Friday, June 4, 2010

What Happened on the Mavi Marmara and Why Did it Happen?

I have not commented so far on the "Peace Flotilla" incident off the coast of Gaza, but I thought I would point out a few resources on the incident that you might not have noticed. This was a planned and cynical stunt that had the objective of breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza so that missiles capable of hitting Israeli cities could be smuggled into Hamas. That ought to be obvious, but for some people it seems to be merely speculation.

Why is there a naval blockade of Gaza in the first place? Well, the alliance of the Muslim world plus Western Leftists has been calling for years for Israel to withdraw from the so-called "occupied territories," i.e. Gaza and the West Bank. So a few years ago Israel unilaterally - in the absence of any comprehensive peace treaty or diminution of the Arab determination to destroy Israel - decided to withdraw from Gaza to see what would happen. So what happened? As predicted by many, a fanatical and militant terrorist organization with the backing of Iran and Syria, i.e. Hamas, seized control of the territory and proceeded to make it a forward staging area for the jihad against Israel by firing rockets into Israel. So Israel sensibly imposed a blockade and allowed aid and trade through a checkpoint but screened out weapons. No nation in the world including all the ones doing the screaming would have done any differently.

Is the naval blockade legal? Of course it is not only legal but a commonplace of international war and international law. International waters just outside territorial waters is precisely where ships are typically intercepted.

Was Israel preventing humanitarian aid from getting through? Not at all. Israel intercepted the ships and had them unload their cargo in an Israeli port from which it could be shipped (after inspection) overland into Gaza. This was not about humanitarian aid or whether or not it would reach Gaza. It was about breaking the blockade and getting something into Gaza that Israel had an interest in stopping. What would that be other than weapons?

Who was behind the flotilla? The ships were Turkish and the Times of London now reports that the Turkish group "The Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief" (IHH), which was behind the operation has clear ties to Islamic extremism around the world. The Associated Press concurs and quotes a French judge who investigated the IHH in the '90s. It also reports that the group was involved in the al-Qaida plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport in 1999.

What happened when Israeli soldiers boarded the Mavi Marmara? Well, here is a video of the soldiers being attacked with metal rods, chains and chairs. They were stabbed and two were shot with guns stolen from soldiers. The soldiers were armed with paint ball rifles and only sidearms with live ammunition. Eventually, fearing for their lives they asked for and received permission to fire and did so. Nine attackers were killed. Here is video.

What was the reaction in Europe? There was an outpouring of concern for the poor, peaceful, humanitarian blockade runners and condemnation, or in some cases, lack of support for Israel. The disgraceful performance of the Muslim-appeasing, fearful Europeans was embarrassing. This story from The Weekly Standard includes video of the scene in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. The story is aptly entitled: "Eurodeputies Publicly Berate Israeli Ambassador and the Iranian Foreign Minister Smiles."

Was it a public relations disaster for Israel? Jonah Goldberg takes on this question at National Review and says that the theory that Israel is not competent enough at fighting the PR war is based on the premise that the world is open to hearing the truth if it is presented clearly. He goes on:
The assumption is that world opinion is open to hearing Israel’s side of the story. But that hasn’t been the case for years. From the “Jenin massacre” that was no massacre to the idiotic charges of “genocide” that erupt across the Arab world the moment Israel defends itself from missiles or “martyrs,” the presumption is always that Israel is the villain. When it turns out the facts support Israel, it’s at best a footnote or proof the Israelis have manipulated the media.

Question: If Israel is always hell-bent on murder, massacres, and genocide, why is it so bad at it? If its battle plan called for a slaughter, why kill “only” nine people? Why not sink all of the boats?

Meanwhile, is it really the case that Hamas is objectively “good” at public relations? Or Hezbollah? Or Iran? Really? I just don’t see it. To me, these PR operations are less Wag the Dog and more Baghdad Bob (the Monty Python–esque spokesman for Saddam Hussein’s regime). But instead of everyone laughing at the lies and idiocy, millions of people nod their heads in agreement.

North Korea recently sank a South Korean ship. The international reaction has been muted and sober. Turkey — the Palestinians’ new champion — has been treating Kurdish nationalists harshly for generations; no one cares. The Russians crush Chechens, the Chinese trample Uighurs. Real genocides unfold regularly in Africa. Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb. Hamas is openly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. So is Iran.

And yet the only villain as far as much of the world is concerned is Israel. Always Israel.

But none of these facts matter. Indeed, it’s tiring even to recount them in an environment where big lies matters more than obvious truths, where self-defense is “aggression,” where restraint is “genocide,” and where the heirs of Gandhi wield steel pipes.
In the Orwellian world inhabited by the Western Left and Islamofascists, peace activists are those who clear a path for smuggling missiles, countries which are democratic and committed to the rule of law are fascist and those who advocate genocide are victims.

The "sins" of Israel are being built up so relentless by continuous propaganda that a foundation is being built for the justification of mass murder. If this fanaticism and hatred continues, the path will be clear for the destruction of Israel and the world will blink and realize its mistake only once it is too late.

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