Keith talks to former Ambassador Edward Peck about his experience while aboard one of the flotilla's that was seized by the Israelis while trying to deliver humanitarian aide to Gaza.
There's been a lot of back forth about whether or not there were any weapons were on board the ship where the deaths occurred and if the Israeli's had the right to attack the flotilla in international waters. Ambassador Peck could not say if there were any weapons on board the other ship but maintains that they did not have any on the ship he was on. Keith and Peck discussed the political response to the incident here in the United States.
Olbermann: To some degree has the political equation here also been a question of words being turned on their head? Because it seems as if there are only two positions being offered now. Either you support the Israeli government in all things, uniformly, they can do whatever they want, they could do whatever they wanted to in this situation, or somehow you don't support the State of Israel's existence. This has been drawn that dramatically. What's your reaction to that reality of American politics?
Peck: Well if you want to look at reality and you're asking me for my view, I'll say this again because I've said it before, no one in his or her right mind and I'll recognize that not everybody qualifies, wants a bad thing to happen to one Israeli or one Palestinian or one American. But the sad truth of the matter is that bad things have happened, are happening and will happen to all three groups because of what is going on in Palestine and Gaza and what isn't going on in Palestine and Gaza. And backing Israel was one thing. Backing Israel in everything she does is not only very bad for us, it's very bad for Israel.
Sadly all the back and forth on who had weapons or not has done nothing but give the American media an excuse to repeat the Israeli talking points and to ignore some of the larger issues at hand. For more on that here's an op-ed written by Suat Kiniklioglu, a member of Turkish Parliament from the Justice and Development (AK) Party and its deputy chairman of external affairs.
I have many friends in Israel and I did not hesitate to visit Israel when an invitation was extended to me by an Israeli think-tank. I maintained my optimism that Turkey and Israel would be able to mend their differences despite their disagreements over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
However, Monday was a turning point for me and my nation’s 72 million citizens. On Monday Turkey was shocked to watch Israeli commandos raiding a Turkish flotilla loaded with medical supplies, toys and food bound for Gaza, killing at least nine peace activists in the process.
...The flotilla raid has two dimensions. First, it has irrevocably damaged Turkish-Israeli relations at the bilateral level. Turkey demands an independent investigation and an apology and compensation for those killed by Israeli commandos.
Ankara also wants those responsible for this crime to be punished. Anything short of these measures will not cut it.
What the current Israel government does not seem to get is that this action has crossed a critical threshold in the Turks’ perceptions vis-à-vis Israel, regardless of political persuasion. After yesterday, Turks regard the current Israeli government as unfriendly. There is no doubt that the rift has the potential to escalate if Israel does not respond quickly and responsibly
Second, there is a significant international dimension to the flotilla fiasco. The killing of nine peace activists by Israel once again demonstrated the blatant disregard for international norms and law by this Israeli government.
The response of the international community — and more importantly, the U.S. response — to Israel’s disproportionate use of violence constitutes a test for U.S. credibility in the Middle East. Along with many European nations, the U.N. and global public opinion, the U.S. has a moral responsibility to condemn Israel’s violence.
Turkey is closely monitoring the U.S. response. As Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu noted, this is not a choice between Turkey and Israel. It is a choice between right and wrong, between legal and illegal.
In many respects, the Middle East is approaching an important crossroad. The United States will determine what sort of Middle East it will be dealing with in the future by its response to Israel’s actions. This could not be more urgent given the tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, the precarious situation in Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, the flotilla raid has once again highlighted that the blockade on Gaza is no longer sustainable or justifiable.
Gaza today constitutes an open-air prison. According to Amnesty International, 1.4 million Palestinians are subject to a collective punishment whose aim is to suffocate the Gaza Strip.
Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. That is why the Freedom Flotilla wanted to deliver aid. It also wanted to make a point of the need to allow Gazans to trade and interact with the rest of the world.
...But we can no longer tolerate the brutal policies of the current Israeli government, especially if they cost the lives of our citizens. The conscience of neither the Turks, nor the international community, can any longer carry the burden of the Netanyahu government’s irresponsible policies. Both Israel and Turkey deserve better.
As I noted in my post on Greenwald's debate with Spitzer over this, the rest of the world is not with us on this and the problem is going to escalate. I would love for anyone to explain to me how impoverishing and collectively punishing a country is going to make Israel's problems with terrorism any better in the long run. It looks backwards to me with every solving it but I don't pretend to be any expert on foreign affairs or terrorism. Just basic common sense tells me that if you treat people horribly, someone's going to want to get even for it.
It would really be a breath of fresh air if the United States spent half the money we did trying to get people out of poverty instead of dropping bombs on poor people's heads and propping up multinational corporations that take advantage of impoverished countries and slave labor. We allow conditions to exist all over the world that we would never tolerate here unless of course those people are undocumented immigrants. Then we turn a blind eye to that as well.