Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Flotilla Guerillas

Morning Jolt. . . with Jim Geraghty

I don't know if I'm like most Americans, but during holiday weekends I can easily go 48 hours without looking at the Internet, television news, talk radio, or newspapers outside the sports section. So, on the last day of the three-day weekend, I was suddenly struck by news that (it seems) everyone else had already digested days ago. (Dennis Hopper died!?) Like the outlandish news of a bunch of "activists" trying to play chicken with the Israeli Navy and getting the short end of the stick.

The Washington Times's Eli Lake tries to get us up to speed in a few sentences: "Protests were held throughout the Middle East and Europe on Monday in reaction to Israel's commando raid on a Turkish ship ferrying supplies to Palestinians that left at least nine people dead. Israel defended the raid and posted video on the Internet showing Israeli soldiers during the raid being attacked with metal pipes and knives by the Turkish ship's crew. The incident prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel a planned visit to Washington for a meeting with President Obama set for Tuesday. In New York, the U.N. Security Council, prompted by Arab governments, convened a special session to discuss the incident, which took place in international waters near Gaza. The White House issued a statement saying it regretted the loss of life. 'The president also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible,' it said."

Digesting all this, I'm left wondering . . . the world has a lot of Rachel Corries, doesn't it? An armored bulldozer with momentum is not persuaded by your shining moral clarity. Bullets do not alter their courses because you are an outsider trying to make a bold statement about the necessity of peace in a region that hasn't known it in centuries. And when the Israeli Navy says "Stop," they're not joking around. You may think their order to stop is the most unjust thing since the last issue that got you to stand around and chant at a building, but ignoring it brings predictable hard consequences. Reality doesn't care whether or not you think it's fair. (I notice a large chunk of this crowd were Turks. I suspect these Turkish civilians got what they wanted: a chance to fight Jews.)

On NRO, Michael Rubin thinks this is the make-or-break moment for Obama's Middle East policy: "So why is it decision time for Obama? Israel feels itself increasingly in an existential crisis. Not only is Iran nearing a nuclear-weapons capability, but it has become increasingly vogue to delegitimize Israel. In the wake of the Gaza ship incident, Israel is going to see whether it has any allies left who will recognize its dilemma, recognize its security concerns, and support it as the crisis grows. Israel knows it can't trust Europe. Indeed, Europe finances many of the groups which, if they don't seek Israel's destruction directly, nevertheless indirectly support terrorism. If Obama decides it is in America's interest to make an example of Israel after the Gaza flotilla incident in order to win goodwill in Cairo, Beirut, Tehran, and Ankara, then he must also recognize that the leadership in Jerusalem is going to conclude that it cannot trust the United States to safeguard its security, and that therefore it must take matters into its own hands on any number of issues, not the least of which is Iran's nuclear program. In effect, if the White House decides to come down hard on Israel now, it is the same as giving a green light for Israel to strike Iran. That is not advocacy; it is just the realism of which President Obama is so fond."

At Contentions, Noah Pollak is appalled at some foolish Israeli decisions: "To my mind, the most astonishing thing about the flotilla disaster is that the IDF sent its elite naval commandos into a highly charged potential combat situation that was being closely scrutinized by the world media -- armed with paintball guns. . . . Those who sent an elite unit into a hostile confrontation armed with toy weapons made an incredibly stupid decision. And a uniquely Israeli one. In recent memory, Israeli military action has been violent but not decisive, bloody enough to provoke the outrage and condemnation of the world (at this point, a stubbed toe will do), but not enough to actually change facts on the ground (the Hamas and Hezbollah wars being prime examples). These halfhearted wars and battles have earned Israel demerits in world opinion without enough to show in improved strategic position. Exit question: How many new flotillas to Gaza are being planned right now in Europe, Turkey, and the Middle East?"

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