On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Time to bring the bully to heel

If the rest of the world expects remorse and regret, they would have waited in vain; this is not the first time and probably not the last for such a display of arrogance on the part of Israel.

This is a country which clearly considers itself above international laws.

It is untouchable and no one can blame Israel for being smug when it has been let off with a pathetic watered down statement from the UN Security Council.

Thanks in part to Big Brother, the United States, which has made sure that the condemnation is not overly harsh.

There’s not even a squeak from President Barack Obama, who has conveniently made himself busy with the Louisiana oil spill.

As in previous violations of human rights or to be more precise, the simplest form of human decency, the Israelis see such a slap on the wrist as an encouragement to continue to disregard world opinion.

Earlier this year, a team of suspected Mossad agents murdered a political opponent in a hotel room in Dubai with all the agents using forged passports from other countries.

If it is prepared to kill a foreign opponent in foreign land, what is killing nine activists, quickly branded as violent anti-Israeli campaigners, in international waters.

During Christmas in 2008, Israeli staged a three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, killing over 1,400 people, of which a third of them were children.

The Gaza Strip is only 40.2km long and home to 1.5 million people, mainly Palestinians.

In 2006, the Israelis attacked Lebanon for over four weeks, killing over 1,000 people.

After the usual global condemnation, the world will move on.

It would be swiftly forgotten, including the attack on the flotilla, and the same action would take place again, possibly more killings. US officials would dust off their documents and issue the same sounding hypocritical condemnation of such aggression and persuade other countries to be soft to their Israeli ally.

It has been able to get away with it because the Arab countries, which circled Israel, are disunited and to be more blunt, corrupt and impotent.

For example, Egypt is a partner of the blockade which the aid activists were trying to break into with the flotilla.

Saudi Arabia is a strong ally of the United States, which has reciprocated with total silence on the state of affairs in this oil rich country despite its horrible record on human rights and non-existent democracy.

Kuwait gladly offers itself as a base for the American army while Iraq is essentially under US control.

So, despite the Arab rhetoric, the Israelis know they have powerful friends in Washington, DC who will back them in their justification – that they need to protect themselves against the sea of enemies.

What aids their cause is that Hamas and Hezbollah, which regularly send rockets to Israel, have terrorist affiliations and even the Arabs would admit that there are nutty Palestinians who target Israeli civilians.

These two groups are certainly no angels, let’s not kid ourselves. They are not Boy Scouts and are known to take civilians as hostages.

But the latest incident could cause the Israelis to lose some tolerant friends in the Muslim world. Turkey has diplomatic relations with Israel. As a secular nation, it is Israel’s longest standing and most strategically important Muslim friend.

Unfortunately, the ship which Israel attacked in international waters was flying the Turkey flag and nine of the victims were Turks, understandably sparking off a wave of protest in Istanbul and leading to Turkey recalling its ambassador from Israel.

In short, Israel treats its only friends with contempt. It doesn’t give two hoots what the world or its friends think of them.

Malaysia has no ties with Israel but allows Christian groups to travel to Jerusalem for organised pilgrimage with approval from the Immigration Department.

Six years ago, I travelled to Israel via Jordan where I had a first-hand look at how the Palestinians were treated by the Israelis.

Even the Malaysian group I was in was mocked at the check-point by the young army and immigration officers, making us wait until the check-point was about to close before letting us in.

As we prayed, they laughed at us. It was a reminder to us that Jews are not Christians and one should take a broader look that they are so-called God’s chosen people.

As I continued my journey, I saw how a father with a child was made to wait for hours by the roadside while the soldiers checked his identity. I found out this is how Palestinians, who travelled into Israel, were treated daily.

My guide, an Arab Christian, who spoke excellent Bahasa Indonesia, had nothing but contempt for the Israelis. His sentiment was shared by many young secular Israelis I met.

The moral of the story is this – this is not a Muslims versus Jews story. There are also Arab Christians and secular Jews who want an end to the hawkish Zionist way. Also, most Israelis are not Christians and unlikely to feel for the Christian cause.

There are only good and bad people. There can be no excuse for heavily armed commandos to kill the campaigners, even if their plans were to grab world attention rather than aid and peace. Now, that’s really bad.