Editor's Note: This is something Rosie wrote, according to the info on the document, in June 2010. She confided to us, at the time, that she was a little afraid of publishing it and also that there was more to say but it all just fizzled out because she was also managing a busy non-profit at the same time. Quite frankly, we at For Your Consideration are desperate for something to publish and have no ideas. So we urged her to dust this one off, put on her Big Girl Pants and have another go. 

News Item:
A fleet of ships, carrying medicinal items, food and water for delivery was boarded in international waters by an armed force. The shipmates attempted to repel the armed force and in the ensuing struggle 10 sailors and 2 of the boarding individuals died. Others sustained minor injuries.

Note how none of the parties are identified. This makes it not so sensational or interesting even. So let’s try on a few faces.
If I said Somali armed forces boarded a ship carrying medicinal items I would bet everyone would think, “those motherfucking Somali pirates! When is someone going to do something about them? This is like when they boarded that American merchant marine ship and took the Captain hostage!” I think everyone would feel the sailors were completely justified in attempting to use force to repel their invaders.

Now, what if I said Arab armed forces boarded the ship. You’d immediately think they were terrorists. You might cringe a little and feel guilty for making the assumption. But you would assume, nonetheless, that the ship they targeted was an American ship and that their ultimate goal was sinking it, possibly with everyone on board. If you had a stern talk with yourself, you might say there’s no reason to assume Al-Qaeda or any terrorist organization was involved, but you’d still be sure they were up to no good.

Alright, let’s try on a few heroes capes for good measure. An American armed force boarded a ship in international waters. Well, that might be uncomfortable. America’s getting this reputation for being a guard dog, and some people aren’t sure if that’s a good idea. On the other hand America patrolling the oceans does have benefits. You would hope they’d have a good reason for boarding the ship and for the scuffle that occurred. But then again, what risks do medicinal supplies pose? All in all, you might preferred that it never happened.

Well, let’s go ahead and peel off the mask: 
It was Israeli armed forces who boarded an international flotilla bound for the Gaza blockade bearing supplies to alleviate the stress that, incidentally, Israel enforced upon Gaza’s citizens.
So, you have to think the crew aboard the ships expected to encounter some resistance, and Israel boarding them probably was the best thing they could have hoped for (with the notable and tragic exception that 12 people, all told, died). You’d also have to think that Israel, having put all this effort into a blockade with half the international community questioning its legality, is not going to let some rag-tag coalition sail blithely through. On some level, Israel with its turbulent history is justified in wanting to inspect the shipment. There was some chance, however slim, that some crazy individual joined the group intending all along to blow him and the ship up as soon as they got into the harbor. Or pass sensitive materials to a terrorist group.
There are several problems, though. There was no reason the armed forces blockading Gaza couldn’t have inspected the cargo. Anyone who set off from Sweden or France might have been expecting that at the blockade Israeli sailors would board their ships to make sure there was no contraband. We’ll never really know.
The second problem is this all took place in international waters. None of these ships were within the legal boundaries of Israel’s jurisdiction. Therefore, if shipmates of Free Gaza Now wanted to repel these people boarding their ship, they were totally within their rights. Indeed, what else would any of us have done if at 3:00AM men with guns began climbing over the rails.
Israel says plenty of warning was given of the impending boarding. If the individuals in the flotilla hewed to a “Might is Right” sensibility they would have meekly stood aside and let an Israeli soldier take the wheel of the ship. But then again, if they were the meek type that bows before authority and, well, guns, they probably wouldn’t be on the ship in the first place. So, even if Israel did give warning and instruction to dock elsewhere, the flotilla was also within their rights to tell them to bugger off.

The reason why I was nervous to post this should be pretty self-explanatory. It can be tricky navigating this type of issue. You don't want to be called racist, or prejudiced, or bigoted. Never mind that, you don't want to attract people who actually are bigoted, racist or prejudiced. One time a friend of a friend was telling me how he wanted us both to go on a radio show to talk about his vision for a new world order (it read like a combination of 300 and an un-finished treatise by Ayn Rand). I was horrified, not only because he said that I was able to articulate his ideals with more eloquence, but that he seemed to think we were on the same mind set.
Okay, I confess, I have a few prejudicial feelings lurking down in the bottom of my soul. When someone mentions Quebec, my mind is pre-set to run images of all the time Canada has had to waste in referendums on whether the province would separate from TROC (the rest of Canada). I bristle with indignation over how provinces like British Columbia has to have signage in both English and French, while Quebec only has to has have signage in their horrible horrible French.
This despite I really enjoyed my time in Montreal. Everyone treated me with courtesy and decorum. I know French Canadians who are absolute sweethearts. It makes sense in that the people who give French Canadians a bad name are in the extreme minority and have an astonishing talent at getting on the news.
Everyone has prejudices. People North of the Mason-Dixon line think Southerners are all in-bred semi-literate hicks. People South of the Mason-Dixon lines think Northerners are cruel and cold and always in a rush, forgetting the important things of life and focused entirely on money.
What we do with these prejudices is the important thing. If we say, "yes, I'm perfectly correct in forming my understanding of an entire population based on very brief and general news reports," this is not good. If we recognise our prejudices and say "woah! Hey! I need to change my attitude," this is better.
But we need to not be afraid of our prejudices, because they can get in the way of the actual problems. We need to recognise them and work on eradicating them, much like a vaccine.
I am not prejudiced towards Israel. I recognise that Israelis are in a situation very similar to mine in that they are not in total agreement with government policy. Not every Israeli was terribly enthusiastic about the Gaza blockade.
But I was scared that if I posted this I would labeled anti-Semitic. We should be able to register our criticisms of government policies without fear of being labeled incorrectly.
In June of 2010, I read news articles of how a task force from a sovereign nation intercepted in international waters a volunteer flotilla bearing medical supplies for a humanitarian mission. Where it was headed, in my opinion, was irrelevant. Who boarded the ship, in my opinion, was also irrelevant.
I wanted to strip the incident down to its bare bones in order to point out that it was wrong.


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