ISRAEL’S SEA OF STUPITIDY
By Yossi Sarid
This time, it was all foreseeable. Even this newspaper warned in advance about the possibility of defeat in victory. As preparations for the big sea confrontation proceeded, it became increasingly clear that it would end badly.
After all, the troops were being prepared by seven idiots and their subordinates – people who cannot see beyond the ends of their noses.
We are periodically told that Israel has never had a forum of leading ministers so businesslike and thorough; even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman displays insight and responsibility at meetings, says Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
And who will attest to Barak’s own talents and judgment? Perhaps those soldiers who never returned from battle? Seven ministers versus seven ships – not aircraft carriers, or even destroyers, but small boats, laden with hundreds of people. Not all are righteous, but neither are they terrorists. But suddenly, without warning, this barely seaworthy flotilla became a threatening armada.
Before the battle of Trafalgar, Admiral Horatio Nelson, like the Allied commanders before D-Day, understood that their country’s fates hung in the balance. It’s enough to make you despair when thinking about our leaders: For them, every day is D-Day. So what will happen when total war actually breaks out here?
And it’s disturbing to think about our army, which trips every time it is ordered to march. And don’t believe their promises that next time will be different. There are always plenty of excuses, but judged by the results, it’s always the same old disaster.
Elite units are supposed to know how to take over a ship without sinking the state, how to overcome passengers wielding clubs and knives without sowing death, how to keep two pistols and a rifle from being wrested from them.
But a physical confrontation should never have been allowed to develop to begin with. If this was indeed a “political/media provocation,” we should never have let ourselves become entangled in it.
Had we simply let the flotilla reach Gaza – an option that was proposed – a cry of victory would indeed have erupted from the other side, but it would have died out in a day or two. But the Israel of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barak, of ministers Moshe Ya’alon and Benny Begin, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Eli Yishai and even Dan Meridor, is vying with Hamas and Hezbollah over who can produce the most resounding demonstrations of strength – which amount to nothing but humiliating evidence of weakness.
How did we so become so devoid of confidence in our ends that we instead put our trust in ways and means that dead-end on every passing ship? Had only we at least not dropped the soldiers one by one straight into the angry mob.
What ought to come next is a demand for a probe, but it seems pointless. Stupidity knows no bounds, and it is a ministerial prerogative. And what is boundless is also unfathomable.
So the septet will persist in its evil ways, endangering us more than any ship could, for madness will rule us. That gang in Jerusalem will insist on drowning us again and again, for there is no courage to change even after all the disasters.
And we will continue to fear our leaders – as if we didn’t have enough to fear in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
By Gideon Levy
Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing.
The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs its hopeless frenzy. It has distributed menus from Gaza restaurants, along with false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle, which it might have been better off never starting. They want to maintain the ineffective, illegal and unethical siege on Gaza and not let the “peace flotilla” dock off the Gaza coast? There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy the web of explanations, lies and tactics.
Only in Israel do people still accept these tainted goods. Reminiscent of a pre-battle ritual from ancient times, the chorus cheered without asking questions. White uniformed soldiers got ready in our name. Spokesmen delivered their deceptive explanations in our name. The grotesque scene is at our expense. And virtually none of us have disturbed the performance.
The chorus has been singing songs of falsehood and lies. We are all in the chorus saying there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We are all part of the chorus claiming the occupation of Gaza has ended, and that the flotilla is a violent attack on Israeli sovereignty – the cement is for building bunkers and the convoy is being funded by the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood. The Israeli siege of Gaza will topple Hamas and free Gilad Shalit. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy, one of the most ridiculous of the propagandists, outdid himself when he unblinkingly proclaimed that the aid convoy headed toward Gaza was a violation of international law. Right. Exactly.
It’s not the siege that is illegal, but rather the flotilla. It wasn’t enough to distribute menus from Gaza restaurants through the Prime Minister’s Office, (including the highly recommended beef Stroganoff and cream of spinach soup ) and flaunt the quantities of fuel that the Israeli army spokesman says Israel is shipping in. The propaganda operation has tried to sell us and the world the idea that the occupation of Gaza is over, but in any case, Israel has legal authority to bar humanitarian aid. All one pack of lies.
Only one voice spoiled the illusory celebration a little: an Amnesty International report on the situation in Gaza. Four out of five Gaza residents need humanitarian assistance. Hundreds are waiting to the point of embarrassment to be allowed out for medical treatment, and 28 already have died. This is despite all the Israeli army spokesman’s briefings on the absence of a siege and the presence of assistance, but who cares?
And the preparations for the operation are also reminiscent of a particularly amusing farce: the feverish debate among the septet of ministers; the deployment of the Masada unit, the prison service’s commando unit that specializes in penetrating prison cells; naval commando fighters with backup from the special police anti-terror unit and the army’s Oketz canine unit; a special detention facility set up at the Ashdod port; and the electronic shield that was supposed to block broadcast of the ship’s capture and the detention of those on board.
And all of this in the face of what? A few hundred international activists, mostly people of conscience whose reputation Israeli propaganda has sought to besmirch. They are really mostly people who care, which is their right and obligation, even if the siege doesn’t concern us at all. Yes, this flotilla is indeed a political provocation, and what is protest action if not political provocation?
And facing them on the seas has been the Israeli ship of fools, floating but not knowing where or why. Why detain people? That’s how it is. Why a siege? That’s how it is. It’s like the Noam Chomsky affair all over again, but big time this time. Of course the peace flotilla will not bring peace, and it won’t even manage to reach the Gaza shore. The action plan has included dragging the ships to Ashdod port, but it has again dragged us to the shores of stupidity and wrongdoing. Again we will be portrayed not only as the ones that have blocked assistance, but also as fools who do everything to even further undermine our own standing. If that was one of the goals of the peace flotilla’s organizers, they won big yesterday.
Five years ago, the noted Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who is a Jerusalem Prize laureate, after concluding his visit to Israel, said the Israeli occupation was approaching its grotesque phase. Over the weekend Vargas Llosa, who considers himself a friend of Israel, was present to see that that phase has since reached new heights of absurdity.