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Pirates, Blockades, Embargoes and Privateers
June 3, 2010
by William P. Meyers

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Some people are in an uproar because Israel used what anyone else would call excessive force to capture a Turkish aid ship headed for Gaza in Palestine. Some people are just beginning to notice that most post-Holocaust Israelis adopted the core Nazi values of racism and killing anyone who gets in your way (which were core American values until the 1960s, truth be told). Palestinians just happened to be in the way of Jews who wanted to resurrect the ancient kingdom of Judea.

My analysis is that the Israeli high command probably gave advance orders to their gunmen raiding the charity fleet to use lethal force because they wanted to disrupt the impending settlement talks with the Palestinians. They think President Barack Obama will be weakened by the November elections in the United States. They think they can get another postponement, or a better deal after November. They are willing to take the short-term hit for the perceived long-term gain.

If indeed some of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara tried to stop the Israeli gunmen from boarding their ship, it was within their rights of self-defense. Pacifists would say it was wrong, and with their weird non-violence logic (see Non-violence and its Violent Consequences) would have blamed the victims on the ship, not the gunmen. If the point was to show the brutality of the State of Israel and bring attention to its illegal blockade of Gaza, however, those who defended themselves, and made the ultimate sacrifice, did the right thing.

Turn it around to see the justice. A bunch of German liberals decide to take supplies to a concentration camp or ghetto to feed Jews during World War II. Nazi gunmen stop them, first with beatings, then with bullets. Who would justify such Nazi actions, except the Nazis themselves?

Many wars have started with embargoes or blockades at sea. Embargoes are not in themselves acts of war, although they certainly can provoke wars. Blockades are acts of war. If a war has not already begun, a blockade is a good start. Remember the American War of 1812? The British blockade of Europe (they were at war with France and its allies) was one of the main factors.

The American Revolutionary War is thought of as a time of sacrifice, and for most of both the terrorists (I mean patriotic ancestors) and those Americans who remained loyal to Great Britain it was. But some Americans made out like bandits: privateers. They were authorized by Congress to seize British ships, and captured a lot of profits in the process. If the loyalists had won the war, in retrospect we would call them pirates.

Self-defense is a right, but it is a tricky right that runs up against the self-defense and private property rights of others. Surely Jews in Europe had a right to defend themselves against Adolf Hitler and his gunmen in the 1930s and 1940s. Surely the Palestinians had a right to defend themselves against the mainly German, Jewish invaders in the 1940s. So where should the Jews in European camps have gone? In retrospect, back to Germany. Anti-semitism was discredited and the Nazi Party was banned. They would have been safe there, but they did not feel they would be safe there, which is understandable.

As I said, choosing to not sell to a nation through an embargo is not an act of war, whereas a blockade usually is an act of war. But there are gray areas. After World War II started in Europe the United States, the Netherlands, and the British Empire joined in an embargo against Japan. The Japanese felt this was an act of war, since it meant they could get no petroleum, which they needed to defend their own empire. Attempts at negotiations failed largely because President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted a war to cement American dominance in East Asia, while Great Britain wanted a war because that would also involve America in the fight against Germany. Sure, if the embargo had caused the Japanese to surrender without a fight, America would not need to declare war. In 1812 Britain had the embargo, but America declared war. When you are a global economic superpower, I think it is fair to say that an embargo is a de facto declaration of war.

I believe the United States bears much responsibility for the situation in Gaza. We demanded free elections as a condition for statehood for Palestine. Then, Hamas won the elections. The United States then reneged on its promises. Americans may have missed that hypocritical song and dance routine, but Palestinians and Moslems in general did not.

I see no ethical distinctions between Hamas and Likud. In American politics the practical distinction is in the number of Jewish voters in swing states like Florida and New York, and the ability for American Zionists to contribute to election campaigns.

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