(Originally published in the Temple Israel Voice, June 11, 2010.)
As I write this column, the world is up in arms about Israel's move to board the flotilla of ships headed for Gaza with supplies. Spin factories on both sides of the issue are churning out video, emails, and press releases to demonstrate that Israel is either the guilty aggressor or innocent self-defender. The real story here is not the boats or the propaganda or even the body count; the real story is the tremendous gullibility of all parties involved.
While I cannot claim to possess any inside information about this incident, I have heard/seen/read enough to say confidently that Israel made a tactical error, as she sometimes does. Defense Minister Ehud Barak chose not to take any chances; they were going to pull those ships into Ashdod by hook or by crook. By sending out Blackhawk helicopters and lowering marine commandos onto the ships, the Israelis walked right into a trap that was so obviously set for them. The goal of this flotilla was not to bring supplies to Gaza. Rather, it was a decidedly un-clever ruse to provoke a heavy-handed Israeli response that would bring international condemnation, and the Israelis performed brilliantly, exactly on cue.
And, sticking to the script as well were all of the usual suspects, chiming in with condemnation from all corners of the globe. EU nations, the Arab world, and the UN all jumped at the opportunity to criticize the Jewish state one more time. Here's another brick in the delegitimization wall.
But worst of all is the press. Always seeking the sensationalist angle and never the underlying story, the ad nauseam drumbeat of simple math or analogy (e.g. Israel + "humanitarian" activists = massacre, or Israeli : Palestinian :: oppressor : victim) fuels the world's misunderstandings. By the time this column is published, the news cycle will already have left the saga of the Mavi Marmara behind; whatever emerges as a result of investigations in the coming year will be largely ignored. Thanks to the need to sell advertising space, the bad guy beating up the good guy story always wins. Where is the analysis that upends this farce? Where are the probing interviews with the pro-Palestinian activists that ask the tough questions? Who will uncover the true motivations behind these "peace activists," who were clearly preparing for war?
None of this was unpredictable. Everything went according to the same tired plan. And regardless of the facts, guess who comes out looking bad?
Meanwhile, Israel's current government channels its talent into maintaining the outrage against Iran's nuclear weapons, which have been nearing completion for some time now. The two-state solution, Israel's only real choice for the long run, is apparently on the table only via lip service.
Now is the time to think strategically. Baqesh shalom verodfehu, says the Psalmist. Seek peace and pursue it. Let's hope that somebody in Jerusalem, the city of peace, hears that message echoing through its ancient walls.