Israeli Likud Gov’t Buffeted by Turkish Suit, Massive Protests

The far right wing government of Binyamin Netanyahu in Israel is being buffeted both internationally and domestically. In both instances, the discontent is being produced by right wing policies, which argue for the goodness of hierarchy, the legitimacy of inequality, and express a preference for the use of force to settle problems.

Turkey has decided to take Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague over the wrongful killing of 9 Turks (one of them an American citizen) by Israeli commandos in May of 2010. The commandos boarded an aid ship, the Mavi Marmara, attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza.

Israel has refused to apologize for the killings, to admit any wrong, or to pay compensation to the families of the victims, infuriating a Turkish government that had been one of the Israelis’ few friends in the region. The refusal to apologize reflects the ruling Likud Party’s philosophy of the Iron Fist, which has roots in the mass politics of the interwar period.

A UN Human Rights commission report had found that both the blockade and the attack on the Mavi Marmara are illegal in international law. The Palmer report, prepared by a former New Zealand Prime Minister and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and issued on Friday condemned Israel for excessive force but called the blockade itself legal because it aimed at preventing weapons from reaching Gaza. (The blockade of weapons imports is of course legal, but Israel as the occupying power is in the wrong legally to blockade staples and other necessary goods, and is wrong to prevent Palestinians from exporting their products; that Israel is wrong is clear in the plain text of the Geneva Convention of 1949 on occupied territories, which Mssrs. Palmer and Uribe appear to have neglected to consult.) Neither UN committee report on the incident has any legal standing, which is why Turkey is going to a body that has the standing to adjudicate the dispute– the ICJ.

Turkey also announced an end to Turkish-Israeli military cooperation and reduced the level of diplomatic recognition between the two countries.

Aljazeera English reports:

The likelihood is that Turkey will prevail at the ICJ, since both UN investigations have maintained that Israeli commandos in fact committed a tort in the killings.

An ICJ ruling against Israel on this issue could begin an avalanche of tort suits against the Israelis, who have been pursuing illegal policies in settling the occupied West Bank and usurping Palestinian land and water. Such international judgments could accelerate after the United Nations General Assembly votes to admit Palestine to membership in the UN, which will likely have the effect of encouraging countries to upgrade Palestinian representation to embassy status. Palestinians with an embassy would be in a position to file persuasive amicae curiae briefs in tort lawsuits against Israeli concerns in a particular country that are owned by companies that profit from illegal West Bank colonization.

The domestic turmoil came in the form of big demonstrations around the country by Israelis protesting the high cost of living. Right wing politics is about government favoring the rich over the rest of the population, about using ethnic divisions, alleged threats to the nation, and other diversions to justify to the mass of voters as to why they should elect a party that will take money and resources away from them and give it to the super-wealthy.

Instead of protesting that a handful of billionaires is scarfing up the lion’s share of the country’s increased wealth, Israelis would do better just to turn the right wing parties out of office in the next election.

25 Responses

  1. More Palestinians have been killed by Israelis than viceversa. So Palestinians should have the right to disarm Israel. The gross error in the UN report demonstrates the danger of depending on the UN for justice. People like Norman Finklestein repeatedly cite UN resolutions in advocating for the Palestinians. And Juan Cole constantly talks about legal vs illegal wars. So let’s remember that international law is a work-in-progress that hasn’t gotten to far. And it seems like many decisions of international bodies are ignored.

  2. Juan,
    This post is off topic, but might be of interest to some of your readers, especially the international readers who are trying to make sense of the politics here in the USA.

    The first article is by an ex Republican staff member who worked almost 30 years, including in the budget area for the house and the senate. He uses the word “cult” to describe the Republicans who are concerned only with power and are taking down the government to pass resources to the oligarchy.

    link to truth-out.org

    Toward the end he mentions ALEC. The American Legislative Exchange Council. This is a right wing effort, funded by corporations and billionares to write legislation for the States. Here is an aside that I learned from a government professor. The USA is basically a bottom up country with the local and states with a lot of power. The founding fathers never considered a take over at the bottom. So what is happening cannot be stopped by constitutional means. They started 3 decades ago taking over local school boards. Now there is a national effort in many states to severly weakin public education, or what they call government education. ALEC proposals are being enacted in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and many, many other states.

    Here is just one article on ALEC’s work to supress voting. Some of us thought voting was sacred, but when your goal is only power, all means are available.

    link to dailykos.com

    One can do a google search on ALEC. The first entry is their home page. I recall that about 30% of Republican state legislators are members of ALEC. Then a couple of lines down is ALEC exposed.

    If the Democrats had not to a large extent sold out to the powers that be, namely the banksters, military industrial security complex and corporations, they could take control of the country through the ballot box.

    Even in their comprimised state, they could make ALEC a big issue and run against what they are doing to the country.

    A big issue is the lack of citizens in the USA. We have consumers and uninformed people with opinions from the media, but we have a shortage of citizens.

    • To keep your post on-topic, compare the American events you describe to this 7-part interview with a radical Israeli economist about the rise of the rich there and their use of the Occupation to distract the public from the ills of privatization and wealth polarization.

      link to therealnews.com

      The similarities between Israel and the US are so great as to be sickening. It’s as if Israel was taken over by a bunch of sleazy hustlers to use as a testbed for a much bigger target: the USA. He even parallels your point about sneaking in oligarchy from the bottom; that Israel created plausible deniability for its growing tyranny, apartheid and race-based lawlessness by letting soldiers and settlers in the OT come up with all the violations of international law right on the spot, and then have its courts refuse to punish them. The argument that our boys on the battlefield have impunity from international law is the doppelganger to the ancient US worship of the idea that local government, cops, property owners, and churches can lynch, enslave, pollute and discriminate free from centralized tyranny.

    • Yeah, taking us down by being organized from the bottom up. That’s ALEC, the scum, who have apparently all read James Michener’s “The Covenant,” which explicates so very clearly how that little bunch of ambitious Afrikaners in the Broeder Bond managed, over a generation or so, to “take over” the whole nation. By filling the civil service with like-minded people, one little job at a time, and filling the ranks of teachers with their Fifth Columnist buddies, and on and on until voila, you had how many generations of Apartheid and the attendant theft of all the wealth of the nation to satisfy the greeds of the Few. Why are the most of us so stupid, time and again, to let the few of us steal everything from all of us?

      And it ain’t like ALEC is the only active bunch in that attempt to Take It All, to clear the table, to score that ultimate GOOOOOOOOAL! For all you poohpoohers telling us there’s nothing to worry about from our fellow American Talibanners, lookie hear: link to dailykos.com That’s a tasty appetizer, no? The best selection of Buffalo Wrong Wings on the menu.

      For a main course, how about a Bourbonnaise of EspritdeCorps? link to yuricareport.com See how easy it is? And it’s like termites or scabies or bedbugs – the resistant little shites are the very Devil to get rid of, once they get a foothold, beachhead, Parrot’s Beak in hand…

      And for dessert, or is it “desert,” link to destination-yisrael.biblesearchers.com Not to worry, think of all those well-trained soldiers, coming from that controlled and captive environment in the military, where groupthink is so compelling, moving right into the big-biceps, tactical shooting, “security” functions brought to us by the New Private Armies of the Night…

      Oh, it’s all just Conspiracy Theories, now isn’t it?

      Maybe you have never read Michener’s “The Covenant,” or don’t care to remember how the Afrikaners, on the slow bu accelerating Long March to Apartheid, figured out how to quietly fill the ranks of civil servants and school teachers with “their kind,” leading to the ass-endancy of the Broeder Bond? Naw, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen any more, does it? Sneaky, evil, greedy little Nabobs, using the touching faith (or cultivated ignorance) of the many in the ruleoflaw, in the inherent goodness and fairness of Government Officers, as the path to a very unhealthy kind of power? Gee, do you suppose DeLay and Newt and the Koch brothers and the rest might have read that, and other texts on “self-help,” or “helping themselves,” in their personal Pilgrim’s Progresses?

  3. It is a shame the the USA Government does not allow Aljazeera to broadcast in the USA. That censorship harms our democratic process.

    • Is this true? How does the government do this? Aren’t there some cable systems that carry Al Jazeera English? You can certainly watch it streamed on their web page.

      • Free political speech means PUBLIC FREE POLITICAL SPEECH. It does not mean out of reach speech. Let Aljazeera have access to the general public as Fox, ABC, CBS or NBC do. Let it compete ideologically and commercially with the big guys.

  4. “The far right wing government of Binyamin Netanyahu”

    Huh????

    If I listen to the Republicans in the US, it is a Far Left Socialist government. It forces every Israeli to have health insurance. And it owns or controls most of the land in the country.

    • 18 families control 60% of the Israeli economy. To a Republican, that looks like Mission Accomplished!

      Once wealth is that concentrated, those other blemishes you mention can easily be corrected by yet another pro-privatization brainwashing campaign.

  5. Doesn’t this sound awfully familiar: “Right wing politics is about government favoring the rich over the rest of the population, about using ethnic divisions, alleged threats to the nation, and other diversions to justify to the mass of voters as to why they should elect a party that will take money and resources away from them and give it to the super-wealthy.”

    If Israeli domestic politics is anything like that in the US, then I think a combination of large, public demonstrations and turning the coalition out of office is the only thing that will turn the tide – and thinking – in Jerusalem.

    The same thing is needed in the US to get rid of the far right wing-dominated, ideologically driven, remains of the Republicans in Congress and the Senate.

  6. Turkey has a strong case and may indeed prevail at the International Court of Justice, if the court ever gets as far as hearing the facts and the legal arguments. But bringing the case before the Court may be turn out not to be simple in practice.

    The following comes from the website of the International Court of Justice:

    Only States (States Members of the United Nations and other States which have become parties to the Statute of the Court or which have accepted its jurisdiction under certain conditions) may be parties to contentious cases.
    The Court is competent to entertain a dispute only if the States concerned have accepted its jurisdiction in one or more of the following ways:

    • by entering into a special agreement to submit the dispute to the Court;

    • by virtue of a jurisdictional clause, i.e., typically, when they are parties to a treaty containing a provision whereby, in the event of a dispute of a given type or disagreement over the interpretation or application of the treaty, one of them may refer the dispute to the Court;

    • through the reciprocal effect of declarations made by them under the Statute whereby each has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court as compulsory in the event of a dispute with another State having made a similar declaration. A number of these declarations, which must be deposited with the United Nations Secretary-General, contain reservations excluding certain categories of dispute.

    […]

    Proceedings may be instituted in one of two ways:

    • through the notification of a special agreement: this document, which is of a bilateral nature, can be lodged with the Court by either of the States parties to the proceedings or by both of them. A special agreement must indicate the subject of the dispute and the parties thereto. Since there is neither an “applicant” State nor a “respondent” State, in the Court’s publications their names are separated by an oblique stroke at the end of the official title of the case, e.g., Benin/Niger;

    • by means of an application: the application, which is of a unilateral nature, is submitted by an applicant State against a respondent State. It is intended for communication to the latter State and the Rules of Court contain stricter requirements with respect to its content. In addition to the name of the party against which the claim is brought and the subject of the dispute, the applicant State must, as far as possible, indicate briefly on what basis – a treaty or a declaration of acceptance of compulsory jurisdiction – it claims the Court has jurisdiction, and must succinctly state the facts and grounds on which it bases its claim. At the end of the official title of the case the names of the two parties are separated by the abbreviation “v.” (for the Latin versus), e.g., Nicaragua v. Colombia.

    Israeli officials have already indicated that Israel will not agree to submit the dispute to the ICJ’s jurisdiction and have shrugged off Turkey’s threat to take Israel before the World Court as “pistol firing blanks.”. That display of bravado may be a bit of whistling in the wind, since a case may be brought before the Court against its will if the case involves the violation of international treaties and conventions to which both states are parties.

    Turkey’s government has announced it intends to act promptly, initiating proceedings before the ICJ next week. We’ll find out in due course whether the court will agree to take the case. Since oroceedings before the ICJ usually proceed at a stately pace, this may take a while.

    • I think you’re misunderstanding the point, Andras.

      A judgement by the ICJ will not be compulsory. I’m sure the Turks understand that.

      But then the Palmer report judgement has no legal value either. That has not bothered Israel.

      I should think the Turks are thinking in the same way. At least the opinion of the court has more value than a UN commission which was put together ad hoc, with members potentially biassed.

      To suggest that the Turks don’t know what they are doing seems to me strange. There are people to tell them whether what they are doing will work or not, before they reach the point of making a public announcement.

  7. You should have noted that the report is not an impartial “fact finding commission” but a political report that was meant to patch relations between Israel and Turkey. It gives each side a little bit. Thus the compromise: the blockade is “justified” but “excessive force was unnecessary”.

    Unfortunately, Turkey, with its desire to get an apology from Israel and put this incident in the past, played into the hands of Israel’s right wing government.

    The blockade, which collectively punishes 1.5 million impoverished stateless people (stateless because Israel prevents them independence yet denies them citizenship, thus resulting in a perpetual “limbo”) and prevents them from importing or exporting and locks them in an open air prison where they have to dig tunnels like animals to smuggle in basic necessities, can only be considered “legal” if we go back to Biblical moral codes…

    In addition, killing point blank execution style unarmed people in international waters described with the soft language of “excessive force” was another attempt by Turkey to appease Israel and receive an apology.

    In the end, Turkey’s appeasement of Israel not only did not result in the apology but has played into Israel by justifying its criminal policies. Turkey is mad and you can see why.

    The lesson is clear: do not try to appease Israel. Everyone who has tried in the past, came later to regret it, including the US which now finds itself as an obedient servant to Zionist interests dictated by Tel Aviv, despite having spent well over $100 billion and its entire political capital.

    • I agree with everything you wrote. It will be interesting to see how this plays on the network news, if this story ever sees the light of day.

      In the US there is a hands off approach to anything that ivolves any news that might be critical of Israel. For instance, if the flotilla attack involved different victims there would be wall to wall coverage. By that I mean, if the eleven innocent victims would have been jewish or Israelis the outrage would have been international in its coverage and outrage. Since the terrorist were those mentioned above, very little has been reported.

  8. The revolution against the rich has begun everywhere but in North America.

    There are a few places where the Right rules because the Left is hopelessly split between several parties run by prima-donnas, like France and Britain, but the real people are in the streets there too.

    We should have seen it coming. It all began in Latin America and its rebellion against the Washington Consensus, beginning 10 years ago. Our media found a flawed villain in Hugo Chavez to blame, thus making all the ordinary activists into “outside agitators”. The truth was far more remarkable. When the Bolivian native peoples literally chased their neoliberal government from city to city – on foot – I began to see I was way behind on the most important political development of our time (not 9/11). Our media portrays Evo Morales as an unrepresentative radical who hijacked Bolivia for his master Chavez. The Bolivian poor view him as some sort of useless mainstream sellout, because they’ve moved past Marxism all the way to anarchism. Real anarchism, grassroots and faceless, the kind that we’ve all been taught can’t exist because all Socialism is really a plot by longhaired elitists.

    That’s the story that ties everything together from South America to Greece to Egypt. Of course disgust with the American empire has led normal, mostly capitalist states like Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa to turn against us as well, even though their socialist credentials are damn thin. It’s allowed their leaders to stay ahead of the marchers, who are on a hair trigger against privatization and government layoffs. It’s allowed them to rebel against America’s new monopoly center, Microsoft, by propagating Linux as an alternative system to avoid paying licensing fees to the little crook with the eyeglasses whom our antitrust regulators refuse to punish.

    However, too many people on the Left, and even isolationist Right, are obsessed with man-love for anti-American strongmen like Putin who put nationalism over Wall Street. There are more genuine revolutions, playing out over a longer time scale than the career of a single autocrat. In the streets of Mexico’s cities, Javier Sicilia is gathering a broad coalition outside the entire party system to march and march until the use of the army against drug gangs is halted. That is a vote against America’s hypocrisy in buying the drugs, selling the guns to both sides, and demanding that Mexicans must stop it all on their end. The Zapatistas, anarchists who did not go away when our media stopped covering them, are now in alliance with Sicilia. Imagine the Fox/GOP/mainstream Democrat/NYT outrage explosion once we suddenly discover that most Mexicans are sick of being ordered around by us. We’ll have to prove they’ve been infiltrated by al-Qaeda.

    That’s the looming tragedy; a panic when Americans all at once realize the world has turned against them, and the rush to scapegoat and crush all Democrats and progressives for having let things get this way – not for the claimed reason that it’s actually their fault; we know in our hearts that we’re greedy, violent bastards and that one day we won’t get away with it. The real reason will be our certainty that once we crush all internal dissent, all stand in perfect subservience to our corporate masters, and they are rewarded with enough tax cuts from sacrificed public services, the capitalist system will automagically make America so strong and pure that all in the world will fall to their knees in awe and worship us again.

    Once THAT fails, nothing for it but to build a giant wall around the country, cut all the Internet connections at the borders, put our fingers in our ears and sing loud hymns as we slowly crumble to a neo-Confederate economy and the rest of the world goes on thankfully without us.

    Wake me up when the poor are marching in our streets with red banners again.

  9. What a beautiful demonstration it was ! No violence, no policeman shooting on people, no looting. The crowd was well behaving, polite and courageous. Maybe the Arabs nations have thing or two to learn from us.

  10. It’s astonishing – but consistent, I suppose – how short-sighted and arrogant the Israeli position is. They have been plainly in the wrong since the incident took place, and a lot of this trouble could have been short-circuited if they’d bitten the bullet at that time. To sacrifice their previously excellent relationship with Turkey is asinine.

    The longer this drags on the worse things will get. Israel boasts of being the only democracy in the region, so I couldn’t agree more that the voters need to show how they feel at the ballot box.

    Substantial numbers of Israelis are emigrating from Israel as it is, which just means that the Palestinians will achieve a parity in population numbers that much more quickly.

    This is not a matter where ostrich-like behaviour is likely to be rewarded.

  11. I’m wondering how long it will take for Israel to start demanding that the US bomb Turkey, that dangerous Islamist state.

  12. “Right wing politics is about government favoring the rich over the rest of the population, about using ethnic divisions, alleged threats to the nation, and other diversions to justify to the mass of voters as to why they should elect a party that will take money and resources away from them and give it to the super-wealthy.”

    Was the inequality of wealth less under the Kadima and other non-Likud governments? I have the impression that it’s not the result of deliberate right-wing taxation and economic policies, as it is in the US, but basically is due to inaction on the part of all governments.
    Also worth mentioning is that Likud, especially and more than previous governments, openly favors the inhabitants of the settlements on occupied land over the rest of the citizens.

    • As mentioned in my links above, the polarization of Israeli wealth is a recent phenomenon, apparently tied to an economic crisis in the early 1980s and a great increase in the cost of maintaining the Occupation. Of course, this ties everything directly to the Likud. The problem is that once the Likud got away with using wars to privatize public goods and market the Israeli military-industrial complex, all the parties on the Left began giving in to it, for the obvious reason of not wanting to be accused of treason. Since Kadima was formed largely by Likud people who felt it had gone too far, it only represents an earlier version of Likud capitalist extremism.

      But it was definitely the Likud’s intent to do this. Google the “Clean Break” paper, in which Dick Cheney’s own neocon lieutenants outlined to the Likud how to do what the GOP later did to the US.

  13. Don’t have much sympathy for those alyah-making foreigners in Israel who are now protesting. How many of them have ever noticed the Palestinians? Most of them have dual-citizenship anyway, and can always go back to their home countries. Walking around the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, it is difficult not to miss the number of apartments that seem to be unoccupied. Obviously, many wealthier Jews keep apartments in Jerusalem (and probably elsewhere) and treat Israel as a summer camp.

  14. I want to take advantage of this opportunity to vigorously object to the UN report, which had to be a result of significant behind the scene arm twisting. Where was it established that it is legal to blockage an entire political area to prevent arms from entering that area? What about the long held agreement that everyone has the right of self-defense and SELF-DETERMINATION? How is that Israel gets to build the reputation of an incredible intelligence services, and then claim to be incompetent to keep arms out of Gaza. It is truly despicable that Israel is allowed to act like Nazi Germany with impunity, while at the same time being lauded as a democracy. The world has truly become crazy. I now fully understand how the Roman empire collapsed.

  15. “Instead of protesting that a handful of billionaires is scarfing up the lion’s share of the country’s increased wealth, Israelis would do better just to turn the right wing parties out of office in the next election.”
    wouldn’t we all do better? You could replace “Israelis” with “americans” or “europeans” and this sentence would make the same amount of sense.

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