2 June 2010

Professor Jake Lynch: Why the Flotilla Massacre Shows We Need to Take Action Now

An excellent brief analysis from Jack Lynch, Director of Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies - the IDF's attempts to storm and control the boats were illegal, constituting an act of piracy as defined by the International Maritime Bureau, as well as being in violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention by way of supporting illegal measures of collective punishment as exemplified in the blockage of Gaza, which the attacked boats were attempting to break. Lynch repeats the call for a comprehensive international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign - the same kind of campaign that was necessary to bring down the racist repression of South African apartheid:

A massive and cynical misdirection is underway. Israel is not the victim here. Those killed were humanitarians intent on delivering aid to Gaza, not gun-toting commandoes who descended from the night sky.

This was an act of piracy, in international waters, on the definition of the International Maritime Bureau: “the act of boarding any vessel with an intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act”.

The goods on board belonged to the relief campaign, and were intended for Palestinians: Israel was trying to take possession of them illegally.

And it was committed in furtherance of a blockade, which amounts to collective punishment on the definition in Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited”.

Antony Loewenstein writes about the diplomatic fallout from Israel’s latest criminal act, here.

How did Israel come to believe it could get away with this? The same reason it is getting away with it now, in the conclaves of global governance: continuing protection from its patron in Washington and complicit silence, alternating with a mountain of weasel words and evasions, from politicians and media in countries allied with the US. Read my article about an act of censorship by Australia’s ABC – typical of the syndrome – here.

It’s time to take matters into our own hands. Israel is a small country with an open economy, heavily dependent on access to international markets and networked capital. These are things we can withhold. We need to send the message: have your jobs, your prosperity, your access to the outside world, OR have your illegal military occupation and your behaviour as a rogue state. But you can’t have both.


Associate Professor Jake Lynch, BA, Dip Journalism Studies, PhD
Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Chair of Organizing Committee, IPRA conference 2010
Executive Member, Sydney Peace Foundation
Room 121 | Mackie Building (K01)
The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006


  1. I agree; an excellent analysis, but flawed by a statement that actually reduces the gravity of what Israel has done.

    It was not simply 'an act of piracy' under International Law but, since the Israeli forces were commissioned by a sovereign state, and a ship in international water represents sovereign territory in law, it actually constitutes an act of war, classically defined.

    That is what makes the situation it has precipitated so grave. Turkey is a NATO member and has the absolute right under the NATO constitution to require the collective assistance of its fellow NATO members.

  2. Sabretache is close to the point, but but with one mistake - breaching a blockade is an act of war according to internal law. Therefore, Turkey initiated a war with Israel, and Israel chose to respond very delicately, passing the supplies and releasing the terrorists who tried to murder their officers.

    If a private ship came into the UK without permits, and the inhabitants of the ship attempted to murder the border patrol officers who asked for its permits, would they be released within a day?


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