In growing recognition of the public relations disaster it faces on the world stage for its massacre aboard the Turkish aid ship attempting the break the Gaza blockade, Israel’s prime minister announced that all 700 would be immediately released. It appears that continuing to detain them made Israel’s predicament even more untenable than it would otherwise be. I’m also guessing that this was done under some fierce pressure from the U.S. Bibi Netanyahu is not the politician who gives in of his own free will on these sorts of matters. Malleable is not his middle name.
But what really caught my eye is that passengers who allegedly assaulted the IDF with knives, clubs and guns would also be released. Frankly, this makes me doubt the IDF version of this story even more than I did before. Israel is going to allow Muslims who stabbed and seriously injured their own soldiers off scot free? It simply beggars belief. I’m not making any definitive judgements as to what happened and who assaulted whom and in what order. But I’m smelling something and it’s not very pleasant.
This still does not absolve Israel from its responsibilities to release the names of the dead and injured and their bodies to next of kin; along with any autopsy results.
Some extraordinary responses both good and bad from American Jewish leaders and intellectuals. Peter Beinart, fresh from his attack on the Israel lobby in the pages of the NY Review of Books, has penned another slashing piece denouncing Israel for its policy of siege in Gaza. It’s worth a look even though there are a few places in which Beinart’s liberal Zionism somewhat constrains his analysis.
On the down side is the response from J Street attempting to triangulate as usual as it did in denouncing the Goldstone report and urging the U.S. to veto it if brought before the UN Security Council:
There will undoubtedly be calls in the coming days for a UN investigation into today’s events. A credible, independent commission appointed by the Israeli government should provide the world with a full and complete report into the causes and circumstances surrounding the day’s events and establish responsibility for the violence and bloodshed.
I think J Street is coming to appear more and more a mouthpiece for Obama administration policy and less and less an independent organization. Who in their right mind believes that Israel can or will conduct in full and complete investigation of this matter? Did they do so after the UN demanded it in light of the Goldstone report? Of course not. What in Israel’s recent history would lead J Street or any serious person to believe this is possible?
Meanwhile the MV Rachel Corrie after setting sail from Ireland with a Nobel peace laureate aboard is currently bearing down on Crete and making its way to Gaza. Will Israel botch it again? Will Obama get off his ass and tell Israel that the siege is over? Stay tuned.
For some broad satiric relief, take a look at this Twitter spoof account for Israeli global PR, which features some real hilarity:
* [In a reference to the Dubai assassination] Now that we have copies of their passports, Israel will release all foreigners from the flotilla
* Sticks and stones may break our bones, so we brought guns
* You should be grateful that we let you get so far, it would have been no trouble to deal with things before the ships even departed #mossad
* We forgive you for provoking us
* We’re not saying that the Gaza shore is a closed military area, we’re just saying that, if you do come, we will shoot you