabic society) and Arabic religion, but they are not ethnic Arabs. So if you say that anyone subscribing to Arabic culture/religious view are synonymous with Arabs, well, then we have a lot of Arabs in India.

  80. Sid,

    The world does not revolve around your accepting the proposition or not. The citizens of the Arab world *have* forsaken the secular Arab identity for a pan-Islamic identity, because the secular ideal has failed them. Indian Muslims were never invested in the Palestinian cause, at least not so much as the Arabs, and hence we dont have “Arabs” in India. Having said that, a part of the Islamic identity movement in India does try to convince Indian Muslims to be more “Arab” (i.e. pan-Islamic). That is a separate issue though.

  81. Arnab Da,
    If you want to understand the psyche of the Pakistan Army, pick up “Military Inc.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy” by Ayesha Siddiqa sometime. Her arguments do support the commercial interests of the Army that you referred to, but also describe in detail the continued Islamization in the officer ranks that has been the legacy of Zia-ul-Haq’s collusion with the radical Mullahs of the country. Musharraf and Kayani are faces of the secular officers in the Army, but even Musharraf conceded in “In the Line of Fire” that the repeated assassination attempts he faced could not have happened without some of the military establishment being part of the planning. The Pak Army may not deliberately plan the use of nuclear option, but the fog-of-war doctrine tells us to be prepared for surprises! Even a quick glance at articles published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, Strategic Analysis, International Security etc, should be sufficient to realize that the possibility of a nuclear flare-up in the subcontinent are very real.

    And yeah in response to your statement (“…a stunned retreat on my part in front of your rhetorical luminescence…”) be assured that my intent was to only highlight the gap in your reasoning vis-a-vis blaming India alone for treading cautiously.

  82. As I said, you are confusing the point. Why are you willing to come up with all sorts of mix up just to prove that Turks are Arabs when they clearly are not?
    Sure, the world does not revolve around my acceptance of your proposition, but the world does not resolve around your proposition which is obviously WRONG!!!!
    I am not saying that Indian Muslims are Arabs, but that is an inescapable conclusion if one has to go by your promise that Arab identity is same as Pan-Islamic identity.

  83. The only reason Israel can afford to have a ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude is the American’s automatic backing…However, there will come a point when this attitude will alienate enough US allies to make them choose between Israel and it’s other allies…

  84. @sraboney
    Geopolitics dear.
    Thats the name of the game.
    Israel has got what the Greeks call “thrassles”, you know…. guts.

    Israel learnt its lesson from history….something people like you will never learn.

    So while they ensure that there is never another Dachau, you will be condemed to a repeat of Noakhalis

  85. Someone should tell the Iranians, the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshis, the Indonesians among others that they are all Arabs now because the term “Arab” has become synonymous with “Muslim”.

    Iran being kept off the Arab table because they are Shias? How about not being Arabs in the first place? Oh, I forgot – Arab is synonymous with Muslim, so Iranians *are* Arabs, according to you.

  86. And of course, as a country that came into existence illegally, it is not surprising that they don’t care too much about legalities and world opinion. Just as a thug doesn’t care much about what others think of him. India has had a different history and hence different perspective of the world.

  87. Mohan,

    You give me too much credit. This is the hypothesis of one of the foremost Shia historians of the world, Vali Nasr. And read the Shia Revival for scholarly exposition.

    This may be a bit different tough for you to understand but the reason Pakistanis and the other peoples you mention do not fall within the definition of pan-Islamic Arabism is because they are geographically in a different place. The Arab identity is only an artifact of the Middle East. I suggest investing in an atlas and a few decent books written by scholars like Nasr.

  88. So the fact that Iran (formerly Persia) has traditionally been a different race from Arabs, speak a different language (Persian, not Arabic) etc has nothing to do with the fact that they are not considered Arabs? I am not saying there is no Shia-Sunni rivalry, but even without that difference, there is lot of other difference between Persians and Arabs.

  89. And the reason I brought in Pakistan, etc is because you claimed that the term Arab is synonymous with Muslim. Did Vali Nasr say that?

  90. Mohan,

    Once upon a time, there was a place on earth called the Middle East. There lived a race of people. They called themselves Arabs. They, the people in the AREA, felt an emotional connect to the problem of Palestine. The leaders in that AREA, inspired by ideals of anti-imperialism and socialism (in which respect Ataturk was an inspiration) started a struggle against Israel. Mixed with it, was a fierce competition between countries in THAT REGION (Turkey being a country in THAT REGION though not ethnically Arab majority) to emerge as the leader of the struggle. Different countries tried but Israel overcame them all, using internal jealousies among countries in that geographical area to their advantage. Soon the people in that area became disillusioned with the Arab ideal of secular socialism and turned to radical Islam. (Syed Qutb and the Islamic Brotherhood of Egypt being primer movers of this movement to the right)

    Please note (and I have said this before in my comments) the Arab ideal was a geographic idea and not an ethnic one.

    Iran’s Shia population had never been looked upon by predominantly Sunni Muslims in the Middle East (again geographical area) as proper Muslims. So with the Islamic revolution in Iran and its increasing economic strength, Iran sought to make a play for the leadership of the “Arab world”, though they were Persians, by supporting Hezbollah. By this time the “Arab world” and “islam” were synonymous. So Iran was trying to say “Hey we are better Muslims than the Sunnis. We will actually liberate Palestine, the canonical Arab cause, and shame the Sunnis in the process.” Of course the Sunni Saudis hate this. They dont consider Iranis to be Muslim or even Arabs (ethnically and geographically) and look upon them as the obnoxious guest who tries to dominate the party and upstage the “host”.

    Pakistan, Indonesia and these places never had the connection with the Middle East that Iran had. Repeat this again—Arab is synonymous NOW with Islam in the geographical area of Middle East for peoples who live and die by the Palestinian cause.

    This wasnt Valy Nasr who said this but I read in another book that for the average man in Iran, the most important issue in the world is Palestine. Even though they are Shias and they are not ethnically Arabs. But they aspire to be ‘like them.’

    Ask a man in Pakistan and I am sure you will agree that he will say his most important issue is Kashmir.

    Again as I said, this is a bit too much from a post. Get an atlas. Read a few books. Please.

  91. “By this time the “Arab world” and “islam” were synonymous.”

    You really need to look up the word “synonym”. Synonyms are interchangeable words which mean the same. So when you say “Arab” and “Muslim” are synonyms, it means, instead of saying “He is a Muslim”, I can say, “He is an Arab”. Clearly, that is not true with vast majority of muslims. What you perhaps mean is that the Arab ideal or the Arab cause in the context of Palestine had become Islamic in nature.

    As for Iran, just because they consider Palestine to be an important cause doesn’t mean they have become Arabs or aspire to be Arabs. I think you are confusing the geographical area (middle east) with ethnicity and culture (Arab/Arabic).

  92. @Mohan Bhai

    What Great Bong is saying is correct not in the literary sense but from a point of view of the common man on the street.

    It is true that Turks are not Arabs but lately there has been a resurgence of Wahabi Islam and in most non-Arab Muslim countries, people who try to be more religious will try to do so by being more Arab.

    For example wearing those long Arab garments, speaking more and more Arabic in every day language, etc etc.

    Hence, the common Muslim is confused between an Arab identify and a Muslim identity.

  93. I dont understand what the fuss is about. Just coz India butchers its self interests in favor for international “support”; every other country should do so? Israel have to look after their self-interest first and they r doin it. Yesterday only, Israel’s defence min facilitated the commandos involved in attack..This shows their love for the country.

    To those who think war against Pak / Palestine is a crime against humanity… they need to get out of their comfortable couches and visit the zones in actual.. I bet they wl forget what humanity is…

  94. @ Mohan, Junaid is right. Thats what greatbong has been trying to say for a long time. Infact, the person who “pioneered the hijacking of airplanes” was a palestine Christian called George Habash (PLO) . Its only later that people turned to Islamic fundamentalist groups like Hamas to deliver and the Palestinian struggle became overwhelminly Islamic. The christian-muslim civil war in Lebanon also contributed to that.

  95. To Singh and King,

    You seem to have taken offense to my comment about a Punjabi PM. My first request is to read the entire comment. Singh you stay back while King scrolls up and reads the comment again.

    To you Singh:

    1. I applaud you for writing a paragraph in English without using MC / BC in it. It must have been great self control and trust me you can be proud of this achievement.

    2. I too am a Punjabi – as hardcore as they come.

    3. MMS is not more educated than my entire family put together. It may be true for you and people from your ‘pind’ but try not to generalize.

    Now to the point:
    This remark is not backed by solid research carried out by a team of experts. It came up as I was typing my response and going through the records of the various governments.

    Check the track record of IK Gujral and MMS and you too will have your answer. It is not so much what they do or not do but the thought process behind the action the makes me say this.

    Both have actively discouraged the use of force / covert action against Pakistan. IKG was responsible for dismantling whatever capabilities our agencies had built and MMS has gone on record Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. Here’s the quote:

    “…Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. I have said on many public occasions that the destinies of our two countries are interlinked. We should both be waging war against poverty, ignorance, and disease, which afflicts millions of people in our poor countries…..”

    I am not sure how credible is this source but you may also read:

    Dig deep and you will find many quotes and more importantly the thought process behind them.

    We actually need someone who can keep emotions aside and see things as they are.

  96. Nice Article. First time i read your blog actually, and i now know why you are so popularly read in India. Just one thing: if Israel is so macho, then couldn’t they have let the flotilla pass and take action if (and when) there was provocation from the Gaza strip? The doctrine of pre-emptive strike just does not hold water here. Secondly, intercepting an international ship in international waters without any direct provocation is not only illegal (as you have stated), it is plainly not reasonable. Finally, who gave Israel the right to strangulate the lives of innocent Palestines?(you may say that there are very few of this type, but still-they do exist!)

  97. @ all hung up on Arabs vs Islam

    Why is everyone repeating the same thing after Arnab clarified the same thing a million times?

  98. @Anonymous

    I did not want to use any profanity as i wanted you to read it(didnt want GB to remove it).And the educated MMS part was pun intended and to make you realise that we finally have a PM that is educated, and now you crib that he is punjabi!!
    That just made me rethink about your intellectual wit.

    Now getting back to the point..

    There are issues of agrarian crisis, inflation, rampant corruption, internal security threats from Maoists and vast implementation gaps that require immediate re-dressal in sectors (especially social) like education, health, power, infrastructure and provision of basic civic amenities.

    You still want to have a millitary operation against pakistan…??

    Pakistan is a state in disarray, where the public at large is alienated from its elite and that alienation is exploited by religious radicals to sponsor and fund terror outfits. Such efforts enjoy the opportunistic support of sections of the elite itself, in the hope of using religion-based radicalism to extend Pakistan’s strategic reach. Sections of the elite suffering these tragic delusions of grandeur are entrenched in that country’s armed forces and the Inter Services Intelligence. The nominal government of Pakistan is in no real position to control all these sections of the elite or the dogs of war they sponsor.

    However, the nominal government of Pakistan is the only representative agency that the government of India can deal with. So New Delhi has to nominally expect that government to live up to its own commitment to disallow use of Pakistani territory for carrying out terror attacks on India. We can bring international pressure to bear on the nominal government of Pakistan to actually do whatever it is within its ability to curb such terror attacks. This, the government of India has done, with some success.

    However, the fact is that there is no lasting solution to terror derived from religious radicalism other than democratisation of society. Democratisation of Pakistan is not something that India can hope to achieve. That has to happen from within Pakistani society. All India can do is to encourage that process.

    Or else it can get its hand dirty like the US did.And then you will say that the PM is out of his mind.Then wait for a Obama for a peace initiative….

  99. @ Junaid

    When i mentioned Egypt i did not refer to the Ancient egyptian civilization but the coptic christian majority they had when islam brutalised them..just the fact that u assumed i was referring to the ancient egyptians probarbly states a bit about your intellectual a surprise though

    Ummm about persia isnt it a bit surprising that almost 100% of the persians had to convert from zoarastrianism to islam….if it was out of choice one would think at least a sizable minority would have stayed non islamic…as if leaving ones ancient religion wholesale is the most natural thing to do

    the minsicule minorities in indosnesia etc like in Bali were spared due to geographical isolation more than any other reason…you yourself had hindu ancestors who were most probarbly forced to convert..or are u one of those wannabe arabs like most pakistanis

    Religion is such a personal thing…who in their right mind would convert from their own ancestral cherished belief system and drag the rest of their family into it..unless forced by a threat to their lives and families….one shudders to think

    conversion is a deeply evil concept…perpetuated by an evil & malicious people…btw some feel that a religion like islam exists disproves the existence of a merciful god…what god would allow 80 million hindus to be ruthlessly murdered through 800 years of ceaseless super-war called jihad

  100. and thus began the great march towards rediffization …maybe thats the price of success greatbong

  101. Shouri,
    if he has the mental capacity of processing these arguments, he would not be defending Islam. Don’t fall in his trap.

  102. I think you are wrong on few counts,

    1) Israel is allowed to stop a boat in international waters if it is approaching it, so it was legal for Israel to stop it

    2) Israel is allowed a blockade on Gaza if Gaza fires rockets at it (under international law)

    So in a word, Israel did what it could. When it tried to stop it was met with violence even though it had given warnings.

    Ultimately, the people on the boat are responsible for trying to fight people with guns, because if a person feels threatened he would use force and the Israeli soldiers did so.

    Hamas must stop bombing israel and then the blockade would be lifted and then aid would be more readily available. In the mean time, you cannot enter a country without cargo and passports being checked. This boat caused the deaths of its people.

    These are all facts

  103. So, even accepting the argument that the charity had called for “death to the jews”, does it make the use of force against them and all other people on the flotilla justifiable?

    In 1933, a Jewish leader named Samuel Untermeyer, in a publicly broadcast speech, called for a holy war to be raged against Germany by the ‘Aristocrats of the world’ (i.e the Jews) in order to destroy Germany. This speech was also published in NY times at that time. By your reciprocatory justification logic, Hitler would have been all in his rights to kill all the jews he suspected since a holy war was declared against Germany. This and similar ‘provocatory’ loony arguments have been used by many pro-nazi supporters over the years to lend credence to the actions of the third Reich.

    This analogy is not the only one between the actions of Hitler and Israel. the fact is Israel has for years been acting like a minister’s son does in our country, fully mindful that as long as big daddy is there, there is nothing to worry.

    Otherwise, it would not have dared to commit such an act which tantamounts to nothing less than murder. What was the immediate provocation to storm a ship in International waters which had not done anything illegal? Coudnt they have just blocked its entry into Israeli waters? And then to cite sloganeering and pushing etc by unarmed people as a justification to fire and kill them (Jallianwala anyone?).

    The surprising part is not that Israel did what it did. These have always been the ways of tyranny. What is shocking is that many of us have become so islamophobic that we cannot see a broad daylight murder for what it is, broad daylight murder but instead are looking at excuses to justify it.

  104. @Bull,

    Your comment can be dismissed by repeating your moniker. But then I would be accused of being rude. So here are a few more sentences.

    The Israelis were not taking action against the “peace activists” because they said death to Jews.[It of course does not strike you why “peace activists” would so violent]. The problem was that they physically assaulted Israeli armed forces. They had been singing “Death to Jews” before and so while we do not know for sure whether they were singing that during the attack, it can be safely presumed they were repeating some variation thereof. When an Israeli armyman sees someone running towards him with a weapon, after throwing his partner off the rails, shouting Death to Jews, then yes there is a high chance he will fire. Purely to protect himself.

    This is different from your “erudite” example. If this guy (whose name I have never heard of) met Hitler in a bar and after kicking Goering in the balls had come rushing upto Hitler repeating his speech and shoved him down, then yes Hitler might be justified in punching the man.

    Of course expecting logic from someone whose comments include sentence like “The surprising part is not that Israel did what it did. These have always been the ways of tyranny” is an exercise in futility.

    Note to self: If you use a sentence ”

    The surprising part is not that I* did what it did. These have always been the ways of tyranny”

    then if *=slamists, you are an Islamophobe and if *=srael or perhaps even “ndia” then you are a liberal.

  105. Err… Never said that Islamists of the world havent done their fair share of tyrannical things. Wonder why you thought so.. Confirmation bias, maybe?

    In your sweeping generalizations and a well worded attempt to give a funny response, you have very conveniently ignored the question that I raised. what was the immediate provocation to storm a ship in international waters. Why coudnt they just not have denied it entry into their waters. Surely that would have been possible for Israeli navy and also served the purpose.

    And ever heard of a fully equipped military getting scared by sloganeering and unarmed people. (Slogans? Reminds me of a wonderful dialogue from Lock stock… “Armed with what? bad breath, colorful language, feather duster…”).

    P.S: Sorry about using a historical figure you hadn’t heard of. Next time, if you could provide a supplementary list of people whose names are allowed to be used in the debates…

  106. Bull dear,

    Unarmed people–>do watch the video. Plus “deny entry into its waters”–>They were not coming into their waters.

    Israel had reasonable grounds to suspect that they were carrying arms and Jihadi fighters, given the antecedents of the organization. And fully equipped military does not get scared of sloganeering people with pipes ONLY if they be allowed to use their firearms. If they are not going to shoot (which is what you would have wanted), they are in essence unarmed and hence vulnerable to a larger group of people charging at them from all sides, shouting for their death. Capiche?

    I love it when someone who uses sentences like “These have always been the ways of tyranny” with reference to Israel accuses another of “sweeping generalizations”.

  107. RichAndFamous June 3, 2010 — 4:33 pm

    I have to agree with you this time.

  108. Shaswata Panja June 3, 2010 — 4:35 pm

    But Greatbong you are giving Israel too much credit!! Many of Israel’s successes wouldnot have happened if the power structures in UK and US didnot have a strong belief in Biblical Prophecies..As always your observations are excellent but I feel you should have also incorporated the view of Western Christians who see scattering, persecution and the creation and the development of an extremely prosperous state for Jews in the Palestinian Mandate in a scant 60 years as the completion of the quarter-finals and semi-finals of end of time prophecies.. Christian conviction of the developed countries have helped the Israeli cause a whole lot!!!!That’s the very reason why the Western Powers thought of sticking with Israel in 1973 even though they knew that it would entail a huge energy crisis in their own backyard..

  109. Rules of engagement from wiki says the following for the us army:

    # Level 4: Assaultive (Bodily Harm). The subject may physically attack, but does not use a weapon. Use defensive tactics to neutralize the threat. Defensive tactics include Blocks, Strikes, Kicks, Enhanced pain compliance procedures, Impact weapon blocks and blows.
    # Level 5: Assaultive (Lethal Force). The subject usually has a weapon and will either kill or injure someone if he/she is not stopped immediately and brought under control. The subject must be controlled by the use of deadly force with or without a firearm.
    assuming idf follows similar protocols, level 5 seems to be applicable here

  110. I quite enjoy the blog but have to disagree with you on many counts. You cannot bracket Palestine and that failed country to our west as one, because the situation is very different. Israel has used brute force time and again to pulverize palestinian territories, when a bunch of rockets are fired. The blockade is illegal and must be revoked with immediate effect. on the fact that an soldier was thrown overboard, what else does any unarmed group of people do when faced with trained commandos. You speak only from the Isreali perspective.. this piece lacks the balance that many of your earlier posts manage to bring out…

  111. Marvin Belsky June 3, 2010 — 6:36 pm

    Dear Greatbong:
    Thanks for allowing my post.

    All the wars, that Israel fought since 1948 were started by its adversaries.

    Israeli fears over the passengers on board the ships and over their contents were understandable because of strong suspicions nursed by the intelligence and security authorities of many countries over the background of the IHH (”the peace organization” in question) which came into existence in 1992 ostensibly to provide humanitarian assistance to the Muslims of Bosnia. Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    Many Bosnian Muslims were brought to Pakistan for being trained in the camps of the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (MDI) as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET,) was then known and then taken back to Bosnia. There was considerable flow of money and arms and ammunition to the Bosnian separatists. Many Pakistanis from Pakistan itself as well as from the Pakistani diaspora in the UK were trained by the JUD and taken to Bosnia for participating in the jihad against the Serbs. Some Indian-origin Muslims from Saudi Arabia were also taken to Bosnia.

    All these activities for the provision of volunteers, money and arms and ammunition to the Bosnian separatists were allegedly co-ordinated by the IHH, under the cover of a humanitarian organisation, with the collaboration of the MDI. Amongst the Pakistanis who played an active role in organising assistance for the Bosnians through the IHH and the MDI were Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul and Lt.Gen (retd).Assad Durrani, former heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the then Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI, and Prof.Hafeez Ahmed Sayeed, who was then the Amir of the MDI. Lt.Gen. Assad Durrani, who was posted as the Pakistani Ambassador to Germany by Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, the then Pakistani Prime Minister, co-ordinated the assistance from the Ummah to the Bosnians.
    All these Pakistanis frequently used to visit Bosnia. Mrs.Benazir herself made a joint visit to Bosnia along with Mrs.Tansu Ciller, the then Turkish Prime Minister, in February 1994. Among Pakistani volunteers from the diaspora in the UK who allegedly worked for the IHH in Bosnia was Omar Sheikh, who is now in jail in Pakistan after having been sentenced to death for his role in the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in Karachi in January-February,2002. He has appealed against the death sentence.
    All indications from reliable Pakistani and other sources were that the IHH’s role in Bosnia was not solely humanitarian. The humanitarian cover was allegedly used for keeping alive the Bosnian jihad and enabling it to succeed against the Serbs. The IHH allegedly played a similar role in Chechnya by helping the local Muslims in their jihad against the Soviet and then Russian troops. It then turned its attention to helping the Kashmiris by funding refugee camps for Kashmiris set up by the MDI and other Pakistani jihadi organisations in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). These refugee camps also became training centres for training Kashmiri and Pakistani jihadis for fighting against the Indian security forces.
    The IHH also played an active role, in collaboration with the JUD, in organising humanitarian relief after the devastating earthquake in the POK in 2005. The flow of money and other assistance from the Muslims in other countries for the quake victims was co-ordinated by the IHH.
    The IHH has also been contributing funds to the International Islamic University in Pakistan, which has been providing ideological motivation to the jihadis fighting in Afghanistan. Amongst other Pakistani organisations with which the IHH has allegedly been collaborating are the Al Rashid Trust, which was designated by the US and the Terrorism Monitoring Committee of the UN Security Council after 9/11 as an organisation allegedly funding terrorism, and the Khubaib Foundation, which reportedly runs a network of orphanages. The Foundation frequently organises visits by IHH delegations to the POK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

    The Israeli authorities have valid reasons to be concerned over the links of the IHH with the Hamas. One cannot find fault with their decision to stop the Flotilla in order to prevent its cargo from reaching Gaza uninspected. Any intelligence agency worth its salt would be concerned over the dangers of arms and ammunition and weapons of mass destruction material like material for dirty bombs being smuggled into Gaza along with the humanitarian cargo.

    It would have been the height of irresponsibility to have allowed the cargo to proceed to Gaza without being inspected.

  112. [quote]
    The Gaza strip has, in the past, been used several times to launch missile attacks against Israel and the Israelis have retaliated with equal brutality.

    That is not correct, Arnab. Gaza’s handmade rockets are no match to Israel’s munition, they do not even reach Israel mainland. Most of them are targetted towards the settlements, which is another illegality and human crime committed by Israel. Gaza attacks over a year would possibly kill a couple of settlers and injure another couple.

    Israel’s response has been heavy handed and predictable. It has just made a peaceful solution to Palestine problem that much harder to find.

    In an hour’s raid Israel killed 10 people on the boat, more than rockets from Gaza. There were no weapons on the boat and it was international space. Israel may not like it, but it had all the right to pass to Gaza. Even Israeli’s have condemned the attack. Without US support this attack would mean Israel’s total isolation.

    India never had such a sugar daddy, given our size and population, we don’t need one. we need good leaders, they will be found when the nation is ready for them…

  113. I wonder if Turkey has ever bothered to look to what happens to those who train patriots of the ‘mujahideen’ variety.

  114. the above comment should have been “… those who encourage patriots of the mujahideen variety.”

  115. Marvin belsky June 3, 2010 — 8:42 pm

    @ ashish
    so you are suggesting that Israel should wait until the Hamas lays it’s hands on Scud missiles.

  116. I don’t have the low taste to comment on this article which is nothing but a piece of crap. It is not clear to me whether the writer is self-deluded or he is trying to delude the readers.

    If you want to assess the true extent of Israeli brutality, please visit Gaza strip and see with your own eyes the living conditions of the Palestinians and compare them with the ones in Israel just a mile across the border. Israel government tries to cover their atrocity by their unparalleled ability to lie and misrepresent people on the world stage, assisted, most importantly, by their monster propaganda machine. According to some observers the viciousness of a well organized propaganda can be no worse than even a weapon of mass-destruction (Read “Manufacturing Consent” By Herman and Chomsky). I, like many of the alert political observers, believe that Israel is following a hidden political agenda of double standard. Never forget to appreciate the difference between the terms “Israeli Government” and “Israeli”.

    In any case, I’m a kind of provoked to interject, following a comment by one Israeli citizen here, named Shahar, who was claimed to have once served in the Israeli military and proclaimed very naively something in the vein that “No Israeli troops can murder any innocent person. Please believe me” I find his comment particularly worthy of my comment because they are the guys who, at least, know the reality on the ground, unlike the general people who can be very easily fooled by propaganda machine.

    Dear Shahar,

    I may not have served in the military but I’ve many very close relatives who had served in the Indian Armed Forces. Given my familiarity with the ethics and principles the troops are trained up with, is not your claim a sheer mockery of truth? Ok. Never bother. This is actually not my question. To show how much deluded you are (if not a thoroughbred liar), for just one direct example which is probably an irrefutable proof of Israeli culture of lie and deceit and then pleading innocence, may I particularly request you to explain (one of) the greatest false flag operation(s) (greatest not in terms of magnitude of damage, but in terms of possible political fallout) launched by Israeli government in 1955 in Egypt to show the Muslim Brotherhood in bad light to the US and the UK. Dear Shahar such betrayal of faith and fabrication of truth is something the Israeli Govt. is very famous for. Before I wrap up, the latest news is: after denial of those cowardly operations in Egypt for 50 years, in 2005 the Israeli Govt. finally admitted involvement.

    My dear Mr. Shahar,

    Come up with cleverer ideas for your propaganda machine now. W have now learned to undo your double standard.

    I still cannot understand why a slogan like “death to the Jews” (considering that this is not another counterfeit video made up by the Israeli agents) may have given the Israeli force the license to kill. Do not we raise slogan like “Murdabaad so and so” in public processions or in front of a building to protest against so and so. Does it legalize bullets being shot at unarmed people (or people armed with slingshots and such things against the killers equipped with automatic guns). It is a shame that Israelis will find it difficult to rub off.

    P.S. As I’m writing this comment I remember my cousins who were educated in some colleges in Calcutta used to say that they chanted slogans like “ei principal ke chine nao// ei matitei kobor dao” to protest against the principal of the college for some of his policies which the students did not like. No, such slogan can never warrant mortal attacks from the army. You have blood on your hands, Mr Netanyahu. Are you hearing?

  117. Assuming some foreign readers are here too, let me translate some non-english sentences I used above. the translation is certainly not the best. Far from that.

    “Murdabaad so and so” means “Death to so and so”

    “ei principal ke chine nao
    ei matitei kobor dao”


    “recognize the head [of the college]
    Bury him alive in the grave”

    Something like that. Apologies for the sloppy translation.

  118. “I don’t have the low taste to comment on this article which is nothing but a piece of crap”

    And yet you do. A big one no doubt.

    Of course you can since you then write “I, like many of the alert political observers, believe that Israel is following a hidden political agenda of double standard.”

    I am much amused at this self-praise. Just slightly more than by the phrase “hidden political agenda of double standard” which, for a second, made me wonder whether Mamata-didi is commenting here at RTDM.

    While you are no doubt funny like the clown who comes and rolls about between the act of the lion and that of the elephant in a cirus, your rantings bring down the quality of comments. This is not just this idiot’s observation but of several readers who have written to me. Maybe your intellect is too blinding for us.

    Previously I told you to desist from trolling. But you said “I will do as I like. Remove my comments if you want”. But here is the problem Ms. Mimi Sen, I am not paid to clean up after your excretions. My blog is like my house and I reserve the right to evict people who do not meet the minimum criteria for discourse here. (Your comments on the Goopy Bagha post and the last one match each other for their repugnance)

    Criticism on this blog is appreciated and critical comments kept. Mohan for instance has problems with most of the posts I write and has problems understanding most of my clarifications even when they are patently obvious to others. However he is not a troll. You are.

    Concluding, I do not want to waste time removing your comments or for that matter even reading through them. Most importantly, I do not want this blog to become Rediff commentspace.

    You are henceforth banned at RTDM. You can congratulate yourself Ms. Alert Political Observer. You are the second person in the history of this 6 year blog to be so evicted.

    Goodbye. And good luck.

  119. identicaltwin June 3, 2010 — 9:53 pm

    I have been having a real hard time trying to restrain myself from abusing Mimi Sen since the goopi-bagha post. Thanks GreatBong for saving me much heart-burn.

  120. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about the flotilla incident. Israel has shot itself in the foot. IHH has boasting rights. Big deal. Will anything come of it? Zilch. Will starving Palestinians in the Gaza Concentration Camp get relief? You’re kidding, right?
    Flotilla or no flotilla, Israel is today’s Apartheid South Africa. That’s fact.
    Geopolitics is another matter altogether. If the world operated on justice and fairness, the history of mankind would be different.
    Comparing India and Israel is meaningless. For those who want to solve a problem by walling off an entire population and shooting them like fish in a barrel, perhaps Israel is an ideal they would like India to emulate. I have always felt that cheering on Israeli massacres in lands not too far away has always been the new generation urban Indian’s (sometimes only) way of expressing his own frustration at the helpnessness felt with his own government’s impotence in dealing with similar issues.

  121. Mimi Sen was a bona-fide troll in the Goopy Bagha posts.
    But banning her for this?
    That’s a new low for this blog.
    Unfortunately, the only rediff-post-like comment here was your own, GB.

  122. What false flag operation?

  123. @ Shubhadeep, the blockade is only for Gaza and not in West Bank. Maybe, it is because the Fata did not spend their time in hurling rocket into Israeli cities.

  124. bilbo_elffriend June 4, 2010 — 12:42 am

    “Let us consider a hypothetical situation. Pakistan has been taken over by the Taliban who publicly declare their intention to wipe out India. Just to show they mean business, they send over a few rockets to this side. Then on international waters India sees a ship coming towards Karachi, sent by an organization that specializes in sending Jihadi fighters and lethal arms and ammunition. It however claims to be on a peaceful mission. Now what would India do then?”

    This does not take into account the illegal Israeli blockade of Gaza.
    And Talibanised Pak would not be completely dependent on India for food and basic survival materials.

    This argument does not hold.

  125. Bilbo,

    There is another difference between Pakistan and Gaza. Pakistan and Gaza have different latitude and longitude !

    Whether Talibanized Pak depends on food and basic survival for India should not matter to India if Pakistan publicly declares its intention to wipe India out. If you punch your boss in his face, he will fire you (might even punch you back)—then saying “But dude I depend on you for food. It is evil that you react” wont help.

    Come up with a better justification for the Hamas terrorists next time.

  126. You are an a**ole…. u write nuisence … Sen was very right sometimes …jealous fool

  127. I agree “this article is a piece of shit”

  128. Who amongst you all who claim that Israel has no right to blockade Gaza has ever heard of the Oslo agreement. signed by popularly elected Palestinian national representatives?

    Oh I forgot, Jihadis only follow and respect one agreement. And 72 girls have been losing their virginity for that since eternity.

  129. So Subhadeep thinks its Ok to ban Mimi Sen for her comments on Ray,Tagore etc but where the moron Subhadeep agrees with Mimi, he thinks its so wrong. Right loser !

    GB, well done. You should have kicked Mimi Sen out a long time ago.

  130. Great article. Seems to me that the same people who come after you for calling out wannabe-Chomsky Roy are back here in full force.

  131. Shaswata Panja June 4, 2010 — 2:26 am

    @ Marvin Belsky

    I have more respect for you after reading your extended posts..Do you also write a blog or anything?

  132. Marvin Belsky June 4, 2010 — 2:41 am

    Dear Sashwata Panja:
    No I do not have any blogs.
    A Hindu friend forwarded Mr Greatbong’s website to me with his article.
    I have to say that some Hindus here are more informed and knowledgeable about issues concerning Israel, than many of my fellow Jews.

  133. One question: would Hamas even exist in the first place if Israel were not occupying Palestinian land?

    Would they receive as much popular support if Israel were not demolishing Palestinian homes to build settler housing as we speak?

    Ok, that was two questions.

  134. greatbong,

    sabra and shatila was NOT committed by the israelis, it was committed by the christian phalangist militia during the lebanese civil war, the israeli role in that can be compared to the role of dutch peacekeepers during srebrenica.

  135. Also: re the whole Turkey/Arab/Iran business; I don’t think there is any doubt that Turks long for the glory days of the Ottoman empire when they ran much of the Muslim world. Now that the Ataturk sensibility is in retreat after years of humiliating rejection by the EU, they would like to see themselves as leaders of the Muslim world again. The Arabs happen to be the other Muslims in their neighborhood. And the Kurds, & the Iranians. But the Turks are not Kurds, not Arabs, & not Iranian. They, as *Turks*, want to lead Dar-ul-Islam once again, morally & in terms of influence.

  136. What is wrong in valuing the life of your citizens? Come on, your country does not do it (those who are defending Hamas and other Gaza terrorists, and even shed tears of sympathy for “misguided youth” like Kasab – someday what if you lie dead and your country continues to show the same apathy as they are doing for the dead in various terrorist attacks, how will you feel?), does not mean other countries should engage in the same tomfoolery

  137. *sigh*

    an Indian life may not mean much to you, but it does to me. This is a very very offensive post – you have no idea, no idea at all how much the Indian military cares for its soldiers. Okay? Please never say this again it is not just untrue but downright insulting.

    Further, you have little idea as to how brutal war can be. The ease with which you discuss killing people is genuinely frightening.

    Violence has never been the answer, rather it is the control of it.

  138. @ Wafa
    Yes…versions of Hamas existed before Israel came into existance.

    Recall Jaffa riots of 1921?

    Stop finding moral equivalence for Jihadis. The issue is more fundamental in nature and you, of all people knows that very well.

  139. @Mr. Marvin, there is a reason for that. You need to stay in India for 2 months to realize why

  140. @Wafa,

    Regarding first question. If you ask that question, you should not have problems if Hindu fundamentalists decide to ask “what if” questions based on the rolling back of Indian history to the Islamic invasion. Questions like—

    “Would India even have Muslims had it not been for brutal invasions and forcible conversions? So what rights should Muslims have to India now?”.

    Yes the middle-ages are older than 1947 but who decides when the cut-off date for historical roll-back is? Convenience? Ideology? Surely it should be based on principle.

    Your second question is equally insidious. What if I ask “Would Hindu right wing forces receive so much support in the country if there was not something radically wrong with Indian Muslims?”. I am not asking that question because I am not crazy. But if I did, I am sure you would find that offensive. So would I. Yet you asked exactly that question, of course with Hindu and Muslim replaced by something else.

  141. Shaswata Panja June 4, 2010 — 3:39 am

    You know I heard this saying and it kind of stuck on:

    “If the Arabs were to disarm tomorrow,there would be instant peace.If Israelis were to lay down arms tomorrow, they would vanish into the Mediterranean”

  142. Ok — I am not trying to justify Hamas or saying I agree with their methods, or any such thing. Salam Fayyad has recently been starting a non-violent civil disobedience movement in the West Bank, which is something the Palestinians should have done decades ago. Frankly the Arab states should have accepted the existence of Israel in 1948 & worked for a compromise, not war. But we can’t turn back the clock. Both sides have committed atrocities. Both sides have suffered tremendously. But right now it is Israel that gets more military aid from the US than any other country;* it is the Palestinians who live under occupation. And it’s Gaza that has become one giant overcrowded refugee camp for everyone living there, regardless of whether they support Hamas or not. Or whether they voted for Hamas because they want Israel to disappear or because the alternative — Fatah — had become hopelessly corrupt. Under the current circumstances how are people in Gaza supposed to change their leadership even if they want to?

    The difference between the issue of Hindus & Muslims in India versus Israel & Palestine is that most of the incidents we speak of have happened within living memory & the demolitions & settler constructions are going on *right now*. Aided by American largesse. I don’t condone Babar’s temple demolitions or Ghazni’s raids, but really, are I & other Indian Muslims today responsible for things that happened 600 years ago?

    On the other hand, it’s not unreasonable to ask questions about what Israel is doing *now*. You are fully responsible for the things you do in the present moment.

    As for India’s response, another commenter has already pointed out that India could never take things too far with Pakistan because they, too, are backed by Uncle Sam & his billions. That, plus life is sickeningly cheap when there’s a billion to spare; our construction workers don’t even wear helmets.

    (*before anyone pounces on me, I am fully aware that the second largest recipient of US military aid is Egypt. True to form the US funding both sides of a conflict. Oh & the third largest is Pakistan. Between them, AIG & General Motors I weep for my tax dollars. But I digress.)

  143. Wafa,

    A good comment. I agree 100% with the first paragraph of your comment. It is again with the second para, that I have a comment to make.

    This whole “living memory” thing is a very subjective one. The Israelis would argue that the Palestinians only need to stop their suicide bombings and things would be Ok. The Palestinians would say that democratic protest doesnt work with Israel. Even with respect to India, people on the Hindu right would say that Muslims are actively doing bad things even now. And Muslim right wing say the exact same thing about Hindus. Everyone seems to have a very lucid living memory. And you may say today’s Muslims are not responsible for what happened 600 years ago and the Israeli soldier who is 23 may say that he is not responsible for what happened in 1947 and could he please not be attacked with weapons?

    My point of the post was not on the merits of the Israeli case vs the Palestinian one. It was that I felt, that given the very non-peace nature of the flotilla and the antecedents of the sponsoring organization, Israel were kind of justified, from a purely pragmatic perspective, to board that ship and check for undesirables. And that Israeli forces would be provoked was very plainly a pre-decided plan.

    With regards to the aid to Egypt, that is of course bribe money. Same with Pakistan. As a matter of fact, AIG is in many ways a corporate Pakistan. But I digress too.

  144. It was interesting to see such an active discussion regarding Israel and Gaza. However it was surprising that the name ‘Sderot’ did not figure once. Sderot is an Israeli town which has been partially destroyed and abandoned due to Hamas rocket fire. This may give some perspective regarding why Israel considers the blockade necessary.
    Now I will troll a bit.
    Wikpedia says “a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion”
    Mimi Sen’s comments were certainly not off-topic. She did not disrupt on-topic discussion. She posted a view which was worded nicely but did not agree with many (myself included). So she is definitely not a troll from this angle. She did provoke response though (may be emotional one). That way she indeed ‘trolled’. However evicting her did leave a bad taste. (I understand Arnab this is your blog and Mimi Sen can go post on her own blog and you are free to do what you consider right and all that. You are correct but it did leave a bad taste).

    PS: Before I read Harry-Potter-and-Philospher’s-Stone I never heard the term. After that I started reading blogs and suddenly there were ‘trolls’ everywhere. This is the first time I have used troll in a sentence. Do congratulate me for the same

  145. Sambaran,

    As of now, Mimi Sen has been trying to break through the ban by trying to post the same comment (as of now 10 times—caught by spam filters) daring me to stop her with the opening para: “I asked my brother (who works at IBM Zurich as a top security researcher)to know what technology is used to ban someone from online activities. He told me that it is not very easy to do it with 100% success. One has to be clever enough to make tall claims like “I’m banning you from my house.” Let me try if I’m able to post here or not.”.

    That is classic troll-like behavior.

    By the way did you see her comments on each of my last posts including the worst kind of mud-slinging at Tagore, Ray and many others on the Goopy Gyne post? [Tagore on Goopy Gyne–>not off-topic?] If this doesnt count as “primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response” then I dont know what is.

    Incidentally she had said she will keep commenting on my blog (besh korechi korbo were her words) and I am free to remove her comments. So thats what I am doing. There are many people who civilly disagree with me and that too habitually. Like Mohan.

    Incidentally there was a comment directing abuse at this lady which I removed simply because that is also troll-like behavior.

    By the way, “troll” is an old word. I encountered it in LOTR. I have no problems with them.

  146. Hey Bong,
    why did you ban mimi ma’am? she was so funny .. almost as funny as arundhati roy. By the way I noticed (from her blog-page) that she lives in the US but yet behaves as if she is from dandakaranya, “the spokesperson of the oppressed”

  147. BC,

    But you did visit her blog didnt you? Unfortunately that is the motivation for “troll-like” behavior —the more inflammatory comment you can make, the more attention you can attract. I let the inflammatory comments on the Tagore post stand, thinking them just to be opinions. Since then the assault of this person on my blog has just gotten more and more marked and I need to put a stop to this behavior since otherwise it will just keep going on and on.

  148. And for the satisfaction of all, I post the comment Mimi Sen has been trying to get through the spam filters. Ten times in total using different monikers and machines.

    Mimi Sen: I asked my brother (who works at IBM Zurich as a top security researcher)to know what technology is used to ban someone from online activities. He told me that it is not very easy to do it with 100% success. One has to be clever enough to make tall claims like “I’m banning you from my house.” Let me try if I’m able to post here or not.

    I’m very much tempted to reply to Mervin Belsky who probably is a perfect example of Israeli culture of lobbying and propaganda. He knows very well how to twist facts, suppress truths and sometimes lie when there is a chance of the lies going unnoticed by the ignorant audience. But I have no mood to post comments in this blog anymore. Please watch out for my blog in a few days, if you want to know about the Israeli government’s double standard in some depth and how it is vitiating the peace of the world. No, I’m not anti-semitic, I’m in the great danger of being misunderstood or being portrayed that way. I’m not a holocaust-denier. But Israel is committing nowadays is more dangerous than holocaust. Watch out for my post.

    Strong opposition is not trolling even if some people find it bitter when caught; banning for that reason is fascism and showing insecurity. But that’s OK. There will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing on the surface of the earth. We just have to deal with that with an iron hand.

    I think you already know who I’m. Read my posts above. They are still still there.

    Greatbong, why are you so paranoid at the thought of web-traffic decline? You don’t get paid for that. Or do you?

    Goodbye and Good luck.

    [GB’s comment: Do note the “subtle” plug for her blog in the “Please watch out for my blog in a few days, if you want to know about the Israeli government’s double standard in some depth and how it is vitiating the peace of the world”. This is *exactly* the reason why this person has been banned.]

  149. GreatBong, love your blog, don’t comment much tho. But hope this helps for future reference. Argue with a fool and that makes two 🙂

  150. well done GB in banning Miss Mimi.

  151. GB….
    request you not to venture your flotilla 🙂 in these uncharted waters of international politics (though a parallel with india does exist but 2 things ..

    theres an incredibly huge number of indians who have opinions about international politics & municipal elections alike so it doesnt matter
    we just have opinions & we do not give *TWO SHITS* [if i could, i would have written this in size 32 in bold] about deaths of armymen or our countrymen.Maybe about Sunanda Pushkar.

    So even your honest effort would go in vain.

    PS: this article got huge comments because this conflict has a religious background…..”M” people suddenly took notice of your pro-Israel stance (ohff even i m getting into it now)

    PPS: and for all your desires of seeing India become like Israel (to put it bluntly) there are guys like “Deep3rdMan” who call you “so hindutva”. Now i know why my motherland rots!

    PPPS: my comments are like always last….do u ever scroll down so much & read all comments?! just curious…. 🙂

    —Your Great Fan.:)

  152. And one more thing..

    i m surprised at the humungous,huge of amount of knowledge we have (or have borrowed from wikipedia) about ARAB-ISRAEL conflict which sounds *very* exciting to an Indian guy here in Mumbai whos fooling around on net & in office. I mean, people, why do we read so much about things that dont actually have any impact on us? And that too about Golda Meir & Hamaas?? Just for possessing an impressive amount of knowledge so that we can pontificate?!
    Ever cared about noisy weddings & drunk guys fondling with poor girls who carry lanterns? In your next lane? Not Gaza strip, next lane?!

    Get life, people!! Take a Chill Pill!! We always do, dont we?

    Damn this hangover!!

  153. Great post … Equally good responses to the comments. I liked the following one in particular –

    “who decides when the cut-off date for historical roll-back is? Convenience? Ideology? “

  154. OMG. I read your blog 2 days ago and now return to find this!!! This post and its comments are enough to fill your 2nd book. Good luck GB 🙂

    To all debating here I have to say one thing. Its not religious intolerance or paranoia that will take down mankind. Environmental changes will do so much before you can anticipate. So dont bicker over religion and start taking care of nature (your neighborhood to start with), as long as it let us live. Cheers.

  155. HA HA, KP, good post. Was feeling quite disappointed on my own lack of knowledge and actually tried googling a bit (on office time of course), but gave up whan I saw the humongous amount of information/ sites available on these subjects, and also partly because it was home-going time Aur yeh sab kaam office mein hi theek hai!!
    Arnab, I am a relatively new joiner on your blog, but hasn’t this flotilla post broken all your previous records on number of comments, number of vitriol-filled/ sarcastic comments, number of vitriol-filled/ sarcastic responses from your side etc etc. Politics, Religion, Armed combat, Action in high-seas, India-Pak, Angry protests from readers, Lathicharge (hee hee), Life-ban for one person, angry protests over that also, more action…….Boss, this post has it ALL.
    I have seen such blog action only in one place else, Rediff Movie Review section, by Mr Raja Sen of course. The review of Raajneeti has come out a couple of hours back, and already comments have gone to 7 pages and counting!!! And almost all comments unanimously lambast him!!!!
    But seriously Arnab, just curious to know, has this been your most action-filled blog post ever, or is there any other one? Would LOVE to read the other one too!!!

  156. @Rohan: It is usually futile to respond to people who pepper their sentences with qualifiers like ‘moron’ and ‘loser’. I think somebody said of Mimi Sen in the Goopy Bagha post…there is no use in arguing with an idiot, s/he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience…or something to that effect.
    Rohanbhai, it’s difficult to find a more apt commentator here to apply this to.

    Anyway, the point I was making is that if this commentator was behaving like a troll in a previous post, the action against him/her should have been taken in that context.
    The points made by her in this post were completely legitimate, though an opposing point of view.
    First of all, I think anything that ‘bans’ speech smacks of insecurity (Mimi Sen’s words, I guess).
    So, was GB’s action (his blogspace, his prerogative) taken in context of the goopy-bagha post, or this post? Was it because of difference of opinion with the commentator, or because of ‘trollish’ behavior (spamming the commentspace of this blog)?
    I think GB needs to make that clear. Again, that’s just my viewpoint. He need not. Either way I don’t think most of us are losing any sleep over it…:-)

    As for Rohanbhai, thand rakho…apni zindagi se matlab rakho. Going around abusing people you’ve never met, and probably never will, from behind the safe anonymity of the web, all for some ideological differences (in your case, not even that), is not only cowardly, it is patently stupid. Spend a couple of years more on the internet. Maybe you will realize the pointlessness of it all.

  157. Bengalinotbong June 4, 2010 — 11:30 am

    I slept through the flotilla incident. But then Mimi Sen livened things up. Arnab, pls can we have her back on RTDM. You can delete the portion where she adverts her blog.
    N.B. Trolls in Disc-world are not going to take the comparison with Ms. Sen kindly.

  158. Besides, what has six decades of machismo got this nation? If you ignore everything else, religion, ideology, geopolitics, history, what have they achieved with the approach that is being applauded by so many wide-eyed commentators here and on the streets of urban India (rural India hardly gives a damn I think)? They are in a constant state of war, a hyper-militaristic paranoid nation founded on religious fundamentalism, surrounded by militaristic nations built on religious fundamentalism…each forever threatening to annihilate the other.
    Why are we so enamoured of a nation that is so pig-headed that it just cannot envision a different way forward, and constantly strives to drown out voices, even within its own country, that think otherwise? As I asked before, is it only to cover up our own sense of impotence at our nation’s limp-handed response to the threat of Islamic terrorism?

  159. it is a nice ramble.

  160. Israel nvr compromises it’s security like us, rather retaliates ugly. Rightly said bout the middle finger thingie…!

  161. @Subhadeep,

    I think you’re confusing the support for the approach Israel takes against terrorist organizations, with support for Israel in general. Those are two entirely different things. Perhaps, there is an argument to be made against Israel for the Gaza strip blockade etc. Did you feel proud of India’s non-Israel or even U.S. like response of talking tough, without much action, after 26/11, the parliament attacks or even the Kargil encounters?

    To rephrase your question- What have we achieved in the last 63 years, by looking the other way and buckling to international pressure?

  162. @Harsh:
    “Did you feel proud of India’s non-Israel or even U.S. like response of talking tough, without much action, after 26/11, the parliament attacks or even the Kargil encounters?”

    No, I did not.
    But I did not seek refuge in cheering on violence that has nothing to do with my situation, and which, by all standards of human justice, not geopolitics, is unnecessary, counterproductive and in many cases, just cruel.
    The parallel with a religious riot is tragically amusing. People of my community are attacked in some remote location which is geographically and culturally far removed from me. I feel helpless, frustrated and angry. So I round up like minded people and belt my neighbors.

    And what have we achieved in the last 63 years? I assume your question is about our security environment, because otherwise, both Israel and India have come a long way. As far as security is concerned, sure India is as pig-headed as Israel in terms of being unwilling, or in our case, incapable, of rethinking our way ahead as a nation.
    So, is the answer to swing to the other end of the pendulum?
    Should we wall up parts of our population, revoke civil rights of sections of our society, economically and literally starve huge swathes of our population to ‘improve our security situation’?
    Everyone wants security. At what cost is the question. I don’t want Maoists killing my countrymen. I don’t want Paki terrorists shooting people on Indian streets. I, like you, share the dream of a India where every citizen’s life is precious. So is the answer for India to go on a rampage and blow up everyone who is termed a threat? Will it achieve the utopia we desire? Why don’t you ask Israel, who’ve tried it for 60 years?

  163. A very well written post but I disagree with you on most of the accounts if not all. IHH’s involvement with terrorism is a matter of international debate, on the contrary however it’s humanitarian resume is accepted very widely even by Israel. Flotilla was a fleet of 7 ships, 3 Turkey, 2 UK, 1 Iceland, 1 Algeria and 1 Kuwait. It also carried Israeli Arabs. Hanin Zuabi, a member of Israeli Parliament was on board too. To equate the Flotilla to a terrorist convoy is rather lame. You also seem to believe that Hamas is a real threat to Israel’s existence. Not only are they militarily incapable but they are universally condemned by Quartet and most of the Arab League to even stand a chance to form consensus on Israel’s destruction.

    Almost all the observations you have made are based of very very shaky grounds. Here’s some of the issues:
    -> If Flotilla was carrying IHH backed terrorists or anti-semetic sympathizers, then why did Israel released each and every foreign activists including Turks. Doesn’t make any sense, doest it?
    -> If the ‘so-called-terrorists’ were on board on Flotilla, it sounds funny that they were equipped with knives and iron rods in order to neutralize the IDF. On the contrary, it makes more sense that they resorted to anything and everything when it came to their defense against Israelis.
    -> Even if I grant you the shaky observations you have made, why did Israel only released tapes that they possessed and in a manner that clearly shows careful censors. Why are the videos and transcripts of the international journalists suppressed, seized or destroyed.
    -> None of the activist aboard Flotilla have given accounts of incidents with even remote resemblance to those of Israeli claims and in lots of ways yours too. So either the activists form 50 states across the world are lying or you and Israel are to be believed. The choice is very clear.
    -> Now let me also grant you that everyone else is a liar, but the world still needs to confirm that. And for that we demand an independent investigation, but guess what Israel denies any such a proposition, just like it rejected the Goldstone report.
    -> Israel declared well before the departure of Flotilla that Gaza doesnt even need aid. Nobody really believed that but lets say that you do, then why is Israel scrambling to have the ais delivered to Gaza?

    You also seem to miss a fundamental piece of international law on wars. Something called ‘Disproportionate Force’. The war on Gaza left 1500-2000 Palestinians dead in comparison to 4 Israeli causalities. To react to metal rods with shootings in the head is unbelievable arrogant, defiant and inhuman. The sole reason that Israel behaves the way it does is because it has American immunity, which believe me is diminishing by the hour. Israeli criminality is unsustainable to most parts of international community. Australia, UK, France, Ireland have already expressed their anger on illegal usage of passports for the assassination of HAMAS official by Mossad. Arab League has never been a friend of Israel and the Quartet regularly condemns Israel with the exception of US. The unsustainability of Israel is so much evident now that even Benyamin Netanyahu admitted that the West Bank settlements has to stop in next 10 yrs.

  164. Marvin Belsky June 4, 2010 — 2:14 pm


    “Besides, what has six decades of machismo got this nation (Israel)?”

    You would not know, but many of your own Hindu ancestors who had a safe India to run to, when they were kicked out by Islamists during Partition; would know better.

  165. methinks the real reason for indias inaction in the face of constant provocation from criminal countries like pak or BD has deeper reasons that issues in psyche or strategy…

    the political elite who rule india (read gandhi family + congress ) are actually indias worst possible enemy…they may have been carefully embedded into india to ensure that we never break out of the rut…

    consider that they stoutly resisted liberalising the economy and forced us in crushing poverty for decades until the gandhis were removed from took narsimha rao the first hindu ruler of delhi after prithwiraj chauhan to make all the epic changes that freed us forever..he liberalised the economy, strengthened nationalism and cemented ties with israel, he undid decades of damage caused by the nehru gandhi mafia…even paed the way for BJP to emerge …a true patriot who freed us forever

    we have lapsed back into the nehru -gandhi mafia again but hopefully we can shake them off once and for all…once we do we could be our true heroic selves and annhilate our enemies as they richly deserve

  166. Marvin Belsky June 4, 2010 — 2:23 pm

    @ Greatbong
    Thank you for informing me about Ms Mimi calling me a propagandist and liar, and generalizing that as a “Israeli” trait.
    All the information I had provided are historically veriafiable.

    My information on IHH (the peace organization doing the flotilla) and its connection to terror Lashkar-e-Taiyyaba can be verified with former Indian Intelligence official, Mr B Raman who has gone on record in the Indian Defence Journal about that.

    The killer of Daniel Pearl and dozens of innocents in Kashmir, was also a member of IHH.

  167. @ Subhadeep, you can look up the video . Undeniably it is propaganda, but since the majority of it is dry fact, it is most likely true and an indicator of success, especially considering the constant threats from its worthless neighbors.
    @ Kruttik,
    1. The Goldstone report was termed biased by all the western goverments, ” The Times”, “Th Economist”. Besides, the report mentioned that the people in Hamas cpntroled territories were not allowed to talk freely. Also, the Hamas did not carry out any subsequent investigation as reccomended in the report unlike Israel.
    2. The IHH is akin to JuD in pakistan. Regardless of getting into debate as to whether or not the organisation is a terrorist front or not, Israel is within its rights to stop the flotilla since it is banned at least by this country.

  168. @Marvin Belsky
    You should give credit to the blogger or provide his URL when you copy others work. check Does it sound familiar from 5th paragraph??

  169. @Dib
    If by western countries you mean US then your idea of Western nations is false. Every nation serious to Middle East issue has accepted Goldstone Report except US. So please get your facts straight. Infact the only state to be criticized more than Iraq in UN has been Israel. So make no mistake on the international pressure that Israel has.

    I am also not sure what you mean by ‘Israel is within its rights to stop Flotilla since it is banned by Israel..’. the world is not a function of Israeli declared laws. There is a strict international law framed to ensure the righteousness of any military intervention. Flotilla was in international waters and that makes it illegal. Period! If you logic were to make sense, then India could invade Pakistan, Iran could invade Israel, Israel could invade Turkey, Russia could invade the northern Caucasus, UK could invade Norther Ireland, Serbia could invade Kosovo, Malaysia could invade Indonesia, South Korea could invade N Korea, Turkey could invade Kurdistan, North Sudan can invade South Sudan, North Nigeria could invade South Nigeria, US could invade Somalia. Are you serious about what you are saying.

  170. @Kruttik,

    1. I think I messed up the reaction to the Goldstone report with the eventual resolution in the general assembly ( Neverthless the point remains, Israel did not carry out an internal investigation as the resolution asked for, but so did Hamas. Why not blame both? It just reminds me of the article by Greatbong on Arundhati Roy, where he pointed out that she reserves the majority of her criticism on one side , even if both are guilty.
    2. I had mentioned about the legality of the blockade before. Please go through the following link ( PART III : BASIC RULES AND TARGET DISCRIMINATION SECTION V : NEUTRAL MERCHANT VESSELS AND CIVIL AIRCRAFT) . I am sure before you can read and make your own conclusions.

    My point is, the Mossad have conducted numerous illegal espionage, kidnapping and murder in other countries. Pragamatic as they may be, they were illegal ( Even though every other country does that and Mossad just happens to be the most effective one in the game). However, this Flotilla incident was a rare occassion wherein it was both legal and pragmatic. The fact that people are criticising Israel blindly is surprising.

    PS: I dont remember any such objection when the navies of all the major countries were routinely invading the Somalian waters to catch the pirates in the region.

  171. Is there a rule like multiple links mean it goes for moderation?

  172. Yes Dib, to make it difficult for Viagra salesmen, comments with more than 2 links are automatically sent to moderation.

  173. In that case , I am posting the reply to Kruttik’s comment again sans one link. Thanks GB for responding quickly.


    1. I think I messed up the reaction to the Goldstone report with the eventual resolution in the general assembly ( wiki Goldstone_report#General_Assembly). Neverthless the point remains, Israel did not carry out an internal investigation as the resolution asked for, but so did Hamas. Why not blame both? It just reminds me of the article by Greatbong on Arundhati Roy, where he pointed out that she reserves the majority of her criticism on one side , even if both are guilty.
    2. I had mentioned about the legality of the blockade before. Please go through the following link ( PART III : BASIC RULES AND TARGET DISCRIMINATION SECTION V : NEUTRAL MERCHANT VESSELS AND CIVIL AIRCRAFT) . I am sure you can read and make your own conclusions.

    My point is, the Mossad have conducted numerous illegal espionage, kidnapping and murder in other countries. Pragamatic as they may be, they were illegal ( Even though every other country does that and Mossad just happens to be the most effective one in the game). However, this Flotilla incident was a rare occassion wherein it was both legal and pragmatic. The fact that people are criticising Israel blindly is surprising.

    PS: I dont remember any such objection when the navies of all the major countries were routinely invading the Somalian waters to catch the pirates in the region.

  174. Dumdum_er_Aantel June 4, 2010 — 7:14 pm

    Dear GB:

    There are many commentators who made abusive and sexist comments to Mimi Sen. You are probably right that she is trying to advocate her newly created blog but then, in Goopy Bagha post she agreed that the discussion was going off-topic and took it somewhere.

    In this post, it appeared that she was writing her opinions, (just like most of the people here). Besides, it was giving a different perspective for uninitiated like me.

    It’s your blog and you decide who to allow here. No problem. It just did not look fair to me that you banned someone. Just letting you know.


  175. what has six decades of machismo got this nation?

    Question is can they accomplish more if they scale down the machismo tactically, if not strategically. The answer is probably yes.

  176. @GB — Brilliant, brilliant post!

    I loved the way you concluded the post. I do wish that India sometimes give a stronger response, just to catch them unaware.

    But the question is whether Pakistan has grown too powerful – with not only US but China also backing them. And how can we even debate on Pakistan’s technological capability on delivering a nuclear bomb? The Americans did it in 1940’s. Don’t you think India and Pakistan would have caught up by now?

    I think all these views and questions are holding India back from making the correct response. The US made a press statement saying that they cannot hold India back if Pakistan does not clear the terrorist training camps in Pakistani territories. Neither India made the air strikes nor did I hear any news that Pakistan cleaned up the training camps.

    All I hear is the “requests” for more proof from our soft-hearted neighbor.

  177. Nice analysis of the Flotilla incident, GB. This is the second time Israel has gotten into a “situation” this year. Remember the Mahmoud al-Mabhouh incident in Dubai? However, that being said, it shows how resilient the Israeli state and it’s intelligence is. It sniffs and snubs out any threat before it can be carried out. What needs to be done, gets done, Period! You gotta give it to them. There are not in the $hit business, take no $hit, give no $hit!

    On a lighter side of things- Ms. Troll- reminds me of the character Anna Kendrick plays in “Up in the air” with George Clooney. LOL!

  178. oops……hit “Submit” too soon:

    Read – “They’re” instead of “There” –are not in the $hit business, take no $hit, give no $hit!

  179. @ GB, could not resist mentioning this:
    “IHH belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella group of Islamic charities known as “The Union of the Good,” which the U.S. Treasury designated a terrorist organization in November 2008.”

  180. $dipanjan: will you please verify the claims mentioned in the video. one lie is there israel is not thrid in scientific ranking ..for sure… they make up stories…. u know…. most of the records are unsubstantiated ..maybe cannot be sunstantiated ….the tone’s very regional, religious repulsive… see what maarviin belsky did here, the great israeali man.. did here..pure lift off raman piece… crab!! its again propagandzm.. always

  181. identicaltwin June 5, 2010 — 3:53 am

    @Adi-G : wow, straight out from a bar, are we ?

  182. Arnab, what is your problem if she asked us to watch out for her blogs. We have rights to view her opinion. Is the reason not very fascist for imposing such a ban? I just cannot imagine you can ban someone for that reason. She never abused anybody. No foul language. Really the RTDM reached the greatest low. You first told that you banned her for trolling when she is not doing so. You then told that she is unduly criticizing Tagore and Ray for cheap attention. But what she told was really true at least partially if not all. People usually resort to abusive language to make force an effective troll. She never did that. She is very much articulate in expressing her views. Is that your problem that people are more attracted to her than you in your own weblogspace? I’m very disappointed. Honestly.

  183. please read this

  184. GB,I think you seem to skirt over the complete disproportionality of the Israeli response to the flotilla. The fact of the matter is that the ship in question was bearing an overseas flag, and was on international waters, and should not have been boarded at all. A navy as sophistticated as Israel’s would have had a number of options to deal with the situation. They decided to take the most aggressive one (however ‘admirable’ it was; I certainly hope not to you) instead of pursuing a more diplomatic course of action. It could, for example, have used water cannons, demanded to speak to the ship’s captain, contacted Turkey and tried to get the flotilla stopped or formed a physical naval barricade, any one of which would not have required boarding the ship and having to use force, however inevitable. So when you say “A number of Israeli military men go onto the deck. Should they have? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no.” the answer is a clear no.

    You also seem to be slightly misreading the motivations of Turkey: “The Turkish government reacted with well-rehearsed fury, getting the applause of the Arab world and their citizens. Which is exactly what they too wanted. ” I’m not sure if Turkey was waiting with baited breath until Israel was aggressive towards them, in order to justify draping itself with some sort of cloak of Arab nationalism. The fact of the matter is that Turkey has been an ally of Israel even in the face of such egrigious actions by Israel, such as the 2008 Gaza offensive. It also conducts regular joint military exercises with Israel, and has close economic ties, all at the exasperation of true Arab nationalists. When a ship bearing your flag, and filled with your citizens is attacked and killed in this manner, I don’t see how else they could respond. (and it’s been since proven that there were no weapons onboard, only things like concrete, which surprise surprise, Israel doesn’t allow into Gaza). Even the US, the staunchest of Israel’s allies and enablers, seems to be unable to provide any excuses to Israel’s actions.

    You are correct to point to the unreasonable nature of Israel’s actions. It’s unreasonable from an objective view, and even from a subjective Israeli view. Now International attention has shifted from taking any action on Iran’s nuclear ambitions back to Israel’s actions. Israel’s unreasonable aggressiveness has shown that it is acting not only in the worst interests of the suffering Palestinian people, but also its very own. I know next to nothing about the Indian army, but I’m not sure if such unreasonable aggression is to be desired by anyone.

  185. “We have rights to view her opinion”

    Govind, the answer is NO. You have the right to view her opinion on HER space. And in yours if you want. Not on MINE.

  186. PJ,

    I seem to be tired of saying this to indoctrinated people like you but I will still say this. There is no “diplomatic solution” available to a group of military-men when you charge at them with improvised weapons. They cant then go for water cannons and want to “speak to the ship’s captain” as if there is too much salt in their omelet. As to their rights to board the ship, considering the antecedents of the organization they had every reason, given pragmatic considerations, to try to search the ship.

  187. Marvin Belsky June 5, 2010 — 2:35 pm

    @ Adi G
    Can you prove anything that I presented as being wrong?

  188. Marvin Belsky June 5, 2010 — 3:40 pm

    Censored footage from the flotilla, not shown by the mainstream media.

  189. @ Marvin Belsky

    Your opinion on hindus is much appreciated. Unfortunately hindus themselves dont realize that they are the victims of the biggest genocide in history.

    Perhaps so deep is the trauma within the hindu mind that it will take many decades to face this pain within them. But unlike buddhists or zoarastrians hindus are made of sterner stuff (as evidenced by their survival and fightback against islam). All our legends are based on war or conflict, all our gods carry weapons.

    Its just a matter of time before we hit back and show our enemies what we are. When their countries lay in ruins, perhaps then our society will find a modicrum of inner peace. Hinduism is not a forgiving religion. It is tolerant but once a line is crossed advocates complete death and destruction of our enemies. The nuclear wastelands on lands of our enemies will prove that one day.

    I also hope we will be friends with the jewish people a long time to come in the future. The jews are an absolutely remarkable people perhaps unmatched in history. It is because of their remarkable productive genius that they are targetted everywhere. Unfortunately a large part of humanity is uncivilised and thus easily become the animals they have evolved from relatively recently. Lucky for us that the two largest populations that of the Indians and the Chinese are peaceful and tolerant people. Note that it is in these two places that jews have never been persecuted.

  190. GB, thank you for the response. I’m taking fault with the “pragmatic considerations” concerning the ship in the first place. I don’t think that the flotilla posed some sort of existential crisis to Israel. This is indeed not the position of Israel, but then again, everything from unarmed children and women to concrete and meat (fired upon in repeated instances by the IDF, and barred from Gaza, respectively) seems to be an existential threat to Israel. But consider the fact that this ship, and the others on the flotilla, weren’t sent just arbitrarily. They were checked at the Turkish port from which they departed, and their passengers were also reportedly individually screened. Couldn’t Israel have at least contacted the Turkish authorities?

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that the IHH is “famous for dispatching” “fighters”. Of course the IHH may have appeared shady to Israel, which is fair enough, but couldn’t it have waited until the ship was in Israeli waters, or came to eventually dock before subjecting it to a search? The specifics of the IDF boarding of the ship: done at night, with all communications from the ship blocked, and orders to use lethal force given to the commandos, suggest a different intention on Israel’s part other than to merely search the ship.

    The “antecedents” of the organisation, and their supposed links with terrorist groups seem to be alleged only by Israel. The strategy of raising the ire of Al Qaeda to anyone they don’t like has worked well for Israel (and the US) in the past, but increasingly it’s becoming clear that without substantiation, these claims do not stand up to scrutiny. Let’s not forget that the ships of the flotilla were flying many different flags, all (Turkey, Comoros, US, Greece) of which are considered Israeli allies, or at least not antagonists. The passengers on the ships comprised of foreign nationals, many of whom were from countries similarly friendly to Israel. These included journalists, a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, and a member of the Israeli Parliament (!). By Israel’s definition, of course, anyone who wishes to alleviate the suffering of Gazans is a terrorist, and its actions following the incident show that it believes they all deserved what they got.

  191. Hey Arnab,
    I read about this incident on the internet and I caught your post… both a bit (very) late, due to some personal reasons. I will plead ignorance to certain degree about my understanding of the situation and I want you to know that I am not trying to refute your or your dissenters’ opinions, for that matter, at this point but am I mistaken that the ship was apprehended in open international waters? If so, then as far as I know such acts fall quite clearly under piracy (or, is the right term – pirateering in this case?). The chants of ‘death to Jews’ or ‘death to Debasish’ notwithstanding, once the act is that of a bunch of pirates then all bets fall off the table… no self preservation related justification is adequate. But then I might be off base (if I have misunderstood the situation somehow) and you and others would be justified to point that out. Anyways, I will read a bit more of the discussion above later.
    BTW, my sis got me your book to the US 2 weeks ago and I loved it with 2 exceptions: (a) Chapter 2 – this is not you – I didn’t like it and (b) I am quite upset you didn’t include the Letter from Andaman… I was hoping to have my daughter read it. In my opinion that is your best piece. (yeah, I could have her read it on my laptop but both me and my 12 year old – by design – are a bit old fashioned that way). But your book is still very cool and I hope you write more. I promise next time, I will spend my money to buy your book and in addition, have my sister spend hers 🙂

  192. @ Debashish,
    1. A navy intervention is not called “piracy”. I think you are mistaken.
    2. If there is a declared blockade in place and the neighboring neutral states have been notified of it, a country has the right to stop any neutral ship , even in international waters, if it is going to break the blockade.

  193. Marvin Belsky June 6, 2010 — 5:14 am

    @ Shouri
    Thank you for your kind consideration.

    @ PJ
    IHH’s connection to terror groups are even acknowledged by Indian agencies.

  194. Arnab,
    I read your every blog and every comment but never commented back as I agree with most of your views,but here is a problem….Arnab I didn’t get what you want to tell by giving the example of kidnapping Dawood or assassinating him.Is Dawood the focal point for all this problems?
    We have to fight with pakistan? and thus we can arrive at a solution.Is there any value to the opinion of Kashmiri’s in this democratic nation which is the apple of discord b/n India and pakistan.Here, we always tell ourselves that we are democratic ,peace-loving nation then why we force kashmiri’s to force our aristocracy through puppet governments.The solution can be Indian army walking into pakistan territory or pakistan’s sabotage against India.There is no solution except this???????.

    26/11 incident is only because of Pakistan.We know that we have a threat and there were recomendations by Y.K.Sabarawal and co. for a civilian divison of policing to prevent these type of attacks and Shivraj patil overlooked it and Kiran bedi calls it Gandhian way of complete non-violent policing and here we leave our nation’s security undressed all the time and react over 1/2 bloody incidents and Don’t you think mis-governance in India is also a reason for this.
    It seems that I’m diverting from what you have written and I know that I’m a jejune compared to you but your aggressive comments that this can be done,India would have done if it is Israel and all that is not so good.
    Dont take my comment in other way as I am a great admirer of your thoughts but didnt agree with you in this matter and I wanted to communicate this to you.I hope you understand and I feel there is a space for healthy arguments in your blog page.

  195. whats in a name June 6, 2010 — 12:59 pm

    Dear GB,

    I am a frequent visitor to your blog for the past one year and i have noticed a shift in your posts from a reasonable guy having his own opinion backed with sensible logics to a writer inspired by PROPAGANDA.

    Israeli’s are fighting this war from all spheres you can imagine that a blog by an Indian writer has so many comments by Israelis trying to justify their acts and spreading their false propoganda, they can go to any extent to spread their word. Alas you have fallen victim to them and have become another mouthpiece of Jewish media.

    Wake up you are a great writer can use your words in spreading the message of peace, love, equality and freedom and do good to mankind. Lets not contribute in complicating the already disturbed world peace. Lets not divide people.

  196. @ whats in a name

    And you claim to understand why the world peace is disturbed?


  197. Dib, thanks for your response. I will not argue with you since this type of arguments have a tendency of getting out of hand. However, after reading a number of news articles on this subject I can see that I am not the only one who equates this as an act of piracy. I will concede though that there is a possibility that all of us are wrong.

  198. Brilliant post. The analogies drawn are quite apt and shows the weakness of Indian approach. I totally agree with you. Don’t get discouraged by one or two negative comments. Its real treat to read your political posts.

    Just one request, write more often.

  199. Brilliant post this.GB, I guess many would disagree but I think your political views reflect the rapidly developing outlook of this new generation to a great extent. Yes it is true that a lot of us want India to emulate Israel and its no negotiation policy with the enemy with every incident in India. Be it the Maoists,the Kashmiri Militants or the home grown or Pak sponsored Jehads,everytime these groups inflict a damage we tend to question the basic premise of the value of life in India. Many commentators on your previous blog posts have also emphasized on the helpless collective national psyche post any attacks on Indian soil. Amidst this helplessness a vast majority of the younger lots look up to the policies of Israel and the success it has achieved in the last 7 odd decades and in theory support the use of surgical strikes or espionage tactics they have mastered in. Retrospectively many would argue if Israel actually achieved anything with all the aggression, wars,espionage or any other military/non military endeavor but in my opinion at least the country which has been on the edge has survived for all these years. Well this reminds me of the second half of Speilberg’s masterpiece ”Munich”; a question which has no easy answer.
    Propaganda or no propganda, Israel has achieved milestones which many countries including its neighbours could only dream of. Yes they have been ruthless at most of the time and I’m by no means supporting their actions but unfortunately in the struggle for survival this is how it is.
    I’m no military expert but in this episode in International waters I guess perhaps the mighty IDF could have used non lethal munitions or have aimed at the legs of the protesters but apparently close range shots were fired. You are absolutely right in commenting that the Israelis were caught a bit too early with their masochism in sending a message to the world. Yes a message was delivered but it did a fair damage in the eyes of the international community. Does that make any difference to the Israeli thinking? we know the answer!!

  200. Hats off GB …….. this Israel vis-a-vis India situation has been brewing in my mind as well …… you have put it very articulately, as always !!!

  201. @ what in a name

    I am not a israeli jew!!! 😀

  202. whats in a name June 7, 2010 — 6:38 am

    @ Tejaswy

    Lucky you. Good for you.

  203. GB, no comments on the issue under discussion, but as a blogger I fully support your decision to ban ‘Mimi Sen’. ‘She’ had it coming.

  204. @ marvin belsky

    if u wish, i have a friend in DC who shares similar views as your own…perhaps u can contact him on

  205. Two countries were artificially created after the second world war, both in the name of relegion. There has been nothing but trouble since then from these two. GB (Great Britain ofcourse..) is directly responsible for creating these two monsters.

  206. @Revati,

    That will aptly describe India and Pakistan 🙂

  207. Yeah, brilliant post.

    Look at Israel! And look at us!!! (applause and pathetic self-pity)

    Damn those liberal intellectuals, they celebrate murder! (applause again – death to Arundhati!)

    Faux scholarly analysis of the history of ‘the Middle-East problem’ – no mention of imperial powers. Educative indeed. (more applause)

    Puerile fantasy-based ideas – yeah! Let’s teach Pak a lesson! I can almost hear Strauss’ Zarathustra.

    For someone who loves to put people in their place, surely, you take yourself too seriously.

  208. A pretty balanced post from you, Arnab. And I mean that as a compliment.
    However, I fail to see what Israel has achieved by sending it’s military to a ship in international waters carrying unarmed men, and deciding to kill a few of them as bonus. All that they seem to have done is focus the world’s (including USA’s) attention on their illegal blockade on Gaza. Pretty stupid, really.

  209. @Swati
    India existed already. There has been such a country since several hundred years. Remember, columbus wanted to come to India, not Pakistan..

  210. what surprises me more that your inane comment (in a nutshell) “arabs=muslims”, is your attempt to defend that with long-winded sentences!…even when others, like sid, have pointed out the fallacy and inaccurateness of that statement. arnab (not that it would matter to you) you do disappoint me. looks like you have a huge problem admitting it when you’re wrong and for someone with your (obviously apparent) superior intellect, this is infantile, to say the least 😦

  211. Marvin belsky June 7, 2010 — 9:39 pm

    @ Shouri
    thanks. Will surely get in touch with your friend.

  212. @revathi
    The only difference that one country of two is trying to make a living hell for its neighbors, whereas for the other country, its neighbors are trying to make a living hell for it.

    May be that’s a good example of conservation of momentum in a closed system.

  213. @Revathi-

    Correct me if I am wrong. The sub-continent of “India” existed. Not the country. The sub continent contained all the small and large states ruled by Monarchs. The Europeans came by boatloads somewhere in the early 1500s. And they kept coming till they all got eventually kicked out in 1960s? Coincidently the first ones to arrive were the Portugese and they were the last ones to leave.

    Indian politicians and the indifferent attitude of the British led to the creation/separation/butchery of the country. The rest is history and the present whether one likes it or not.

  214. I cannot accept that india was created on the basis of relegion-The two countries that were created for achieving relegious purity are israel and pakistan.

  215. @ Junaid
    Show me how many Navruz celebrations in Islamic Iran allow the proto-Hindu Avestan chantings or recitation of any Gathas.

  216. great article Arnab. and yes, i’m replying waaay too late on this article and dont know if you will publish this comment. Anyhoo….

    I agree with your comparison India and Israel’s reactions, but as many posters have pointed out, Israel is guided by a siege mentality that has resulted from the persecution on the Jews since before the world wars

    At the same time, prominent journalists are calling for an end to all this blockading of Palestine/ Gaza

    to quote Haaretz’s Bradley Buston, [linked to article below]
    “Here in Israel, we have still yet to learn the lesson: We are no longer defending Israel. We are now defending the siege. The siege itself is becoming Israel’s Vietnam.”

    As for India, it is depressing. We as a nation are horrified by Lalit Modi and Sharad Pawar’s IPL shenanigans or Mallika Sherawat or Celina Jaitley’s short dresses but dont agitate more to end the horrors committed by the Maoists, or the gross miscarriage of injustice for the Bhopal Tragedy victims or, even the despicable Pramod Muthalik and his Ram Sene, Kasab and his ilk, the pandering to the masses regarding various reforms inc. petrol pricing or the Kandahar hijackings among other things

    Imbeciles like Mamta Banerjee, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Raj Thakrey among countless others continue to divide and rule, hell, even young leaders like Milind Deora chastise reporters for not beliving in the sacred hindu tradition of matching ‘gotra’ before marriage. The ruling class has become utterly cynical in it’s bid to retain their hold on power and the mango people [aam aadmi, sorry :(] is so entirely disillusioned and worn down by the daily rat race that they don’t give a flying fuck any more. It is sad that progressive and morally upright candidates like Arun Bhatia and Meera Sanyal cannot even recover their election deposits while uneducated buffons will continue to rule and utterly utterly fuck the country over[apologies for the language]

  217. You pathetic piece of Chaddiwalla…You are worse than the right-wing murderers. Even my Israeli friends are not supporting this.

  218. @ Anonymous
    hehehe…..looks like someone tied a saffron ribbon on your tail….
    I have a solution. Chant “Om” whenever you hyperventilate and feel like biting someone.

  219. Good to see that banned a

    [GB edits: let us not get taken down from the levels of discourse at this blog.]

  220. –Hamas is a terrorist organization and IHH (the flotilla organizer) has acted as a support group helping Hamas obtain political support and supplies. Just as Americans are arrested for furnishing equipment and money to terrorist groups as constituting “terrorist links” the same applies to the IHH. The IHH has organized propaganda and raised money for Hamas, furnished money for the families of Hamas terrorist casualties, and performed many other services which, as noted above, makes it an organization with “terrorist links.”

    –Turkish raids by previous government calling IHH terrorist. In 1997, a
    Turkish security force raid discovered in the IHH headquarters weapons,
    explosives, instructions for making bombs, and other furnishings that
    indicate it has terrorist links. Turkish reports say that the documents
    captured shows that IHH members, with organizational support, were being
    dispatched as Jihad warriors in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya. The
    group was also found to have bought automatic weapons.

    –A report commissioned by the Danish government is full of data about
    terrorist links. See here and here. This is how it opens the section on

    “Yet, the phenomenon of charitable front groups that provide support to
    Al-Qaida [includes]…the so-called Foundation for Human Rights,
    Liberties, and Humanitarian Relief (IHH).

    –The respected French counterterrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguière,
    has revealed, in the words of the Danish report:

    “IHH leader, Bülent Yildirim [who organized the Gaza flotilla], was
    directly involved in recruiting “veteran soldiers” to organize jihad
    activities. According to the French report, a number of operatives were
    sent by IHH into war zones in Islamic countries to gain combat
    experience. The report also stated that IHH transferred money, ‘caches
    of firearms, knives and pre-fabricated explosives’ to Muslim fighters in
    those countries.

    “An examination of IHH’s telephone records in 1996 showed repeated calls
    in 1996 to an Al-Qaeda guest house in Milan and to Algerian terrorists
    operating in Europe (one of whom was notorious Al-Qaeda figure Abu
    Ma’ali [Abd al-Qadr Mukhtari], who operated in Bosnia).”

    –IHH, according to Bruguière, was also involved in a terrorist attack
    on the United States, as he testified at the trial of Ahmed Ressam, a
    senior al-Qaida operative who in 1999 entered the United States with
    1320 pounds of explosives planning to carry out a massive attack at Los
    Angeles International Airport. He testified that IHH had played an
    important role in the attempted attack, providing forged documents,
    agents who helped Ressam, and weapons for al-Qaida. In recent days,
    Bruguière has repeated his statements on IHH noting there have been
    attempts to intimidate him into silence.

    —-Statement by Mete Cubukcu, editor-in-chief of NTV, one of Turkey’s
    largest television networks, on the German Television One show, that IHH
    was linked to international terrorism.

  221. Who is this Mimi Sen and what’s her deal? Read her post on her ‘interview’ …rarely seen such directed vitriol..

  222. hi, a brave topic u’ve chosen & good post, except some facts weren’t right.. refer for a clearer view on what happened.
    Also some reading into the history (since 1940-now) of the region would have made a big difference.

    I think you will have to revisit the topic as most of the claims that Israel made have been now proved false & have been taken back.. Kudos to independent journalism, now we know the truth. I salute the 60 international journalists who were on board the ship & who have brought the truth out to the world.

    As I said, this article sums up the whole incident, the attempts of the Israeli media to cover up the truth & how eventually truth had to come out:

    Will be happy if you could revisit the post after some reading.
    I am still a fan of your blog.

  223. Very very curious about this one:
    “It is little known that the strongest condemnation of Hezbollah attacks on Israel come from Saudi media”
    Can you point me to a source that says so?

  224. @ tasad
    Read what you sent.
    Loaded with links to strawmen material. It is unfortunate that some people are muddling the general cause of a free, democratic and secualr Palestine and Israel with the terror politics of Hamas.

    It would be great if you would revisit your views after some reading of the hsitory of the region, over the past few centuries.

  225. “Turkey … despite being one of the most well-off Muslim countries with a strong Arab population …”:
    A strong Arab population in Turkey? Had you said Kurdish, I would have understood. But where in Turkey do you have a strong Arab population. Arabs are a small minority.

    “Turkish government had always tried to gain acceptance as part of Europe rather than as a constituent of the Arab world …”
    True, that the post Ottoman stance of Turkey, that was Kemal Ataturk’s policy from the beginning – and with good reason. But what do you mean when you say “rather than a constituent of the Arab world …”. Are you trying to say Turks are Arabs – I hope not. “Turkic” is a distinct ethnic group … different from the “Semitic” – which includes Arab and Jew but not Turks.

    And finally, while it was very foolhardy for Israel to do what they did … do you really think it will have any long term impact on anything out there in Israel, in the Palestinian territories, and in the conflict’s chequered history in general.

  226. You write well as always … and while reading this one I thought at times I was reading Thomas Friedman or Leon Uris. Such meticulous exposition of selective facts/factoids combined with such careful skirting of ground realities, at least on the topic of Arab-Jewish conflict is their forte.

    I have lived in Israel and have visited Arab towns in the Galilee (including Nazareth), gone around in Golan, and had the good luck of visiting the West Bank and seeing the “Great Wall” at Bethlehem. In course of this I made a few Palestinian friends as well as quite a few Israelis. I am no leftist/maoist apologist, but I dare say … your view on this topic is thoroughly prejudiced. The formation of Israel and the excesses of The Holocaust have all been made into beautifully crafted movies (usually by Jewish “secular” directors like Steven Spielberg) – it’s the most romantic topic of modern history, I dare say sexy. What isn’t of course as sexy is the plight of the “terrorists” of Palestine, those third-rate, third-world scums who had neither education nor finesse, ate off the rocky desert, and died of malaria in the bogs of Palestine before their Zionist saviours came to their rescue and drove them out in hordes (of course not, it was the fellow Arabs who did it, isn’t it?). They deserved the extermination they got in 1948 and the rest as they say, is history – best forgotten.

    And I am seriously not trying to condone what Hamas does or even what earlier organizations with Jordanian backing have done in the past. I am not condoning Black September. I am merely saying that resettling Jews from Europe because no one wanted them there to Palestine at the cost of the homeland of local Arabs was not justified by any stretch of imagination either. It is only logical then that until *that* act of injustice is duly reversed, it would continue to lead a trail of increasingly bloodier “eye-for-an-eye” acts.

  227. Sorry for putting yet another comment … would I be considered a troll? Hope not.

    In 2005, starting some time in May, highways around Tel Aviv would be badly blocked at times. There would be people driving cars with fluorescent orange ribbons attached to them to express solidarity for people at the receiving end of the “Disengagement” operation – a rather well-meaning move by Israel to move Jewish settlers out of Palestinian territories (namely West Bank and Gaza). There would blockades in protest against disengagement. The Israeli army in a bizarrely new role would be shown on TV spraying water from water canons on stubborn Jewish settlers unwilling to budge from their occupied territory settlements. Even some kibbutzim and mohavim inside these areas were targeted. That was Likud/Kadima in 2005 under an apparent hardliner like Ariel Sharon. It clearly showed that there was a political will in Israel to move towards peace with necessary compromises. Sadly, things have changed a lot since then … because today a murderer like Netanyahu, I dare say the deadliest in Israeli history, topping even Menachem Begin, is in power. This man has no real eye for peace or progress or resolution – expect more of this from Israel in the days to come.

  228. @ Arindam
    Bibi is a hardliner, and he is in power because of the lack of sincerity on the part of the Palestinians (atleast a majority of their leadership) in going down the path of peaceful co-existance. Israel has been stabbed on the back numerous times, the Oslo Accord being the most recent of them.

    Zipi would have won the election if the Islamic world wasnt swearing on wiping Israel from the face the planet.

    @ Intefada apologists
    And speaking of Palestinians and their backers, I wonder why it was only a secular and democratic Lebanon (of the forties and fifties), which helped the Sunni Palestinians by giving most of them refuge in their country.

    Where were the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the oil rich Arabs with miles of empty land?

    And look at how the Palestinians repay them back….
    by supporting Islamic terrorists in Lebanon and protracting a civil war that destroyed Lebanon forever and turned it into another theocratic fundamentalist state.

  229. The irony is India-Pakistan & Palestine-Israel conflict started almost at similar time.
    Israel’s screw-you we would do what we want with Uncle’s backing has not worked at all. After 6 decades they are still in conflict.
    India’s general approach (or rather lack of any sort of organized approach) and fluttering like a wind sock based on international opinion has not worked either.

    So what is the approach to solve any of these kind of bloody continuing conflict and grievances? Answer : Not known!

  230. @Junaid

    If you are ever in the mood for some honest contemplation, please read this:

  231. the UNHRC’s report on the Flotilla incident:
    Do ask yourself if your reading of the incident as depicted in the doctored video tape and the rections of the Israeli soldiers therein was justified:

    Click to access A.HRC.15.21_en.pdf

    I am ashamed that you compared India to Israel in this post, btw.
    That has to definitely rank as among your lowest points in this blog.

  232. @nirvana demon,

    I am ashamed that you cite the UN as a reference point for your arguments. Remember Goldstone report?

  233. @ D
    Thank you for that link. I loved the presentation of the gentleman in the link you gave. Interestingly, a few of those apply to Bharat as well.

  234. Aparently that guy was supposed to talk in favor of the motion and got fed up with Lauren Booth’s (Tony Blair’s “enlightened” sister-in-law) nonsense and changed sides!! But, it was really an awesome filmy twist!!

  235. @ D
    Lauren Booth is now part of the waspnest.
    Though dumb and merely acerbic when singular (leading to most thinkers and moralists ignoring and underestimating the likes of her), but deadly and pernicously pervasive when working in unison with the Ummah.

  236. just for khujur, I still cant get over my Israel fixation:

  237. where do u live?

  238. I like your articles. This one is brilliant. Great comments too.

    My answer to “Why can’t India be more like Israel?” argument is that India can afford to be lazy and non-combative. Israel can’t afford to lose ANY attack on its soil.
    Forget about going into a foreign country and assasinating known gangsters and smugglers and terrorists, I’ll be glad if Indian GOvt stops insurgents from entering our soil and protect the lives of Indians in their own country.
    The ruling class of India STILL treats our military and civil services with the “outsider” mentality of British Raj.
    Indians wait for the blessings of USA/UK/UN to take ANY action against Pakistan, even if they have violated all possible rules. India doesn’t make enough noise in the international media when there is injustice. We need our own Al jazeera in this part of the world.
    Its only after mumbai attacks, that the US president openly endorsed that India has a right to protect itself.

  239. It was very much interesting your analize but unfortunetly with all your informations you dont know how much it is hard when a people(Palestinians) have been kicked from their homes and land to bring some other imigrants because they are jews, please go back to the history to understand the Palestinian conflict which create radicals like Hamas go and look to the other side (israel) and have some info about their radicals then you will understand more.

  240. @ Rania
    Remember Oslo.
    The ball has been in the Islamic world’s court for a long time.

  241. Kudos Arnab!Ive gone through your whole archive till this post over the past few months and even though you jot down an applaud worthy piece i would reserve the greater share of my appreciation for the kind of moderation you exhibited.Ive been missing your response to even some of reply worthy comments in many of your consecutive past articles but here response were precise and to the point(may I add irritated at times but thats totally acceptable considering your situation).
    You even mentioned earlier that you’ve been labelled with all sorts of left wing and right wing tags but I believe that’s the price for being neutral(and famous).Being a fan i want to assure you to ignore the threats to boycot your books and blog(i know you already do that but just felt putting my 2 cents and give a jadu ki jhappi in the midst of “down with GB chant”).
    Keep up the good work!

  242. One q though GB,ive always been enchanted by the Pro Arundhati Roy junta to support her like a fanatic.I mean dividends to Ms Roy over her “struggle” are obvious but idk why even the well read fan toe her line though there’s nothing in there for them?

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