Is there any real surprise over the outcome of the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara in the waters off of Gaza? The alleged peace ship delivering so-called relief supplies to the Gaza Strip was boarded by Israeli soldiers, who warned days in advance that this was likely to occur. Israel, after all, contended that the flotilla was delivering weapons, including arms and incendiary materials, as well as any “humanitarian” supplies that were meant more to disguise the hostile intent of the ship than to relieve any Palestinian suffering.
As Navy commandos initially armed with non-lethal weapons boarded the ship, they were met with hostile behavior. Some were beaten with metal rods and at least one was stabbed. Several of the Israelis were shot with guns taken from them. At least one rifle was on board the ship before the Israelis arrived; its appearance and use was a major factor in the Israeli switch to live ammunition. Clearly, at least some of the activists aboard the ship paid lip service to peace but were prepared for battle. Maybe it’s just me, but if I were delivering peaceful supplies and I was keenly aware of the tense situation between the Palestinians and Israelis–and no one doubts that all on board the Mavi Marmara were well aware of it–I would be ready for a search and open to it.
There is also the amazing public relations machine these “peace activists” unleashed to consider. It is the same machine we have seen activated time and again, immediately after something like this occurs. Why amazing? Because here we have Israeli commandos who prepared for days for a non-violent confrontation being met with knives, metal rods, hammers and at least one rifle, being wielded by alleged Birkenstock wearing beatniks who kicked, stabbed, beat and even readied some of the commandos for hanging, and yet it is Israel that is seen as the overreacting aggressor. Only where Israel is concerned can this happen.
The United Nations, a dependably useless organization that considers Libya, for example, as worthy of a seat on a human rights panel, will undoubtedly reach the conclusion that Israel committed a heinous crime and call for some punitive actions. Its Security Council was quick to hold an emergency meeting to condemn the Israeli actions–and only the threat of a U.S. veto watered down that response. It is only the beginning of the U.N.’s response, however
Other responses will occur, as well. The Arab states will meet to decide how to respond to the “offense” by Israel. People all over Europe will line the streets of their cities to demand condemnation of Israel. The International Court will be called upon to indict Israel for war crimes. The United States, anxious to maintain its “honest broker” image, will hem and haw. Israel will be left to stand alone, as always.
To Israel’s deficit, the whole raid appeared poorly planned and the commandos ill prepared. What Israel needs to do is work harder to find its way back to the glory days of stealth and accuracy. Hearing Israel’s elite and once celebrated Special Forces soldiers, of the lore that spawned the character in “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” talk of being surprised when they landed on the deck, only fuels the enemy’s desire to whittle Israel down. For Israel to rise above it, she needs to relearn the discipline exhibited when two F-4 Phantoms destroyed the Osiraq reactor, and when the hostages in Entebbe were saved.
The Mavi Marmara is today’s marketing tool for the haters and people around the world seem to be sold. Whether it is worrying about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and intentions, or the daily use of civilians to tar Israel’s reputation in a court of public opinion, Israel can no longer stand to think the United States, or anyone will be there to help in her times of need. It needs to run as it is its only friend in the world, and live to see the day of redemption when others dare look upon her out of shame for having wronged her all these years.
Juda Engelmayer is an executive with the NY PR agency, 5W Public Relations