Reflections on the Flotilla II

The current Flotilla II and its repercussions have been addressed across the world in many media outlets (some even in the US). The other Chris posted an article stating his point of view on what will happen so I felt I should include mine. The current flotilla was meant to leave on the anniversary of the first which happened in late May of 2010 but has had many difficulties from host countries and mechanical problems. There is no reason here to give the readers, who I assume have read many articles on the first and now second flotilla, a history of what happened last year. It is well documented by many different sources and leaves little room (contrary to Israeli apologist’s belief) for interpretation.

Chris Keeler seems to be much more optimistic than me about the repercussions Israel suffered from the first flotilla. He has ” a tough time, though, believing that Israel would allow another botched operation.” I disagree completely with this sentiment. The Israeli government, with support from the Israeli public, still have not apologized or acknowledged wrong doing in the operation. They are trying to mend fences with Turkey since Turkey is a very important player in the region, but have refused Erdogan’s basic premise of apologizing. Israel does not see, although most of the world disagrees, what it did as fundamentally wrong.

Israel knows that the world can condemn Israel for these sorts of actions, which are not unique for Israel as long as the US does not do anything about it. With statements made by the US after the first Flotilla, and its subsequent statements about this one, it seems the US is taking a certain approach. This approach is to scare Americans who are on their way to Gaza to renege on their pledge as much as possible. This way the US feels a less responsibility to do something about it as they should do when Americans are injured or taken prisoner overseas. Why would America being doing this if it thought Israel was not going to do a repeat or something similar? Israel can do very very little without explicit US approval and it would be an exercise of the ignorant to believe Israel has not told the US what it plans to do.

Israel may not go gung-ho and send the most elite commandos on these ships with live ammunition, but I am under no illusion they are simply going to follow international law and allow the ships to go through. I believe Israel will try and tempt younger activists on the boats by mistreating older activists which will create some conflict that Israeli commandos. Simply I believe Israel is looking for a pretext to teach these people a lesson. If the people hold out without any minimal provocation the ships will simply be seized and brought to Ashdod/Ashkelon, their belongings taken, and them arrested and subsequently deported. All the while the goods will be examined and a few will be let in. I am under no illusion Israel is not looking for a pretext to do a remake of the first Flotilla and will not be surprised one bit if there is a repeat.

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on the Flotilla II

  1. Chris,

    I agree that Israel believes that it did nothing wrong last year. However, I do think that it understood the magnitude of the situation. The simple fact that Israel altered restrictions in response to the criticism means that international criticism surpassed Israel’s accepted level. In other words, it may think its actions were justified, but were forced to do make concessions as a result. This year, they may feel as if killing members of the Flotilla is justified again, but I would believe (and hope) that the consequences of last year make them reconsider.

    As for the American government, I am hardly surprised that they are issuing warnings. It will be a tense situation and antagonization by Israel or the activists could lead to violence. The US does not want the Flotilla and certainly does not want to be put in an awkward position should an American be killed. The best way to prevent this is, like you said, scare Americans out of participating. This does not mean that the US has advanced warning that the IDF will violently storm the ship.

    Israel simply wants this to go away. Even if there is no violent episode or confrontation, the Flotilla, at very least, creates an international debate about the morality and legality of the Israeli blockade. The quicker this ends, the better for Israel. Israel will not let the ships through, but will disable them, tow them to an Israeli port and deport the passengers. From an Israeli POV, maintaining the blockade as quietly as possible is the best strategy.

    Lastly, as I said, I would not be shocked if violence did occur. This is Israel we are talking about and the IDF soldiers most likely see this Flotilla and its members as some sort of international anti-semitic ploy. If there is provocation there will be a response. However, I would be absolutely shocked if both the activists and soldiers were not specifically trained on how to use complete non-violence.

    Both sides are in the same position from a PR/propaganda standpoint. Should the other side initiate violence, you win. If you initiate violence, you lose. Could there be another Mavi Marmara incident? Of course, but I think it is highly unlikely.

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