Thursday, June 03, 2010


Chutzpah: (Yiddish) unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity, effrontery

A multinational group of unarmed volunteers on an aid mission are sailing peacefully in international waters when a large gang of heavily armed men board their ships, shoot several of them dead, detain the rest, seize their vessels by force, confiscate their cargo of humanitarian supplies (which is found to contain no weapons), and steal their personal possessions. The legal name for this type of action is of course piracy. Some of those on board may have forcibly resisted the pirate incursion, as they are legally entitled to do, though accounts differ on this.

Just another day in the Middle East - but what males the episode even more bizarre is that the pirates then turn up at the UN Security Council claiming that their victims were in breach of international law and painting themselves as the victims of unwarranted violence. Chutzpah is not a word I use myself, but in this case I am irresistibly reminded of its Hebrew origins.

"Welcome to America, Captain Hook"
Though most countries express outrage, the USA, so quick to condemn piracy when it occurs off Somalia, is strangely hesitant to condemn the actions of the pirates on this occasion. Perhaps the next step should be for American peace activists to mount their own aid mission to Gaza in an American-registered ship. If it receives the same treatment, I wonder if public opinion in America will still let Israel get away with murder?

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