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Friday, June 4, 2010

The Gaza Flotilla: The Little Picture, the Big Picture, the Bigger Picture

With the passage of time, we are better able to understand the events relating to Israel's interception this week of the Gaza "aid" flotilla. All of the facts have not been made public, and I am not in a position to second-guess the powers that be as to why this information is being withheld. Nevertheless, even on the basis of that which has been made publicly available, conclusions can be reached.

The Little Picture:

The Gaza Flotilla was the misbegotten fruit of an unholy alliance between The Free Gaza Movement and İnsane Yardım Vakfı ("IHH"), a Turkish organization which, like most terrorist fronts, provides actual social welfare assistance, but which also has been linked to the funding of Hamas and al-Qaeda.

According to U.S. State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley, the U.S. knows IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria and Gaza over the past three years, but the U.S. cannot validate its ties to al-Qaeda. On the other hand, according to Jean-Louis Bruguiere, France's former top anti-terrorism judge, IHH was linked to a 1999 al-Qaeda plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport ( It is also claimed that a 1997 raid on IHH's headquarters in Istanbul by Turkish police resulted in the discovery of weapons, explosives, bomb-making instructions and records of phone calls to an al-Qaeda safe house in Italy.

Regarding the Gaza flotilla itself, we know:

• The goods being purportedly shipped to "starving" Gazans were meager in quantity and quality, included used clothing and medications older than their expiration dates, and were hastily and improperly packed for transport.
• Hamas has thus far refused to accept the goods, which were transferred to trucks in Ashdod and taken to the Gazan border.
• Among the Turks recruited by IHH for the cruise, many noted their desire to die as "shaheeds", i.e. martyrs, prior to embarkation.
• The IHH recruits came prepared with gas masks, night vision equipment, Kevlar vests, knives and slingshots.
• During the confrontation with Israeli troops, the IHH "peace activists" fired at the Israeli soldiers who boarded the Mavi Marmara using pistols taken from the soldiers; however, shell casings, gun-sights and cartridges from other weapons were also found on the ship.
• The ship's captain acknowledged that the guns fired by the IHH were thrown overboard when the Israeli soldiers gained control of the vessel, i.e. the IHH recruits had been instructed beforehand regarding necessary safeguards to perpetuate their image as "peace activists".

The Big Picture:

The Gaza flotilla set sail with the blessing of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, a man with a swelling ego, desirous of becoming the Middle East's preeminent power broker. His personal involvement in this enterprise is best illustrated by the meticulously planned demonstrations in Istanbul following the confrontation.

Despite Obama's visit to Turkey at the beginning of his presidency, we are now witnessing Erdogan's willingness and desire to spawn turmoil, as also evidenced by Turkey's efforts to facilitate Iran's pursuit of its nuclear weapons program.

Erdogan is serving his own narcissistic needs, and Turkey has ceased to be an ally of the U.S.

The Bigger Picture:

War is coming to the Middle East. Hezbollah continues to stockpile missiles and rockets in preparation for the upcoming battle with Israel, and Iran is seeking ways to better equip its proxy, Hamas, in the south of Israel. The Gaza flotilla was intended as a provocation meant to test Israel's mettle and to pave the way for future shipments of advanced armaments.

The Gaza flotilla was a PR gambit that created a no-win situation for Israel, given that no matter how it responded to this "humanitarian" shipment of goods to Gazans, it could only emerge as sullied in the eyes of a hostile world. Israel's leadership believed that by sending soldiers with paintball guns, they could paint a picture of restraint, but they were mistaken: Regardless of what Israel does, it will not succeed in winning crowd approval.

In the next war, Israel's center will be exposed to precise missile fire. It can only be hoped that its leadership will not be induced by a hypocritical world to lower its guard and also allow Hamas easy access to Iran's armories, which will only result in heightened civilian casualties when fighting ultimately erupts.


  1. Thank you, Jeffrey. It interesting.

    There are plenty of other hidden parts of this story. How did those hundreds of people got on these ships? Who they are? Are they proud of what they accomplished? What was America's role? Did Obama try to prevent it? Was Obama involved somehow? Israel knew it was coming, so did USA.
    How were European countries involved? Judging by their prompt condemnation of Israel, they actively participated in this provocation too.

  2. Four more Qassam rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel on Thursday. Not a word of condemnation from the international community . . .

  3. Melissa LeightonJune 4, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    Excellent piece, Jeffrey. Once again the West has chosen to ignore the basic logic of a country preventing a ship that may be carrying weapons to an enemy who is publicly dedicated to its destruction. Elementary self-defence. Israel's experience of the Karine B. ship carrying missiles from Iran is proof enough that their intent is armament and war - it is part of their charter, their constitution.

    Both Egypt and Israel expressed willingness to transfer the goods to the Palestinians. The point here is not aid but blatant PR - and the press of the west and world TV is happy to swallow this hook, line and sinker.
    Interesting that in Israel you will hear and read many different opinions, thousands of views amongst a population of a few million but the Moslem world tows a single line. And the western media kow-tows to that line. And then the Muslim world, whipped into a lather of self-vindication by the likes of the BBC moves to more expressive and extreme response mode. And interesting that a day before the engagement at sea, the Egyptian press wrote off the flotilla as a futile exercise.
    And interesting that not a single Western country has seen fit to criticize Egypt for closing its border with Hamas Gaza. Gaza borders two countries: Egypt and Israel. There are reasons why Gaza is sealed off. They are a fundamentalist Islamic state dedicated to war with Israel and affiliated to Hezbollah, Iran and the Muslim brotherhood. Why does Egypt enjoy such immunity from criticism? Only because conflict or disagreements or wars between Moslem powers are OK, of little interest. They don't sell copy. And who has written of the embarrassment of the ingenuous peace activists who discovered themselves int he midst of men armed to fight? Apparently a few tried to step in and prevent the Palestinian and Turkish terrorists from fighting.
    How would Turkey have reacted if the ship had been heading its way filled with supporters of the PKK?

  4. Israel's leadership could take a lesson from the 16-year-old Beverly Hills HS student who arrived alone with his large Israeli flag to last week's pro-Gaza rally here in LA. Search YouTube for "Daniel in the Lion's Den" you will see a remarkable sight. He marched, protected by police, amidst the banshees shrieking, "You kill my people." Calmly, he answers reporter's questions as to why he is there. He says he is there to tell the truth. This young man is now famous and has been asked to speak at a dinner on behalf of support group for S'derot and if he'd consent to interviews from several newspapers including Yidiot Achronot. I asked him how he coped psychologically in the "lion's den" and he said that he just blocked out the imminent threat because he knew he was right. He wasn't afraid!

    We must all learn to cope in our own way. Perhaps Jeff copes by writing this terrific blog. In "To Kill a Mockingbird" the character Atticus Finch defines courage as the battle one wages even in the face of likely defeat. Daniel, from my talk with him, would define it as the battle one wages with the expectation of miraculous victory.

    I ran into him at The Israel Conference held recently in LA. He wants to run for the Knesset! It is what we need more of--brazen, stoic, chutzpah and the clear-sightedness to draw that line in the sand because you represent truth. The video has about 300,000 hits to date--this in less than a week! Kol hakovod.

  5. Excellent post on the small to bigger picture.

    I found this explanation (below) of NYT comments policy on Mackay's The Lede post (Which I found borderline opinion, not reporting on the media, which is the point of The Lede.

    I thought you would like some insight into the NYT's evolving censorship policy:

    Robert Mackey
    Reporter, New York Times
    June 4th, 2010
    5:38 pm "The Web site is behind on explaining the comments policy fully, but there are many other reasons besides being off-topic or abusive that comments are not approved and published. The main one is simply repeating points already made by other readers, but in general the discussion is moderated and if a comment seems to add little to the thread, or is inflammatory, attacks other readers, the author or The Times, it will not be posted. I also tend not to post too many comments that contain factual errors or seem to me to be based on misreadings of the blog posts."

    My comment about Furkan Dogan's death to Mackay's post yesterday was never approved, but actually relates to YOUR post here. I believe Turkey is the central issue.

    Censored by the NYT's Robert Mackey:

    "Furkan Dogan's death is a terrible tragedy. All deaths by violence are a tragedy. Is there a forensic autopsy that can prove who shot him? It is not outside my imagination that he was martyred by a Turkish 'passenger', precisely because of his American birth.

    Everyone was so quick to condemn Faisal Shahzad as a "terrorist". What do we know of Furkan Dorgan's life AFTER "returning to Turkey with his family as a young child"?

    Turkey's government support for Hamas is an outrage. Turkey can no longer be trusted in NATO. Move the U.S. base at Incirlik to Greece."


  6. Marina, Melissa, Anonymous and K2K, thank you for all of your thoughtful comments.

    K2K, my comment in response to Mackey's "The Lede" was also censored. See today's blog entry, which I sent to Andrew Rosenthal by e-mail for his response.

  7. JG: yes, just read your post re: Mackey. Excellent. When I tried to post a different comment, I was blocked completely.
    The wiki entry for Gaza_flotilla_raid includes a citation from Mackey's post, as if it was a news report.