Is there any real surprise over the outcome of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in the waters off of Gaza? The alleged peace ship delivering so-called relief supplies to the Gaza Strip was boarded by Israeli soldiers, who warned days in advance that this was likely to occur. Israel, after all, contended that the flotilla was delivering weapons, including arms and incendiary materials, as well as any “humanitarian” supplies that were meant more to disguise the hostile intent of the ship than to relieve any Palestinian suffering.
As Navy commandos initially armed with non lethal weapons boarded the ship, they were met with hostile behavior. Some were beaten with metal rods and at least one was stabbed. Several of the Israelis were shot with guns taken from them. At least one rifle was on board the ship before the Israelis got on board; its appearance and use was what sparked the Israeli switch to live ammunition. Clearly, at least some of the activists aboard the ship paid lip service to peace but were prepared for battle. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were delivering peaceful supplies and I was keenly aware of the tense situation between the Palestinians and Israelis—and no one doubts that all on board the Mavi Marmara were well aware of it—I would be ready for a search and open to it.
The best part for the ship’s crew and its mission is the amazing public relations machine that immediately goes into action once something like this occurs. In most circumstances, a commando raid by Israelis onto a peace ship carrying only peace supplies and peace loving beatniks wearing Birkenstocks would be the marketing tool needed to show just how belligerent Israel is to these poor innocent people. Yet, here when the same commandos are met with violence, bloodshed and deadly weapons, the very same rules apply as if it were truly a peace ship. Only where Israel is concerned can this happen.
The United Nations will hold an emergency meeting to condemn the actions of Israel. The Arab nations will meet to decide just how to respond to the “offense” by Israel. People will line the streets of capitals around the world and demand condemnation of Israel and some token diplomatic action, or worse, sanctions and war crime calls, will follow. Israel stands alone, as always.
To Israel’s deficit, the whole raid seemed poorly planned and the commandos seemed ill prepared. What Israel needs to do is work harder to find its way back to the glory days of stealth and accuracy. This contributed heavily to the actions that transpired. Hearing Israel’s elite and once celebrated Special Forces soldiers, of the lore that spawned the character in “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” talk of being “surprised” when they landed on the deck, only fuels the enemy’s desire to whittle Israel down. For Israel to rise above it, Israel needs to relearn the discipline it had when two F-4 Phantoms destroyed the Osiraq reactor, and when the hostages in Entebbe were saved.
The flotilla action is seen as an Israeli boondoggle, because “good” people were killed. The claim will be that these “good” people had turned violent only in response to unwarranted Israeli provocation. The United Nations, a dependably useless organization that considers Libya, for example, as worthy of a seat on a human rights panel, will undoubtedly reach the conclusion that Israel committed a heinous crime and call for some punitive actions.
The Mavi Marmara is today’s marketing tool for the haters and people around the world seem to be sold. The United States has been in habit lately of criticizing Israel first, seemingly for public appreciation, and then offering a more tacit nod at Israel’s non-winnable situation which often calls for drastic measures. Whether it is worrying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and intentions, or the daily use of civilians to tar Israel’s reputation in a court of public opinion, Israel can no longer stand to think the United States, or anyone will be there to help in her times of need. It needs to run as it is its only friend in the world, and live to see the day of redemption when others dare look upon her out of shame for having wronged her all these years.