It takes a moral giant such as Gideon Levy in Haaretz to articulate what Israel has become:
Like in “Mini-Israel,” the park where there is everything, but smaller, Israel embarked yesterday on a mini Operation Cast Lead. Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it – and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law – God knows which law.
Again came the claim of self defense, that “they lynched us” and that all the dead are on their side. Once more the use of violence and excessive and lethal force was in play and once more civilians wound up dead.
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.
Again Israel will pay a heavy diplomatic price, once which had not been considered ahead of time. Again, the Israeli propaganda machine has managed to convince only brainwashed Israelis, and once more no one asked the question: What was it for? Why were our soldiers thrown into this trap of pipes and ball bearings? What did we get out of it?
If Cast Lead was a turning point in the attitude of the world toward us, this operation is the second horror film of the apparently ongoing series. Israel proved yesterday that it learned nothing from the first movie.
Yesterday’s fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end.
This should have happened a long time ago. In four years Hamas has not weakened and Gilad Shalit was not released. There was not even a sign of a gain.
And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza and now finds itself in an international blockade. Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly breaking away from the mother ship, and losing touch with the world – which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.
Yesterday there was no one on the planet, not a newsman or analyst, except for its conscripted chorus, who could say a good word about the lethal takeover.
The Israel Defense Forces too came out looking bad again. The magic evaporated long ago, the most moral army in the world, that was once the best army in the world, failed again. More and more there is the impression that nearly everything it touches causes harm to Israel.
A simple point. The violence by the activists is pretty abhorrent. These are not followers of Gandhi or MLK Jr. But the violence is not fatal to anyone and it is in response to a dawn commando raid by armed soldiers. They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: they are civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19 – all civilians.
It staggers me to read defenses of what the Israelis have done. They attacked a civilian flotilla in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims.
This is like a mini-Gaza all over again. The Israelis don’t seem to grasp that Western militaries don’t get to murder large numbers of civilians because they don’t like them, or because they could, on a far tinier scale, hurt Israelis. And you sure don’t have a right to kill them because they resist having their ship commandeered, in international waters. The Israelis seem to be making decisions as if they can get away with anything. It’s time the US reminded them in ways they cannot mistake that they cannot.