I wrote an article in my Spanish blog in which I condemned the actions of the government of Israel. In that article, I argued that instead of boarding the ships, the Israeli forces should have waited until it approached its destination, and then, if anything, leave the boat rudderless, unable to operate, but not kill anyone.

I also argued that Israel, especially in Spain, is constantly being attacked by the press, but that the EU and the US, who frequently violate human rights, are not. Spaniards are strongly anti Israel, and fail to see that Spain was part of the Iraqi invasion and the Afghanistan invasion, and that these two invasions have so far caused over half a million civilian deaths, and have hardly brought any progress to the citizens of those nations who keep dying. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict has had around 5000 deaths on both sides during the same period. One death is one too many, but I was just trying to say that Spain collaborates in wars that have resulted in 100 times as many deaths. I also commented that many of the tactics of the allied forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, including the use of missiles to kill families of suspected terrorists, including children and grandchildren, are completely inhumane methods of dealing with terrorism. It cannot be an accepted principle that placing bombs is terrorism and illegal while air bombardments with potential civilian targets is not. The allied forces engaged in torture and significant human rights violations, and Spain, among others, was an accomplice in this, and one can’t have a double standard, or be so harsh on Israel when it commits abuses, and not also be harsh on Spain. But the Spanish press remains lenient toward the allied forces and extremely critical of Israel.

Now, much to my surprise, many of the commentators on my Spanish blogs not only argued against the tactics of the Netanyahu government, which I also opposed, but argued against the mere existence of the State of Israel which they see as an illegal country that should be “returned to the Palestinians”. I was shocked by this in the sense that I believe, like many, in the two state solution along the lines of the Oslo Accord.

So in order to get some objective measure, I have decided to ask the same question in my English blog.

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Roberto on June 2, 2010  · 

Martin, I feel ashamed for all the people that do not grant Israel the right for their country. After hundreds of years of supression and persecution they cultivated a strip of wasteland 1/18th as big (well, small) as Germany. Still, I see more and more Europeans being in general against the Jewish Community. 60 years have passed, nothing learned.

And these numbers on your vote are not even representative since most of us have a reasonable cultivated background. Ask the people on the street here in Germany and 80% would be supporting any measures against Israel. Have a look at “tagesschau” – the official German news presented on TV and you will be surprised how most of their coverage about any Israel-Palestinian conflict situation is presented. Israel as the supressors, Palestininans being ‘ghetto’-rized. You would thing a bad conscience would prevent this in this country? Wrong.

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mvdcanuck on June 2, 2010  · 

What ever happened to supporting the idea of two States living side by side? Why one or the other?

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Martin Varsavsky on June 2, 2010  · 

That is the Oslo accord if you believe in that as I do you vote in favor of Israel’s right to exist.

aat on June 2, 2010  · 

Dear Roberto,
I`m abit surprised about what you descibe as the public opinion here in Germany. I`m German and follow our national as well as the international Media daily. The Israel Palestinian conflict is constantly in the media for many many years. But there is no public opinion against Israel in Germany : i have gone to school here myself and I have two kids in the scholl now. The war and the guilt that oure forefathers accumalated is a constant and intense topic. So there is a bad conscience and what you write is not o.k. As well “nobody” is against the right of Israel having it`s own Country. Israel sometimes should be more carefull with it`s actions: the current incident could have been better managed: like Martin wrote.

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Roberto on June 2, 2010  · 

Dear aat,

the “guilt” subject is part of school education in Germany, I agree. The higher the school standard the more it will be presented in class. I was in german school as well. But the opinion on the street is not in favour of the Israelis. Take a look at recent polls in Germany. If you can find one in favour of Israel, please send me a quick note.

Regarding the ARD (state) TV and tagesschau: It´s about tendency and language. There are soldiers against insurgents. Not terrorists. And it´s about selective coverage: Stones against machineguns. Did you ever see the proportions of the second Intifada in german TV? 20.000 assaults, 136 of them suicide bombers, 500 of them rocket assaults. I did read Haaretz every day that time and compared their coverage to the German TV. You would be suprised about the amount of differences.

Yes, I do criticize a lot of Israel actions. but on the subject of “how” not of “why”.

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joachim84 on June 3, 2010  · 

Martin, I find your poll really funny or surreal or its best ridiculous.

I noticed that no matter what happens whether Israel invades Lebanon or kills innocent Palestinians or continues 40+ years occupation under apartheid like conditions or continues to perform collective punishment with blockade http://www.btselem.org/English/Gaza_Strip/20100531_The_Siege_on_Gaza.asp Or sends commandos/soldiers to boat on international water and kill 10+ peace activists with international condemnation

Some how some way, so called supporters of Israel transform the incident into existential question- Does Israel have right to exist? Why can’t the rest of world support us even when we kill innocent people or blockade 1.5 Million Palestinians for 3+ years…

The question is not about Israel existence. Israel has existed since 1948 and is only nuclear power in middle-east, it has support of sole global superpower with 3+ Billion dollars yearly support… Israel is a reality.. What about Palestine?

Where is the country called Palestine? I guess the Palestinian don’t people have leisure of asking existential questions about existence. They are too busy to trying to keep life, too busy trying to find a homeland as Israeli settlers continue to steal their land day by day and year by year…

The real question… the real poll- Will there ever be a country called Palestine?

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Jordi on June 3, 2010  · 

I only want to comment in regards to the attitude you mention in Spain about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and other war conflicts in general.

Let me point out that in Spain we still love to play cool in the media and forums and always defend what we believe is the “weak” side of any international war conflicts but, the truth is, there is lots of hypocrisy behind this attitude. Spain ranked 6th on the World Top Weapons exporter in 2009, we surpass China and have increased our weapons exports in 50% in just 1 year!! Faster growth than any other EU member.

If we really want to be such a pro-peace country we need to put more efforts on actually demanding our governments of BEING a more pro-peace country and not just content ourselves playing cool. Let’s be honest, we are not helping here, we are actually running in the opposite direction of our words… and, like me, many in Spain are not specially proud about that.

(you can find the most updated data on the new SIPRI Yearbook 2010 that was just launched yesterday)

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Priapo on June 3, 2010  · 

People doesn’t want Israel to disappear, but the country that thinks that anything can be done without consequences.

People is also tired to hear that anything said against Israel’s politicians/army is because they’re hated for their religion, which is not true at all. People hates todays Israel as they hated GW Bush USA, todays Iran, …

Israel has been cruel, arrogant, xenophobic and racist for a long time. It seems it has made the worst of it’s enemies as a part of it’s way of life.

I hope one day things change in that country, I really hope so.

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conscious american on June 4, 2010  · 

Why does Isreal have a “right to exist?” Because jews are an ethnicity? Because they “deserve” it? Because the bible says so? Well, whatever. More power to ’em, but my tax dollars aren’t going to support them. I’ve got bigger fish to fry than subsidizing foreigners who feel entitled to something at the expense of others.

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Phillip on June 4, 2010  · 

Israel Derangement Syndrome

A country permanently occupying and colonizing a neighboring region, and treating its original inhabitants as dangerous interlopers, is the victim. An elite commando unit attacking a ship carrying toys and wheelchairs in the hours before dawn are those we should feel pity for. A country with 150 nuclear warheads and the strongest military in its region, the victor in every conventional war it has always fought, is somehow also always fighting for its very existence. A country backed by the sole superpower, supplied with aid by huge majorities in the US Congress, is facing extinction. Self-defense requires not civilly disabling and inspecting the cargo of an unarmed ship but raiding it at dawn and killing nine and injuring dozens. Basic human revulsion at a military that can kill over a thousand people – including scores of women and children in a trapped, impoverished enclave – can only be a function of anti-Semitism. A territory that is being systematically populated with Israelis in illegal settlements in contravention of the Geneva Conventions is merely a “buffer zone”. You need to colonize buffer zones?
Invasion and occupation of neighboring countries is “forward defense”. And asking that a two-state solution be moved forward by freezing illegal settlement construction and allowing a blockade that, while interdicting arms, doesn’t seek to kill civilians and restrict the import of basic necessities is to deprive a country with 150 nuclear warheads of any legitimate form of self-defense.

This is a form of derangement, or of such a passionate commitment to a foreign country that any and all normal moral rules or even basic fairness are jettisoned. And you will notice one thing as well: no regret whatsoever for the loss of human life, just as the hideous murder of so many civilians in the Gaza war had to be the responsibility of the victims, not the attackers. There is no sense of the human here; just the tribe.

Something has been wrong here for a very long time, and now it is inescapable. Until the discourse is rescued from the victims of Israel Derangement Syndrome, Israel and America will slowly be drawn into wars they cannot ultimately win, lose every other ally they ever had, and embolden and fortify the very Islamist forces we are seeking to defuse and defeat.


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WB on June 5, 2010  · 

I think Martin you went a step too far with all your Jewish “mea culpa”…
You should not even repeat such a nonsensical question…

In my opinion you are also wrong about the behaviour of the Israelis.
The cargo of the ships would have to be checked one way or the other and ignoring the legitimate safety concerns of Israel by the activists one can only read as a provocation.
The Israelis did not have a real choice and had to act.
They were also attacked in a vicious and brutal manner (and nobody can deny that after seeing the video footage…).
Other boats, where activists were not fanatically violent, did not suffer any casualties…
Look Martin I’m not Jewish and I really do not have any reason whatsoever to “excuse” the Israelis but I think it is very clear they were provoked, attacked and acted in self-defence.
I’m absolutely certain if they would not start using their firearms they would be killed.
It is absolutely clear from the footage!
Why nobody said anything about that?
The demonstrations against Israel I found frankly bizarre (and very well organised)…

And to “aat” I’m glad your guilt is “constant” and the “topic intense” (really?)… So it should be, however I do not believe you really ever acknowledged the magnitude of the German crimes committed against Poland. Apart from murdering the 3 mln Polish Jews you also killed 3 mln Poles; stole everything what you could steal (endless books, works of art, paintings, jewelry etc.etc. remained in your country) committed endless crimes and atrocities and left the whole country in complete ruins…
If you would do to London or Paris what you did to Warsaw …the Germans would still be paying for the damages.
For the destruction of Warsaw the Germans did not pay anything and for me every German is and always will remain a criminal.
If you have a problem with understanding my position write in google: “Warsaw 1939” and see only the photographs. What do you need words for?

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Roberto on June 5, 2010  · 

Dear Joachim, there never was a country called Palestine. The Palestinians were nomads, and in they eye of a lot of Arab people, they still are. Lack of education and lack of prospect – they are kept radicalized for a lot of political reasons. Ask the non-radical part of the Palestine population and most of them were in good terms with the Israelis. Israel would not be able to exist long term without Palestine work – their infrastructure would collapse.

Dear Phillip, I prefer not to comment a single of your sentences.

Dear WB, war crimes are a different topic. But I see a tendency in today´s world to consider yourself or your country as a “victim”. Did you know the last two big German state TV productions about the WWII? One about the expulsions of Germans out of east European territories. The other about women being violated by Russian soldiers in Berlin. It´s always about “the others did bad things as well…” – we all should be more modest in our judgements – especially sitting safe at home commenting anonymously on topics we do not suffer from.

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WB on June 5, 2010  · 

I do not need any “tendency” …etc.etc.
“Two big German state TV productions about the WWII”…?
You must be joking Roberto.
I don’t need any of this celluloid state sponsored official propaganda, but if you ever see a German documentary and the Germans saying:“We were bandits, we committed the most hideous crimes, we are very sorry and we want to pay for our damages” …let me know I wouldn’t mind to see that.
So far I haven’t heard anything like that.
The facts are plain and simple.
Poland was the first real victim of the IInd world war and that war was started by the German aggression in 1939.
Between 1939-1945 the Germans were murdering and robbing the Poles (and of course the innocent Jews) as only the criminals and psychopaths could.
They inflicted an unimaginable ocean of suffering and destruction.
Who needs any “tendency” here? You must be completely ignorant if you do not know that.
And a few points for your smarty comments:
I do not feel sorry one little bit for a single German because they themselves in a democratic election voted for Hitler and his policies.
They were very cheerfully (plenty of evidence even on youtube) “convinced” by a psychopath they are “superior” and can go and murder and rob anyone they wish.
A clear national “tendency” for idiocy…
I also personally would never “expel” any Germans out of the Polish territories.
Absolutely no way. That was a big mistake. You do not let the snake to get away and bite you again later.
I would put them to exactly the same camps as they build for others or execute them as collaborators with the murderous regime (which they were).
Lucky for them I was not in charge.

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Mariusz on June 6, 2010  · 

I seems like Jewish are always THOSE GOOD and rest are THOSE BAD

How can u call people in their own country ( Palestinians ) Terrorist and those who are agressive ( jewish ) not ?

Jewish occupied Palestinians territory, Jewish attract their people and just for politics and media they call them TERRORIST ?

Its like Canada will attack United States and call Americans terrorists.

Jewish are very likely to call everyone a terrorist or antisemitism what about this ALL ANTY… what Jewish s do ?

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aat on June 6, 2010  · 

you shouldn`write those things: espacially not to me. My Father in law is Polnish as are his parents.
We all have experienced through historiy grief: but to say that every Geramn is a Criminal is unaccepatable.

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Bill Ainsworth on June 7, 2010  · 

Did the USSR, East Germany and Yugoslavia have the right to exist? Countries come and go all the time so to ask if countries like the USA and Israel have the right to exist is asking a meaningless question. I do not understand why Israelis would want to live in a place where they’re surrounded by people who want to kill them. If I lived in such a place, I’d get out very quickly. It’s incomprehensible to me why Jews consider Israel to be their safe haven when they could live here in the US where they’d be appreciated and be much safer.

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The question on June 7, 2010  · 

I think that is kind of an irrelevant question. Israel does exist. It is like FC Pozuelo asking whether Real Madrid has the right to exist. The real question is whether the Palestinians have the right to exist.

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Haim on June 8, 2010  · 


Regarding the Oslo accords, which I was a supporter myself, they are history now. On those years, I lived in Tel Aviv, with the euphoria and the hope for peace that the accords (1993) offered to Israelis and Palestinians. Our hope blew away with the terrorist attacks ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dizengoff_Street_bus_bombing, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dizengoff_Center_suicide_bombing, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolphinarium_discotheque_suicide_bombing, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sbarro_restaurant_suicide_bombing, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_massacre ). All this madness made Oslo supporters like me to ask ” Wait a minute, what these guys really want? Peace? Two State solution? What’s going on? I still do not know what’s going on, but the Oslo spirit is surely gone. I doubt it was ever in the hearts of the Palestinians leadership. I know it was in mine.

About your survey, the UN resolution for the partition and the creation of the State of Israel was 33 in favor, 13 opposed and 10 abstentions. For a fair statistical comparison with your survey, we must discard the abstentions and this gives 71.7% in favor and 28.3% against. Today your private survey shows a bit less support. but also back then, in the UN, some countries believed that Israel has no right to exists.

However, if you select other regions in the world your survey will not have unanimous opinions: Are Malvinas British? Is Lebanon part of big Syria? Is Taiwan Chinese? Is Puerto Rico part of US? Is Gibraltar Spanish? Is Kurdistan Turkish? Is Armenia Turkish? I also believe if you survey something like “Was Hitler in the right track?” you will have surprising positive results.

My point? Surveys on peoples opinions have short life and change with the wind.

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joachim84 on June 9, 2010  · 

For those who would like to know- here are the peace activists that got killed…

Roberto- I am not going to say much to your comments about Palestinian being nomadic or uneducated… or about no country called Palestine existing.. that sounds more like a propaganda.. Look at current global map and find another map that 100 years old- how many countries existed in 1910 and how many more countries exist now?

Lack of education? You probably meant ignorance, etc,… I don’t know it sounds like the mentality of settlers or colonizer. I am sure you can find that kind of language in literature or attitude of initially American, Australian, or even South Africa(Afrikaners) settlers.

It terms of Nomads? Well, I believe it was Moshe Dayan who said
“There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
And for all the talk about Palestinian been nomads or Arabs ..
It Yitzhak Ben-zvi the second president of Israel who when talking about the Palestian and their origin said.
“The great majority of the fellahin(peasants) are not descendants of the Arab conquerors but before that from the jewish fellahin(peasants), who were the foundation of this country before its conquest by Islam”

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Eduardo on June 10, 2010  · 

This topics always reminds me of the following song/poem by Bob Dylan:

Well, the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive
He’s criticized and condemned for being alive
He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin
He’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in
He’s the neighborhood bully

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land
He’s wandered the earth an exiled man
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn
He’s always on trial for just being born
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad
The bombs were meant for him. He was supposed to feel bad
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he’ll live by the rules that the world makes for him
’Cause there’s a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac
He’s the neighborhood bully

He got no allies to really speak of
What he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love
He buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side
He’s the neighborhood bully

Well, he’s surrounded by pacifists who all want peace
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease
Now, they wouldn’t hurt a fly. To hurt one they would weep
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep
He’s the neighborhood bully

Every empire that’s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon
He’s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand
In bed with nobody, under no one’s command
He’s the neighborhood bully

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health
He’s the neighborhood bully

What’s anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin’, they say. He just likes to cause war
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed
He’s the neighborhood bully

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers? Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill
Running out the clock, time standing still
Neighborhood bully

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Juana on June 10, 2010  · 

Martin, much of what you say is true, but don’t forget that a million people or more took to the streets in Spain to try to prevent Spain’s intervention in the Iraq war and subsequently have never agreed with it; neither do I believe people on the street would agree with the other war practices you mention.
At the same time, people worldwide condemn the persecution of Jews throughout history, but are loosing patience with a nation that claimed their territory on the basis of a book not all of us believe in, let alone most of the Palestinians. But not content with that, they now hold the inhabitants of Gaza as prisoners in their own land in conditions which violate the most basic of human rights.
Israel’s latest deed, to attack the aid convoy, has gone just too far and is only left uncondemned by most nations because of the economic importance gained by the Jewish community in many countries, including the domination, in most cases due to possession of the press, the film industry and precious stone and metal markets, which I in turn condem as hipocresy at least.
At this stage of the game, lets at least allow the existence of the 2 nations, but I doubt if Israel would agree to that!

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Ariel on June 11, 2010  · 

Martin you forget to mention that Israel could be locate elsewhere, like for example here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birobidzhan

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Mariusz on June 14, 2010  · 

if I did not miss anything Israel DO NOT RESPECT 32 United Nation resolutions.Thats more then Iran and North Korea together.

It is not that I do not like jewish. It is not that I do not agree to they right have own country. I do have two friends FRIENDS who are Jewish. But its not right for all that bad things Israel do.

The fact so many people are very opposite to israel or jewish people not became just from nothing. So maybe Isreal and Jew start finally thing whats the reason.

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elvan on July 1, 2010  · 

i am so suprised with your blog. i can not answer your question about if israil has rigth to exist or not? because ,what you mean is that israil has every rigth to tortore and kill plastians to be exist and palastians dont have any rigts.i am sorry what how come your concience can be ok with that.if we see things from your point of view then it means that germans had every rigth to do what they did to jewish people because they as a german nation wanted to be survive ,too.
and you are saying that both nations had 5000 death from both side .ha haha . if 1 israily dies ,then for that 1 israily 100 or more palastians die.
and your solution to the last problem is letting the ship arrive and then not let the stuff to arrive palastians. what about the palastiand living without food and medicine.and when it comes to sided media .you are so rigthhhh. western media ,especialy american media is so sided towards israil. always israil is rigth . and you speak like palastians are not even human.

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