How Do You Say “Clustef**k” in Hebrew? thinks that this was a screwup (h/t TPM):

The entire episode bespeaks faulty intelligence on what was going on aboard the six vessels bound for Gaza, although the information was available from daily live broadcasts and easy access to visitors.
And another question:  The IDF is famous for its innovative electronic warfare capabilities. So why were the signals and images coming from the convoy not jammed as promised and allowed to reach world TV screens hours before the authorities responsible for Israeli information woke up?
And finally, why did the interception take place 80 miles out to sea in international waters, thereby fueling the complaint that Israel broke international law? The blockade zone is 20 nautical miles deep from Gaza. An Israeli raid at that limit would have been easier to justify.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

21 thoughts on “How Do You Say “Clustef**k” in Hebrew?”

  1. See what happens when Rahm Emanuel goes to Israel. I don't know how you spell clusterf**k in Hebrew but I sure know how to spell it in English- O.B.A.M.A. Let's just hope the messiah doesn't decide to put on his cape and come on the scene to screw up this unfortunate situation even worse.

  2. It does seem like a major screw-up. But when we learn who on that ship was involved in attacking the boarding party, we'll learn a lot more about how this happened. The biggest failure was earlier, in the inability of Israel and/or the US to persuade the Turkish government not to let this go forward. Having been rejected by Europe, Turkey is turning east. Not good for us or Israel; and probably not good for them either but I don't think that's what's driving the government there.

  3. and why is it obvious that Israel had to stop the convoy? Surely they could have stopped it and ensured that the whole cargo was in fact humanitarian rather than weapons. What right has Israel to interfere, outside of self-defence?

  4. There are a few things I don't understand about the "Israel messed up" argument…

    1) If everyone, including the Israeli Navy, should have known that at least one of the boats was filled with violent thugs intent on beating up and stabbing Israeli soldiers, then why was it so stupid for Israel to try to stop it from landing in Gaza?

    2) Why is it a PR disaster for Israel that a bunch of thugs who beat and stabbed Israeli soldiers took casualties, but not a PR disaster for the anti-blockade movement that footage is circulating of their so-called "peace activists" beating and stabbing Israeli soldiers?

    3) Now that the boats in the flotilla have been used in a violent attack on Israeli soldiers, shouldn't they be confiscated as enemy combat materiel–and won't that put an end to the problem, given the enormous cost of replacing them each time this sort of thing happens?

  5. Netanyahu needed an excuse to back out of his meeting. Why is that so hard to understand?

    "Why is it a PR disaster for Israel that a bunch of thugs who beat and stabbed Israeli soldiers took casualties . . ."


    If an armed force invaded your property without legal authority to do so, you'd just sit there?

    The Israeli soldiers were not lawfully on the ship. The "thugs" resisted this unlawful invasion of their space. So, yes, it is not hard to understand at all why "Israel messed up." Because they did. They invited the "violent" response by engaging in a violent armed assault on a group of ships that not only represented no military threat, which at the time had not violated any Israeli or international law, and which was miles from any legitimate claim of Israeli jurisdiction.

  6. "But when we learn who on that ship was involved in attacking the boarding party . . ."

    Again, seriously?

    The boarding party was attacking the ship. Shockingly, some of the folks on that ship decided to defend themselves from that unlawful conduct by the Israeli government. The Israelis initiated hostilities.

    This pretense that they did not is appalling.

    Equally appalling is the adoption of terrorist phrasing by the Israeli government in defending their actions, misusing, as the terrorists are wont to do, the terms "violence" and "provocation" by defining them so broadly as to basically encompass anything and anyone the Israelis disagree with.

  7. Dan @ 11:27 PM

    You are assuming that the world views Israel the way that you do. It does not. The Israelis are in a position where nobody gives them the benefit of the doubt, and the people on the Turkish boat cynically took advantage of this.

    Unfair? Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on what really happened in Operation Cast Lead and other disputed events. Reality? Definitely.

  8. "If an armed force invaded your property without legal authority to do so, you’d just sit there?"

    No–but then, I'm not a "peace activist". If the point of the flotilla was to break the Israeli blockade by force–on behalf of the Hamas regime in Gaza–then, well, they lost the battle, and nobody who isn't actively rooting for Hamas should care. If, on the other hand, the point of the flotilla was simply to deliver humanitarian aid to the civilians of Gaza–on behalf of the world's peaceful, non-partisan NGOs–then video of them beating and knifing Israeli soldiers ought to be very embarrassing to them indeed.

    The problem is that an enormous number of people seem happy to let the thugs on the flotilla have it both ways. They're righteous defenders of Gaza when they're killing people, and humanitarian peace activists when they're getting killed. Nobody would ever let a supporter of Israel get away with such hypocrisy.

  9. Let's see if I read you correctly, Dan. People who try to defend themselves from an unprovoked armed assault on the open sea are thugs. If someone questions this line of reasoning, they are a hypocrite trying to have it both ways.

    Obviously, hypocrisy is like farts — nobody seems to think their own stinks!

  10. Freeman, I suggest you look up "unprovoked" in the dictionary. The entire flotilla was a deliberate, ostentatious provocation, and its organizers openly characterized it as such, fully anticipating that the Israelis would respond by attempting to enforce their blockade of the Gaza strip. (That's why they came prepared with such a huge cache of close-quarters weaponry.)

    As for "armed assault", if the Israelis had truly intended an armed assault, there would have been no Israeli casualties, and no flotilla survivors–just some debris on the ocean. In fact, the soldiers boarding the Mavi Marmara were armed only very lightly–for self-protection–so as to minimize casualties. The thugs on the Mavi Marmara, of course, showed no such restraint.

    Now, you are by all means free to try "questioning this line of reasoning". Just don't claim that the knife-and-bat-wielding Hamas supporters aboard the Mavi Marmara were defending themselves against an "unprovoked armed assault". And if for some reason you admire their attempted blockade-running in support of Hamas, then don't turn around and express outrage that Israel would shoot and kill innocent humanitarian peace activists–or I will, indeed, call you a hypocrite.

  11. OK Dan,

    So if I describe an event in a one-sided manner, I am a hypocrite. Fair enough. My comment was meant as such.

    But you can't smell your own hypocrisy in having described the event in your one-sided manner, can you?

  12. Freeman, you should try reading with a little more care. I didn't even call you a hypocrite at all. I simply encouraged you not to describe things incorrectly, and pointed out that *if* you chose to characterize the thugs aboard the Mavi Marmara simultaneously as righteous self-defenders and as humanitarian peace activists, you'd be a hypocrite. As for the "one-sided manner" in which I described events, sometimes, between truth and falsity, between honesty and dishonesty, between fairness and disingenuousness, it's important to choose a side.

  13. The bottom line is that the flotilla was still in international waters and had done nothing violent against the Israeli state, had not violated the blockade, and describing this as a "provocation" is simply adopting the verbal tactics of Islamic extremists who view any opinion or action contrary to their world view as a "provocation" and don't hesitate to say so.

    The flotilla was doing nothing illegal at the time; the Israelis did by attacking in international waters. What the Israelis did is no different than if Arizona citizens crossed the Mexico-US border into Mexico and violently confronted people who they suspect of intending to cross the border.

    The Israelis, to have any right to claim provocation or defense, would have had to have waited until the flotilla entered Israeli waters. They didn't. End of story. The Israelis were the provocateurs, the Israelis were the ones who initiated the violence.

  14. I'm given to understand that extending a blockade into international waters is a standard, accepted practice, but if you want to argue the niceties of "international law" (an oxymoron, in my view), you'll have to take it up with someone who has more respect for that particular pastime than I do. The flotilla was a clear, openly admitted provocation in the plain English sense, not in the Islamic extremists' sense–although I grant that as an ardent defender of Islamic extremists, you might have a better sense of this than I do.

  15. So, just out of curiosity, are people saying that if Israel had waited until the flotilla was in "its" waters, it would have been okay to board? But, aren't the people who think this way going to say that Israel doesn't get any international waters? Or that it is Gaza's waters?

    Just thought I'd jump ahead a little.

    Thanks to Dan Simon for articulating a reasonable position well. I am sorry Israel overreacted/pre-reacted? to this provocation. And I am sorry people died (even if they were probably macho idiots, who knew they were going to be stopped (duh…)) It was all handled very badly, as I'm sure the eventual report(s) will say.

    But that leaves us the larger question of what to do about Hamas? I hate to sound like a squishy-headed liberal, but, they do a bit remind me of the Black Panthers. How do we convince them to keep the breakfast programs, and get rid of the thugging? (And does this mean I'm Hoover????)

  16. You know, Dan, since you seem to be so fond of telling others what they should do, I'm going to have a go at it.

    Just a suggestion: people might take you a little more seriously if it weren't for all the vitriolic hyperbole. "Violent thug" is as violent thug does. Just going by the body count, I'd say the IDF did their fair share of violent thuggery (yeah, yeah, I know – they had the exclusive right to defend themselves). Trying to bring relief aid to millions of besieged Palestinians doesn't necessarily make one a Hamas supporter, and you've offered no evidence that this group was other than your accusation. Given your propensity to throw around preposterous accusations (DavidTX disagrees with you so he's "an ardent defender of Islamic extremists"???), that carries little weight.

    A few more facts and a little less contempt for opinions you've admitted you don't understand (not to mention your fellow human beings who happen to live in far less fortunate circumstances than yourself), and you might actually be able to make a convincing argument.

  17. I apologize, Freeman–I incorrectly assumed that readers of this blog would be sufficiently well-informed not to need me to supply them with "a few more facts". Here's an attempt to correct the error:

    *Now* do you understand why anyone who ardently defends the thugs aboard the Mavi Marmara is "an ardent defender of Islamic extremists"?

  18. Okay, I think I lean more towards Dan's position than Freeman's, but, can I just complain here about the use of Youtube in a debate on a blog that's supposed to be at least somewhat fact-based?

    I have no idea what those people were saying or singing. And, no, some supposed subtitle on Youtube is not going to be acceptable to me. If it's not BBC, or heck, even at least Al Jazeera, I am not going to listen.

    I like Old Media!!! You know, where if journalists get things wrong, there's a retraction, and maybe even a firing??? I've never heard of Palestinian-watch, or what-have-you. Even the name sounds sketchy.

    Bleep that bleep-ing Youtube!! You know, in a *news* context.

    I'm actually listening to music on it right now.

  19. Sigh…

    Yes, Dan, we all know that there are those on both sides that want to kill each other, and we've all seen plenty of both side's propaganda videos. It's not that we need you to supply us with facts. It's that, when reading your comments, it's hard to find any basis in facts through all the derogatory labeling and sneering contempt.

  20. ". . . although I grant that as an ardent defender of Islamic extremists, you might have a better sense of this than I do."

    Nothing I've written suggests an ardent defense of Islamic extremism. In fact, my comments suggest just the opposite. Your comment is defamatory. Criticizing the Israeli response is not the equivalent of defending those on the flotilla. Like all extremists, you think in black and white and insist that one side must be right and the other side must be wrong and that both sides can't be wrong. Which pretty much shows where you are coming from and why it is not in my interest to engage you in debate any longer.

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