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Shame on those blaming Israel for the Gaza Flotilla violence

By Ira Sharkansky

Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM–Label me an ostrich with his head in the sand, or a blind ideologue if you will, but I think this is the time to call shame on the chorus of those who used the terms failure, massacre, or tragedy about Israel’s operation against the “Freedom Flotilla.”

Videos showing the preparation for violence by the Turkish militia and its use of staves and other weapons against the commandos are carrying their weight. The tone of media commentary and comments from prominent politicians appears to be changing. There is recognition of Israel’s prior offer to transport humanitarian material after inspection, and Israel’s right to defend itself against the development of an armed Iranian satellite in Gaza.
Do nine deaths amount to a tragedy or massacre, when all of them appear to have been members of a group allied with the nastiest of factions the civilized world calls “terrorists?” Perhaps only when the country doing the work is Jewish. 
Members of the chorus demanding an international inquiry deserve no more respect than the Islamic leaders of the chorus in Turkey, Iran, and Gaza, plus those seeking gain from the hysteria in the West Bank and the Arab communities of Israel. 
Overseas Jews claiming to be friends of Israel, and Jews of Israel are singing in the chorus of shame. I see no need to define their motives or fears, or to be surprised that they have been caught up by the noise. No doubt they will continue to claim the high ground even as the evidence indicates they are standing on nothing.
One of the insights of this week concerns the difference among Arab states. None of them can resist the temptation to condemn Israel, but while Syria has cooperated with Iran in flooding Hizbollah with missiles, Egypt has cooperated with Israel in limiting the flow to Gaza. Prior to Israel’s operation against the Flotilla, Egypt echoed Israel’s offer in proposing to accept the ships in an Egyptian port, and transferring material through its check points.  
Hamas’ rejection of the cargo from the Flotilla after its inspection by Israel suggests confusion as to how best exploit its opportunities. It has decided to try for another point against Israel despite the cost to the population of Gaza.
Mahmoud Abbas chose to participate in the chorus shouting massacre. He declared three days of national mourning for the members of the Turkish Islamic militia, and has approached Hamas with an effort of conciliation. Earlier he endorsed Israel’s intention to keep the ships from reaching Gaza and strengthening the posture of his Hamas rivals.
This will not help the prospects of an accord between Israel and Palestine. If accommodation depends on the respect of Israeli Jews for Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, one can forget about early progress. Probabilities have declined from single digits to the smallest parts of one percent. 
The Obama administration is making an effort to rescue its investment in peace. The most recent comments represent a concession to Israel. Vice President Biden has said that it has a right to stop ships from reaching Gaza and inspect their cargoes, given the rocket fire to Israel. The White House has distanced itself from the wildest demands for an international inquiry. One of its  proposals is for an American observer attached to an Israeli inquiry. 
The next ships are only a day or so away. One carrying the name Rachel Corrie seeks to gain something from one of the most pathetic of anti-Israel efforts during the height of Palestinian violence. 
Israel’s membership among the blessed is by no means certain. Yet it is far from deserving the damnation that so many others have called upon themselves.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University

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