Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mavi Marmara: A Turkish Love Boat?

The recent class between Israeli commandos and Muslim and other activists aboard the Turkish flagged ship the Mavi Marmara seeking to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and bring humanitarian aid to the over one million Gazans trapped in the madness of Hamas hatred and Israeli fear is yet another example of how painful and confusing the situation in the Middle East is.

Let me very clear: First, Israel has every right to exist, and any organization that seeks to undermine that right is an enemy not only of Israel and the Jewish people, but of all people devoted to justice anywhere.

Second, to be pro-Israel doesn’t require you to be anti-Palestinian, and to be pro-Palestinian doesn’t require you to be anti-Israel. Support of the two-state solution requires you to be in favor of the liberation and self-determination of both Israelis and Palestinians. Only when both sides win, can either side win.

Third, while I understand the reason for the three-year-old Israeli blockade, I do not think it is effective. And allowing herself to be the face of oppression in the eyes of millions of Muslims in Gaza, Palestine, and around the Islamic world is just stupid. And while it is true that Israel does allow some aid to enter Gaza, it is also true that Israel is following a policy based on the erroneous idea that crushing the Gazan people economically will somehow cause them to rise up and crush Hamas politically. This will not work. It only hardens the loyalty of the people to their oppressors by allowing the oppressor to shift the blame for oppression to others. Gazans will only overturn Hamas when they see Hamas rather than Israel as their true oppressor. And neither Hamas nor the current Israeli government seems eager to let this happen.

Fourth, the purpose of the flotilla was to provoke confrontation. Israel told the flotilla leaders that it would allow the humanitarian aid to enter Gaza if the ships would come to an Israeli port for inspection. Israel wanted to be certain that the cargo going into Gaza was indeed humanitarian and not military. The flotilla leaders refused. Further, film from Al Jazeera provided by Act! for America shows pockets of activists chanting anti-Jewish rhetoric from the Koran, and the fact that the activists attacked Israelis with metal pipes, knives, and clubs, and tossed one soldier off the deck suggests that some were itching for a fight. There is no Gandhi on either side of the Muslim/Jewish divide, and no one should imagine that either side has a monopoly on hatred or violence or sainthood. The Israelis want heroes, the Muslims want martyrs. Nobody honors saints.

Fifth, Israel made a mistake in sending this particular commando unit to do this particular task. The unit had no experience with civilians, with riot control, or with diplomacy.

In short, the flotilla leaders got just what they wanted: worldwide anti-Israel propaganda. And they couldn’t have done it without the help of the Israelis themselves.

I have no hope for peace in the Middle East. I do not think we will see an end to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Israel/Palestine. I expect the conflict to expand. It is already in Pakistan and will soon be in Iran.

It is said that there can be no peace because there is no one with whom to make peace, but I do not believe that. There are people of good will on every side of this conflict who would rather send their children to college than to war, but their numbers are dwindling, and they have no political power in their respective countries. What is missing are politicians who can make peace.

My fear at the moment is that Israel will once again be demonized. It is just too easy to picture these “loving, good-hearted humanitarians” being brutalized by “violent, heartless Israeli soldiers.” That will be the story: demon Israel against the love boat of Islam.

There are some who will rush to defend Israel, but in so doing they will demonize the Muslims, adding to the heat even as they pretend to shed light.

The end game? War. War with Hamas, then war with Hezbollah, then war with Iran. The question people have to ask themselves is this: how many of our children are we willing to the feed to the god of war? The answer I suspect is “all of them.”


Karen said...

There is always hope, but it's going to take something different, something - miraculous.

andrea perez said...

My heart is breaking. When did Hamas become the victem? When did Israel become the victemizer? When did we stop believing in Peace?

Raksha said...

Re My fear at the moment is that Israel will once again be demonized. It is just too easy to picture these “loving, good-hearted humanitarians” being brutalized by “violent, heartless Israeli soldiers.”

It's even worse than that, because it isn't just Israel that is being demonized. It's ALL the Jewish people who are being demonized, including those like me who have been solidly in the peace camp for years. The Mavi Marmara incident has awakened the sleeping monster of anti-Semitism, which may go into (relative) hibernation for a while, but never seems to die.

Check out this YouTube video if you don't believe me, and be sure to check out the comments after it.

I just sent this link to the rabbi of our local Reform temple as a partial explanation of why I can't endorse the ARZA position. I was afraid of an anti-Semitic backlash (among other things) but the viciousness of these comments is pretty scary. I just hope it doesn't escalate into acts of vandalism against synagogues or (the recurring nightmare) another 9/11 type terrorist attack.


. said...

Hi RavRam and Linda

Linda I share your visceral fears...history has taught us that in the end every body dies...whether by cancer or in a plane crash or in a gas chamber...this si a scary thought...the madness of the projections onto Jews seems to be woven into the warp and woof of the word..the fundamentalsists say it is predicted in the Tanach - Eysav soneh et Yaakov - Esau hates Jacob...I won't look at the u tube clip or the comments...why rub salt in a raw wound...if you look for anti-Semitism you will always find it...so I am not going to look for it...to relive my worry I coined the following short item:

The Latest Craze This Winter (I live in Australia)

Are your underpants a bit tight? Are you struggling to find work? Or in a job already but don't like your boss, or fellow workers? Want to meet some pretty girls? Or just generally bored and wanting to make your day? Then come and protest outside your nearest Israeli embassy. Its fun! Its easy! Everyone's doing it! Its the latest craze this winter. Hang out with friends, find people who agree with you and do stuff you can't do at home - throw rocks, spit, and vent your anger, rage and frustration. In fact, several leading mental health professionals recommend demonstrations outside Israeli embassies. Quentin Quisling, a psychologist, explains. "Its a quick, easy and cost effective form of catharsis. In Roman Times people had gladiator bouts and public crucifixions. In the middle ages there were stoning and the auto de fe - the public burnings of people the Catholic church felt threatened by. But modern people have to maintain this veneer of civility. We're starved for places where we can jeer and taunt and express our more primal emotions and the frustrations of modern life. Which is why when a safe, easy venue and a target that is essentially powerless to respond is offered to us on a plate, we should take full advantage. So come on everybody, lets get dressed up in our kafiyot, and feel important and good about ourselves."

Rabbi Rami said...

I just watched an older DVD on anti-Semitism called the Longest Hatred (1991). It wasn't great, but worth watching anyway. Bottom line: Jew hatred is so deeply ingrained in Christianity and Islam that it will never die out. You don't even need Jews to maintain anti-Semitic rants. Just the idea of Jews is enough to make lots of people crazy with hate.

Raksha said...

Re "I won't look at the u tube clip or the comments...why rub salt in a raw wound...if you look for anti-Semitism you will always find it...so I am not going to look for it."

I agree that if you look for anti-Semitism you can always find it, and most of the time I don't look for either. There is always enough of it around (especially in cyberspace) that you can easily find it without looking for it, especially if you're the confrontational type like me.

YouTube isn't normally the place I would expect to find such overt and vicious hatred, though. I mean, these people are serious Nazis and don't even try to hide it. As confrontational as I am, I would never have dared to come out of lurker status on that thread. I may be pretty foolhardy, but I'm not suicidal, after all!

You didn't watch the video and I neglected to tell you what it's about, so let me clear that up now. It isn't a video of a bunch of anti-Zionist or KKK types demonstrating in front of an Israeli embassy. It's almost the exact opposite: It shows a crowd of Israelis demonstrating in front of the Turkish embassy, dancing and cheering and rejoicing over their "victory" that resulted in the deaths of between 9 and 15 activists. (BTW, why don't we know the exact number yet?)

With THAT kind of provocation, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the video would bring the hardcore lunatic fringe out of the woodwork. If it had been produced by Goebbels or the authors of the Protocols it couldn't have served the purpose any better. It's true that anti-Semites don't need much of anything to get them going, but why pour gasoline on the fire?

Besides, I agree with most of the world that the boarding of the Mavi Marmara in international waters and the deaths that resulted from it was immoral, unnecessary, and most of all unbelievably, catastrophically STUPID! But you can read the progressive Haaretz commentators just as well as I can, so I won't say any more about that now.


. said...

Yes all valid comments HaRavRam and Linda...give us the wisdom to know when to have the strength of the stone and when to have the strength of the reed, to bend rather than to resist...in the meantime how nice it would be if we could become a proselytising religion again, better welcome interfaith spouses, give up our victimology, and especially - have no fear in our hearts