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Chief Flotilla raid investigator gives Israel advice on Hasbara

The leader of the flotilla incident investigation committee castigates government, media – and exposes his committee as a sham

Former Supreme Court Judge, Ya’akov Turkel, harshly criticized both the government and Israeli media today (Hebrew). Turkel claimed the government “doesn’t know how to do Hasbara properly” (inarticulateness in the original), and that its Hasbara organs “have abandoned our judicial Hasbara too quickly. We have more to say, aside from Biblical rights and security reasons”. He also lambasted the Israeli media, who according to him “did not act in accordance with what was good for Israel.”

Turkel is 76, so his formative years were during the pre-Israel days, the collective period of out history; this may, barely, excuse his demands that the Israeli media act like the Syrian one does. However, the fact that a former SCJ judge cannot understand other people may understand Israel’s interests differently from him is much more problematic. Just mutter a blessing he is no longer on the bench.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the fact that Turkel is also the chief of the investigating committee investigating the Mavi Marmara incident. For the senior official in an ongoing investigation to claim publicly that not only is Israel correct but that the government is inept in informing the public about it is cause for some surprise and concern. Turkel basically announced his committee’s verdict is known in advance.

It’s not a surprise, of course; Anyone who paid attention knew the Turkel Committee is a sham months ago. It’s just so unusual to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Even so, it is unlikely that Turkel will be asked to step down; he only blurted what people were doing their best to ignore.

File under “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

(Yossi Gurvitz)

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    1. max

      The Turkel Commission already published its position that the raid in international water was legal, so one can’t talk about “ongoing investigation“ and “verdict is known in advance”
      In that context, Turkel says that people who accused Israel based on assumptions (that proved wrong – but that’s almost irrelevant), didn’t do it with Israel’s best interest in mind. Is he right? I have no idea as I don’t know what they thought, but he didn’t state this as having a legal value.
      Turkel says that Israel should be more open to participate in international forums discussing the situation in legal terms, as it has more than mere religious and security claims.
      Is this a frightening perspective?
      As for the commission’s work, one may of course prefer Erdogan’s view to that of the US State Department, but it sounds more like “don’t bother me with facts that don’t fit with my view”

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    2. David

      Turkel or no Turkel.
      The next flotilla is toast, diplomatically or otherwise. Like the last one.
      But it looks like the Noe-Ottomans took the bait and called back their thugs from IHH ( NGO-cover for Erdogans pro-“Muslim” work ) who are now welcoming the Syrian brothers at the border ( in tents ). Erdogan is of course bosom buddies with Assad. The whole thing looks like the Turks bit off too much and are now confronted with the chaos they thought manipulatable.
      Adam Shapiro is on stand-by in Athens wand will get hosed once the IDF pulls alongside.
      Can’t wait for the video footage.
      Maybe Joseph Dana can do a 972 exclusive, live from one of the boats?

      Reply to Comment
    3. max

      David, Turkey will only gain from the Syrian problems. Sooner or later it’ll be time for the opposition to govern, and they all will owe Turkey for hosting them in times of need.

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    4. Yes, this was known months ago, for example in October 2010: “The appearance of the three Israeli human rights organizations to testify at the Turkel Commission was a significant moment — and was a rare opening. But it did not lead to any real clarity, other than illustrating perfectly the polarization of this situation, in which few have any interest in real communication with those who don’t already share their views” …

      “Without ever using the word ‘occupation’ — which would have certainly drawn rebukes, objection and even derision from certain members of the Commission — Gisha argued that international humanitarian law is what applies to the situation in Gaza, and not the San Remo manual developed by the U.S. Navy in an effort to encode customary international law. [The San Remo manual applies to naval blockades, which require the exsistance of a state of war]” …

      “The Commission members asked: Did the imposition of the naval blockade on 3 January 2009 worsen the humanitarian situation? GISHA Attorney Feldman replied, ‘The answer is, Yes … There was very serious damage done to civilian facilities, water, sewage… and more by power … We do not believe Israel kept its obligations … We are lowering the bar — we are not supposed to bring a population up to the bar of minimal subsistence’. She quoted an ICRC statement issued in June, in a paper entitled “Not another year”, that ‘The whole of Gaza’s civilian population is being punished for acts for which they bear no responsibility. The closure, therefore, is a clear violation of Israel’s obligations under International Humanitarian Law … What we are saying is that the Israeli closure policy is intended to damage civilians to put pressure on Hamas’, GISHA’s Attorney stated. At the end of the marathon session, retired Judge Yaakov Turkel told GISHA that two questions remained without satisfactory answers: ‘(1) the point of departure, and (2) the question of whether the humanitarian situation in Gaza is now worse’…”

      “Right from the start, and all during the 6.5 hours of testimony, members of the Turkel Commission were all over the three human rights groups, at times taunting and even belittling them for not living in the real world [which apparently is, to them, Israel — and not the Seychelles, as they said, which certainly is not Israel, and therefore not real…] At times, the Commission members revealed a shocking lack of knowledge about the situation on the ground [though they blithely accused the human rights organizations of the same]. The former Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Minister asserted that Palestinians [in Gaza and in the West Bank] lived a perfectly normal life, and carried out their own population registrations without any interference from anyone. Gisha’s lawyer, Tamar Feldman, tried to correct this assumption: ‘That is the situation, sir: The registration is under full Israeli control’. She was then told that she should not enter inaccurate information into the testimony. But she replied ‘I’m saying this on the basis of unequivocal statements made by the government — it’s not our invention’.”



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