Why every flotilla succeeds and the siege of Gaza will end

on 34 Comments

Is it possible to break the siege of Gaza if no one notices?

As an exercise in directing global attention to the plight of a population subject to collective punishment, the first flotilla in August 2008 was a bit of a flop — even though it reached Gaza.

In the Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon cynically wrote at the time:

Ever since the Free Gaza Movement made known its intent a few weeks ago to set sail for the Gaza Strip to “break” the Israeli blockade, it was clear that the two boatfuls of professional left-wing demonstrators and tag-along journalists were after one thing: a huge media event.

Nothing, therefore, would have given them a greater media buzz than if a couple of Israel Navy boats stopped them on the high seas, arrested the protesters (hopefully, from the point of view of the organizers of the protest, with some gratuitous brutality), and dragged the Greek-registered vessels into the Ashdod port.

Imagine the footage, imagine the images, and imagine the public relations bonanza for those few “brave souls” on the sea-weary vessels. Israel would, undoubtedly, have faced a public relations drubbing. So by deciding to let the boats through, the government deprived the protesters of the huge media event they so obviously wanted.

Indeed, instead of footage of heavyhanded Israelis stopping boats carrying an 81-year-old American nun and the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair leading the nightly news broadcasts in the West on Saturday night, the story of the boats’ arrival in Gaza barely made a blip on the CNN, Fox, or Sky news broadcasts. With the world’s eyes still glued to the Olympics in Beijing, and the media focusing on US presidential candidate Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his vice presidential nominee, the Gaza blockade-running story didn’t register in the electronic media.

And in the written press, the protesters didn’t fare that much better. The New York Times ran a small piece on page 16 on Sunday; The Washington Post on page 12; and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch relegated it to a three-paragraph brief. As media events go, this one was not particularly successful.

But — as Keinon also noted — the story was not over. Indeed.

What the flotilla organizers understood was that whatever the outcome, each challenge to the siege could in fact never fail. Ships could succeed by reaching Gaza, or succeed without reaching Gaza by exposing Israel to the eyes of the world as a bone-headed bully.

The only solution to Israel’s problem was and remains the one that it refuses to entertain: backing itself out of a dead-end policy that by any metric one wants to use, has been a demonstrable failure — a policy which hasn’t weakened Hamas; hasn’t turned Gaza’s population against its rulers; hasn’t made Israel safer; and above all has brought Israel’s global image to an all-time low while callously inflicting yet more suffering on the Palestinian people.

The Israeli columnist, Asaf Gefen, suggested this week:

If the Marmara that took part in the previous sail sought to present Israel’s brutality to the world (and managed to do so, thanks to our kind assistance,) it appears that the current flotilla was meant to present Israel’s stupidity.

At this time already, when it’s still unclear whether and when the ships shall arrive, it appears that this objective had also been fully achieved.

But now that the flotilla appears stuck in Greece, can’t Netanyahu claim victory? Some Israeli reporters seem to think so:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometimes seems almost too arrogant and self assured for his own good. However, unlike in most instances, this weekend he actually has justification for his haughtiness.

Really? Watch the video of The Audacity of Hope as it chugged out of a Greek harbor yesterday and ask yourself: what kind of prime minister and what kind of nation could feel threatened by this kind of challenge?

The need to subjugate others; the obsession with existential threats; the insatiable hunger for loving affirmations; and the fear of equality between Jews and non-Jews — all of this exposes Israel’s intrinsic weakness, a weakness that cannot be overcome by belligerence, isolation or warfare.

In truth, nothing threatens Israel more than its own fear of the world.

It’s time not just for Israel to end the siege of Gaza but for Zionists to break out of their own self-made prison.

This post also appears at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

34 Responses

  1. seafoid
    July 3, 2011, 9:29 am

    “what kind of prime minister and what kind of nation could feel threatened by this kind of challenge?”

    -A nation run by sociopaths who suffer from acute paranoia. It reminds me of the German movie “Sophie Scholl”

    -A nation of people that has no cultural memory of what it means to exercise political power responsibly. The reliance on the Torah, a compendium of reports on bronze age wars, says so much about Israel.

  2. gingershot
    July 3, 2011, 1:42 pm

    Why not just retask the Flotilla?

    Why just not add the freshly passed UN Resolution/Declaration of the Palestinian state to the manifest and plan to hit Gaza in late Sept?

    Why not just hang loose in Crete or sail around the Med drumming up further support? Ports of Call in France, Italy, – as well as all Arab Spring destinations such as Alexandria, Tunisia, Tangiers, Beirut as well as Turkey and of course all international waters?

    That could be an outrageous neverending party – and make the continued Israeli efforts to keep sabotaging them an absolute IDF-Keystone Kops laughingstock operation

    Just never stop … make it an permanent threat against Apartheid – a five or ten year party and every once in a while a ship can make a dash for Gaza. Get seasonal reinforcements from all over the world – instead of going to Israeli summer camp – Israelis of conscience can just join the ‘Perpetual Anti-Apartheid Cruise’

    The possibilities are enchanting! Time to get creative Flotilla-istas!

    • annebeck58
      July 3, 2011, 11:21 pm

      While I agree with much of what you suggested, there is this: It is not inexpensive to hang around Crete. or to sail the Med. I know I donated cash for two of the ships (and it wasn’t a lot, but it tapped me), so we would have to figure out a new route, and how to fund the people, as well as the ship, for that many months away from home, etc… I believe September would be better as I expect that Palestine will finally be recognized as its’ own country, by everyone other than the USA and Israel, But, that happpening would also make a trip at that time much more dangerous for flotill-istas (like that). Imagine what Bibi will do IF Palestine achieves statehood. HE will pick up a weapon, himself, and pick off Gazans from Bi’lin to Gaza City and anywhere else he can find them.
      So, what is better? Leave Greece when and if the captain IS released. Take a trip around the world (I’d try Pacific this time). And maybe ask Iran for assistance? It’s them or Lebanon.. or both, who could possibly draw the Israeli attention away from the Gaza coastline? But, it is still a very dangerous proposition. Waters may be more muddied in September than today.. you never know.

      • annie
        July 3, 2011, 11:38 pm

        ask iran for assistance? surely you jest.

      • annebeck58
        July 4, 2011, 12:57 am

        Haha. I meant assistance, only, in drawing attention away from the GAZA coast! If they are looking in the other direction, they are not looking for a bunch of activists??
        Okay- scratch Iran. Go with Lebanon and, if they get their act together, maybe Syria?

      • GuiltyFeat
        July 4, 2011, 9:15 am

        annebeck58 is my new favourite person at Mondoweiss.

        Yes! The solution to the Palestinian problem is to get Lebanon and Syria more involved.

        There’s absolutely no way that could go wrong!

      • annie
        July 4, 2011, 1:01 pm

        maybe Syria?

        hmmm, same theme different motive?
        link to mondoweiss.net ouch. or try this:link to mondoweiss.net

      • Chaos4700
        July 4, 2011, 3:05 pm

        Heaven forbid a British turncoat who got a good deal on stolen real estate would lift a finger to help the very people he stole from to get his pretty little vacation home.

      • annebeck58
        July 4, 2011, 4:26 pm

        But, you have to admit; both have a problem with Israel. I think they both want their LAND back, just as do the Palestinians.

      • GuiltyFeat
        July 4, 2011, 4:41 pm

        Chaos, let’s you and I go to Syria together and ask for help in solving the Palestinian problem. After they shoot us there we can flee to Lebanon where they denied equal rights to the Palestinians for over 40 years and see how much they want to help. Of course it might be difficult as most of the Hizbollah top brass have been indicted by the UN for murdering the former Prime Minister and 21 other people when they blew up his cavalcade with 1000 kilograms of TNT.

      • mig
        July 5, 2011, 2:48 am

        What makes you think that they shoot you ? And tell us little bit more why Lebanon denies equal rights ?

  3. annebeck58
    July 3, 2011, 11:08 pm

    Funny that the Israeli PM puts this one in the, “Win column”, as he has shown the world what a silly little man he truly is. If he is afraid of “love letters” carried by the American boat, and it appears he is, what would he do with guns pointed to his head? Palestinians, particularly Gazans, have been dealing with just that for decades, yet I have seen women and even children face these IDF (IOF) soldiers with no fear. Old men look directly into the eyes of gun-toting IOF, as if to say; “shooting me is not the worst you can do.”
    The person that appears to be quite afraid IS Netanyahu. September is coming, and the world is watching this drama like nothing else has been followed (perhaps since last year’s massacre on the Mavi Marmara), and he thinks this is a home-run? Is it truly over or are we witnessing the seventh-inning stretch? To quote the Babe; It ain’t over ’til it’s over”.., and this ain’t over, to be sure!

    • Citizen
      July 4, 2011, 5:28 am

      It ain’t over ‘ill the fat lady sings… Hey, that reminds me, imagine if Oprah took up the Palestinian cause and recommended the books shown on this web site to her national lady’s book club? And had Phil Adam on her show?
      I don’t imagine she’d suddenly lose her show a la Helen Thomas. Wonder if she takes suggestions on future shows, and who vetts them? Who’s her gate-keeper?

      • GuiltyFeat
        July 4, 2011, 9:20 am

        Citizen, it’s a perfect plan except for one small detail… Oprah doesn’t have a show anymore. D’oh!

      • annebeck58
        July 4, 2011, 12:16 pm

        (Ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings– Oprah? Haha.. but mean!)

        Sadly, (or not?) Oprah has ended her show after twenty-five years. Of course, there IS the Oprah Network. I don’t know a lot about it; just that it is, but I can only imagine who her gate-keepers would be. Just saying, one does not get to that level, financially, without some people in the higher-echelon having their hands in it.
        Still, Oprah is great friends with Alice Walker, who happens to be on a little boat in Greece, called, “The Audacity of Hope”. That makes me wonder how it is Oprah has never spoken publicly about the Palestinian plight. I am imagining a night at Oprah’s house, with Ms. Walker.., and Oprah sticks her fingers in her ears (all, la-la-la, can’t hear you) as her “thing” is Africa.

      • Citizen
        July 5, 2011, 3:46 am

        Hi annebeck58, I read Oprah is still filming her show until September this year, and yes, there is her new network, which partners with the Discovery channel I think. Mine was a tongue-in-cheek comment, do precisely what suggestively imagine a la your night as a fly on the wall at Oprah’s house–truth is, not even somebody with Oprah’s following and limelight creds could buck the moneybags system–I don’t think even George Carlin could have bit his teeth into the I-P situation and have his career last.

  4. Zamm
    July 4, 2011, 7:03 am

    Oprah finished her show, and runs her own cable station now and she can do whatever she wants. I don’t know, however, if she is interested in taking up a real cause such as this one. It would be wonderful if she did. The only time she really stepped forward and made a political stand was when she supported Obama for the presidency.

    As he has disappointed so many with hopes for a “transformative” presidency, perhaps she is regretting her decision to step into the political fray in any way.

  5. Citizen
    July 4, 2011, 7:24 am

    Quakers join BDS: link to newsmax.com

    Three cheers for the Quakers!

    • patm
      July 4, 2011, 3:45 pm

      Hip Hip Hurrah!

      More pressure piling on TIAA-CREF is good news indeed, Citizen.

      Here’s the entire news item:

      “A prominent national Quaker organization has joined a campaign urging a large retirement fund to divest its holding in companies it says profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

      “The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Quaker group, announced its support of the “We Divest from Israel’s Occupation” campaign, which has significant Jewish support.

      The campaign asks TIAA-CREF, one of the world’s largest retirement funds and manager of AFSC’s employee accounts, to divest from companies including Caterpillar, Motorola, Elbit, Veolia, and Northrop Grumman.

      Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the campaign, said in a statement:

      “This is the first time a client of the fund has joined the divestment campaign, standing with campaign leaders Jewish Voice for Peace and the more than 40 organizations who have already signed on, including Jewish, Christian, and secular organizations from across the country and Israel/Palestine.”

      The AFSC board said they were joining the campaign “as a matter of conscience and an expression of our unwillingness to remain complicit with violence and oppression occurring daily in Palestine and Israel, which is contrary to all that we know to be true and right.”

      In a letter to TIAA-CREF, Arlene Kelly, chair of the AFSC’s board of directors, said the board “urges you to refrain from investing in any company that contributes to perpetuating the Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, provides products or services to Israeli settlements, or provides products or services that enable violent acts that target civilians.”

      John K.S. Wilson, TIAA-CREF’s director of corporate governance, wrote back that the fund is “unable to alter our investment policy” in response to the AFSC’s concerns.

      “We are unable to create custom-made funds, which in essence would require all CREF participants to subsidize the cost of a fund that only a small percentage of clients might access.”

  6. Citizen
    July 4, 2011, 7:43 am

    President Obama will not be the first nor the last president who will succumb to the local political pressure and dare not take any actions when the lives of Americans are put in harm way, even killed by Israel. President Lyndon Johnson did just that when he failed to muster the courage as Commander in Chief and failed to order a commission of inquiry into the cold blooded murder of American sailors on board the USS Liberty in June of 67, when some 40 sailors were killed and more than 100 injured by repeated Israeli attacks on the US navy ship.

    The former Bush administration speechwriter Joshua Trevino did just that when he twitters his calls to the IDF to shoot and kill Americans on board the Freedom Flotilla. Joshua Trevino is quoted as saying” Dear IDF, if you end shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla, well, most Americans are with that including me”. I wonder who in the hell is Joshua Trevino to claim to speak for “most Americans” who are cool with Israel killing and murdering Americans?

    To those who do not know Joshua Trevino, he is a Red State American, who could not get himself to vote for someone like John McCain, who is also the co-founder of RedState.com and is Vice President of Communication at Texas Public Policy Foundation and key activists in the American Tea Party. Mr. Joshua is extending his expertise and concern beyond Texas and reaching out to the Israeli state and its army to kill Americans.

    It seems the White House and State Department are also “cool” with that and in fact, the State Department spokesperson gave Israeli Army, a wink perhaps a green light that it is absolutely Ok if Israel used deadly force to stop the Freedom Flotilla even if this entail the killings of American on board, just like it was OK to kill the American Furkan Dogan (19) who was killed by Israeli navy on board Freedom Flotilla One.

    • eljay
      July 4, 2011, 8:39 am

      >> It seems the White House and State Department are also “cool” with that and in fact, the State Department spokesperson gave Israeli Army, a wink perhaps a green light that it is absolutely Ok if Israel used deadly force to stop the Freedom Flotilla even if this entail the killings of American on board …

      Like RW, the White House is clearly interested in “peace, not ‘justice'”. And what could be more peaceful than dead Americans who are not causing unrest?

  7. Richard Witty
    July 4, 2011, 10:13 am

    link to haaretz.com

    While the flotilla “succeeds” at informing the world that Gaza politics are in a quagmire (that’s all that got conveyed), this is occurring in Syria.

    • annebeck58
      July 4, 2011, 1:32 pm

      Yes, I am aware of what’s happening there. Every day, and possibly every hour, someone is shot in Syria (usually dead). I have hope for the revolution, though (if the US will get the heck out of it), that they will be able to oust their “evil dictator”, just as Egypt did.
      Oh, I know; Egypt is not exactly stable these days, which is one reason for the Rafah crossing not really being open, and why their rules and regs re: what can come in and out, are still being decided by Bibi. Seems to me that nobody in Egypt has (yet) figured out that it is time to make their OWN rules!

      I just want some others in the region to go at Israel in order for Gaza to stop taking quite so much heat and, maybe, for these flotilla members to have a chance to get into the area. Of course, they have to be able to get out of Greece, first, and that does not look to be happening anytime soon (other than via plane, back to the US and other respective countries).
      You know, last night, the Canadian boat Tahrir, was seeming to be the boat that MIGHT make it out. However, the twits immediately sent that possibility out and, the next thing we saw was the Greek police “arresting” their boat, too.
      I guess the saying is true: Loose lips (DO) sink ships!
      Perhaps this all needs to be done more on the “DL”?

      • annie
        July 4, 2011, 2:43 pm

        I just want some others in the region to go at Israel in order for Gaza to stop taking quite so much heat and, maybe, for these flotilla members to have a chance to get into the area.

        the goi knows how to multi task. think less conflict, not more.

      • annebeck58
        July 4, 2011, 4:01 pm

        Oh, I don’t mean real conflict (am a peaceful person).. just (maybe) a bit of talk. Bibi is already quite nervous. I think a some talk will increase his lunacy. And, that brings me back to Iran. Bibi already thinks they want to wipe Israel offa the map. Let him keep thinking that!

        Btw; who is the goi? or goy?

      • mig
        July 5, 2011, 2:51 am

        Usually we non-jewish….

    • seafoid
      July 4, 2011, 2:34 pm

      Ha’aretz. Presumably some self hating Jew. :

      “Halting the second flotilla does not compensate for the total failure of Israel’s policy toward Gaza”

  8. Citizen
    July 4, 2011, 10:52 am

    Six US congressional reps had the courage to sign the letter to Hillary to protect the US citizens onboard the flotilla boat: link to messageboards.aol.com

    Now, what makes those six different from all the rest?

  9. seafoid
    July 4, 2011, 10:55 am

    link to haaretz.com

    Published 02:21 04.07.11 Latest update 02:21 04.07.11 The blockade is the problem

    The economic pressure of the blockade has not brought about moderation in Hamas’ positions, and stopping protesters en route to Gaza will not change the military balance.
    Haaretz Editorial
    All signs indicate that the government of Israel has taken steps to receive the present Gaza flotilla in a manner much more systematic than last year’s actions. Instead of relying entirely on the use of force, diplomatic measures were taken this time, and friendly states, first and foremost Greece, mobilized to help Israel and hampered the flotilla’s departure. This diplomatic action proved that there are alternatives less violent than Israel’s predilection for discharging armed soldiers to suppress civilian protests.

    Yet the industriousness and creativity which Benjamin Netanyahu and his government have displayed merely underscore the folly that serves as the foundation of their policy. Israel removed its settlements and soldiers from the Gaza Strip six years ago, and withdrew to the Green Line in order to end its occupation of a strip of land densely populated by Palestinians. The move was taken so that they could conduct their own lives. Since then, it appears as though Israel became addicted to occupation and is unable to liberate itself, even after it declared a “pull-out.” Hearing the cabinet’s statement about how Israel will act “with determination” to stop the flotilla, as well as the defense minister’s declaration yesterday about Israel’s intention to “defend its borders,” sufficed as evidence that the government still views the Gaza Strip as part of Israel, and insists on monitoring every entry and exit to and from Gaza.

    The blockade, which was eased but not eliminated as a result of the fatal entanglement with the first flotilla, is unethical, and also mistaken on diplomatic grounds. Placing stiff restrictions on movement and commerce, in an embargo policy affecting one and a half million Palestinians, does not contribute anything. It only perpetuates the conflict and the hatred, and casts light on Israel as a cruel, occupying power.

    The government justifies the blockade on Gaza by pointing to the hostility of Hamas, the organization which rules Gaza; Hamas, the government points out, refuses to recognize Israel and the Oslo Accords. In fact, the naval embargo is justifiable, in terms of the need to prevent the entry of heavy weaponry. Yet the economic pressure has not brought about moderation in Hamas’ positions, and stopping protesters en route to Gaza will not change the military balance. Dealing with Hamas necessitates the use of diplomatic methods which might bring about change in the organization’s approach; the military effort should concentrate on stopping the smuggling of arms.

    Halting the second flotilla does not compensate for the total failure of Israel’s policy toward Gaza

  10. Pamela Olson
    July 4, 2011, 2:09 pm

    “In truth, nothing threatens Israel more than its own fear of the world.”

    There is nothing to fear but fear itself. You can think up a million reasons to keep on fearing, but in the end, perpetual fear does little but cloud your judgment and make you miserable. Fear makes you cowardly, mean, brittle, and insecure.

    Open up. Face the world. Live. Endless fear is such a waste of life.

    • Chaos4700
      July 4, 2011, 3:07 pm

      You’re asking the impossible of Israelis. People like GuiltyFeat fled to Israel out of rampant xenophobia.

  11. patm
    July 5, 2011, 4:47 pm

    French flotilla boat sets sail for Gaza
    Activists sail from Corsica as others pledge to continue efforts to reach Palestinian territory with humanitarian aid.

    link to english.aljazeera.net

  12. annebeck58
    July 17, 2011, 3:32 pm

    So, today; news out of BateauGaza.
    The French boat, Dignite al Karma, is on its’ way to Gaza.
    I think most of us know what the outcome will be, but hope that nobody is killed, this time.
    It is one to watch!

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