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Israel botched this one bad

June 1, 2010

Israel conducted a raid on ships attempting to run the Gaza blockade this past weekend. In the course of it 9(?) protesters were killed and 30+ wounded, and world opinion is almost unanimously united in condemning Israel. The blockade was already seen as a human rights violation and after this Israel will find no support in maintaining it. Even the US has joined in a Security Council resolution calling for an investigation of the incident. It’s a mess.

Some have attempted to defend Israel, and technically they may have been in the right, but that doesn’t matter now, it’s like the US military saying “We never lost a battle in Vietnam”. True, but so what, we lost the war. Israel lost whatever remaining moral authority it has in dealing with Hamas and Fatah, this past weekend. It alienated it’s strongest Muslim ally (Turkey) the current administration had previously made clear that Israel has no friends in Washington, out of 6 billion people in the world about 5 billion hated Israel before this, it’s about 7 billion now. The best Israel can do is apologize, accept blame and realize after this the rest of the World is going to kiss the Palestinian’s butts and give them whatever they want, so get back to the negotiating table and cut the best deal you can.

(The BBC is comparing this to the Exodus)


Newsweek maintains that drone attacks against Pakistani Taliban are increasing terrorism here in the US. I maintain that if the Taliban would stop supporting terrorism the drone attacks wouldn’t be necessary. Chicken / Egg.

UpdateStratfor on the Israeli floatilla situation

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged that the mission was simply an attempt to provoke the Israelis. That was certainly the case. The mission was designed to demonstrate that the Israelis were unreasonable and brutal. The hope was that Israel would be provoked to extreme action, further alienating Israel from the global community and possibly driving a wedge between Israel and the United States. The operation’s planners also hoped this would trigger a political crisis in Israel.

A logical Israeli response would have been avoiding falling into the provocation trap and suffering the political repercussions the Turkish NGO was trying to trigger. Instead, the Israelis decided to make a show of force. The Israelis appear to have reasoned that backing down would demonstrate weakness and encourage further flotillas to Gaza, unraveling the Israeli position vis-à-vis Hamas. In this thinking, a violent interception was a superior strategy to accommodation regardless of political consequences. Thus, the Israelis accepted the bait and were provoked.


The Turkish flotilla aimed to replicate the Exodus story or, more precisely, to define the global image of Israel in the same way the Zionists defined the image that they wanted to project. As with the Zionist portrayal of the situation in 1947, the Gaza situation is far more complicated than as portrayed by the Palestinians. The moral question is also far more ambiguous. But as in 1947, when the Zionist portrayal was not intended to be a scholarly analysis of the situation but a political weapon designed to define perceptions, the Turkish flotilla was not designed to carry out a moral inquest.

Instead, the flotilla was designed to achieve two ends. The first is to divide Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. The second is to create a political crisis inside Israel between those who feel that Israel’s increasing isolation over the Gaza issue is dangerous versus those who think any weakening of resolve is dangerous.


The Israelis will argue that this is all unfair, as they were provoked. Like the British, they seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard? As with a tank battle or an airstrike, this sort of warfare has nothing to do with fairness. It has to do with controlling public perception and using that public perception to shape foreign policy around the world. In this case, the issue will be whether the deaths were necessary. The Israeli argument of provocation will have limited traction.

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

Better phrasing, but in essence it’s exactly what I said above, Israel screwed up badly. I’m sorry if you disagree, but frankly if you do you are wrong.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. xbradtc permalink
    June 1, 2010 12:05 pm

    Israel was in a no win situation. The blockade has been an important effort in minimizing attacks against southern Israel. The convoy was of course a deliberate attempt to provoke a reaction.

    The blockade is a legal action on their part. They are perfectly well within maritime law to stop, inspect and if necessary, seize vessels attempting to run that blockade. And given the failure of the vessels to stop, they would have been justified in a far greater escalation of force, to include sinking the vessels.

    Israel only gains moral authority when it allows its enemies to attack it with impunity, and not always then. So why should they tread lightly when they have a losing hand? A far more energetic response would have at least given opponents pause before attempting a follow-up action.

    Re: Turkey, they have long had the best relations with Israel, but in the past few years, have moved further and further in the Islamist camp. The choice of Turks as the instigators of this incident was deliberate, and almost certainly done with the tacit approval of the Turkish government.

  2. June 1, 2010 5:04 pm

    Second the above. Mainstream Muslim thought rejects Israel’s existence. There is no circumstance, none at all, no negotiating trick, that will get the Muslim world to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Given that the rest of the world, sans China and Russia, seems content to allow Muslims their excesses in order to preserve some imaginary peace, I don’t see how Israel can afford to give anything more than they already have.


    Palestinian Arabs have been offered the opportunity to create a state many times, starting with plans advanced during the British Mandate which the Arabs rejected. Then the United Nation partition plan of 1947, which brought Israel into existence, included a nation for the Palestinians, but the Arabs rejected it. Over the decades since there has been plan after plan that would bring peace to the region and a state for the Palestinians: all they had to do was let Israel live in peace. Arabs rejected all these plans, up to and including at Camp David in 2000 and Taba in 2001, and kept the armed struggle going.

    It should also be remembered that from 1948 to 1967 the land known as the West Bank, historically Judea and Samaria, part of the Land of Israel, was held by Jordan. During that period the Gaza Strip was held by Egypt. There were no “occupied territories”, no “settlements” or any of the other excuses used today to attack Israel. But there was also no peace. Palestinians and the neighboring Arab countries continuously attacked Israel and worked for the destruction of the Israeli state. At the same time, there was no call for Palestinian independence or statehood even though it could have been done by Jordan with the stroke of a pen.


    The above is easily verified by readily available historical accounts.

  3. June 1, 2010 8:27 pm

    “Israel lost whatever remaining moral authority it has in dealing with Hamas and Fatah, this past weekend.”

    You appear to misapprehend. Israel’s situation isn’t about fine abstractions like “moral authority”. The situation is one of basic survival. Fret the abstractions, or deal with the existential details: they’re opting for the latter, and they’ll hear scant condemnation from me.

    To back down is to invite the wolves. I truly hope that US policy does not contribute to large-scale massacre, but we’ve taken to backing the wrong side of late, to our shame.

  4. Rich Rostrom permalink
    June 1, 2010 10:12 pm

    Maybe you should find out what actually happened before jumping to the conclusions peddled to you by Islamists and their mass-media tools.

    A group of far-left useful idiots, financed by a Islamist-terror-affiliated group, sailed out of Turkish-occupied north Cyprus. (This in itself is a very strong indication that the operation had the approval of the Turkish government.) Their declared intent was to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    The blockade is completely legal umder international law. It is also legal for a blockading power to enforce its blockade by boarding any ship that tries to pass through it. If the ship resists boarding, the blockading force may legally attack it. And yes, they may do it in “international waters”.

    Israel notified the “blockade runners” that any ship running to Gaza would be stopped. Israel also stated that any freight on such ships would be unloaded at the Israeli port of Ashdod. inspected for arms and other contraband, and then trans-shipped to Gaza by land, along with the thousands of tons of food and other freight that are delivered to Gaza by land every day.

    That, of course, meant that the whole “blockade-running” exercise was meaningless unless the object was to deliver contraband to Gaza.

    When the ships turned toward Gaza, Israeli forces intercepted them and demanded that they heave to and receive boarders.Five of the six ships did so, and there were no casualties. The sixth ship also stopped and indicated submission.

    An Israeli helicopter then flew over the ship to land naval commandos on deck. This was not an “assault” or “raid”. The commandos were “armed” with paintball guns and tasers, and a few pistols which they were ordered not to use except as an absolute last resort.

    When a few of the commandos had climbed down onto the deck, several dozen Islamist thugs rushed at them and attacked them with iron bars, knives, and other weapons. The Israelis tried to defend themselves with their non-lethal equipment, but after about 40 minutes of melee, with several of their men knocked down and in danger of being killed, the Israeli commanders authorized the use of guns. Some of the Islamist thugs were shot, and several were killed.

    This was clearly an ambush planned by the Islamists. The “useful idiots” either knew or deliberately closed their eyes to the set-up. Even Al-Jazeera has acknowledged the venomous hostility of the Islamists – as the ships sailed, the Islamists chanted verses from the Koran about the battle of Khaibar, in which Mohammed destroyed the last Jewish tribe in Arabia, slaughtering the men and enslaving the women and children.

    Did Israel “screw up”? Yes. Israel should have deployed its forces in a way that would prevent any mob actions against its men. Their intelligence should have known that hard-core violent Islamists were on one ship, not just the usual far-leftist punks, dweebs, and pansies. Their informational response should have been loud and aggressive, and they should have been prepared.

    “It alienated its strongest Muslim ally (Turkey)…” Turkey ceased to be an Israeli ally years ago. The present Turkish government is Islamist, and has been kissing up to Iran. Turkey has been massively
    subverted by Islamist money and propaganda. As noted, this incident was almost certainly connived at by the Turkish government to gin up support for its pro-Islamist and anti-Israel policies.

  5. jenn1964 permalink*
    June 1, 2010 11:10 pm

    You are missing the point. It doesn’t matter what happened, and without the ability to point to itself and say yes we did this but we were right and here’s why, Israel will find itself with no backers.

    I am not supporting the Palestinian version of what happened but Israel was so poor in their handling of this situation that the Palestinian version of events is what has become accepted.

    This was clearly an ambush planned by the Islamists. The “useful idiots” either knew or deliberately closed their eyes to the set-up. Even Al-Jazeera has acknowledged the venomous hostility of the Islamists – as the ships sailed, the Islamists chanted verses from the Koran about the battle of Khaibar, in which Mohammed destroyed the last Jewish tribe in Arabia, slaughtering the men and enslaving the women and children.

    Again that doesn’t matter one bit. It’s a public relations battle and Israel has lost.

    Smitty you say that the fight is one of survival. You are correct, but Israel can’t survive without the US supporting it and that support was weak at best before, this incident is not going to improve it. I heard on the radio today that Hillary Clinton has already called the incident an outrage and leveled the blame at Israel. Do you think that helps matters?

    More fallout has already started, Egypt reopened their Gaza border crossing, Turkey is sending their Navy to accompany the next attempt, and the UN is going to investigate. Not a good situation for Israel.

    Stratfor has an article on this, some of which I will excerpt above.

  6. June 2, 2010 8:51 am

    I am not supporting the Palestinian version of what happened but Israel was so poor in their handling of this situation that the Palestinian version of events is what has become accepted.

    Unfortunately, history seems to show that how Israel handles these situations is pretty much irrelevant. It seems like every time Israel does something to try to defend themselves against the constant rocket attacks from Gaza they get raked over the coals for it, no matter how restrained they are. They essentially lost the public relations before it even started, just by existing.

    Israel is surrounded by countries whose foreign policy regarding them is, essentially, “kill them if we get the chance.” There are essentially two reasons they still exist as a nation: the diplomatic (and some early military) backing of the US, Britain, and a (very) few other allies; and their demonstrated willingness and ability to defend themselves with whatever force is necessary.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the current administration would love to cut Israel loose as soon as they think they can get away with it. If that happens, Israel is going to be in trouble. I think there’s a serious possibility of outright open war breaking out within a couple of years if that were to happen, and Israel is both surrounded and outnumbered by it’s enemies.

    As far as this most recent incident, I have to agree with xbradtc: Israel was in a no-win situation, and nothing they could have done would change public opinion on this. You’re right about the fact that it doesn’t matter what actually happened or if Israel was in the right or not. The people on that ship could have been shooting at them, and Israel would be made into the bad guys for shooting back. Their only choice was to fight or die, and every time Israel fights they are condemned.

    Enforce the blockade and be condemned internationally, or let a likely shipment of weapons through to people who want to destroy them – and show weakness to all their other enemies at the same time? Not much choice there.

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