Political Correction

Glenn Beck's Fact-Free Attack On Foreign Policy Matters' MJ Rosenberg

June 04, 2010 9:54 am ET

On the June 3, 2010 episode of his television show, Glenn Beck incorporated a post by Political Correction and Foreign Policy Matters Senior Fellow MJ Rosenberg into his circular conspiracy theories about the Israeli flotilla incident.  Unsurprisingly, Beck's attack on MJ was filled with lies, misinformation, and personal dispersions.

Beck: Rosenberg Wrote His Post In Response To My Show

Beck Claims Other Networks Aren't Showing The Clips Aired On His Show

GLENN BECK: This is an amazing story from MJ Rosenberg proving exactly what I've been saying. I think the only reason why they wrote this is because I've been telling you the truth, and they don't know what to do. So they have to expose it. Here it is. "It's been one lie after another in the US media about the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound relief flotilla." [laughing] The media's been lying on behalf of Israel? Could've fooled me, I -- NBC has barely even shown the peace lovers attacking the Israeli soldiers with the, y'know, metal pipes.

From the very beginning, almost every media outlet has shown the same clip from the Israel Defense Forces.  Click to enlarge.

Beck Claimed The Israeli Blockade Is Irreproachable Under International Law

GLENN BECK: But MJ's not done! No! "The bottom line is that the men and the women of the flotilla had every right to attempt to destroy an illegal blockade that Israel had no legal standing to impose and which was designed to inflict collective punishment on the people of Gaza." So, Media Matters points out here that it's the unprovoked violence against the Israelis. And it's justified. It's almost like Saul Alinsky said, um, oh yeah-the ends justify the means. But MJ is of course wrong again on the legality of the blockade as well. You can google this, if you're DVRing -- you should do it right now, so you don't take my word for it. Google it, now. The international law that was codified in 1909, Declaration of London, updated 1994, in a legally recognized document called "The San Remo Manual On International Law Applicable To Conflicts At Sea" or something like that. Under some of the key rules, the blockade must be declared and notified to all belligerent and neutral states. Access to neutral ports cannot be blocked. And an area can only be blockaded which is under enemy control. Well, since Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization, uh, you know, uh, the ruling entity of Gaza, and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade sounds pretty legal.

Blockade Legal IF Israel In "Armed Conflict" With Another Sovereign Nation

Legal Scholar: Blockades Clearly Lawful -- In Conflict Between States. According to Kevin Jon Heller, a Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School: "If the conflict between Israel and Hamas is an international armed conflict (IAC), there is no question that Israel has the right to blockade Gaza.  (Which is not to say that the manner in which Israel is blockading Gaza is legal.  That's a different question.) [...] But what justifies a blockade in non-international armed conflict (NIAC)?  The London Declaration does not justify such a blockade, because it only applies to "war"- war being understood at the time as armed conflict between two states." [Melbourne.edu, accessed 6/3/10; OpinioJuris.org, 6/2/10, emphasis original]

The seeming absence of support for blockades in NIAC is obviously important, because it is difficult to argue that Israel is involved in an IAC with Hamas.  First, it is obviously not in a traditional IAC, because Gaza is not a state.  Second, not even Israel claims that the conflict has been internationalized by the involvement of another state.  And third, although the Israeli Supreme Court held - controversially - in the Targeted Killings case that armed conflict between an occupying power and a rebel group is international, Israel's official position is that it not currently occupying Gaza.

Israel's defense of the blockade thus appears to create a serious dilemma for it.  Insofar as Israel insists that it is not currently occupying Gaza, it cannot plausibly claim that it is involved in an IAC with Hamas.  And if it is not currently involved in an IAC with Hamas, it is difficult to see how it can legally justify the blockade of Gaza.  Its blockade of Gaza, therefore, seems to depend on its willingness to concede that it is occupying Gaza and is thus in an IAC with Hamas.  But Israel does not want to do that, because it would then be bound by the very restrictive rules of belligerent occupation in the Fourth Geneva Convention. [...] It seems to me, in short, that it is difficult to argue Israel has the legal right to blockade Gaza.

[OpinioJuris.org, 6/2/10, emphasis added]

Legal Expert: As Occupying Authority In Gaza, Israel Cannot Legally Be "In A State Of Armed Conflict" With Gaza. According to Forward:

The matter, therefore, turns to Israel's claim that it is in a state of armed conflict with Hamas, the group that governs Gaza. It is a claim that some international law experts dispute.

"You can't be in a state of armed conflict with a government in an area in which you are the occupying authority," said George Bisharat, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of Law.

The Israeli government maintains that its occupation of Gaza ended with the withdrawal of its army and the uprooting of its civilian settlements from that territory in 2005. But Bisharat disputes that characterization, citing Israel's control over Gaza's airspace, coast and borders, and over buffer zones within Gaza. He also cites Israel's repeated incursions into Gaza.

"When a country is in occupation of territory outside its boundaries, it is compelled to follow a sort of policing model," Bisharat said. "If there is an uprising, or people organizing resistance, the occupying power does have authority to arrest people and to quell disturbances, but not to act like it's a full-fledged war against the army of another sovereign government."

[Forward, 6/2/10, emphasis added]

Humanitarian Standards Matter Too

Legal Expert: "Blockades Must Meet Humanitarian Standards To Be Lawful." According to Dr. Douglas Guilfoyle, author of Shipping Interdiction and the Law of the Sea and legal professor at University College London:

"International law tells us that states may create and enforce blockades during an armed conflict, but it also tells us that those blockades must meet humanitarian standards to be lawful... During an armed conflict...a belligerent state is entitled to blockade enemy ports as a measure of economic warfare. Historically, such a blockade had to be conducted close to shore. In modern law, however, a blockade may be enforced against neutral vessels on the high seas, where the events on the Marvi Marmara took place... The ships that were intercepted by Israel, however, were carrying aid. The law or [sic] armed conflict requires that blockading states allow aid through to the civilian population; however, the blockading state may control the channel through which aid is delivered, and that is what Israel has been doing. The authority to intercept vessels and control aid deliveries, however, is available only in a lawful blockade. To be lawful, a blockade must not be implemented where the damage to the civilian population is excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade, and this is where Israel's legal position is open to question." [UCL Laws Faculty website, accessed 6/3/10; Times of London, 6/1/10, emphasis added]

Israeli Blockade Exacerbating Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza.  According to Amnesty International: "Israel's military blockade of Gaza has left more than 1.4 million Palestinian men, women and children trapped in the Gaza Strip, an area of land just 40 kilometres long and 9.5 kilometres wide.  Mass unemployment, extreme poverty and food price rises caused by shortages have left four in five Gazans dependent on humanitarian aid. As a form of collective punishment, Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law." [Amnesty International, 6/1/10]

Gaza Blockade Is Only Hurting Civilians.  As the Independent explains, "It is widely accepted internationally that the blockade is hurting the civilian population much more than Hamas, whose grip has tightened in the last three years. It has destroyed a once-entrepreneurial and productive economy, ensured that 80 per cent of its population now depend on food aid, left most of its water undrinkable, and prevented reconstruction of some 75 per cent of the buildings destroyed by Israel's devastating military offensive in the winter of 2008-9, not to mention many, many thousands more destroyed since the beginning of the intifada in 2000; or the building of 100 new schools the UN refugee agency UNRWA desperately needs to meet its ever-soaring demands. It's because world leaders understand this - at least on a theoretical basis since few ever enter Gaza - that the Quartet of the US, EU, Russia and the UN has repeatedly called for the siege to be lifted." [Independent, 6/2/10]

Gaza Blockade Is Collective Punishment.  According to Amnesty International: "This gratuitous exacerbation of the privations already suffered by the inhabitants of Gaza seriously hampered their access to health care and education and destroyed industries and livelihoods. Imposed ostensibly to deter rocket-firing into Israel by Palestinian armed groups, the blockade was nothing less than an outrage - the imposition of collective punishment on the entire population of Gaza. All too predictably, it hit hardest on the most vulnerable - children, the elderly, the homeless and the sick, including those in need of medical treatment outside Gaza - not the armed militants responsible for rocket firing." [Amnesty International, accessed 6/3/10]

UN: Since Blockade Is "Collective Punishment," It Violates The Geneva Convention. According to a 2009 report to the United Nations: "As noted by senior United Nations human rights and humanitarian officials, among others, the blockade of Gaza amounts to collective punishment, which is prohibited under international humanitarian law. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that 'No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or terrorism are prohibited. [...] Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.'" [UN Report, 11/6/09]

Beck Claims Blockade Exists Solely To Keep Weapons Out Of Gaza

GLENN BECK: "The intention of the activists on board the ships was to break the Israeli blockade. Delivering the embargoed goods was incidental." Hm! Thanks for breaking the news, MJ! I mean, we all know what this was about. Thank you. Not, not helping the poor, brutalized Gazans get food and supplies, but rather breaking the blockade so they can smuggle anything they want into the Gaza Strip. What were they doing? Uh, Iranian and North Korean missiles, rocket bombardment of Israel and Egypt.

Israel Indiscriminately Prohibits Goods From Entering Gaza. According to Gisha, a Jaffa-based Israeli human rights organization, as of May, the following items were prohibited from entering the Gaza Strip.  According to the group, the partial list "is based on information from Palestinian traders and businesspersons, international organizations, and the Palestinian Coordination Committee, all of whom 'deduce' what is permitted and what is banned based on their experience requesting permission to bring goods into Gaza and the answers they receive from the Israeli authorities (approved or denied)." [Gisha, accessed 6/3/10]

Prohibited Items


potato chips

plastic/glass/metal containers

spare parts for tractors



gas for soft drinks

industrial margarine

dairies for cowsheds



dried fruit

tarpaulin sheets

irrigation pipe systems

sewing machines and spare parts


fresh meat

fabric for clothing

ropes to tie greenhouses




flavor and small enhancers

planters for saplings




fishing rods

heaters for chicken farms



wood for construction

various fishing nets

musical instruments





size A4 paper


fruit preserves


ropes for fishing

writing implements


seeds and nuts


nylon nets for greenhouses



biscuits and sweets

industrial salt

hatcheries and spare parts


Beck Concedes MJ Rosenberg Is "Cute"

GLENN BECK: Oh, MJ, you're so cute.

We agree!

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