Monday, May 31, 2010

Gaza Flotilla in Context

The end of the story is that the attempt to divert a Turkish ship from breaking Israel's blockade of Gaza was a fiasco. Israel churned out video and testimony showing that the boarding force thought it was facing a ship full of naive Western Hamas supporters intent on grandstanding, while in reality it was a ship of Turkish and Arab thugs eager to participate in the war against the Jewish State, as if this would somehow win us the case. It won't.

It will of course be important widely to disseminate these videos and reports, so as to bolster the base (in which spirit, I'm linking to Solomonia who seems to have the single best one-post roundup, while Elder of Ziyon has a raft of interesting posts reflecting his trawling of Arab sources. Many others also did fine work). Yet let us not delude ourselves: the operation was a failure. It caused a tidal wave of condemnation of Israel; it may yet lead to harmful diplomatic fallout; and while it achieved the narrow goal of upholding the blockade, it strengthened the resolve of our enemies, and enhanced the distaste many observers feel towards us.

It may have been justified, but it wasn't wise. Most people will ask what Israeli troops were doing on the ship in the first place, thus canceling the impact of all those videos, and they'll ask why there's a blockade on Gaza that anyone needs to break, thus accepting the basic premise of the flotilla's organizers.

We need to step back and remind ourselves of the broad picture of the concentric circles at whose center we live.

The outer circle is the utter hatred large swathes of the Muslim World bear towards the idea and reality of a Jewish state. As a demonstrator in Istanbul shouted, there can be no Jewish state in the Arab world: what bothers him about the siege of Gaza is that Jews are in the position to impose it, not it's particular details. (The irony of Turks hating Jews for infractions of human rights or international law is striking).

The next circle are the Westerners of various stripes who also wish Israel gone, and reject the right of the Jews to be a nation. Many of the hate-motivated Muslims are willing or eager to engage in violence. Most of the Westerns haters aren't. They prefer to spew their malice at places like the Guardian, as documented daily by CiFWatch, or at many similar cesspools. Some, however, go further: Gerta Berlin, for example, a spokesperson of the Free Gaza Movement which collaborated in launching the flotilla, tells proudly that she's been active in Palestinian causes since the early 1960s, when Gaza was occupied by Egypt, not that she cared. She and her ilk are enemies of Israel, and will hi-jack whatever narrative holds out promise of damaging Israel. Today it's Gaza, before that it was Jenin, and next it will be... whatever.

Then there's the very large circle of cynics idealists and the lazy. The cynics are epitomized by, say, China. The Chinese don't care about international law or morality. They care about power and China. When working with Israel fits their purposes they'll do so gladly; when not, not. In neither case will they be motivated by the conditions in Gaza, to which they are utterly indifferent unless there's an angle for Chinese profit.

The idealists are the opposite of the cynics: they truly believe that post-WWII humanity lurched into a new historical era of dwindling nationalism, growing universalism and international institutions, and receding violence. Many take the profound insight of the Enlightenment, that all Men can recognize common truths through rational inquiry, and pretend it means that all men will, or that rational inquiry will lead all men to the same positions.

The lazy are the multitudes who live far from the genuine trouble spots, and pretend they aren't there; indeed, they insist they aren't there, or aren't genuine, lest they be called upon to act. Many of the lazy are so existentially lethargic they can't even be bothered to have children, since the raising of them would be such a hassle.

Of course many people manage to combine cynicism with idealism and laziness, but that's a topic for a book, not a blog post.

Most people in the three groups are not against Israel in any active way, and some even like Israel (in a lazy way). Yet they all find Israel ever more troublesome: the cynics, because Israel's actions interfere with business; the idealists because Israel insists on living in the wrong narrative; and the lazy because - oh, why don't the Israelis resolve their pesky issues and get on with life?

None of this is novel. Being horribly out of sync is what Jews do; the present bout has the magnificent advantage that it's being enacted from a position of strength.

There's a circle of people who deeply support Israel; most of them, oddly, are non-Jews who care about Israel's existence and well-being, or who recognize the forces arraigned against Israel as their own enemies. For them Israel is a focus of intense interest, not an anecdotal story on the edge of their world. In America they may even be the majority – but no-where else.

Then there's the inner circle, the one Israelis and their neighbors live in. All the others are constructs, words. This one is real. Actions have palpable consequences; wrong decisions make people die. In this inner circle, Israel accommodating itself to a Palestinian state in the 1990s causes a bloody war in 2000-2004. Moving out of Lebanon in 2000 set the stage for a bloody war in 2006. Ending that war with UNSC resolution 1701, which called for Hezbullah to be disarmed and created international mechanisms to ensure it, enabled Hezbullah to quadruple its arm caches so the next war will be far bloodier. Moving out of Gaza in 2005 caused the rise of Hamas, violence, a nasty war in 2009, and a worse one further on. Real people really die because of these things.

Israel will not disappear, not now, not later. It is one of the most vital places on earth, bursting with creativity and hugely committed to success; this is also one of the better moments in 3000 years of Jewish history – a rather glum statement, that, but true. Yet Israel is not being wise, as the case of the flotilla shows.

We all know that the threat from Hezbollah is greater than from Hamas, yet we don't blockade Lebanon. The price would be too high, so we grimly prepare for the next war in the hope that being prepared well enough will postpone it for a while, and in the meantime it's not an international detriment; on the contrary, perhaps we gain a measure of goodwill that we'll cash in on eventually. So why blockade Gaza? Is the blockade essential? Six months from now, or six years, we'll lift it, and Gaza will still be full of people who fervently wish for our destruction, just like in Lebanon: nu? At that point the defunct blockade will no longer be essential?

Some military actions will always be unavoidable. Do we do our very best to ensure that when we apply force, we're doing so in the most brilliant way possible? Have we thought out every scenario, and formulated a response to every counter move our enemies will make? Couldn't we could have silently jammed the propellers of those ships, leaving them dead in the water and begging us to save them from the blistering heat? Instead of heroic victims they'd be the world's laughing stock. I'm a mere blogger, not a decision maker, so perhaps there were reasons not to go that way: but were all options considered? Was the fiasco we ended up with the sole alternative? We handed our enemies an epic propaganda victory on a silver platter: that can't have been the best option?

Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Jazeera, the Guardian and Greta Berlin: these are our sworn enemies and there's nothing we can say that will reconcile us with them. Every action we take against them, however, must be calibrated – to the limited degree possible – to harm them, not enhance their position.

The cynics, the idealists and the lazy are not on our side, but nor are they inevitably our enemies. While we must not harm ourselves to attract their approval, we must vigilantly do our utmost to craft reality so it plays to our benefit, not our detriment. Defiance may be gratifying, but it's not always intelligent.

The decision to use measured force to block the flotilla was reasonable, if one assumes the blockade is essential, and if it could be done with no fanfare. The blockade, however, probably isn't essential, and the fanfare was what the organizers craved. Sadly, we're promoting their interests, not ours.

After millennia of powerlessness, the Jews have trained themselves to be among the world's best warriors: this is a source of pride and satisfaction, not something to apologize for. Now we need to learn the art of manipulative politics and refined scheming, of effective propaganda and cynical posturing, all while never losing that military prowess. We need the appearance of being right as often as possible, not only the conviction of it; and we need to achieve this by the standards of the cynics, the idealists and the lazy, not by our standards.


Barry Meislin said...

But, in fact, there is a very strong case to be made for blockading Gaza.

Whereas, placing a blockade on Lebanon is simply not possible.

And indeed, mistakes were made, the first being to believe these were pliable, peaceful people. And yet the first five boats were, in fact, peaceful.

And so a trap. But a fiasco? Perhaps. Depends on your definition. Though the more I read Haaretz's condemnations, the more certain I am that the action was correct.

Keeping in mind that the point is to arm Hamas and increase the threat on Israel's population centers, both psychologically and militarily.

And so yes, for Israel a lose-lose situation, if you look at it in a certain way.

But it's not going to end. And so do you, as certain concerned souls do, give up? (Or should I say, give up incrementally---a piece here, a piece there; until peace, as defined by our partners in peace, is achieved.)

Anonymous said...

Needless to say I agree with most of your post, however, I object to admitting willingly own failures, the others will do that for Israel, let them come up with their own ideas and let the pro-Isreal-ites concentrate on ideas to debunk them.

But I object to this: "Yet Israel is not being wise, as the case of the flotilla shows" (Goldberg came up with something similar)

but I "forgive" you for it because of your last paragraph - to face it that way is paradoxically enough probably the only way to keep your values intact.

And in my book the operation wasn't botched at all:

Israel encountered an unknowable (as I've claimed elsewhere) and nobody has a chance to look wise or even competent when confronting a paramilitary commando instead of a bunch of football hooligans, still they fortunately came out with less casualties than the "peace"hooligans - so from a military point of view they have won the battle.


Anonymous said...

If the Gaza blockade should really have become superfluous would be giving NGOs the opportunity to claim victory while the new wave is at sea (they should at least be subject to a bit of discomfort) seem like a move demonstrating superiority diminishing their victory cries? (but once they are let in unchecked they'll have another opening for importing weapons, won't they?)


Anonymous said...

Depends how many Karin A's we want entering Gaza and the extent these would carry arms which will precipitate the next war and make it more bloody. This has to be measured against how much harder it is (if it is) becoming to smuggle rockets and launchers from Egypt.

I, like you and like many considered how it would have been had Israel begun with disabling the ships' engines. Your opinion is a 'best case' scenario. Is it really odd to consider that in the end, we'd be reading reports in the papers talking about 'Israel's miserable decision to damage the engines'? Presumably they'd have enough food. Would they have enough water? Intent on playing the victim, they'd radio that we're starving them to death and that they need help but they'd not ask for us to take them and they'd refuse to leave the ship. If we go in quick, the results would've been just like yesterday. Wait 24 or 48 hours to tire them=more adverse publicity focused on "the drama out at sea.. peace activists running out of water/food, besieged" and when we eventually fix the engines and board, scenes like yesterday could follow.

In short, there's no obvious 'good solution'. Let them in and you've shown your resolve can be snapped very easily. Stop them and a scene like yesterday occurs.

4infidels said...

So what does Israel do now lessen the damage of this incident...some thoughts:

1) Expose the terrorist ties of people on the boat, particularly those who have attempted to give moral, political and financial support to terrorists, putting most of the focus on anyone tied to Al-Qaeda or who has said or done anything particularly anti-American. Perhaps Israel should mention the ongoing problem it faces from Western "political activists" who collude with terrorists once on Israeli soil.

2) Turn the focus onto Turkey, but not in a belligerent way as there are those in the Turkish military and secular urban population who don't like where their country is headed either. Israel should say something to the effect that "We are sorry to see that some in the Turkish government have chosen to leave the Western alliance of which it played an important role and are positioning their proud people to be another one of Iran's clients, along with the Arabs in Damascus, Hamas and Hezbollah."

Actually, I still don't know if I have any good ideas at this point. Israel is shockingly bad at public relations. To be fair, it lives in a world where most every country is motivated by its desire for Arab oil, need to sell its goods in Arab markets and fears Muslim terrorism. The media is overwhelmingly predisposed to take the worst view of any Israeli action, and American Jews have become more interested in distancing themselves from the negative feelings people have toward Israel than to learn, support and explain Israel's position. And both Israeli and American Jews remain largely ignorant regarding Islam and thus cannot truly understand or alert others to the motivations of its enemies and how their ideology threatens not just Israel, but the entire world.

4infidels said...

Israel also needs to tell how much aid it actually allows into Gaza and how it offered to deliver the aid through Israel once it had an opportunity to inspect the contents. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, specifically because Israel allows that aid into Gaza on a daily basis. Perhaps some photos of the mansions that the Palestinian leadership has built with Western foreign aid and the luxury restaurants, stores fully stocked with all types of food and the brand new olympic-size swimming pool could help counted the message of Israel causing Gaza suffering.

Perhaps I am just grasping for ideas...

Barry Meislin said...

...grasping for ideas...

All good ideas. But we live in a world where Goebbels should win "Man of the Year."

And it's likely to get even more insane.

NormanF said...

Yaacov, Israel's mistake was in NOT torpedoing enemy boats. The lesson here being if you're at war (which Israel really is) then act like it. And NEVER apologize for killing the enemy.

NormanF said...

I agree with Barry. The Jew hatred we're witnessing in my lifetime is only going to get worse and as the odd man out among the nations, Israel's situation is going to go from bad to worse. That's just the way things are in the world in which we live.

Gavin said...

Well put Yaacov, you do have a way with words. You can add another group; that of people who really do understand what happened in Europe in the '30s-40s. It was never just the Nazis or Germany, Europe is tainted with it's complicity in what you call the Shoah. Implicit in the lessons of that stain on our history was the message that we all had a part to play in ensuring it never happened again.

Time was I thought we were a large group, now I look around & listen to the yapping of people I once thought intelligent and, well.... maybe you don't need to add that group after all.

I'm half dreading my first encounter with the BDS movement here. I'm not a violent person but I am a pragmatist and if I encounter some frothing fanatic telling me not to buy something because it's made in Israel... I can't see me being able to stop at giving them just one punch in the face. But all I have to worry about there is a night in the cells tempered with quiet satisfaction, Israelis have to make decisions which could cost them their lives. The eagerness with which the anti-Israel mob wilfully endanger other people's lives is something I find truly sickening.

Regards, Gavin.

4infidels said...

Oh yeah, forgot that one other big factor would continue to work against Israel even if it improved at public relations:

Some people--a lot of people--don't like Jews no matter what they do.

4infidels said...

And I would bet everyone on that ship was working to demonize and destroy Israel long before the "blockade" provided the latest opportunity for "activism" against Israel.

Anonymous said...

"Turn the focus onto Turkey"
I agree on that one and would add, that everybody tries to substantiate what I suspect that there were paramilitary forces on board i.e. not self-trained street fighters but people trained with maybe the purpose to establish a kind of parallel military? (I may be thinking too much in pre-3rd Reich terms there but I think it is worth as close a scrutiny as possible)

as an absolutely minor contribution I have made it a habit in casual talks with just about anybody starting with shop clerks to bring up Israel matters wherever possible avoiding the anti-semitism line of arguments and sticking closely to highlighting that they are ordinary people trying to make a decent living just like us.

As I have no connections to high-brows I can report that it seems I tend to meet with more approval than is a customer's due (I monitor eyes for clues;)


4infidels said...

Take note Lee Ratner...

If Israel gave up Judea and Samaria, it would have an far better armed enemy on its eastern border in close range to its major population centers.

It would not gain in international approval. From the minute a Palestinian state was created, the next stage of the PLO's phased plan would kick in and the war of ideas would continue unabated.

Contrary to your conviction, Israel would not be through with the Palestinian or Israeli Arab issue. Those Arabs whose homes ended up in the Palestinian state would cry that they were loyal citizens of Israel who were now forced to live in a new country where they no longer have the same doctors, educators and business opportunities after their taxes and labor helped build the successful Israeli state.

Should that same Arab family remain under the jurisdiction of Israel, they will cry to the press and the UN that they were forced to remain second-class citizens under discriminatory Jewish rule instead of living where they would have self-determination like the others in the West Bank.

There will be demands of those in the West Bank for medical care within Israel, particularly those who went to doctors in Israel previously. If Israel doesn't allow Palestinians into Israel to work or seek medical treatment, again it will be portrayed as a cruel oppressor. If it does allow them in, it will be blamed for hurting the spirit of peace by searching those who enter or acting like Nazis if it requires them to have passes, go through security clearances or not carry bombs into Jewish schools.

Meanwhile, if that Palestinian state is demilitarized, another round of crying will result, how one set of rules for the Jews while the Palestinians don't get the full rights of self-determination and statehood. Will Israel then be responsible to defend the Palestinian entity when its loving Arab neighbors decide to assert their influence over parts of that territory?

The war against Israel is a jihad, not a nationalist struggle for independence, in the eyes of the majority of Palestinian Arabs and their Muslim supporters. They will continue that "struggle" regardless of Israel's actions as the existence of an infidel state in the Middle East--especially one ruled by the despised and lowly Jews--is an unacceptable affront to Allah at any size. As for the socialist left and fascist right, anti-semitism and pro-third-world revolutionary passions will enable them to effortlessly repeat whatever the latest Muslim line is against Israel.

Anonymous said...

"we need to achieve this by the standards of the cynics, the idealists and the lazy, not by our standards"

I think the best education I had on that subject was from by now about 4000 pages of Churchill himself. And I think he avoided losing "it" by doing whatever he felt he had to do out of sincere and unwavering love for his island and a small number of criteria which he cherished. As far as I know by now on top of his list was courage in battle and that he certainly would have greatly admired in your country and so would have been the first to be at your side provided it wouldn't damage his island's safety.


Lachlan said...

Just a note on the point about disabling the propellers. I read that the navy used nets to disable the smaller craft, but the ship the commandos boarded was too large for this to work.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but this post seems to be mainly a justification for the blockade, not an explanation of what went wrong.

Reading this I can't help but think you don't feel sorry that people died, you feel sorry that Israel is going to get blamed for it.

Am I wrong?

Barry Meislin said...

So remind us (for our benefit), who exactly were those people who died?

Anonymous said...

Anon, did you read the post.

I am finding myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Ya'acov and some commentary.

We are at war. It is exeistential, but there is a time to fight and a time for diplomacy.

One of the things we must consider, in my opinion, is whether this flotilla was an Iranian sponsored event.

Could it be that our leadership (feeble as they may be at this time) considered the fact that Iran is trying to establish a beach head on Israel's borders in all directions?

This could be the motivation for action. As many have alluded to, danmed if we do - damned if we don't so let's do and let the chips fall where they may.

It is terrible that people were killed. It should not have come to this. However, no one is naive enought to believe that the IDF was dealing with peace lovers.

These folks are note Pro Palestinian, but anti Israel. Sof Pasuk.


Saul Lieberman said...

Israel had defused the humanitarian aspect before the ships left (at least to the satisfaction of the Israeli people). So far, so good. If the operation had gone smoothly (as it did on the other boats), we would not be engaging in an analysis of the operation or the blockade. It did not go smoothly. Not because of a misdirected missile or some out of control commando but because of some thugs. Lets not forget where the direct responsibility lies.

Is there a better way to handle the next incident? Let’s figure that out. (I hope concern for the media will not be the overriding factor.) If there is an unavoidable risk of thugs causing another 9 dead in the next operation, I don’t think we should sit on our hands.

Maybe the blockade is not a great idea. But even if I knew that we will lift the blockade six months or six years from now, that would not tell me very much about whether it is a good idea for today.

Anonymous said...

here is a Lebanese voice I read regularly. Michael Young is a somebody at the Beirut Daily Star, a March 14 guy and has quite often published lengthy pieces in major US magazines.

If I read you correctly it is an attitude of an American official he complains about which is very close to your own reading of how to get to solutions.
(btw Young as a rule is not friendly on Israel but when he condemns a lot less hypocritical than what I am used to from our papers)

if you want to get a non-Israeli perspective on the unsolvables of the area he is my recommendation for a go-to guy.


Sergio said...

Great analsys Yaacov.

It is really disgusting what the Brazilian press says today: "the world against state terrorism" is from one (a bit decadent newspaper). This is an old cannard of the left (I've heard relatives of mine saying such thing many years ago).

It's incredible the relentless pressure on Israel just this year: besides the usual palarab press lies, the Obama apartments fiasco, the Dubai killing farce and now this flotilla bullshit.

Meanwhile, in Iran...

Lee Ratner said...

4infiders, first I am not in general a supporter of the argument that the Muslim world is waging a jihad against Israel. There are millions of Muslims who do see the situation this way but there are one billion Muslims and they don't have a hive mind. I beleive that most Muslims would find Israel acceptable if there is a Palestinian state but at the same time want Israel to give There view of the situation is not historically accurate but its better than your bleak worldview.

There are only about fifteen million Jews worldwide with abotu six million living in Israel with an ever increasing Arab population. The Jewish population is increasing to but not at the speed of the Arab popualtion. We can't keep hold of the West Bank and Gaza forever just like the French could not hold Algeria forever and France was in a better position to get their point of view in Algeria across. The Jews in Israel not so much.

Sergio said...

So, what do you propose? Yesterday you were happy with 80% of the holy land. Then, when the pals are not satisfied with that, you'd accept, say 50%? 40%?

Or maybe jews should move to Madagascar?

Anonymous said...

well Lee
how does the demographic argument go if you look at a handful of Englishmen dominating almost the whole world for quite a while?

whatever the demography community tells you it is not the whole story and their proposed solutions are non-solutions. The margin of error a country with Israel's geography has is probably not very big and as long as her neighbours do not start chanting Kumbaya earnestly and proving their changed minds by actions it would be life threateningly foolish for any of them to trust them. Just now we had this Turkish outfit IHH successfully veiling the true nature of their fighters.

What baffles me all the time is that on the one hand everybody claims that if you reach a critical mass of "trend-setters" wearing Uggs, Uggs have a good chance to become a hit seller for the masses.

But when it comes to extremists and the populations in which they thrive we are getting told they are only so and so many percent of the peaceful whole and the "moderate" masses will never ever follow them anywhere.

In my book what holds for Uggs holds for ideas i.e. the Zeitgeist fashions come and go by the same rules, the only difference is that Uggs don't hatch life threatening stuff.


Victor said...

Well done, Yaacov. 2 more ships on the way. Practice makes perfect.

Anonymous said...


I don't want to be proven right over and over, I am fed up with it
pray what has Yaacov done to make the ships go under way?

btw in my book no matter what Israel would have done they would come wave after wave, it is exactly the kind of warfare I have been afraid of it coming about ever since I read Paul Berman on Kouchner.

and maybe this time they have recruited 50 toddlers as human shields ...

The more I look at it the more I think Turkey is trying to get at the US for not having been proposed for the Peace Nobel for its Iran-deal.

in offices when a boss shows weakness those who want his job after having sucked up to him without result quite commonly go after his secretary to test the water.


Victor said...

pray what has Yaacov done to make the ships go under way?

I think you misunderstood, Silke. I wasn't attributing the launch of two more blockade running ships to Yaacov :)

1. Well done, Yaacov (on the post)

2. 2 more ships on the way. (let's see how Israel deals with it, after this experience)

Anonymous said...

I've just checked FreeGaza - they say nothing about more ships already sailing - I couldn't even find anything as to what they are planning
where does the 2 ships news come from?
BTW Egypt is cashing in PR on opening Rafah but Ynet says they have always done that for a couple of days a month.

Also Free Gaza is now down to saying the ships were entered at 20 miles from Gaza, yesterday morning they started with 200 and before that the lowest I read was 22. Not only thugs but - you know what - also


Sergio said...

Israel should warn that she will take it as an act of war; and if they tried to break the blockade, use torpedoes.

4infidels said...


My point is that the war against Israel--whether military, terrorist, financial, political, propaganda--won't stop once Israel signs a peace-treaty or withdraws from the West Bank. So why not face it from a position of strength, controlling the West Bank and its invasion routes and heights from which to spot and slow down an advancing enemy and without having rockets right up against your civilian population?

I don't have any interest in debating what the vast majority of Muslims believe or don't believe. I am aware of what is printed in Arab media, taught in Arab schools and preached in Arab mosques as well as the ideology of the 12ver Shia running Iran. And it is downright frightening.

What truly matters is that there are more than enough jihadists within the West Bank, Gaza and surrounding countries who would gladly make war against Israel, regardless of the size or policies. In that effort, they can count on hundreds of millions of Muslims to support that jihad with money and propaganda campaigns aimed at delegimizing Israel. Can you imagine just for a minute how it might be hard to maintain any type of peace-treaty or post withdrawl stability when you have a population that believes that dying for Allah sends them to paradise and that Islam must rule everywhere, with those places where it once ruled before at the top of the priority list?

Anonymous said...

taking Algeria as an example - really!
- there's quite a stretch of water between her and France and how much today's trouble with the banlieues is an aftermath of that having let go only demonstrates how extremely difficult it is to make a success of it.

For one when I lived in Paris in the 2nd half of 1962 there were absolutely no hotel-rooms (their furnished rooms at the time) available because the city was crowded to the last room with refugees
- my company got a room for me where I had to put the chair on the bed before opening the door and that was only due to very good connections and the bomb threat was still so livid that you would keep to the walls while negotiating the underground metro walkways and get a heart beat at any unexpected noise.

What you propose to do with a not cooperative or not fully cooperative partner will as a minimum add to misery galore.


Victor said...

More boats on the way. As I said, practice makes perfect. It's doubtful they'll be able to get a boat as big as the Turkish vessel in the near future, so tying up propellers and towing them to Ashdod shouldn't be an issue.

Sergio said...

Maybe Moses could create a tempest and turn all those fools into fish-food, which would then be canned and sent to Gaza.

Anonymous said...

marvellous idea

now on where they say all the news will be posted - it seems they post tweets or SMS or whatever, one much to my delight complains that it is hot in the cells and that several of them have to share one - lets hope there is some way to make it a bit sticky in there also and the wardens straightfaced and innocent will take care of it.

but still no mention of another boat departed - but here it is from AP - I am already developing high hopes that FreeGaza got disconnected from "dear" Greta or vice versa


Lee Ratner said...

Silke, I am quite aware that Israel's partners are far from trustworthy. What I suggest is that you negotiate that they will act in good faith but make preparations for any sort of bad faith acting that will occur latter; so have a strategy ready for say an invasion launched from the West Bank and Gaza. Just make contingency plans is the best you can do.

4Infidels: I believe that Israel would be better off confronting the Palestinian state rather than the Palestinian people. When every any state confronts a non-state actor, the state always looks like a bad bully. Sri Lanka got away with what they did to the Tamil Tigers because a lot of white people don't care about the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government never wanted to strip all Tamils of citizenship they just wanted the Tamils not to have their own state. Lots of white people and others sympathize very heavily with the Palestinians and this does not give Israel the freedom to act that Sri Lanka possessed. Also, Israel has no plans to give the Palestinians citizenship and votings rights winthin Israel. This means they have to go free with their own state.

I realize that the British and French Empires managed to rule over hundreds of millions of non-Europeans but thats not what I meant abotu demographics. Having colonies was acceptable behavior at the time and nobody was going to divest from the UK or France. People will divest from Israel and isolate it if the occupation goes on for much longer and Israel really is not big enough to deal with this economically.

Sérgio said...

Lee, your example of Sri Lanka touches the core of the problem. As the anti-Israel/anti-jewish crowd don't really give a shit for pals, except as a tool to bash Israel, the ideas you propose are totally innocuous. Moreover, pals don't really want a state.

Anonymous said...

here it says that the Rachel Corrie is still sayling, it doesn't say under which command by now and he has also done a beautiful job on doing the cargo calculation. By his estimate instead of 10.000 tons in a best case scenario there will be 1500 and all stuff Gaza gets from Israel anyway.


Anonymous said...

as you by now know I have taught myself about warfare from 2006 on imbibing anything from ancient Greece to Falludja that seemed suitable to enhance my understanding of military thinking

- every invasion I ever heard about or read about had first of all to get a foothold. If you want to read something about Israel's strategic necessities I recommend this piece which seemed to me from a guy who knew what he was talking about - and after you have read it tell me how many lives Israeli and Palestinians will it cost to re-establish a foothold


Victor said...

Lee, I remember before the withdrawal from Gaza, I was arguing with a left-wing friend in Israel. They were using the same arguments you are now - once we leave, if they dare attack, we can fight them without two hands tied behind our backs. The reality is somewhat different. In the absence of Israeli forces, the most radical, violent elements seized control and hijacked the lives of 1.5 million people into endless war.

Let's make this very simple. Suppose that a Palestinian state exists. Suppose it officially declares war on Israel and begins shelling Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When we finish bombing Ramallah into rubble, and they don't stop fighting, what's step 2?

And that's a best case scenario, when the state officially goes to war with Israel. What if they don't do it officially? What if they merely permit terrorist groups to function from their territory, paying lip service to "counter-terrorism", like Lebanon. Are we going to destroy the "moderate leadership" in Ramallah because some terrorists are shooting rockets from Bethlehem? How do we fight back?

Think this through.

I think it's likely that the world's patience for Israeli self-defense will simply erode over time, so long as we permit our enemies to fight another day. It's like a woman who gets raped every week. Everyone is outraged the first two times, but then they start wondering why it's only happening to her, and what she's doing to provoke it.

Let's face it, had Israel gone in all the way into Gaza the first time, or had prosecuted Hezbollah properly, we would have a one time event, and a transformation of the situation.

Israel is like a dentist performing a root canal, but without actually finishing it. We burn off just enough nerve so that it hurts, and then send the patient home.

Victor said...

Let's improve that metaphor. It's like a woman who gets raped every week, and then shoots dead her assailant.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"we would have a one time event"
as to your first post - except for this I am with you but this claim I doubt, wrong, I don't trust it even one nanosecond - you Americans always want things to have done with once and for all ;-)
(it doesn't work, really it doesn't, at least until now it never has unless you really do scorched earth and resettlement and ruthless killing making Sri Lanka style look like a humanitarian enterprise - and that with 1,5 million in small Gaza - no way, forget the international moaners, the Israelis couldn't stomach Byzantine style slaughter for even a minute)

as to your second post I am sad to tell you that women who actually take revenge get more severe sentences than comparable men because judges ingeniously argue that due to less muscle power they have to murder more with premeditation, which is a bigger crime. (guns are hard to come by in Germany and if they are available it is not allowed to let them lie around handy for spontaneous action) - but of course I like the spirit of the metaphor.


Lee Ratner said...

Yes, I know that there is literally not a good solution but I really think that continual occupation is the worse solution. Eventually, the rest of the world is going to impose a solution on Israel and do we really want that or do we want a solution that at least we have something of a say in. The entire anti-Israel team is crowing about the situation, more so than usual and Israel is no longer viewed as the underdog.

Israel can't survive as a hermit state. Vladimir Jabotinsky realized this when he stated that the Jewish state's future was as a trading state. Israel is highly dependent upon trade and tourism and if the rest of the world breaks relations with Israel than its going to suffer and not survive. This means that several difficult choices have to be made; either we let the Palestinians go and enjoy what we can in the state we have or we let the occupation continue and further isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.

Do you really think that Israel could live as a hermit kingdom where most Diaspora Jews can't reach? We have to deal with the reality as it is, not what we want it to be.

Anonymous said...

One point Id like to make that has been made many times before is that Israel lacks PR skills, but it also lacks excellent government officials who can go on US television and deliver a defense of Israel in a telegenic way.

Ive seen many on tv today and none are getting the job done in terms of a recitation of the relevant facts, nor doing it in a authoritative yet likable way.

the game is rigged when it comes to the western media. even much of fox's straight news left a lot to be desired. But Israel needs its government to be able to develop talent specifically for this type of task.

and one more issue that perhaps someone can help me out with. Why is Israel's diversity rarely represented by its spokespeople? This doesnt help matters

4infidels said...


You continue to frame Israel's choices as essentially one of two future options:

1) Israel retains the West Bank, leading Israel to become completely isolated from all other nations and unable to survive on its own


2) Israel gives up the West Bank and then has freedom from the challenges/responsibilities of ruling the Palestinians, and avoids isolation and condemnation from the "international community"

If those are the considerations, then I would agree that #2 is the better option.

However, I believe--based on solid evidence from the past 20 years (Oslo, Phased Plan, Hamas, rejection of Barak and Olmert two-state offers, Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals), a consideration of the self-interests of other nations (oil, financial and fear of terrorism) and the nature of Arab-islamic politics and communal priorities (jihad, revenge, honor, hate and incitement in schools, mosques and media)--that Israel can give up the West Bank, yet still find itself facing a propaganda, diplomatic, terrorist and financial war of equal or greater intensity, with the international community still on the Arab side, and far greater danger to its security and survival.

Lee, you still won't address these issues that I have repeatedly laid out several times here on why Israel can do everything you say and nothing will change with regard to the international community...or Israel's isolation will actually increase as its enemies become increasingly emboldened by what it rightly views as a weaker Israel, and the rest of the international community still needs Arab oil, markets and safety from terrorism (which it thinks it can achieve by backing the Arab position vs. Israel).

4infidels said...

Lee (con't)

Or perhaps Israel hangs on to the West Bank, retains an overwhelming military superiority over its enemies and continues--despite the international community's condemnations and isolation--to be able to defend itself against the true believers in Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran and deter at least some of its enemies from waging war against it.

I don't think Israel's isolation will ever be total as there is popular support for Israel in the U.S., the United States, India and other countries still rely on Israeli intelligence, medical and security innovations and acknowledge (quietly) that Israel is a force for stability in a region where everyone has an interest in the continued flow of oil.

Over the next few decades, Europe is going to elect more conservative leaders such as Gert Wilders as it finds itself confronting major violence, crime and an erosion of core western freedoms due to its large and hostile Muslim population. These conservative governments will be more friendly to Israel, especially an Israel that is seen as defending itself against the jihad rather than giving up more land to common enemies. With the recognition of what Europe faces from its Muslim minorities, many Europeans will become increasingly sympathetic to what Israel has always had to deal with living on the front lines of the struggle against radical Islam.

Moreover, new sources of fuel will likely be developed that will diminish the power and influence of the Saudis and the other rich Arabs to have such a strong impact on western governments and less available cash for funding terrorism, buying up western media, paying off western diplomats and financing anti-Israel departments on western college campuses.

Perhaps even Iran will see its Islamic Republic collapse and be replaced by a secular, pro-western government no longer seeking to dominate the Middle East.

Who knows, maybe Israel will even find a few telegenic spokespersons who can explain its situation and the justice of its cause to American and European audiences!!!

Will my scenario play out? I don't know. But I do that what you are proposing (giving up land), including the rationale behind it (lessing international isolation and condemnation), has been tried, and failed, repeatedly. I know that two decades of Israeli withdrawals, concessions and peace-processing have led its enemies to believe that Israel is weak and that its defeat is inevitable. That has caused the Arab-Muslim side to ratchet up the propaganda and diplomatic war and become ever more bold in its acts of terror against Israel.

4infidels said...

Lee (con't)

Who wouldn't want to turn the clock back 20 years if they could? To never have brought the PLO into the West Bank and Gaza from Tunis. To never have turned over administration of large amounts of territory to the Palestinian Authority. To never have armed and trained former and future terrorists thinking that somehow they would fight terror and bring Israel security. To never have allowed the Palestinian Authority to establish its foothold in the West Bank and Gaza so that it would put hate education in its schools and incitement to jiahd on its airwaves and in its mosques, poisoning several generations of Palestinians with Nazi-like anti-Semitism. To never have collaborated in turning the Arab war to destroy Israel (or more accurately the jihad against Israel) into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which the Palestinians (who a few years earlier had denied that they were a separate people from the other Arabs of "Greater Syria") were given equal billing with Israel. To never have deluded itself into believing that peace was around the corner so that Israel stopped emphasizing the Zionist narrative to its young people and instead raised a generation at home and influenced its supporters abroad to become ignorant of the justice of Israel's cause. To never have adopted the language of the enemy (because they were no longer seen as the enemy) in its discussion of the conflict: Israeli diplomats started using terms like "occupation" for disputed territory that Israel had a strong legal, moral and historic claim, thus convincing others that it had no right to "Palestinian land." To never have fallen for the line of thinking that Israel would gain international approval if it negotiated with the PLO, turned over territory to the PA, offered the Palestinians a state, withdrew from Gaza, etc.

I think we need to learn from past mistakes.

Barry Meislin said...

As I understand it, the suggestion/demand that Israel enable a Palestinian state is because it will be good for Israel.

Or even more correctly, essential for Israel's survival.

(And of course, it would be the right thing to do.)

Have I understood this correctly?

Lee Ratner said...


I am quite aware that Israel might be in a position where any act of mercy or clemency would be seen by its enemies, whether they be peace activists or political Islamists, as an act of weakness. However, I'd also argue that Israel acting from a position of strength makes Israel's enemies view Jews in general and Israelis in particular as monsters. Its a literal damned if we do, damned if we don't situation. My entire opinion on this matter is that there are no good options for Israel. I'm just advocating what I see as the least bad option, just like you are.

No, I do not think that it was a mistake for Israel to invite the PLO into administrate the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians had no problems eating up anti-Semitic propaganda and teaching it to their children for decades before the PLO was invited back into the West Bank and Gaza. We had to deal with what amounted to Palestinian leadership. The real mistake that Israel made was not ending the settlements immediately and allowing them to increase.

Lee Ratner said...

Barry Meislin, you are correct in your interpretation of my suggestion, its not a demand because I'm in no position to demand anything from the Israeli government.

1. I believe that giving up the West Bank and Gaza completely is necessary for Israel's survival for the reasons I explained above.
2. It will be good for Israel because Israel will no longer be seen as an occupying power except among the anti-Zionists. Israel will be seen as defending Israel proper from terrorism.
3. It is the right thing to do because much of the Occupation is exploitative, mainly the Settlements, even if its not particularly bad by historical standards. Also the Palestinian Arabs have just as much the same right to self-determination as the Jews.

Barry Meislin said...

Thanks, Lee.

You do realize though, that because it is good for the Jews, because it is good for Israel, because the Israelis are desperate for a solution, the Palestinians will never consider it.


We may not want to be; but we are in a zero-sum game with our partners in peace.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:02

with a slightly different tilt I keep moaning about the same stuff on and off again
as to advocates for Israel's rights I have seen in office feuds people who were mobbed use all their charms and all their attractiveness and ability to argue wittily almost instantaneously
- it must be something about getting discriminated against that leaves you with mainly two choices: arrogance or timidity (in my book countries react in many contexts just like individuals)

on my personal hobby-horse I repeat that those well muscled young Israeli farmers naked from the waist upwards who worked their fields with a gun at the ready which I was shown in the news reel cinemas of my teen-youth immunized me to the lure of all these Valentino look alike Sheiks on a very basic sex appeal level (I prefer well ventilated heads;)

- why is there no contemporary equivalent of it.

and here is a guy mouthing off that the anti-Israel competition is doing better on the girls.

I may sound facetious, but believe me I am far from it.


Anonymous said...

I think I have figured out a solution

- let Israel impoverish itself to the point that it's standard of living, knowledge, education, entertainment etc. are so unattractive that everybody shies away from coming even close to its borders and let it make sure that there is nothing left to loot not even bare necessities.

but seriously the more Israel outperforms its neighbours the more the neighbours will lust after her if only to destroy or misuse whatever there is like they did with the green houses in Gaza.

Just as an illustration of how intractable the situation is: on the one hand the Saudis rely on the US umbrella on the other hand I came on a piece recently that including from very very high up in Saudi hierarchy considerable funds are channeled to the Taliban whose preferred pastime is to kill Americans.

Michael Totten had a long talk with Lee Smith where I found the part about how the power struggle goes so often by indirect action which I found very instructive


Anonymous said...

oops typo - correction:

people who were mobbed use all their charms and all their attractiveness and ability to argue wittily almost instantaneously

of course I meant to say:
LOOSE all their charms ...

Lee Ratner said...

Barry Meislin, yes I'm realize that many but not all Palestinians would always be against Israel but I think you are underestimating the numbers that would be generally satisfied with a small state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza. When finally given real sovereignty these Palestinians will turn against the Maximalist Palestinians who want all or nothing but they need sovereignty first.

4Infidels: I do not think that the election of Conservatives to Europe would necessarily help Israel. Europeans have shown an easy ability regardless of political affilaition of being hard on Muslims in Europe and hard on Israel at the same time.

4infidels said...


How do you suppose that the Palestinians who (after statehood) wouldn't support the continued war against Israel would assert that influence over the others, when the ones with the guns and the fighting spirit are currently in control and have won out since the beginning of the post-WWI mandate?

I assume you also believe that unlike everywhere else in the Arab world, power would change hands peacefully and the coexistence folks would be voted in by the silent majority of peace loving Palestinians, who you are so sure--based on what?--that they would live peacefully alongside Israel in a state of their own.

And, of course, it isn't even possible for you to imagine that the majority of Palestinians actually believe the commands in the Koran to fight the infidels until they accept Islam, are killed or submit to second class status under Islamic rule.

Why is it that you have trouble accepting that Palestinians might actually believe in the principles of their religion and mean what they say about their goals to destroy Israel, their belief that redemption will only come when the Muslims fight and kill the Jews and that Palestine is an Islamic "waqf" that can never be surrendered to infidels.

Anonymous said...

what is your source for us being hard on Muslims?
because they say so? Haven't you realized by now that they say so no matter what?

If it's another source I'd really like to know because the way I've experienced it wherever it went wrong there was a lot of entanglement and confusion.

Just to take a prominent and probably little ambiguous example: Ayaan Hirsi Ali was given time and opportunity to learn the language and study in Holland - surely that was the Dutch being hard on her

- but then they got hard on Ali when the "muslim street" demanded it, that of course was when the Dutch got really hard on muslims.


Lee Ratner said...

4infidels, there are 1.3 billion Muslims and you are making caricatures by saying they all want to impose Islam on the world by the sword. And also the Qu'Ran and Hadith like all other religious texts posses a lot of contradictory statements and principles. According to strict Islamic teachings, the Muslims should have foribly converted everybody in India to Islam when they invaded because they weren't one of the Peoples of the Book. Obviously this did not happen and was never attempted at a serious level. Islam is a lot more flexible than your cartoon caricature to justify your position.

Are there Muslims who see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in religious terms, as jihad. Yes, that is without question. There are also Jews who see Zionism completley in relgious terms and believe that Jews shouldn't negotiate with Arabs because God gave us the land. There are also Zionists like me who support Zionism for ethnic reasons and there are Palestinians who view Palestinian nationalism in ethnic terms like Edward Said and other Christian narratives.

No, I do not believe that there will be a peaceful transition of power but you are really underestimating the number of Political Islamists just like how many on the opposite side view all Zionists as the religious ones without understanding the ethnic component to Jewish identity.

Lee Ratner said...

Silke, I'm mainly refering to things like the various burqa bans and limitations on mosque building in various European countries. Certainly many European countries have found it easy to pass legislation limiting Muslims and be angry about the lack of assimilation while still being very angry at Israel.

4infidels said...


They have their extremists, we have our extremists; they have their fanatical passages in the Koran, we have our violent passages in the Torah...sorry that just doesn't work anymore. Since Sept. 11, some of us have taken upon ourselves to learn about Islam, which permeates every nook and cranny of Islamic societies, even those that are on the surface quite secular and modern.

The majority of Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims may prefer to live and let life with the infidels if they can have an easy life, but among them are many true believers who know that killing and being killed in jihad is the path to paradise and supporting that jihad militarily, financially or propagandistically is looked at favorably by Allah. Further reenforcing the notion of believers vs. infidels is the tribal nature of Arab society in which ones own protection and opportunity most often comes out of alignment with the powerful in the family, tribe and government. To be an individual who speaks out for peaceful coexistence with Israel is to shame your family, your tribe, your religion and your homeland. So even those who benefitted most economically during the "Israeli occupation" (and preferred its administration to the thieving, extorting Arafat) had to publicly fight against it so as not to dishonor their family, tribe and faith...and perhaps also because deep down they know that the jihadists have Islamic scripture on their side and that opposing the humiliation of occupation (of all of Israel) is ultimately more important than personal well-being.

Even if the majority of Muslims were neither pro-jihad nor anti-Israel, they are not the ones who are making history; that is why, for example, there have been no significant Muslim rallies against terrorism in the United States. With the Muslim world-view divided between believer and infidel, there is a strong pull to side with other believers or to keep quiet so as not be killed as an infidel.

Anonymous said...

look at what's available from the marketing of Paul Berman's new book and shudder at all the people who by now need bodyguards, one of them of all people is Bassam Tibi to whom I have listened being interviewed while he was still in Germany for years again and again. If somebody like him who is as mild-mannered and as considerate and as ardent an advocate for openness as can be needs protection there must be a bit more to it than US media are willing to include in the picture. I find what I read quite often in your media as little informed and quick judging as our media are on American peculiarities.

Maybe burqa bans are clumsy and inadequate attempts at asking a bit of consideration for how our societies have evolved over centuries if not millenia. But do you ever read reports of - lets say - that municipal indoor swimming pools are closed for everybody on certain days so muslim women may use them without endangering their modesty?

Also I am pretty sure that most of the complaints about mosque building restrictions are due to the same tedious and nerve wrecking process everybody else has to go through who wants to build something major (and minor) anywhere. But when it hits a project of lets say the Turkish state's religious authority then we do it only to discriminate and due to a lack of respect. No matter what we do it is always wrong. The other day a headscarf wearing woman smiled back at me when I smiled at her child. It was such an unexpected reaction that it made me happy no end.

There is a long history to it all and it goes back to way way before 2001 probably all the way to 1979.
- lots of mistakes have been made with our handling the guestworker and later immigration issue but with everybody else it has all sorted itself out over the years, the indigenous and the newcomers learned to live with eachother and enjoy it and so it was with the Turks and still is with the vast majority of them until some of "our" youngsters went on an arson spree and killed people in the early 90s. There was a lot of reaching out attempts but a by now amounting to maybe at the most 15 or 20 % decided to shut down and embrace whatever it is and most of all they try to usurp the whole conversation shutting out "their" majority via ever more ingenious getting complaints.

BTW when that arson mania wasn't under control yet the father of a Turkish colleague of mine had his restaurant set on fire. His GermanGerman customers and neighbours immediately started to collect money to get his business going again when it turned out that his insurance didn't cover it all. He and his daughter never concluded that the thugs and the rest of the town or all of us were in on the crime.

The older a society is the more settled its ways are and the more goodwill from ALL sides is needed to keep things conducive to all. What you perceive as our being hard I perceive at our feeling more and more helpless on coming up with something that is OK by the minority of them.

and yes you are right it isn't good for feelings towards Israel because in a probably too weird way to describe this forever accusing minority of Muslims helps further anti-Israel feelings because media here as in the US keep insisting that if only the "conflict" were solved all the other problems would vanish i.e. what they claim for the whole world seems for them to be equally valid for our local difficulties.

It is a really sad story and a change to the better doesn't seem in sight - but having said all that I confess that we are a face showing, religion should be a private matter (and in that I include all the other religions) society and I hope it'll continue to remain that.


4infidels said...


re: "I do not think that the election of Conservatives to Europe would necessarily help Israel. Europeans have shown an easy ability regardless of political affilaition of being hard on Muslims in Europe and hard on Israel at the same time."

That is true, but most current European leadership, whether right, center or left, was not elected due to concerns about the threat from the Muslim minorities, even if they have taken some actions like banning the burqa.

I do believe that over the next decade we will begin seeing leaders elected who are running on platforms that clearly enumerate their concerns about what is happening to the safety and freedoms in their countries as a result of the growth of their Muslim communities. That leadership will not necessarily, despite how it has been painted in much of the MSM, be a repeat of the old fascist, anti-immigrant and anti-semitic right, but one that understands the dangers that come from the ideology of Islam and how it threatens their way of life. Geert Wilders is a strong supporter of Israel who also speaks out against the attitudes toward women, gays, Jews and Christians from Muslims in Europe.

4infidels said...


Perhaps you can enlighten Lee and I on a Western European matter:

I am assuming for all the difficulties of being an immigrant in Europe, where nationality and ethnicity go hand-in=hand, the non-Muslim immigrants--the Indian Hindus, the Chinese, the Vietnamese, the African Christians, the East Europeans, the Latin Americans, etc.--have all done a far better job of assimilating and are far less hostile to their new countries than are Muslims.

Is that correct? And if so, am I wrong to conclude that perhaps, just perhaps, it is something in the ideology of Islam that the newcomers from Muslim lands bring with them that causes their behavior?

Anonymous said...

I just tried in an overlong text to explain all that to Lee higher up in this thread.
Yes you are right in my country we have all learned to live together and enjoy the added colour it has brought to the country including the vast majority of Muslims, Turks in my country.
Even the Vietnamese on whom a pogrom was tried in 1991 seem to have settled in and managed not to blame all of us for what a mob tried to do to them. From what I read it seems they are doing especially well. (those were the Vietnamese who had lived in former East Germany)

There is a minority of maybe 15/20 % who are trying to hijack the conversation by forever accusing, complaining and demanding but they go after their own with the same vigour as they go after "us" whenever they deem them to be not pious enough by their definition.

All the others who came as guest workers and stayed on are "us" just as much as "we" are "us" each in his or her own way.

But let's stop it now and concentrate on sending well wishing thoughts to the injured soldiers. Israelinurse has news on them at CiFWatch and they are terrible.