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Slade Gorton
Political leader

Slade Gorton

A former U.S. Senator and Washington State Attorney General, Slade Gorton served on the 9/11 Commission.

More than a 'tut-tut'

Q: Israel's deadly attack on Turkish activists now confronts President Obama with a classic challenge for all sorts of leaders: How do you behave when a close friend and ally misbehaves?

What misbehavior? A group of anti-Israel activists, armed, and carrying dangerous cargo ignores a blockade, refuses orders to turn back and resists a boarding.

Israel is faced with an existential threat to its very existence and has every right to resist such a threat by force. The blockade runners got just the response they were seeking.

The Obama administration's proper reaction should be to say just that, which might well end such attempts. Its probable response -- of tut-tutting both sides -- will only encourage future such adventures and thus contribute to more violence.

By Slade Gorton

 |  June 1, 2010; 3:17 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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For those who think that the Israelis were going to let many of the items on the ships into Gaza, think again. THe items they are denying the people of Gaza have little if anything to do with military uses. Most of the objects denied are purely punitive.

Here is a partial list:

* sage
* cardamom
* cumin
* coriander
* ginger
* nutmeg
* chocolate
* seeds and nuts
* fishing rods
* various fishing nets
* fabric (for clothing)
* sewing machines and spare parts
* size A4 paper
* writing implements
* notebooks
* razors
* toys

As you can see many of these items are very dangerous, such as cloth for clothing, paper, notebooks and writing implements. But by far the most dangerous items on the list are the condiments, spices and chocolate. Coriander is especially lethal.

Posted by: Prakosh | June 3, 2010 4:16 PM
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It's the usual cycle. Provoke, get bashed and then whine. Turkey for all it's democratic pretensions is an islamic country and predictable as to whom it supports or attacks. This was a deliberate provocation under the guise of delivering humanitarian aid and they deserved what they got. If other governments followed Israel's example Islamic radicalism wouldn't have reached such alarming proportions. What's it going to take for the world to wake up?

Posted by: chandragupta | June 3, 2010 4:02 PM
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A long time ago Jews were locked into the Warsaw Ghetto by Nazis. Apparently that experience taught them little because of how willingly they now do the very same thing to the Gazans.

Out of all the people in the world, Israelis should know in their bones that cutting a group off from the rest of the world is an atrocity. They are trying to break the Gazans the same way the Germans tried to break them in Poland. Israeli should remember how badly it worked out in the long run for Germany.

How ironic that they are using the very same tactics on their enemies that were once used against them. I expected so much better of Israel.

Israel should take note that more and more of their American supporters are speaking out against tactics like these. It could mean serious trouble in the future if the US stops "backing" very troubling acts by Israel.

Posted by: Peggy_M | June 3, 2010 3:40 PM
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As usual Slade Gordon is hyperbolic and confused.

There is absolutely no evidence that the peace activists were armed or dangerous or represented any "existential threat" to Israel. In fact, there are eye witness accounts from a retired U.S. Ambassador and a retired U.S. Army colonel both of whom were aboard the flotilla who dispute everything Gordon says here. But when Israel is concerned, her defenders never let facts get in the way of a pre-ordained narrative.

Both of the people mentioned here claim that it was the Israeli's who seemed to have fired first and who executed at least one of the people on the boat. The Israeli's also confiscated more than a Million dollars worth of personal belongings including computers, cell phones, clothing etc.

Here is a classic example of the level of arroganc3e and hubris that is being exhibited by Israel in this case: Those captured and taken to Israel and now being deported are charged with "illegally entering Israel" even though they were dragged into the country against their will by the Israeli authorities themselves after being kidnapped by Israeli commandos in international waters.

This is comparable to grabbing some poor schmuck off the street dragging him into your house, shooting him, then calling the police and charging him with illegal entrance.

And the American government at all levels is evidently condoning this behavior.

Posted by: Prakosh | June 3, 2010 3:09 PM
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Typical pro-Israel bigot who will never admit Israel's fault only others.
Hopefully the WH will gather the gonads to finally abstain rather than veto or threaten to veto everything that chastises Israel's over reaction to things.

Posted by: wlockhar | June 3, 2010 2:12 PM
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Posted by: alex35332 "Armed... BS, knives and bats don't equal armed."

Yes, knives and bats equals armed. Let's be clear: they were trying to break the blockade.

They could have easily redirected towards the port of Ashdod, where the supplies would have been inspected.

They wanted a confrontation.

Posted by: princeps2 | June 3, 2010 2:10 PM
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Posted by: alex35332 "Armed... BS, knives and bats don't equal armed."
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Pretty much every court in the world will disagree with you. Any objuect can be considered a weapon if used in threatening and agressive manner. I am guessing you missed the video of the "peace-activists" swinging chains and tossing stun grenades and flash bombs (crappy, cheap ones, but still) into the IDF boats BEFORE the soldiers had begun to board.

The IDF was a bit heavy handed, but the people on those boats new the IDF was going to require the cargo be inspected (it has said so on international news) and if the boats had nothing to hide, why resist so violently? This was purely to provoke. Israel accepts Gaza aid shipments at its port all the time running the blockade is just a publicity stunt. Besides the Hamas government refused it in the end anyway. So obviously they don't care about their civilians either.

Posted by: schnauzer2 | June 3, 2010 2:01 PM
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Couldn't have happened to better deserving governemnts. Israel won't recognize the Armenian genocide because Turkey is it's friend and they don't want to anger them. Selling out their honor. And Turkey supports and finances the activists to challange Isreal their good friend. They deserve one another.

Posted by: rlsrd | June 3, 2010 1:22 PM
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The US cannot improve Turkish opinion of Israel. Only Israel can do that.

Let Israel itself decide whether it values Turkey's friendship enough to apologize or revise its Gaza sanctions. It will not help to hurl epithets at Turkey, label the blockade runners Al Qaeda, threaten nasty comments about the EU, or have Netenyahu instigate a PR counter-offensive.

Honestly, Turkey could live without Israel and it might be of advantage to Turkey's government vote-wise to cut ties.

Posted by: jkoch2 | June 3, 2010 12:23 PM
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Israel is a terrorist state and should be removed from the face of the Earth. Turn it into a giant parking lot - at least it will serve a useful function.

Posted by: roblon | June 3, 2010 11:24 AM
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As more info emerges... it is clear Israel was the victim of a suicide attack supported by Turkey and a terrorist-affiliated extremist group called IHH.

According to Ynet: "Media reports in Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday revealed that 3 of the 4 Turkish citizens killed during the raid declared their wishes to become martyrs.”

According to France's former top anti-terrorism judge: the Islamic charity IHH behind flotilla of aid ships raided by Israeli forces has ties to terror networks.
As Charles Krauthammer comments: “Humanitarians don't wield iron clubs, and [they] would have killed the Israelis had the Israelis not drawn their pistols in self-defense.”

If the above is true...

Did Turkey knowingly allow this attack to proceed ? If so Turkey is the newest state sponsor of terror and will have to be expelled from NATO.

At a minimum, massive world-wide media and political condemnation of Israel will have to be withdrawn and apologizes made by many duped nations and media.

Posted by: pvilso24 | June 3, 2010 10:25 AM
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The latitude that Israel has received from one US government after another has gone beyond all tolerance. Because of a powerful lobby in Washington, US politicians have been henpecked and looked the other way any time Israel acts in an unacceptable manner. The whole world will condemn Israel because everyone can see when they've done something wrong or immoral, but no, not us, because money, power, and unchecked lobbying keeps our elected officials' hands tied.
I am tired of hearing this "poor little Israel" song every time; tired of having the Holocaust shoved in my face any time Israel is criticized; and sick of the Anti-Semite card being played with impunity.
Israel is not a helpless little waif wading out at sea. Israel's repeated refusals to come to the table for peace talks, their shunning of Arab states' proactive measures for friendship and alliance has made the region more vulnerable than ever. US security has been jeopardized more because of its Israel policies. We have alienated our allies, like England and Germany, on more than one occasion, because of our refusal to check or pressurize Israel when necessary and perfectly justified.
And speaking of terrorism: for those out there that see only one side or are ignorant and have no desire to do some research and find out information for themselves instead of eating up everything the yellow media feeds them, look up Menachem Begin and his Irgun party, the Stern Gang. It was Begin who set the violent precedence that was later taken up by Hamas. Begin ordered Irgun thugs to find the most populated Arab areas, crowds of Arabs, and throw bombs and explosives into them. Terrorism does not come in bombs and explosions only. Terrorism can be a calculated and psychological tactic as well. Israel's policies with Palestinian people has been just that - calculated and harmful, physically and emotionally.
The double standards are heinous and have gone far beyond appalling: when Arabs and Palestinians react to Israeli terrorism, it is the Arabs and Palestinians that get branded terrorists; when Israel does it, it's for their security and protection.
Israel does not need America to protect it like some homeless orphan. America needs to tighten its policies and condemn Israel when it warrants it. Otherwise, both nations will have to endure security issues for a long time in that region.
And, FYI, more atrocities have occurred long before and after the Holocaust, around the world - why don't those people get the same preferential treatment as Israel? Belgian Congo, Nanking, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Bosnia...
The time has come for new eyes, ears, and policies.

Posted by: zamanbobby | June 3, 2010 9:48 AM
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What you see are the consequences of Pelosi's condemnation of Turkey in Congress. When the United States acts like a world-class bully and insults allies - you see a completely independent Turkish government giving the finger to both the US and Israel.

This has caused a nightmare of international public relations, which both Israel and the US richly deserve.

Posted by: alance | June 3, 2010 9:37 AM
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@adrienne_najjar

"Screw Turkey - just another stinking muslim hell hole."

No, screw Israel, just another stinking Heeb hell hole.

That's how you do it, right?

Posted by: Garak | June 3, 2010 9:09 AM
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Screw Turkey - just another stinking muslim hell hole.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 3, 2010 9:06 AM
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Thank you!!!
At least some sane ppl are not buying the Turkish lies!!!

Posted by: NB101 | June 3, 2010 7:42 AM
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Slade Gorton's note here is a breath of fresh air to counter the skillful propaganda from those 'poor supporters of those well meaning activists' who just wanted to deliver some flat-bread to those in Gaza...a border closing supported also by Egypt.

Those nice peaceful activists on board who met those mean Israeli's (who'd warned in advance those on board that this was a prohibited area) with swinging metal bars...did you see those videos?..

The Israeli's badly miscalculated their reception by having their men rope-descend with paint guns, as some accounts mentioned. The Israeli's fell into a well planned trap. Then, the breathless media have gone ape-s**t.

This supporting Turkish outfit who are known cash contributors to Hamas pre-planned this as a provocation from the very start.

You folks posting your snarky ill-informed comments read like naif adolescents.

You've been expertly duped, folks. Don't get over it. Remember the tactics here, and expect them to be used here in our America. Wise up, we're just as much a target as we were on the September morning in 2001....don't forget that.

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | June 1, 2010 11:38 PM
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Turkey is correct: Israel boarded a vessel without permission and killed people in international waters, and must be held accountable according to international law. The United States must also choose the side of law, not "friendship", in this matter.

In addition, it does bring into sharp focus Israel's mistaken reliance on massive, deadly force instead of human civil rights for the largest open-air ethnically-based prison in the world.

Posted by: thompst1 | June 1, 2010 11:04 PM
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"What misbehavior? A group of anti-Israel activists, armed, and carrying dangerous cargo ignores a blockade, refuses orders to turn back and resists a boarding."

Sounds like a typical neo-con rant. He describes the "activists" as being anti-Israel, but seems incapable of recognizing the distinction between anyone being opposed to some Israeli policies or actions and being anti-Israel, a term that implies, but not necessarily, opposition to the state of Israel. According to an article at "The New York Times," Israeli accounts justifying the use of violent force, declare some of the passengers were "armed" with chairs, metal poles, sling shots and knives. Sounds like some individuals from the Old Stone age against modern soldiers.

"Dangerous cargo," is humanitarian supplies to people in Gaza, according to some news reports, receiving since 2007 only about twenty percent of food and supplies before the blockade?

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | June 1, 2010 10:26 PM
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Mr. Gorton,

Captains from the ships have all said they were not armed, nor were they carrying any dangerous cargo. The captain of the Greek ship insisted the ships were carrying humanitarian aid and "nothing more" This is in the UK/Guardian. Attacking ships and their crew in international waters is piracy - plain and simple.

Brainpinky, I'm with you. People on our political stage need to separate themselves from AIPAC, wake the hell up and be more critical of Israel's behavior.

"Existential threat"? Why don't we look at the current threat to Gaza's existence:

As a consequence of Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, 98 percent of industrial operations have been shut down since 2007 and there are acute shortages of fuel, cash, cooking gas and other basic supplies....

Water-related health problems are widespread in the Strip because of the blockade and Israel's military operation in Gaza, which destroyed water and sanitation infrastructure, including reservoirs, wells, and thousands of kilometres of piping....

Chronic malnutrition has risen in Gaza over the past few years to reach 10.2 percent....

In Gaza, Israel's blockade is debilitating the healthcare system, limiting medical supplies and the training of medical personnel and preventing serious medical cases from travelling outside the Strip for specialized treatment.

Israel's 2008-2009 military operation damaged 15 of the Strip's 27 hospitals and damaged or destroyed 43 of its 110 primary healthcare facilities, none of which have been repaired or rebuilt because of the construction materials ban. Some 15-20 percent of essential medicines are commonly out of stock and there are shortages of essential spare parts for many items of medical equipment.

Posted by: eyesopen1 | June 1, 2010 9:34 PM
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Thank you! And enough with the loaded questions! "Misbehaving"? Since when is self-defense "misbehaving"?

Posted by: appleski251 | June 1, 2010 7:46 PM
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What right does Turkey have to aid and abet such a hostile flotilla with hundreds of the so-called activists aimed at a sovereign state?The country is yet to accept its proven responsibility for the genocide against the Armenians.Would it accept such a flotilla to offer humanitarian aid to the Kurdish people within its own borders?Erdogan is a rank hypocrite.He is turning Turkey into an Islamist state and simultaneously pretending to be a champion of human rights.He is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Posted by: vismorge | June 1, 2010 7:13 PM
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I was born in England before World War II.
When I was 12 to 16 years old, views of the Nazi attrocities were to be seen on newsreels and in Newspapers. I cried and I cried and I anguished about the holocaust.
Now in my later years I follow much news on the internet.
The behaviour of the Zionists now in their "homeland of Israel," has shocked and anguished me.
If there were "holocausts" of the Jews worldwide now, it would not surprise me at all, neither would it draw one tear from my soul or my eyes!

Posted by: Saloplad | June 1, 2010 7:04 PM
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Slade, you must be on Aipac payroll. please tells us what dangerous cargo your' talking about. you seem be zio zionest then
the pirates that attacked a ship international water.

Posted by: charleshadeed | June 1, 2010 6:24 PM
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Thank you, Mr. Gorton! I was beginning to believe there were no sane people left in this world. I had no idea there were so many neo-Nazis in this country. Israel was provoked. Any person with any sense knows that. I am stunned at all of the anti-Israel rhetoric. Of course, it starts at the top with Obama. How unfortunate. How truly unfortunate. I'll be so glad when November gets here.

Posted by: georges2 | June 1, 2010 6:24 PM
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Once again the Israelis get away with it.This time piracy on the high seas - similar to the Yemeni pirates.The US must realise that these people- well trained by the Nazis in the subjugation of other people. Presumably they will plead their usual thing of the Holocaust.6 million dead. History appears to forget 20 million Russians died in the same conflict. Stop supporting Israel and the Middle East will become a peaceful zone.

Posted by: bregenz | June 1, 2010 5:51 PM
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Slade, you make a faulty assumption in your argument which undermines your point. Even Kennedy recognized that a blockade is an official act of war. Enforcing that blockade can and should only be done if you have a reason to believe someone is going to run the blockade with materials which violate the blockade. In this case, the ships had yet to reach the blockade line and there was little or no evidence that the ships contained cargo which would violate the blockade.

Blockades against a country to prevent them from getting military supplies or from getting supplies which can be used to build warmaking capabilities are one thing. The blockade in Gaza, which restricts food and medicine in some cases, is a different matter.

Just because this country has supported Israel throughout its history because we want to pacify the Judeo-Christian God does not mean we should give them carte blanche to violate human rights. They are attempting to starve the Palestinians out of Gaza through a siege which we are supporting. That is an act of war started by Israel which has put them and us in greater danger.

Posted by: brainpinky | June 1, 2010 5:40 PM
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I agree with Slade Gorton. Israel acted correctly.


Posted by: Robert2008 | June 1, 2010 4:30 PM
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Israel just committed an act of piracy in international waters. Armed... BS, knives and bats don't equal armed.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 1, 2010 3:49 PM
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