The European Coalition for Israel released a statement on the confrontation between the "freedom flotilla" and Israel. The coaltion's director, Tomas Sandell, summed the seriousness of the situation up very well when he said the following:
"This is a carefully planned action which seeks to delegitimize Israel's right to exist and to make it impossible for Israel to defend itself. If these aims are met, Israel's destruction will become inevitable."
Their press release can be found at their website, here.
This story like others before it is being told through videos on You Tube and other websites. Here's some of the latest.
Palestinian Media Watch released this video today. It shows one of the "activists" saying martyrdom would be preferable to delivering humanitarian goods to Gaza.
This video released by the IDF is the clearest depiction yet of what happened when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara. We've posted it before but it deserves a second loo. It's also worth noting the "activists" tried to tie the helicopter cable to the ship in order to crash it on the deck.
Turkey's Role is Key
Turkey's Islamist ruling party is taking Turkey more and more into the orbit of Iran's Middle East axis. Ely Karmon, with the International Institute for Counter Terrorism, wrote this following analysis called "The Attempt of the 'International' Flotilla to Break the Gaza Blockade."
He makes four strategic points:
1. Above all, Hamas wants to arm itself with long range missiles and other heavy weapons in order to be able to attack again Israel, on the example of Hezbollah.
2. Israel cannot permit itself to have a Hezbollah like entity in its southern border, 60 km. from its heavily populated central region.
3. The international organizers of the humanitarian aid flotilla are a hodgepodge of pro-Palestinian human rights groups of different political colors, naïve intellectuals, and some anti-Zionist Israelis and Jews, which for years are struggling on all fronts to delegitimize Israel.
4. Turkey, the AK Party, and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, are the new important players in this drama.
In this last point, Karmon told CBN News that if present trends continue to Islamize Turkey, then it will become like a "Sunni Iran" in two to three years. This is quite an alarming and sobering development for this NATO ally.
The Continuing Battle to Delegitimize Israel
Israel is fighting two battles. One is the obvious battle to protect its borders, fight Islamic groups like Hamas, and Hamas's allies like the "freedom flotilla."
But another - some would say even more important battle - is the battle of worldwide public relations. Daniel Pipes says he feels Israel lost the PR battle because it's not fighting a conventional war; it's fighting an asymmetrical worldwide battle of delegitimization.
In this battle, time is of the essence and perception rules:
"Eventually, however, Israel's enemies realized that they could not win a conventional war. Instead of launching planes, tanks, and ships at the Jewish state, they turned to other means - weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and political delegitimzation. Delegitimization turns the rules of war upside down: in particular, strength is weakness and public opinion has supreme importance."
Caroline Glick, with The Jerusalem Post, makes a powerful case of the threats facing Israel and how to combat it. Here's an excerpt of her article.
"Israel is the target of a massive information war. For it to win this war, it needs to counter its enemies' lies with the truth. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization ideologically indistinguishable from al-Qaida. International law requires all states and non-state actors to take active measures to defeat it.
Israel is the frontline of the free world. Its ability to defend itself and deter its foes is the single most important guarantee of international peace. A strong Israel is also the most potent and reliable guarantor of the U.S.'s continued ability to project its power in the Middle East.
This is the unvarnished truth. It is also the beginning of a successful campaign to defang the massive coalition of nuclear proliferation- and terrorism-abettors aligned against Israel. But until our leaders finally recognize the nature of the war being waged against our country, these basic facts will remain ignored as we move from one stunning defeat to the next."
Which Way will the US Go?
Jon Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday he was concerned by the equivocal stance of the White House. He warned it could have serious consequences if the U.S. leaves Israel "out on a limb."
The U.S. State Department issued what can be described as a tepid response. Here's the statement from Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
"The United States deeply regrets the tragic loss of life and injuries suffered among those involved in the incident today aboard the Gaza-bound ships. We are working to ascertain the facts, and expect that the Israeli government will conduct a full and credible investigation.
The United States remains deeply concerned by the suffering of civilians in Gaza. We will continue to engage the Israelis on a daily basis to expand the scope and type of goods allowed into Gaza to address the full range of the population's humanitarian and recovery needs. We will continue to work closely with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, along with international NGOs and the UN, to provide adequate access for humanitarian goods, including reconstruction materials, through the border crossings, while bearing in mind the Government of Israel's legitimate security concerns.
However, Hamas' interference with international assistance shipments and work of nongovernmental organizations, and its use and endorsement of violence, complicates efforts in Gaza. Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by governments and groups that wish to do so. These mechanisms should be used for the benefit of all those in Gaza. Ultimately, this incident underscores the need to move ahead quickly with negotiations that can lead to a comprehensive peace in the region."
Here's the White House's initial reaction:
"This morning between 10:00 and 10:15 AM CDT, the President spoke by phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He said he understood the Prime Minister's decision to return immediately to Israel to deal with today's events. They agreed to reschedule their meeting at the first opportunity.
The President expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded, many of whom are being treated in Israeli hospitals. The President also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible."
Is there a Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza?
The "freedom flotilla" is attempting to create the perception that there's a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza because of Israel's naval blockade. There is not.
Israel has been sending tons of supplies over land for the people of Gaza through a conduit used by aid organizations like the U.N. and the Red Cross. In fact, Israel's Foreign Ministry estimates the following:
"Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza. Millions of dollars worth of international food aid continually flows through the Israeli humanitarian apparatus, ensuring that there is no food shortage in Gaza.
Large quantities of essential food items like baby formula, wheat, meat, dairy products and other perishables are transferred daily and weekly to Gaza. Fertilizers that cannot be used to make explosives are shipped into the Strip regularly, as are potato seeds, eggs for reproduction, bees, and equipment for the flower industry.
In 2009 alone, more than 738,000 tons of food and supplies entered Gaza. Pictures in local newspapers show local markets aplenty with fruit, vegetables, cheese, spices, bread and meat to feed 1.4 million Gazans.
In the first quarter of 2010 , 94,500 tons of supplies were transferred in 3,676 trucks to the Strip: 48,000 tons of food products; 40,000 tons of wheat; 2,760 tons of rice; 1,987 tons of clothes and footwear; 553 tons of milk powder and baby food.
In a typical week, the IDF coordinates the transfer of hundreds of trucks containing about 15,000 tons of supplies. During the week of May 18, 2010 there were more than 100 truckloads of animal food, 65 trucks of fruit and vegetables; 22 truckloads of sugar, some 27 truckloads of meat, poultry and fish; and 40 trucks of dairy products. At holiday times, Israel increases transfers. During the Muslim holy days of Ramadhan and Eid al-Adha, Israel shipped some 11,000 heads of cattle into the Strip."
David Bedein, the director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research, in this article traces the following topic:
"Violence and deaths that occurred on ships en route to Gaza on May 31 represent the result of a systematic campaign of misinformation which conveyed the specious notion that the people of Gaza were starving. Flying to Cyprus in August 2008 to cover the first FREEGAZA.org press launch for the Philadelphia Bulletin, it was there and then that the first FREEGAZA.org boat was launched.
Jeff Halper, an Israeli American community organizer, initiator of the FreeGaza.org campaign, opened the FreeGaza.org press conference in Cyprus, stating in a matter of fact comment that "people in Gaza wake up every morning without food or medicine". Halper's remarks were taped on the Bulletin tape recorder for posterity.
Over the past two years, Halper coordinated a campaign to spread the rumor of deprivation Gaza with 62 Rabbis, many of who are affiliated with the Rabbis for Human Rights, who then pioneered a new organization and website, "TANNIT TZEDEK," where they actually hold monthly fasts for the deprived people of Gaza.
The founder of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi David Foreman objected to the notion that there was deprivation of food and medical supplies in Gaza.
Writing in the Jweekly in California and in the Jerusalem Post September 2009 , Rabbi Foreman described the website as "anti-Zionist, bordering on anti-Semitism," and asked uncomfortable questions, "How well have these rabbis examined the blockade? Do they think that concern about arms smuggling is completely bogus? Do they consider that the blockade justifies shooting at Israelis, while Israel's response deserves wholesale condemnation?
Rabbi Foreman concluded that their website implies that "that they care not at all about an objective critique of an Israel that should be "a light unto the nations," but rather care only about painting Israel as an "evil empire," thereby justifying their and others' blatant assault on the very legitimacy of a Jewish state."