Thursday, June 03, 2010

Israel’s Stupidity

Imagine what would happen if someone like Israeli Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu was managing the U.S. naval blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This planet would now be overrun by insects, a few sturdy plants, and weird mutant life forms in Night-Glo oceans. There was, in fact, a lunatic military fringe led by General Curtis LeMay whose solution to just about any threat was “bomb [the enemy] back to the stone age.” As the architect of history’s most destructive air raids -- “carpet bombing” in Japan and later Vietnam –- LeMay believed in a disproportionate military response no matter what the circumstance.

Israel’s assault on a flotilla ship in international waters ferrying peace activists (many of whom are American citizens) with relief supplies to the Gaza Strip, drew worldwide condemnation and has once again placed the United States in the untenable position of having to defend the conservative Netanyahu government from actions strongly criticized in Israel itself. No one would deny Israel’s right to defend itself. But to invoke this posture by forcing a confrontation with a civilian ship transporting civilian peace activists, including women and children, in international waters is not only “unacceptable” (British PM David Cameron), “disproportionate” (French President Sarkozy), but downright stupid.

Israel claims it was “provoked” by the activists in the flotilla into taking the FUBAR actions it took. Yet no amount of “provocation” would result in deaths and shootings if Israeli commandos had not seized the civilian vessel in a botched raid. If the Israeli Navy is incapable of turning away a ferry ship in international waters, then it does not have a very effective naval blockade. Israel claims the activists were provocateurs bent on a confrontation with the IDF. If this is the case, then the activists scored a major victory for their cause courtesy of Israel’s lack of restraint.

Turkey, whose vessel the Israeli commandos seized, had even harsher words. Its foreign minister called the Israeli raid “banditry and piracy” on the high seas and “murder conducted by a state.” Turkey used to be one of the few remaining Muslim nations friendly to Israel, and had been playing a constructive role mediating between Israel and its regional foes, such as Syria. Now, according to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this “is a turning point in history. Nothing will be the same again.”

Way to go, Bibi.

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