The Conspiracy

Idiocy at Sea: The Bigger Picture

I spent my entire day huddled over my computer, constantly refreshing Ha’aretz and JPost, periodically checking the Gaza flotilla trending topic on Twitter, and generally just trying to make sense of last night’s flotilla fiasco.  And twelve hours into it, I’m still at a loss.

Thus far, here’s what we know: early Monday morning, 130 kilometers off the coast of Gaza in international waters, elite Israeli naval troops boarded the Mavi Marmara, a ship filled with humanitarian aid – and 600 some passengers – that was headed for the Gaza Strip.  During the ensuing melee, a number of activists were killed (I’ve seen figures ranging from 9 to 20) after commandos opened fire on them.  Two soldiers were also seriously hurt in the clash.

Israel has predictably blamed the activists themselves, as well as the Turkish organizers of the relief mission/provocation, for the unfortunate casualties.  Their claims, spelled out in stunning detail by Ron Ben Yishai, are that IDF soldiers raided the ship peaceably and only used live rounds after fearing for their own lives; they even have the video to “prove” it.  The only problem is that neither that article nor that video clip actually proves anything.

First, we have no evidence to the validity of Ron Ben Yishai’s recap.  Was he actually there, alongside the IDF forces as his writing seems to indicate?  It seems unlikely, and given that he never actually says so, it appears he’s just regurgitating the Israeli position.  If indeed he was there, his testimony is extremely valuable and would do much to quell the rising tide of blame engulfing the Israeli forces, as well as my own skepticism herein detailed.  Second, that oh-so-trustworthy aerial footage is fraught with question marks.  Most glaringly, none of the sequences shown are given context.  Yes, we know activists threw a soldier onto a lower deck.  No, we do not know, for instance, if said activists had just watched commandos shoot and kill their best friend from a neighboring navy vessel.  Without context, it’s impossible to know who really threw the first punch (or fired the first shot, or wielded the first “large metal object”).  The written play-by-play is also misleading; as grainy as the footage is, there’s really no way to determine the accuracy of a number of those descriptions, particularly the stun grenade and firebomb accusations.

Given all that, I place the blame dozens of miles away from that Mediterranean nightmare, and squarely on the shoulders of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the senior naval leadership.  Ignoring the idiotic and counterproductive blockade on Gaza that led to the Turkish aid flotilla, the underlying cause of this catastrophe was poor strategy, plain and simple.  If decision-makers truly expected a peaceful endeavor, they would’ve quelled the resistance with water cannons (an extremely common tactic in such situations) or tear gas canisters.  To deploy – in the middle of the night, no less – elite Flotilla 13 commandos, dressed in black with masks and rifles, was at best stupid and at worst homicidal.

So tonight, when Barak and his lackeys fall asleep, I hope they do so with a heavy heart.  After all, the blood of far too many dead and injured are now on their hands. And judging by the massive protests worldwide, it’s only going to get worse.

Sam Melamed is a Masa participant, participating in Career Israel, one of Masa Israel‘s 160 programs.

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6 Older Responses to “Idiocy at Sea: The Bigger Picture”

  1. Kyle Mianulli
    May 31, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    No matter who made the first act of violence, this is a massacre. There are so many non-lethal tactics the IDF could have used instead of so quickly resorting to lethal gunfire. This is not even considering the fact that they boarded the ship in international waters while a white flag was raised. The details of this act need to be hashed out as soon and as accurately as possible. I only hope the international press can cut through Israel’s rhetoric and uncover the truth.

    This is simply another horrific and unapologetically clear violation of international law in a long string of undeniable transgressions. It is time to start holding Israel to the same standards as we do every other country. America needs to end it’s unwavering support of a state that so willingly and regularly commits the same type of atrocities that we have used to justify war with other countries. As Sam rightly alluded to, this blood is on America’s hands as well.

    I hope as many people as possible band together in protesting this horrendous act all over the country this week. Don’t let anyone fool you, doing so is NOT anti-semitism. It is nothing more than an act of support for the equal enforcement of the international laws and standards that have been adopted to protect ALL innocent people. These are the same laws that have been appealed to for both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, they did not justify these wars. But, it is strange that we appeal to them to justify war with the muslim world, but seem to forget all about the same laws when it comes to Israel. This is not a matter of Jewish or non-Jewish, this is a matter of the objective truths of right and wrong. It does not matter if you are jewish, palestinian, white, black or hispanic. Slaughtering up to 20 civilians in international waters for attempting to bring the basic necessities of life to a population that has been blockaded from doing so themselves is WRONG. Plain and simple.

    Hold Israel and the American government accountable. Show the world what REAL Democracy looks like.

  2. Adam
    June 2, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    I’ve wondered why I haven’t seen anyone else bring this point up…maybe I’m missing something:
    Israel has claimed in its defense that the activists on the Mavi Marmara stole guns from the Israeli soldiers. Seriously? Really? I was raised believing that the IDF was one of the best trained militaries in the world, so how is it that its naval commandos can be disarmed by civilian activists? This is a truly embarrassing episode on several fronts, regardless of moral and political arguments.

  3. Seraphya
    June 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I think what we don’t understand is the level of sophistication, planning, and training some of the people had on board the ship.

    These weren’t just a bunch of people with some iron bars. These were people who knew and were trained with how to make something like this happen. The embarrassing thing is that the IDF and the defense ministry didn’t realize this.

    They studied the tactics the IDF might use and got themselves gas masks and wore lifejackets to stop teargas, and something to protect their bodies from almost all forms of non-lethal projectile weapons. This wasn’t just people responding to the scenario, this was a group of people who probably had structured plans on how to escalate conflict and probably had military training, if not from training in a terrorist camp then from someone who served in the military or from someone how did train in a terrorist camp.

    That said, this is still ridiculous, and the blame isn’t on the commandos, but on Gabi Ashekenazi and Barak,

  4. David
    June 3, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    To Sam and New Voices,

    Your article is premature and unfounded. Only New Voices would publish an article after 20 hours of news reports. Have you not learned that it takes days to learn the facts. And after all the videos from both on the boat and from the Israelis, that the “activists” who do have terror links were ready to engage with weapons the IDF. Before your write lies, learn the facts.

  5. George Morgenstern
    June 3, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    Mavi Marmara was loaded w/ assorted Turkish Intelligence agents, Hamas operatives, Hazbolla security agents, CIA and Mossad folks too. Iran had nearly 50 goons and trained terrorists on board also. Believe what you want, but the real war in the region is raging underground, in non-conventional theaters against the Jews, assorted Arab monarchies and tribes…..

    These college kids and assorted quasi intellectual bookies should continue to express thermselves: a brain trust indeed.

  6. Mayer Jacobovits
    June 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

    The “Idiocy was not at Sea”, at worst the operation at sea could have been planned and executed better.
    The actual “Idiocy is at New Voices” for publishing such an one sided, premature, presumptous, poorly researched and frankly “stupid” article.

    Why is it that we some Jewish students in a hurry to blame Israel for everything independent of facts? Does Israel not have enough enemies?

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