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US and EU to blame for Israeli Hubris
by Hezron H.N Nyawachi
2010-06-04 07:20:42
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A deadly attack by Israeli Navy Commandoes on 31.05.2010 on the Turkish-flagged ship Mavi Marmara, an aid flotilla of seven ships carrying humanitarian supplies destined for Gaza with 700 activists aboard has caused international outrage the world over.  Nine activists, mainly Turks, were killed in the raid that occurred at 4 A.M in international waters north of Gaza.

The Mossad chief Meir Dagan agrees Israel used excessive force in the attack. "Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden," said Dagan, speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Even the mainstream media in the US like the New York Times condemned Israeli attack as ‘unacceptable’ and urged Obama to join forces with international community for an independent investigation into the event and even more strikingly, lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

‘This is a grievous, self-inflicted wound. It has damaged Israel’s ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the Muslim world; given the Hamas-led government in Gaza a huge propaganda boost; and complicated peace talks with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. It also has made it much tougher for the Obama administration to persuade the United Nations Security Council to put new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program — which Israeli officials insist is their top priority.’, read its editorial title ‘Israel and the Blockade’.

Israel was keen to prevent by any means the flotilla breaking the four-year siege of Gaza. The explanation is classical Israeli refrain: any attempt to lift or allow anyone challenge the blockade will give opportunity for Hamas to acquire rockets that will be fired to Israel AND Gaza will be turned into an Iranian port.

Bilateral relations with Turkey, the first Moslem country to recognize Israel as a state will be further strained. Already, Turk legislators are threatening to cut off diplomatic relations with Israel and Kuwaiti parliament has voted to withdraw its support for the Arab Peace Initiative.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, having cut short his trip to Washington, spoke publicly on the second day of June defending the raid and blaming the ‘hate boat’ for the whole event while shifting focus to Iran as being the reason for the suffering of Gazans and vowed that Israel will continue to blockade Gaza.

May be the devil’s advocate: will the flotilla incident really change anything in this narrative of blood and devil’s hatred? Months down the line this will be forgotten when another crisis will confront us. Yes Hamas has already declared victory without firing a rocket. Yes the tired proximity talks will falter as all of us warned. Yes Hezbollah will strengthen and increase its swagger vis-à-vis Israel’s oath to her deterrence. Iran will march on with her nuclear ambitions. As Jordan’s King Hussein has severally reminded the world, another needless bloodshed is just months away.

Israeli policy in the Gaza strip has failed dismally and it is time honesty was practised. The blockade, aided by Egypt, that was meant to turn Gazans against Hamas and fell their Islamist regime is not working and it just a collective punishment to Gaza’s 1.5 million residents. Since four years ago, the strategic goal has been missed and Hamas is still strong and if Operation Cast Lead did not fell it, nothing would.

As experts have warned, Israel is not sensitive to French, German nor Queen’s English. Israel only understands American English. US remained aloof to Palestinian suffering in Operation Cast Lead. US castigated Richard Goldstone and his report on Operation Cast Lead.

With recent administrations in Israel acting like every day is D-Day, Middle East watcher Rami G. Khouri wrote in the Daily Star that ‘Israeli Zionism increasingly contradicts the ethical and moral foundations of historical Judaism: international law applies to the entire world, but the state of Israel reserves for itself the special right to ignore and transcend that law, and to attack humanitarian convoys on the open seas, in the name of defending the Jewish people and their values. Now, this Israeli-Zionist penchant for taking any and all measures deemed necessary to protect the Jewish people has over-spilled the narrow conflict with Palestinians and Arabs, and has resulted in the death of Turks. In this way, Israel has committed a grave affront to the concept of the universality of international law.’

Even when caught between her two allies: Turkey- a NATO member and US ally and Israel- US staunchest friend in the region, President Obama’s tepid response to the crisis does not go unnoticed among the world public in general and  the Moslem world in particular. The muted response from the US and empty words from Europe will remain complicit in this conflict where a little honesty and firmness could turn tables for sustainable peace.

Victor Friedman, an education professor from Zichron Yaacov, caps it all: “It’s time we started using our wits. If we used even a tiny fraction of the brain-power and resources we put into ‘defense’ into finding a way forward in terms of living with the Palestinians, we would have solved the problem long ago. The strategic situation has never been more opportune — the Arabs are scared of the Iranians, the Saudi peace plan is still on the table, and the Palestinians are beginning to act rationally. But we lack the leadership to help us make a real change.”

Time was when the embargo on Gaza was lifted to allow humanitarian supplies in and a reprieve for Gazans to start living a human life.


Hezron Nyawachi researches with Institute for African Progress

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