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Israeli Navy Kidnaps Beethoven

hs beethoven

Beethoven kidnapped on the high seas

No, not the composer, but the ship.  Though I have little doubt had Beethoven lived today he’d be writing a symphony for Gaza that would get him banned by the Israeli Interior Ministry as happened to another German artist, Gunter Grass.

Today, the Israeli navy forciby boarded a Liberian-flagged ship, the Beethoven, that was in international waters 160 miles off the coast and en route from Limassol, Cyprus to Alexandria, Egypt.  Israeli intelligence suspected the vessel might be carrying weapons meant for Gaza or Lebanon, though it appears they found nothing.  Someone will have to explain to me by what right Israel boards a ship on the high seas especially after it finds nothing amiss.  This is yet another example of Israel’s high-handedness and cowboy attitudes toward its neighbors and international protocol, in this case the laws of the sea.

Someone will also have to explain to me how Israel might’ve thought the arms were bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon when the ship was en route to Egypt.  It had set sail from Beirut bound for Cyprus on April 20th.  It’s likely the Israelis believed the ship was carrying Iranian weapons loaded in Beirut and destined for Gaza via Alexandria.  Though I’m basing this on assumptions and not clear knowledge.  Clearly, Israeli intelligence was dead wrong.  An Israeli official called the action “routine protection of our territorial waters,” though again he’ll have to explain to me how Israel justifies capturing vessels on the high seas (not in or even near Israeli territorial waters).

Israeli news stories make much of the fact that the ship captain “willingly” allowed the commandos to board.  If you were a ship captain faced with a massively armed Israeli boarding party what would you do?  That’s why I refuse to concede this was anything short of a forcible boarding.

H/t Dena Shunra.

 

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  • Michael April 23, 2012, 1:39 AM

    You are contradicting you’r self. they knew that it was weapons-free only after checking it. regarding the so called international water argument, it was cancelled during the marmara incident. the blockage is legal so you can eat your boot. the bethoven was not kidnapped and the ships captain was notified prior to the boarding. if he has nothing to hide the ship will continue on its way.

    • Richard Silverstein April 23, 2012, 1:45 AM

      One of the most sophisticated intelligence agencies in the world can’t manage to monitor the loading of a ship in Beirut harbor & detect whether or not it’s loading weapons? C’mon. If they didn’t know what was on that ship then Mossad are a bunch of buffoons & asses. Which is it? Is Mossad incompetent?

      You can’t cancel territorial waters. It’s an international concept & Israel can’t renounce international maritime law by fiat.

      • mario April 23, 2012, 7:41 PM

        I am afraid you are wrong on this specific point, Sir. Under international maritime law it is legal to stop and inspect vessels at high sea. See the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, art. 67(a):

        Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they: (a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;

        Prior warning makes legal visit and search. Resisting visit and search makes the ship liable to attack.

        Vessels are exempt from visit and search only if they are bound for neutral ports while part of a convoy escorted by a warship of the same country, which must then guarantee for the escorted vessels. See art. 120

        A neutral merchant vessel is exempt from the exercise of the right of visit and search if it meets the following conditions: (a) it is bound for a neutral port; (b) it is under the convoy of an accompanying neutral warship of the same nationality or a neutral warship of a State with which the flag State of the merchant vessel has concluded an agreement providing for such convoy; (c) the flag State of the neutral warship warrants that the neutral merchant vessel is not carrying contraband or otherwise engaged in activities inconsistent with its neutral status; and (d) the commander of the neutral warship provides, if requested by the commander of an intercepting belligerent warship or military aircraft, all information as to the character of the merchant vessel and its cargo as could otherwise be obtained by visit and search.

        • You might like to look at that title again, Sir April 23, 2012, 8:40 PM

          Mario: “See the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea”

          What part of the phrase “applicable to armed conflicts at sea” are you having trouble comprehending, Mario?

          Is it the part about how the San Remo Manual tells you what you can do WHEN YOU ARE AT WAR?

          Or is it the part about how Israel IS NOT IN AN ARMED CONFLICT with
          (a) Egypt or
          (b) Cyprus or even
          (c) Hezbollah nor even
          (d) Hamas.

          So where’s that “armed conflict”, Mario?

          And if there is no “armed conflict” (and there isn’t) then how, exactly, can Israel follow a songbook that is only allowed to be sung during “armed conflicts”?

          • praxeologist April 23, 2012, 10:44 PM

            Touche’ Point to Richard.
            Why does everyone jump to the conclusion that all states are at war with one another? Oh, I forgot, because of U.S. foreign policy.

          • mario April 24, 2012, 1:41 AM

            There is a blockade of Gaza, and blockades are acts of war, so Israel is at war with Gaza. Now you may claim the blockade is illegal, which may be a point worthwhile debating, but it is an entirely different point. You asked for the rationale of Israel’s action and that is the answer IMHO: they see themselves at war with Gaza, and they are implementing the blockade.

            The main reason of my writing here is that one question I have asked below (April 23, 2012 at 3:38 PM) about administrative detention, then I saw this and I thought to add my opinion.

          • Richard Silverstein April 24, 2012, 2:58 AM

            Israel’s blockade of Gaza violates international law & has no moral or legal basis. And Israel has never declared war on Gaza & in fact claims not to even occupy Gaza. So yr claim about there being a war is nonsense.

            Israel is not “at war” with either Lebanon or Syria. Just because they haven’t signed a peace treaty doesn’t mean they’re “at war.” Otherwise, why would there be a UN brokered & monitored ceasefire with Lebanon?

          • mario April 24, 2012, 1:53 AM

            Oh by the way, and I am just asking because I do not know: has any peace treaty been signed with Lebanon? Israel *is* still at war with Syria, and I think they still are with Lebanon too, which can both be approached from the sea.

            You can’t go to Syria if you have an Israeli entry visa on your passport; and (not so) recently regulations concerning visa must have been changed in Israel as well. Nowadays you cannot enter Israel if you have visas from enemy states in your passport. A colleague of mine was denied entry to Israel as a tourist after he had travelled to Saudi Arabia.

          • Deïr Yassin April 24, 2012, 2:10 AM

            @ Mario
            “Israel is at war with Gaza”
            Only when it servs the Israeli propaganda, i.e. when they drop white phosphorus on Palestinian children as an act of “legitimate self-defense”.
            When Palestinians send home-made rockets into Israel it’s considered genocide !
            If Israel is at war with Gaza – which is Palestine just as the West Bank – does that mean Palestinians can take the war into Israel too, or is it written somewhere that “the war” should stay on Palestinian land ?

          • I Wonder.... April 24, 2012, 5:21 PM

            Mario: “There is a blockade of Gaza, and blockades are acts of war, so Israel is at war with Gaza.”

            I’m going to stop you riiiiiiiight there and point out a few things to you:

            1) The criteria is “armed conflict at sea”, not “acts of war”.

            In this case the “act of war” would be an IDF commando unit storming onto a ship enjoying “innocent passage” on the high seas.

            But here is the point: even though that would be an “act of war” it would not amount to “an armed conflict at sea”.

            They are two different things.

            2) You are chronologically-challenged i.e. you must “be at war” BEFORE you can legally “blockade”, whereas your “logic” reverses the sequence.

            As a case in point: Israel (quite legitimated) blockaded Tyre during the 2nd Lebanese War, but the moment the ceasefire ended that war then the navy (quite correctly) lifted its blockade and sailed back to Haifa.

            Israel should have done the same thing when Olmert declared the ceasefire that ended Operation Cast Lead i.e. the calling of that ceasefire ended that “armed conflict”, and with its cessation went any legal justification for that blockade.

            Get it? You can’t blockade UNLESS there is “armed conflct”, and today there is no “armed conflict” between Israel and Hezbollah *or* between Israel and Hamas.

            Or does the phrase “cease fire” hold some other meaning than, you know, the “cessation of conflict”?

            Because, so sorry, I don’t think it does.

          • I Wonder.... April 24, 2012, 5:42 PM

            Mario: “has any peace treaty been signed with Lebanon? Israel *is* still at war with Syria, and I think they still are with Lebanon too, which can both be approached from the sea”

            You *appear* to be arguing that because “a state of war” exists between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and Syria then Israel can act *as* *if* it were still “at war” with them.

            Unfortunately for you the very concept of “a state of war” became obsolute after 1945, when the UN Charter outlawed using war as an instrument of foreign policy (Article 2(4), in fact).

            Because of that the pre-ww2 concepts of:
            Formal Declaration of War.
            A State of War.
            Articles of Surrender.
            were all thrown out the window.

            Instead they were replaced by the much simpler concepts of:
            Armed Attack.
            Self-Defence.

            As in: you can resort to arms when you are under an “armed attack”, and when you aren’t then you can’t.

            And you don’t need a Peace Treaty to tell you when you cease to be under an “armed attack”.

            All you need is the “cessation of fire” aka a “ceasefire”.

            There is a “ceasefire agreement” between Israel and Syria.
            There is a “ceasefire agreement” between Israel and Lebanon.

            As a result of those “ceasefire agreements” Israel is not entitled to act towards either of those countries *as* *if* it is “at war” with those two countries.

            It isn’t, and so it can’t pretend that it is.

          • mario April 26, 2012, 6:36 PM

            The criteria is “armed conflict at sea”, not “acts of war”.

            I apologize. My intention was to write “casus belli” (sufficient reason for war). English is not my mother tongue and different languages must have been conflicting between the conscious surface (nonviolently be assured :)

            As a wars do not need formal declaration acts of war such as blockades can be a starting point for a war, or signal the existance of war. In turn during a war you carry out acts of war and that’s possibly the reason for the slip of tongue: war do not need to be openly declared, certain acts of war are sufficient casus belli, and casus belli was replaced in my conscient mind by act of war.

            That’s too much useless Freud. I prefer Whorf.

          • mario April 26, 2012, 6:38 PM

            grrrr…. you see? “beneath the conscious surface”.

          • I wonder April 26, 2012, 9:36 PM

            Mario: “As a wars do not need formal declaration acts of war such as blockades can be a starting point for a war, ”

            Ahem.

            It appears that you have just fingered ISRAEL as the aggressor, and by doing so have just blown away its claim to be the “defender”.

            Did you realize you had just done that?

            And, so sorry, wars of aggression are a big no-no: Saadam Hussein swung from a gibbet for it, as did any number of Germans in 1945.

            You might want to rethink your argument….

          • mario April 27, 2012, 3:25 AM

            “blockades can be a starting point for a war, *OR* signal the existance of war”

            Don’t think I have fingered Israel as the aggressor. I was not trying to establish who started first.

          • mario April 27, 2012, 4:50 AM

            I was addressing your point that blockades need an already existing war to be declared: blockades can be casus belli, so the very existance of blockades is or should be seen as war

            This is not the case of Gaza in the eyes of the Israelis. In fact to the best of my understanding (so do not take my interpretations to be more than just that… I am not implying that I am right) Israel sees the blockade as an act of war in response to other acts of war.

          • I Wonder.... April 27, 2012, 3:16 PM

            Sorry, Mario, but you are fingering Israel as the aggressor.

            You are claiming that the imposition of a blockade BY ITSELF “proves” the existance of a war i.e. the war exists BECAUSE of that blockade.

            The blockade is therefore the alpha and the omega of this “war” that you insist legitimizes Israel’s right to board ships on the high seas.

            The war is therefore the product of a blockade.
            Israel is the blockader.
            Israel started this war.

          • mario April 29, 2012, 6:51 PM

            I have not written that the war between Israelis and de facto administration in Gaza has been started by *this* blockade; I have written that the blockade of Gaza signals the existance of *what the Israelis believe* to be war. Period.

            I did not tell you what I think about the legitimacy of the blockade, I just gave a personal interpretation of the Israeli rationale (which I may o may not fall in agreement with: I did not disclose my opinion). Btw by your logic the Palestinians are the prime aggressor as launching rockets is casus belli (as any other form of aggression across borders).

            Going on debating is pointless I am afraid. but if you want to make your point further go ahed. Best regards.

          • mario April 29, 2012, 6:57 PM

            The Israelis believe the blockade to be legitimate so they enforce it. You do not believe the blockade to be legitimate so to you the Israelis are in fact the real aggressor. It’s between you and the Israelis, not between you and me.

    • SimoHurtta April 23, 2012, 6:07 AM

      What an absurd comment Michael.

      The ship was not going to Gaza. It was on the route from Lebanon to Egypt which can clearly seen in the marine traffic sites. HS Beethoven is a 58,000 ton container ship. So a relatively big ship. Especially for the destroyed harbor of Gaza. Which by the way has no equipment to unload such huge container ships. Israeli media was in their stories claiming that Beethoven was on the way to Gaza. That information must haven given them by the army/navy. And publishing that shows that the reporter doesn’t have any brains (or is not allowed to use them).

      The ships locations between 18-22 April.

      When attacked the ship was over 250 kilometres from Israeli coast. Hmmmm what will “we” say when Turkey and others begin to search ships leaving from Israel or coming to Israel? Israel (and Israelis) is one of the world’s most active weapon sellers (both on legal and illegal markets). Do we use same excuses than Michael does. Weapons-free only after checking …

      • mario April 23, 2012, 7:59 PM

        This might be true. Turkey might be indeed justified in visiting and searching lone israeli merchant ships at their sole discernment. The only doubt I have is if some sort of state of belligerance is required on the part of the visiting power to make it possible for them to justify the suspicion that the visited ship is in fact an hostile vessel.

        • Mario begins to see, darkly April 23, 2012, 8:46 PM

          Mario: “Turkey might be indeed justified in visiting and searching lone israeli merchant ships at their sole discernment.”

          No.

          Ships on the High Seas enjoy “the freedom of the seas”, and can not be boarded and searched without the express permission of the ship’s Captain.

          The only except is why ya’ got yer’ war on, at which time a belligerent is entitled (within the rules laid out in the San Remo Manual) to insist upon boarding a ship.

          Absent Gettin’ Yer’ War On then, no, you can’t bully your way onto a ship at sea.

          Mario: “The only doubt I have is if some sort of state of belligerance is required on the part of the visiting power”…

          Ya’ Think!!!!!!!

          Mario, you have just quoted at length from the “San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea” so I am now going to ask you to mull the significance of *this* phrase:
          “applicable to armed conflicts at sea”.

          Also known as: Gettin’ Yer’ War On.

          No war = No right to board a ship on the high seas.

        • SimoHurtta April 24, 2012, 2:19 AM

          Well Mario let us remember, that the ship was going to Alexandria, which is not in Gaza. Israel might have the “right” to inspect ships going to Gaza, but certainly has not the right to inspect ships going to Egypt. As from the route of HS Beethoven can be clearly seen, it was nowhere near Gaza nor intending to go there. The claims that the ship was suspected to go Gaza are essential and obligatory for Israel to “justify” the “right” to inspect the vessel, but on the other side it is idiotic for Israel to claim that such a huge container ship like HS Beethoven could even enter the destroyed harbor of Gaza and load off cargo there. But as we know intellectual honesty is not a virtue of Israeli regime or its army. Everybody knows that Israel was lying in this incident.

          Israel delayed the vessel with at least 12 hours and most probably the soldiers stole goods from the containers (something which Israeli soldiers so often do and have provably done). Who pays for the delays and damages of the illegal inspections?

          Using the latest Israeli justification, that the hypothetical arms will be smuggled from Alexandria to Gaza is absurd. Blocking smuggling from an Egyptian port to Gaza is solely Egypt’s responsibility.

          Turkey has for example the “right” to suspect Israel for arming Kurd guerrillas and Turkey’s neighbors who have less friendly relations with it. Same “right” have Egypt and other Arab states with Israeli interference. If everybody begins to behave like Israel does, there is no sea traffic in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is astonishing how much privileges the world lets Israel to have.

          • mario April 24, 2012, 3:04 AM

            Turkey is imposing a blockade on Armenia, which can be reached by sea via Georgia. Blockades are acts of war and any merchant ship capable of reaching Georgia can be suspected of smuggling weapons. Gaza too can be reached from Egypt via Rafah.

            But yours a good point. The San Remo Manual is worded so vaguely as to make legal most acts, it seems to me. For example: who decides what are the “reasonable” grounds for suspecting and consequent inspecting a vessel? In the case of a merchant vessel bound for a neutral port measures are indicated that make visit and search unnecessary; so I wonder if we may infer that in the absence of those remedies visit and search are legal, even if the ship is bound for a neutral port?

            The real problem is war at large, which has an ethical dimension of its own going beyond our rules and regulations. I mean: wars are legal, but unethical. And wars represent an appalling paradox, as in being legal they are the only case in which the rule of law can be de facto legally lifted. If you violate those humanitarians rules you have very good chances of escaping punishment. The International Criminal Court today has jurisdiction only on those countries that ratified it.

    • I Wonder.... April 23, 2012, 6:58 AM

      Michael: “regarding the so called international water argument, it was cancelled during the marmara incident”

      No, that statement is incorrect.

      Israel argued (very weakly, in my book) that it was entitled to board the Marmara because Israel was in an “armed conflict” with Gaza, and therefore it could use force against a blockade runner whereever that ship might be.

      Israel can not possibly use that argument here, precisely because Israel is not in an armed conflict with Cyprus nor with Egypt (nor, indeed, with Hezbollah), nor had that ship shown any indication that it was attempting to run the Gaza blockade zone.

      “and the ships captain was notified prior to the boarding.”

      Irrelevent.

      In times of peace a ship in international waters enjoys “the freedom of the seas”.

      A captain not only has to be “notified” that you intend to board, he also has to AGREE that you can step onto his deck.

      If he doesn’t then boarding his ship is an act of war against the flag carrier.

    • John Welch April 23, 2012, 6:31 PM

      The ship was 160 miles out to sea. That is international waters. Stopping and searching a ship out there is piracy.

  • Bob Mann April 23, 2012, 3:40 AM

    Are they holding on to the ship and/or passengers and cargo? Asking for a ransom of some kind from whoever owns it? The links provided don’t seem to indicate a kidnapping situation, but rather a forced interception of the ship. Do they still have possession of the ship? It’s not entirely clear from this and the other articles.

    • Michael April 23, 2012, 6:20 AM

      the ship was released after the search found nothing suspicious. a true act of piracy indeed

      • Richard Silverstein April 23, 2012, 1:32 PM

        Just stopping & forcibly boarding the boat at all on the high seas was an act of piracy. Pirates don’t have to actually steal the ship or cargo to be pirates. They just have to egregiously violate international maritime law.

    • Richard Silverstein April 23, 2012, 1:38 PM

      You don’t have to seize & hold a ship to have violated maritime law, which is what Israel did. Even stopping the ship on the high seas forcibly is not acceptable.

  • Joel April 23, 2012, 4:22 AM

    “..he’ll have to explain to me how Israel justifies capturing vessels on the high seas (not in or even near Israeli territorial waters).”

    He can quote the Turkish Navy who also aren’t above stopping ships not even near territorial waters.

    http://www.worldnewstribune.com/2012/04/19/turkey-stops-ship-believed-to-be-carrying-iran-missiles-arms-to-syria/

    • I Wonder.... April 24, 2012, 5:45 PM

      Joel: “He can quote the Turkish Navy who also aren’t above stopping ships not even near territorial waters.”

      Ahem. Ships can be stopped in int’l waters if it is to enforce a UN Security Council Resolution.

      • Joel April 26, 2012, 10:20 AM

        The U.N. doesn’t rule our planet. Never has. Never will.

        • Richard Silverstein April 26, 2012, 12:30 PM

          International law does & Israel violates it wily-nily.

        • I wonder April 26, 2012, 4:46 PM

          Joel: “The U.N. doesn’t rule our planet. Never has. Never will.”

          That statement is a non-sequitur.

          Every country on Earth has signed the UN Charter, and Chapter VII of that Charter says – very clearly and unambiguously – that the UN Security Council can pass a Resolution that authorizes its member states to use force to deal with A Threat To The Peace.

          That Charter is an international treaty, and so such Resolutions are backed by the full force of international law.

          But a unilateral action by the IDF to stop and search a ship on the high seas? Pardon me, Joel, but where does Israel get the “authority” to do that?

          Answer: it plucks that authorization out of Benyamin Netanyahu’s backside.

  • I Wonder.... April 23, 2012, 6:46 AM

    If you look at a map you will see that, yep, the distance from Cyprus to Israel is about 290 miles.

    So a ship that is intercepted 160 miles “off the coast of Israel” (as is being reported in the Israeli press) is actually closer to Cyprus than it is to Israel i.e. it would be more accurate to describe the ship as being “off the coast of Cyprus” when it was intercepted.

    As for the Israelis stressing that the Captain consented to the boarding, well, gosh, well they should: a ship on the High Seas sailing from Cyprus to Egypt (neither of whom are in conflict with Israel) enjoy “the freedom of the seas”, and as such can not be boarded by any navy without the express consent of the Captain.

  • Strelnikov April 23, 2012, 7:25 AM

    They’re just trying to show that they are the “big men” of the Eastern Mediterranean, but they remind me of how, early in WWI, the German U-boats would stop freighters, search them for contraband, then sink them if they had it or were sailing under an Allied nation’s flag. It got to the point the the British navy refitted certain freighters as “Q-ships”; i.e. fake freighters with hidden guns and crews in civillian dress, to lure the U-boats into attacking on the surface so they could riddle them with cannon fire. My point is, with anti-tank rockets so cheap now, I could see freighters firing weapons at these boarding parties, damn the consequence.

  • Ahad Haadam April 23, 2012, 1:03 PM

    A nutcase gangster state suffering from a collective psychosis. Next they will be building checkpoints and walls on the high seas, it’s only logical…. for the security of the Jews.

  • lysias April 23, 2012, 1:14 PM

    Ever since 9/11, I’ve been disturbed by how seldom opera companies in the U.S. have been presenting Beethoven’s Fidelio.

    • praxeologist April 23, 2012, 10:50 PM

      I love Fidelio myself, but I don’t see your point about why no Fidelio after 9/11

      • lysias April 24, 2012, 8:44 AM

        Things like Guantanamo defy the spirit behind Fidelio.

        • praxeologist April 24, 2012, 11:00 AM

          Oh, I see what you mean…..well that would be all the MORE reason to stage Fidelio often… that’s your point I suppose.. For a nice summing up of the importance of Fidelio, cf Grout’s “A Short History of Opera” pp 307 ff

          • lysias April 25, 2012, 2:09 PM

            Galina Vishnevskaya says in her autobiography that, when she and her fellow artists at the Bolshoi put on Fidelio, they considered it a protest against the Gulag.

  • mario April 23, 2012, 3:38 PM

    I take the liberty of writing my post here, as this is the first and newest article in your blog at the moment, and because my question would most probably be off topic anyhow regardless of the article (though I have not thouroughly checked all posts out, in which case I would apologize). I would like your opinion on the case a palestinian writer, Ahmad Qatamesh. He has been under administrative detention with no clear accusation since april 2011 as far as I know (maybe I’m wrong and you can provide some background info about the case), and is at risk of having is detention order renewed. When there is sound evidence that someone has committed a crime that person must usually stand in trial (in which case he may be sentenced to house arrest -eg. in my country of origin- *after* the due trial). If he has committed no crime he should be set free. My opinion is that indefinitly renewable administrative detention orders on no specified ground or charges do not fit easily in the legal framework of a liberal democracy. In the USA and European legal systems today you do not have any such provisions, and to the best of my knowledge administrative detention is just an old legacy of the Brithish Mandate. It is a dangerous legacy as it can be used to deter opinions (to punish crimes a trial is the standard option as I have mentioned).

    I apologize for the off topic again. I will not be posting more on this

    • Deïr Yassin April 24, 2012, 2:30 AM

      @ Mario
      You’ll find various articles on Ahmad Qatamesh on Electronicintifada and recently another one on Mondoweiss.
      If you’re astonished about the administrative detention then you’re new to “The-Only-Democracy-In-The-Middle-East” and it’s way of handling everything Palestinian :-D
      Richard has written on many of those cases, particularly that of Ameer Makhoul, an Israeli-Palestinian human rights activist, and that of Dirar Abu Sisi, kidnapped by the Mossad in Ukraine.

      • mario April 24, 2012, 3:09 AM

        No I am not astonished. I knew about administrative detention and I know that in WB the human rights record by Israel is quite poor. The Palestinian record is equally poor, but you cannot justify your falts by your enemy’s, lest you become like him. This is a principle that I apply to both sides.

        • Richard Silverstein April 24, 2012, 2:00 PM

          Hasbarists justify Israel’s faults (if they acknowledge them at all) by referring to the other side’s faults all the time.

          • FancyNancy April 24, 2012, 4:31 PM

            I never understood that, it’s nihilism. I also never understood the value in giving a moral equivocalness to who they deem as “terrorist.”

          • mario April 25, 2012, 5:49 AM

            “you cannot justify your fa[u]lts by your enemy’s”

            Mmm I was thinking that maybe one should not be reasoning in terms of “faults”? The wording is mine so I in the first instance should pay attention to my choice of words.

            We usually look for faults by one or the other part; even when we try to be “eavenly handed” (see comment below) i wonder if using that word (as I did) or resorting to the concept of “fault” may be mistaken for some judgemental approach to others on a moral or ethical plan, or for some expectation of apologies, or just arouse feelings of guilt?

            Because in that case the idea of “fault” could be detrimental to the very hope of bringing the two parts together and just listen to one another, which is needed in the ME (and everywhere conflicts are present). To sort out solutions one need not determine whose the fault is, who’s wrong and who’s right, or who began first. That belongs to historians in the future. What one need instead is to found viable ways out of an unbearable present.

            So maybe “fault” does not belong here? Might be using a more relaxed “mistakes” be a better choice? Just wondering

            “you cannot justify your mistakes by your enemy’s”

    • mario April 25, 2012, 7:46 AM

      I was thinking that administrative detention might represent a perfect example of what in modern Israeli legal hebrew is called ענוי הדין. The expression itself is found also in Pirké Avot, where violation of justice (‘inui is “torture”; or we may say “denial of justice”) is said to be cause of war. But this is something many more will have already remarked.

  • Cory Kern April 24, 2012, 12:00 PM

    Interesting. A quick Google check shows that while Israel is the only country being criticized here, other countries also board ships looking for weapons.

    For example, only days before the Beethoven inspection that is the subject of this blog post, Turkey intercepted a German-owned ship suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition and towed it into a Turkish port for inspection (link below).

    I know we all try to be even-handed and fair, but it almost seems as though Israel may sometimes be targeted for criticism and derision.

    http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/04/18/208640.html

    • I Wonder.... April 24, 2012, 5:51 PM

      I suppose this bit slipped your notice?
      “Iran is under a U.N. arms embargo imposed in 2007″

      Turkey was acting under the authorityof a UN Security Council Resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

      Israel is acting under its own (supposed) authority.

      That makes a biiiiiig difference.

  • FancyNancy April 24, 2012, 3:59 PM

    This is quite the spirited debate, I enjoyed reading the exchanges. I’m glad I found this blog.

  • radamsey April 24, 2012, 11:00 PM

    RS: “I have little doubt had Beethoven lived today he’d be writing a symphony for Gaza that would get him banned by the Israeli Interior Ministry as happened to another German artist, Gunter Grass.”

    Are you similarly confident that if Beethoven were a contemporary of Gunter Grass’s that he too would have joined the Waffen SS? In his lifetime, did Beethoven somehow indicate what side he would have chosen in these modern conflicts or with whom he would have sympathized? Or do just imagine that “right-minded” thinkers would always agree with you?

    • Deïr Yassin April 25, 2012, 3:19 AM

      Oh, come on. The crap about Gunter Grass “joining the Waffen SS” has been posted and debunked hundreds of times. He was 17, for God sake, and was drafted. Refusing to serve in the German army at that time was a death penalty.
      Why don’t you explain to us how Moshe Feiglin who got about 25% in the internal Likud elections earlier this year could express his admiration openly for Hitler without being declared ‘persona non grata’ in Israel ? The guy is in the Knesset and he has publicly expressed his admiration for Der Führer !

      We all know that Israel doesn’t give a damn about people who have served in the Waffen SS or have nazi-sympathies as long as they are sionists. Why don’t you look up the article in the archives on Aryeh Eldad who received a delegation of European neo-Nazis. There’s also footage on the net about neo-nazis being received in the settlements.

      • Commoner April 25, 2012, 5:26 AM

        “The guy is in the Knesset and he has publicly expressed his admiration for Der Führer ! ”

        Moshe Feiglin isn’t in the Knesset.
        Please provide a reference to your accusation.

        • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2012, 3:31 PM

          He would be in the Knesset had not Bibi engaged in shenanigans to get him barred.

          As for his admiration for Hitler:

          “Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs..”

        • Deïr Yassin April 25, 2012, 4:47 PM

          Mea culpa.
          I truly thought Feiglin was member of the Knesset. Anyhow, he ran against Bibi for the Likud-leadership and got around 25% of the votes.
          Richard already quoted Feiglin on Hitler. It’s from an interview with Yossi Sarid, I think, from Haaretz, back in the ’90’s.
          I’m astonished that you didn’t know that…. I don’t know whether you’re Israeli, but I’ve noticed that many Israelis all while being obsessed by antisemitism – real and particularly invented – aren’t aware of their own racist nationalism, and that thugs as Moshe Feiglin, Michael Ben-Ari, Aryeh Eldad etc are pure fascists.
          By the way, Ben-Ari and Eldad were photographed, proudly sitting on the couch of the Natcheh Suleyman-family, after they’d been expelled from their own house in Bayt Hanina last week, immediately taken over by settlers, and the photo is on Facebook.
          Only sick people do that kind of things, and only a sick society doesn’t react. So admiring Hitler comes as no surprise…

      • radamsey April 25, 2012, 9:12 AM
        • Deïr Yassin April 25, 2012, 10:32 AM

          Why do you post a link on Günter Grass ? It says exacly what I stated. Contrary to your “Gûnter Grass JOINED the Waffen SS” as if it were volontary, it states “…he was called up in the late summer of 1944 when he was just about 17″.
          We know the stick: everybody who’s criticizing Israel is a antisemite and probably an nazi. Doesn’t work, heard the crap too often.
          Why don’t you address my point on Moshe Feiglin admiring Hitler ? You do know that, right ?

          • Bob Mann April 25, 2012, 2:58 PM

            It is definitely ridiculous to claim that everybody who is criticizing Israel is antisemitic or a Nazi. I don’t even believe there is anyone out there making that claim. Certainly not here among those who leave comments at this website.

            What is true is that this one particular person was, in fact, an actual Nazi. You can say what you want about being conscripted but many brave souls followed their conscience and refused to serve, in some cases, suffering dire consequences as a result but remaining true to their ideals.

          • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2012, 3:37 PM

            No he wasn’t a Nazi & your comment is extremely sloppy. He was a 17 yr old conscript into the Waffen SS as virtually all such German youth were at that age. It’s extremely dangerous to blame 17 year olds for their youthful behavior ESP since every subsequent act of Grass’ as an adult has represented a repudiation of his 17 yr old acts.

            George Soros as a child accompanied his guardian as he confiscated Jewish property. Does that make Soros an accomplice to genocide? Absolutely not. A 17 yr old is not an adult and not responsible for his behavior in the way an adult is.

            I find this rhetoric to be very misleading and disingenuous.

          • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2012, 3:50 PM

            Many pro-Israel advocates believe virtually everyone criticizing Israel is anti Semitic. In fact the more powerful the criticism the more likely it will be labelled anti Semitic. The smear or variations on it is leveled against me regularly.

          • radamsey1 April 25, 2012, 6:20 PM

            [From that link]: “Until now (2006), biographies of the writer, who was born in 1927, have asserted that Grass was conscripted as anti-aircraft personnel in 1944 and then served as a soldier…

            On August 12, Grass explained in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (excerpt in German) that he was not in the armed forces but in fact in the Waffen SS…”

            [Grass]: “It had to come out, finally. [62 years after Grass served in the SS, 10 years after he had won the Nobel Prize in Literature, he fessed up, telling it his way.] The thing went as follows: I had volunteered, not for the Waffen-SS but for the submarines, which was just as crazy of me. But they were not taking anyone any more. Whereas the Waffen-SS took whatever they could get in the last months of the war, 1944/45…

            (He said he volunteered mainly to) “get away. From constrictions, from the family. I wanted to put an end to all that, and so I volunteered…(Asked whether he had feelings of guilt, Grass answered:) “At the time? No. Later on, this guilt feeling burdened me as a disgrace.”

            That’s Grass’s telling of it with nothing to confirm or deny the “voluntered” vs “conscripted;” rejected as an elite submariner but accepted as an elite member of the Waffen SS (why not the non-elite regular army, that is the Wehrmacht?); didn’t know what the Waffen SS was all about; etc. (By ’44 were those newly initiated into the SS not getting the full racist indoctrination to prepare them to commit whatever atrocities they were called upon to perform? Did Grass get his blood type tattooed in his armpit, as was the practice with “elite” SS troops, so they would be the first to receive medical care if wounded?)

            Whether Grass was 100% sincere in saying he came to be ashamed of that personal history, it may be seen that he kept silent about it for 62 years, letting the world believe all along that he had served in the “army,” which would comport with shame or awareness of shamefulness. And that link provides a huge sampler of divergent opinions regarding Grass’s belated confession.
            *******

            Now, Deïr Yassin, you said, “We all know that Israel doesn’t give a damn about people who have served in the Waffen SS or have nazi-sympathies as long as they are sionists(sic).” But you have not pointed to any “people who have served in the Waffen SS” and been embraced by Israel. If as you claim “we all know” it is so, then please produce some evidence to support it. Can you name any former Waffen SS present-day Zionists, and not those who just hate Muslims living in Europe more than they hate Israelis (which doesn’t make them Zionists)?

            Moshe Feiglin, whose political path was blocked, does not equate with Israel any more than David Duke does with America, and it takes an incredible stretch of imagination to say Feiglin has “nazi-sympathies” or to say that neo-Naziism” can comport with Zionism.
            *****

            (BTW, Deïr Yassin, is it OK for me to engage with you this way, e.g., asking you to compare/contrast Israel with Nazi Germany? Richard accuses me of imputing to you views that are not yours, but I am in fact inviting you to correct any misimpressions I may have of those views. I did think that in previous threads you had endorsed Israelis, especially the IDF, as Nazis, but if I am wrong about that, then I stand corrected.)

          • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2012, 10:01 PM

            Whether Gunter Grass was or was not a conscript, whether he was or was not in the army, was or was not here, there, or anywhere: blah blah blah. I could care less. Only the pro Israel obsessives like you care about these things. What you should care far more about is the homicidal, racist extremists in your own midst who have done & will do far more damage to Israel than Gunter Grass ever has done or will do.

            As for keeping silent for 62 yrs about his past. Israel has a pretty dark past that is 64 yrs old & its boosters like you would prefer to keep silent about its darker sides. So let’s have some candor on that subject, why don’t we?

            Moshe Feiglin’s political path was not “blocked.” He’s quite a powerful figure in Israel & will remain so for many years to come. In fact, if Israel continues going down the tubes as it has under recent governments Feiglin’s star could rise high enough to assume leadership. Better than even money that either he or Lieberman will someday be PM.

            I don’t care what Deir Yassin says to you regarding how you interact with her. I’m telling you how you will behave here as long as you’re here. You won’t impute to anyone, or characterize any views on their behalf. Understand this well.

            You’re done on Grass and in this thread. Do not publish any further comments here. Move on to another thread and follow the rules.

          • Deïr Yassin April 26, 2012, 2:09 AM

            Last point before closing this debate.
            When I stated that “Israel doesn’t give a damn about people who have served in the Waffen SS or have nazi-sympathies as long as they are Zionists” I didn’t say anything about being “embraced by Israel”.
            I think the Günter Grass-case states my point perfectly. Why didn’t Israel make all that noice when he first came out with his past ? Because they didn’t care, and Grass was in fact considered friendly to Israel, he’d been there on 4-5 occasions, and he’s still positive to Israel. Maybe the disproportionate reaction from Israel will make him change his mind.

            I don’t know about David Duke, but Feiglin ran for the Likud-leadership and came in second. If my informations are correct Likud is the ruling party in the government coalition.

            And you’re wrong. I’ve never endorsed Israelis as Nazis. I think hyperboles aren’t useful, and I don’t like the use of ‘genocide ‘ to describe the Zionist behaviour in Palestine either, though it fits the part of the definition made by Raphael Lemkin that wasn’t included by the UN in their defintion.
            ‘Ethnocide’, ‘land grabbing’, ‘institutionalized discrimination’, ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘ethnic supremacism’ and ‘pathological narcissism’ is fine with me to describe the State of Israel.

          • Commoner April 26, 2012, 11:23 AM

            “but Feiglin ran for the Likud-leadership and came in second”
            Yes, he came in second. Not really a surprise, since only him and Bibi were running. :)

          • Richard Silverstein April 26, 2012, 12:34 PM

            Hitler came in second too. Many viewed him as a buffoon & did not take him, or what he represented seriously. Look what eventually happened to him.

      • radamsey1 April 25, 2012, 10:27 AM

        Correct me if I’m wrong, Deïr Yassin, but you believe that Israel is in many ways like Nazi Germany, and the IDF like the Nazi military, even the Waffen SS, don’t you? And so it doesn’t lie in the mouths of Israelis or their supporters to make anything of Grass’s service in the Waffen SS?

        • Richard Silverstein April 25, 2012, 3:24 PM

          I do NOT appreciate you characterizing anyone’s views on their behalf. Avoid doing this in future.

        • Deïr Yassin April 25, 2012, 4:22 PM

          @ radamsay1

          Don’t play that game with me. My IQ is above 50 !, and I know that trick too well.
          YOU were the one who brought up Nazi-Germany by mentioning Günter Grass. I only responded. And you still haven’t addressed my point on Feiglin admiring Hitler.
          I don’t think it’s usefull to compare Israel with Nazi-Germany though there are similarities, such as the obsession about “race” and origins.
          I think the comparison with South African is much better (and I hope the solution will be the same), and concerning the colonization of historical Palestine, it fits the French and English expansion in North America better, pushing the frontier all while cleaning the land of the native population.
          I think the IDF are thugs, yes.

          • Bob Mann April 26, 2012, 3:39 PM

            You hope the solution is the same as South Africa? For the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians, I hope you are wrong. Have you been following South Africa at all over the last few decades? Income inequality has increased steadily. Almost 60 percent of blacks live in poverty (while less than 2 percent of whites do). I would hope for a better solution both in South Africa and in this conflict.

          • Deïr Yassin April 27, 2012, 2:49 AM

            @ Bob
            Yes, I have followed South Africa closely, and I’ve studied the history thouroughly too.
            When I said I hope for a South African solution I was talking about sharing the land, and one man, one vote. That’s what is implicated when people mention the South African solution. South Africa during Apartheid also created Bantoustans for the indigenous population, and funny enough: the only State to recognize some of them was, guess who ? Yes, you’re right: Israel.
            The poverty of the native Black population is not due to the end of Apartheid, but because of it. Me think you’re mixing-up cause and effect in order to make a point.
            And in case you didn’t know: my primary concern is the Palestinians, I would even say practically my only concern.

  • mary April 26, 2012, 12:44 AM

    I just have to ask: If Israel suspected the Beethoven carried weapons, why not alert the Egyptian authorities and let them handle it when the ship docked in Alexandria? After all, there is still a peace treaty in effect between Egypt and Israel, and this seems to be the safest and sanest course of action.

    • I wonder.... April 26, 2012, 4:03 AM

      mary: “If Israel suspected the Beethoven carried weapons, why not alert the Egyptian authorities and let them handle it when the ship docked in Alexandria?”

      Indeed. Why not cut to the chase and ask the CYPRIOT government to search the ship before it set sail?

      I know.
      I know.
      It would make for such dramatic headlines.

      Maybe now the Israelis have charged onboard and found… nothing… they’ll think twice about the advisability of cowbow antics.

      I know.
      I know.
      Bibi and Little Ehud just love their cowboy antics…..

    • SimoHurtta April 26, 2012, 1:58 PM

      As said before Israel’s only defense for the “checking operation” was claiming that HS Beethoven was suspected going to Gaza against which it has a blockade. Israel has no right to check ships going to Egypt, Turkey etc even Israel suspects that on board are weapons to Hamas. As from the news, when the operation begun, can be seen Israel actively claimed, that the ship was suspected going to Gaza even its course and location clearly indicated that it was not. The banality of that going to Gaza claim is that HS Beethoven is a bigger ship than for example RMS Titanic was. HS Beethoven 50,243 GRT, RMS Titanic 46,328 GRT. It would be interesting to hear Israel’s navy’s experts publicly explaining how HS Beethoven would have gone to Gaza’s harbor and given Hamas a couple of weapon containers.

      Preventing smuggling to Gaza from Egyptian side is solely Egypt’s responsibility. Naturally Israel should have informed Egypt of its suspicions and let Egyptians do their work and responsibilities. But as we know Israel is no rational state and making troubles and bulling are its business idea. It needs this steady stream of such operations for external and internal reasons. The Jewish state lasts only so long it can constantly present its “they are under attack” propaganda. Logic and truth are secondary in Israeli propaganda, but it is disturbing how easily our western media swallows the Israeli claims.

      • mary April 27, 2012, 7:03 AM

        I suspect the Likkud government was trying to show the Israeli public how vigilant they are in keeping everyone safe. Bush did the same thing (and Obama does it now too) with all those terrorist “close calls.” By making it appear there are imminent threats, the public is successfully manipulated into supporting what the government is doing. I’m convinced this whole thing was a propaganda stunt on Israel’s part.

        • SimoHurtta April 27, 2012, 1:52 PM

          Of course it was a propaganda stunt. Aimed both for domestic “elections cattle” and to be used in US politics. But mainly a message for neighbors: we Jews continue to do what we want, the west approves that and there is nothing you can do to prevent it happen again and again.

          If Israeli intelligence would have been 100 percent sure of the weapons to Hamas, they would have only needed to inform both Egyptians and Americans and escort the ship to Alexandria. So forcing Egypt to act and check the cargo. Israel had no need to invade the ship.