Israel does it again.
With one deadly commando raid of an aid flotilla bearing essential goods in violation of Israel’s (illegal) blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has reasserted its expressed right to, essentially, defend its borders by any means necessary. Thus far, a good amount of the discussion of events has centered around whether Israel was prudent in ordering the military assault in light of the likely PR fallout, or if it should have been prepared for stiffer resistance. Yet focusing on proportionality, optics, or even the pristine character (or lack there of) of some passengers on board misses the point — or, rather, the context this incident occured within.
One can argue about whether or not IDF naval commandos were justified in using extreme force in reaction to violent provocation. But the entire event — the aid flotilla, the lethal IDF response — took place as the result of an immoral, oppressive policy structure designed to destabilize the already-strained foundations of Gazan civil society. No matter how restrained (or excessive) its actions, the reputation of Israel’s military will always be tainted by its dutiful service on behalf of a rogue mission.
Dan Drezner, no far-left anti-Zionist with a rep for laying down rhetorical IEDs he, makes the bold analogy of Israel as North Korea and the US, leery of stirring already unsettled diplomatic waters in the Middle East and provoking the political ire of domestic lobbyists, as China, a placid benefactor that enables an increasingly isolated state to continually act in brazen defiance of international law:
True, Israel’s economy is thriving and North Korea’s is not. That said, both countries are diplomatically isolated except for their ties to a great power benefactor. Both countries are pursuing autarkic policies that immiserate millions of people. The majority of the population in both countries seem blithely unaware of what the rest of the world thinks. Both countries face hostile regional environments. Both countries keep getting referred to the United Nations. And, in the past month, the great power benefactor is finding it more and more difficult to defend their behavior to the rest of the world.
As Peter Beinart (again, hardly a radical left-wing agitator) aptly notes, this US (and Canadian)-supported strategy (and resulting tactics) is entirely counterproductive if one’s aim is to convince an already besieged population that it should reconsider its support of a despicable but duly-elected government. No matter how horrible the Hamas leadership is, their government represents a plurality of (admittedly complex) Palestinian public opinion in Gaza (even as the West and Israel still refuse to recognize its legitimacy). Outside pressure directed towards the population inevitably pushes the masses towards the one element of what meager day-to-day security and certainty that still remains: Hamas.
But, again, all this should be moot. Until Israel lifts its illegal, immoral blockade of Gaza, many more people, Palestinian and Israeli, will continue to live in fear of escalating hostilities and almost guaranteed casualties. This is the frame in which we need to centre any discussion of the Freedom Flotilla raid or any other incident that occurs as a consequence of furthering Israel’s unacceptable policy of collective punishment.
We in the US & Canada who recognize the insustainability of this ongoing moral calamity must pressure our leaders to cease enabling the Israeli government as it makes a mockery of human rights and international law — and, in the process, offers a stark vision of the most clear and present danger to the purportedly democratic character of the Jewish state.
Related: Esther Kaplan evaluates the US media response to the Israeli flotilla assault, noting the overly “credulous” coverage of most mainstream news outlets, while over at TAP the inimitable Gershom Gorenberg patiently outlines the events that lead to yesterday’s disasterous raid, calling it “a link in a chain of premeditated folly”.