Monday, May 31, 2010

Flotillas and Fools

By now you all - in one way or another - have probably heard about what went down in the Med today.

A flotilla of ships, attempting to break Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, was boarded by Israel's navy and...things didn't go so well. At last count, 9 flotilla participants died. According to what I've read, several of these purportedly "peaceful" activists attempted to grab the weapons of Israeli soldiers. I've also heard that the activists (who apparently have a big problem with Israel, but not so much with Hamas) might have had crude weapons of their own, using them to assault - maybe even stab - Israeli soldiers, whose perseverance and bravery I salute.

I've been looking at the prominent role being played by Turkey in all this - you can do your own news searches regarding this, as I wouldn't want to deny you the "fun" and I'd rather not be your sole source of news..hint, "IHH" - and after some considerable consideration, I wouldn't be surprised if Turkish PM Erdogan intended for things to go this way, in order to have political cover to further downgrade the state of Turkish-Israeli ties. I'd say the Turks were counting on Israel reacting strongly, though they might not have expected such consequences as this. Or maybe...they did?

All they needed were a few willing agents provocateurs, a little money slipped under the table by voilĂ , Israel looks bad before the world (like
that is new), and Turkey has a "good" reason to call in an Israeli ambassador or other consular official, dress him down, all as cover as Turkey gets cozier with Syria and Iran. Heck, Turkey's already recalled its ambassador to Israel (so quickly!). And who can blame Turkish protestors for trying to storm an Israeli consulate in Istanbul, even if - perish the thought - whatever protests "spontaneously" erupted were, in fact, pre-planned and well-coordinated?

They need only say, "Look what Israel did!" and understanding is born. Especially, in America, amongst devotees of the Huffington Post, acolytes of His Awesomeness Barack H. Obama II, and supporters of J Street. Meanwhile, though the Muslim world as a whole doesn't exactly need another reason to bash Israel, a brief perusal of Al Jazeera's English website this afternoon showed me they'll still gladly run with whatever they get.

Sure, Turkey could openly repudiate Israel (and by extension, the West), but that wouldn't look so good, now would it? Especially not if there's still the slightest chance the EU might one day consider possibly letting the Turks join their club, even nowadays when it might not seem to be the best club to join. But if you get Israel to be your unwitting fall guy, many more people than might otherwise see your perspective now will. You can go your own way and hardly be accused of further abandoning your country's secular roots and longstanding partnership with Israel, after an event like this.

One also can't discount a major role by the Islamic Republic of Iran, which of course stands to benefit from the international media's focus switching from one regional pariah to another. After all, the more the int'l media focus on Israel and its actions (policies, etc), the less they'll be talking about Iran, it's despotic regime, and that regime's nuclear program. You know something ain't kosher when Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has the gall to call Israel's actions "inhumane". What a spectacle! Pot calling kettle black, much?

This is also, in a way, exactly what North Korea needs at the moment. I'd be willing to bet money that this flotilla incident today is enough to get Jerusalem hauled before the UN Security Council before North Korea's torpedoing of a South Korean naval vessel (with 46 fatalities) in March gets Pyongyang censured by that body. Never mind, of course, that Israel gave fair warning before boarding the ships, and that North Korea's attack was surreptitious and unprovoked. It's the way of the world: Blaming Jews (and/or Israel) works.

Call me a cynic, but don't tell me I don't have justification to be cynical!

This just seems to have gone too badly - for Israel's image, and the flotilla participants' lives - to have come about by mere happenstance.

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