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Don’t mess with the Zohan!!

June 4, 2010 - John Stack
There have been a couple huge stories, national and local that have not made sense to me. First, I get a message on Facebook from Shawn Fogel (multi-instrumentalist for The Zambonis as well as Neutral Uke Hotel and others). He wrote about some articles where BP had warned contractors (ie- fishermen put out of work by the BP oil spill) not to use respirators while working on the oil slick. The article went on to say they would be fired if caught wearing or photographed wearing respirators. Supposedly BP wanted to control the PR about the spill, and if their contractors were seen wearing respirators, it would be an admission that the spill was even more toxic than claimed. Now, OSHA has determined that the oil spill isn’t toxic enough to force BP to provide respirators to their workers. There are a number of stories of workers with shortness of breath, nausea and the like. It is of course non-determinate right now on if the oil is the main cause of their respiratory problems. But, if someone chooses to wear a respirator because of their own fear for their own safety (and a distrust of a big corporation such as this as well as that of government) why would a company threaten them with being fired because of their personal fears? If someone chose to wear a mask here at my office, I sure wouldn’t threaten them with being fired because they were afraid of toxins or whatnot in the air (I’m not saying anyone has done this or that the air in my office is anything but typical).
I had thought, this is a company worth 10’s of billions of dollars. I wondered why they could be so stupid as to pull such shenanigans. If they are worried about a picture of a fisherman with a respirator, all they have to look on the news or any newspaper to see pictures of oil covered birds, ariel photos of the biggest oil slick imaginable, and of course the streaming video of the underwater well spewing thousands of gallons oil. And they are worried about a respirator clad fisherman? Check out the testimonials of people affected by this. The videos have done more damage, by a factor of about a thousand, than any picture of a guy with a respirator may do. Plus, if these guys do get sick, there is already a cottage industry of companies that will work for plaintiffs for the next decades filing lawsuit upon lawsuit against the company, regardless of merit.
Then there is the Israelis attacking the so-called humanitarian aid ship at the Gaza blockade. The protesters are claiming it was a massacre, an unprovoked attack. Just a bunch of peace loving humanitarians trying to bring aid to the impoverished Palestinians. They would want you to believe this was akin to a sit-in protest outside the president’s office at SUNY Plattsburgh. But, there is a MILTARY blockade of Gaza by the Israelis. There may be rational discussions about the validity of the blockade. But, it is there. Approaching this area is not like me and my buddy Chev headed to a Montreal Canadians game getting through the Champlain border crossing. This is one of the most dangerous spots – IN THE WHOLE WORLD! These were not peace loving activists; they were protesters against Israel and their occupation of Gaza. Tons and tons of aid is brought into Gaza on a daily basis. These protesters could easily have contacted Israeli authorities with their desire to bring humanitarian aid, and offloaded to a safe port to be distributed. This had zero to do with humanitarian aid. It was designed from the start to provoke the Israelis.
I was listening to NCPR last night, and The World was on (I believe). A reporter was interviewing a ‘protester’. He was asking her some pointed questions. Like, what was the point of this operation , she replied something like ‘Of course it was a protest. Of course it was to provoke. We wanted to show our displeasure with the Israelis’. She sounded like some foolish protester who was really way in over her head. The reporter asked if they had any prep on what would happen if the Israelis boarded the ship. She said they expected to be boarded. She was told they’d probably take away their phones, computer and cameras. In one of the most scary places on earth, where every day a trip to the market may mean you are killed by a suicide bomber, these protesters thought their worst case scenario was losing their cameras? Hasan Nowarah was a protester and interviewed by the BBC. He explaine dhow they prepared for the Israeli Navy and such. He said they were in radio contact with the Israelis, who he admitted told them they were in harm’s way, and to turns back. Now, if I am out deep sea fishing off the coast of Ket West, and I’m told to turn my boat back by the US Coast Guard, I turn around. I don’t expect the guardsmen to happily board my ship as I refuse cooperation and ask about the catch of the day. Nowarah also said that ‘we never replied to them at some points, and at others we said we explained we weren’t attacking Israel’. I guess this naïve protester figured that no enemy of Israel would ever claim to not be attacking Isreal, and that allowing a ship full of 900 radical protesters through the fiercest military blockade was as easy a decision as Jacques Martin’s starting Halak over Price. They are lucky the whole ship wasn’t sunk! They’re lucky more people weren’t killed! They’re lucky they aren’t all rotting in a hot prison cell in Israel!
The seeming feeling throughout the world is that the Israelis used excessive force. Expecting to just have your computer confiscated is extremely naïve. The world press continues to show this in the wrong light. When describing the incident in headlines or stories, invariably words used are ‘humanitarian ship’ ‘unprovoked commando raid’ and ‘massacre’. They don’t use terms like ‘Turkish protesters and Palestinian adherents attempt to run military blockade after multiple warnings’ . The rest of the world (many already with biases against Israel and the US) seem to want to decide themselves what is a proper response to their ridiculous excursion. There may not have been weapons on board or anything of the like. How was the Navy to know? What if the servicemen boarded the ship and dozens were killed by a suicide bomber or bombers? That’s not exactly a stretch of the imagination.
I think the whole situation was a fiasco on the protesters part. Part of me believes the organizers truly expected this to happen, and their true cause was to incite vitriol against Israel. They convinced hundreds of naïve protesters that it was safe and fine. I think Israel acted in a way that was expected and consistent with their safety concerns. If you don’t want to be put in harms way, don’t put yourself in harm’s way!!!


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