Eric Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell, is often wrongly thought to have been writing science fiction in his seminal novel, 1984. In fact, he was simply warning about certain tendencies in governmental practice as actually observed not only in the mass authoritarian regimes but often in his own Britain.
Thus, newspeak, whereby the government calls things by their opposite, is an arrow in the quiver of the abject everywhere. So when the far rightwing government of Israel names anti-war peacenik Kenneth O’Keefe a “terrorist”, it is being Orwellian, but only in the sense of behaving as the worst governments typically do in contemporary times, not in the sense of resembling a dystopian future.
Rightwing Zionism is one of the more dangerous purveyors of newspeak nowadays. Former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz tried to invoke anti-terrorism laws forbidding attacks on US troops to keep peaceful protesters away from US military bases.
And it isn’t just governments. Israeli music promoter Shuki Weiss referred to the rash of cancellations by Western bands such as the Pixies of their scheduled appearances in Israel this summer as “cultural terrorism.” The musicians are protesting the aid flotilla massacre, in which 9 innocent persons were killed and 30 wounded. Come on. I’m not big on cultural or academic boycotts myself, but ‘cultural terrorism?’ How is declining to come a way of inspiring fear in someone? Maybe you could call it cultural passive-aggression. But terrorism?
By the way, one of the musicians now boycotting Israel is Gil Scott-Heron, who performed the classic “The Revolution will Not be Televised.” What he did not realize was that it couldn’t be televised because the Israeli navy jammed the signals.
But back to the serious. The tendency of the modern national security state is to recategorize peace work as a form of terrorism, and the Bush administration placed many peace workers on the no-fly list.
The implication of the Israeli government that a corps of ‘trained terrorists’ pre-planned an assault on the Israeli troops that illegally boarded their vessel in international waters is rejected by all the eyewitnesses.
A kind reader pointed out that Israeli troops and the Israeli authorities have now admitted to firing bullets at the deck of the Mavi Marmara before the commandos landed, and I think the evidence is that these bullets wounded some passengers and provoked the resistance to the landing.
“T. said he realized the group they were facing was well-trained and likely ex-military after the commandos threw a number of stun grenades and fired warning shots before rappelling down onto the deck.”
The NYT also reported that the Israeli military fired rubber coated steel bullets before landing on the ship.
Alarmingly, there is now good evidence that the Israelis systematically erased much of the photographic evidence of their aggressive assault on the ship after they confiscated it from the passengers and journalists.
No wonder the Israelis are rejecting an independent commission to investigate the massacre— it would find that not only were crimes committed, but that there was then a concerted cover-up.