Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Raid Off Gaza

Well, this is probably a really self-destructive task, but I am going to try to sort out some of what happened off the coast of Gaza a couple of days ago.

I want to state first of all that there are going to be no good guys in my story. Let's deal with the "aid flotilla" first. You would have to be nearly brain dead to think that this flotilla had anything in the world to do with helping the people of Gaza. It was sponsored by the Islamist Turkish government, which was obviously intending to incite a violent incident, as an excuse to sever relations with Israel. This was motivated not by Israel itself, but by their attempt to beat down the long secular tradition in Turkey, and move the country toward a much more radical Islamist stance. This is a horrible goal, and the Turkish government deserves nothing but condemnation for its role in precipitating this incident.

The western participants in the flotilla consist, as far as I can tell, largely in long term adherents to the Palestinian position, certainly back to the time when they were willing to support the corrupt military dictator Arafat as a viable alternative to Israel. They too do not appear to me to be really interested in aid to Gaza, but were deliberately trying to cause a violent incident in which Israel could once again be portrayed as the fount of all evil. I think there is enough history of this kind of behavior for me to be well justified in my cynicism.

Now on to Israel. I have spent a fair amount of time there, and have known and worked with Israelis, as I have mentioned before, so this comment comes from what I think I learned.

One thing to remember about Israel is that it is only a couple of generations from its founding. What this means is that virtually all of its major political figures, good and bad, have been pretty much like our "founding fathers" in that, however self-serving they might have been, there was still a bottom line where they cared very much about the welfare of the country they had helped to create.

Netanyahu is not one of these people. From the first time I saw him, I thought that here was a character that was simply a manipulative demagogue- more like American politicians such as Nixon, Reagan or Gingrich than anything the Israelis had ever encountered. I believe the average Israeli still cannot see Netanyahu for the right winger that he is- a corrupt warmonger in the American mold. He believes it to be in his own political interest to inflame this situation as far as possible, and is acting with as little responsibility as, say, Dick Cheney did in the run-up to our aggression against Iraq, or Reagan in his absurd and illegal war against Nicaragua. Like today's Republicans, he is willing to do immense long-term harm to his country in order to maintain the illusion of a Manichean world that requires people like him at the helm of his government. And most Israelis, with no history of this kind of politician, cannot see this.

Well, there you go. An Islamist Turkish government and a hard right Israeli government that both think it is in their interest to inflame tensions, and caught in the middle a bunch of hapless, mostly left wing characters, caught in their own rigid, unsupportable mind set, who are utterly unwilling to face the real nature of Hamas and the PLO, due to their need to see the mideast situation in black-and-white, outdated stereotypes of Western oppression.

This is, in my opinion, a recipe for a whole bunch of belligerent posturing and a lot of annoyance, but nothing whatsoever to move anyone toward a better future. Just what the world needs, huh?

The answer? Forget about Turkey- their self-serving political machinations over the last several centuries gave rise to the use of the term "byzantine" to describe cynical political manipulation, and if siding with Germany in World War I, at the cost of their empire, didn't teach them a lesson, this sure as hell won't. No, sorry to put the burden on Israel, which has so often unjustly been cast as the demon of the situation, but until they take their blinders off and get rid of the likes of Netanyahu, they are in for an endless repetition of incidents like this, without moving one centimeter closer to peace.


magpie said...

I'm not convinced your representation of Turkey's intentions are true or fair.

I do agree that Netanyahu is bad for Israel.

The fact is Israel has shot itself in the foot, and given the hawkish elements on both sides what they want. Dropping troops onto the ship - in international waters - was daft, and exposed the soldiers to hideous risks.

Very recently we booted the head of the Mossad in Australia out of the country because they set our citizens (among others) up for mortal risk by stealing their identities to murder a Hamas leader in Dubai. Those citizens were IN Israel - they could have been liquidated in reprisal. Our federal police and intelligence services concluded without a doubt that the Mossad was behind it.

What are we supposed to think from that? How can people not conclude that, ultimately, the only blood they really care about is their own?

dmarks said...

Very well stated. The representation of the Turkish government and intensions are dead-on. It would not be too far off to call this flotilla a terrorist attack, loaded with armed people (even if lightly armed) in lockstep with the Hamas goal of exterminating Israelis and Jews.

But Israel did a terrible of stopping it, that's for eure.