If you were running Israel, what would you have done?
About the flotilla of "peace activists" organized by a Turkish "philanthropic" and "humanitarian" entity closely tied to jihadist terror groups such as al Qaeda. The flotilla set out to provoke an incident by running the blockade of Gaza imposed in 2007.
Well, how about just lifting the blockade?
Egypt and Israel put the blockade in place following the takeover of Gaza by Hamas -- an Iranian-backed terrorist bunch dedicated to wiping out Israel. To lift the blockade would effectively sanction the rearming of Hamas, meaning more Hamas assaults on Israel.
So why not blow up the ships while still in their ports of origin, as Israel did in 1988 -- with no loss of life? Or why not board them farther out to sea as Israel did in 2006, check them out for contraband, and -- if finding none -- let them proceed?
No good explanation. The Israelis did board this time but by commandos rappelling from helos rather than by troops boarding from warships. In the latest incident, the "peaceniks" on one ship pummeled the boarding commandos, causing an international incident in which just about everyone is blasting Israel.
Nothing new in that. Israel's behavior is consistently unconscionable.
Not only that. Consider this -- by Ronen Bergman, a senior military and political analyst for the Israeli daily 'Yedioth Ahronoth'. Seeing in the incident a "new degree of fatigue in Israeli governing circles," Bergman writes: "The leadership of the country has given up what it has concluded is ultimately a Sisyphean attempt to accommodate world opinion. Isolation is no longer a threat to be fought, their thinking seems to go, because Israel is terminally isolated. What remains is to concentrate exclusively on what is best for Israel's survival, shedding any regard for the opinion of others."
It is difficult not to sympathize with Israeli siege fatigue. On practically every level, the country has been under siege since its creation 62 years ago after the Holocaust. This was a set-up. Israel did ask the flotilla with its 10,000 tons of cargo to divert to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where the cargo could be examined and true humanitarian aid then could be transshipped to Gaza. The flotilla declined, and the helo-boarding went badly.
The Israelis should have known it would.
Perhaps so. Still, the provocateurs shouldn't go home to parades -- and by their actions shouldn't win a lifting of the blockade.
But what about the flotilla incident's damage to peace talks and the ultimate creation of a Palestinian state? This is just another chapter in the too-long catalogue of Israeli insensitivity to Palestinian aspiration -- you know, like the building of more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.
If the Palestinians truly want peace and a Palestinian state, they and their Arab/Muslim enablers could recognize Israel's existence and forswear violence against it -- two things most refuse to do. Instead, they pledge further war to regain lands lost in their past Israeli wars. Iran's Ahmadinejad puts it this way: "I must announce that the Zionist (Israeli) regime -- with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion, and betrayal -- is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene."
But Palestine belongs to the Palestinians. And Israel is isolating the Palestinians in Gaza -- starving them, cutting them off from the world.
Wrong again, on all counts. Palestinian lands (the West Bank -- Israel calls them Judea and Samaria) fell to the Israelis in wars waged by Arabs and Muslims. (Israel, by the way, has been building settlements in East Jerusalem for years, with at least the acquiescence of every U.S. administration until the current one.) The Palestinians know what concessions they must make to get those lands back peacefully. Israel ships into Gaza 15,000 tons of food and medical supplies weekly, and allows the transmission of electricity to Gaza. When Egypt opened its border with Gaza a day after the flotilla incident, Hamas intercepted thousands of Gaza residents massing at the border -- clamoring to get out.
You have all the answers, don't you?
Hardly. Yet what so dismays is the lack of understanding for Israel, the nearly global lack of sympathy. Does that lack of sympathy derive from ignorance? Perhaps. Or perhaps it derives from a conscious determination not to understand, born of a deep-running anti-Semitism.
But a siege mentality can make it easy to do things that outrage the international community -- like board peacenik flotillas and bomb developing nuclear facilities in Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Don't you think world opinion is important?
Not particularly. Sometimes, doing what you need to do goes badly, as in the case of the flotilla -- especially against forces planning to make it go badly. And sometimes doing what you need to do goes well, as with the 1981 Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear facility in Iraq and the 2007 Israeli bombing of a nuclear facility near Aleppo in Syria. When it works, world opinion sighs in relief and says a quiet "thank-you."
Still, can't a siege mentality move a country to do dubious things?
Yes, of course. It also can move a country to do necessary things. If we felt properly besieged by the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorist proxies of nuclearized regimes (Israel is besieged by at least half-a-dozen such proxy groups), maybe we would be moved to do the necessary thing about an insistently nuclearizing Iran.