Ph.D. Octopus

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The Usual Suspects Fall in Line on Gaza Flotilla Raid

with 2 comments

by weiner

Conservatives, American Jews with little knowledge of the Middle East are closing ranks and digging their trenches to defend Israel. David Frum‘s got a bunch of posts with the predictable excuses. J-Street is going the other way. My mind is with the J-Street crowd, and my heart is too, mostly, though I’ll admit that my first thought was not for the ten civilians that died but for the public relations nightmare this would be for Israel. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: the voice of dissent must be shrill to be heard, and Gideon Levy’s is especially shrill:

This action also featured the pathetic focus on “public relations,” as if there is something to explain, and again the sick question was asked: Why didn’t the soldiers use more force.

Ari Shavit, if not quite as shrill, interestingly invoked the 1947 ship, Exodus, which carried Jewish refugees from Europe.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon are supposed to know history. They are supposed to know there was no greater mistake than that of the British with regard to the illegal immigrant ship Exodus in the summer of 1947. The brutality employed by the British Mandate against a ferry loaded with Jewish refugees turned the regime into an object of revile. It lost what is now called international legitimacy. British rule over the country ended just 10 months after the Exodus fiasco,

The Turkish ship Mavi Marmara was no Exodus. It carried not Holocaust survivors but provocateurs, many of them extremists. But a series of baseless decisions on the part of the prime minister and the ministers of defense and of strategic affairs turned the Marmara into a Palestinian Exodus. With a single foolish move, the Israeli cabinet cast the Muslim Brotherhood in the role of the victim and the Israel Navy as the villain and simultaneously opened European, Turkish, Arab, Palestinian and internal Israeli fronts. In so doing, Israel is serving Hamas’ interests better than Hamas itself has ever done.

But sometimes, even more effective than a shrill voice is an eloquent one. And so David Grossman fell in line too, and delivered the most eloquent objection to the blockade of Gaza and criticism of the raid yet. Read the whole thing, but here’s a beautiful snippet from Grossman’s take on this tragic event:

The closure of Gaza has failed. It has failed for four years now. What this means is that it is not merely immoral, but also impractical, and indeed worsens the entire situation, as we are reminded at this very hour, and also harms the vital interests of Israel. The crimes of the leaders of Hamas, who have held the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit captive for four years without once allowing the Red Cross to visit him, and who fired thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli towns and villages, are acts that must be firmly dealt with, utilising the various legal means available to a sovereign state. The ongoing siege of a civilian population is not one of them.


Written by David Weinfeld

June 1, 2010 at 19:57

2 Responses

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  1. Dear David, I am not on your side with this. Sure, one of the crucial questions will be, how did it end up in such a mess? But right now, there is the usual PR onslaught going on against Israel. Especially here in Europe,there was not one leader that waited for facts. The condemnation of Israel began immediately after the news broke. It is interesting how European leaders, the UN and even, although in a soemwhat more nuanced tone, Obama followed the lead of the hypocritical and dangerous Erdogan.
    And I don’t quite get it, what Grossman means with ‘legal means of a sovereign state’. Should they sue Hamas? Although one can dispute about this, Israel says the blockade is legal, it uses the means, it thinks, international law provides. The overall question in dealing with Hamas is, and I think this is one of the most crucial questions, how to deal with this violent non-state actor? International law has no real answers to this, and the so called international community is not willing to deal with it. Until this is not solved, Israel will be condemned again and again for its actions. And, I think, will result in: Delegitimization. This is slowly gaining ground here in Europe, and probably more slowly also in the US. That is why now is the time to defend Israel, and when the international hate is slowing down it is time for Barak to go and to start a intensive discussion on how to deal with Hamas, with the PR and the international community.


    June 3, 2010 at 05:05

  2. […] smart or new to say about the “Freedom Flotilla” disaster in Israel. I thought Weiner handled it pretty well. But I did want to point people towards this essay by Daniel Luban in Tablet […]

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