You learn a new word every day.
I can’t sleep so I thought I’d post my initial thoughts on what happened today in the Mediterranean. Longer term readers will know that I wasn’t exactly Israel’s biggest fan before, and my initial reaction when I got back from class and read the news was a very simple “Fuck Israel”. Some other pieces of information have come in and I’ve thought about it, so in an attempt to be a bit less biased, I can find fault on both sides, but mainly on Israel’s.
Let’s start with the flotilla. I’m not going to pretend that I think this was a simple aid convoy. They’d been talking about this for weeks and Israel had warned them not to go. If they’d asked any foreign office or international organisation I’m sure the advice would have been the same: don’t go. There are other, safer and arguably better ways to get aid into Gaza than trying to get a few boats past an entire navy. They also had supplies of concrete on board, something which is not allowed into Gaza by the Israeli blockade. Now I don’t agree with that ban, but nonetheless it is banned, and the activists involved can’t have been hoping to just sail on past and take their aid into Palestine. No, the aim of this group seems to be much grander to me, they were in an attempt to bring down the blockade. How do you do that, by sailing some boats through it? No, you do it by piling on international pressure. In short, they wanted to be attacked to draw international scrutiny and condemnation. I’m not claiming they expected people to die, but it seems pretty obvious to me that they were provoking a response.
Now onto Israel’s failings, shall we? It seems to be a botched job from start to finish. Why did the morons in the government approve a mission by crack commandos to raid civilian ships in international waters? To bolster their reputation as the bully-boy of the Middle East? To show that they can do whatever they want? They’ve got nukes and the support of the US for Thor’s sake, isn’t that enough? They’ve apparently been quoting international law that says that vessels approaching a blockade can be intercepted in international waters, but like I say they had a whole navy versus a few boats armed with a few poles and chairs. There were better ways this could have been done, within the few miles that Israel claims off the coast of Gaza.
Then they messed up the raid itself. The Israelis were the ones saying all along that the activists had a more political agenda than just getting aid into Gaza, and yet they still thought that once the raid took place they’d just sit down and let themselves be captured. Did they not believe their own propaganda? You’ve just raided a civvie ship in international waters, of course they’re going to put up a bit of a fight. Now I’m not saying that the soldiers didn’t have a right to defend themselves if they were under attack, but they shouldn’t have put themselves into the position where they were so compromised. According to the Israelis, two of them had their weapons snatched away by the activists – they’re supposed to be commandos, wtf?!
Maybe Greece should take a leaf out of Israel’s book of protest control. Pssst! All those people rioting in Athens? The solution’s simple. Don’t bother with riot police and containment or any of that bollocks. What you do is drop some commandos in by helicopter, vastly outnumbered so they look threatened, and then when someone inevitably hits them with a bit of wood, shoot indiscriminately into the crowd of protestors! Genius!
Maybe Israel’s been able to get away with that kind of totalitarian behaviour when it comes to the Palestinians, but when you screw up so badly with citizens of other countries, it’s not so easy to hide it or to call them terrorists. It’s like someone in government thought “hmm… I wonder what the best way to piss of Turkey would be? Maybe we should raid a ship filled with their citizens. And better yet, why don’t we do that raid in such a half-arsed way that it’ll put their lives at risk?”
In any case it seems the activists’ plan – if that was indeed their plan – may have worked. Countries on the UN Security Council, including permanent members with vetoes, are calling for an end to the blockade.